Crooked Numbers: Behold, the wind-blown balk

A look at wild, wacky happenings around the Minors so far in 2017

Third baseman Brandon Snyder pitched a scoreless inning, then homered for Syracuse on May 13. (Ken Inness/MiLB.com)

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com | July 12, 2017 10:00 AM ET

Welcome to Crooked Numbers, a compendium of bizarre, improbable and hilarious Minor League on-field occurrences. Over the first half of the 2017 season there were, of course, plenty such moments. What follows are some of the best (and worst), in no particular order.

Balking in the wind

A powerful gust caused Salt Lake starter Troy Scribner to balk against the Omaha Storm Chasers on May 6. The Triple-A game was played on a day in which the National Weather Service issued a high wind warning in Salt Lake. Sure enough, Scribner, pitching from the stretch, was blown backward off the mound with a runner on second. Despite the setback, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander went on to pick up his fourth win of the season.

Video: Wind causes balk

On dog-themed day, rogue rabbit delays game

So much to unpack here from this Midwest League contest from April 23. A week after Easter and on a "Bark in the Park" promotional day at Modern Woodmen Park, the afternoon belonged to a bunny. That's right, Clinton's 5-4 win at Quad Cities was delayed briefly as a rabbit ran across the field.

"I've never seen anything like it," said River Bandit Ronnie Dawson, who was in the outfield when the bunny took over. "I figured something happened, like the pitcher called time or the catcher wanted to go to the mound, but all of a sudden I see the rabbit on the field. So that was pretty funny."  

Video: Rabbit delays Memphis, Iowa game

And then a snake showed up

You might be OK with a cute, fuzzy rabbit bouncing around the infield, but how about a snake? That's what happened May 7 during a Triple-A game between Reno and Sacramento, causing infielders and umpires to recoil in fear. Fortunately, a member of the River Cats grounds crew saved the day, grabbing a bucket and a shovel to remove the creature.

"I didn't really notice it at first, but then I looked down and it was right at my feet," Reno infielder Jack Reinheimer said. "I've never actually had it like right there next to my feet before without knowing it was there, so that was kind of strange."

Video: Snake interrupts play in Sacramento

And then a bee?

We found out May 10 who would win in a fight between a pirate and a bee. Marauders right-hander Mitch Keller was 4 2/3 innings into his Florida State League outing at Jupiter when he was stung by a bee while standing on the mound. "It definitely surprised me and stung pretty good," he said. "I don't ever remember being stung before in my life." Keller, Pittsburgh's top-ranked pitching prospect, was removed from the game.

Sky Sox turn 5-4-2-3 triple play

There have been five triple plays in the Minors this season, but none weirder than the one turned by Colorado Springs on May 24. MiLB.com's Josh Jackson summarized:

"With New Orleans pitcher Stephen Fife on third base and leadoff man Peter Mooney on first in the fourth inning, Steve Lombardozzi slapped a grounder to Colorado Springs third baseman Gabriel Noriega. Noriega fielded it cleanly and tossed to second baseman Ivan De Jesus Jr. to force Mooney. Rather than pivoting to throw to first, De Jesus fired a laser to catcher Rene Garcia. Lombardozzi had taken a few steps toward second and Garcia's throw to first baseman Kirk Nieuwenhuis gave him no chance to get back to first. He broke for second, but Nieuwenhuis chased him down tagged him out."

Video: The Sky Sox pull off a triple play to end a threat

Two walk-offs, one player

Blake Perkins took matters into his own hands during Hagerstown's doubleheader on April 23, collecting a pair of walk-off hits on the same day against Delmarva. The Nationals' No. 14 prospect ended the opener with a three-run homer in the seventh -- his first long ball of the season -- before finishing off the nightcap with an RBI single in the ninth.

Thunder lose, add Domingo

The Double-A Trenton Thunder, in the end, maintained its number of Domingos. On May 18, the Yankees affiliate saw right-hander Domingo German get promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and his replacement? Domingo Acevedo, who came up from Class A Advanced Tampa. 

Adams plays in Minors, Majors on same day


Lane Adams has remained with Atlanta since getting interrupted while grocery shopping on June 7. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) 

On June 7, center fielder Lane Adams became the first player in nearly three years to appear in a Minor League and Major League game on the same day. The 27-year-old, who made his MLB debut in 2014, went 2-for-4 under the sun to help Triple-A Gwinnett to a 6-0 win over Norfolk, then got two at-bats and played two innings in the field under the lights in Atlanta as the Braves routed the Phillies, 14-1. 

Adams had an interesting anecdote after the busy day:

"I actually live closer to SunTrust," he said of Atlanta's stadium. "I was driving back home from the [Gwinnett] game and saw the traffic going back toward Gwinnett that was really backed up. I remembered the traffic and was like, 'Oh, boy, this could take a while.' And it did. I was like, 'Oh man, I'm glad I'm not sitting in that stuff.' And then an hour later, I was sitting in that stuff."

Adams said he was in the middle of grocery shopping when he was summoned to the Majors.

"I had my shopping basket at Kroger and put everything back where I got it, got back in my car, had to go back to Gwinnett and pack up some stuff," he said. "I sat in traffic for about an hour and a half."

Games that went really, really long...

