The purpose of "Crooked Numbers" is to take a look back at the month that was in the Minors, highlighting some of the curious and absurd incidents that have taken place. Enjoy, and please don't hesitate to get in touch with suggestions.
Missions on a mission to destroy: The San Antonio Missions sit atop virtually every offensive category in the Texas League, including runs scored (159), hits (245), home runs (40) and average (.315). The magnitude of the team's scorching April was such that they scored 20 runs in a game on three separate occasions! The Missions defeated Tulsa, 23-10, on April 11, bashing eight home runs in the process. Just four days later, a double-Decker multi-home run attack by left fielder Jaff and first baseman Cody resulted in a 26-5 shellacking of Northwest Arkansas.
The four days between 20-run efforts was the shortest such gap in the Texas League since 1925, but the Missions weren't done. On April 24, Jaff Decker enjoyed yet another multi-homer game as the Missions blasted Midland by a score of 21-8.
Forty-three runs, 295 minutes: The California League is capable of producing offensive monstrosities such as that which took place between Inland Empire and Bakersfield on April 16, but the game was record-setting nonetheless. The 66ers overcame a 16-7 deficit, scoring 10 runs in the sixth, two in the seventh and five in the ninth en route to a 24-19 victory. Every player in the 66ers starting lineup had multiple hits, and all 10 who batted in the ballgame scored at least once. The four-hour, 55-minute contest was the longest nine-inning tilt in California League history (surpassing the longest nine-inning game in MLB history by 10 minutes).
Your Corky Miller stolen base update: Corky Miller is a 35-year-old, 255-pound catcher, but teams who ignore him on the basepaths do so at their own peril. Miller stole a base on April 28 against Durham, his first since July 22, 2007, when he was suiting up for the Richmond Braves.
One step forward, one step back: The Altoona Curve lost their first two games of the season and won the next two. The team then alternated losses and wins throughout the remainder of the month, losing a game to fall one below .500 and then winning the next. Altoona ended the month at 10-11.
The calm before the storm: The High Desert Mavericks finished the month of April with an abysmal 6.01 team ERA, the worst such mark in the California League. But mound-based difficulties were mercifully absent from the team's exhibition win against nearby Victorville Community College on April 5, as nine pitchers contributed a hitless frame apiece as the Mavs coasted to a 12-0 victory. The equal workload was split between hurlers James Gillheeny, Tim Boyce, Nick Czyz, Austin Hudson, Johnathan Hesketh, Ogui Diaz, Jose Jimenez, John Housey and Chris Kirkland.
Sunset, sunrise: Mike Moustakas was the last Omaha player to go yard at Rosenblatt Stadium, hitting a homer in the final ballgame ever played at the stadium (Sept. 2, 2010). On April 20, he became the first Omaha player to clear the fences at the team's new home of Werner Park.
Let's turn two: In the 65-year history of the Midwest League, there had never been more than eight double plays in one game. That all changed on April 23, as the Lansing Lugnuts and West Michigan Whitecaps combined to turn 10. The Whitecaps were on the wrong end of the equation six times and lost the game as well.
Unprecedented territory: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs won their home opener April 7, defeating the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, 7-2. This marked the first time in franchise history that the club had a winning record (they played their first season in 2008), as well as the first time since 1999 that the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate had won its home opener. The IronPigs played .500 ball the rest of the month, finishing April with a 12-11 record. But the team did reach new heights along the way, twice finding itself at three games above .500.
Piggin' out (of the park): First baseman Jeff Larish played a role in Lehigh Valley's history-making Opening Night win, connecting for a two-run homer on his very first swing as an IronPig. Larish went on to hit five more home runs in the month of April, four of which were game-winners.
Déjà vu: The Montgomery Biscuits clubbed five home runs in their 13-3 win over the host Tennessee Smokies on April 17, tying a club record in the process. The record they tied had been set three years ago to the day, in the same ballpark, with the Biscuits pounding their way to a 10-5 victory on April 17, 2007.
Déjà vu déjà vu: The Reno Aces defeated the Sacramento River Cats on April 19, snapping a 12-game losing streak against the club. The Aces' previous victory against the River Cats had occurred exactly one year earlier, on April 19, 2010.
Consistently consistent: You've got to give Jacob Brigham credit for consistency. The Frisco RoughRider made four starts in the month of April and allowed three runs over five innings in each.
