All week I talked about how close the Loons were to clinching a 1st half playoff spot, but unfortunately that did not come to fruition as Great Lakes lost on Sunday and finished percentage points behind Lancing in the standings. Both the Lugnuts and the Loons finished the 1st half 1.5 games out of 1st place, but the Loons had a 39 - 30 record for a .565 winning %, and the Lugnuts had a 38 - 29 record for a .567 winning %. Unlike the majors, sometimes a rain-out or two can make a difference in who clinches a playoff spot in the minor leagues.
Minor League Player of the Day – Alfredo Silverio - 4 for 5, 2 2B's, 2 Runs, 2 RBI's. Silverio now has 10 hits in his last 3 games, and has increased his season average to .324. He's also hitting .419 over his last 10 games with 9 extra base hits and a 1.144 OPS.
AAA – The Isotopes just couldn't get it done on Sunday as they lost to the Iowa Cubs 8 to 5. Ian Snell started his 1st game for Albuquerque and actually fared pretty well, going 5 innings and allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits. His bullpen wasn't as good, however, as Mario Alvarez gave up 3 runs and Merkin Velez gave up 2 (both unearned). At the plate, Ivan De Jesus fell just a homer short of the cycle by going 3 for 4, and Jerry Sands drove in 2 runs with a RBI single. Travyon Robinson had 1 single in 4 at bats and in the last 10 games is hitting .531 with a 1.469 OPS.
AA – The Lookouts were down early, but they rallied for 8 runs in the final 3 innings, including 6 in the 9th, and ended the 1st half on a good note with a 11 to 6 win over the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs). Kyle Russell was a big part of the late charge as he hit a 3-run homer in the 9th, and Jaime Pedroza chipped in with a RBI single in the 8th and a 2-run bomb in the 9th. Alfredo Silverio had another all around big game with 4 hits in 5 at bats including 2 doubles, and you can read more about him above. On the mound, Michael Antonini got hit around early for 6 runs (3 earned) in 4.1 innings, but things changed when he turned the game over to his bullpen. Scott Rice threw 2.2 scoreless frames, then Josh Wall picked up the win with a shutout inning of his own. Shawn Tolleson finished the game even though it wasn't a save situation and picked up 2 K's to lower his ERA to 0.49 for the season.
HiA – The Quakes and Ports played a back and forth game on Sunday, and at the end of the game it was Stockton (A's) who had outlasted Rancho Cucamonga 14 to 12. Josh Walter got the spot start for the Quakes but lasted just 2.1 innings after giving up 6 runs. Greg Wilborn followed out of the pen and did not allow a hit in 1.1 innings, but he did walk 4 batters and all 4 of them scored. It was then quiet until Ethan Martin took the mound in the 7th and gave up 3 hits and a run in an inning of work. After all that scoring Rancho still had a late lead, but Steve Smith failed in his attempt at the save as A's top prospect Michael Choice ended the game with a walk-off 3-run homer. On offense, several players had big games including J.T. Wise who went 2 for 4 with a double and a homer. Ramon Jean also hit one out, as did Travis Denker who added a double and a single to finish the contest with 4 RBI's.
LoA – The Loons had almost as many errors as they did hits, and the result was a 5 to 0 loss to the TinCaps (Padres) which means that Great Lakes missed out on a 1st half playoff spot. Left fielder Joc Pederson made 2 of the errors, and the other gaffs came from Joe Becker and catcher Michael Pericht. Angel Sanchez started this game but was unable to continue the magic he'd had in his previous 5 starts as he allowed 6 hits and 5 runs in 3 innings. It should be noted, however, that only 2 of the runs he gave up were earned, and he did strike out 5. Once Sanchez left the game, the Loon bullpen was absolutely marvelous as 3 relievers combined to allow just 1 hit over the final 6 innings. Ryan Acosta threw 4 of those shutout innings, while Pete Budkevics and Raul Burgos pitched the other 2. With just 5 singles it was a very slow day at the plate for Great Lakes, although Christian Lara did go 2 for 4 and Jonathan Garcia reached base in 2 of his 3 plate appearances with a hit and a walk.
DSL – The Dominican Dodgers got strong pitching on Sunday as they defeated the Yankees 6 to 2. Jackson Mateo, who had an outstanding season in the DSL last year, started this game and continues to have success as he threw 4 shutout innings to lower his 2011 ERA to 1.76. Moises Tamarez also had a good game as the pitched the final 3 frames and collected the save by allowing just 1 run. At the plate, both Leo Rodriguez and Arce Rodriguez went 2 for 4 with a double.