July 2010

Pack the Park with Game Notes

100_1918.JPGAdmittedly, I normally get to the ballpark at about 10:00 AM daily to begin the day’s work.  Since today’s game STARTS at 10:00 AM for the annual “Pack the Park with Kids Day”, I’ve been here since 7:00 AM.  I’m happy to report that I’ve finished just about everything, save for copying JT’s lineup.

Today’s Game Notes were completed at roughly 1:00 AM, before I got approximately 5 1/2 hours of sleep.  I hope you enjoy them: 
7.19.10 kingsnotes.pdf

Yes, I know a lot of people work earlier and get less sleep…and do things less baseball related.  I can’t complain too much.  I certainly can’t complain about right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (6-3, 2.71) on the hill in search of a sweep of the South Bend Silver Hawks. 

Again, gametime is 10:00 AM.  Have your coffee, have your donut and listen to the LumberKings…and feel free to email me at davelezotte@lumberkings.com if it sounds like I’m falling asleep during the broadcast.


7/18 Game Notes and Musings

The combination of limited time and a cancelled pregame show from last night means the Terry Pollreisz interview will air on today’s pregame show.  However, it’s not like there weren’t plenty of performers worth talking to in last night’s 6-0 win over South Bend.

In three starts heading into last night’s contest, left-hander Jimmy Gillheeney had already been impressive.  After a second-straight outing of 7.0 scoreless innings, it’s hard to categorize Gillheeney as anything but the hottest pitcher in the Midwest League.  He most likely won’t win the MWL Pitcher of the Week award as his previous scoreless start came last Sunday, but he certainly deserves to be the first 2010 King to capture a league award.  Consider this paragraph my “Gilly for Pitcher of the Week” campaign ploy.

The offense was efficient last night, producing six runs on nine hits, including three extra-base hits.  Vinnie Catricala was the star, aptly busting out as Pollreisz had predicted with a 2-for-3, double, HR, three-RBI game.  The home run came on a hit-and-run in the fifth as Tim Morris took off, then slowed up to watch Cat’s majestic ball land on the left-field berm.  Mario Martinez added a flare double to right but also struck out three times and stranded four on base, and the other two RBI belonged to Blake Ochoa and Gabriel Noriega.  It’s good to see production from multiple parts of the order on a night when Daniel Carroll, James Jones and Nick Franklin went a collective 1-for-12 in the 1-3 spots.

It’s tough to be a Silver Hawk right now…Mark Haley’s club hasn’t scored in 27 innings, spanning three games.  Part of me wants them to score today, but maybe on an unearned run after Clinton has already built an eight-run lead.

Getting to the payoff of this post, here’s today’s Game Notes and some highlights from last night:

It’s Kings-Hawks in game two of this three-game series today as left-hander Nick Czyz (1-1, 2.96) makes his fifth start of the season.  First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.  I promise we’ll have a pregame show today.


On the Bright Side (July 16 Edition)

Thumbnail image for brightside.jpgI didn’t want to have to do another one of these this year, but I guess it’s time.  The LumberKings fell 7-1 to the East Division’s last-place team, the West Michigan Whitecaps last night.

The game was closer than the six-run deficit leads on.  Heading into the seventh, the Kings trailed 2-1, but the bullpen surrendered five runs over the final three innings as the ‘Caps put the game away.

There wasn’t much to cheer about in the loss (Clinton’s fourth in the last six games), but at least we have the following to be happy about:

  • Right-hander Nolan Gallagher, despite the one run of offensive support he’s received in three starts, has been fairly impressive.  Over his last two outings (11.1 IP), he’s limited opponents to three runs on 12 hits for an ERA of 2.38.  Now, if only the former fourth-round pick out of Stanford could just get a few runs.
  • Following an 11-game homer drought, Nick Franklin has lifted off twice in the last three games.  His solo homer in the first inning off right-hander Victor Larez was all of Clinton’s offense last night (listen:
    Franklin Solo HR (#16) 7.15.10.mp3)…he’s now tied for second in the MWL in blasts alongside Wisconsin’s Khris Davis.  Oh, and don’t worry about that early exit after a hit-by-pitch last night, Franklin is back in the starting nine this evening.
  • James Jones saw his hitting streak snapped at six games last night, but still played a role in the outcome.  He recorded two outfield assists (and now leads the club with 10), including the start of a 9-3-2 play at the plate to get Jamie Johnson in the eighth (listen: 
    Jones-Morris-Ochoa play at plate 7.15.10.mp3).
  • Even with the downswing, the Kings are still just 1.5 games behind the first-place duo of Quad Cities and Kane County.  There’s plenty of second half to go.
  • As always, you still get LumberKings Game Notes
    7.16.10 kingsnotes.pdf