Put those brooms away: The Arkansas Travelers defeated the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, 6-1, in Game 1 of a doubleheader April 22. This ended a string of five straight doubleheader sweeps by the Naturals, who hadn't lost either end of a twinbill against the Travelers since May of 2009.
Today was a good day: Ryan Strausborger hit three home runs this month, and they all came within the span of one doubleheader. On April 27 against Potomac, the 23-year-old outfielder connected for two homers and five RBIs in the opener and went yard again in the nightcap.
Today was a bad day: The Richmond Flying Squirrels and Bowie Baysox played an 18-inning, five hour and 27 minute marathon April 30, the longest game in franchise history for both teams. One player who wants to forget this historic night as soon as possible is Richmond slugger Joe Koshansky, who went 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts.
April abnormalities: The Salt Lakes Bees started the season with two straight postponements and then took another six days to log a standard nine-inning game. They played seven innings April 9, a pair of seven-inning games April 10, 13 innings on the 11th, 15 on the 12th, and a rain-shortened six on the 13th.
Coyle-d and ready to take: Sean Coyle reached base via the walk in each of his first 10 games this season, a streak that left him with a .467 on-base percentage despite a .148 average. He's drawn just one walk over the ensuing nine ballgames, however, lowering his OBP to .385 while raising his average to .203.
Trading places: One of the most effective arms out of the Jacksonville Suns bullpen has been right-hander Chris Hatcher, who compiled an 0.84 ERA in April while holding batters to a .179 average against. The 26-year-old also suited up for the Suns in 2010, but as a catcher. It was Hatcher, in fact, who hit the home run that clinched the Suns' 2010 Southern League championship.
Moving in the other direction is former Phillies first-round Draft pick Joe Savery, now playing designated hitter for the Threshers after three years as a pitcher. Savery finished the month of April with a stunning .450 average, collecting 36 hits in just 80 at-bats.
A sudden abundance taketh away: The Lansing Lugnuts had to postpone their April 7 home opener for an usual reason -- a so-called "sudden abundance of moisture" on the playing field. As the visiting West Michigan Whitecaps explained in a press release: "The infield dirt on the right side became soaked as the teams began to stretch and warm up in the afternoon, and the Lugnuts' groundscrew spent the next few hours trying to dry it out." Such efforts were unsuccessful.
Like Sands through the hourglass: Slugger Jerry Sands rocketed up the Dodgers' system in 2010, and his ascension began with a terrific start to the season as he hit homers on the first Saturday and Sunday of 2010 with Great Lakes. Fifty-two weeks later and Sands did the same thing for Triple-A Albuquerque. He took Royals prospect Danny Duffy deep on Saturday and shelled Steven Shell on Sunday. Sands ended up playing only 10 games for the Isotopes before receiving a call-up to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Another one bites the dust: Injuries to the parent club may have speeded Sands' ascension to the Dodgers, but the Isotopes certainly weren't immune to the injury bug. April 13's 10-7 win over Iowa was particularly agonizing: third baseman Justin Sellers left the game after being hit by a pitch in the fourth, and second baseman Juan Castro departed later in the frame after injuring himself while batting. In the seventh, third baseman J.D. Closser (usually a catcher) had to exit after being hit in the eye by a ground ball. Sands then came in from right field to man third with pitcher Tim Redding taking his place in the outfield.
Breakout! The South Bend Silver Hawks scored three runs total en route to three straight losses to start the season against Fort Wayne. Sunday was a different story, as the club erupted for 19 runs (the most during Mark Haley's managerial tenure, which dates to the beginning of 2005). This one-day total accounted for 25 percent of the runs that the Silver Hawks scored in the entire month of April.
Hazelbaker hustle: The Salem Red Sox coasted to a 16-5 win over Lynchburg on April 18, with the first run of the game occurring auspiciously. Jeremy Hazelbaker doubled with one out in the frame and came all the way around to score on Reynaldo Rodriguez's fly out to deep center field. Perhaps Hazlebaker was inspired by his hitting coach, Alex Ochoa, who once hit an ultra-rare two-run sac fly as a member of the 2001 Cincinnati Reds.
