Pacific Coast League notebook

News & notes from June 28 to July 4

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By Edward de la Fuente / Special to MLB.com | July 6, 2009 6:00 AM ET

Albuquerque Isotopes (Los Angeles Dodgers)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Isotopes remained atop the American South Division with a 3-3 mark.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: C JD Closser batted .379 (11-for-29) over his last nine games. ... OF Jamie Hoffman had a .412 average (7-for-17) over a five-game span. ... 2B Blake DeWitt had two hits in 18 at-bats (.111) over his last five games.

MAKING PROGRESS: Amid all the hoopla caused by OF Manny Ramirez's brief rehab stint with the Isotopes last month, veteran RHP Jason Schmidt quietly has progressed in his quest to return to the Dodgers. The 36-year-old made his latest start on Wednesday, allowing four runs over six innings and earning the victory over Memphis. He's 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in four outings with the Isotopes. Schmidt, who hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues in more than two years, enjoyed his strongest start on June 28, throwing 104 pitches and striking out seven over 7 2/3 shutout innings.

NEWS & NOTES: RHP Scott Strickland picked up his fourth save in as many appearances Friday as Albuquerque beat Memphis. He had converted eight chances in a row and had 16 on the season to rank third in the league. ... RHP Giancarlo Alvarado was second in the PCL entering Saturday with 80 strikeouts. He fanned seven over five innings Friday in picking up his sixth win. ... OF Dee Brown homered in consecutive games Wednesday and Friday to assume the team lead with 15.

Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Colorado Rockies)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Sky Sox went 5-2 and held onto first place in the Pacific North Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: OF Matt Miller sported a .438 average (7-for-16) over a five-game span. ... 2B Eric Young collected eight hits in 18 at-bats (.444) over five contests. ... OF Chris Frey batted .133 (4-for-30) in nine games.

PERFECTION: RHP Brandon Hynick tossed a seven-inning perfect game Tuesday night as Colorado Springs defeated Portland, 2-0. It was the ninth perfect game in PCL history and the first since Nashville's Manny Parra on June 25, 2007. Hynick, 24, struck out six and got all the support he needed when the Sky Sox scored in the third and sixth innings. He also extended his string of scoreless innings to 15, following a June 25 start in which he threw seven shutout innings in a victory over Sacramento.

NEWS & NOTES: LHP Greg Smith, who had made only one start with the Sky Sox this year due to a shoulder strain, returned to the rotation Friday and allowed two runs over 4 1/3 innings in Colorado Springs' victory over Salt Lake. ... OF Matt Murton, who went hitless in three straight games following a 29-game hitting streak, entered Saturday with hits in six of his last seven contests. ... Young easily remained the league leader with 46 stolen bases, 18 more than anyone else.

Fresno Grizzlies (San Francisco Giants)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Grizzlies went 2-5 and stood in second place in the Pacific South Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: SS Jake Wald had a .550 average (11-for-20) with three homers and five RBIs over his last seven games. ... OF Eugenio Velez batted .371 (13-for-35) in his last nine contests. ... OF Ben Copeland had one hit in 15 at-bats (.067) over his last four games.

SUMMER HEAT: If there were a Triple Crown for individual months, OF John Bowker nearly won it as the hottest PCL hitter in June. In 27 games, he batted .392, second only to Iowa's Sam Fuld (.398), while leading the league with 12 homers and 29 RBIs. His home run total was five more than any other PCL player. The 25-year-old might have been disappointed to see June end, as he went 0-for-6 in his first two games in July, but he entered the weekend as the second-leading hitter in the league (.351) while ranking No. 1 in on-base percentage (.456) and No. 4 in slugging (.623).

NEWS & NOTES: RHP Kevin Pucetas allowed one run over seven innings Tuesday for his third win in four starts. He had logged seven innings and allowed one run or fewer in three of those outings. ... The Grizzlies totaled five runs in getting swept in three games by Sacramento last week and had scored three runs or fewer in five of the last seven contests. ... Over his last nine starts, LHP Steve Hammond was 3-0 when he worked seven innings and 0-6 when he did not pitch that long.

Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: With a 3-4 mark, the Cubs held second place in the American North Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: 2B Nate Spears hit .360 (9-for-25) in his last nine games. ... RHP Vince Perkins did not allow a run and struck out 10 over 7 1/3 innings in his last four appearances. ... OF Jason Dubois batted .138 (4-for-29) over his last eight games.

