A show-and-go trip to Cedar Rapids mixed with a switching train stuck on the tracks means I have little time to compose the proper blog post for today, but here’s some game notes: 8.25.11 kingsnotes
LHP Roenis Elias (2-1, 4.18) on the hill against the Kernels tonight, they counter with right-hander Justin La Tempa (3-8, 4.60). First pitch at 6:35 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com. I’ll be that out-of-breath guy that sounds like he just finished filling out his scorebook.
In case you missed it, left-hander Anthony Vasquez became the eighth former LumberKing to make a Major League debut this season as he defeated the Cleveland Indians with six runs (five earned) on nine hits over 5.1 innings in the Mariners’ 12-7 win on Tuesday night.
Vasquez, now a potential candidate for Eric Wedge’s six-man rotation, pitched for the LumberKings in 2009 and 2010. Since my old audio links from ’09 are now dead (due to the WordPress conversion), I thought I’d re-post my interview with the Mariners’ 18th round pick out of USC.
I caught up with Vasquez following his August 1, 2009 debut with Clinton, a win over the Great Lakes Loons at Dow Diamond. Listen Here: Anthony Vasquez Interview 8.2.09
And, since Vasquez was back as a LumberKing again last season, here’s my interview with him from 2010: Vasquez Interview 4.20.10
In case you’re keeping count, Vasquez is the 232nd former Clinton player to reach the Major Leagues since 1937.
Your LumberKings own the top playoff spot in the West Division after last night’s 4-2 win over the Kane County Cougars. The victory capped a 3-games-to-1 series victory over the Cougars and finished off a successful 5-2 homestand (including 2-1 against Quad Cities). Both the Kings and the Cougars own identical 32-25 records and are tied for second in the standings, but Clinton owns the head-to-head tiebreaker (8 wins vs. 5 losses).
John Hicks finished the series 8-for-10, including 3-for-3 last night with two more doubles and two runs scored. After the Kings fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, Hicks doubled down the right-field line to lead off the third and scored on a double by Anthony Phillips to tie the game (listen: Phillips RBI double 8.23.11). Brad Miller, expecting to get his first day off since joining the Kings, came on to replace Carlos Ramirez and lifted a go-ahead double scoring Hicks in the fifth inning (listen: Miller RBI double 8.23.11). Stefen Romero added an RBI triple scoring Mike McGee for insurance, extending his hitting streak to nine games (listen: Romero RBI triple 8.23.11). Pitching-wise, it was another two-man show last night as right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen allowed a run over 6.0 innings for his fourth win and right-hander Jonathan Arias struck out five over the final 3.0 innings for his ninth save.
For tonight’s interview, I thought it appropriate to talk with Miller, Seattle’s second-round pick in 2011 out of Clemson Unversity and the newest cog to the LumberKings’ red-hot lineup. The 2011 ACC Player of the Year talks about his wild first 48 hours as a Mariner, his thoughts on both the ACC award and the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year award, his ties to Iowa (Miller’s dad played baseball at Northern Iowa), his unique left-handed batting stance, joining a LumberKings’ club pushing for the playoffs and more.
Listen Here: Miller Interview 8.24.11
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.24.11 kingsnotes
Ace lefty Anthony Fernandez gets the game-one start in a three-game series at Cedar Rapids tonight. Fernandez is 5-1 with a 2.06 ERA and nine quality starts in his last 12 outings and is 6th in the Midwest League with a 2.88 ERA. He’ll go for win #7 tonight as he takes on the Kernels. They’ll counter with right-hander Seth Fowler (2-3, 6.80 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.
The LumberKings stand a game out of first place after defeating Kane County in a rout, 12-1 last night. Showing no hesitance against Midwest League ERA leader Greg Billo, the Kings scored six runs in the first inning to take quick command of the game. John Hicks enjoyed a career-best 3-for-4 game including two doubles and four RBI (listen: Hicks 2-R double 8.22.11 ) and Stefen Romero went 3-for-4 with his 21st double and two RBI to lead the way (listen: Romero RBI double (#21) 8.22.11). Brad Miller, playing in just his third game as a pro, chipped in with a 3-for-3 game including his first-career extra-base hit (listen: Miller Double (First Extra-Base Hit) 8.22.11) and first-career RBI (listen: Miller Sac Fly (First RBI) 8.22.11).
Left-hander Tony Butler won for the first time since July 8 as he allowed a run on four hits over 6.1 innings and struck out eight. Right-hander Ben Versnik lowered his ERA from 10.80 down to 6.00 with 2.2 scoreless innings of relief.
