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Link Report Thurs. 9/7 -- Many Late Photo, Audio Updates

Mass Haas

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Thursday's Daily Menu:


All times Central; pitchers subject to change --


Nashville: LHP Zach Jackson at home vs. Round Rock (Astros), 6:40 PM pre-game; 7:00 PM gametime; Sounds lead the best-of-five, 1-0


Audio link:



Huntsville: RHP Corey Thurman at Chattanooga (Reds), 6:00 PM pre-game, 6:15 gametime; first game of the best-of-five


Audio link:



Brevard County: Season completed


West Virginia: Season completed


Helena: RHP Roque Mercedes at Missoula (Diamondbacks), 7:50 PM pre-game; 8:05 gametime


Audio (click on "Listen Live"):



Arizona: Season completed

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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". 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.













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This link will be included in each daily report when the Nashville Sounds and/or Huntsville Stars are scheduled to play. Normally it is updated an hour or two prior to gametime:


Nashville Media Notes (Adobe .pdf format):




Following Nashville's lead, Huntsville now makes its media notes available as well, nice:




NOTE: Huntsville notes haven't been updated as of this post since 8/24...

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Standings through Wednesday's action:
 Pioneer League (R+) - North Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Billings 27 10 .730 - 16-3 11-7 W4 Missoula 23 14 .622 4.0 13-5 10-9 W1 [b]Helena 19 18 .514 8.0 11-8 8-10 L4[/b] Great Falls 10 27 .270 17.0 6-12 4-15 L1

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Huntsville Times:


Pitching rotation: Corey Thurman (5-9, 2.96 ERA) draws the start for Huntsville tonight, against Cincinnati's top pitching prospect, Homer Bailey (7-1, 1.59 in 13 Southern League starts). The Stars will follow with Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Tim Dillard and Steve Hammond; Gallardo and Hammond have few innings left before reaching their maximum as prescribed by the Brewers. Should the Stars reach the championship round against either Montgomery or Jacksonville, Hammond probably can't be used.


Starbrites: Jacksonville hosts Montgomery in the first two games of the Southern League South playoffs, starting tonight. ... Chattanooga first baseman Joey Votto was the league MVP and led the league in average at .319. He is the 13th Lookout to lead the league in hitting since 1979, when Joe Charboneau batted .352 for the Lookouts. ... The Nashville Sounds, Milwaukee's Triple-A team, won its division with a 76-67 mark and began its quest last night for a second consecutive Pacific Coast League title. ... Chattanooga is 9-6 against Huntsville this year, but the Stars have won four of the last six.

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MiLB.com Series Preview:




Chattanooga Lookouts vs Huntsville Stars





The two teams squared off just 15 times during the regular season (as opposed to the 25-game series between the other two participants in the semifinals), with Chattanooga winning the series, 9-6, and outscoring Huntsville, 71-55.





The Lookouts combined for a healthy .273 average against the Stars, led by switch-hitting infielder Luis Bolivar, who batted .340 in 15 games. OF Chris Dickerson's 11 RBIs led the club against Huntsville. 3B Aaron Herr batted .359 with 10 RBIs in 10 games. OF Javon Moran faced Huntsville just five times but batted .381 in 21 at-bats. And, of course, league MVP Joey Votto was his usual dominant self, hitting .309 with three homers and 10 RBIs. On the mound, the Lookouts combined for a 3.41 ERA as RHP Homer Bailey posted a 2.45 ERA in two starts. RHP Josh Hall had a 4.85 ERA in two starts, while LHP Tyler Pelland posted a 4.86 ERA in three games. RHP Edward Valdez was also effective against the Stars with a 2.75 ERA in four games. LHP Camilo Vazquez faced the Stars just once this season, giving up six runs in 5 1/3 innings.



3B Ryan Braun batted .324 with three homers and eight RBIs in 10 games. Switch-hitting SS Ozzie Chavez was hitting .429 against the Lookouts in 10 games with a team-high 10 RBIs. OF Ron Acuna hit .300 in 14 games. Overall, the Stars hit .262 against Chattanooga and posted a 4.59 ERA. Yovani Gallardo had a 3.46 ERA in two starts, while Steve Hammond posted a 1.64 ERA in two games. Corey Thurman's ERA against Chattanooga was 3.21 in two games. Tim Dillard had the most looks at the Lookouts' lineup, posting a 3.57 ERA in five outings. LHP Manny Parra faced the Lookouts once, allowing one run on three hits over five innings.





