Salt Lake wins 6-5 in 12 innings
After striking out in five of his first eight at-bats at Triple-A, Brandon Wood showed everyone the flip-side of the coin by clubbing a walk-off homer to give the Bees their second straight victory over Las Vegas to open the season.
The slugger, who whiffed 149 times in 453 at-bats for Arkansas last season, turned on a 2-1 offering from 51’s lefty Luis Gonzalez for his first homer in a Bees uniform. He posted a .656 slugging percentage against lefties in 2006. Wood also walked in the 10th and scored a game-tying run after catcher Ken Huckaby tried to catch him napping off second base.
Mike Eylward, 27, extended the game with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to plate Terry Edwards and Nick Gorneault. The right-handed corner infielder posted a .314 average in 109 games for the Bees last season after starting the year in Arkansas, but will be hard-pressed to find playing time with Brandon Wood and Matt Brown ahead of him at third and Kendry Morales at first.
Bees starter Henry Bonilla, 28, threw five innings of scoreless ball, giving up five hits and one walk, while striking out four. The righty, signed after seven seasons in the Minnesota organization, was originally an eighth-round selection out of Tulane in 2000. He has spent all of the last two seasons in the International League, posting a combined 4.52 ERA.
Arkansas blanked in Frisco
A combination of a rehabbing big league All-Star and ascending minor league phenom held the Travs in check as they dropped their second straight game to open the season. Rangers closer Eric Gagne retired two hitters before walking Sean Rodriguez to finish his night, but Eric Hurley gave up just four hits over the next five innings and a pair of relievers finished the shutout.
A night after driving in a run and swiping a base, third baseman Freddy Sandoval tripled for the Trav’s only extra-base hit. The switch-hitter had his best month of the 2006 season in April before slowing down for a .258 average in the California League.
Drew Davidson started and gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits and a pair of walks in four innings of work. The 26-year-old lefty is back in the Texas League for the third straight season after a disappointing 2006 campaign in which he posted a 5.64 ERA in 113.1 innings of work.
Reliever Bill Edwards, also back with Arkansas, fared much better, striking out four of the five RoughRider hitters he faced. The 29th-round pick from 2004 collected just 45 strikeouts – against 39 walks in 80.1 innings for the Travs in 2006, but increased his K rate in the Arizona Fall League this winter.
Rancho rallies for late win
On a night when Jered Weaver gave up just one run on two hits and a walk over four innings of work, the Quakes needed a ninth inning rally to win their second straight to open the season.
Weaver cruised through his first three innings, giving up just one walk to Matt Bush, the player the San Diego Padres selected ahead of him in the 2004 draft, but then gave up a one-out solo homer and two-out single in the fourth before exiting the game. He will make one more start before trying to rejoin the major league club on April 16.
Francisco Rodriguez, back in Rancho after posting a 5-13 record with a 5.47 ERA last year, followed Weaver and gave up three runs in three innings. The 24-year-old righty got 1-2-3 frames in each of his first two innings, but gave up a pair of singles and hit a batter before allowing a double in the seventh.
The top of the Quakes lineup did exactly what they are likely to do all season: got on frequently and disrupted the opposing pitcher. Brad Coon went 4-for-5, including an RBI double in the ninth, then scored the winning run on Hainley Statia’s third single of the night. Each batter swiped two bases in the contest without being caught after they combined for 79 swipes – and 37 times caught – in 2006. Both have been working heavily with Craig Grebeck to read pitchers and pick the right opportunities to run.
Cedar Rapids still in a deep freeze
For the second consecutive night, the Kernels’ attempt to open the 2007 season was postponed because of a cold snap across the upper Midwest. They will try again to get underway on Saturday with a doubleheader in Beloit, where snow and single-digit wind chills are still expected.