(author's note: Lots of people of interest played well tonight. Tomorrow will be my final game before I head to college. It's been fun though.)
As August draws to a close, more and more thought is going towards the September call-ups the Rangers might look to make. For the Express players, their performances become more and more critical as they try to prove why they deserve a stint on the big league club.
It was Leonys Martin who was making the best case for getting called up tonight in Round Rock. He started the game off by driving a pitch into the gap in left-center for the double, and would single four times in route to a 5-for-6 showing at the plate. It was his first career five hit game, and the final hit, scorched past the first baseman, would prove to be the winning run. Blistering is the only way to describe the way he's driving the ball right now, as he has now hit safely in 22 of his last 23 games.
Martin showed his defensive tools, as well, throwing out a runner in the top of the ninth. With Yoshinori Tateyama on the mound, he allowed a lead-off double. After bearing down to get both of the next hitters out, he left a pitch over the plate that Humberto Quintero (fantastic name, by the way) smashed into center. Leonys fired off a near-perfect throw that was so far ahead of the runner that Koyie Hill, the Express catcher, was still able to get the easy tag after he initially dropped the ball.
Tateyama pitched a scoreless 10th inning, as well, as the game went into extras. That's the third time in eight tries since I've been in the box, and that doesn't count the walk-off Borbon single in the ninth. I don't always attend Round Rock Express games, but when I do, they're close as hell.
Another Express who has been with the Rangers this year, Alberto Gonzalez, has been mashing. Coming into the night, he was batting a torrid .471 since being sent down to the Express. To continue his hot hitting, he turned on a pitch in the bottom of the fifth and drove it out of the stadium for his first homer since June 25th, 2011, when he was with the Atlanta Brave. He added another single to go 2-for-6 with two RBI's and a run. The Rangers still lack a utility infielder, and if they opt to leave Profar in the minors, then Alberto is making a decent case of being utilized in that role once again.
Gonzalez was at fault for one major defensive mistake, a rare instance for the plus defender. Charging a slow roller towards short, he lifted his glove too soon and allowed it to roll into the outfield. The play was generously ruled a hit, although he still received an error when the runners were able to advance a base. It was his first error in the minors this year.
Matt Kata, who will not be called up come September 1st, made one major mistake today. In his final at bat in the bottom of the seventh, he found himself early on a pitch which he fouled off to his left. No problem, right? Not when you foul the ball into the Express dugout and off the pitching arm of Martin Perez. There's no need to be alarmed, Martin was fine. Kata should be thanking his lucky stars, though, because we all know that causing injury to Perez is perfectly reasonable cause for unemployment.
Also worth noting: Julio Borbon smacked a solo home run, turning on a pitch and driving it about 370 feet to right field. He would tack on a single and a double to go 3-for-6. He tried and failed to bunt his way on base in the bottom of the 10th, thrown out by several steps.