Everyone likes a little free baseball, some extra innings here and there -- with limits, perhaps. South Bend and Clinton couldn't settle things May 5 and, eventually, the umpires said they'd seen enough. After 18 grueling innings, the Class A game was suspended due to a league curfew rule. At the time it was stopped, the 6-6 game had already featured a dozen pitchers, 39 strikeouts and 14 walks. It all came to an end the following day when Cubs infielder Yeiler Peguero singled, advanced to second and scored in the bottom of the 19th when he beat out a grounder from Jhonny Pereda -- the ol' walk-off fielder's choice.

...so long, an umpire needed a bathroom break

Boise and Eugene topped that with a 20-inning affair that started July 4 and ended in the wee hours of July 5. The Northwest League contest was finally decided on a two-run, inside-the-park homer by J.B. Moss in the top of the 20th, ending a game that took more than six hours. (It officially ran 5 hours and 59 minutes, plus an eight-minute delay when an umpire, understandably, needed a bathroom break.)

"Wow," Boise starting pitcher Zach Jemiola said on Twitter. "20 innings. That was a first."

Video: Hawks' Moss hits inside-the-parker

River Cats go crazy

Sacramento really hung a crooked number on Colorado Springs with a 13-run inning on May 11. The River Cats fell three runs shy of the Pacific Coast League record for most runs in a single frame, but no one was complaining in their dugout after the top of the seventh. Orlando Calixte, Austin Slater, Tim Federowicz, Juan Ciriaco and Juniel Querecuto all delivered run-scoring hits in the inning before Chris Marrero capped it with a three-run homer.

2017 Minor League milestones

Snyder does it all...

May 13 was a memorable day for multi-dimensional Brandon Snyder of the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. The third baseman belted his seventh home run and pitched a scoreless ninth inning against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He even recorded a strikeout, getting Eddy Rodriguez swinging. He remained in the game for the bottom of the ninth and ripped a homer to center off Tyler Webb, but the Chiefs lost, 12-3.

...but Ramirez does it even better

Exactly two months after Snyder's performance for Syracuse, infielder-turned-reliever Nick Ramirez went 2-for-2 with a grand slam and threw three scoreless innings to earn a win in Double-A Biloxi's 5-2 victory over Jacksonville. The lefty entered the Southern League game when it was scoreless in the fifth.

Oh nuts! That hurt

Peoria pitchers were lucky to avoid inciting a brawl on May 3 after hitting six Lansing Lugnuts batters. Yes, six in one game, a feat that set a Midwest League single-game record. According to the Lugnuts, the total matched the Major League record for single-game beaned batters, which last happened in 1913 by the Yankees against the Washington Senators.

May 3 was full of weird stuff -- when Syracuse hosted Pawtucket, the Chiefs walked 10 times but failed to get a runacross in a 7-0 loss. Syracuse somehow went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position that day, stranding 14 men.

MiLB include

DSL Angels score eight with one hit

It was an ugly half inning of baseball in the Dominican Republic on June 14 when the DSL Angels scored eight times despite getting only one hit. The top of the ninth featured six walks issued by the DSL Mets, four wild pitches and two errors. Julio De La Cruz managed the only base hit in the "rally" when he singled home Osvaldo Oliva and Marlon Marcano. The Angels won, 8-3.

Ventura allows 11 unearned runs

Biloxi starter Angel Ventura took the loss in a 13-6 drubbing at the hands of Montgomery on April 10 but walked away with a sparkling 0.00 ERA. Wait, how?

Ventura was charged with 11 unearned runs over two innings. He allowed six hits and three walks in a game in which the Shuckers made nine errors. The Biscuits scored six runs in the first after an error by shortstop Mauricio Dubon. In the second, the Biscuits piled on five more runs after second baseman Angel Ortega started the frame with a throwing error.

Vosler finds power stroke in a big way

Cubs prospect Jason Vosler hit three home runs in 426 at-bats last season, but on April 26, he managed to match that total in three consecutive at-bats. "I just tried to slow everything down at the plate," Vosler said. "That was the key for me at the plate today ... to be in more control of myself and my swing." Vosler has kept the power switch on in 2017, collecting 15 homers so far.

They ran out of K signs

Class A Beloit and Peoria combined for 13 hits in 12 innings on June 26, impressive considering batters on both sides couldn't stop striking out. The Midwest League contest featured 38 K's, including 23 from Peoria's lineup. Every Chiefs player struck out at least twice, and all but two Snappers batters fanned at least once. Miguel Mercedes and Collin Theroux each whiffed four times.

Infield fly "triple"

Springfield Cardinals outfielder Randy Arozarena golfed a pop-up that landed just past the mound on July 6, and he ended up at third base. How? Double-A Midland's entire infield converged, but somehow, no one caught the ball. It dropped behind the mound, and with no one covering a base, Arozarena motored all the way to third. RockHounds first baseman Viosergy Rosa was charged with the error.

Video: Arozarena takes three bases on heads-up play

Anti-climatic ending

Beloit and Kane County endured 17 innings of scoreless Midwest League action on April 19 in a game that tested the patience of players and fans thanks to a two-and-a-half-hour rain delay. How did it all end, finally?

Roughly seven hours after first pitch, the marathon reached the finish line when the Cougars' Ramon Hernandez was hit by a pitch and scored on an error by Snappers left fielder Cole Gruber, who mishandled a single by Jason Morozowski. It's hard to put too much blame on Gruber, though -- he started the game in left field and pitched two hitless innings in the 15th and 16th before going back to left for the 17th. He went 0-for-7 at the plate, however.

Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog column, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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