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Link Report for Thursday 4/24 - Big Bats of Nelson and LaPorta on Fire


Mass Haas

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Thursday's Daily Menu: Again, the big boys conveniently wrap up early for your dining pleasure below!

All times Central; pitchers subject to change --

 

Nashville: RHP Nic Ungs at Omaha (Royals), 6:15 PM pre-game; 6:35 gametime

 

Audio link:

www.nashvillesounds.com/listenlive/

 

Huntsville: LHP Steve Hammond at home vs. Jacksonville (Dodgers), 6:50 PM pre-game; 7:05 gametime

 

Audio link via WUMP (game will also archive at this link):

http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/multimedia/audio.jsp?sid=t559

 

Brevard County: RHP Mike McClendon at home vs. Jupiter (Marlins), 6:00 PM gametime

 

Sorry, no audio for this series...

 

West Virginia: RHP Amaury Rivas at home vs. Delmarva (Orioles), 5:50 PM pre-game, 6:05 gametime

 

Audio link via WSWW, be sure to select the proper date (games will also archive at this link):

www.minorleaguebaseball.c.../audio.jsp

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Follow Thursday's action as it happens:

Here's what you do, right click on each of the links below and choose "Open in New Window". Open the Nashville Gameday. For the others, choose "Log" or "Recap". While you're listening to your minor league game of choice (or watching/listening to the big league Crew when they are playing), simply refresh your game log browsers every so often.

 

Nashville:

 

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=g_box&gid=2008_04_24_nasaaa_omaaaa_1

 

Huntsville:

 

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=g_box&gid=2008_04_24_jaxaax_hunaax_1

 

Brevard County:

 

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=g_box&gid=2008_04_24_jupafa_breafa_1

 

West Virginia:

 

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=g_box&gid=2008_04_24_delafx_wvaafx_1

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 Pacific Coast League (AAA) - PCL American North Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Omaha 11 7 .611 - 7-4 4-3 W1 Memphis 9 11 .450 3.0 2-6 7-5 W1 Iowa 8 10 .444 3.0 3-7 5-3 W1 Nashville 4 15 .211 7.5 2-5 2-10 W1 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

 Southern League (AA) - SOU North Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Carolina 15 5 .750 - 8-2 7-3 W2 Huntsville 12 8 .600 3.0 8-2 4-6 W1 West Tenn 12 8 .600 3.0 8-2 4-6 W2 Chattanooga 11 9 .550 4.0 6-4 5-5 W3 Tennessee 9 11 .450 6.0 5-5 4-6 L2 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

 Florida State League (A+) - FSL East Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Palm Beach 14 6 .700 - 9-3 5-3 W5 Jupiter 12 8 .600 2.0 7-1 5-7 W2 Brevard County 11 9 .550 3.0 5-4 6-5 L2 Daytona 11 9 .550 3.0 6-5 5-4 W1 Vero Beach 10 10 .500 4.0 7-4 3-6 L1 St. Lucie 2 18 .100 12.0 2-7 0-11 L9 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

 South Atlantic League (A) - SAL Northern Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lake County 13 7 .650 - 5-3 8-4 L1 Greensboro 12 8 .600 1.0 5-5 7-3 L2 Delmarva 10 10 .500 3.0 6-6 4-4 W1 Hickory 10 10 .500 3.0 5-4 5-6 W1 Lakewood 9 11 .450 4.0 5-7 4-4 W2 Hagerstown 8 12 .400 5.0 3-5 5-7 L2 West Virginia 7 13 .350 6.0 3-7 4-6 W3 Lexington 6 14 .300 7.0 1-9 5-5 L3 

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Man, until I happened to glance at those standings, I had no idea Nashville was that bad. They're our least interesting affiliate right now prospect-wise, and focusing on prospects definitely diminishes attention to a team's W/L, so I wasn't paying attention at all -- but 4-15 is horrifying. Of course, they have had to play 12 of 19 on the road, so really they're probably closer to a 6-13 team. Plus, just looking at the teams in our affiliates' divisions, Nashville has St. Lucie safely in its rearview mirror.

 

Greg.

