(author's note: For those not familiar with me stuff, I'm a Mavs Moneyball writer who attends the occasional Express game with a press pass. Because there was only one true prospect playing tonight (Martin), I opted for a full game recap rather than a prospect update. Bear with me as I talk way too much about career minor leaguers, because I do touch on a couple players of some significance to the Rangers ballclub.)
After dropping the first couple of games of the four game series with Oklahoma City, Round Rock was back on the field Tuesday night looking to build momentum and even the series after a complete game gem tossed by Martin Perez the previous night. Zach Jackson, an eight-year triple-A veteran, was on the mound for his twenty-second start of the year. It was no surprise when he was unable to top what Perez's excellent performance the previous night, but all in all, he came pretty close. Jackson gave the Express seven solid innings, scattering his seven hits and allowing just one run to go along with seven strikeouts.
Certainly, he helped himself out of trouble with a nifty little play in the top of the fourth. Facing DH Mike Hessman on a full count with no outs and runners on first and second, the Redhawks attempted a double steal. Instead of throwing to third in a manner that was likely futile, catcher Koyie Hill gunned it across the diamond to second and successful caught the trailing runner for a double play. Clearly, the runner at first never anticipated having to deal with a throw, and paid the price. Johnson struck out the next hitter on four pitches, ending the inning and stranding the runner at third. An interesting statistical nugget: the runner who took third base was not credited with a steal; rather, he advanced on the throw.
The first run of the game came in the bottom of that inning, when Alberto Gonzalez ripped a sharp single down the third base line to score Joey Butler. Gonzalez has been an everyday player for the Express since being demoted by the Rangers on August 10th, and getting key hits only helps his chances to be recalled and used when rosters expand on September 1st. His defense is still top notch, and he reminded everyone of this by barehanding a chopper to third and throwing a strike to first. Fans of the Rangers are spoiled by Adrian Beltre's elite third base defense, making it easy to forget how difficult that play it really is.
Leonys Martin was back with the Express and starting in center field, after being called up to Texas on August 17th. His call-up was to fill Ryan Dempster's roster roster spot as he dealt with personal matters, and was sent back down on the 20th, although he did not play for Round Rock that evening. This was his second stint with the Rangers this year, also playing in fifteen games from June 15th to July 29th.
For his first three at-bats, Leonys went down quietly. There was nothing quiet about his fourth at-bat, though -- a powerful two-run homer to right-center. The homer gave the Express some much appreciated cushion, and the 4-1 score was enough to pull out a win in Round Rock. For Leonys, it was his 10th home run this season and his fifth in his last six games. He is 14/29 in that six game stretch, and batting .400 for the entire month of August.
Other game notes: RF Joey Butler drew his 72nd walk for the Express, tying a franchise record set by Esteban German last season. LF Julio Borbon went one for three with a walk. Koji Uehara completed the eight inning allowing a hit and striking out two.