A night after pounding out 16 hits, the Salt Lake offense stayed hot with a 12-4 pasting of Tacoma.
Casey Smith, hitting in the second slot in the lineup for the third time this year, had a triple among his three hits, drove in a pair of runs and scored two as well. The 27-year-old utility infielder, who has been Salt Lake's starting shortstop since Erick Aybar's promotion, now owns a .333 average in 24 games since he was promoted from Arkansas, a pace more than 100 points above his career numbers. Although he was just 1-for-3 against starter Cesar Jimenez, he has owned left-handed pitchers this year with a .500 average in 22 at-bats.
Nick Gorneault was on base four times in the game with two hits and a pair of walks. He has now reached in ten of the last 11 games, a span in which he has gone .375 (18-for-48) and driven in 14 runs. After starting the year slowly, he hit .321 with a .554 slugging percentage and 29 RBI in May.
Steven Shell, who didn't earn a win despite three straight solid starts earlier in the season, got a victory even though he didn't throw his best tonight. Over six innings, the righty gave up nine hits and four runs, all earned. He has now allowed 28 hits over 18 innings in his last three games, but has mitigated the damage by holding opponents to just a .233 average with runners on.
Arkansas ends futile month with another loss
The Travelers dropped their fifth straight game Wednesday night, falling to Frisco 11-6. The current streak is the third time in three weeks the club has lost five in a row.
Rafael Rodriguez's struggles continued as he gave up seven runs over seven innings, surrendering 11 hits and a walk. He almost didn't make it out of the first inning when he gave up five hits and three runs before recording the second out. Even with four strikeouts and only one walk in the contest, his ratio for the season is now only 26 to 21. Texas League hitters have jumped him for a .329 average in 8 starts.
Jason Aspito did his best to keep his team in the game, clubbing a pair of homers among his four hits. It was his first multi-homer game since April of 2004 and second four-hit game of the season. Aspito had the highest on-base percentage and slugging percentage of anyone on the team for the month of May, moving his season average to .292.
Matt Brown, who hadn't homered since May 2, launched a two-out, two-run shot in the bottom of the first to get the Travelers back in the game. He has done well all year with men on and two out, posting a .315 average in 54 chances.
Jose Arredondo was nearly perfect over six-plus innings of work for the Quakes Monday night, but Lancaster starter Greg Smith was even better, leading the JetHawks to a 1-0 victory.
Arredondo, who entered the contest with the Cal League lead in strikeouts, whiffed a season-high 11 hitters while allowing just two hits in 6.2 innings of work. However, he walked four for the third time this season. In the seventh, he walked two, one of whom came around to score the game's only run after he reached third on a throwing error by backup catcher Ben Johnson. The game was the fourth straight in which Arredondo has allowed just one run.
Johnson had a rough night in the field, throwing one ball into center field on a stolen base attempt and boxing a pitch for his third passed ball in 11 games behind the plate. He also threw through on a double-steal attempt in the seventh, allowing Rusty Ryal to score the winning run even though he retired the base-stealer. He did later catch Carlos Gonzalez on a steal attempt as well and has nabbed eight of 19 would-be thieves on the year.
Second baseman Abel Nieves made his Quakes debut in the game, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. The 50th-round pick in the 2004 draft signed with the club last year and posted a .273 average in the Arizona Summer League. The slick-fielding middle infielder, still just 20 years old, had a cameo appearance with Salt Lake this week, playing shortstop for three games.
Marek powers Kernels to victory
Stephen Marek shut down Clinton for 8.2 innings, leading Cedar Rapids to a 4-2 victory over the Lumber Kings in a fast-moving two hour game.
Marek, who has now won five straight decisions, gave up just four hits in the game while posting a new career high with nine strikeouts. The total was the best by a Kernels pitcher this season. Marek posted a 1.93 ERA in 42 innings in May, moving his season total to 2.30. The righty gave up a two-run homer in the second inning for all the scoring against him. He has allowed just 16 extra-base hits in 70.1 innings of work this season.
The Kernels scored three runs in the seventh with only one hit, a single by Hainley Statia who was 3-for-5 in the game. The offense collected a walk, hit batsman and sacrifice fly for the first run, then scored two more on Matt Smith's throwing error.