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Oakland Athletics Minor League Notebook: Renato Nunez powers Sounds

Renato Nunez continued his assault on Pacific Coast League pitching, Marcus Semien returned to Oakland, Paul Blackburn set a milestone, the Stockton Ports made a comeback and much more…

Renato Nunez readies to swing. / Photo by Chris Lockard
Renato Nunez hit two more homeruns. / Photo by Chris Lockard

After dropping both ends of a double-header on Wednesday night by lopsided scores, the Nashville Sounds were in need of a positive night at the ballpark. Thanks to the red-hot bat of Renato Nunez, the Sounds were able to depart Colorado Springs with some bounce in their step. Nunez homered twice and drove-in five runs in the Sounds’ 11-7 win over the Sky Sox.

The Sounds’ offense combined for 16 hits and five walks in the win. Nunez, Mark Canha and Jermaine Curtis all had three-hit games. Nunez has four homers and 13 RBI over his last 10 games. He is batting .324 over that span. Nunez has 24 homers and 57 RBI on the season. Melvin MercedesMatt McBride and Joey Wendle each had two-hit games.

Jesse Hahn made his first start since being sent back from Oakland earlier this week. He struggled in his outing, allowing four runs in 3.2 innings. All four runs came in the fourth inning. He was pulled in that inning with one on and two outs. Kyle Finnegan stranded the inherited runner and worked two more scoreless innings to earn the win. He didn’t allow a hit, walking two and striking out one. Lou Trivino threw a scoreless seventh and a scoreless eighth inning, but he ran into trouble in the ninth, allowing three runs while recording just one out. Suddenly a save situation, Simon Castro came in with two-on and he stranded both runners to give the Sounds the win. It was Castro’s fourth save of the season.

Semien returns to Oakland; Smith to start on Saturday

The Oakland A’s activated shortstop Marcus Semien off of the disabled list on Thursday. To make room for Semien on the A’s 25-man roster, Oakland placed starter Jharel Cotton on the 10-day DL with a finger issue. Cotton had his last start pushed back with a blister and he is now dealing with a callous on that same finger that is bothering him. He is expected to return to the rotation after the All-Star break. With Cotton out, the A’s will recall Chris Smith on Saturday to make his first big league start (he has 63 career major league relief appearances). Smith was recently named to the PCL All-Star team and he has a 3.16 ERA on the season. Susan Slusser was the first to report the news of Smith’s impending promotion.

The A’s also moved starter Andrew Triggs to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Semien on the active 40-man roster. Triggs is dealing with a hip issue that might lead to surgery.

Paul Blackburn earned his first big league win on Thursday. He threw 7.2 innings in the A’s 7-4 victory over the team that traded Blackburn to Oakland, the Seattle Mariners. Blackburn allowed just one run, a solo homer by Mitch Haniger. The win was the 500th of A’s manager Bob Melvin‘s Oakland career.

Stockton roars back, stuns Inland Empire late

Down 6-1 going into the eighth inning, the Stockton Ports scored twice in the top of the eighth and four times in the top of the ninth to shock the Inland Empire 66ers, 7-6.

Mikey White two-run homer in the top of the eighth gave the Ports life. Then in the ninth, Skye Bolt singled to lead-off the inning. After Eli White grounded into a force out, Nate Mondou reached on an infield hit and Sandber Pimentel walked to load the bases. Brett Siddall then walked to force in a run to make it a 6-4 game. White followed with an RBI ground out to pull the Ports to within a run. Seth Brown then took the first pitch he saw from Jhondaniel Medina and tripled to left, scoring Pimentel and Siddall to give the Ports the lead.

Joey Wagman, who took over in the eighth, made it interesting in the ninth on his way to earning the win. He allowed a single and a walk to start the inning, but then recovered to strike-out Angels’ 2016 top pick Matt Thaiss. He retired Jose Rojas on a flyout to center and then struck-out Michael Barash to lock down the win.

Chris Bassitt made another rehab appearance for the Ports. He threw a perfect 1-2-3 inning, striking out two, including a rehabbing Mike TroutBrendan Butler took over in the second and he had a rough outing. He went six innings, but allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks. He didn’t strike-out a batter, a rare occurrence for Butler. The Ports once again held Trout hitless in his rehab, but he did reach base on a hit by pitch (by Butler) and a catcher’s interference.

