Apr 30, 2008

More Huber action, Thompson back to minors, Balfour on MILB DL

Some updates from Tuesday and Wednesday:
  • Justin Huber started today's game for the rapidly-becoming-woeful Padres. He played 8 innings in left field, and had 3 plate appearances. He walked once, struck out once and grounded out once. The Padres lost to the Phillies 7-4. No sign of Brad Harman in this game
  • It was a pretty short stay in the bigs this time round for Rich Thompson. He has been sent back to triple-A, as Angels' manager Mike Sciosia recalled a minor league catcher and infielder. Thompson pitched one inning of relief in this little stint, and hopefully we will see more of him later in the year. In his first appearance back at Salt Lake today, Thompson had a shocker. He pitched to 3 batters in the seventh, and walked all three. Only 3 of his 15 pitches were strikes. :( Hopefully he will bounce back in his next appearance.
  • Grant Balfour has been on the 7 day disabled list for Durham Bulls, with a thigh injury that is not considered serious
  • Phil Stockman has continued with some very hot form for the Richmond Braves. He has not allowed a run in six appearances since 8 April. Today the big man pitched 1.2 innings, and gave up 1 hit, striking out 2. He has now pitched 15.1 innings this year, in 8 appearances, he has 1 win, 1 save and has given up 8 hits and 4 walks for 2 runs. His ERA is 1.17, and he has struck out 17. Perhaps if Peter Moylan's elbow injury turns out being horrible, Phil could earn a call up to the bigs. According to one Atlanta writer, it may well be that Moylans 08 season could be over already

Apr 28, 2008

Improved performance from Blackley

Travis Blackley bounced back today after his poor outing from last week. He pitched 5 innings, striking out 5, while allowing only 1 hit and 3 walks. He got a no-decision, as the IronPigs went on to lose the game. His command still seemed a bit off, as 37 of his 62 pitches were balls, but nonetheless it was an improved performance.

Thompson called up again, more Aussies in action

Rich Thompson has been called up to the Angels roster, after being sent to triple-A in early April. Thompson had one appearance for the Angels in early April, when he gave up 5 runs over one inning. Since then, he has been quite consistent for the Salt Lake Bees, who have a 18-1 record for the season. The Angels called him, and fellow righty reliever, Jose Arredondo, to bolster their pitching ranks. The Angels' pen pitched a lot of innings in recent series against Boston and Detroit, and manager Mike Sciosia is looking for reiforcements. "We're going to need some coverage the next couple days. I'd rather have an extra guy than stretch some guys", said Sciosia.

Since earning the call up on Saturday (Aus time), Thompson has had one appearance. He played yesterday (Saturday in the US), as the Angels lost to Detroit. He ended the game for the Angels in the eighth inning. He faced the 9-1-2 hitters in the lineup, striking out Brandon Inge, and drawing groundouts from Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco. He pitched 14, with 9 of them strikes...so he may still be hoping to improve his average in this area. But nonetheless it was a solid return for Rich.

Meanwhile, Brad Harman and Justin Huber have made additional appearances for their teams. Brad Harman pinch hit for the Phillies today, drawing a walk in the sixth. Justin Huber played a few digs in the Padres win over Arizona yesterday, but was unable to get on base - going 0-for-2. His season average is now .250.

Apr 26, 2008

Huber starts again; more on Harman's first start

Justin Huber faced off against Randy Johnson today, a week after hitting his first ML home run off the lanky veteran. Johnson got his revenge too. In a disciplined at bat in the 2nd inning, Huber drew a four pitch walk. Johnson didnt waste so much time at his second at bat, smacking him with the second pitch to get him to first on a HBP. He then went down on three swinging strikes in the 6th, before going down looking in the 9th.

Phillies.com has posted a short story about Brad Harman's first MLB start today. Check it out here.

Brad Harman gets first ML hit and RBI

Harman hit a double in the fourth inning of today's game against Pittsburgh - scoring a run. He went on to score himself. You can see video of the shot - which was a nice liner into a big gap in left centre - at MLB Gameday. He went 1-for-3 for the day. He started the game at second base, while Chase Utley played first, because strikeout machine Ryan Howard is having a break.

Well done Brad!

Apr 25, 2008

Huber plays again; updates on Moylan and more

A few bits and pieces for today:

Justin Huber had one at-bat today, going down on three swinging strikes as the Padres lost to the Giants AGAIN!!!! Man, the Padres should be able to beat them

Things are not looking good for Peter Moylan. There is plenty of mail about that he may be looking at season ending Tommy John surgery. Braves-Love is showing that Moylan himself does not seem particularly hopeful; Braves Elite have opined that all indications are that he will need the surgery, and; the official Braves site shows that he seems 'destined' for the surgery. Fingers crossed things arent as bad as they seem, as Pete was having a pretty good year so far.

