The big story on Sunday in the Dodgers minor leagues was Walker Buehler pitching in his first game in 451 days. The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts for Triple-A Oklahoma City, which was covered separately on Sunday.
But there was a lot of other stuff going on Sunday in the Dodgers minors, especially so in that very same game.
Player of the day
Following Buehler on the mound, Gavin Stone was fantastic, allowing only a hit and a walk in six scoreless innings, with seven strikeouts.
Stone retired his first 11 batters faced before issueing a two-out walk in the sixth inning. He also allowed a leadoff double in the seventh, but stranded him thanks to a pair of strikeouts later in the frame.
When he wasn’t striking people out, Stone kept Round Rock at bay with eight groundouts. He allowed only three hard-hit balls in his outing, and two of them were groundouts.
That’s two excellent Sundays in a row for Stone, who notched his first major league win with six-plus innings in a spot start last weekend at Fenway Park, then his third start of six scoreless innings in his last nine Triple-A outings to beat Round Rock.
In the last eight weeks between the majors and minors, Stone has a 2.89 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 16 walks in 53 innings.
Triple-A Oklahoma City
Miguel Vargas and Jonny DeLuca provided the bulk of the offense as OKC cruised to beat the Round Rock Express (Rangers).
Deluca doubled off the top of the wall in the fourth inning, clearing the loaded bases to break the game open, part of a two-hit game for the center fielder.
Vargas singled twice, walked, and crushed a two-run home run in the eighth inning to cap the scoring.
Miguel Vargas got ALL of this one! pic.twitter.com/zlBmikJc18— Oklahoma City Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) September 3, 2023
Hunter Feduccia and Óscar Mercardo also homered in the win, for Mercado it was his first since joining Oklahoma City last week.
Ben Casparius struck out eight in five innings, but the Drillers managed only one run in a loss to the Arkansas Travelers (Mariners). It’s been a good run of late for Casparius, who took the loss by allowing two runs on Sunday but over his last four starts has given up only five runs (three earned) in 18⅔ innings with 23 strikeouts and eight walks.
Miguel wasn’t the only Dodgers Vargas to homer on Sunday. Imanol Vargas, Tulsa’s first baseman, homered in the fourth inning for the team’s only run. Vargas is tied with Diego Cartaya for the team lead with 19 home runs.
High-A Great Lakes
The Loons managed only two hits, two walks, and struck out 11 times in a shutout loss to the Dayton Dragons (Reds).
Great Lakes’ best scoring chance came in the fourth, when Nick Biddison doubled with two outs and Taylor Young walked. But Alex Freeland popped out to end the inning.
Butts in seats
Sunday was the final home game of the regular season for Great Lakes, and the 3,153 fans at Dow Diamond brought the season total to 200,422 attendance, per the Loons. It’s the team’s highest total since 2017, when they drew 202,433 fans.
The 2023 attendance noted in the Loons’ tweet doesn’t quite match up with the total from the home dates in the team’s game notes (186,079), though it gets close if you double count the three weather-created doubleheaders as two games. The Loons’ average attendance (using the totals in the game notes) is 3,001 fans this year, ranking 7th in the 12-team Midwest League.
Great Lakes will have at least one more home game this season. They will host Game 2 of the East Division series on Thursday, September 14, and will host Game 3 the next day too, if necessary.
Low-A Rancho Cucamonga
Four runs in the eighth inning turned a three-run Quakes lead into a loss to the Stockton Ports (A’s).
Reynaldo Yean allowed two singles, two walks, and threw a wild pitch to score the first run in the eighth inning and left with the bases loaded. Noah Ruen, the Dodgers’ 12th-round draft pick this year, allowed a two-run single, but an error by Josue De Paula in right field also allowed the winning run to score on the play
Jesus Galiz, Jose Izarra, and Jake Gelof all homered for Rancho Cucamonga. For Gelof, it was his first since joining Low-A.
Kendall George singled three times, stole a base, and scored a run from the leadoff spot.
Triple-A: Walker Buehler started a minor league rehab assignment with Oklahoma City.
- Oklahoma City 9, Round Rock 1
- Arkansas 4, Tulsa 1
- Dayton 7, Great Lakes 0
- Stockton 8, Rancho Cucamonga 7
The week ahead
- Oklahoma City at Sugar Land (Astros)
- Tulsa at Springfield (Cardinals)
- Great Lakes at West Michigan (Tigers)
- Rancho Cucamonga vs. Visalia (D-backs)
Final week of the regular season for Great Lakes and Rancho Cucamonga, both of whom open the postseason on Tuesday, September 12 with a best-of-three division series.