One more day in High Desert for the Rawhide, as they capped off their three-game set on Wednesday. Predictably, it was another wild and woolly affair with a total of 20 runs on 27 hits, although there were no single-game all-time Cal League records matched like there were on Tuesday. Visalia finally leaves that forsaken wind tunnel of a park today, beginning a homestand that first sees them take on San Jose, so we can expect a return to actual baseball in a park that only slightly helps out hitters.
Snakelet of the Day:
Chris Owings (Hi-A): 4-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI, K, HBP, CS
Hi-A Visalia's Upcoming Schedule: Home Series vs. San Jose and Bakersfield (NOT AT HIGH DESERT)
Triple-A: The Aces head home after their road swing, and begin a four-game set with Oklahoma City today.
Double-A: The BayBears had a travel day as well, heading off to Jackson for what has to be one of the most highly-anticipated individual series of the minor-league season, with two of the minors' best pitching staffs going toe-to-toe for five games.
Hi-A: Visalia 13, High Desert 7. (20-20) Not quite 37 runs on 50 hits, but still pretty crazy in its own rite. Visalia racked up 15 hits, with three doubles and another four home runs. Big-league center fielder Chris Young went 1-4 in this one, but made his one hit really count with a fourth-inning grand slam that helped but the Rawhide up 8-1 after three innings. Also homering was Bobby Borchering, Chris Owings, and Keon Broxton. Owings was the top performer of the day, adding two singles and a double to his line and getting hit by a pitch as well, reaching base an impressive five times. Jae Yun Kim and Ryan LaPensee each had a two-hit day with a double, as well.
On the mound for the Rawhide was southpaw Andrew Chafin, and it's quite apparent that the park environment was altering his pitching approach. Chafin worked five innings and allowed seven hits and five runs (four earned), striking out just one but walking seven. With the winds blowing at 10 mph out to right field at the start of the game (and almost certainly getting up to higher figures throughout parts of the game), one can only imagine the effects on the ball as it's being pitched, not just after it's hit. So, depressing as that line might be for Chafin, I see little reason to give any weight to it. Ladies and gentlemen, one more time (with feeling), High Desert baseball!!!
As a side note, right-hander Kyle Winkler made his professional debut in this contest, coming out of the bullpen for the eighth inning. Winkler's line is a bit unsightly - one inning, two hits, a homer, a walk, and two runs - but, y'know, have I mentioned High Desert yet? All three of Winkler's outs came on the ground, which is hardly surprising for someone with a sinker as highly-regarded as Winkler's. If Arizona keeps Winkler in the bullpen - with Winkler standing at under six feet tall and just off of the Disabled List after signing about ten months ago, they have plenty of reason to do so - and if the stuff he had in his college days remains, he could be an awfully quick-rising 'pen arm with late-inning potential. Keep an eye on how things go post-surgery for Winkler.
The best news: Visalia heads home for series against San Jose and Bakersfield, so the games will actually mean something once again.
Low-A: South Bend 2, Lake County 5. (21-19) Right-hander Jesse Darrah had a rough outing, lasting just four innings and surrendering seven hits and five runs while walking three and striking out just one. The bullpen came on and worked five scoreless frames to keep the Silver Hawks in this one, but were unable to claw back from the deficit at the dish, despite out-hitting Lake County 11-10 on the day. Fidel Pena had a three-hit contest, Marc Bourgeois had a single and a double, and Chris Ellison tripled for South Bend, but the Hawks also struck out 12 times, which helped to effectively kill the chances that they move across and plate their numerous baserunners.