More of Ryan Rowland-Smith's comments after taking the loss yesterday when Nick Markakis smashed his first pitch for a homer. Rowland-Smith faced Markakis earlier this year, and said that "he swung hard at my first pitch like he was trying to hit it to the moon. I should have learned from that." The Seattle Times also published this photo of RRS after giving up the hit:

Apr 24, 2008

Some late week updates...

Well, there's plenty to keep an eye on at the moment, its all happening. Here's a summary of some news stories about the place:
  • Brad Harman had his first outing as a Philly (that doesnt sound very masculine does it?)yesterday. With Philly leading, he got a pinch hit in the 9th inning. He worked to a 3-1 count before popping out to short. You can read more about Harman's debut and his thoughts about being called up here and here. Harman yet again is a great example of the down to earth attitude held by Aussie players: 'I got the call on my birthday, so it was a nice little birthday present to be put on the 40 [man roster]. It's been a fun ride the past five months for me. It's been indescribable in a sense. It's been one good thing after another'.
  • Thanks to MatM from Ozcardtrader.com.au, here is a top article from the San Diego Union-Tribune about Justin Huber. In the article, Padres manager Bud Black notes 'he's a better all-around player than I thought' . That cant be bad! The article also gives an insight into Huber's approach to the game and at the plate on the night he hit his first MLB homer. He arrived at the game early to study tape of Johnson, and he had a clear plan to stay away from the slider. I have a lot of respect for people (not just baseball players) who can have such 'gameplans' and execute them. I think Manny Ramirez (and probably most of the Red Sox roster actually) are awesome at being able to get into hitters counts and draw out the pitch that they want to hit. Huber has shown an ability to get deep into counts and pick the right pitch to hit. This level of professionalism and attention to detail should bode him well in his MLB career.
  • Speaking of Huber, he played again today - pinch hitting late in the game for the Padres, who lost 3-2 in 13 innings. He played leftfield and went 0-for-2 with the bat. His season average is now .333, after 15 at-bats.
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched today. He gave up a homer on the first pitch. Ouch. He came on in the 8th inning with 1 out. He faced Baltimore right-fielder Nick Markakis, who lined a 90mph fastball over the right field fence. Rowland-Smith took the loss, as the shot gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. He recovered, and retired the next two batters to escape the 8th. He also retired the first hitter in the 9th, before being replaced. It was a disappointing (and maybe unlucky) outing for Rowland-Smith, who has been good lately. "I tried to get ahead of him with a fastball, and it probably was a stupid choice," Rowland-Smith said. "I should have started him out with something else. It was like he was sitting dead-red on a fastball, and no matter what I threw him, he was going to be swinging." This is an interesting observation from Rowland-Smith, particularly as he has made use of his slider heavily this year...as his first pitch too. I guess he was trying to vary it up a bit.
  • In minor league action, Travis Blackley had a bad outing yesterday. That's the only word for it - bad. He did not make it out of the first inning, giving up 4 walks, 2 hits and 6 runs. He obviously struggled with his command, with only 16 of his 35 pitches being strikes. After 4 games this year, Blackley is 0-3 , with an ERA of 8.22, and a WHIP of 1.72. Over 11 innings pitched he has managed to strike out 12...but has given up 11 walks. Meanwhile, at Tucson, Trent Oeltjen had a busy old day. He took 5 catches in the field, and made one error, as well as scoring the tying run late in the game. A couple of Aussies faced off in AAA today, with Craig Anderson and the Tides meeting Damian Moss, Phil Stockman and the Richmond Braves. Anderson and Moss both pitched in relief, and while the Tides won the game, Moss won the statistical battle against Anderson - who gave up 2 runs in his 1 IP. Michael Collins hit a triple and got 1 RBI, as he went 1-for-4 for the Travs today. His season average is still hot at .355.

Apr 22, 2008

Huber gets a hit again

Justin Huber pinch hit today in the Padres disappointing game against Roy Oswalt and the Astros. The Padres lost 10-3, and Huber got a double in the top of the ninth.

Snelling to DL

While the Phillies were busy calling up Brad Harman to cover Jimmy Rollins, they also placed Chris Snelling on the 15 day DL to recover from a swollen left knee. They have called up TJ Bohn from Triple A Lehigh Valley to cover his spot

Brad Harman gets the call up

Big congratulations are in order today for Brad Harman. He has become the next Aussie to crack it in to the big leagues. The infielder got the call from the Phillies to step up from Double A at Reading, to help them deal with injuries to key player Jimmy Rollins. They have placed Rollins on the DL while he recovers from a sprained left ankle. He has struggled with the injury for a number of weeks, and this is the first time in his 8 year career he has been placed on the DL.