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I know it's early in the season and I know he's been in our system for a long time, but Brad Nelson is off to a decent start in Nashville. With his production last season and what he's done early this year, it seems as though he's got a bit of pop back in his bat. He can play 1B and corner OF (I think), might he have a future as a reserve OF/1B? I know that we've got loads of OF propsects at AA and A+ who have starter potential, I'm just curious if Nelson might have some limited MLB value to the Brewers or if he'll top out as a AAAA guy. As has been discussed a bit before, it's nice to develop role players through our drafting as much as high ceiling prospects. Any thoughts?
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It seems to me that Brad starts hot most every year... He had decent power numbers last year, but still didn't have .800 OPS for the season. His secondary numbers were alright as well, but other than the 20 HRs he hit, there's nothing eye popping there. I had high hopes for him 3-4 years ago, but I honestly gave up on him about the same time Krynzel was traded. Those 2 really let me down as they were 2 of the first 3 players I really rooted for. I hope he proves me wrong and becomes a major leageu player, but he's someone I quit following.

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

- Plato

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something."

- Plato

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At the end of last year, I expressed a theory about Nelson -- not rocket science, by any means -- that he had just taken a lot of time to come back from the wrist, and that last year was his return to being something like the hitter who had gotten us excited. My suggestion then was that he might build on last year's gains and come back very strong this year.

 

So I'm very inclined to keep a close eye on him. This performance spike may just herald the return of the prodigal (injured) prospect. Of course, it may not; it could just be a hot month that he'll follow up with crap, or it could be that he just has the PCL pitchers' numbers after hanging out there for so long. Still, he's only 25; we all thought he had impact talent at 21; and right now he's doing what prospects do. He played a little 3B at the end of last year, making him a potential "4C" utility guy, and he hits from the left side. He has begun to make his case as a player who could help.

 

Greg.

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Nelson is still a prospect...but he's a limited one...he's not going to be a star...and he probably won't even be a starter...but punch off the bench and the ability to play 4 positions...

 

i really think either he or LaPorta will be the DH in the interleague series

 

on an unrelated note, Zelous Wheeler is getting on base a ton...OBP at nearly .450 coming from a second basemen in his age 21 season...I'm impressed and can't wait to see this guy play at some point this season..

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I just wanted to point out that both the Sounds and Stars tonight put up big offensive numbers against some pretty solid pitching prospects. Nice to see Cameron so close to coming back, and nice to see both offenses' clicking on full cylinders.
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Final: Delmarva (Orioles) 8, West Virginia 5

 

West Virginia Site Game Summary:

 

SHOREBIRDS WIN EIGHTH STRAIGHT AT APPALACHIAN POWER PARK

 

The Delmarva Shorebirds scored four of their eight runs in the top of the fifth inning on Thursday night at Appalachian Power Park to defeat the Power 8-5, snapping West Virginia's three-game winning streak and they extended their winning streak at Appalachian Power Park to eight games.

 

The Shorebirds used three straight singles in the top of the first inning to kick-start their offense. The third base hit came from Tyler Henson and it knocked in Matt Angle. Joe Mahoney then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to plate the second run of the inning. In the third, Pedro Silveren delivered a two-out RBI single to give Delmarva a 3-0 advantage.

 

The Power scored twice in the bottom of the second. Caleb Gindl and Zelous Wheeler began the inning on back-to-back base-hits. Gindl scored later in the frame on John Alonso's groundout and Wheeler came home on Steffan Wilson's two-out single.

 

The Shorebirds pulled away with a four-run fifth inning. Matt Tucker brought in the first two on a double and Joe Mahoney did the rest with a towering two-run homer. Lee Haydel singled with two-outs to score Kurt Crowell in the bottom of the fifth inning before Curt Rindal's sacrifice fly plated Gindl one inning later. The Power scored their final run in the seventh inning on Crowell's solo homer, his first of the season. The Shorebirds got their final run in the eighth inning on Joe Nowicki's solo home run.

