The purpose of "Crooked Numbers" is to take a look back at the month that was in the Minor Leagues, highlighting some of the many curious and absurd incidents that have taken place. Enjoy, and please don't hesitate to get in touch with suggestions for future editions.
What's A Guy Gotta Do Around Here? On July 5, Byron Wiley of the Dayton Dragons and Brent Greer of the Yakima Bears both hit three home runs in a single game. And, in both instances, their team still managed to lose.
At least the Bears made it close, losing to Everett by a score of 15-14. The Dragons, meanwhile, still found themselves on the wrong end of a nine-run deficit. The club lost to the West Michigan WhiteCaps, 20-11, in a game that was over almost as soon as it started. The WhiteCaps sent 17 men to the plate in the first inning en route to scoring a team-record 13 runs. The long frame included seven walks and took three pitchers to complete. Wiley's homer in the first inning gave the Dragons a 2-0 lead, but when he batted one inning later his club was down by 11.
In any case, the lost-cause power outbursts weren't indicative of the kind of season either player is having. Geer has hit just two homers since July 5, and Wiley has belted three.
A Vicious Cycle: Michael Bertram of the Lakeland Flying Tigers joined the "career-night in a losing cause" club on July 18, when he hit for the cycle in a 12-11 defeat at the hands (claws?) of the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Bertram completed the feat with an RBI double in the seventh inning, which gave the Flying Tigers a seemingly comfortable 10-3 lead. The Stone Crabs scored nine runs in the bottom of the eighth, however, and just three of those runs were earned. Bertram's throwing error was one of two costly miscues in the frame.
Beerer Anything But A Cold One: Converted pitcher Scott Beerer was promoted to the Modesto Nuts on July 10 after hitting .558 as a member of the Tri-City Dust Devils. At the time of his callup, Beerer led the Northwest League with 24 hits -- despite not having enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title.
Darn Near Invincible: Right-hander Chad Lee received a promotion to Class A Kane County earlier this month, and for good reason. The 23-year-old made three starts for the Vancouver Canadians and hurled 15 scoreless innings. Opponents hit just .023 against him -- one hit in 44 at-bats.
Free Baseball Finally Results In Winning Baseball: On July 29, the Asheville Tourists eked out a 5-4 win over the Delmarva Shorebirds in a game that took 10 innings to complete. The win was the Tourists' first in extra innings this season, improving their record in that category to 1-9.
The Omaha Royals snapped an even longer extra-inning losing streak on July 12. They defeated the New Orleans Zephyrs, 3-1, in 12 innings -- Omaha's first extra-inning victory in 12 attempts.
The "0"-Royals: Omaha's lack of success in extra innings is indicative of their season thus far, as the club is mired in last place in the Pacific Coast League's American North Division. But of the club's 43 victories of the season, 14 have been a shutout of the opposing team. This not only leads the league by a wide margin (no other team has more than eight), but it marks the most shutouts the club has recorded since 1990. Omaha won 86 games that year -- twice as many as they have thus far in 2009.
On the offensive side of the equation, the O-Royals have been blanked in just two of their 61 losses.
Less A Rotation, More An Endless String: The Charlotte Knights recently completed a stretch in which they started nine pitchers over a span of 10 days. From the club's media department: "[This] included a spot start from RHP Derek Rodriguez on July 20, a pair of Triple-A debuts from RHP Matt Zaleski and LHP Aaron Poreda and a start from RHP Lucas Harrell, LHP Wes Whisler and RHP Jack Egbert. It also featured RHP Jeff Marquez's last start before being placed on the disabled list, and a Major League rehab start from RHP Bartolo Colon."
Mr. Economical: Between July 25 and July 29, the Bulls' Jason Childers picked up four saves in as many opportunities. He threw 10 pitches or less in all four of these one-inning outings, and just 31 pitches overall. Of these 31 pitches, 24 went for strikes.
Hudspeth Update: Previous editions of this column have noted the extreme disparity in pitcher Casey Hudspeth's home/road splits. Over 14 starts with Double-A Corpus Christi this season, the 25 year-old went 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA at home, but 0-6 with a 10.31 ERA on the road.
Hudspeth was demoted to Class A Advanced Lancaster at the beginning of July, but thus far the trend has continued. He is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA at home but 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA on the road.
Home on the Road: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees played as the home team in four different cities over the past month. One of these cities was Scranton, of course. But severe drainage issues at PNC Field caused the club to relocate home games scheduled for July 9-12. Two of these contests were played in Lehigh Valley, and the other two in Syracuse. The Yankees then played as the "home" team in Toledo two weeks later, as the two clubs had to make up a pair of postponed contests that were originally scheduled to be played in Scranton. The Toledo front office poked fun at the situation in several ways -- members of the front office staff wore Yankees apparel, and clips from "The Office" (which takes place in Scranton) were shown on the videoboard.