Right-hander Taylor Stanton (6-4, 3.63) makes his 15th start of the year in the series finale against the Whitecaps tonight, first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Off the Diamond: Mitch Butz

butz.JPGThe LumberKings (as well as the rest of Minor League Baseball) had off yesterday for the MLB All-Star Game.  Clinton currently sits alone in fourth in the West Division after Monday night’s 7-5 loss in Kane County.

For tonight’s LumberBlog feature, it’s time for yet another “Off the Diamond” segment. The behind-the-scenes look at some of your favorite LumberKings’ staffers takes its turn featuring the former Director of Promotions and current Director of Operations, Mitch Butz.

The Ashford, University grad has taken on numerous new responsibilites in his first year as a full-timer (third overall with the organization), including ticketing, online merchandising, season and group sales and everything else under the sun.  He’s also a world-class handball player.  Ok, everything is true but the last part.  Get to know the man we call “Bootsie” on tonight’s pregame interview.

Listen Here:  
Mitch Butz OTD Interview 7.14.10.mp3

Tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.14.10 kingsnotes.pdf

The Kings open a three-game series against the East’s cellar-dwelling West Michigan Whitecaps tonight.  Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (5-3, 2.80) puts his sixth-best ERA on the line tonight against a ‘Caps offense ranked 13th in the Midwest League.  First pitch on this steamy Wednesday night is 7:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Off the Diamond: Chris Hadley

the bus.jpgThe behind-the-scenes folks behind LumberKings Baseball are not just limited to Alliant Energy Field.  Peoria Charter motorcoach driver Chris Hadley is in his first season as the man who gets the Kings to their road games.  He’s also tasked with getting them to the hotel, the gym, various places to eat, etc. 

Life on the road isn’t all that glamorous here in the Midwest League, but Chris makes it a lot more tolerable.  He’ll share his wisdom from the driver’s seat on today’s pregame interview.

Listen Here: 
Chris Hadley OTD Interview 7.11.10.mp3

Today’s Game Notes: 
7.11.10 kingsnotes.pdf

The LumberKings try and break a two-game losing streak with left-hander Jimmy Gillheeney (6-6, 3.14) on the mound, making his team-leading 18th start.  Gilly is 2-0 over his last two starts, allowing just three earned runs over the last 14.0 innings.  He’ll face a Kane County club that handed the Kings a stinging 9-4 loss last night.

First pitch from Elfstrom Stadium is at 1:00 PM today, listen online at 1390kcln.com.


7/10 Game Notes

100_1907.JPGThe pregame interview is on hiatus tonight after last night’s 1-0 loss to the Quad Cities River Bandits.  The LumberKings saw a chance to tie the game slip through their grasp in the ninth as Tim Morris singled and made it to third base with one out, but was left stranded as Bandits’ closer Aaron Terry struck out Kalian Sams and Matt Cerione to end the game.

It was another night of zeroes against right-hander Deryk Hooker, who now has worked 11.0 scoreless innings against the Kings this season.  Right-hander Nolan Gallagher pitched 5.2 outstanding innings, yielding only a run on six hits to lower his ERA to 3.72…however, he also lost as a result of that run, falling to 0-2.

I contemplated interviewing Gallagher tonight, but I’ve decided that I’d much rather talk to him following a win than a frustrating 1-0 loss.  So, keep waiting for that interview for now.  I also pondered writing another edition of “On the Bright Side”, but those make my blood boil rather than cheering me up (their intended purpose).  Instead, let’s just forget about yesterday and move on.

It’s on to Kane County this evening to start a three-game series with the Cougars, a team the LumberKings have owned this season.  Clinton is 10-4 against the low-A Oakland affiliate, including 3-1 here at Elfstrom Stadium.