 

Tony Butler (1-1) held the Power to four runs on eight hits over six innings and struck out two to get the victory. Zach Clark allowed just a run on two hits over three innings of relief to grab his first save of the season and Amaury Rivas (1-1) was tagged with the loss after surrendering three runs on six hits over four innings.

 

The Power fell to 7-14 with the loss and the Shorebirds improved to 11-10 with the win. Wheeler, Gindl and Crowell all had multi-hit games for the Power, as all three had a pair of hits. Delmarva has not lost a game at Appalachian Power Park since April 6, 2006. They've run off eight straight victories at Appalachian Power Park since that opening day loss over two years ago.

 

The Power will continue the four-game series with Delmarva Friday night. Right hander Roque Mercedes (0-1, 9.72) will get the start for the Power and the Shorebirds will counter with left hander Cole McCurry (0-1, 3.60). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM (6:05 Central).

 

West Virginia Box Score

Over 5,000 in attendance; Rob Bryson's last two outings have been rough -- he's a prime prospect, but it's too easy to over-hype rookie league guys before they even begin full-season play; that was Tony Butler, the fine prospect from Milwaukee, starting for the Shorebirds...

 

West Virginia Game Log

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Power comes up short vs. Delmarva

By Rick Ryan

Charleston Gazette Assistant Sports Editor

 

The Power continued to flash some offense Thursday night, just not as much as visiting Delmarva.

 

Joe Mahoney launched a two-run homer in a four-run fifth inning, leading the Shorebirds to an 8-5 South Atlantic League victory in front of 5,044 fans at Appalachian Power Park. It marked the eighth win for the Shorebirds in their last nine games at The App.

 

Joe Nowicki also blasted a round-tripper for Delmarva, which went up 7-2 after its big inning and held off the Power (7-14).

 

West Virginia rapped out 10 hits, continuing an offensive resurgence that started last week and resulted in nearly 10 runs per game during a 4-1 stretch. That came on the heels of a seven-game losing streak in which the Power managed just 12 total runs and saw its batting average sink to .194, last in the 16-team league.

 

Kurt Crowell, Caleb Gindl and Zelous Wheeler each had two hits for West Virginia Thursday - one of Crowell's a solo homer to deep left-center in the seventh that brought the Power within 7-5. Speedy Brett Brewer legged out a triple in the third but was nailed at home after Matt Angle caught a fly to short center.

 

"We're still carrying it over,'' Power manager Jeff Isom said of the offensive renaissance. "The guys competed tonight, but that one inning hurt us.

 

"The guys are much more patient at the plate than what they were before. Even though we got down 7-2 at one point, we didn't feel like we were out of this ballgame by any means. We cut it to two runs, and anything can happen if you get a guy on at that point. We didn't give in. I guess that's a consolation - we're in the ballgame. Still, we're playing from behind, which is tough to do.''

 

Matt Tucker (3-for-5) doubled twice for Delmarva, one of them plating two runs in the tell-tale fifth off Rob Bryson. Anthony Martinez also had three hits for the Shorebirds (11-10). Left-hander Tony Butler (1-1) got his first win with six innings of work, even though he allowed eight hits and four runs.

 

Amaury Rivas (1-1) took the loss for the Power, giving up six hits and three runs in four innings. In his last appearance, he worked 7 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to get a win in Asheville.

 

West Virginia began a rare 16-game stretch Thursday in which it plays Delmarva and Hagerstown eight times apiece.

 

"You get to know a team pretty well after you see them eight and eight in a short period of time,'' Isom said.

 

"It's a situation where we'll get to learn their hitters and they'll get to learn ours, and we'll get to learn their pitching a little bit. You seem to think it might help the hitters out, but then the pitchers will see a whole lot of your hitters. There's something to read into a whole lot of that. You're going to be familiar with what they're capable of doing, and positioning the players is a big thing.''

 

PHOTO - Delmarva catcher Victor Castillo (8) tags out West Virginia's Brent Brewer at home plate in the third inning.

