Crooked Nuggets: April 2014

Welcome to Crooked Nuggets, the succinct yin to the verbose yang that is Crooked Numbers.

For the uninitiated, Crooked Numbers is my long-running monthly column featuring the weirdest and wildest things to have occurred on a Minor League Baseball field. (“Never heard of it!” raves Jayson Stark.) This month’s edition is now live over on — go check it out! — and this post contains even more instances of Minor League Baseball on-field weirdness.

Let’s get to it, lest it get to us!

Stange Occurences — During the 2013 season, reliever Daniel Stange appeared in 52 Minor League games and threw three wild pitches. The Syracuse Chiefs righthander has  already surpassed that total in 2014, thanks in no small part to this disastrous April 7 outing against Pawtucket.

For the Record — As of this writing, Stockton Ports righthander Seth Streich has struck out 24 batters over 21 innings of work. Fitting, as his last name is pronounced “Strike.”

One Out, Two Runs — It’s not every day that a sacrifice fly results in two runs, but that’s the kind of thing that happens when Billy Burns is on the basepaths.

A Concentrated Dose — Omaha center fielder Brett Eibner drove in 12 runs over his first 19 games of the season, with NINE of them coming in a single ballgame (April 9′ s 20-3 rout of Memphis). Take away that game and, through April 24, Eibner had driven in just three runs over 64 at-bats….Somewhat similarly, Lehigh Valley IronPigs catcher Cameron Rupp homered in each of his first four games of the season. He did not homer in any of his next six games, and then went on the disabled list.

Cardinal Sins — Springfield Cardinal fielders made a franchise-record six errors during April 10’s game against San Antonio, but no matter: The Cards still pulled out a 8-5 victory in 14 innings over the Missions. Shortstop Aledmys Diaz was the only player to make two errors in the ballgame, but atoned for his miscues with a two-run home run in the top of the 14th inning.

Throwing BBs — On April 12, Altoona Curve pitchers combined to issue a franchise-record 12 walks to the Richmond Flying Squirrels. But, despite all of that, they only lost by a 4-3 score. One week later it was Richmond’s turn to go wild, as Flying Squirrels pitchers walked 11 Curve batters but — some way, somehow — won the game by a score of 7-3.  


You Always Remember Your First — A player’s first professional home run is always memorable, but some first professional home runs are more memorable than others. Witness Erich Weiss of the West Virginia Power, whose first-ever home run was nothing less than an inside-the-park grand slam. 

9-6=3 — The first triple play of the Minor League season, turned by the Lexington Legends, was of the 1-6-3-2 variety. On April 14, the Brevard County Manatees turned three in a simpler fashion: right fielder Michael Reed to shortstop Orlando Arcia. Read all about it.

Believe It Or Not — On April 16 the Jacksonville Suns had runners reach base in five different innings, scoring in three of them. Yet, they were no-hit by Chattanooga for 8 2/3 innings before finally losing by a 5-4 score. 

The Numbers, They Are A-Crooked

The Ecstasy and the Agony — Matt McBride of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox hit his first  Triple-A home run of the season on April 18, and promptly went on the disabled list after breaking his foot during his home run trot.

You Throwin’ At Me? — Jason Ratliff,  my erstwhile colleague and a brilliant man, submitted the following item:

The Minor League leader in being hit by pitches (Stephen Bruno, eight times in 19 games) is an Italian kid from Jersey who has lines from The Godfather, Goodfellas, Casino and The Sopranos in his Twitter feed ( Pitchers may want to find a new target.

So Close, Yet So Far — This nugget comes courtesy of reader Dennis Waters:

Another great Minor League moment at the Thunder game [April 24]: The Thunder were down 4-1 and the RubberDucks closer [Giovanni Soto] got two outs in the bottom of the 9th and had two strikes on the third batter when he got a cramp and had to be pulled. Full warm-up for the next reliever [Jordan Cooper], who came in, threw one pitch for the final strike and got the save!
Or did he? A note from my colleague Ashley Marshall:
Jordan Cooper didn’t get the save when he relieved Soto. Although it was a save situation when Soto entered (and Soto would have earned the save had he recorded the last out), Cooper was not in a save situation because it was a 3-run lead and the potential tying run wasn’t on deck.

Back to Back Bros — Finally, we have this, courtesy of my colleague Paige Schector:

On April 21, White Sox prospects Josh Richmond and Rangel Ravelo of Birmingham hit back-to-back homers in the eighth. The next day, they went back-to-back again in the fifth.

Got something Crooked to share? Get at me, lest I get at you.

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