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Link Report for Wed 9/6 - Late updates include Chapman Audio

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Wednesday's Daily Menu:


All times Central; pitchers subject to change --


Nashville: RHP Carlos Villanueva at home vs. Round Rock (Astros), who will pitch RHP Taylor Buchholz, 6:40 PM pre-game; 7:00 PM gametime


Audio link:



Huntsville: Playoffs begin Thursday in Chattanooga


Brevard County: Season completed


West Virginia: Season completed


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


Audio (click on "Listen Live"):



Arizona: Season completed

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Follow Wednesday'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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Sounds seek back-to-back PCL titles

By Nate Rau, Nashville City Paper Sports Correspondent


At the beginning of the season, The City Paper gave baseball fans five good reasons to follow the Nashville Sounds in 2006.


The top reason in April remains the top reason in September ? the team?s pursuit of a second-straight Pacific Coast League championship.


Nashville?s repeat quest begins tonight when it hosts Round Rock at Greer Stadium in the first game of the best-of-five PCL American Conference Finals.


That the Sounds are in the playoffs at all is a testament to manager Frank Kremblas, pitching coach Stan Kyles and hitting coach Gary Pettis. The Pacific Coast League manager of the year award went to Tacoma?s Dave Brundage. But even though Brundage?s Rainiers have the best record in the PCL, it?s hard to imagine anyone did a better job than Kremblas.


Last year?s Sounds had an array of prospects who helped them earn a record good enough to qualify for the playoffs. But by the end of the season, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart and Jose Capellan were all playing for the Brewers and the Sounds ended up winning the title with a collection of utility players and solid pitching.


The team used that same formula for success this season, since most of Milwaukee?s top prospects are either in the big leagues or at Double-A Huntsville. Despite that fact, Kremblas kept the Sounds winning. Nashville has the best team ERA, the best fielding percentage and the most stolen bases in the PCL this season.


?Last year we had better power,? Kremblas said. ?A lot of those guys got called up and we had to hang on at the end of the season [to win the division]. This year we have more pitching, more quality starting pitching. That and our defense is much better.?


As the Sounds take aim at back-to-back titles, here are four more reasons to keep following the Sounds a little longer:


1. Triple-A champions: For the first time since 2000, the PCL and International League champions will meet for a one-game winner-take-all affair to crown a true Triple-A champion. The game will take place Sept. 19 in Oklahoma City.


The Sounds can still win the PCL championship, but will have to win in Oklahoma City to lay claim to the Triple-A title, which they?ve never won before.


2. Catch them while you can: Perhaps the biggest allure of minor league baseball is to see top prospects before they go on to become big league stars. With just two games for sure on the home playoff schedule, this is likely the last chance for Sounds fans to see top prospects like center fielder Tony Gwynn and pitcher Carlos Villanueva.


3. More promotions: The most popular promotion at Greer this season has been the TiVo Challenge, where four fans battle to see who can hold a TiVo box over their head the longest.


The winner is then awarded a TiVo box and one free year of TiVo service. The competition, which takes place after the first inning behind section M, is often intense enough that spectators are watching the promotion contestants as much as the game itself.


?It?s become our most talked-about promotion,? Sounds director of corporate sales Jason Bennett said.


4. Outstanding pitching: Nashville and Round Rock boast the top two team ERA?s in the PCL. Three of Nashville?s starters (Villanueva, Dana Eveland and Ben Hendrickson) have ERA?s below 3.00.

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 Date Location Time (CT) Probable Pitching Matchup (NVL vs. ROU) Wednesday, Sept. 6 Nashville 7:00 PM RHP Carlos Villanueva (7-1, 2.71) vs. RHP Taylor Buchholz (1-3, 4.91) Thursday, Sept. 7 Nashville 7:00 PM LHP Dana Eveland (6-5, 2.74) vs. RHP Jared Gothreaux (9-9, 4.34) Friday, Sept. 8 Round Rock 7:05 PM LHP Zach Jackson (4-6, 4.12) vs. LHP Philip Barzilla (8-5, 3.85) Saturday, Sept. 9* Round Rock 1:05 PM RHP Justin Lehr (4-7, 3.94) vs. RHP Ezequiel Astacio (8-4, 4.86) Sunday, Sept. 10* Round Rock 1:05 PM RHP Ben Hendrickson (9-8, 3.36) vs. LHP Mark McLemore (2-3, 2.59) * if necessary

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MiLB.com series preview:




Nashville Sounds vs. Round Rock Express





Round Rock has consistently dominated Nashville this season, going 11-5 overall and winning every series played against the Sounds. The two teams finished the regular season with a four-game set, and the Express came out on top in three of four games, while outscoring the Sounds, 31-16.





