Darwin----No David Ortiz. No Chipper Jones. No Eric Chavez. No John Smoltz. No problem? You wouldn’t think so, but the injury-ravaged Finches made a number of moves look golden, pinning a 9-5 win on visiting Oakeyland with some of the ugliest, most disjointed innings imaginable, as several players made their first start in a Darwin ‘uni’ on Game Day 103.
With Smoltz on the DL, Yovani Gallardo was recalled from AAA, where he had been dazzling. Not so with the parent club: Gallardo coughed up five runs and couldn’t make it past the fourth inning, earning nothing so much as a no-decision for three innings and a 12.00 ERA. After the contest, Gallardo was shipped back to the minors. It could’ve been worse, though: the youngster could’ve easily been saddled with the loss after Oakeyland scored three in the first on Jim Thome’s 14th HR of the season.
But Darwin answered impressively with a makeshift lineup: Corey Patterson DH-ed while Aaron Rowand roamed CF. No Jones, no Chavez? Former hot 3B prospect Andy Marte came up and collected three hits in his first appearance of the year with the Finches, including his first home run. 2B Jose Lopez, making just his second start of the season, snapped an 0-for-10 skein with a single and converted catcher Mike Jacobs, with only two starts to his credit the whole season, played 1B. A ragtag group, but it didn’t hurt that Carlos Guillen and Lance Berkman hit back-to-back solo shots off Joe Blanton (6-8, 4.70) in the bottom of the first. Lopez then grounded out, but Francouer doubled, Jacobs singled him home, and (two batters later) Patterson hit a two-run triple to cap a five-run first.
UGLY, that! Eight runs between the two clubs, and just one inning under way. Berkman would go on to double in two runs and Marte add his first homer of the year, but the key player was Jonathan Broxton (2-3, 3.62), who worked around a pair of errors by the shaky Guillen to get the ball to the middle innings with a lead. Darwin would somehow win big despite four errors. Team officials declined to comment on the club’s increasingly-desperate forays into the trading market.
In other BARB news:
LAS VEGAS 7, WORCESTER 5
WP: Brandon Lyon (1-1, 4.15)
LP: Doug Davis (0-1, 11.74)
SV: Rivera (24)
Manny Ramirez singled sharply in front of Elims LF Carl Crawford, and when Crawford kicked, two runners scored to lift the visiting Luchadores to a road win over the winningest team in BARB, their fifth straight triumph. Alfonso Soriano also homered twice in the contest for Las Vegas, which has seen its lead in the Central extended to four games over sagging Oakeyland.
BROOKLYN 6, POTTSYLVANIA 2
WP: Chien-Ming-Wang (6-5, 3.61)
LP: Adam Wainwright (2-8, 7.26)
Creepers SS Aaron Hill committed three (!) errors, Adam Wainwright hung some hooks and the Moabs rolled early to an easy victory at home versus visiting (and largely punchless) Pottsylvania, who were minus the services of their one big slugger, 3B Aramis Ramirez. With the win, the Moabs finally escaped third place for good, pulling into a tie for second (61-43) with sibling rival Worcester, just a game behind the struggling Finches.
YUMA 4, SAN JOSE 1
WP: Carlos Zambrano (8-6, 3.39)
LP: Aaron Harang (8-8, 4.31)
SV: Otsuka (16)
Travis Hafner had a pair of run-scoring singles, Carlos Zambrano worked eight strong innings and the Firebirds, coming off an emotionally-punishing home-and-home series with divisional rival Arizona, pretty much took it to the second division Rockets and pulled nine games ahead of the D-Backs in the Western division.