Bailey, the Reds' top prospect, joined the Lookouts from Sarasota, right after striking out the side on 12 pitches in the Florida State League All-Star Game. With Chattanooga, he's been even more dominant than he was at Sarasota, going 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 68 innings. Pelland was 9-5 with a 3.99 ERA but struggled in August, posting a 7.03 ERA in five starts. Hall was 9-6 with a 3.39 ERA on the season. Rounding out the rotation are Valdez (3.89) and Vazquez (4.33), both of whom had ERAs over 5.00 in August as well. Closer David Shafer posted a 2.36 ERA and 26 saves.



While the club had no end-of-season All-Stars on the roster, it certainly had two pitchers worthy of some hardware. One of the leading contenders for Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Gallardo, joined the team midseason from Brevard County, and has gone 5-2 with a 1.63 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings to combine for a 1.86 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 155 innings, tops in the Minors. Due to his innings pitched, however, he and Hammond (2.93) will be limited to just one start apiece during the playoffs, leaving the opening-round rotation up in the air. A Comeback Player of the Year argument could certainly be made for Game 1 starter Thurman, who spent 2005 in the indie leagues rehabbing from shoulder surgery, and has posted a 2.96 ERA for the Stars. Dillard's ERA was 3.15. Parra posted a 2.96 ERA at Brevard before joining the Stars in August and has gone 3-0 with a 2.87 ERA in six starts since then, striking out 29 while walking just eight in 31 innings.





The Lookouts were led by Southern League MVP Votto, who won the batting title at .319 and vied for a Triple Crown, adding 22 home runs, 77 RBIs and 24 steals. Herr hit .287 with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs. All-Star OF Noochie Varner batted .285 with 10 homers and 73 RBIs. Dickerson hit .242 with 12 home runs, 48 RBIs and 21 steals but got hot late, batting .309 with a team-high seven home runs and 19 RBIs in August. Moran, who missed a month on the DL before coming back mid-August, hit .353 in August and .320 on the season with 16 steals to give the top of the order a good lift.



Braun, the Brewers' first-round pick out of Miami in 2005, joined the club shortly after the All-Star break and hit .309 with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs. Switch-hitting 2B Callix Crabbe hit .267 with 32 steals on the season, including a .361 average and 17 steals in August alone. 1B Brad Nelson is no longer the power prospect he once was, but he batted .333 with four homers and 16 RBIs in August.




Chattanooga won the first half in the West with a 44-26 record, edging West Tenn (Cubs) by a game, to earn the team's first first-half title since 1992. In the second half, they were 37-33. Huntsville, meanwhile, was the turnaround team, finishing last in the West at 24-45, 19 1/2 games behind the Lookouts, before going 43-26 in the second half, including 36-6 from August on.



With a team average of .246, the Stars have to rely on the strong pitching they've gotten down the stretch to shut down the Lookouts' bats. If Gallardo and Hammond are not able to go deep into a game, the team will have to rely on its bullpen and capitalize on early scoring opportunities. The fact that three-fifths of the Lookouts' rotation posted an August ERA of over 5.00 gives Huntsville a nice psychological edge in a five-game series, though the Stars have to get past Bailey.



Huntsville, for an all-Alabama final vs. Montgomery (Devil Rays, MiLB.com's predicted winner over Jacksonville (Dodgers).

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Gallardo and Hammond have few innings left before reaching their maximum as prescribed by the Brewers.


Have we heard this before? We've speculated that this may be the case as the season winds down, but I don't recall reading it. Either way, I like seeing that, even in the midst of the playoffs.


The H-Crew is facing Jason Neighborgall this evening. He throws very hard, but he rarely knows where he's throw it. I believe he leads the Pioneer League in both walks and wild pitches. Note to the Helena hitters: Take.

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Have we heard this before? We've speculated that this may be the case as the season winds down, but I don't recall reading it. Either way, I like seeing that, even in the midst of the playoffs.


Colby, I believe you were away (and away from your Mac) during Labor Day weekend. Within the Link Reports from that weekend, there were a few articles from the Huntsville Times that discussed the inning situations with Gallardo and Hammond in some detail. Hope you enjoyed your time away.

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Final: Round Rock (Houston) 4, Nashville 3


Nashville Site Game Summary

link, then text



Express Rally Late, Even Series With 4-3 Win


NASHVILLE, Tenn. ? The Round Rock Express evened the American Conference Finals at one game apiece with a last at-bat, 4-3 victory over the Nashville Sounds in game two of the best-of-five series in front of 4,301 fans on Thursday evening at Greer Stadium.


