August 2012

Gil goin’ up

Gil Velazquez is the latest Zephyrs infielder to move on to the big leagues, getting promoted to the Marlins prior to last night’s game. Velazquez has been one of the PCL’s hottest hitters over the last two months, carrying a .361 batting average in 42 games since June 20th.

Over the last three weeks, the Z’s have lost their entire starting infield (not counting Mike Cervenak, who has shuttled between first base, third base, left field and DH): Donnie Murphy, Nick Green, Gaby Sanchez, and now Velazquez. But the Z’s keep finding ways to win, relying heavily on the best pitching staff in the PCL. After Brad Hand pitched six hitless innings against Sacramento on Tuesday, Elih Villanueva kept things rolling last night by limiting the River Cats to two hits in seven innings as the Zephyrs notched their league-leading 11th shutout. New Orleans has now won 17 games this season when scoring three runs or fewer, including 11 games where they scored just two runs. So while guys like Chase Lambin, Shawn Bowman and Jeff Dominguez assume more playing time, the Z’s continue to hang in the division race.

Tonight’s lineup, as the Zephyrs go for their sixth straight win:

CF Mattison
C Hayes
RF Coghlan
1B Cervenak
DH Montz
LF Aguila
3B Bowman
2B Lambin
SS Dominguez

P Koehler

Home sweet home

The Z’s have won nine of their last 10 games at Zephyr Field, and tonight could move 11 games above .500 for the first time since August 1, 2007. A win would also mark the first time New Orleans has won consecutive series against the Fresno Grizzlies since taking the first three series ever played between the clubs, in 1998-99. The Z’s need to keep pace with Albuquerque, who has won four of their last five to maintain a four-game lead in the division.

The lineup:

CF Mattison
SS Velazquez
RF Coghlan
1B Cervenak
C Montz
LF Aguila
3B Bowman
2B Lambin
P Poveda

Brantly called up

The Marlins promoted catcher Rob Brantly from New Orleans this afternoon, following Miami’s 5-0 loss to the Dodgers. Brantly had hit .365 with four doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI in 14 games with the Zephyrs since being acquired from the Detroit Tigers in the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade. He also helped slow opponents’ running games – Brantly threw out 7 of 17 baserunners (41.2%), while all other Z’s catchers this season have only thrown out 16 of 93 (17.2%).

In a corresponding move, the Marlins have optioned catcher Brett Hayes to New Orleans, where he played most of the 2009 season and the first part of 2010. Hayes went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts on Sunday against the Dodgers, and was hitting .202 with six doubles and no home runs in 39 games this season, striking out 41.5% of the time.

The Zephyrs remain four games behind Albuquerque in the division race, and will send the other piece of the Sanchez/Infante trade, right-hander Jacob Turner, to the mound tonight against Fresno:

CF Mattison
SS Velazquez
RF Coghlan
1B Cervenak
C Montz
LF Aguila
3B Bowman
2B Lambin
P Turner

No harm done

The Zephyrs lost a day off the calendar, but nothing else after last night’s 9-2 loss to Fresno in the first of an eight-game homestand. Albuquerque was blitzed by Reno, 22-8, keeping the Z’s four games out of first place, while Oklahoma City got blanked by Sacramento, 3-0, so the Z’s remain a half-game up on the RedHawks for second place.

Tom Koehler takes aim at his 12th win tonight, which would tie him with John Ely, Eric Hacker and Sean O’Sullivan for the Pacific Coast League lead. The lineup:

CF Mattison
SS Velazquez
RF Coghlan
1B Cervenak
C Montz
LF Aguila
3B Bowman
2B Lambin
P Koehler

The race is on

After one final scheduled off day yesterday, the Zephyrs open an eight-game homestand tonight against the Fresno Grizzlies. For the first time in five years, the Z’s find themselves in a pennant race heading into the final 3+ weeks of the season, sitting in second place just four games behind Albuquerque. Tonight’s game is on Cox Sports Television, in case you can’t make it out to the ballpark.

The lineup:
CF Mattison
SS Velazquez
RF Coghlan
3B Cervenak
C Brantly
1B Montz
LF Aguila
2B Lambin
P Villanueva

A land far, far away

The Zephyrs have made their semiannual longest trek from home, venturing 2,097 miles to Tacoma, Washington for a four-game series with the Rainiers. After a seven-game win streak, the Z’s dropped the final three games in Salt Lake and Sunday’s opener in Tacoma before getting back on track last night. It’s the Zephyrs’ first trip to Cheney Stadium since the park, built in 1960, underwent renovations before the 2011 season. Nothing resembling New Orleans weather in the Pacific Northwest, where it’s a refreshing 68 degrees at tonight’s first pitch.

Streaking in the Rockies

The Zephyrs enter the month of August on a six-game win streak – a win tonight would be the team’s longest since 2007. They’ll have to do it at picturesque Spring Mobile Ballpark in Salt Lake City, which boasts arguably the best view in the PCL with glorious weather for tonight’s first pitch:

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