Harman has never played triple-A, so to get the call to MLB straight from Double-A is quite an achievement. In Harman's last five games, he was hitting .316 at Reading Phillies. Harman had been playing second base at Reading, but will be viewed as a utility infielder. He has played Rollins' position of shortstop, and represented Australia at that position in the World Baseball Classic.

So, hats off to Brad Harman! Congratulations on becoming the 26th Aussie to play Major League Baseball.

Apr 21, 2008

Meanwhile, in the AL West...

While Justin Huber was smacking his first MLB homerun, fellow Aussie, Ryan Rowland-Smith was busy getting the Mariners out of a jam.

During an 'eventful' 9th inning, and clinging on to a 4-2 lead over the LA Angels, the Mariners bullpen faced 8 hitters, and nearly blew it. The Mariners entered the bottom of the ninth with Mark Lowe on the mound. He walked 2, before getting a strike out on Mike Napoli. He then managed to draw a ground out, but the runners advanced to 2 and 3. The Mariners then handed the ball to Brandon Morrow to try and get Vlad Guerrero as the third out. But he also walked.

With the bases loaded, John McLaren looked to Ryan Rowland-Smith to save the day. Facing Garrett Anderson, Rowland-Smith did not do it easy. He opened with a called strike on a 78mph slider. He then missed outside with a 91mph fastball, before drawing a swinging strike with a 78mph curve. he missed with another curve, taking it to 2-2. He then went back to the slider, drawing a foul on a 79mph pitch outside, and then missing wide with another 79mph slider. This took the count to 3-2. Rather than go for the safe option with the fastball, Rowland-Smith backed himself and nailed another 79mph slider on the outside corner of the plate. The slider caught Anderson looking, and it was goodnight for the Angels.

It was a good outing for Ryan, and duly noted by Mariners' manager John McLaren.
"He has been under control and shown a good assortment of pitches," McLaren said. "He threw some nice pitches to Anderson and that last pitch, I don't know if 'frozen' is the right word, but it was a nasty pitch. Garret is one of the most respected hitters on their club, if not the league. He is not an easy out, by any means"
The Mariners are eagerly awaiting the return of star closer JJ Putz. Rowland-Smith said "it’s been a positive thing these past two weeks because everyone’s had to step up and pitch in a situation they wouldn’t normally pitch in. I think that’s going to make us stronger after [Putz] comes back."

More on Huber's homer

After the game, Huber reflected on his achievement:
“I don’t really see myself telling stories about it in 10 years’ time, 20 years’time or something, because nobody in Australia knows who Randy Johnson is,” Huber said with a chuckle. “They’ll be like, ‘Yeah, well, good one.’ So I just enjoy the moment while it lasts here".
Some of us know who he is!!! And even though he is no spring chicken - at 44 years old, the big unit can still pack a mean punch. You never know, Huber may well crack the news in Australia! He has made it here at OzMLBPlayers! Next stop primetime news. I note that Sports Tonight in NSW had a "Play of the Day" for Torii Hunter robbing Richie Sexson of a game winning homer the other day, so there is some hope! Might have to drop a few emails off to some TV stations methinks.
Anyways, we salute Justin Huber today!

Hu little beauty

Justin Huber hit his first MLB homerun today, off the Diamondbacks Randy Johnson. It was a three run shot in the top of the sixth. You can check out the video of Huber's big shot to left field on MLB gameday. The homerun capped off a pretty good night for Huber, who started the game in left for the Padres. He went 2-for-5, with one strikeout, the single and the homerun.

Apr 19, 2008

No Aussie MLB action today...but plenty of news and Minor league reports

Braves.com is reporting today that Peter Moylan has been undergoing some pretty intensive rehab on his elbow. Moylan says he is feeling like a completely new man after the work, but it is not clear yet when he is due to return to the action. His trip to the specialist revealed that he had a bone spur compromising the "ulna collateral" ligament in his right elbow. Moylan says that the work he has been doing has been making a big difference, and he hopes to play catch within the next week or so, and see how he goes from there. For more info on the nature of his injury, rehab, and his trip to the arm doctor, check out Braves.com.

Rich Thompson is going pretty well in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, with the Salt Lake Bees. He pitched 2 innings on Thursday and got the win, as the Bees won in 11 innings. He faced 7 batters, and struck out 5, allowing one hit. 22 of his 33 pitches were strikes. His record for 2008 is now 1-0, 5 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER, 2 BB and 6 strikeouts, with a 3.60 ERA. Hopefully Thompson can continue to improve his command and work his way back to the majors.