The visitors trailed by a run entering the eighth inning but plated single runs in the final two frames of action against the Nashville bullpen, both with two outs, to come away with a win.


With the game tied at 3-3 in the top of the ninth, Cody Random, who had homered earlier in the evening, opened the inning with a walk against Alec Zumwalt. Mike Rodriguez later drove the infielder home with a two-out double to right that came on the first pitch he saw from Zumwalt, who had blown a save the previous inning for Nashville.


The loss was the 32nd one-run defeat suffered by Nashville this season, a total that leads Triple-A baseball.


The Sounds struck first, plating a run off Express starter Jared Gothreaux in the bottom of the first inning. Tony Gwynn led off with a double to left-center and scored two batters later on Drew Anderson?s opposite-field RBI single to left.


Round Rock responded quickly, tying the contest in the top of the second when former Sound J.R. House doubled and scored two batters later on a Royce Huffman two-bagger off Nashville starter Zach Jackson. The left-hander escaped further damage in the frame when he induced a one-out, bases-loaded double-play grounder from Gothreaux to end the inning.


Ransom gave the visitors a 2-1 lead in the fourth when he belted a two-out solo homer to right-center off Jackson, Round Rock?s first longball of the postseason.


Nashville reclaimed the lead in the sixth with a pair of two-out runs. Pinch-hitter Kennard Bibbs opened the frame with a four-pitch walk, was sacrificed to second by Gwynn, and later scored on Anderson?s second run-scoring knock of the evening, a two-out single to center that chased Gothreaux. Graham Koonce greeted reliever Mike Gallo by turning the left-hander?s first pitch into an RBI double to left-center that gave the Sounds a 3-2 lead.


Round Rock knotted the contest at 3-3 in the eighth with an unearned run stemming from a fielding error by Sounds second baseman Zach Sorensen. House connected for a two-out RBI double off Zumwalt, who suffered his fifth blown save of the year.


The Sounds tried to plate the go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning. Gwynn doubled and was sacrificed to third before being thrown out by Express hurler Chris Sampson in a bang-bang play at the plate while trying to score on an Anderson fielder?s choice grounder.


Sampson (1-0) benefited from the late Round Rock heroics and picked up the victory after working two scoreless frames of relief, allowing one hit.


Zumwalt (0-1) took the loss after giving up the game-winning run on two hits and two walks in his 1 1/3 innings of action.


Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision on the evening. Jackson ? who was robbed of a victory due to the blown save ? allowed two runs on six hits over six innings of work, his fourth quality starts in his last five outings. The southpaw walked three batters and struck out five. Gothreaux, who left in line for the loss, gave up three runs on five hits over 5 2/3 frames of action.


On Friday, the American Conference Finals shift to The Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas, where the Sounds and Express will play the remainder of the best-of-five series. Nashville lost five of the eight games played there during the 2006 regular season and is just 6-10 at Dell Diamond over the past two years.


Left-hander Dana Eveland (6-5, 2.74) will take the hill for the Sounds in Friday?s 7:05 p.m. CT road contest and face Round Rock right-hander Matt Albers (2-1, 3.96).


Nashville Box and Game Log



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Final: Huntsville 2, Chattanooga (Reds) 0


Huntsville Site Game Review

link, then text



Stars Shutout and Shut Down Lookouts in Game One


Corey Thurman and two relievers combined on a two-hit shutout, as Huntsville blanked Chattanooga 2-0 Thursday night to take game one of the North Division playoffs at BellSouth Park.


Brad Nelson led off the fourth inning with a double and stayed put after Ron Acuna grounded out and Brendan Katin struck out. Lou Palmisano then delivered a single into center field to plate Nelson with the game?s first run and make it seven of his last 11 starts with a run batted in. Lookouts? starter Homer Bailey was taken out after six innings during which he allowed one run on five hits and two walks. The highly-touted right-hander struck out three and suffered his first loss of the season at home in eight starts.


Callix Crabbe led off the eighth inning against Carlos Guevara, who took over for Bailey, and was hit by a pitch for an eighth time this year. He stole second base and stayed put when Ryan Braun reached on an infield single. The runners moved up on a Guevara wild pitch and Crabbe scored on another wild pitch that was ball four to Brad Nelson, who drew his second walk of the game. Ron Acuna flied out to center field to score Braun to make it 3-0 but Chattanooga successfully appealed that he had left third base too early to negate another insurance run.


