Jun 02, 2010 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The California Cannon had the heat but lacked that cool, bending curve that had frozen so many other batters who’ve faced him.
On Saturday, May 29, before a sweaty crowd of more than 13,000 at Alliance Bank Stadium, 21-year-old pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg was tagged with his first International League loss as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees overcame the home town Chiefs by a score of 3-2.
Over his five innings, Strasburg allowed six hits including his first and only Triple-A home-run, an opposite field solo shot by journeyman catcher Rene Rivera.
He took it philosophically. “You win some, you lose some,” Strasburg told reporters after the game.
It may be a clich (c) but it’s a statement with which no one can argue.
Strasburg’s cannon-like right arm will soon leave the Chiefs to take aim at National League strike zones. The Chiefs parent-club, the Washington Nationals, may call for him as early as this week to start Friday, June 4, in Washington against Cincinnati.
In any case, without his services the Chiefs will regroup and set their sights on staying atop the league’s North Division, rarefied air our ballplayers haven’t breathed for most of the past quarter-century. Even without the California Cannon, the Chiefs remain a formidable Triple-A ballclub solidly staffed with players talented enough to make a pennant run.
Another Golden State product, hurler Collin Balester, has rejoined the team after 15 days on the phantom disabled list. Balester suffered an unenviable start, going 1-3 with a ridiculously high 11.65 ERA, but now the 23-year-old is back and, if he finds his groove, he could well reinvigorate the rotation in Strasburg’s absence.
Other starters include veteran Shairon Martis and rookies Matt Chico, Jeff Mandel and Erik Arnesen. The Chiefs ace-by-default, J.D. Martin, joined the Nationals last weekend on the strength of his and his 2.97 ERA, but he could be sent back down when Strasburg goes up.
The bullpen’s even more reliable with guys like Jason Bergmann, Victor Garate, Atahualpa Severino, Josh Wilkie, Ron Villone and closer Joel Peralta.
Deftly managed by Trent Jewett, the Chiefs boast one of the best hitting lineups in the league. Several players list a wealth of big-league experience on their resum (c)s. Outfielders Eric Bruntlett and Chris Duncan have both played in the World Series. Kevin Mench roamed the outfield for the Rangers, the Brewers and the Blue Jays and last year played for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.
Center field prospect Justin Maxwell has been to Washington three times already this season but was optioned back to Syracuse May 29. He can help the club with his bat, his glove and with his foot speed.
First sacker Josh Whitesell banged out homers for the Arizona Diamondbacks last year and now he’s doing it for the Chiefs. Catcher Jamie Burke has played for the White Sox, Rangers, Mariners and Nationals.
Before Scranton beat Strasburg, infielder Pete Orr was hot as a pistol, going five for 16 with three homers over the previous week. Having played two seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Orr shares the Chiefs lead in home runs (six) with fellow infielder Chase Lambin. Though he has yet to make his big-league debut, Lambin tops the team with a .327 batting average.
The California Cannon may be splitting the scene, but the Chiefs have plenty of firepower hanging in here, both on the mound and at the plate.
Bulls and Bats beckon
The Durham Bulls, the top farm club of the Tampa Bay Rays, hoof it into ABS at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 4-5, at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 6, and at 7 p.m. Monday, June 7. The Lousiville Bats roll in for four 7 p.m. games here June 8-11.
Tickets cost $11 for field-level seats, $8 for kids and seniors; $8 for second-tier seats, $4 for kids and seniors; and parking costs $4 per vehicle; 474-7833.