Hump day may not be for everyone, but it revived the offense of Tri-City, while Rocket City and Inland Empire got star performances but were edged out down the stretch in the Angels Minor League system on Wednesday night.
Player of the Day
Inland Empire 66ers outfielder Braxton Martinez has seen his batting average stay about .300 for 72 consecutive days (dating back to June 8) and there is no sign of slowing the Missouri native down.
Going 2-for-3 with two runs batted in against the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres) last night boosted his average to .324, which ranks second in Low-A West, while staying at the top of the league in OPS at 1.024. In 75 games this season, Martinez leads nearly every statistical category on the 66ers roster, with the exception of runs scored and triples. He was not drafted, but signed with the Angels as a Minor League free-agent on December 10, 2019 after playing with the Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican League for 31 games in 2018.
Triple-A Salt Lake
The Bees were off last night and will continue their 12-game homestand against the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) tomorrow night at Smith’s Ballpark. After a postponement due to rain on Tuesday, the Angels Triple-A affiliate’s four-game win streak is still intact as they sit 10.5 games back of first place Reno with a record of 42-47.
Six players for the Bees in their previous series against the Sacramento Rivercats (Giants) hit over a .300 average, while driving in 22 of the 32 total runs. Infielder Jose Rojas provided the biggest hit in the series with a walk-off two-run single in the 9th on Saturday (8/14) to complete a 9-8 come from behind victory.
Double-A Rocket City
Even in the stormy south, the Rocket City Trash Pandas continue to make a name for themselves in their inaugural season. As high offensive games have been their trademark, a pitching duel broke out, but it was the visiting Chattanooga Lookouts (Reds) who picked up the 3-2 win last night.
Down 2-0 in the fourth, Rocket City finally emerged on the scoreboard thanks to a Brendon Davis RBI single scoring Orlando Martinez (Angels No. 27 Prospect) from second. After the third out of the inning, rain would interrupt play and cause a 47 minute delay.
We can play in this, right?— Rocket City Trash Pandas (@trashpandas) August 19, 2021
(We’re in a rain delay) pic.twitter.com/eZ3aOts3DN
Post rain delay, Trash Pandas’ starter Ryan Smith (Angels No. 28 Prospect) spun a clean fifth inning, allowing his offensive teammate Mitch Nay to connect on his league-leading 20th home run of the season the following half inning, notting the game up at two apiece.
Unfortunately, it was the Lookouts who would get the last laugh in this tight battle as reliever Elvis Peguero (Angels No. 24 Prospect) yielded an 8th inning solo home run to Wilson Garcia to put the figurative “nail in the coffin”.
This loss is just the second in the last six games for the Trash Pandas as their record falls to 45-44, leaving them only 3 games back of first place Birmingham Barons (White Sox).
Angels’ 2021 2nd Round Pick Ky Bush (Angels No. 8 Prospect) made his High-A road debut against the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) and in rare sighting the Dust Devils offense, who ranks last in the league in runs scored (359) and batting average (.221), provided enough support to secure a 6-3 victory.
The lefty Bush tossed two innings of four strikeout ball, conceding just one run in the first on a single. Through two starts, the Saint Mary’s alum has recorded eight strikeouts to the tune of a sub-three ERA (2.70).
The Dust Devils’ bats did damage in the fourth trailing by three, by striking for five runs on four hits and three walks. The game-winning hit came from nine-hole hitter Kyle Kasser, whose 14th double of the season scored catcher Keinner Pina, giving the visitors at the time the 4-3 advantage.
Southpaw Jack Dashwood, who began the 2021 campaign with Low-A Inland Empire and was promoted to High-A on July 28, pitched six stellar innings (seven total) of relief after allowing two runs in the third. He settled down, finishing the night with five strikeouts and retiring 12 of the final 15 batters.
With back-to-back wins to begin the six-game series, the Dust Devils now lead the season series over Vancouver five games to three.
Low-A Inland Empire
Coming off a 4-1 series opening win last night against the Storm, the 66ers offense got right back to work in the home half of the first as Angels No. 5 Prospect Kyren Paris rallied for a two-out double and was brought home by the very next batter Braxton Martinez for a 1-0 lead.
Kyren Paris doubles and scores on a Braxton Martinez single for Low-A Inland Empire pic.twitter.com/KEzDrPtGrB— Angels MiLB (@AngelsMiLB) August 19, 2021
Starting pitcher Brett Kerry, Angels 5th Round selection in 2021, kept the Storm on their heels with two perfect innings, including three strikeouts in just his second professional start. However, the San Diego Padres affiliate would get on the board with three in the third off Angels No. 14 Prospect Jack Kochanowicz, who would finish the night yielding just those three runs in a total of five innings in his 16th appearance of the year.
The dynamic duo of Paris and Martinez struck again in the fourth to cut the deficit to just one as Paris did the dirty work by singling and stealing second before Martinez would put the bat to ball yet again with an RBI Single.
Kyren Paris singles, steals second base, and scores on a Braxton Martinez single for Low-A Inland Empire pic.twitter.com/ScrvbnmSyf— Angels MiLB (@AngelsMiLB) August 19, 2021
After taking a 4-3 lead in the sixth, the 66ers bullpen would be no match for the Storm offense as they combined for five runs and five hits in the eighth and ninth inning, taking the lead for good. The Sixers battled to get two runs back late, but it was ultimately not enough as they dropped game two of the six-game series by the final of 8-6.
Triple-A: RHP Andrew Wantz recalled by LA Angels
Triple-A: RHP Aaron Slegers recalled by LA Angels
Triple-A: RHP James Hoyt optioned to Salt Lake
Double-A: RHP Aaron Hernandez placed on the Rocket City 7-day Injured List.
Double-A: RHP Robinson Pina assigned to Rocket City from Tri-City
High-A: LHP Adam Seminaris assigned to Tri-City from Inland Empire
High-A: OF Francisco Del Valle activated from Tri-City 7-day Injured List
High-A: OF Mike Peabody placed on Tri-City 7-day Injured List
Low-A: RHP Kelvin Caceres assigned to Inland Empire from ACL Angels.
Chattanooga Lookouts 3 | Rocket City Trash Pandas 2
Tri-City Dust Devils 6 | Vancouver Canadians 3
Lake Elsinore Storm 8 | Inland Empire 66ers 6
3:05 p.m. PT (Game #1): Chattanooga Lookouts (TBD) @ Rocket City Trash Pandas (RHP Davis Daniel)
TBD (Game #2 - Make-Up of June 6): Chattanooga Lookouts (TBD) @ Rocket City Trash Pandas (RHP Cristopher Molina)
5:35 p.m. PT: Reno Aces (TBD) @ Salt Lake Bees (TBD)
7:05 p.m. PT: Tri-City Dust Devils (RHP Robinson Pina) vs. Vancouver Canadians (RHP Paxton Schultz)
7:05 p.m. PT: Lake Elsinore Storm (TBD) vs. Inland Empire 66ers (RHP John Swanda)