Thurman retired the first 10 batters he faced before Drew Anderson doubled in the fourth. He moved to third base on a Joey Votto ground out but was stranded when Aaron Herr fanned to end the inning. The veteran right-hander retired the side in order in the fifth inning, stranded pinch-hitter Paul Janish at second base in the sixth and set the home side down in order in the seventh for a fifth time in the game. Thurman struck out five, did not walk a batter and beat the Lookouts for a second straight start.


Joe Thatcher retired all three hitters he faced in the eighth inning and Joe Valentine set down the Lookouts in order in the ninth, striking out two, including Anderson on a called third strike to end the game. He has converted each of his last 10 save chances.


The series continues Friday night in Chattanooga, with Stars right-hander Yovani Gallardo taking the hill against Lookouts? right-hander Josh Hall. Coverage begins at 6:00 pm central time and can be heard locally on ESPN Radio 1450 AM and via the internet at www.huntsvillestars.com.


Huntsville Box Score and Game Log:



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Joe Valentine was in Round Rock's bullpen earlier this year, just noticed that. Ah, what a small world.


Mercedes did pretty well after getting rocked early... stayed in the game, and got the ERA back under 5. He'll be in A-ball next year, no doubt.


Congrats to Huntsville, and my apologies to Nashville. I tuned into the Sounds game just as Stetter was being relieved. Zumwalt came in, gave up the hit to House, and that was it for me.

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Link while active, text follows:




Stars' start is very strong

Thurman's gem gives them 1-0 lead over Lookouts


Huntsville Times Sports Staff, markcolumn@aol.com


CHATTANOOGA - It wasn't merely a victory for the Huntsville Stars.


It was a victory for experience and guile over youth and innocence, for bargains over exorbitant prices. A victory for sheer perseverance.


Corey Thurman, the Stars' 27-year-old right-hander, is a former big leaguer who was sidetracked with rotator cuff surgery. His career was in doubt. His fastball arrives somewhere in the mid-80s.


But on Thursday night, Thurman masterfully outdueled 20-year-old phenom Homer Bailey, he of a $2.3 million bonus, top-prospect status and 97-mph fastball, to help hand Huntsville a 2-0 victory over Chattanooga in the opener of the Southern League North playoffs.


That Thurman won in a shutout was perfect retribution. In his nine losses this season, the Stars were shut out twice and scored only 10 total runs.


"The focus was at a whole 'nother level," said Thurman, "because this was a playoff game and they're a good hitting team."


Game two is tonight, with the best-of-five series switching to Huntsville on Saturday. The Lookouts will start Josh Hall and the Stars, winners of 13 of their last 14, will counter with young Yovani Gallardo.


"He's got a tough act to follow," Stars manager Don Money said of Gallardo (5-2, 1.63 ERA).


Thurman, relying on a taunting change-up against a free-swinging Chattanooga offense, allowed only two hits in seven innings, striking out five.


"It was the best I've seen him throw all year," said catcher Lou Palmisano.


"I would say that, too," Thurman said. "Lou and I were on the same page all night. I didn't shake him off all night."


"We had a plan and he stuck to it," pitching coach Rich Sauveur said.


The Stars got the only run they needed in the fourth when Brad Nelson doubled and Palmisano drilled a two-out single up the middle that sent Bailey skipping.


Callix Crabbe was hit with a pitch by Chattanooga reliever Carlos Guevara to lead off the eighth, stole second and advanced on a pair of wild pitches; another run that inning was erased when it was ruled Ryan Braun left third too quickly on a potential sacrifice fly by Ron Acuna.


After perfect relief work by Joe Thatcher and Joe Valentine sewed things up, Thurman burst from the dugout as exuberant as a Little League World Series winner.


"It means a lot to me, every baseball game I play now means a lot to me, especially coming back from injuries, because I didn't know if I'd ever play pro baseball again," Thurman said. "I'm pretty excited about every single game you have, because you never know if it's the last one you're going to have."


The Stars are assured of at least three more - but need only two more to advance to the championship round against either Montgomery or Jacksonville (the Biscuits won 4-3 Thursday in game one of the SL South playoffs).


"The old saying is you want to split on the road and then you need to win two of three at home," Money said. "But for some reason, we've been playing better on the road than at home. But it takes three to win this, and we just have one right now."

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