Ben Hendrickson has a 2.62 ERA against the Round Rock lineup. ... Carlos Villanueva pitched seven perfect innings before giving up two runs in eight innings against Round Rock September 1. ... Tony Gwynn was held to a .250 average. ... In the most recent series, Nashville batted .280, Chris Barnwell batted .460 with three RBIs and Drew Anderson was 5-for-11 with four RBIs.


Round Rock

Joe McEwing is batting .330 against Nashville this season and went 6-for-13 with three runs scored in the last four games. Ezequiel Astacio held the Sounds to two hits in five shutout innings Sept. 4. ... Royce Huffman is batting .390 in his last seven games against Nashville. ... In the most recent series against the Sounds, J.R. House batted .410 with five RBIs, and Brooks Conrad went 6-for-14 with six runs scored and five RBIs.





The Sounds lead the PCL in numerous pitching categories, including ERA, complete games and shutouts, and until the most recent series, the poor record against Round Rock could be blamed more on the offense than the pitching. In 10 of the 12 games in June and July, the run differential between the two teams was two runs or less. Villanueva has been outstanding for the Sounds since his promotion, boasting a 2.71 ERA and a 7-1 record with Nashville. Hendrickson has a 3.36 ERA that belies his 9-8 record. Dana Eveland is 6-4 with a 2.74 ERA but gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings against Round Rock on September 2.


Round Rock

Round Rock has a 3.78 team ERA, and although much of that can be attributed to PCL Pitcher of the Year Jason Hirsh -- who was 13-2 with a 2.10 ERA before being promoted to Houston -- only an all-around quality starting rotation can produce quality numbers. Chris Sampson is the ace of the staff with a 12-3 record and a 2.51 ERA, while Jared Gothreaux (9-9, 4.34) has been a workhorse for the Express, leading the team in innings pitched. Ezequiel Astacio is 8-4 with a 4.86 ERA in 21 games for Round Rock, but as a consistent contributor to the 2005 NL Champion Astros, he brings plenty of big-game experience to the table.





Tony Gwynn, CF: Gwynn has been the catalyst for Nashville's lineup all season. The leadoff hitter's batting a consistent .300, leads the Sounds with 134 hits and is second on the team with 30 stolen bases.


Chris Barnwell, SS: Barnwell brings a potent one-two punch to the top of the Sounds' lineup. He's batting .300 with 18 RBIs this season and was red-hot against Round Rock pitching in the most recent series.


Drew Anderson, LF: Anderson joined Nashville at just the right time. The 25-year-old is batting .333 with nine RBIs since his promotion from Double-A Huntsville on August 19. Anderson batted .291 with 24 doubles and 43 RBIs with the Stars before getting called up.


Round Rock

J.R. House, 1B: In just a little over a month since his promotion from Double-A Corpus Christi, House has already established himself as one of Round Rock's top hitters. The cleanup hitter is batting a torrid .412 with 32 RBIs in just 31 games with the Express after batting .325 in 97 games for the Hooks.


Joe McEwing, 3B: The 33-year-old has played in over 700 Major League games, including the 2000 World Series with the Mets, making his veteran presence and experience invaluable to the Express in the postseason. McEwing's put in a solid season for Round Rock in 2006, batting .315 with 10 homers, 21 doubles and 46 RBIs.


Brooks Conrad, 2B: When Conrad connects, there's no doubt it's going deep. The 25-year-old leads the Express in all extra-base hit categories with 24 homers, 15 triples and 40 doubles on the year.




The playoffs are a familiar place for the Sounds as they took home the PCL crown a year ago, and this season is showing eerie similarities to the 2005 squad. The Sounds clinched the American North crown on the second to last day of the regular season this year. ... just as they did last year before knocking through Oklahoma and Tacoma to get to the crown.


This marks Round Rock's first playoff appearance since becoming a Triple-A franchise last year. But don't discount the Express due to lack of experience. Round Rock won three division titles in the Double-A Texas League between 2000 and 2004 and won the championship in 2000.




