Shell shocked

Steve Shell's struggles continue

Only a strong performance by Brok Butcher in Cedar Rapids saved an otherwise dreadful day for starting pitching in the Angels system Thursday. Bobby Cassevah didn't get out of the first inning in Orem, though his team did come back to win. Steve Shell recorded only four outs for the Bees while Chris Hunter and Fernando Rodriguez also got pounded.

Salt Lake falls to Memphis 9-4 (Cardinals)
A nightmare month continued for Steven Shell as the Bees dropped a game against the worst team in the Pacific Coast League.

Shell was pounded for six runs in just 1.1 innings. After cruising through the first inning, he yielded six hits and a pair of walks before giving way to the bullpen. Over his last five starts, the righty has been torched for 33 runs in just 17.2 innings of work. His ERA prior to this stretch was 3.25 on the year, but it has since soared to 6.20.

Adam Pavkovich had four of the Bees' 10 hits in the game, including a solo homer with two outs in the ninth. The right-handed utility player hadn't collected as many hits in a game since August, 2003 when he was playing for Cedar Rapids. Pavkovich has been particularly effective at the plate in games when he has played left field, collecting a .316 average in 57 at-bats. As an infielder, his average is only .219.

Arkansas falls to Cards again, 7-2
Chris Hunter took his fourth consecutive loss and continued to struggle with control as Springfield got to him for seven runs – four earned – in 4.1 innings of work. The righty gave up 10 hits and three walks and also let fly with a pair of wild pitches. He has uncorked seven wild pitches in his last 26 innings of work and is up to 43 walks in 92 innings this year.

Eric Rodland collected his first home run on the road this year to put the Travs on the board in the third inning. The second baseman has a .507 slugging percentage at home, but has only a .333 mark on the road. His .314 average this month has helped him bring his season average back up over .300.

Storm pound Rancho Cucamonga 13-4 (Padres)
Fernando Rodriguez made his shortest start of the year, giving up nine runs – eight earned – in just 3.1 innings of work. For the second straight game, the righty allowed a pair of home runs, taking his total to 11 in 120 innings on the year. The eight earned runs matched Rodriguez's highest total allowed this season.

Cody Fuller had three hits to increase his batting average this month to .353. He scored each time he reached base Thursday, matching a career high set, ironically, exactly one year ago. After a torrid April, the Texas Tech alum had scuffled through May and June, but is back over .300 for the season. The righty has five multi-hit games in his last 10 contests.

Kernels down Kane County 6-3 (A's)
Cedar Rapids finally beat the Cougars for the first time in eight contests this year, also using a strong outing by Brok Butcher to snap a seven-game losing streak.

Butcher, who rejoined the Kernels last week after missing two months from the squad because of a pinched nerve, threw a season-high seven innings and gave up just four hits and a walk. The righty allowed two runs – one earned – and has surrendered only four in 26.1 innings as a starter at two levels this year.

Hainley Statia once again led the Kernels offense, going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and an RBI double. The two-base hit in the first inning was his team-leading 27th of the year and extended his hitting streak to seven games. It is the second time this month he's had a streak at least that long, helping him to a .391 average for July. Statia has also picked things up on the bases. He entered the month successful in just nine of 20 stolen base attempts, but has converted on nine of his 12 attempts since.

Owlz stay alive with 15-5 victory over Idaho Falls (Royals)
After falling behind 5-0 in the first inning, the Owlz stormed back to a victory over the Chukars to tie them for first place with one game remaining in the season's first half. Whichever club wins tonight will claim a birth in the playoffs.

Pitcher Bobby Cassevah got his third start of the year and once again struggled failing to make it out of the first inning. As in his other poor outings, Cassevah's command was missing as he walked four while recording just one out. He left with two runs in and the bases loaded, but all three additional runs came around to score on a double. In three starts this year, the righty has lasted a total of only 4.2 innings and surrendered eight earned runs. As a reliever, his ERA is 2.70.

Tadd Brewer entered the game with just four RBIs and none in his last seven appearances. He changed that in a big way with a two-run homer and bases-clearing triple as part of a 4-for-5 night with seven runs driven in. He has done nearly all of his damage on the year at home where he has a .378 average and .568 slugging percentage. Away from Orem, those numbers dip to .222 and .306.

Ryan Mount continued to provide a spark at the top of the Owlz lineup. The left-handed hitter had three hits and two walks to extend his streak of reaching base to 10 games. For the month, he's gotten on at a .410 clip while leading the club in average, doubles, homers, runs scored and slugging percentage.

AZL Royals clip Angels 5-3
After finishing the first half of the season three games off the lead, the Angels opened the second half with a loss, snapping their modest two-game winning streak.

The team got off to a great start as 17-year-old outfielder Angel Castillo put them ahead 3-0 with his second home run of the season in the top of the first, but the offense stalled out after that. The six-foot, three-inch righty from Venezuela had entered the contest with just one hit in his previous 16 at-bats to pull his average below .300 for the first time all year, but remains second on the team with 15 runs scored and has drawn 11 walks in 25 games.

Vladimir Veras was the tough-luck loser for the Angels because of suspect defense behind him. Over four innings, he allowed just four hits but the Royals used four errors by the Angels defense to plate three unearned runs. Veras got through a game without allowing a walk for the first time while lowering his ERA to 2.18, best among Angels starters and fifth overall in the league.

Chris Armstrong, the club's 14th round pick out of high school in Oklahoma, continued his impressive professional debut. Though he was touched for his first hit allowed, the lefty struck out four batters in two innings of relief and extended his scoreless innings streak to 5.2.

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