Corpus Christi (11-15) @ Midland (15-11)
Good news and bad news from yesterday's matinee here in Midland. The good news? The Hooks scored four runs in the ninth, equaling their season high for most runs in one inning. The bad news? The score was 8-1 Midland when the Hooks came to bat in the ninth. The RockHounds' 8-5 victory was their fifth in six games against the Hooks this season and keeps them a game ahead of second-place Frisco.
The Hooks, who have lost three straight and seven of their last nine, are now four games off the pace. Jon Gaston and Jimmy VanOstrand each knocked in a pair of runs in that four-run ninth. David Cook slugged a solo home run in the seventh - his second homer of the year. RockHounds' starter Travis Banwart was the star of yesterday's show, holding the Hooks to a run on three hits and a couple of walks over eight innings. He set a season high and tied his career best with nine strikeouts.
LHP Tyler Lumsden (1-0, 3.57) vs. LHP Carlos Hernandez (2-0, 2.45)
Lumsden, acquired by the Astros in a November, 2008 trade with Kansas City for outfielder Jordan Parraz, makes his seventh appearance and fourth start for the Hooks. Last Saturday against Frisco, Lumsden turned in his third sharp performance as a starter, limiting the RoughRiders to a run on six hits over five innings in Corpus Christi's 5-2 win. He did not issue a walk and fanned three during his 66-pitch effort. The southpaw has now allowed just two runs over 13 innings in his three starts for an ERA of 1.38. All three of his starts have come at Whataburger Field, making tonight his first start on the road.
- Was 2-4 with a 5.15 ERA in 16 games and 4 starts for the Hooks last season
- Also appeared in 14 games in relief for Round Rock last year, going 0-0 with a 4.42 ERA
- Originally a first-round pick (34th pick overall) of the White Sox in the 2004 draft out of Clemson
Hernandez, selected by the A's in the 35th round of the 2006 draft out of West Valley College (CA), makes his sixth start for the RockHounds. Saturday at San Antonio, Hernandez collected his second win of the year, holding the Missions to a run on two hits and three walks over five innings as the RockHounds prevailed 9-4. His teammates staked him to a 7-0 lead after three innings. The lefty has been comfortable on the road, going 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in four starts. In his lone outing here at Citibank Ballpark April 9 vs. Arkansas, Hernandez was charged with three earned runs over 4.1 innings (6.23 ERA).
- Went 9-7 with a 3.99 ERA in 19 starts for Stockton in 2009
- Also pitched last year for Midland (6-1, 4.62, 9 games, 6 starts) and Sacramento (1 relief app, no runs, 3.1 IP)
- Was a combined 7-0 with a 2.04 ERA in 2008 with Vancouver and Kane County (14 games, 13 starts)
In a shake-up of the catching corps in the Astros' system, J.R. Towles arrives today to join the Corpus Christi roster. In 17 games and 13 starts this year for Houston, Towles was batting .191 (9-47) with 3 doubles, 1 HR and 8 RBIs.
Towles, a native of Crosby, Texas, had a phenomenal two months for the Hooks during the 2007 season. In 61 games, Towles batted .324 with 12 doubles, 2 triples, 11 home runs, 49 RBIs and 9 stolen bases. He spent the last three weeks of the regular season that year with AAA Round Rock and earned a September call-up to Houston, where he impressed with a .375 average over 14 games. That included his record-setting game in St. Louis on September 20, when he went 4-for-4 with 2 doubles, a home run and 8 RBIs.
Towles takes the roster spot of Brian Esposito, who got the call to Round Rock. Esposito went 1-for-3 with a run as the Express edged Nashville last night 2-1.
Kevin Cash, who had been with Round Rock, had his contract purchased by the Astros and was added to the team's 40-man roster. Cash went 0-for-2 with 2 strikeouts in last night's 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks.
The return of "Van Ruth?"
Jimmy VanOstrand is back, reinvigorated by his return to Citibank Ballpark. In the first two games of this series, VanOstrand is 4-for-7 with a walk, a double and two RBIs. His two-run single in the ninth yesterday was his first hit this season with runners in scoring position in 13 at-bats.
In 16 games here last season, VanOstrand batted .400 (26-65) with 5 doubles, 8 HRs and 25 RBIs. The eight home runs represented exactly half of his homer output for the 2009 season. Adding in the first two games of this series with what he accomplished here last year, VanOstrand is hitting .417 (30-72) at "The Bank" with 6 doubles, 8 HRs and 27 RBIs in 18 total games. VanOstrand did not play here during his very brief stint with the Hooks in 2008.
Midland broadcaster Bob Hards dubbed VanOstrand "Jimmy Van Ruth" during the course of his uncanny production last year here in Midland.
Steele heating up
Center fielder T.J. Steele is making some noise with his bat. He enters play tonight with a 6-game hitting streak. During the streak, Steele is batting .333 (8-24) with 1 triple, 1 run and 5 RBIs. He also has two steals over those six games. Steele has raised his season's average from .192 to .227 during the streak, and enters tonight's action with a .323 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Offense still lagging
Despite the recent contributions of VanOstrand and Steele, the Hooks continue to labor on offense. Over the last 11 games, in which the Hooks have a record of 3-8, Corpus Christi is batting just .215 (75-349) as a team, scoring an average of 2.8 runs per game. The club is batting just .207 (17-82) with runners in scoring position in that stretch and has been held to five or fewer runs in all 11 of those games.
Cook's home run was certainly a welcome sight yesterday, but it was just the fourth home run for the club over the last 15 games. Corpus Christi had slugged 11 homers in its first 11 games.
Clemens...DNP for the first time yesterday; 3-14 in his last 4 games with 1 double, 1 HR, 3 runs and 1 RBI
Cook...5-16 in the last 5 games with 3 doubles, 1 HR, 4 runs and 2 RBIs
Duran...2-13 in the last 4 games with 3 walks, 1 run and 1 RBI
Florentino...1-6 this series with 1 double
Garciaparra...0-4 in his last 2 games with 1 walk; was 2-9 with 1 RBI with Round Rock
Gaston...2-7 in the last 3 games with 2 walks, 1 run and 2 RBIs
Santangelo...1-10 in his last 3 games with 2 walks, 1 double and 1 run
Shuck...1-12 in the last 3 games with 1 walk, 1 double and 2 runs
Pitching Rotation at Midland
Friday: RHP Jordan Lyles (2-2, 2.48) vs. LHP Pedro Figueroa (1-1, 2.73)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.