ONE-RUN WONDERS: The Cubs entered Saturday having allowed exactly one run in each of the last four games. Amazingly, they were only 2-2 in that span. Iowa lost consecutive 1-0 games on Tuesday at Round Rock on in 14 innings on Wednesday against Oklahoma City. The Cubs' offense finally broke out of its slumber Thursday, producing just enough to support the pitching staff in a 2-1 victory before routing the RedHawks, 7-1, on Friday. Thursday's win broke a five-game losing streak in which the Cubs also lost a 3-2 decision to Round Rock, but they entered Saturday having allowed three runs or fewer in eight of the last 12 games.

NEWS & NOTES: OF John-Ford Griffin, picked up after being released by the Dodgers organization in May, had a .313 average through 29 games with the Cubs. He hit .122 in 16 games with the Isotopes to begin the season. ... RHP Jose Ascanio on Wednesday made his first start since a nearly two-month stint with Chicago, pitching four scoreless innings. He had an 0.88 ERA in seven Triple-A starts. ... The Cubs hit the fewest homers (eight) of any PCL team in June.

Las Vegas 51s (Toronto Blue Jays)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The 51s remained in the Pacific South Division cellar, despite going 5-2.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: OF Aaron Mathews had a .375 average (15-for-40) and 12 RBIs over his last nine games. ... 3B Kevin Howard hit .410 (16-for-39) with two homers and nine RBIs in a 10-game span. ... DH Brett Harper batted .192 (5-for-26) over seven games.

WINNING ATTITUDE: Before being promoted to the Blue Jays last month, LHP Brad Mills hadn't had much luck pitching in the 51s rotation -- he was 1-8 in 13 starts, despite a serviceable 4.48 ERA. Upon his return to Las Vegas last week, the 24-year-old took matters into his own hands in his first start back, allowing two hits over eight scoreless innings as the 51s beat Reno. Mills struck out seven to improve to 2-8 and lower his ERA to 4.06. He made his Major League debut in June with two rough starts, going 0-1 with a 14.09 ERA and failing to pitch past the fifth inning in either outing.

NEWS & NOTES: LHP Marc Rzepczynski continued to impress in his second Triple-A start, giving up one run over 5 2/3 innings to beat Sacramento on Monday. The 23-year-old improved to 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA. ... RHP Bryan Bullington picked up saves in consecutive appearances Sunday and Monday, helping the 51s defeat Sacramento with scoreless ninth innings. Bullington has three saves on the year. ... LHP Fabio Castro lost his third consecutive decision Friday, though he managed to break a string of four straight starts in which he allowed at least four runs.

Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Redbirds went 3-3 and were in third place in the American North Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: 3B Brett Wallace boasted a .395 average (15-for-38) over his last 10 games. ... 1B Mark Hamilton hit .385 (5-for-13) over five contests. ... 2B Casey Rowlett batted .125 (2-for-16) in his last seven games.

BAD LUCK, FOR STARTERS: The Redbirds' starting rotation doesn't have much of a record to stand on, whether its pitchers have performed well or not. Entering Saturday, current Memphis starters were a combined 15-30 and only one -- RHP Clayton Mortensen (7-4) -- had a winning record. RHP Adam Ottavino has had the roughest time, going 0-9 in 15 starts. By contrast, the current members of the Redbirds' bullpen were 13-8, which probably isn't that surprising considering Memphis was tied for the league lead in wins when trailing after the eighth inning (four).

NEWS & NOTES: 2B Jarrett Hoffpauir led the Redbirds with 10 homers when he was called up to the Cardinals last week. The new team leader is 1B Nick Stavinoha, who had nine through Friday. ... RHP Jess Todd, the team's lone representative on the PCL All-Star team, recorded his 17th save Tuesday. He was tied for the league lead with Salt Lake's Jeremy Hill. ... Ottavino added to his league-leading walk total with three in a no-decision against New Orleans on June 27, giving him 50 on the season.

Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Sounds stood atop the American North Division after posting a 3-3 mark.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: OF Brendan Katin hit .400 (8-for-20) with two homers in his last five games. ... 3B Adam Heether batted .375 (6-for-16) with two homers and four RBIs over his last five games. ... 1B Erick Almonte had two hits in 17 at-bats (.118) over his last eight games.

LONG TIME COMING: RHP Tim Dillard picked up his first victory in nearly a month on Monday, beating Oklahoma City after allowing one run on four hits in eight innings. The 25-year-old broke a string of three no-decisions while winning his first start since May 31. Dillard had started the year on fire, winning his first five outings, before hitting a relative skid -- a 2-3 record in six starts. But Monday's start marked the continuation of an upswing for Dillard, who worked eight innings for the second consecutive outing and pitched into the seventh for the fifth time in his last six outings.