Nashville's recent postseason experience. The Sounds have yet to crack the code to Round Rock's weaknesses, but as any baseball fan knows, anything can happen in the playoffs.




Barring a sudden revelation by the Sounds or some underdog postseason magic, the Express hold a heavy advantage coming into the series. Not only has Round Rock beaten the Sounds consistently throughout the season, they're also carrying the momentum from this past week into the playoffs. Round Rock in four.

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Standings through Tuesday's action:
 Pioneer League (R+) - North Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Billings 26 10 .722 - 16-3 10-7 W3 Missoula 22 14 .611 4.0 12-5 10-9 L2 [b]Helena 19 17 .528 7.0 11-8 8-9 L3[/b] Great Falls 10 26 .278 16.0 6-11 4-15 W2

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Baseball America's Final Prospect Hot Sheet for 2006:




Ryan Braun, 3b, Brewers (Double-A Huntsville): Braun finished on a roll, hitting .455 with a pair of homers. The fifth overall pick in 2005 out of Miami, Braun put up much better numbers than his first half in the Florida State League. Since he was called up to Double-A, Braun batted .303/.367/.589 and more than doubled his home run total in the FSL. "He might not be a third baseman, but he's got unbelievable raw power," a scout with an American League club said.

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Nashville wins 4-0 behind yet another outstanding performance by Carlos Villanueva, 7 IP, 2 Hits, 2 BB, 6 K.


Villanueva has to be strongly considered for a rotation spot in Milwaukee in 2007. He's handcuffed a pretty strong Round Rock lineup in his last two starts.


By the way take note endaround, Gwynn contributed a two run home run.

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Villanueva has to be strongly considered for a rotation spot in Milwaukee in 2007.


Agreed. He was serviceable in the jump from AA, and has absolutely dominated since going down to AAA. Then again, so have all of our pitchers who got crushed in the bigs...

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nice game for the Sounds. Gwynn with yet another homer...amazing how good he's been this year, even to someone who expected this kind of line.


Interesting to see Hendrickson scheduled for game 5, with Jackson in game 3. I know Ben has struggled lately, but Jackson's first AAA campaign hasn't been lights out.


I would think Huntsville opens with Thurman, Gallardo, Parra, Dillard.

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Final: Nashville 4, Round Rock (Astros) 0


Nashville Site Game Summary:

Link for Carlos Villanueva photo, text follows --




Sounds Derail Express In Playoff Opener, 4-0


NASHVILLE, Tenn. ? Carlos Villanueva combined with a pair of relievers on a two-hit, 4-0 shutout of the Round Rock Express to provide the Nashville Sounds a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five PCL American Conference Finals on Wednesday evening at Greer Stadium.


Four of Nashville?s six victories against Round Rock this season have been shutouts. The Sounds co-led the Pacific Coast League with 12 shutouts during the regular season.


With the win, the Sounds improved to 9-3 in their initial game of postseason play over the franchise?s 29-year history. The contest marked the fourth time in Nashville?s 12 postseason appearances that the Sounds have played their initial playoff game at home; Nashville is 4-0 in those contests.


Villanueva (1-0) picked up the victory with his fifth straight quality start for the Sounds and his second dominant start in a row against the Express. The right-hander allowed only two hits over seven scoreless frames, walking a pair of batters and striking out six. He threw 93 pitches, 61 for strikes. On Friday, Villanueva carried a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Express before surrendering a pair of runs and taking a no-decision.


Villanueva and Round Rock?s Taylor Buchholz were locked in a pitcher?s duel for the first half of the contest. The teams combined for a total of five hits over the first five-and-a-half innings before the Sounds finally broke a scoreless deadlock in the bottom of the sixth.


Brent Abernathy (2-for-4), the Sounds? hottest hitter since the beginning of August, gave Nashville a 2-0 lead when he ripped a two-out, two-run double down the right field line on an 0-2 pitch from Buchholz. Chris Barnwell (single) and Andrew Beattie (walk) scored on the knock.


Barnwell went 3-for-4 on the evening to continue his recent hot hitting. The shortstop finished the regular season riding an eight-game hitting streak. Abernathy wrapped up his regular season campaign with a seven-game hit streak.


