Friday, April 10, 2015

Opening Day Review

   Two of the Blue Jays affiliates celebrated their home openers yesterday. Well, one did, the other  and Mother Nature had something to say about the other.

   The Buffalo Bisons hosted Rochester, and went up against the Twins' top pitching prospect, Alex Myers.  Myers battled some control issues, surrendering 6 walks, but the Red Wings pounded Bisons starter Andrew Albers for 8 hits and 4 runs, and took the contest 6-3.  Buffalo battled back with a pair of runs in the sixth to pull within a run, but Rochester scored a pair off of Bisons closer Bobby Korecky in the final frame to put the game out of reach.
   Ryan Tepara and Gregory Infante each had scoreless outings in relief of Albers. There's a good chance that one or both may see time with the Blue Jays.

  New Hampshire had their home opener against New Britain postponed by wind, snow, and rain. There was no word on who was to have started the game, but my bet was Matt Boyd.  The Fisher Cats will make up the game with the Rock Cats as part of a twin bill on Sunday.  There's no word again on today's starter as New Hampshire will try to open their season again, but it would have to be Boyd or Taylor Cole.

   Dunedin opened their season by spoiling the Phillies affiliate's home opener, topping their neighbour Clearwater Threshers, 5-2.   Jairo Labourt started the game for the D-Jays, and was lights out in the early going:

  Labourt lost a bit of velocity in the 6th, and gave up some hard contact, but the start was encouraging.  Labourt started last year with Lansing, but struggled with his command, and was snet back to extended spring training to regroup, and he rediscovered his control when he was shipped out to Vancouver in June.  In 5.1 innings, Labourt gave up 5 hits, a pair of runs, and walked one.  He struck out 3, including rehabbing Phillies outfielder Dom Brown twice.   The Blue Jays own rehabber, Michael Saunders, was 0-3, but was robbed by Clearwater OF Aaron Brown, who brought a home run back over the fence.

   Mitch Nay, Dawel Lugo, and Matt Dean all went deep for Dunedin.  The trio hit a collective total of 16 Home Runs in the tough hitter's parks of the Midwest League last year, and while the Florida State League can be tough on hitters as well, perhaps this is the year that the power that has been prophesized for all three might be realized.

   And it only took four innings for the first triple play in all of baseball to be registered when Dean grounded into a 5-4-3 triple killing.

   Lansing's home opener is tonight, but they opened the newly renovated Cooley Law Stadium with their annual Crosstown Showdown against Michigan State.  The Lugs topped the Spartans 9-4. Lansing traditionally brings in pitchers from the lower levels to pitch this game, in order to save the regular pitching staff members for league play.  Lansing broadcaster recalled a game from a couple of years ago:

   Lansing used a quintet of pitchers in this game.  2014 8th round pick Justin Shafer started the game, and after giving up 3 runs in the first inning, settled down to strike out the side in the second.  Conner Greene, a 7th round pick in 2013 who has some acting credits to his name, pitched a scoreless third and fourth inning.  Chase Wellbrock, a 33rd round pick last year, pitched the fifth and gave up a run and struck out two.  Jesus Tinoco and Sean Reid-Foley each pitched scoreless, two K innings to finish the seven-inning contest.  All pitchers should start at Vancouver this year, although there are rumblings that Greene will be staying in Michigan.
  On the offensive side of things for Lansing, 1B Ryan McBroom was 2-2 with a double and a solo shot to open the scoring in the 2nd, and SS Richard Urena hit a solo blast as well.
   The Lugnuts open their Midwest League season against Lake County tonight in Lansing, with the repeating Chase De Jong taking the mound.

   It's shaping up to be a great minor league season.  The Bisons, for now, have a mostly veteran roster, so even though I hope to see them a few times this summer, my focus will be on New Hampshire, Dunedin, and Lansing for now, then expand to the short season teams in June.  I tweet regular updates about probably pitchers and 140 character game summaries.  If you don't follow me, I'm @Clutchlings77 on Twitter.

   A late note:  today's Bisons game has been postponed due to wind.

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