In the final minors playoff game this year, the Omaha Storm Chasers of the Pacific Coast League beat the Durham Bulls of the International League in the AAA Championship game. The Storm Chasers’ Mormon pitcher, Clayton Mortensen, didn’t pitch in that game, but did pitch in the first game the team played against the Salt Lake Bees, lasting 5 innings after a rainout the previous day delayed the game after 1 1/2 innings.
Never underestimate what changing teams can do. In the case of Kyle Farnsworth, at least, the change made a huge difference. Since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 1st, Farnsworth has pitched 6 innings of relief, and has yet to give up a run. He has also struck out seven while walking one and giving up just two hits. In the process he not only has won a game and earned his first save for the year, but brought his season era down by nearly a full point, from 5.76 to 4.79. The change has been great for him.
The minors post-season ended yesterday for all but one of the Mormons in the minor leagues. While in the International League championship Mitch Maier’s Pawtucket Red Sox lost their bid to force a 5th game in their contest with the Durham Bulls, Clayton Mortensen’s Omaha Storm Chasers won the 3rd of the 4 games they played against the Salt Lake Bees to secure the Pacific Coast League Championship. Neither Maier (on the DL) nor Christensen (pitched Wednesday) played in the games yesterday.
Although Bryan Harper didn’t play, the Hagerstown Suns were defeated Friday in the Southern Atlantic League Championship by the Savannah Sand Gnats. Harper pitched two shut-out innings in Thursday’s loss, and wasn’t called on to pitch in the final game.
The loss leaves just two players in minor league championship series, Mitch Maier (on the DL — not expected to play) and Clayton Mortensen.
By the time Bryan Harper entered the game, the Hagerstown Suns (South Atlantic – A) were already down 6-0 and two runners were on base. And while it didn’t make a difference, Harper did what any reliever is expected to do in such situations: limit the damage. Harper pitched two full innings and gave up no hits and just one walk. In the process he lowered his post-season era to 3.38 and WHIP to 1.125. Meanwhile, his team remains 1 game away from being named champions of the South Atlantic League.
In the Eastern League (AA), Nik Turley’s Trenton Thunder finished its post-season with its 6th straight win, finishing off the Harrisburg Senators and capturing the league title. Turley pitched, and won, one of the six games, finishing the post-season with a 3.00 era and 1.33 WHIP. He struck out 10 in 6.0 innings.
After rain delayed the first game of the PCL championship following the top of the 2nd inning on Tuesday, Clayton Mortensen took over for the Storm Chasers, giving them 5 strong innings, in which he gave up just 2 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 8. Unfortunately, one of the hits was a solo home run in the 4th that the Storm Chasers weren’t able to match until the 7th, Mortensen’s last inning. While he left the game with a tie, and ended up with a no-decision, the Storm Chasers went on to win the game. They then also won the 2nd game of the series last night and are now up 2-0 in the series. The Storm Chasers are just one game away from the PCL championship and a spot in the AAA championship game.
Nik Turley’s strong pitching and the struggles of opposing pitcher Blake Treinen combined to give the Trenton Thunder the win in the first game of the 5-game Eastern League Championship yesterday. In 6 innings Turley struck out 10 and gave up 5 hits and 3 walks while allowing 2 runs. In contrast, Treinen lasted just 2 2/3rds and gave up 5 runs.
Perhaps this was also Turley’s present to himself, as today is his 24th birthday.
Relief pitcher Bryan Harper’s Hagerstown Suns won the first game of the 5-game South Atlantic League championship series against the Savannah Sand Gnats yesterday. However, Harper didn’t see action in the game.
This was the only game featuring a team with a Mormon player yesterday. The other playoff games featuring the teams with Mormon players will be in action tonight.
The first round of the minor league playoffs has completed in most leagues, and the last of the teams with a Mormon player has resolved its first series, as the Pawtucket Red Sox defeated the Rochester Red Wings to earn a place in the International League championship game against the Durham Bulls. The Mormon on the Red Sox, Mitch Maier, is on the DL and did not play in yesterday’s game.
Phillies ace Roy Halladay was srong in his start last week against the Nationals, lasting 6 innings and giving up just 1 earned run while striking out 5. But Halladay didn’t have the control he has had in the past, as he walked 5 and hit two batters. But the outcome was good enough that we wonder if perhaps Halladay is back, or on his way back to his form of previous years. Commentors claim that his velocity is down, so Halladay may need to make the adjustment that aging (Halladay is 36) pitchers often have to make, trading velocity for placement and surprise. He has perhaps 4 starts left in the season; in those starts we may see what kind of pitcher Halladay will be for the remaining years of his career.
Also strong on the mound last week were relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Matt Lindstrom, both of whom held opponents scoreless in their relief appearances. Farnsworth struck out three over a total of 2 innings while giving up just one hit. Lindstrom struck out four over 1 2/3rds innings while giving up 3 hits and bringing down his era to 2.89. Neither pitcher walked a man.