Craig Anderson has also been pretty good in Triple-A. He pitched 6 innings on Thursday and struck out 5. He allowed only 3 hits, one of which was a homer - but that was the only run allowed. He got a no-decision for the outing, but it was an improvement on his last outing, and good to see him go six innings. His record is now 0-0, 16.0 IP, 16 hits, 8, ER, 1 walk and 16 strikouts, with a 4.50 ERA. After starting the season as a reliever, Anderson has now had 2 starts. The Orioles are going alright at the moment, with a 10-7 record in the tough AL East division. So Anderson will need to keep working hard to get the call up.

In some Double-A news, Canberra-born Michael Collins has been on fire for the Arkansas Travelers.

The first-baseman has posted an outstanding .383 average over the first 13 games of the season. He has gone 18-from-47, with 4 doubles, 2 homeruns and 9 RBI, and he has also picked up 3 stolen bases. On Wednesday he bagged 1 homerun and 5 RBI, as he went 3-for-4, to help the Travelers come back and win their game in ten innings. These are pretty good numbers for the early days of the season. Collins played with the Travelers all through 2007, so hopefully he can build on that experience and continue to develop further.

Playing alongside Collins is Adam Morrissey at second base. He has played 5 games, and posted a .235 average.

More minor league news as it happens!

Apr 18, 2008

MLB action from Thursday and Friday

A day behind today, after a short but much enjoyed trip to the NSW Central Coast…. So there’s lots of action to catch up on:

  • on Thursday Chris Snelling pinch hit in Philly’s loss to the Astros, grounding out in his one PA
  • on Friday, Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched one inning, giving up a walk and getting a strikout and two flyouts, as the Mariners won 8-1 over the A’s
  • also on Friday, Justin Huber played in the longest game since 31 August 1993 – clocking in at over 6 hours. The Padres chose to rest some of their regular starters today, so Huber started the game in left. It was a pretty bad day to be in the starting lineup – his replacement Paul McAnulty, who pinch hit for him in the 10th, went on to have 5 at bats to Huber’s 3. The Padres eventually lost 2-1 in the 22nd inning. Huber batted 8 in the lineup, and flew out to centre in the first inning. He led off both the 6th and 8th innings, and grounded out both times. In the field, he took a regulation catch in the 7th to put out Brad Hawpe, and took a spectacular catch in the 9th to rob Todd Helton of a certain XBH. You can view the video of this catch at MLB Gameday.

Apr 16, 2008

Wednesday news: the good, the bad and the ugly

Plenty of Australian MLB action today. As you can see from earlier today, Chris Snelling had an outstanding day, sparking the Phillies to a 4-run 9th inning with his lead off home run. This is the good part of the day. It was a triumphant display from Snelling, who had not had an extra-base hit in his 9 games at Lehigh Valley this April. Yet, in his second at bat for the Phillies, after earning what could only be described as a lucky call up, he smacks a line drive home run to right field on the first pitch he faced!

Snelling asked skipper Charlie Manuel before his pinch hit appearance: 'Are we taking a strike?', and Manuel told him 'You're swinging away'. Good advice Chuck.

The fact this homer seemingly inspired the Phillies to go on and finish a remarkable comeback (or at least shattered the confidence of Astros pitcher Jose Valverde), adds to the size of the achievement. So today is a bloody good day for Chris Snelling I reckon. Congratulations Snello, and hopefully there will be plenty more where that homer came from.

The bad news for the day comes courtesy of the Atlanta Braves. Aussie reliever Peter Moylan has been placed on the 15 day DL. Moylan was placed on the DL with 'elbow strain', however, it seems there may be more serious problems present. MLB.com is reporting that there is fluid built up in his elbow. He had an MRI on Monday, but the Braves have asked him to get a second opinion from 'noted surgeon' Dr James Andrews. The Braves hope to have more advice about the injury on Thursday.

And for the ugly, we turn to Seattle, where Ryan Rowland-Smith was roughed up today against the Royals. The Mariners pretty much had the game in the bag when Rowland-Smith came on to pitch the 6th inning. He faced 7 hitters, giving up 3 hits, 1 walk and 2 runs. Things started out ok, with Rowland-Smith getting Alex Gordon out on the first pitch with a flyball to centrefield. He then drew a groundout from Ross Gload, to take it to two down. He then walked John Buck, before giving up a double to Tony Pena Jr, a single to David DeJesus, and another single to Mark Grudzielanek. After a visit to the mound, he then drew a groundout from Mark Teahen to get out of the inning. At the end of the day, the Mariners got the win, and it was good for RRS to get some work in, hopefully he will bounce back in his next appearance

Chris Snelling homers in second MLB at bat of 08

Chris Snelling got called in to pinch hit in the bottom of the 9th today, as the Phillies trailed the Astros 0-3. Facing his first pitch from Jose Valverde, a 90mph fastball, Snelling crushed it to right field for a lead off homer. It was the beginning of the end for Valverde and the Astros. He went on to hit Chase Utley, before striking out Ryan Howard, giving up a homer to Pat Burrell (which also scored Utley) and allowing Geoff Jenkins to reach base on a dropped K2. Pedro Feliz then hit a double, scoring Jenkins, and giving the Phillies a remarkable 4-3 win. Check out MLB Gameday for videos of these plays.

