THE NEWBERG REPORT — AUGUST 5, 2007
This is the kind of box score that fires me up.
Down in San Antonio, the Missions barely draw a fraction of what Cowboys practices attract 15 miles east. There were an announced 4,511 on hand for last night’s matchup with the hated RoughRiders, likely none of whom decided to pack the kids up and hit the game only because it would be the AA debut of visiting Frisco pitcher Michael Schlact.
The 21-year-old righthander, whose 5-7, 5.77 record in 21 Bakersfield starts this season followed a 4-13, 5.99 campaign with the same club in 2006, is a cerebral groundball specialist, a great kid who went back home to Georgia over the winter at 6’7″, 205, and came back to camp in Surprise an inch taller, 15 pounds sturdier, and married.
He was 0-3, 5.11 in July, but that included three earned runs over 12 innings his last two times out, and the organization decided his 47 Cal League starts had readied him for a chance to get AA hitters out.
Setting up behind the plate was Taylor Teagarden, Schlact’s Bakersfield teammate until a week ago, making his fifth Frisco start and just his second defensively. Manning third base was Chris Davis, who was briefly teammates with Teagarden at the University of Texas, and who wore the red, orange, yellow, and black of the Blaze along with both Teagarden and Schlact until a week ago himself.
In the bullpen sat righthander Kea Kometani, one of Schlact’s good friends, a four-year man from Pepperdine who had hit it off with the Georgia high schooler when the two righthanders played together in Clinton in 2005 and Bakersfield in 2006.
San Antonio sat a game ahead of Frisco in the second-half standings as the game got underway.
The bottom of the first didn’t start off crisply. Leadoff hitter Matt Antonelli, San Diego’s top prospect, reached on an error by first baseman Jim Fasano. But Schlact promptly got Will Venable to ground into a fielder’s choice, struck prospect Chase Headley out swinging, and got Colt Morton to foul out to left.
Schlact, who has fanned five batters per nine innings in his four pro seasons, struck one Mission out in the second inning. One in the third. Two in the fourth. One in the fifth.
The first two San Antonio hitters reached safely off Schlact to lead off the sixth, after which he got Morton to pop out to Fasano. RoughRiders manager Dave Anderson came to the mound and took the ball, handing it off to Danny Ray Herrera, who was Schlact’s Blaze teammate in 2006. Herrera induced a fielder’s choice grounder and ended the inning on a strikeout, preserving Schlact’s pristine line:
5.1 innings, three hits, one walk, six swinging strikeouts.
Seven groundouts, just three flyouts — one of which was that foulout to left and another of which was that popout to first.
Herrera would pitch a perfect seventh, after which Kometani would pitch a perfect eighth, sandwiching Antonelli and Headley strikeouts around a Venable groundout to first.
Teagarden picked up two of his three hits (two of which were doubles) before Schlact exited. Davis hit his first AA double, drew his second AA walk, and blasted his second AA home run before Schlact’s day was done, a two-run blast that extended a 1-0 Frisco lead to 3-0, which Schlact’s former Blaze teammate Jesse Ingram made stand up in an eventual 4-1 Riders win.
It was the best Frisco effort thus far for Teagarden and for Davis, and it’s one that’s going to be hard for Schlact to top.
But I’m looking forward to seeing if he can.