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Final: Brevard County 7, Jupiter (Marlins) 5

Brevard County Site Game Summary:

Manatees Rally for 7-5 Win
By Tyler Stover / Brevard County Manatees

Usually, a 5-0 deficit in the third inning is enough to make a team panic. This was not an issue for the Manatees on Thursday night, as they calmly responded with seven unanswered runs to defeat the Jupiter Hammerheads, 7-5. Jupiter jumped out to the early 5-0 lead behind timely hitting from their offense, as all five of their runs were scored with two outs. It would not be enough on this night, however, as the Manatees offense sprung to life, scoring one run in the third, two in the fourth, and two in the sixth to tie the game at five.

The Manatees were able to climb back in the game thanks to an extraordinary effort by their bullpen. Josh Wahpepah, winning pitcher Casey Baron (1-0), and Omar Aguilar combined for five scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.

 

The game remained tied until the bottom of the eighth inning. Jimmy Mojica drew a walk sandwiched between a popout and a strikeout by the Manatees. Taylor Green, Chuck Caufield, and Stephen Chapman then hit three consecutive singles with two outs, bringing in two runs to give the Manatees their first lead of the game, 7-5. Aguilar pitched a perfect ninth for his FSL-leading seventh save, striking out two Hammerheads.

Jupiter and Brevard County face off again Friday night in the rubber match of the series. The teams are also deadlocked in second place in the FSL East, with identical 12-9 records. Josh Butler will make his first start as a Manatee, facing off against Jeff Allison of the Hammerheads.

 

MiLB.com Photo by Dennis Greenblatt

Jimmy Mojica attempts to turn a double play during Brevard County's 7-5 victory Thursday night.

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/images/2008/04/24/ZCkUqZiR.jpg

 

Brevard County Box Score

In five starts covering 26 innings, Mike McClendon has walked zero and struck out 11. But he's also allowed 42 base hits and has an ERA of 7.27, so there's pitching to contact, but to a bad extreme; closer Omar Aguilar is building on his Hawaiian League stint and is on his way to an All-Star appearance...

 

Brevard County Game Log

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Final: Huntsville 11, Jacksonville (Dodgers) 3

Huntsville Site Game Summary:

Offense Breaks Open a Close Game Late

By Brett Pollock / Huntsville Stars

Matt LaPorta launched two home runs, including the tie-breaking three-run blast in the seventh inning, to power Huntsville to an 11-3 win over Jacksonville Thursday in the opener of a five-game set at Joe Davis Stadium. The Stars improved to 13-8 on the season and moved to within two games of front-running Carolina in the North Division, while the Suns dropped to 10-11 and saw their five-game win streak come to an end. The Stars won for just the fourth time in 21 games against the Suns since the start of the 2006 season.

LaPorta's leadoff home run in the second inning off James McDonald gave the Stars the lead and a run-scoring single by Angel Salome later in the inning pushed the lead to 2-0. Michael Brantley's run-scoring hit in the fourth extended the home team's advantage to 3-0 and gave the young outfielder hits in each of his last 14 starts.

Stars' starter Steve Hammond blanked the Suns on three hits through five frames before Juan Gonzalez led off the sixth with his fifth home run of the season. Hammond was taken out after six innings after yielding the lone run on five hits. He walked one and struck out eight, the third time in five turns he has punched out at least eight hitters.

Robert Hinton took over in the seventh and walked leadoff man Jamie Huffman, who came in to score on a Mat Gamel throwing error with two outs. Gonzalez followed with a double to deliver Ivan DeJesus to tie the game before he was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a single by Greg Jacobs. Hinton wound up picking up the win after giving up two unearned runs on three hits in his inning of work.

Yhency Brazoban opened the home seventh on the hill and gave up back-to-back singles by Alcides Escobar and Gamel before LaPorta unloaded on a 1-1 offering for his second homer of the night, his sixth of the season and fifth in the last six games. Brazoban, the former big leaguer, had tossed 8 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only two hits, before tonight. He retired the next three hitters and was charged with the loss.

David Johnson stranded two runners in the eighth and worked a perfect ninth to pick up his first save of the season. Cole Gillespie's three-run double highlighted a five-run eighth inning rally against Zach Hammes that blew the game open, as the Stars set a season-high with their 11 runs and matched a season-best with 14 hits.