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.23.11 kingsnotes
Starting Lineups: 8.23.11 lineup
The Kings close the four-game series with the Cougars tonight with right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen on the mound (3-3, 5.14)…he’s 3-0, 1.96 over his four starts with Clinton. Kane County counters with right-hander Yordano Ventura (3-4, 4.54). First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.
While we get ready for the Major League debut of former LumberKings’ lefty Anthony Vasquez with the Mariners tonight, I have a special treat for you. Former Kings’ right-hander Forrest Snow, now also knocking on the Big League door with the triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, joined me yesterday for a phone interview.
Snow, the closer for the Kings during their run to the West Division title last season and this year’s Opening Night starter, made the jump from high-A High Desert to Tacoma in mid-July as an extra arm for a maxed-out bullpen. After striking out nine over 6.0 innings of relief in his PCL debut at Salt Lake on July 24, Snow found his way on to the roster for a more permanent stint. The Seattle native struck out seven in his next relief outing and eventually joined the rotation on August 9. His best start to-date came in front of friends and family at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium, an outing in which he limited Omaha to a run on four hits over 7.0 innings and struck out nine in a no-decision.
He’s now back into the bullpen, but still pitching just one step away from reaching the team he grew up rooting for. And, clearly still humble about the whole experience, Snow shared some time with me yesterday.
Snowman talks about getting the call to the Rainiers, advice he received from former LumberKing Kyle Seager in his first outing, the tremendous start at Cheney Stadium, being reunited with former Clinton pitching coach Dwight Bernard, watching former Kings’ right-hander Erasmo Ramirez dominate the PCL (he’s 3-0 in four starts) and plenty more.
Listen Here: Forrest Snow Phone Interview 8.22.11
Snow did officially go back into the pen last night, but pitched 2.0 scoreless innings at Reno in a game ultimately lost by the Rainiers, 7-6 in 12 innings. His current stint in Tacoma (0-2, 5.40 in 6 games, 2 starts) looks to be just the beginning of big things to come for the man who squeezed the final out for Clinton’s 2010 West Division championship.
After dropping the opener 7-1 to Kane County on Saturday night, the LumberKings completely flipped the script on the Cougars yesterday, winning 7-1. Carlos Ramirez ensured the Kings would not trail from the game’s first at-bat onward as he slugged a leadoff home run (listen: Ramirez Leadoff HR (#5) 8.21.11), Clinton’s second of the series. Kevin Rivers added a two-out RBI single to center in the second to open a 3-0 lead (listen: Rivers RBI single 8.21.11), and after right-hander Carter Capps allowed his only run of the day in the third, Kalian Sams homered for his team-lead-tying 16th time and Stefen Romero doubled home a pair (listen: Romero 2-R double (#20) 8.21.11) to break open a six-run advantage. Right-handers John Taylor and Tyler Burgoon combined for 4.0 scoreless innings to help Capps secure his first professional victory.
Capps, Seattle’s supplemental third-round pick, has seemingly always been ahead of the curve. After starting out his college career as a catcher, Capps made a conversion to the mound as a red-shirt freshman at Mount Olive College (NC), learned a slider and went 10-0 in his first season. This past year, he went 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA for the #2 ranked Trojans, taking home the NCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year award while leading his team to the National Semifinals. While waiting to sign with the Mariners, he prepared for the pros with a 4-1, 0.60 stint for Harwich of the Cape Cod League. Now, just two games into his pro career, he’s 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA for the playoff-hungry LumberKings.
Capps talks about his first professional win, the catcher-to-pitcher conversion, early work with pitching coach Rich Dorman, stepping in to Taijuan Walker’s rotation spot, his fantastic 2011 season at Mount Olive College, pitching in the Cape and more on tonight’s interview.
Listen Here: Capps Interview 8.22.11
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.22.11 kingsnotes
Starting Lineups: 8.22.11 lineup
The four-game series with the Cougars continues with the pivotal game three tonight. Left-hander Tony Butler (1-3, 3.38) faces Kane County for the first time since May 24, 2007 when they were still an Oakland affiliate. He’s countered by Midwest League ERA leader, Cougars’ right-hander Greg Billo (9-3, 1.56). First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 PM, listen to the game online at 1390kcln.com.
The LumberKings managed just a run on a solo homer from Stefen Romero last night, falling 7-1 to Kane County in the opener of this pivotal four-game series. Cheslor Cuthbert and Brett Eibner each went yard against left-hander Roenis Elias, tagging him for five runs over 5.0 innings. Right-hander Matt Bischoff gave up the final two runs over the final 4.0 innings. Cougars’ right-hander Leondy Perez pitched 5.0 scoreless innings while right-handers Alex Rivers and Nick Rogers combined for a run on one hit over 4.0 innings of relief. Mariners’ second-round pick Brad Miller (pictured) made his debut at shortstop, going 1-for-3 with an infield single in his first-career at-bat.