NEWS & NOTES: LHP Chase Wright also ended a long victory drought, winning on June 28 for his first decision since June 3. ... SS Alcides Escobar, one of the Brewers' top prospects, has shown why over his last nine games, collecting three three-hit games. Usually the Sounds' No. 2 hitter, he ended Friday with a .302 average and 58 runs scored. ... LHP Manny Parra earned his first win since being sent down by the Brewers last month, pitching seven shutout innings against Round Rock on Friday. He allowed two hits and struck out seven.

New Orleans Zephyrs (Florida Marlins)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Zephyrs went 1-4 and occupied last place in the American South Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: OF Michael Ryan collected seven hits in 17 at-bats (.412) over his last five games. ... OF Cameron Maybin batted .381 (8-for-21) in a five-game stretch. ... OF John Raynor was 2-for-29 (.069) over his last 10 games.

CONSISTENTLY GOOD: OF Michael Ryan, through Friday the PCL's eighth-leading hitter at .321, has been a jack of all trades for the Zephyrs. He has played all three outfield positions (though his time in center field consists of one game) and designated hitter and has thrived as a pinch-hitter, going 3-for-6. Ryan, who turns 32 on Tuesday, cooled off slightly after batting .373 in April, though he entered Saturday with five hits in 12 at-bats in July. He has been a consistently clutch hitter, batting .409 with runners in scoring position and .500 (5-for-10) with 13 RBIs with the bases loaded.

NEWS & NOTES: The Zephyrs were in the midst of another extra-inning contest Friday, tied 2-2 with Omaha, when rain forced the game to be suspended. Including Friday, six of the Zephyrs' last 12 games have gone to extra innings. ... Despite a strong 6 2/3-inning outing Thursday against Omaha, LHP Willie Collazo suffered his first loss since May 16. He had four victories in between. ... Tuesday's loss to Memphis dropped New Orleans to 6-14 in day games, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Oklahoma City RedHawks (Texas Rangers)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The RedHawks went 3-3 and stood in second place in the American South Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: 3B Esteban German went 8-for-20 (.400) in his last five games. ... OF Brandon Boggs hit .389 (7-for-18) over five games. ... RHP Bryan Corey allowed 11 runs on 13 hits over 4 2/3 innings in his last start.

WITHIN RANGE: RHP Dustin Nippert made a rehab start for the RedHawks on Tuesday, allowing one run on two hits in five innings to pick up the win against Nashville. He has been on the disabled list since the beginning of the season with a strained shoulder, but with another successful start could find himself in position to be activated by the Rangers. The 28-year-old showed good command in his 76-pitch outing, walking two and striking out six, and the only run he allowed was on a solo homer in the third. Oklahoma City scored five runs over the fourth and fifth innings to give him the win.

NEWS & NOTES: RHP A.J. Murray allowed three runs in two innings Friday against Iowa, the first time he had been scored upon in six innings over five outings. However, the runs were unearned, so Murray's ERA dropped to 1.19 through 21 appearances. ... RHP Elizardo Ramirez took the loss Thursday, despite allowing two runs over eight innings. He is 2-3 in his last five starts, although he's worked at least six innings and yielding three runs or fewer in four of them. ... Veteran RHP Orlando Hernandez, signed by the Rangers last month, was 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA after four relief appearances with the RedHawks.

Omaha Royals (Kansas City Royals)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Royals had a 4-1 mark but stood in last place in the American North Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: 2B Irving Falu had nine hits in 21 at-bats (.429) over his last five games. ... SS Mario Lisson hit .351 (13-for-37) with three homers and six RBIs in his last 10 contests. ... 3B Travis Metcalf batted .086 (3-for-35) in his last nine games.

MOUND OF SUCCESS: Omaha's success last week can be attributed largely to its pitching staff, which looked comfortable in as return to Rosenblatt Stadium following a two-week road trip. The Royals allowed nine runs in four games, posting two shutouts, in taking three of four from Albuquerque and built on that success by allowing six runs in two games, splitting the first two of three with New Orleans. The Royals and Zephyrs were deadlocked, 2-2, in the 10th inning when rain suspended Friday's game. Through Friday, Omaha allowed an average of 2.1 runs over its last eight games.

