The Bees have been a dominant team at home this year, posting a 17-9 record at Franklin Covey Field so far this year, but embarked on an eight-game road trip with just a .500 record as the visitor. Fortunately for them, Joe Saunders could probably dominate opponents in any setting right now and led them to a 5-1 victory over Fresno.
Saunders carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, allowing just one runner when a third strike got away from catcher Jeff Mathis to let the hitter to advance. In the bottom of the seventh, the Grizzlies got a scratch infield single to break it up, and then in the eighth Saunders surrendered a pair of hits to allow a run to score with two outs. It was the first earned run to cross the plate against the lefty since the first inning of his start against Oklahoma on May 19, - 31 and two-thirds innings ago. That stretch equals the franchise record for the Bees which Jered Weaver most recently achieved just prior to his promotion. Over his last five outings, Saunders has allowed just four runs in 40 innings – a 0.90 ERA – on 24 hits and two walks while striking out 31.
The first two hitters in the Bees' lineup were very familiar to Angels fans. Maicer Izturis continued his rehab assignment with a start at second base. In the game, he went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a triple and a walk. He has now played five straight games, going 9-for-22 overall, while playing three different infield positions. He is expected to rejoin Anaheim in Tampa Bay.
The other rehabbing big-leaguer didn't fare as well. Centerfielder Darin Erstad was held hitless in four at-bats, chopping four harmless grounders in the process. He had no chances in the outfield.
Howie Kendrick shifted to designated hitter to accommodate Izturis and he took the position name seriously. The righty slugged a pair of homers in a game for the first time this year as part of his latest three-hit attack. He is now hitting .395 since returning from the big leagues with 22 RBIs in 19 games.
New blood helps Travs snap latest streak
Nick Green made his Double-A debut for Arkansas Saturday night and helped the Travelers to their first win in more than a week, downing Midland 10-8.
Green, who went 5-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 11 starts with Rancho Cucamonga before his promotion, threw seven innings for the Travs, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks. He did allow a solo shot in the fifth inning and has now allowed eight homers in his last six starts. Through his first 185.2 innings as a professional before this current stretch, he had allowed just 17 round-trippers.
The game got far too interesting for the Travs' taste in the ninth when reliever Rich Thompson continued his recent struggles. The righty allowed four runs – three earned – without recording an out. He recorded a strikeout against the first batter he faced, but uncorked one of his two wild pitches on the night on the third strike to allow the runner to reach before walking three consecutive RockHounds to get the hook. He has failed to get through a full inning four times in his last six outings, surrendering 13 earned runs in that time to raise his season ERA more than three and a half points to 5.83.
While Brandon Wood hit his 12th homer of the season, Matt Pali led the offense with a homer, single and walk in four plate appearances, scoring two and driving in a pair. The lefty, who was hit eight of nine games, is enjoying the higher level of competition. His a.290 average in the Texas League is almost 40 points better than he hit for Rancho in the same number of at-bats before his promotion earlier this year.
Diaz lights out in full-season debut
The Angels called on 19-year-old Venezuelan Amalio Diaz to fill Green's roster spot at Rancho Cucamonga, and he responded with five shutout innings to help the Quakes to a 4-2 victory over Inland Empire.
Diaz, a righty who appeared as a reliever in 19 games for the rookie-level Angels last season, allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out three 66'ers. He has been stretching out his pitch counts at extended spring training this year after throwing more than three innings only once in 2005.
For the second night in a row, Drew Toussaint had a two-run homer for the Quakes and he now owns eight for the year. While he has struggled to make consistent contact – he is hitting just .227 and has struck out 56 times in 172 at-bats – the righty has continued to show pop when he does make contact. After posting a .501 slugging percentage last season at Cedar Rapids, he has clubbed 18 of his 39 hits for extra-bases this season.
Kevin Jepsen came on with runners on first and third with two outs in the ninth and got a ground out to end the game and earn his eighth save of the year. He has allowed just one run over his last seven outings and has converted five straight save opportunities.
Kernels offense goes nowhere in loss
Andy Hill was solid in his second appearance for Cedar Rapids, but his offense couldn't muster any consistent attack against Burlington as the Kernels dropped a 3-1decision Saturday.
Hill, who joined the rotation from extended spring training last week, gave up six hits – including three doubles – and two earned runs over six innings of work. Although he didn't walk anyone, he did throw two wild pitches and hit a batter in the game. Through 12 innings, he has recorded 19 fly ball outs against 11 groundouts.
Bradley Coon was the only Kernels batter with a solid night at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice in the contest. With the base-on-balls, he now has 32 on the year, just one short of his strikeout total and 11 more than anyone else on the club.