Apr 15, 2008

Snelling promoted to Phillies MLB squad

Despite boasting a .193 batting average during spring training, and playing for the very poor-performing Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Chris Snelling has managed to land a spot in the Phillies's squad. A number of factors led to him being called up: an injury to Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino, accompanied by a stint on the DL; Snelling's diamond in the rough performance at Lehigh Valley (where he did boast a respectable .412 OBP); and Snelling's previous work with Philly's Senior VP Pat Gillick - whom Snelling knew in Seattle.

Snelling got the call up on Sunday, and was with the Phillies yesterday, as they beat the Cubs 6-5 in extra innings. He pinch hit in the 7th inning, and went deep in the count - getting to a full count before popping up to 3rd base. Meanwhile, since his departure from Lehigh Valley, they have secured their first win of the season, and are now 1-11.

Snelling's comments on his promotion:
"My mentality is, as long as I'm here, I'll do whatever it takes to help out the team...Whatever role that is...It's a numbers game, and I knew coming in [to the season] it probably wasn't going to happen [ie breaking into the MLB squad. It is what it is. I understand that. I'm not bitter about it. I told myself this year that I just wanted to play."

Snelling is expected to back up the corner outfield spots and pinch hit as a lefty from the bench.

Apr 14, 2008

No MLB news today...

But a couple of bits and pieces to read:

Apr 13, 2008

Updates from MLB and Triple A for Saturday

So the season is starting to build a bit of momentum now, the wheels are generally turning, and there is starting to be plenty of good and not-so-good performances, as teams and players start to find their footing for the year. Both Ryan Rowland-Smith and Peter Moylan got the day off today, as Seattle and Atlanta both had somewhat comfortable wins (M's beat Angels 8-3 and Braves beat Nationals 10-2; the Nationals 9th loss in a row).

Meanwhile, as the Padres were on the wrong end of a sharp performance from the Dodgers, Justin Huber got some more game time. Huber came into the game in the bottom of the sixth, playing left field. He batted in the top of the 7th, hitting the first pitch he saw; a 91mph fastball from Derek Lowe, to right field for a single. Other than fielding a line drive single, it seems he did not play much part in the field, and he did not get a second at-bat. Huber has had the least opportunities of all the Padres bench players, but he is certainly holding his own. Compare his stats to the other Padres' benchies here.

There was plenty of triple-A action today, with a few Aussies facing off. Here are some updates:

Apr 12, 2008

Moylan gets his revenge on Zimmerman, Nats

Just a week after giving up a walkoff homerun to Ryan Zimmerman, Peter Moylan has bounced back and struck Zimmerman out as he took the save in the Braves' victory over the Nationals. Moylan took over proceedings after Tim Hudson kept the Nats scoreless for 8 innings. The Braves held a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, and Moylan was rock solid to clinch the game.

Moylan faced three hitters, and struck out 2, including Zimmerman. "To finish him off with a strikeout was pretty good," said Moylan, who is looking to see more time as the Braves' closer while Rafael Soriano is on the DL. "It doesn't matter what situation I'm in, I'm going to pitch the same way," Moylan said. "But it's funny when you'reout there, and you sort of think 'This is the ninth inning; this is what it's all about."

The Braves won the game 3-0, and Moylan got his second ever career save. His last save (which was also his first) was on 27 April 2007 against the Rockies, where he pitched 0.1 innings to get it! Well done Pete! Hopefully there will be a few more to come.

No Aussies in ML action Friday, but some AAA action

Plenty of Aussies doing the rounds in AAA-ball at the moment. Here are some highlights:
  • Grant Balfour gave up 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 1 in 1 inning of work as Durham lost 1-0 to Columbus Clippers
  • Phil Stockman got the hold over 1 inning of work, walking 1, as the Richmond Braves beat Buffalo 2-1
  • Playing as DH and batting 3rd, Chris Snelling had 5 PA's as Lehigh Valley lost to Pawtucket. He drew 2 walks and got 1 hit and 1 RBI. His average thus far is .174
  • Rich Thompson and Trent Oeltjen faced off again as the Bees stung the Sidewinders. Thompson pitched the 8th inning. He walked Oeltjen (surely a gift for a fellow Aussie), he then struck out top D-Backs prospect Emilio Bonifacio. He got in a bit of a jam, giving up a single, then getting a flyout before loading the bases by hitting the batter. He recovered and drew a popout to second to escape unscathed. Thompson's numbers were 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 BB, 1 K, 17 of 27 pitches were strikes. Oeltjen had 4 PA's getting one walk and going 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts.