And as if that wasn't enough: Nine days after Hazelbaker basepaths scamper, Salem sent 12 men to the plate without recording an out. The 10-run sequence of events went as follows: hit by pitch, single, single, walk, single, double, single, single, double, home run, single, walk. After Zach Gentile went down swinging, the aforementioned Hazlebaker grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
You win some by 13, you lose some by 13: The Bradenton Marauders romped to a 13-0 victory over the Charlotte Stone Crabs on Friday, but revenge came soon. The Stone Crabs enjoyed a 14-1 win the very next day, punctuated by a nine-run fourth frame (the most runs ever scored against Bradenton in a single inning).
Doing a lot with a little: The Fresno Grizzlies scored nine runs in the seventh inning en route to an easy 11-1 win over Las Vegas on April 7, and did so with only two hits! The inning started out as follows: hit by pitch, walk, error, walk, walk, walk, single, walk, grand slam.
Doing a lot with a little, Part 2: Eric Surkamp struck out 10 New Britain Rock Cats on April 8, tying a Richmond Flying Squirrels franchise record in the process. The fireballing southpaw only needed four frames to accomplish the feat, striking out two in each of the first two innings before fanning the side in the third and fourth.
Anything Surk can do Gurk can do better: Delmarva reliever Jason Gurka needed even fewer innings than Surkamp to strike out 10 batters, accomplishing the feat over 3 2/3 frames against Greensboro on April 9. Gurka entered the game with one out in the fifth and whiffed the first two batters he faced. He then fanned two in the sixth before striking out the side in the seventh and eighth.
Strikeout or bust: Great Lakes Loons closer Shawn Tolleson blew away the competition this month, recording each of his first 10 outs of the season via strikeout. The flame-throwing Texan has retired 29 batters overall: 22 via the strikeout.
Better late than never: Portland's Will Middlebrooks fell a triple short of the cycle against Reading on April 9, going 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles. He then tripled in his first at-bat on April 10.
Shut out for 70 hours: The Kannapolis Intimidators were blanked by the Lakewood BlueClaws, 2-0, on Opening Night. The next two ballgames were rained out, and Game 1 of April 10's doubleheader featured 15 innings of scoreless baseball before the Intimidators pushed across their first runs of the season in the top of the 16th.
Even distribution, career: When Wily Mo Pena went yard for the Reno Aces on April 10, it gave him 77 home runs at both the Major and Minor League levels. His season high within each designation is 26, as a member of the Dayton Dragons in 2001 and the Cincinnati Reds in 2004.
Even distribution, game: A 10-RBI game is always notable, but perhaps the most notable aspect of Chad Huffman's is that he drove in at least one run in all six of his plate appearances. The contest in question occurred April 21, with Huffman leading Columbus to a 19-3 laugher over Louisville. The veteran slugger hit an RBI single in the first, an RBI groundout in the second, drew a bases-loaded walk in the third, blasted a three-run homer in the fourth, smoked a two-run dinger in the sixth and, finally, launched yet another two-run shot in the eighth.
Getting it done on the basepaths: The Fresno Grizzlies stole a team-record 10 bases April 10 en route to an 8-5 win over Las Vegas. The Grizzlies finished the month with a Pacific Coast League-leading 43 steals, 15 of them by recently promoted second baseman Emmanuel Burriss.
Helping his own cause: Fresno Grizzlies reliever Steve Edlefsen pitched two innings against Tucson on April 21 and was then granted the opportunity to bat for himself in the top of the ninth. He responded with his first career hit, a home run that increased the Grizzlies' lead to 5-3. The insurance run turned out to be crucial, as Mark Kroon came out to pitch the ninth and surrendered a run before earning the save.
Synchronized swinging: On April 17, the Lexington Legends received near-identical career games from their No. 3 and 4 hitters. Chris Wallace and Telvin Nash each went 5-for-6 with three homers, a double and four runs scored.
All good things must come to an end: The St. Lucie Mets entered April 26's game against the Bradenton Marauders with an 11-game road winning streak and league-best 2.66 ERA. The Marauders quickly got to work changing that situation, scoring 10 runs in the first en route to 12-6 victory.
Hot Rod redemption: Bowling Green backstop Lucas Bailey made three errors during April 28's game against South Bend, but any defensive inadequacy was rendered moot when he connected on a three-run walk-off homer with two outs and two strikes in the ninth.