The series continues Friday night with Huntsville left-hander Derek Miller taking the hill against Suns' southpaw Clayton Kershaw, the top ranked prospect in the Dodgers organization. Coverage of the game begins at 6:50 pm central time and can be heard locally on SportsRadio 730 WUMP and through the internet at www.huntsvillestars.com and www.730ump.com.

Huntsville Box Score
Top five in the order reached base 13 times, plus a sac fly; Matt LaPorta leads the league with 22 RBI, five more than anyone else -- his six HR's also pace the circuit...

Huntsville Game Log

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With 2 more Homers last night, Matt Laporta pushed his OPS to 1.021, thats is just awesome in that league. He is eliminating any concerns anyone might have about the Brewers corner OF depth without Gabe Gross.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"88.6% of all statistics are made up right there on the spot" Todd Snider

 

-Posted by the fan formerly known as X ellence. David Stearns has brought me back..

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Stars' LaPorta slams 2 homers

By BRAD SHEPARD

For The Huntsville Times

 

With one organization's top prospect sitting in the stands charting pitches, another organization's top prospect hit two off the charts.

 

Huntsville right fielder Matt LaPorta - Milwaukee's top minor leaguer, according to Baseball America - continued his torrid week with two long home runs. The second one was a go-ahead, three-run shot off former major leaguer Yhency Brazoban in the seventh that sent Huntsville to an 11-3 win over Jacksonville.

 

"It's not that the ball looks big these days," LaPorta said. "I've just got my approach figured out finally."

 

Though Dodgers top prospect Clayton Kershaw was using his strong left arm to mark pitches, the southpaw will get his chance to stifle LaPorta and the Stars tonight at 7:05.

 

Good luck.

 

The way LaPorta is going, Kershaw may have a hard time. Following an opening-night grand slam, LaPorta went 45 at-bats without a home run. But in the past six games, he has hit five long balls.

 

He pushed his league-leading totals to six home runs and 22 RBIs and sent the 1,702 fans at Joe Davis Stadium home happy, despite Brazoban's frustration.

 

L.A. manager Joe Torre said earlier this week that Brazoban was "at the top of the list" if the Dodgers needed to call up a 12th pitcher, but they promoted Jacksonville's Cory Wade instead. Brazoban responded by giving up the homer and getting tagged with the loss.

 

"He's a pretty good pitcher," LaPorta said of Brazoban, who had 21 saves for L.A. in 2005. "He threw me that first-pitch slider, and I threw the bat at it, and thought, 'I'm going to have to bear down on this guy.'

 

"I focused on fastball because I thought his slider was too good to hit. He gave me one, and I just touched it."

 

Though this year's top Dodgers prospect wasn't in action until tonight, last year's was. Third baseman Andy LaRoche - who played a stint in Los Angeles last year - made a rehab appearance after his freak spring training accident.

 

On March 7, LaRoche attempted to catch a pickoff throw, but the ball caromed off St. Louis baserunner D'Angelo Jimenez, hit LaRoche on the base of the thumb on his throwing hand, and tore a ligament. He went 1-for-3 Thursday and is expected to remain with the Suns at least through the rest of the series.

 

"It's still a little sore, but that's what I'm down here for," LaRoche said. "I'm about three weeks ahead of schedule right now. It's just as much mental as physical. It was tough watching and thinking if not for a freak accident, I'd be out there."

 

Huntsville starter Steve Hammond outdueled McDonald - himself a top-10 prospect -shutting down a potent lineup, with Juan Gonzalez's home run being the only blow. Hammond worked six innings, allowing five hits and one run.

 

Mat Gamel's seventh-inning error that would have ended the inning led to two runs and a 3-3 tie. The Suns would have taken the lead if not for Cole Gillespie throwing out Gonzalez trying to score, setting up LaPorta's bomb and then a five-run eighth.

 

"He's swinging the bat well right now," Stars manager Don Money said. "Knock on wood."

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Final: Omaha (Royals) 12, Nashville 11

Nashville Site Game Summary:

Link for Brad Nelson photo, text follows --

 

Two Nelson Homers Not Enough In 12-11 Loss

OMAHA - The Nashville Sounds gave up two late runs and dropped their series opener in Omaha, falling 12-11 on Thursday evening at Rosenblatt Stadium.

