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Crooked Numbers: 66ers play small ball

Inland Empire collects 19 hits -- all singles -- to topple High Desert
May 5, 2015

In a league where power numbers are typically among the highest in the Minors, Inland Empire did the improbable on April 24, amassing 19 hits and 13 runs without registering a double, a triple or a home run. That's right -- 19 hits, all singles.

Every 66ers batter had at least one, while seven put forth a multi-hit effort. Leading the way was shortstop Angel Rosa, who went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, and first baseman Eric Aguilera, who was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a pair of runs scored in a 13-5 win over the visiting High Desert Mavericks.

"Never, ever, ever, never, no," said Rosa. "This is definitely the first time. Every year it's something with this team. Last year [with Class A Clinton] we lost that game where we were up 16-1 after six innings. This year, it's a game with 19 hits that are all singles. That's pretty unique. It's a really weird game when you get 19 hits without an extra-base hit."

The hit total marked a season high for the Angels' Class A Advanced affiliate, and fell two short of the 2015 California League high of 21 set by Stockton. It also marked the most hits allowed by the Mavericks this season.

"When I looked at the box score, I said, 'Wow, we had 19 singles,'" said Inland Empire hitting coach Brent Del Chiaro. "They were all hit hard at people. I remember their outfielders throwing the ball to third, so I thought we had some extra-base hits. As far as where it ranks, it's a first for me, especially in the California League where the ball flies. It's something pretty special."

Added 66ers play-by-play man Steve Wendt: "To be honest with you, it was about the seventh inning and I was going through my box score thinking, 'That's a lot of hits,'" he said. "But that was a single, that was a single, that was a single -- I was looking for an extra-base hit. It kind of snuck up on me. About hit No. 14 was when I noticed. It made me feel a little bit derelict in my duty."

Pitching efficiently

Speaking of a lack of extra-base hits, Modesto broadcaster Keaton Gillogly tipped us off to the fact that Nuts right-hander Antonio Senzatela faced 55 batters before he gave up his first extra-base knock of the season. After not allowing anything more than singles in his first 13 innings over three games, Senzatela surrendered a leadoff homer to A.J. Reed in the second frame against Lancaster on April 25.

Strike three? Not so much for Margot

It had to end eventually for Manuel Margot, but it was good while it lasted.

On April 30, the center fielder for the Salem Red Sox went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. What's notable about that, you ask? It marked the first time in 17 games that Margot whiffed, a string of 62 at-bats that reaches 79 if you go back to the end of last season. Earlier in the week, Margot told Baseball America that "cutting down on his strikeouts was a goal entering this season, but he had no idea he had done so well."

Gwinnett's Sean Kazmar now holds the distinction of having the longest punchout-free streak in the Minors -- 42 at-bats and counting.

Rain, rain, go away

Albuquerque broadcaster Josh Suchon tweeted April 26 that the rainout in Las Vegas was the first rain-related postponement in the city since 2008. The 51s have had games called for wind and power outages in the past eight years, but not for rain.

Only four Pacific Coast League games have been canceled because of rain since 2012 -- in Omaha and Albuquerque in 2014; Colorado Springs in 2013; and Oklahoma City in 2012.

Suchon said he'd never seen a tarp on the field at Cashman Field before. When the rain finally came, the mound and batter's box were covered, but there was no tarp for the infield.

Brother, where art thou?

Garin and Gavin Cecchini
Garin (left) and Gavin Cecchini both went deep on April 14 (Ken Inness, Gordon Donovan/

For the second time in their Minor League careers, brother Garin and Gavin Cecchini went deep on the same day on April 14.

Playing just 100 minutes apart but at two different levels, the siblings went yard within roughly an hour-and-a-half of each other.

Garin, a third baseman with Triple-A Pawtucket, cracked a solo homer as part of a 2-for-5 effort that helped the Red Sox beat the host Buffalo Bisons, 9-6. Then, just along I-90, Binghamton shortstop Gavin clubbed a solo homer off Ryan Tepera.

"I wouldn't say I talk with [Garin] every single day, but we talk a few times a week," Gavin said after the game. "He texted me tonight and congratulated me, and then there were a few group texts that I saw from family members after the game that said we both homered and doubled in our games, so that's cool."