Stay tuned for more minor league updates and news

Apr 10, 2008

Updates from Thursday - RRS in action, Thompson assigned to AAA, roughed up in first outing

Ryan Rowland-Smith had another solid appearance for the Mariners today. He faced 4 batters over one inning, throwing 11 pitches in the 8th inning. He faced the top of the Rays' lineup again, and gave up one single. He struck out one (Carlos Pena - twice in two days) and got two fly outs. Another good performance from the bulldog!

Rowland-Smith has responded well after a not-so-good debut this year, and in a bullpen that is a bit sketchy at the moment, these sort of performances are going to see him get some more time in save opportunity situations. Today's game was not high pressure, Seattle was up by six, and went on to win 7-1. But this sort of focused, efficient performance is just the sort of thing the M's will be looking for.

If you had been wondering where Rich Thompson had disappeared to, like I had, there was some disappointing news reported in MLB's The Pitch. The LA Daily News reported on 5 April that the Angels activated Scot Shields from the 15-day disabled list, and optioned Thompson to AAA Salt Lake. Of the difficult decision, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said:

"I think getting his pitches in the (strike) zone in earlier counts is
important, and then once he gets to a pitch count, put guys away. It's a thing
that a lot of young pitchers go through. At times they think too fine, too early
in counts. They find themselves trying to get back into too many counts, which
is tough to do at the major league level"
Rich showed the same positive, optimistic approach that other Aussies have shown in difficult situations this year:

"I have to be more consistent with the fastball and get guys out," Thompson
said. "That's something I've got to work on and hopefully it'll not take too
long and I can be back up here as soon as possible"
The Angels pen has had a few problems, although it is early days yet. Hard luck for Thompson, and he is the unlucky one who was penalised for a bad start to the year. A few other Angels have had it rough too: Speier blew a save, Rodriguez blew a save but had his arse saved by a Torii Hunter homer in the bottom of the ninth, and Bulger gave up runs late.

So all in all, Thompson could be forgiven for thinking that this is all a bit rich (boom boom). But being a tough as nails optimistic Aussie, he will surely earn his spot back this year. For now, you can monitor his progress at the Salt Lake Bees. He had a rough start in his first outing, coming up against Trent Oeltjen and the Tucson Sidewinders. Thompson drew a line out to right, gave up a single to right, got a fly out to right, and then gave up a homer. He then walked a hitter, before drawing a ground out from Trent Oeltjen. Oeltjen went 2-for-4 on the day.

Apr 9, 2008

More on RRS's first save

Some more info out of Seattle about Rowland-Smith's first save today:
  • Love this article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, summarising the game. Great quote from Richie Sexson. 'I love him to death' said Sexson, He's a great competitor, and he concentrates on every pitch. You go out there and he's breathing like a mad bull'.
  • A few fan comments about his outing, some seeming to suggest that the M's should have thrown him the ball in some of their earlier games, courtesy of USS Mariner

Huber gets third at-bat, strikes out

The Padres went 11 innings against the Giants today, and every man on the Padres bench got a go. Huber got his chance in the 11th inning, facing Giants reliever Brad Hennessey. He fielded in left in the bottom of the 10th, and led off the top of the 11th. Huber took a big swing at the first pitch, looking to clear the fences. He then took a few pitches and went deep in the count, but eventually got beat by a fastball on strike three.

Huber's only other real feature in the game was that he ran back to the fence to watch as Giant's catcher Bengie Molina smacked a walkoff homer in the bottom of the 11th. The Giants won 3-2, with the Padres getting 13 hits, but leaving 13 runners on! Jim Edmonds has resumed his spot in centrefield, shifting Scott Hairston to left. This will probably reduce Huber's opportunities at field time for the near future. Although by some reports, Edmonds is looking a bit stale. Only time will tell if Edmonds can last out the whole season.

Ryan Rowland-Smith makes first 08 appearance and gets first MLB save

Lefty reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith made his first appearance for 2008 today, pitching in the bottom of the 8th as Seattle fought to hold off Tampa Bay. Rowland-Smith entered the game with the Mariners clinging to a 6-5 lead. Ace Erik Bedard, and fellow 'penner Roy Corcoran combined over the first 7.1 innings, but Corcoran walked Shawn Riggans, who was then subbed for pinch runner Nathan Haynes. The Rays sent up left handed pinch hitter Eric Hinske, and the Mariners called Rowland-Smith in to the play.

After a long at-bat, including a couple of pickoff attempts, Rowland-Smith drew a fly ball to centrefield. Safe as houses, Ichiro took the catch to grab the second out.

Rowland-Smith did a good job holding on Nathan Haynes at first, before inducing a grounder to get the force out at two to end the inning.