Offensive Output Most Anomalous: Anthony Jackson of the Tulsa Drillers has hit four triples over 94 games this season, but three of these three-baggers came over a span of just six at-bats. The switch-hitting outfielder tripled in the ninth inning against San Antonio on July 12 and hit two more the next night.
Eight Straight Across the Plate: Kyle Hudson of the Delmarva Shorebirds scored at least one run in eight consecutive games this month. The final game of this streak was by far the most impressive, as the 22-year-old crossed the plate five times as part of a 19-0 rout of Lexington. It then took him 11 games to score another five runs.
Walk This Way: Gwinnett's Reid Gorecki has walked 31 times over 90 games this season, not a prodigious rate by any means. The Queens native was nonetheless able to draw a free pass in 10 straight games this month -- one in each game he played between July 4 and 17. Gorecki has drawn just four walks in his ensuing 11 contests.
No K is OK: On July 5, Junior Lake of the Peoria Chiefs went 0-for-4 against the Beloit Snappers. This in-and-of itself was nothing to celebrate, but Lake's performance did have one positive aspect -- it snapped his string of 21 consecutive starts with at least one strikeout. On the season, Lake has fanned 103 times in 339 at-bats.
Simply the Wes: Apparently, the only way to keep Gwinnett's Wes Timmons off of the bases is to get him out of the game. The first baseman is currently on the disabled list with a broken thumb, but he'll have a chance to extend his International League-best 40-game on-base streak when he returns. When the streak began on May 27, Timmons was hitting .191. He is now hitting 100 points higher, and he boasts a .435 on-base percentage to boot, which would officially lead the league if Timmons' absence hadn't made him miss the requisite plate appearances.
They Can't Hit What They Can't Reach On July 1, Charleston RiverDogs right-hander Andrew Brackman pitched 3 2/3 hitless innings against the Greenville Drive. That was the good news. The bad news was that he walked eight batters, allowed five runs and suffered the loss. The 6-foot-10 hurler had a rough go of it to the dissonant tune of an 0-5 record and 13.76 ERA in July.
Yepez, He Can: It is not uncommon to see position players take the mound during a blowout as a way to preserve the team's pitching staff for more competitive situations. But what is uncommon is a position player pitching for as long as Marcos Yepez did against the Toledo Mud Hens on July 23. The moonlighting infielder came in to pitch with two outs in the third inning, with his Syracuse Chiefs losing by a score 12-0. He stayed on the mound for 4 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on 10 hits and a walk. Jorge Padilla came on to relieve Yepez in the eighth inning, at which point Yepez transitioned to third base.
An Ultra-Rare Combination: Jonathan Gaston has been enjoying a phenomenal season as a member of the Lancaster JetHawks, leading all of Minor League Baseball with 29 home runs. But what is perhaps even more impressive is that Gaston has also ripped 14 triples -- tied for the most in all of Minor League Baseball.
All Good Things Must Come To An End: Joey Williamson of the Modesto Nuts suffered the loss against Bakersfield on July 9, allowing five runs over six innings of work. This marked the first loss of Williamson's career -- he had gone 18-0 over his first 76 appearances, a period of time spanning four teams and three seasons. Williamson has made four starts since absorbing his first defeat, picking up two victories en route to running his record to 11-1 on the season and 20-1 overall.
A Good Thing That Has Not Come To An End: Brady Shoemaker made his professional debut with the Rookie-level Bristol Sox on June 23 and went 1-for-3. The 22-year-old left fielder has gone on to hit safely in all 28 games he has played, ending the month of July with a .415 average (44-for-106).
Mastro, If You Please: On July 25, Darin Mastroianni set a New Hampshire Fisher Cats franchise record when he recorded four outfield assists in a game against the Portland Sea Dogs. This is a rare feat, indeed. Consider that it has occurred just 11 times at the Major League level, with the most recent such incident taking place in 1928. Mastroianni threw out John Ottness at home plate in the first inning, gunned down Jon Still at the plate in the second and sixth, and nailed Matt Sheely at third base in the fifth. The Fisher Cats nonetheless lost the game, 4-3.
Getting It Out Of Their System: The South Bend Silver Hawks dropped an 11-4 decision to the West Michigan Whitecaps on July 1. In the loss, the Silver Hawks pitchers allowed 21 hits, while the defense made six errors. Both were season highs.