On to The Cove
The six-game road trip continues to Stanley Coveleski Stadium in South Bend, Indiana (aka “The Cove”). It’s the stadium that set the standard for the wave of new parks, not only for the Midwest League but also for Minor League Baseball.
Kings “Double” Their Fun in Peoria: The LumberKings pounded out a season-high six doubles including three from Jake Shaffer as they took the series with Peoria with an 8-3 win at O’Brien Field last night. Shaffer doubled to open the game and scored three batters later on Kris Sanchez’s double off the wall in right-center. The Kings took a 2-0 lead as Shaffer again lead off with a double in the third…he later scored on a double-play ball off the bat of Scott Savastano. Starter Blake Nation gave up just a run on three hits over 3.1 innings, but Peoria tied the score against lefty Jose Jimenez in the fifth. Junior Lake hit a debated home run that didn’t clear the yellow line in right, but counted anyways for a 2-2 score. Clinton answered right back with three runs in the sixth, including a sac fly from Maximo Mendez and RBI groundout from Luis Nunez. Travis Howell added insurance late with a sac fly in the seventh and a two-out, two-run double to straightaway center in the ninth. Jimenez (W, 3-1) allowed just a run over 3.0 innings, and the rest of the pen combined on 2.2 scoreless innings. Marcus Hatley (L, 3-3) gave up five runs for Peoria over 6.0 IP.
Listen to Howell’s double: Howell 2-R double 5.28 at Peoria.mp3
Wild West: With last night’s win, the LumberKings are 5-2 over their last seven games. In taking two of three from Peoria, the Kings have now tied themselves with the Chiefs for third place in the West Division, trailing Cedar Rapids (27-20) by 2.0 games for the first-half Wild Card spot and Kane County (29-18) by 4.0 games for the division lead with 23 games left to play. Clinton has captured a first-half playoff spot in 2007 (Wild Card) and 2008 (Champions).
Taking the Lead: Jake Shaffer went 3-for-5 with three doubles and three runs scored in the leadoff spot last night, becoming the first LumberKing to record three doubles in a game this season. It was his fifth game batting in the leadoff spot this year…he’s hitting .304 (7-for-23) with three doubles, a triple, six runs scored and three RBI when batting first, .412 (7-for-17) with three doubles and a home run when leading off in general. Seattle’s 15th-round pick in 2008 out of Northern Kentucky, Shaffer raised his average from .268 to .295 with his first three-hit game.
Six Shooters: Travis Howell and Scott Savastano both extended hitting streaks to six games last night. Howell went 1-for-3 with a two-run double and a sac fly, giving him a three-RBI game…it was just one off his season-best of four RBI, achieved on 5/4 vs. Quad Cities. The 18th-round pick by the Mariners last year, Howell is hitting .350 (7-for-20) during the streak, including two doubles, a home run (2-run shot on 5/22 vs. Lansing helped end Clinton’s 7-game losing streak), four runs scored and six RBI. Savastano reached six games with a 1-for-4 night, including his fourth double and a run scored. The 28th-round pick by the Mariners in 2008, Savastano is hitting .286 (6-for-21) with a double, triple, six runs scored and three RBI during his streak, raising his average from .274 to .293.
On the Brink: Nate Tenbrink went 3-for-5 with a run scored last night, reaching a five-game hitting streak…it was his team-leading 14th multi-hit game, his fifth three-hit game this season. Seattle’s seventh-round pick in 2008 out of Kansas State, Tenbrink is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with a double, three runs scored and an RBI…he has raised his average from .289 to a team-best .313, giving him the Midwest League’s 10th-best average. Tenbrink’s 25 RBI are second-most on the team (behind Denny Almonte’s 28) and are tied for 12th-most in the league.
Smokin’ Aces: The LumberKings boast the Midwest League’s second-best team ERA at 3.31 (West Michigan leads at 3.07) thanks in part to stellar starting pitching. Brett Lorin lowered his ERA to 1.79 with an earned run over 6.0 innings last Sunday, his team-leading sixth quality start. He’s now second in the league in ERA, trailing only West Michigan’s Matt Hoffman (1.12). Lorin is also second in the MWL in innings pitched (55.2) and third in strikeouts (55). Aaron Pribanic (currently on the DL) is also amidst league leaders in ERA…his 2.57 mark is seventh-best. Pribanic (4-1) is tied with Lorin (4-1) and former LumberKing Steven Hensley (4-0) for the team lead in wins.
Texas Toast: Kenn Kasparek tossed his second-consecutive quality start Thursday night (6.0 IP, less than 3 ER), allowing just a run on five hits over 6.1 innings. His previous time out on 5/22, the former University of Texas standout pitched a career-high 7.0 innings and yielded only two runs in a win against Lansing. The 12th round selection by the Mariners in last year’s draft, Kasparek has not walked a batter while striking out 11 in his last two starts. After going 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in three April starts, he’s 2-2 with a 1.41 ERA in six starts in May.
Super Mario: Mario Martinez kept his average on the rise Tuesday, going 2-for-5 to give him a hit in 16 of his last 19 games. He is hitting .308 (24-for-78) with five doubles, a home run and nine RBI during that span, including a season-best six-game hitting streak from 5/18 to 5/23 (hit .478, 6 RBI during streak). The torrid span has raised his average from .190 on 5/17 at Wisconsin to a current .236, his highest average since hitting .286 on 4/10 at Burlington. The #7 prospect in the Seattle system as rated by Baseball America, Martinez is hitting .265 with 12 RBI in May.
Triple Trouble: Scott Savastano’s triple on Monday was his third this season, Clinton’s league-leading 29th as a team. The Kings are far and away the best triples club, outdistancing second-place Great Lakes (19 triples) by 10. Lead by Midwest League leader Maximo Mendez (seven triples), the Kings are already six triples behind their entire total for last season. The 2008 LumberKings recorded 35 triples in 137 games, lead by Engel Beltre’s nine.