NEWS & NOTES: The Royals lead the league with seven losses in games in which they led after the eighth inning, though that fate hasn't befallen them since June 21. ... RHP Kyle Davies has yet to allow a run in 14 innings since being sent down from Kansas City last month. He has yielded eight hits and struck out 13. ... OF Scott Thorman had three homers in his last six games through Friday and took over the team lead with 14.

Portland Beavers (San Diego Padres)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: With a 2-5 showing, the Beavers occupied the Pacific North Division cellar.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: SS Sean Kazmar had a .389 average (7-for-18) in his last five games. ... RHP Mike Ekstrom pitched six scoreless innings over his last four appearances. ... 2B Matt Antonelli batted .115 (3-for-26) over seven games.

GO-TO GUYS: The Beavers have learned to lean on three pitchers out of the bullpen as its staff endures constant change due to Major League call-ups. RHP Scott Patterson was tied for second in the league with 34 appearances through Friday while posting a 2.72 ERA. Until allowing two runs on Monday, he had a streak of eight appearances and 7 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run. Meanwhile, RHPs Mike Ekstrom and Jonathan Ellis each had 31 appearances entering Saturday. Ekstrom boasted a 2.03 ERA, while Ellis has a team-leading seven wins.

NEWS & NOTES: The league's worst offense suffered perhaps its greatest embarrassment of the season Tuesday, when Colorado Springs' Brandon Hynick threw a seven-inning perfect game against the Beavers. Portland finished Friday with a .248 batting average. ... LHP Wade LeBlanc, fresh off a two-week stint with the Padres, has allowed one run in six innings over two appearances but had only a loss to show for it. ... Signed by the Padres late last month, 1B Valentino Pascucci had a .261 average (6-for-23) and three RBIs in his first six games with the Beavers.

Reno Aces (Arizona Diamondbacks)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Aces held third place in the Pacific South Division after going 4-3.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: OF Trent Oeltjen had a .415 average (17-for-41), five homers and 12 RBIs over 10 games. ... 2B Rusty Ryal batted .410 (16-for-39) with two homers and eight RBIs in his last 10 games. ... 2B Ruben Gotay was 1-for-17 (.059) over his last five contests.

LOTS OF BASES: Oeltjen has been hot at the plate, not just simply in terms of hitting but also in total bases. He carried a seven-game hitting streak into Friday and out of the 15 hits he had in that span, three were doubles (all on Wednesday against Las Vegas) two were triples (adding to his league-leading total of 12) and five were homers. The 26-year-old had just one homer -- on May 24 -- until blasting one against Tacoma on June 27. He also went deep in three of the next four games, drilling a pair on Tuesday against the Rainiers. All told, his slugging percentage over that five-game span was an astounding 1.682.

NEWS & NOTES: Aces Ballpark has shown itself to be friendly to hitters through the first half of its inaugural season. The Aces were batting .300 and averaging 6.2 runs in 35 games there, while their pitching staff had a 5.61 ERA. ... RHP Billy Buckner allowed one run over six innings and picked up the win Friday in his first start for Reno after a six-week stint with the Diamondbacks. ... After batting .304 in his first 17 games with the Aces, SS Abraham Nunez had a .197 average in 24 games since June 1.

Round Rock Express (Houston Astros)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Express went 4-3 and were in third place in the American South Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: 1B John Gall had eight hits in 17 at-bats (.471) and seven RBIs in his last five games. ... 1B Mark Saccomanno hit .438 (7-for-16) over five contests. ... C Lou Santangelo was 2-for-18 (.111) over a six-game span.

FORTUNES REVERSED: The Express returned home June 27, fresh off being swept by Oklahoma City -- a maddening four-game series in which it allowed only 10 runs but scored just five. Round Rock took out its frustrations on Iowa, winning all four games at Dell Diamond as its offense sprung to life and took some pressure off the pitching staff. The Express scored 14 runs in the series' first two games, then overcame a two-run deficit to win, 3-2, on Monday. The Express survived the final game, despite an economy of hits (three), winning 1-0 behind eight shutout innings from LHP Josh Muecke, who earned his second victory.

NEWS & NOTES: RHP Yorman Bazardo has a five-game winning streak but hasn't earned a decision since June 5, a span of four starts. He has a 4.33 ERA during that stretch. ... Saccomanno hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth Thursday to lift Round Rock to a 7-5 victory over Nashville. That gave the Express its league-leading 10th win when tied through eight innings. ... RHP Chad Paronto on Thursday made his first appearance following a three-week stay on the disabled list and picked up the victory after throwing a scoreless ninth.

