AAA: Round Rock 4, at Tacoma (SEA) 5
Round Rock: 9 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 77-70, eliminated
SP Zak Kent: 4 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 4 R, 5 BB, 3 SO, 85 P / 46 S, 1.67 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 7.36 ERA
RP Kyle Cody: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.08 ERA
LF Ezequiel Duran: 2-5, HR (9), 2 SB (7), .287/.322/.551
SS Davis Wendzel: 1-1, 3 BB, .212/.293/.407
Zak Kent suffered his first poor AAA start, struggling to deal his fastballs for strikes. The strike rate on sliders was below average as well, but he drew a healthy number of swinging strikes with it and surrendered no hits.
As an unfriendly reminder of the grueling pre-2020 schedule, Round Rock has to return from the Seattle area to play at home tonight. The Express host Sugar Land for the next three nights to close the season. El Paso clinched the division on Saturday.
Records through August:
Round Rock: 68-57, -4
El Paso: 66-58, -5.5
Records in September:
El Paso: 18-5
OKC: 9-13, -8.5
Round Rock: 9-13, -8.5
AA: Frisco 11, Wichita (MIN) 3
Frisco: 11 hits, 10 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts
Frisco leads best-of-three finals 1-0
SP Mason Englert: 5.1 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 1 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 77 P / 49 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Josh Smith: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
3B Jonathan Ornelas: 4-5, SB
CF Evan Carter: 0-1, 4 BB, SB
2B Justin Foscue: 2-5
LF Kellen Strahm: 2-5, 3B
C Scott Kapers: 2-5, 2 HR
Providing anecdotal evidence against the cliche that good pitching beats good hitting, Frisco steamrolled a staff that permitted 20% fewer runs than the park-adjusted league average during the regular season. Frisco reached double-digit runs for the 26th time this season, while Wichita allowed ten or more for only the eleventh.
Jonathan Ornelas put the ball in play every time up, fouling off six two-strike pitches en route to four singles. Conversely, Evan Carter drew walks in his first four plate appearances. With them in from of him, Justin Foscue singled home three runs in the first two innings.
Scott Kapers hit a 5th-inning solo homer and a game-icing grand slam in the 6th. In the previews, I described catcher as an offensive weak spot but qualified with Kapers’ ability to get hold of a pitch. Lucky me. Kapers has a career line of .210/.329/.366, but that includes 11 homers in 57 games during 2022.
In his fourth AA start, Mason Englert was in command despite three walks and didn’t permit more than one runner in an inning until the 5th. Josh Smith replaced Englert with two one and one out in the 6th and induced a double-play grounder from Yunior Severino, who’d homered in the 4th.
Wichita’s Kody Funderburk (a Dallas Baptist alum) was drafted in 2018 and has 47 professional starts and 29 relief appearances, including postseason. Yesterday’s start of 1.1 innings was the shortest of his career and second-shortest outing of any type. He also allowed his most walks (4) since mid-June 2021. The bullpen was of no help, allowing another six runs and 13 runners across 6.2 innings. A far cry from their two-game demolition of Tulsa in the semifinals.
Wichita will employ Brent Headrick next and Daniel Gossett in Game 3 if needed. They were the starters in the semifinals. Frisco has yet to announce tomorrow’s starter.