Double trouble

Visalia's Donny Barnes foresaw history in the making on Tuesday, April 28.

No sooner had he let fans know that the Rawhide's middle infield was turning two as well as any combination in the league ever, the team tied the record with their seventh twin killing.

Visalia turned four 6-4-3 double plays, one strike-him-out throw-him-out and two different double plays started by the pitcher -- the first going 1-6-3 and the second 1-2-3 with the bases loaded and a forceout at the plate.

Behind the slick defensive effort, Visalia edged San Jose, 4-3. Fittingly, the game ended on a double play, Jesus Galindo grounding out to shortstop Domingo Leyba, who relayed the ball to second baseman Kevin Medrano, who threw on to Kevin Cron at first.

When nothing isn't good enough

The good news: West Virginia Power pitchers Jake Burnette, Jose Regalado and Eric Dorsch combined to throw a seven-inning no-hitter against the Hagerstown Suns on April 15.

The bad news: The Power lost the game, 1-0.

As Sam Dykstra noted in his game recap, this marked the first time since April 29, 2008, that a no-hitter resulted in defeat for a full-season Minor League club. The last no-hit loss in the South Atlantic League occurred June 27, 2004, when Rome's Mike Mueller accomplished the feat against now-defunct Capitol City.

It could be argued that April 15's West Virginia Power no-hitter represented the least of all possible no-hitters, however: It was a combined effort (strike one), a seven-inning game (strike two) and the team pitching the no-hitter lost (you're out!).

The legend continues

Outfielder Mike McCoy took the mound for the El Paso Chihuahuas on April 10, pitching the ninth inning and allowing the final run of a 17-5 loss against the Sacramento River Cats. Thus closed another chapter in McCoy's storied but sporadic "moonlighting on the mound" career. McCoy, 34, has pitched 8 2/3 innings over 12 seasons with six teams in five leagues: Peoria (2004), Palm Beach (2005), Colorado Springs (2009), Toronto (2011), Buffalo (2013) and now, El Paso.

The home run that McCoy yielded on April 10 marked just the second time he'd allowed an earned run. The first came June 10, 2005, when he took the mound for Palm Beach in a game against Vero Beach. His career ERA now sits at a more-than-respectable 2.20.

Hey, I'll take it

Sacramento and Salt Lake entered the 18th inning on April 18 embroiled in a 2-2 tie, one that had been in place since the Bees scored a run in the top of the seventh. That all changed in the 18th as Salt Lake got to Brett Bochy for three runs on four hits. Bochy ended up with the win, however improbably. Out of pitchers, the Bees sent catcher Charlie Cutler to the mound in the bottom of the frame. Cutler loaded the bases and allowed a walk-off grand slam to Jarrett Parker, giving the River Cats a memorable 6-5 win.

Cutler, since sent to Double-A Arkansas, allowed more hits as a pitcher with the Bees (2) than he collected as a batter (1).

Triple double

New Orleans turned a 5-3-4-6 triple play against Omaha Storm on April 17 with Jason Bour representing the "3" in that equation, the second time in the last eight months he'd been involved in such a Zephyrs endeavor. Bour, who also participated in a 6-4-3-2 triple play on Aug. 21, 2014, has now been involved in as many triple plays as he has triples (one in 2010 and 2011).

On April 19, Wilmington shortstop Jack Lopez joined Bour in the world of "two triple plays, one Minor League team." Lopez resorted to a cunning bit of trickery to pull it off, purposefully dropping a soft line drive so that he could initiate a 6-3 triple play against the Frederick Keys. He last was involved in a triple play on July 27, 2014, a 4-6 effort against the Winston-Salem Dash.

A little with a lot

On April 14 the High Desert Mavericks collected 14 hits against the Lake Elsinore Storm -- and won by a score of 1-0. The Mavericks hit safely in each of the first seven innings and collected hits in the ninth and 10th before finally pushing a run across in the 11th.

A lot with a little

On April 25, South Bend scored seven runs over the first three innings against Fort Wayne while collecting just one hit. TinCaps pitchers issued six walks and hit a batter over that time, with a throwing error leading to two unearned runs. The Cubs went on to win by a score of 9-3, despite collecting three hits in the ballgame.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.