Sacramento River Cats (Oakland Athletics)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The River Cats maintained first place in the Pacific South Division after going 5-2.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: SS Cliff Pennington batted .429 (15-for-35) over his last 10 games. ... 1B Tommy Everidge had a .366 average (15-for-41), two homers and nine RBIs in a 10-game stretch. ... C Eric Munson had four hits in 33 at-bats (.121) over nine games.

NICE RECOVERY: RHP James Simmons suffered through the worst of a three-start losing streak on June 6, yielding seven runs over five innings as his ERA ballooned to 6.17. But the 22-year-old has bounced back in four starts since then, allowing no more than three runs in any outing. He delivered his best start yet on Thursday, recording a complete-game victory over Fresno while allowing one run on six hits and striking out three. Simmons, the next young pitching star to rise to Triple-A now that RHP Vin Mazzaro and LHP Gio Gonzalez are in Oakland, was 4-4 with a 4.89 ERA through 15 games with the River Cats.

NEWS & NOTES: LHP Dana Eveland suffered his first loss in 11 starts with the River Cats on June 28, giving up eight runs over 4 2/3 innings against Las Vegas. But he rebounded in his next start Friday, surrendering one run in five innings to beat Fresno. ... 1B Tommy Everidge flourished as Daric Barton's replacement, batting .359 in 20 games. With Barton back from Oakland, Everidge was 4-for-12 in three contests as Sacramento's DH. ... The River Cats became the first PCL team to reach 50 wins with Thursday's 5-1 triumph over Fresno.

Salt Lake Bees (Los Angeles Angels)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: With a 2-5 mark, the Bees stood in second place in the Pacific North Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: DH Ben Johnson hit .393 (11-for-28) over his last eight games. ... OF Terry Evans had three homers and nine RBIs in his last 10 games while batting .308 (12-for-39). ... OF Adam Pavkovich had a .120 average (3-for-25) over eight contests.

STATING HIS CASE: Sent down by the Angels in mid-June following a roster shakeup, 2B Howie Kendrick is doing his best to show he deserves a return trip to the Majors. Kendrick entered the weekend batting .346 in 20 games with the Bees, having gone 2-for-4 against Colorado Springs on Friday. The 25-year-old has hit safely in 16 of the 20 games he's played for Salt Lake with six multi-hit efforts and four four-hit performances. Kendrick also had six doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs while batting third or fourth in the Bees' lineup.

NEWS & NOTES: RHP Mike MacDonald suffered his fourth consecutive loss Tuesday, despite limiting Fresno to two runs over 6 2/3 innings. He dropped to 4-9 in 16 starts and is one of three PCL pitchers with nine defeats. ... Salt Lake is one of two teams without a victory when trailing after eight innings (Reno is the other). The Bees also had won once when trailing through seven. ... Veteran RHP Rudy Seanez, 40, had a 4.91 ERA in seven relief appearances with the Bees.

Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners)
THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Rainiers went 3-4, good for third place in the Pacific North Division.

WHO'S HOT/NOT: OF Michael Saunders batted .414 (12-for-29) over a seven-game span. ... DH Jeff Clement hit .385 (15-for-39) with four homers, eight RBIs and 13 runs scored in 10 games. ... OF Prentice Redman had a .182 average (8-for-44) over 10 games.

RENO BLUES: The Rainiers have had trouble with the PCL's newest team, the Reno Aces. When Tacoma faced the former Tucson Sidewinders in a four-game series in early June, the teams won two games apiece, but Reno ended the series with a 21-5 rout. That would become the first of nine consecutive Rainiers' losses to Reno, as the Aces swept them from June 18-21 at Cheney Field, then won four straight in Reno in a series that ended Tuesday. What's more, Tacoma has been outscored, 82-46, in those nine contests. The Rainiers will have to play the Aces four more times this season -- July 27-31 in Reno.

NEWS & NOTES: 1B Bryan LaHair, who was named to the PCL All-Star team last week, had three homers in four games through Friday, raising his team-leading total to 15. He also had seven RBIs over his last five contests. ... Led by LaHair, the Rainiers boasted six players with at least 10 homers. OF Prentice Redman and 3B Chris Shelton had 12 apiece, followed by Clement (11) and 1B Mike Carp and OF Michael Saunders (10). ... RHP Randy Messenger converted saves on consecutive days Wednesday and Thursday and had 15 in 18 chances through Friday.

Edward de la Fuente is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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