 

Offense was the name of the game throughout the evening as the clubs combined for seven home runs and each team posted a seven-run inning in the contest.

 

For the second straight game, the Sounds used the longball to fuel their offensive attack, matching their season high with four roundtrippers including two by first baseman Brad Nelson.

 

Nelson, who leads the club with six taters this season, finished 3-for-5 with a Nashville season-high five RBIs in the contest.

 

With the loss, Nashville (4-16) fell to 0-14 in night games, 0-6 in series openers, and 0-8 in games decided by one or two runs this season.

 

The Sounds scored in the top of the first inning for the fifth straight game, taking an early 3-0 lead against Royals starter Tyler Lumsden. Outfielder Mike Cameron (1-for-4) fought off a pair of two-strike pitches before belting a home run in his first at-bat of the 2008 season, a solo shot to deep left. After a Joe Dillon walk, Nelson hit the first of his two longballs, a two-run shot to center that increased the visitors' lead to three.

 

After Nashville added a run in the third, Omaha rallied for seven runs in the home half of the frame to grab a 7-4 advantage and send Sounds starter Nic Ungs to the showers. The Royals sent 10 men to the plate in the frame and recorded six hits against the right-hander, including home runs off the bats of Damon Hollins and Mike Stodolka.

 

Ungs, who surrendered seven runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings, failed to reach the end of the third inning for the second consecutive outing. He lasted only 1 2/3 frames in his previous outing on Saturday at Albuquerque.

 

The Sounds responded with seven runs of their own in the top of the fourth, sending 10 men to the plate and chasing Lumsden. A three-run Nelson homer and a two-run Brendan Katin big fly highlighted the outburst. Lumsden exited with a no-decision after giving up nine runs on nine hits in only 3 1/3 innings of action.

 

AUDIO: Brad Nelson's 2nd Homer

 

Omaha scored three runs over the next two frames against Sounds reliever Tim Dillard to pull within a run at 11-10 at the conclusion of the fifth inning. Two of those runs were unearned due to a fielding error by shortstop Abraham Nunez.

 

The Royals' bullpen slowed down the Nashville bats after the fourth inning, combining to allow only two baserunners over the final five frames and did not allow a runner into scoring position after Ozzie Chavez was stranded at second following a leadoff double in the fifth.

 

Omaha left fielder Chris Lubanski (3-for-4) put the home team in front with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the seventh, drilling a 3-2 Steve Bray offering over the wall in right for a two-run homer that gave the Royals a 12-11 lead. Bray has given up five home runs in his 8.0 innings of work this season and carries a 12.38 ERA.

 

Sounds designated hitter Russell Branyan went 0-for-5 in the contest to snap his eight-game hitting streak, which matched the club's longest of the year.

 

Royals reliever Chin-hui Tsao (1-0) was the beneficiary of the last Omaha comeback and earned the win following two scoreless innings of work.

 

Neal Musser kept the Sounds off the board in the ninth to notch his fourth save of the year.

 

Bray (0-2), who has allowed a run in each of his last four outings, took the loss after surrendering the game-deciding home run in his 1 1/3 frames and suffering his second blown save of the year.

 

The teams continue the series with a 7:05 p.m. meeting. Left-hander Zach Jackson (1-3, 7.04) will man the bump for the Sounds to face Omaha right-hander Matt Wright (0-1, 5.40).

 

Nashville Box Score

Steve Bray's struggles disappointing, but plenty of positives to look at here despite the loss...

 

Nashville Game Log

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Branyan Gets Off To Great Start

by Chip Cirillo, Tennessean

 

Russell Branyan is red hot even though the Nashville Sounds are ice cold.

 

The Sounds third baseman ranks sixth in the Pacific Coast League with a .400 batting average, but the two-time defending American North Division champions are in last place with a 4-15 record.

