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Down on the Farm – Jays MILB Thoughts – September 6, 2011

September 7, 2011

With Bluefield going down in the Appy League finals and the Las Vegas 51s drawing their season to a close yesterday, the Jays’ are left with 4 affiliates standing. It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, having 5 of 8 affiliates reach their respective postseasons is an incredible feat, of which the organization and its fans should take pride.

Vancouver Canadians – Needing a victory to keep their season alive, the Canadians travelled to Eugene, Oregon to take on the Emeralds in the 2nd game of the best of 3 league semi-finals. And they certainly got things off on the right foot. Leading off for the Canadians, 2B Jon Berti (3-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), who had hit only 1 home run in 213 at bats during the regular season, took a pitch the other way and over the fence in RF. The Emeralds tied things up with a run in the bottom of the 1st, but DH Balbino Fuenmayor (2-5, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) followed in Berti’s footsteps by taking a pitch to the opposite field for another solo shot to RF in the top of the 2nd. Through 5 innings, the score stayed at 2-1 for the Canadians, and in fact, those two solo homers were the only 2 hits (only 2 baserunners) that the boys from Vancouver managed to get off of Emeralds starting pitcher, RHP Mark Pope (5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2 HR), the Padres’ 5th round pick this year. Come the 6th inning and Pope was taken out of the game, and the Canadians exploded. They batted around and more, bringing a total of 13 hitters to the plate, scoring 8 runs.  and ensuring themselves of another game of baseball. The Canadians held on to win the game by a score of 10-3. Game 3 goes tonight, and while unofficial, speculation is that the Canadians are sending RHP Aaron Sanchez to the hill for the do-or-die start.

Lansing Lugnuts – Having qualified for the MWL Playoffs by virtue of their finishing the first half of the season in the 2nd place in the League’s Eastern Division, the Lugnuts begin a series against the 2nd half of the season’s Eastern champions, the Dayton Dragons. LHP Sean Nolin, who had a great close to his season, taking the hill for game 1, which takes place tomorrow. The series is a best of 3.

Dunedin Blue Jays – The D-Jays begin their best-of-X tonight at home against the Daytona Cubs with RHP Casey Lawrence, recently recalled from Lansing getting the start. The D-Jays earned their playoff berth by virtue of holding the best 2nd-half record in the FSL’s North Division. The Cubs, who took with Division in the 1st half of the season, had the right to choose to host either game 1, or games 2-3. They elected the advantage of a potential Game 3, over the chance at a quick start.

In any case, the D-Jays were able to take advantage of the situation, although in painstaking fashion, with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings. The D-Jays never held the lead before the wild 10th inning culminating in 1B Jon Talley (1-5, RBI, K, R) scampered home on a very odd force play. The Daytona Cubs led 2-0 going into after 3, a lead which the D-Jays chipped away at, scoring single tallies in both the 5th and 7th innings on a pair of solo home runs by CF Brad McElroy and SS Ryan Goins. In the 8th, the teams traded runs again, the D-Jays’ coming on a bases-loaded force play. Come the bottom of the 10th inning, LF Brian Van Kirk led off with a double to CF. Ryan Schimpf ran for Van Kirk and moved to 3B on the next at bat as Talley reached safely on a bunt attempt. An intentional pass to Kevin Ahrens gave the D-Jays a bases-loaded, no out situation in which they only needed a single score. Justin Jackson, up with the chance of being a hero, hit a bounder to the Cubs’ 2B, Logan Watkins. Watkins fired the ball towards home, where Schimpf was forced out. Seeing the chance to get 2, the catcher fired towards first. Maybe Schimpf hit the catcher’s leg, maybe not, but Chad Noble‘s throw sailed wide of the bag. And with that, Talley came in to score the winning run.

I enjoyed seeing C A.J. Jimenez (3-5, 2B, K, R) continuing his improved offensive play in the latter end of the season. His .114 ISO on the season is not stellar, but his value is predicated on his defensive abilities and contact hitting skills. Jimenez actually started the season showing some pop, with an April ISO of .162. That dropped to .118 in May and plummeted further to marks of .075 and .063 in June and July respectively. I for one, practically wrote his season off, a case of Jimenez hitting the playing time wall. His previous career high in games played was 80, and he reached that total by the end of July, meaning he had jammed in the extra time time in a shorter time period, potentially leading to increased fatigue. Whether Jimenez got his second wind, or if he made the necessary adjustments to succeed in High A, his August ISO was way up to a season high of .166.He is almost lost in this organization behind J.P. Arencibia and Travis d’Arnaud, but Jimenez looks for all purposes like a keeper.

Game two is in Daytona tomorrow night.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats – The Fisher Cats open their league semi-finals series at home against the Reading Phillies tomorrow night with RHP Chad Jenkins, whose strong close to the season was covered at length here. The Fisher Cats hold home field advantage in the best-of-5 series, as they ran the table in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division, with a 3-game edge over the R-Phillies.

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