Those facts and more in tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.10.10 kingsnotes.pdf

Right-hander Taylor Stanton (6-4, 3.52) makes his 14th start, 17th appearance tonight in the opener of this three-game series against the Cougars.  He’s 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA against them this season, numbers that bode well as the Kings attempt to get back to the first-place spot in the West.  First pitch is at 6:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Four Former Kings Involved in Lee Deal

Lee Trade Players.JPG

Left-to-right:  Beavan, Smoak, Lueke and Lawson, all ’08 LumberKings

You’ve already seen the breaking news…the Seattle Mariners (our current parent club) have shipped All-Star lefty Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers (our previous parent club) for four players, including first-baseman Justin Smoak.

Smoak, alongside right-handers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke and infielder Matt Lawson all played in Clinton during the 2008 season.  Smoak, Beavan and Lawson were all part of the team during the 2008 Midwest League Playoffs.

It’s unlikely that we’ll see ANY of them come back through Clinton, as all were above double-A at the time of the trade.  Beavan had recently made the move to triple-A Oklahoma City, while Lawson and Lueke were in double-A Frisco.  And, well, Smoak is a big-leaguer.  It remains to be seen if there will be any shifting amongst the upper levels to accomodate the new acquisitions.

Stay tuned to the LumberBlog for more details.


Off the Diamond: Tyler Hildreth

You haven’t seen much from the LumberBlog the last two days, and you can blame Mother
Hildreth_TylerDSC_0009(edit4x6).jpgNature.  The Kings were rained out in the finale at Peoria on Tuesday night, then saw last night’s game suspended by rain at Alliant Energy Field in the fourth inning with Quad Cities leading, 1-0.

Last night’s game resumes tonight with another seven-inning contest to follow.  Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (5-3, 3.01) will start the second game.  Read more in tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.8.10 kingsnotes.pdf

With no new player/coach to interview, I figured it’s high time to renew the “Off the Diamond” segment.  Tonight, I catch up with LumberKings’ clubhouse manager Tyler Hildreth.  A member of the staff since 2007, Hildreth has seen the likes of MLB All-Star Neftali Feliz, Justin Smoak, Derek Holland and Craig Gentry pass through Clinton on their way to the Major Leagues.  He’s also a diehard Miami Heat fan and will weigh in on his excitement over the pending LeBron James decision.

Listen Here: 
Tyler Hildreth OTD Interview 7.8.10.mp3

The resumption of last night’s game begins at 6:00 PM with the pregame show starting at 5:45 PM.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Former Kings Seeing Stars

feliz asg.jpgI should have put this out yesterday, but you probably already know anyways.  Former LumberKings’ second-baseman Ian Kinsler (’04) and right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08) are American League All-Stars.  Both were named amongst five Texas Rangers to play in the game at Angels Stadium in Anaheim coming up on July 13.

Kinsler is a second-time All-Star, replacing Boston’s Dustin Pedroia on the roster.  Feliz, who was an active LumberKing through early July three seasons ago is a first-time All-Star.  I’m especially excited about Feliz going, as he is the first player from a team I’ve covered to be named an All-Star.

In other less-exciting but still exciting none-the-less news, word has it that right-hander Blake Beavan (’08) has been promoted to triple-A Oklahoma City.  Center-fielder Engel Beltre (’08) had just joined double-A Frisco, so they had apparently reached the “08 LumberKings” quota.

It’s good to be a former member of that 2008 club right now.


Independence Day Comeback

In case you missed it amidst your holiday fun last night, the LumberKings stunned the Peoria Chiefs with a four-run ninth inning outburst to erase a two-run deficit in a 5-3 win at O’Brien Field.  James Jones and Vinnie Catricala each singled to start the inning, and after a walk to Tim Morris loaded the bases, Mario Martinez came through with a game-tying two-run double just inside the third-base bag.  Brandon Bantz plated the game-winner with a sacrifice fly to left and Daniel Carroll added an RBI single for good measure, giving the Kings just their second win when trailing after eight innings this season.

Even if you missed it last night, you don’t have to miss the highlights today.  I’ve condensed them into a two-minute clip.

Listen Here: 
Independence Day Comeback.mp3

Today’s Game Notes: 
7.5.10 kingsnotes.pdf

With a 6-4 record, the LumberKings are back into a three-team tie for first place in the West.  They’ll attempt to gain momentum from last night’s win as left-hander Jimmy Gillheeney (5-6, 3.19) makes his team-leading 17th start today in Peoria.  Game time is set for 1:00 PM, tune in to the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.