Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blackburn sinks Solar Sox, 8-1

Nick Blackburn
Nick Blackburn

Phoenix 8 at Mesa 1

W: N. Blackburn (4-0, 1.64); L: M. Boggs (0-2, 5.21)
HR: PDD: N. Reimold (6). MSS: M. LaPorta (6).

Nick Blackburn (Minnesota) worked through 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits while striking out 4. Mesa's Matt LaPorta (Milwaukee) hit a single shot home run off Blackburn, a candidate for the AFL's Pitcher of the Year Award, over the left field fence in the 5th inning for the Solar Sox lone run.

It would hardly matter to the Phoenix Desert Dogs though. Phoenix got onto the board in the 2nd, when Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh) and Matt Macri (Minnesota) both singled. Chris Getz (Chicago White Sox) would hit into a force out that took McCutchen out at 3rd, and Donny Lucy (Chicago White Sox) would strike out. Cliff Pennington (Oakland) hit a line drive to bring in Macri, starting off the scoring.

Nolan Reimold (Baltimore) homered off Mesa's Mitch Boggs (St Louis) to start off the 3rd inning. Ryan Sweeney (Chicgo White Sox) then singled and stole 2nd. Jason Delaney (Pittsburgh) would take a walk before McCutchen delivered a line drive to double in Sweeney. Matt Averey (Chicago Cubs) would be called onto the mound for Mesa at that point. After getting Macri out on strikes, Getz singled to bring in Delaney. Donny Lucey (Chicago White Sox) would be called out on strikes and following a wild pitch, Pennington would walk to load the bags. But Blake Davis (Baltimore) would line out to end the inning.

McCutchen and Macri hit a pair of ground outs to start the top of the 5th, but Getz and Lucy followed that up with back-to-back singles and Pennington walked to load the bases. Luke Gregerson (St Louis) would be called in to get the final out, but instead gave up a single to Davis, which scored Getz. Reimold walked to fill up the bags again before Sweeney's ground ball pushed Pennington over the plate. Unfortunately, Delaney would hit into a ground out to strand the runners.

Still, to a 7-0 lead was a good position to be in when LaPorta saved the Solar Sox from a shut out.

Getz would score in the ninth after the reached base on a catching error by Mesa hurler Dave Johnson (Milwaukee). Pennington would single to move Getz to 3rd before he would cross the plate on Davis' ground out.

Macri would finish up 1 for 5 with 1 run. Mesa would find only 4 more hits in the game - 2 off Jesse Chavez (Pittsburgh), one of Jake Arrieta (Baltimore) and the last off Fernando Hernandez (Chicago White Sox).

Phoenix takes on Scottsdale Tuesday for a 12:35 PM contest.

In other AFL action, the Scorpions shot down the Peoria Saguaros, 11-7. Three different Scottsdale players had home runs in the game, the Met's Caleb Stewart and Mike Nicheas, and Toronto's Ryan Patterson. The Peoria Javelinas blanked the Surprise Rafters 4-0. Former SaraReds pitcher Ben Jukich (Cincinnati) suffered the loss for Surprise. Javelina's win puts them 2 games back from Surprise with three left to play as the Dog's continue to wait for a partner for Saturday's playoff game.

It appears the Trevor Plouffe (Minnesota) will miss the remainder of the AFL season with a relatively minor injury sustained while he attempted to run out a ground ball. He is expected to be ready for Spring Training though, when it opens in March.

The AFL Pitcher of the Year ballot is up. Voting ends Saturday, November 17th at 11:59 PM MST. Click HERE to vote for Nick Blackburn as AFL Pitcher of the Year.


Ugueto released: The Twins released Luis Ugueto who split time in the 2007 season between the Fort Myers Miracle and Rochester Red Wings. When Ugueto first played in the Florida State League in 2001, he was considered one of the Florida Marlins top prospects. His fortunes changed following a suspension for performance enchancing drugs.

Signed as a free agent by the Twins Ugueto had a .228 batting average in 76 games with the Miracle in 2007. He record 27 runs on 61 hits, had 2 home runs, and 16 RBIs. In triple-A Rochester, Ugueto hit .167, recording only 1 run on 4 hits in 7 games.

Ugueto is currently playing in the Venezuelan Winter League with los Cardenales de Lara.

In other news, former Miracle Jacque Jones (1997 season) was traded to the Detroit Tigers by the Chicago Cubs in exchange for utility infielder Omar Infante. Jones has spent the last two seasons with the Cubs, hitting .285, but had only 5 home runs in 135 games last year as opposed to 27 the season before. The 32-year-old outfielder also saw his run and RBI production fall off last season.

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