This would normally be where RRS would hang up his boots for the day. But the top three hitters in the Rays' lineup are all leftys, and they were due up next, so Rowland-Smith got the chance to get the save.

First hitter, Iwamura, called on out strikes.
Second hitter, Carl Crawford, flies out to shallow centrefield.
Third hitter, 2007 breakout Carlos Pena. RRS threw him two sweet curveballs, before finishing Pena off with a 93mph fastball, Pena down swinging.

So Ryan Rowland-Smith has his first major league save, Erik Bedard gets his first win in Seattle, and the Mariners end a four game losing streak. Good times all round!

RRS's stats for the game:
He took the save, over 1.2 innings pitched, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts. 17 pitches, 13 of them strikes, 2 flyouts and 1 ground out.

Apr 8, 2008

Moylan finding his rhythm, gets out of a jam against Rox

Continuing from his solid performances in recent days, Peter Moylan impressed in yet another chance in the Braves' close game against the Rockies in Colorado today. Braves starter Tom Glavine went 6.1 innings and kept the Braves scoreless. Brad Hawpe made it to base in the 7th inning, with one down, and that was enough for Glavine. He left the game with the impressive figures of 6.1 IP, 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts.

Braves manager Bobby Cox tossed the ball to Peter Moylan to get out of the inning, and protect the Braves' 1-0 lead. Moylan got himself in a bit of a jam, but came out of it beautifully. First up he faced Rockies' catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Moylan drew a weak grounder to third, so weak in fact that they weren't able to turn the double - with Torrealba beating the throw to first after Hawpe was thrown out at second. Two out.

Moylan then faced Jayson Nix, who popped a single to left field, sending Torrealba to third. Still two out.

Next up, pinch hitter Scott Podsednik, and Moylan hits the lefty with an 88mph fastball to load the bases. Things not looking good, but still two out.

A short visit to the mound from Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, and then centerfield Willy Taveras steps up to the plate. First pitch: 89mph fastball/sinker for a swinging strike. Second pitch: 89mph sinker hit for a foul. Third pitch: beautiful 77mph slider and a swing and a miss by Taveras. Nice work to get out of the dig.

Moylan got the hold, and currently leads MLB for holds (not a very romantic or exciting stat, but hey its something) with 4 from his 6 appearances.

Too bad it was all in vain for Moylan and Glavine, as Blaine Boyer gave up a two run homer to Matt Holliday in the bottom of the eigth, and the Braves were shut down by Manny Corpas in the ninth.

Apr 7, 2008

Moylan solid again

Peter Moylan was solid for Braves in the final game of their series with the Mets today. He threw 7 pitches as he faced 4 batters in the 8th inning, giving up just one single. The Braves went on to beat the Mets 3-1. So after a week, he is leading the way for Aussies in the MLB, having appeared in 5 games. His ERA is at 2.25, and he has 1 K and 2 walks over 4 innings pitched.

Apr 6, 2008

New feature - Minor League Watch

I have added some links to the right side bar to Aussie minor league player pages. Not all of these players are active. I will be checking up on these players through the year to see how they are going. These links will take you to their MiLB.com profile, which shows current roster status and latest stats.

Moylan gets the hold for the Braves

Peter Moylan gave a reliable performance in the big NL East derby today, as the Braves beat the Mets. Moylan faced five, gave up 2 hits, 0 runs, and got the hold, as Atlanta won 11-5. He pitched the 7th, after a strong 6 innings from Tim Hudson. The hold is his second for the year.

Apr 5, 2008

Minor league updates

I finally managed to track down Trent Oeltjen. He is playing triple-A with the Diamondbacks affiliate Tucson Sidewinders. He has started the first couple of games for the club in centrefield.

Also, Grant Balfour cleared waivers and has been outrighted to triple-A Durham. (see the bottom of this article).

Rowland-Smith and Thompson make their 2008 debuts

Both Ryan Rowland-Smith and Rich Thompson saw their first major league action for 08 on Saturday (AEST). However, much like Peter Moylan's first outing of the summer, theirs were games they'd probably rather forget.

Rowland-Smith faced three batters, giving up 2 hits and a run in the 7th inning as the M's went down to the Orioles. He only threw 7 pitches, giving up a single and a double. The M's bullpen let them down in this one, and really let the game get away.

Rich Thompson pitched the 8th inning, and gave up 4 hits, 5 runs and 2 walks, facing 9 batters. He seemed to struggle with his control, with only 23 of his 41 pitches strikes. The game was already away from the Angels when he entered, but this is not the ideal start. The Angels rallied and scored 6 in the bottom of the 9th but lost 11-6 to the Rangers.