Lake Monsters shutout Tigers

Brian HowardOscar Tovar and Wandisson Charles combined to four-hit the Connecticut Tigers in the Vermont Lake Monsters’ 2-0 win on Thursday night.

In his professional debut, Howard allowed just one hit in two efficient innings. The 6’9” right-hander threw 22 pitches, 16 for strikes. He struck-out one and didn’t walk a batter. Tovar took over from there and earned the win with five strong innings. He allowed just two hits and two walks and he struck-out six. The promising Venezuelan right-hander is holding New York-Penn League batters to a .154 average over his first 15.1 innings this season.

Charles completed the shutout with two strong innings of his own. The power right-hander struck-out four and allowed just one hit. It was his first outing of the season without issuing a walk.

The Lake Monsters got some help offensively from the Connecticut defense, which allowed two unearned runs thanks to four errors. Ryan Gridley got the start at shortstop and had two hits and a walk. He had the Lake Monsters’ only extra-base hit, a double off of Tigers’ 2016 first-round pick Matt ManningPayton Squier had two hits. He is batting .364 through six games. Jack Meggs extended his hitting streak to four games. He has a .379/.419/.655 line through eight games.

Hurlbutt rebounds but Springfield walks-off

Dustin Hurlbutt recovered from a poor Double-A debut to throw six scoreless innings, but the Midland bullpen couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead and the Springfield Cardinals earned a 2-1, walk-off win.

It was a game of threes for Hurlbutt, who allowed three hits, three walks and he struck-out three in his six frames. Brandon Mann allowed an unearned run in the seventh and Tyler Sturdevant gave up a walk-off homer to Andrew Knizner with one-out in the ninth.

The RockHounds had nine hits but could manage just one run. B.J. Boyd and Tyler Ramirez each had two hits and a walk and Jordan Tarsovich doubled twice. Max Schrock also reached three times with a hit and two walks. Over his last 11 games, Schrock has walked 11 times and has struck-out just once.

Romero sharp but Snappers fall

In his second start for the Snappers, Miguel Romero threw three strong innings, but the Beloit Snappers fell to the Peoria Chiefs, 4-0.

Romero breezed through his three innings, allowing just two hits and a hit batter. He struck-out three and threw 28 of 41 pitches for strikes.

Oakland Athletics Assistant GM Billy Owens on A’s A-ball prospects

Seth Martinez took over for Romero and had a rare poor outing. He allowed two runs in the sixth and another pair of runs in the seventh to take the loss. Sam Sheehan finished the game with two scoreless innings. His ERA is down to 1.78 and he has 32 strike-outs in 25.1 innings for the Snappers.

Miguel Mercedes and Edwin Diaz each had a single and a double and Mike Martin singled twice. Diaz also walked, his 29th of the year in his 60th game played. He walked just 26 times in 92 games played last year.

AZL A’s fall to AZL Angels

The AZL A’s saw their record drop to 2-9 with a 6-4 loss to the AZL Angels on Thursday night. Nick Allen had two singles and Skyler Weber doubled twice, but the rest of the AZL A’s offense was relatively quiet. Logan Farrar had a triple in four at-bats. He has eight extra-base hits in eight games in the Arizona Rookie League this season.

The A’s used five pitchers in the loss. Osvaldo Berrios got the start and he allowed a run on two hits and a walk in two innings. Josh Falk allowed two unearned runs in two innings and Adam Reuss threw a scoreless inning. In his professional debut, Josh Reagan threw a scoreless sixth inning but allowed three runs in the seventh inning while recording just one out. Those three runs proved to be the difference in the game. Richard Morban finished the game with 1.2 scoreless innings pitched.

Lazaro Armenteros and Austin Beck each went 0-4 in the game.

DSL A’s lose to the DSL Dodgers 1

The DSL A’s managed just six hits in a 5-3 loss to the DSL Dodgers 1. Luis Almazar and Iraj Serrano each had two hits to pace the offense. Gean Rigby had a hit in four at-bats and the 20-year-old from Nicaragua is batting .327/.444/.423 on the season.

Alexander Calderon allowed two runs (one earned) in 3.2 innings. He struck-out five and walked three. The left-hander has a 1.80 ERA and 27 strike-outs in 25 innings this season.

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