Today’s Notes: 8.21.11 kingsnotes
Starting Lineup: 8.21.11 lineup
The series continues with day baseball today as right-hander Carter Capps (0-0, 5.79) makes his second start and home debut for the Kings. The Cougars counter with right-hander Santiago Garrido (2-4, 5.86). First pitch is at 2:00 PM, listen to the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.
The LumberKings welcomed the 2011 Little League Softball World Series Champions, the Sterling All-Stars (Sterling, IL) to the game last night. The entire team and coaching staff were honored before the game against Kane County, just two days after defeating Midway (Waco, TX) 7-5 in the final game in Portland, Oregon.
I was joined in the booth by Sterling’s head coach, Eric Staples. An assistant on the 2008 Sterling team that finished third, Staples guided this year’s group to six wins in the tournament. Sterling, the Central Regional Champion, outscored opponents 58-9 and overcame a 3-0 deficit in the title game to unseat the 11-time champion Waco squad. Staples talks about his team and their incredible run to the title, just the second ever by a team from Illinois.
It was an honor having the team and their supporters at the game last night, it’s not often you get to honor the World Champions of a sport. Special thanks to LumberKings’ Director of Operations Mitch Butz for setting it all up.
The LumberKings won the series and kept a 4.0-game Wild Card lead on Beloit in-tact with a 5-2 victory over the Quad Cities River Bandits last night. Kalian Sams went 2-for-4 with a double (listen: Sams RBI double 8.19.11) and a solo home run (listen: Sams Solo HR (#15) 8.19.11), but it was Anthony Phillips’ two-out infield single scoring Mickey Wiswall in the fourth inning that stood as the winning run (listen: Phillips RBI infield single 8.19.11). Left-hander Anthony Fernandez had a short 5.0-inning outing by his usual standards, but struck out a career-high 10 batters in that time and allowed just two runs to the Bandits (listen: Fernandez Career-High 10th K, 8.19.11). Relievers Jessie Nava, Ryan Kiel and Jonathan Arias combined on 4.0 scoreless innings in relief of Fernandez, with Arias picking up his eighth save.
With another great outing by Fernandez, more lock-down relief from Kiel and Arias and a host of new arms to talk about, it’s time to catch up with LumberKings’ pitching coach Rich Dorman for tonight’s interview. He gives plenty of insight on Fernandez, right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen, Mariners’ third-round right-hander Carter Capps, tonight’s starter Roenis Elias, Arias and his dominant second half and more.
Listen to the 11-minute-long full interview here: Dorman Interview 8.20.11
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.20.11 kingsnotes
Starting Lineups: 8.20.11 lineup
Mariners’ second-round pick, Brad Miller makes his professional debut tonight at shortstop, batting seventh. Elias (2-0, 2.89) makes his fourth start for the Kings as he goes up against Kane County right-hander Leondy Perez (6-11, 3.35). The game begins at 6:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.
After a difficult loss on Wednesday, the LumberKings rebounded for a 7-5 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits last night at Alliant Energy Field. Kevin Rivers erased a 4-3 fifth-inning deficit with his 10th home run of the year, a three-run shot to right-center off Bandits’ right-hander Zach Russell (listen: Rivers 3-R HR (#10) 8.18.11). Right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen wasn’t untouchable, but exited with a 6-4 lead and the bullpen combination of Ben Versnik, Ryan Kiel and Jonathan Arias managed to hold a slim lead. Kiel left with two on in the ninth and Arias walked two to force in a run, but stranded the bases loaded to end the game as he struck out Nick Longmire, induced Oscar Taveras into a pop-up and fanned Jonathan Rodriguez (listen: Arias Strikes Out Rodriguez for 7th Save 8.19.11).
The Wild Card lead is back to 4.0 games as Beloit lost 2-0 at Kane County last night. The Kings’ offense received an added boost today as Mariners’ second-round pick, shortstop Brad Miller (pictured) was added to the roster. Miller (wearing #9) took a brief BP today, but likely won’t be in action tonight after flying in from his Seattle meet-and-greet. We’ll probably see his pro debut in the next few days.
Tonight’s Game Notes: 8.19.11 kingsnotes
Starting Lineup: 8.19.11 lineup
Ace lefty Anthony Fernandez (5-3, 2.84) gets the rubber match call tonight, and he’ll look to continue a hot trend. He’s 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA and nine quality starts in his last 11 outings. Fernandez faces off against the ace of the Bandits, right-hander Boone Whiting (3-1, 2.02). First pitch is at 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.