Apr 3, 2008

Huber singles in first ML at bat as a Padre

Hitting a line drive to left field off Wandy Rodriguez
Great stuff!

Moylan action from Thursday

Peter Moylan faced 2 batters today in 0.1 inning of work. He drew a ground out and walked one, before being replaced by LOOGY Royce Ring.

Bad news for Mariners; Good news for RRS?

MLB.com reports today that the Mariners have today placed their number 1 closer JJ Putz on the disabled list for 15 days. He is suffering from some inflammation of his ribs. This is bad news generally for Mariners' fans, as Putz was an all Star last year. However, it could mean more opportunities for Ryan Rowland-Smith. We will have to wait and see what happens today as the M's face Texas.

Apr 2, 2008

A few bits and pieces

So the season has kicked off, and there's some action about. Here are some updates from around the place:
  • After three games, Rich Thompson hasnt had a pitch yet. Darren O'Day has got the ball in relief twice but there really hasnt been any need for RT to pitch. The Angels killed the Twins in game 2 (9-1), and got 8 innings out of Garland, and they lost by one on opening day. Similarly, today they got 8 innings out of Joe Saunders. So we will have to wait a bit longer to see Rich in action.
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith has yet to get a throw. However, the Mariner's bullpen was not great on Wednesday, with JJ Putz blowing a save
  • I am still trying to track down Trent Oeltjen, who signed a minor league contract with the diamond backs on 31 January, and saw a lot of time during spring training - dont know where he is, but it seems he will play with the D-Backs' minor league affiliates
  • Craig Anderson has been confirmed on the roster of Triple-A Norfolk Tides
  • Some info about Grant Balfour's situation - what a difference a day makes. In this article, Balfour was optimistic about making the team, suggesting he felt he was in the team, and looking at the spring stats of his main competitor (Dohrmann), it would have seemed Balfour could be confident. However, this article from a day later shows the frustration felt by Balfour at not making the roster.
  • Chris Snelling went deep in the IronPigs final tune up before the season (box score here)
More news as it comes to hand!

Huber relishing fresh start

MLB.com has posted a short report regarding Justin Huber's fresh start at the Padres. As with a lot of the stuff that was coming out of the Royals through spring, Huber seems a confident but grounded guy. The article suggests he may get some time in left field as well as off the bench. Huber says:
Whatever my role it is, I'm looking to take it by the horns and run with it. I
believe in my abilities

Read the full article here.

Apr 1, 2008

Updates on Snelling and Blackley

Chris Snelling and Travis Blackley have been confirmed on the Phillies' triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs roster. The Iron Pigs played an exhibition game against the Phillies over the weekend, in which Snelling played. He played a full game in left field, going 2-for-3, with one walk. What can you say about those stats? Pretty good eh? What happened during spring training? Who knows...you cant read much into it I suppose, it was only an exhibition game, but we will have to wait and see. Hopefully he can keep these sort of numbers up over the season, which is due to kick off tomorrow. For more info on the Iron Pigs, check out their website.

Opening Day (finally the real one) - Aussie(s) in action

So we have had two games in Japan, and a game in Washington last night. But really, do they count? Today is the real deal. Today is really when things kick off in MLB, with 14 games underway. Today we see some Aussies in real opening day action, some of them for the first time.

After yesterday's unfortunate outing, Bobby Cox showed a bit of faith in Peter Moylan and handed him the ball again. Cox threw Moylan into the action with one out in the top of the 7th, with a runner on third. Moylan faced Pirates' second baseman Freddy Sanchez, and drew a 6-3 groundout after two pitches. Moylan then faced Pirates' power hitter Jason Bay. Bay also hit to shortstop, but reached on a throwing error, which also allowed the run.

So, things didnt turn out too hot today for Moylan either. But he could have done with a bit of support from Escobar at short. With a lefty coming up next in Adam LaRoche, Cox yanked Moylan and put in lefty Royce Ring. Good to see that Pete could turn in a positive performance backing up from being the villain last night.

For a bit of background info on Moylan, check out these posts from Braves Love. They have some good pics of Moylan's tatts and some info about his history.

At the time of writing this post, the Mariners have beaten the Rangers 5-2 and Rowland-Smith was not used; and the Angels lost to the Twins 2-3, with Rich Thompson not involved. San Diego have just started their game against the Astros, so we will see if Justin Huber gets a run later in the game.

Moylan's thoughts on game one

Following yesterday's unfortunate loss in Washington, Peter Moylan reflected on the game. MLB.com reports:
"You can't dwell on it," said Moylan, who had retired the previous four batters
he'd faced after entering with one out in the eighth. "I'll think about it for a
while. But tomorrow is another day."
Probably a good idea Pete. Maybe you can take some solace in Jeff Francouer's comments:

"Sometimes it's just not meant to be," Francoeur said.