 

"I started swinging the bat well the last week of camp, and it's carried over here so far this season," said Branyan, who lives in Franklin. "Hopefully, we can turn this around from a team standpoint, because we haven't been winning many ballgames. If you're getting hits, it's no good if you're not winning."

 

Patience and pitch selection have been two of the big keys for Branyan, who also ranks in the PCL's top 10 in slugging percentage (.709) and doubles (eight.)

 

"It's a combination of your swing being where you want it to be and getting a good pitch to hit, because guys get to know you," Branyan said. "They know what you can and can't hit, and at that point, it becomes a waiting game. You fight off their pitches that are close, and you try to get a pitch that you can handle. If you don't get that pitch, you've got to be patient enough to take your walks."

 

Branyan, 33, takes an eight-game hitting streak into tonight's game at Omaha.

 

"He made a little adjustment in spring training with where his hands were starting, and I think that helped free up his swing a little bit," Sounds manager Frank Kremblas of Nolensville said. "He's able to drive the ball to all fields. Russell is a veteran guy, and he knows how to take a change and not think about it too much in a game."

 

Over the past 10 seasons, Branyan has played in the major leagues for seven teams. He hopes to earn another big-league opportunity.

 

He played for the Milwaukee Brewers, the Sounds' major-league affiliate, in 2004 and 2005.

 

"We had some good teams there," Branyan said. "In 2005, it was the first year they finished .500 in (13) seasons. They had what they called their breakthrough year, and it was kind of a plateau. Then last year they had a great year and just missed the playoffs."

 

Milwaukee third baseman Bill Hall was struggling with a .185 batting average, and backup Craig Counsell was hitting .333 entering Wednesday night's game against Philadelphia, but it's hard to predict when Branyan might get a call-up to the big leagues. He can also play first base, left field, right field and has been the designated hitter.

 

"Being left-handed with power is always good, too," Kremblas said. "He's the type of guy that not only the Brewers, but other clubs are looking for: a guy that can play a corner position with power and be a left-handed power guy off the bench." He has hit 322 career homers with 121 in the majors and 201 in the minors. Branyan had trouble finding a rhythm off the bench last season as he hit .196 with San Diego, Philadelphia and St. Louis.

 

"My job the in the last couple years has been being a guy coming off the bench and not getting that much playing time," Branyan said. "It's very tough to get that rhythm, but thus far when I'm putting the ball in play I'm getting my knocks and my average is where I'd like it to be.

 

"My main goal is to get back to the big leagues, and my bat is going to get me there. I know what they want to see is a more consistent bat, and that's what I'm down here working on."

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Nashville's Nelson sounds like a hitter
By Steve Conley / MLB.com

It's been a rough start to the season for the Nashville Sounds, but that hasn't slowed Brad Nelson down. And Thursday's loss to the Omaha Royals serves as a microcosm of that.

Nelson went 3-for-5 with two home runs and had a season-high five RBIs for the Sounds, but Chris Lubanski's two-run homer in the seventh inning propelled the Royals to a 12-11 win at Rosenblatt Stadium.

After a rehabbing Mike Cameron went deep two batters into the game, the 25-year-old first baseman whacked a two-run blast to make it 3-0.

"I've been seeing the ball in slow motion," Nelson said. "I couldn't even tell you the pitches I hit. These nights don't come along too often."

Nelson singled in the third, and after the Royals scored seven times that frame for a 7-4 lead, he cranked a three-run homer -- his sixth -- to give his team a 9-7 lead.

"It's still early in the year, so we have some time to get it together," he said. "I'm definitely enjoying myself though."

It was the sixth multi-homer game in Nelson's career, the most recent one Aug. 7 against Tacoma. After batting .263 with 20 homers and 65 RBIs for Nashville a year ago, Nelson is off to a hot start in 2008, hitting .339 with six dingers.

"I've learned to make the most out of every opportunity," said Nelson, Milwaukee's fourth-round pick in 2001. "The ultimate goal is obviously to get to the next level and stay there. One step at a time, though."

Nashville (4-16) led, 11-10, before Lubanski went deep in the seventh to put the Royals ahead for good. Mike Aviles hit a solo homer and drove in three runs, Damon Hollins blasted a three-run shot, Mike Stodolka hit a solo homer and scored three times and Lubanski went 3-for-4 for Omaha (12-7), which has won three of four.

