Welcome to Crooked Numbers, a long-running column dedicated to Minor League Baseball on-field anomalies. The column, like everything related to the Minor Leagues, was forced to take a hiatus in 2020. But now is a time for optimism. We're one month into a new season, and it's time to once
Welcome to Crooked Numbers, a long-running column dedicated to Minor League Baseball on-field anomalies. The column, like everything related to the Minor Leagues, was forced to take a hiatus in 2020. But now is a time for optimism. We're one month into a new season, and it's time to once again get weird. The following is a light sampling from the sumptuous buffet of oddities that Minor League Baseball so generously provides on a nightly basis.
Take a walk on the wild side
On May 6, the Double-A Birmingham Barons pitchers issued 16 walks in one game. That's bad. But even worse? Thirteen of those free passes came in the sixth inning. When the Biloxi Shuckers came to bat in that fateful frame, the Barons were clinging to a 2-1 lead. By the time it was over, they were losing by a score of 13-2. Alec Hansen was the first Baron to take the mound, and he set the tone by walking four of the six batters he faced. Luis Ledo was the next hurler to get the call. After a sacrifice fly, he issued five straight walks and was summarily removed. It was then Anderson Severino's turn. He faced five batters, walking four of them, and for good measure, hit the other one. The fourth pitcher of the inning, Jake Elliott, finally recorded the elusive third out and the Barons' out-of-control nightmare was finally over. Four Shuckers batters walked twice in the frame: Ryan Aguilar, Gabriel Garcia, Jesus Lujano and Lucas Erceg. The 13 free passes issued in the inning exceeded the Major League record of 11, ignominiously achieved by the Washington Senators on Sept. 11, 1949 in a 20-5 loss to the New York Yankees.
Fish devours bird
The Tampa Tarpons began the 2021 campaign by scoring 10 or more runs in five straight games, all of them victories over the visiting Dunedin Blue Jays. This early-season outburst reached its apex on May 7, with Tampa cruising to a 25-10 win. The consistency of the Tarpons' attack was most impressive, as the Low-A Yankees affiliate scored two or more runs in seven of the eight innings in which they came to the plate. The ballgame -- which took a grueling four hours and 37 minutes to play -- featured a grand total of 35 runs, 33 hits and 18 walks. Eighteen of the game's 19 hitters scored at least once, with Dunedin's Orelvis Martinez the only individual whose feet never touched the dish.
Shifting gears for the cycle
On May 23 after eight innings of play, the Low-A Lakeland Flying Tigers were clinging to an 8-7 lead over the Bradenton Marauders. Lakeland's Gage Workman had enjoyed a solid day at the plate, collecting a triple in the third inning and homering in the sixth. Nonetheless, hitting for the cycle wasn't on his -- or anyone's -- mind as the ninth began. But then, baseball happened. Workman, the seventh batter in what was ultimately a 12-run frame, hit a one-out bases-loaded single to widen Lakeland's lead to 11-7. The hits (and walks) just kept coming for the Flying Tigers, and Workman again came to the plate as the 16th batter of the inning. He hit a two-run double, extending the lead to 20-7, and yes, hitting for the cycle in the process. Who could have seen that coming?
Home sweet home?
It's been a rough season for Low-A East teams playing in new ballparks. The two clubs who fall into that admittedly specialized category, the Fredericksburg Nationals and Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, had one win apiece at home in May. Kannapolis lost its first nine games at Atrium Health Ballpark before picking up a win against Columbia on May 21. The Cannon Ballers' home record now stands at 1-11. Fredericksburg began the season with a 15-game losing streak, nine of which were played at home. The Nationals earned their first win in franchise history on May 21, finally christening FredNats Ballpark (name subject to change) with a win. The team's home record currently stands at 2-13. Things can only get better from here, right?
When the High-A Quad Cities River Bandits hosted the Cedar Rapids Kernels on May 13, it was a "Sherlock" that Watson's team would win. Tyler Watson was the starting pitcher for the Kernels, facing Nolan Watson of the River Bandits. The evening's Watson-on-Watson action didn't last for long, unfortunately. Tyler was removed after just 1 2/3 innings of work, while Nolan tossed three frames before being sent to the showers. Neither Watson factored into the decision, but Nolan's River Bandits ultimately prevailed by a score of 5-4.
Speaking of Cedar Rapids...
On May 29, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers no-hit the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the first game of a doubleheader. Freisis Adames pitched the first five innings for the Timber Rattlers, walking three and allowing a run. Taylor Floyd closed things out with two perfect frames to preserve the 8-1 victory. It may not have been too exciting as no-hitters go, but it did mark the continuation of a unique trend. Of the five no-nos in Timber Rattlers history, three have occurred in Cedar Rapids. Adames and Floyd followed in the corn-fed footsteps of Derrick Van Dusen (Aug. 27, 2001) and Jake Odorizzi and Adrian Rosario (Aug. 24, 2010). Kudos to Timber Rattlers broadcaster Chris Mehring for providing this "Kernel" of Cedar Rapids information.
And finally, a story in two tweets
During the May 14 game between the Triple-A Reno Aces and Las Vegas Aviators, Aces broadcaster Zack Bayrouty tweeted the following:
The next day, video emerged. Blake Lalli has indeed set the bar for a COVID-era ejection.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.