Tony Gwynn doubled the Nashville lead to 4-0 in the seventh when he belted a two-run homer off Round Rock reliever Travis Driskill. Dave Krynzel, who reached on a pinch-hit single to chase Buchholz one batter earlier, scored on the blast. Gwynn finished the regular season with a career-best four home runs.


AUDIO: Tony Gwynn's Two-Run Homer --




Sounds reliever Luther Hackman worked out of a crucial, inherited bases-loaded jam in the top of the eighth as the visitors attempted to creep back into the contest. After Allan Simpson walked the bags full, Hackman retired Express cleanup hitter J.R. House on a popup to shallow right then combined with first baseman Graham Koonce to retire Eric Munson on a groundout to first. Koonce ranged to his right and made a running throw to a hustling Hackman, who beat Munson to the bag by a half-step to escape the inning without harm.


Hackman finished the contest by working a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his first save of the postseason and second overall save with Nashville this season.


Buchholz (0-1) was saddled with the loss after giving up three runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out eight batters in his outing to match his season high for punchouts.


The teams resume the best-of-five series with game two at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday evening at Greer Stadium. Left-hander Zach Jackson (4-6, 4.12) will toe the rubber for the Sounds and face Round Rock right-hander Jared Gothreaux (9-9, 4.34).


Nashville Box Score and Game Log:



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"He (Villanueva) was serviceable in the jump from AA and has absolutely dominated since going down to AAA. Then again, so have all of our pitchers who got crushed in the bigs.."


Well Team Canada, I am sure you are referring to lil Ben. But I submit that Villanueva has been more dominant at AAA than Ben was when he peaked at 23 in 04 and Carlos is just 22. With his 7 innings last night, his AAA WHIP is now under 1. Ben's in 04 was 1.12. Not a huge difference but when it's that low, even a small difference is significant.


And I would say he was better than serviceable in his short major league stint with a very tidy 1.21 WHIP.


All you have to do is look at the Marlins to conclude that sooner or later one of these young pitchers in the Brewer system is going to have success at the major league level. I think Villanueva will be the first.

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Villanueva carries Sounds to Game 1 victory

By Nate Rau, Nashville City Paper Sports Correspondent


Over the last two months, Nashville starter Carlos Villanueva did all a guy can do to earn a call-up to the Milwaukee Brewers. But when the Sept. 1 call-up date came, Villanueva was left down in Music City by Brewers brass.


The snub paid dividends in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League American Conference Finals on Wednesday night, when Villanueva turned in yet another stellar performance. After finishing the regular season 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA, Villanueva threw seven scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and fanning six, to carry the Sounds to a 4-0 victory over the Round Rock Express at Greer Stadium.


The win gives the defending PCL champion Sounds a 1-0 lead in the conference finals. Game 2 will take place tonight at Greer, with Zach Jackson taking the mound for Nashville.


?I wasn?t really disappointed to not [get called up on Sept. 1],? Villanueva said. ?I knew we were in the playoff hunt and I could help these guys down here. If [a promotion] comes, it comes. I can?t have one foot up there and one foot here. I have to focus on one place.?


Brent Abernathy collected the winning hit for the Sounds when he smacked a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth off Taylor Buchholz. Abernathy?s hit, which plated Chris Barnwell and Andrew Beattie, broke a scoreless tie.


The Sounds tacked on a pair of runs when Tony Gwynn launched a two-run homer in the seventh inning.


?Buchholz threw a heckuva game, he?s tough,? Sounds manager Frank Kremblas said. ?We were struggling. We?d get some guys on then he?d make some pitches. Fortunately he left one up at 0-2 to [Abernathy].?


While the big hits from Abernathy and Gwynn gave the Sounds padding, it was the pitching of Villanueva that keyed the victory. Villanueva went 0-1 with a 4.61 ERA in 27.1 innings of work with Milwaukee after being called up from Double A Huntsville earlier this season. He was sent down to Nashville in July and ever since has sparkled with the Sounds.


?I just went out there and executed. I talked to [pitching coach] Stan Kyles and [catcher Chad] Moeller about it,? Villanueva said. ?We had a good game plan. Other than that it was good.?


Villanueva?s strong outing sets the stage for the rest of the Sounds starters, all of whom have thrown the ball well this season.


?Our pitching staff was ridiculous all year. In a five game series, we?re going to be good,? Villanueva said of the Nashville staff, which led the PCL in ERA.


