(author's note: This is my final game with the Express this season, since I head to college on Saturday. I've had a good time at these games, and hope to do this again next year. I know you guys will miss me. Be sure to check out my stuff on Mavs Moneyball, though! I'm in the process of getting a season pass and between myself and the rest of our writers, we have the best free coverage of the Mavericks anywhere on the internet in the same, familiar SBNation format. As for the Rangers, Denton is just a tad closer to Arlington than Round Rock, so I'll have to get to a game or two in September (and hopefully late into October, too). Just as a fan, though. Thank all you guys for the encouraging feedback. It's been fun.)
Last night, Leonys Martin was the hero of the game with a career night, accumulating five hits and scoring the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning. With a twelve-game hitting streak on the line, during which he had hit .444, Martin hit a line drive that was caught on the warning track in left. He was quiet the rest of the game, ending the game 0-for-4 and snapping the streak.
Bad news for Alberto Gonzalez, as he was hit in the head with a pitch in the bottom of the fifth. Gonzalez stayed in to run the bases, but was removed between innings. The fact that he stayed in the game would seem to indicate that he is okay and was removed as a precaution. With Michael Young going on paternity leave, Gonzalez seems to be a likely call-up to fill his spot. He has been scorching the ball at the plate since being sent down, batting 10-for-23 (5-for-6 against lefties) with a double and a homer.
Starting for the Express tonight was Chad Bell, who has had a most interesting 2012. He started the year in high-A Mrytle Beach, but after four very successful relief appearances (11.1 IP, 2 ER, 12 K) he got called up to Frisco. Less than a month later, on May 19th, Bell moved into the Rough Rider rotation and posted great numbers. His cumulative line between seven starts and six relief outings -- 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA, and 40 strikeouts opposed to 13 walks -- was enough to earn him a spot on the Texas League All-Star team.
He moved up to Round Rock on June 22. As to be expected, his stats took a turn for the worse. Much more worrisome than the 4.76 ERA is the 4.48 BB/9. In seven of his eleven triple-A starts, he has walked at least three batters, including four of his last five games.
Tonight, Bell wasn't dominant but was successful nevertheless. The Nashville batters hit him hard throughout, with several long outs ending on the warning track and nearly every base hit smoked off the good part of the bat. Despite allowing runners in scoring positions in three of his five innings, Bell never got rattled and pitched out of each jam. His final line: 5 IP, 5 hits, no runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, and 85 pitches. I'm not sure why he didn't take the mound in the sixth as low as his pitch count was, but I'll have to assume it was just the way he was being handled tonight.
One thing is for sure: he's an easy guy to cheer for. In the fourth, he hustled and laid out on his belly in a failed attempt to catch a bunt which had been popped up foul. Later in the inning, with two runners on, he faced Logan Schafer, playing CF for Nashville. In two previous at bats, Schafer had hit the ball just shy of the warning track then tripled to the deepest part of the park. Bell didn't back down at all, challenging him for four straight fastballs and painting the outside corner with the final one for a called strike three.
Julio Borbon went 0-for-3 at the plate but did pick up a walk. It was his fourth in his past six games.
If the select few of you out there who care about the Express records, Matt Kata is just three games played shy of Mark Saccomanno's franchise record (405 games), two games shy of his multi-hit game record, and fifteen hits off of most hits all-time. He homered tonight, a solo shot into the opposing team's bullpen.
Willie Eyre closed out the game in the top of the ninth, preserving the 5-1 victory and also preserving my winning record in games I've attended. For a team that's eight games under .500, that's saying something. You're welcome, Round Rock.