Brendan Katin hit a two-run homer, his second, for Nashville and Hernan Iribarren had two hits and now has a .348 average.

Chin-hui Tsao (1-0) tossed two scoreless frames for the win, and Neal Musser threw a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

Steve Bray (0-2) gave up two runs on one hit and one walk while recording four outs.

 

MiLB.com Photo of Brad Nelson by Brent Asay

 

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/images/2008/04/24/UFDvi9W3.jpg

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Shorebirds add to string of success at Power's home

Power falls 8-5

by Jacob Messer

Charleston Daily Mail sportswriter

 

A four-run fifth inning helped the Delmarva Shorebirds continue their home-away-from-home success at Appalachian Power Park.

 

With its 8-5 victory over host West Virginia on Thursday, Delmarva won its eighth consecutive game at the 4-year-old East End stadium.

 

The Shorebirds haven't lost a game at Appalachian Power Park since a 4-1 Opening Day defeat on April 6, 2006.

 

A Buck Night crowd of 5,024 watched Delmarva end West Virginia's three-game winning streak in the first of a four-game South Atlantic League series.

 

Leading 3-2 entering the top of the fifth, the Shorebirds used a two-run double by Matt Tucker and a two-run homer by Joe Mahoney off West Virginia reliever Rob Bryson to unplug the Power.

 

Tucker went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. Mahoney was 1-for-5. Anthony Martinez (3-for-5 with one run) and Pedro Silveren (2-for-3 with one run, one RBI and one walk) also had multi-hit performances in the series opener.

 

"Guys competed tonight," West Virginia Manager Jeff Isom said. "That one inning just really hurt us."

 

Delmarva, in third place in the eight-team SAL Northern Division, improved to 11-10. Seventh-place West Virginia dropped to 7-14.

 

The Power collected 10 hits but stranded four runners. Kurt Crowell, Caleb Gindl and Zelous Wheeler all went 2-for-4 and were the only West Virginia players with multiple hits.

 

One of Crowell's hits was a solo homer - his first this season - that cut the Shorebirds' lead to 7-5 in the seventh.

 

But Delmarva added an insurance run in the eighth, when Joseph Nowicki hit a first-pitch leadoff home run off Bryson.

 

It was a rough outing for Bryson, who pitched four innings and allowed five runs - all earned - on two walks and five hits, including two home runs. He fanned six batters.

 

"We were down by five runs, but we didn't feel like we were out of this ballgame by any means," Isom said. "We cut it within two runs, and anything can happen if you get a guy on at that point.

 

"Unfortunately, we gave up the one run.

 

"But we didn't give in. I guess that's a consolation - we were in the ballgame. But still we were playing from behind, which is tough to do.''

 

Power starter Amaury Rivas (1-1) took the loss. He went four innings and gave up three runs (all earned) on six hits. He struck out three batters.

 

"It's a matter of getting the pitching in sync with the hitting," said Isom, whose team has scored 40 runs and collected 60 hits in its last five games.

 

"Defensively, we have been strong.

 

"There were a couple of hiccups there in the beginning. For the most part, we are right there defensively. Day in and day out, we aren't making a whole lot of errors and we are giving ourselves opportunities."

 

Delmarva starter Tony Butler (1-1) got the win. He scattered eight hits and four runs over six innings, fanning three and walking none. Shorebirds reliever Zach Clark earned the save - his first this season - with a one-run, two-hit, three-inning effort.

 

The teams will continue their series tonight at 7:05 (6:05 Central). The Power will start right-hander Roque Mercedes (0-1, 9.72). The Shorebirds will counter with left-hander Cole McCurry (0-1, 3.60).

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Gamel has on OPS of .848 right now.

He is batting 3rd. I really surprised he only has 11 RBIs right now. He has an .633 OPS with runners in scoring position. I hope that is just a small sample anomoly.

LaPorta has 22 RBIs. Brantley has 11 RBIs. Escobar has 14. Gillespie has 13.

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