Round Rock brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning when Sounds reliever Allan Simpson walked the bases loaded. But Simpson was spelled by Luther Hackman, who got Nashville out of the inning without surrendering a run.


?Simpson got a little wild there, which is unusual for him. Usually he throws strikes,? Kremblas said. ?Luther came in and did a good job and got a pop-up and a ground out. The pop-up was huge.?


Jackson takes the mound for Nashville tonight, although Dana Eveland was originally scheduled. Eveland will start Game 3 in Round Rock on Friday.

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Final: Missoula (Diamondbacks) 2, Helena 0


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O's win pitchers' duel

By NICK LOCKRIDGE of the Missoulian


Hits and runs were hard to come by Wednesday, especially for the Helena Brewers.


Missoula Osprey pitchers carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, before tiring and eventually settling for a narrow 2-0 victory over Helena in a Pioneer League baseball game at Ogren-Allegiance Park.


It was the sixth shutout of the summer for the Osprey, setting a team record, and it snapped a two game-losing streak. Missoula (23-14) has won six of its last eight heading into the regular season finale Thursday against the Brewers at 7:05 PM (8:05 Central).


The Osprey, who've already clinched their first playoff appearance since 2001, got the hometown fans fired up with another bid at a no-hitter. Starter Jordan Norberto and reliever Brett Reynolds combined on the no-no until it was broken up with two outs in the top of the seventh. Missoula's Osbek Castillo and Hector Ambriz combined on the franchise's first complete game no-hitter back on Aug. 20.


?Our defense made some key plays, so it wasn't just us,? said Reynolds, a 17th round draft choice out of Missouri. ?Helena is a good hitting team. It was awesome to be a part of a complete-game shutout.?


Helena starter Chris Jean became the first Pioneer League pitcher to toss a complete game himself this season, but unfortunately wound up with the loss. The pitching duel symbolized the battle these two teams fought down the homestretch for the Northern Division's final playoff spot.


Billings won the first and second half title, to earn the automatic playoff berths, but Missoula and Helena fought for the wild card spot for the past month.


?This gets us some momentum,? Reynolds said. ?We'd like to sweep Helena to end the year, get a fire going for Billings, because Billings is a great team, so we'll need all we can get. We're not taking this lightly. We're playing as if it's the playoffs already.?


O's closer Daniel Stange got out of a bases-loaded situation in the eighth and ninth inning to record his league-leading 13th save of the season.


After allowing back-to-back singles to open the ninth and a walk with one out, Stange settled down and struck out the final two batters.


In the eighth, Stange got Chris Errecart to ground out to third baseman Andrew Fie, who made all three putouts in the frame. The Brewers loaded the bases with two outs on a single, an error and a walk.


Reynolds lost the no-hitter in the seventh on Jordan Swaydan's infield single, which shortstop Matt Oxendine had to dive for but couldn't field cleanly in time for a throw. Reynolds retired the next batter on a comebacker. There were two runners on at the time because of another walk.


?Ox made a great try at it, he knocked it down,? Reynolds said. ?He tried to tell me it was his fault, but I told him it was just a good job of knocking it down and keeping the guy at first. Those kind of hits happen to break up no-hitters.?


Reynolds (3-3) finished with just the one hit against him in five innings of work. He had four strikeouts and three walks.


Leadoff hitter Tyler Jones was the only O's player with more than one hit. He had a pair of singles in four trips to the plate.


Missoula jumped ahead 2-0 in the second inning on Sean Smith's RBI single up the middle. Daniel Perales started the inning with a double and then scored on John Hester's ground-rule double in the next at-bat. Hester came in on Smith's hit.


The O's had a pair of hits in the fifth, including Julio Parra's one-out double, but that inning got cut short by an inning-ending double play.


Missoula used four pitchers in the game. Aside from Stange and Reynolds, reliever Matt Krohe lasted just two-thirds of an inning before getting replaced by Stange in the eighth, when the Brewers started going to their bench to get some different matchups.


O's starter Jordan Norberto lasted just two innings, but it was pre-determined that he'd just get some work in before the playoffs. He walked two and struck out one.


Helena Box Score and Game Log:

Nice work, Chris Jean...




Photo by LINDA THOMPSON / Missoulian

Helena Brewers outfielder Cole Gillespie is tagged out at second base by Missoula Osprey shortstop Matthew Oxendine during the first inning on Wednesday at Ogren-Allegiance Park.



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