Record for April: 9-10 Tied for 4th
After #1 starter, Calvin Wagstaff, was injured in spring training (out for 3 months), the opening day start against the St. Louis Sultans, fell to new FA signee, Luis Brisita. He lasted only 1 2/3 innings in his Fargo debut, giving up 6 runs on 5 H, 2 BB, and 1 K, leaving fans wondering if he was worth the 5-year $168.8 M contract he signed in the off-season. After scoring 5 runs in the 6th inning to tie the game at 8, Sal Wisener gave up a walk-off hit by Deion Sanders. Final score, 9-8, St. Louis. Things looked a little brighter, after winning the series in St. Louis, taking the last 2 games by scores of 12-11, and 3-2.
The home opener, against the Colorado Gold Sox, saw the Nordiques jump out to a quick 4 run lead in the first, that included run scoring hits by Duane Kowing, Andre Gavlan, and Arturo Guillen. After relieving starter Jesus Anguiano in the 7th, Lonnie Abing allowed the tying run to score on an errant pick-off throw to first. Fargo was able to pull out the victory in the bottom of the 9th on a walk-off base hit by Gilberto Lopez, winning 5-4. The Nordiques won a 4th game in a row, before losing the final two games to the Gold Sox, splitting the series and putting their record at 4-3. Luis Brisita started the third game of the series, and performed much better, going 6 innings, and giving up only 2 runs on 7 H, 1 BB, and 6 K, in the 3-2 loss to Colorado, easing the minds of the Fargo faithful.
In the opener of the series in Philadelphia, Chris Smullen was cruising along, giving up only 1 run, until the bottom of the 8th. There, the Liberty scored 5 runs, hitting back to back jacks, to break the game open, going on to win 6-0. After winning the middle game of the series, 3-2, the Nordiques not only lost the rubber game, 5-2, but also lost the services of top hitter, Duane Kowing, for 3 weeks. After going 1-2 in this series, Fargo is 5-5.
Back home against Portland, Brisita got his first win in a Fargo uniform, going 7 innings, giving up 4 runs on 7 H, 2 BB, and 7 K, in the 6-4 win. After losing the second game of the series, Fargo went on to win the rubber game, 3-2, on the strength of the pitching of Chris Smullen, and hitting of Gilberto Lopez. Smullen, went 8 innings, giving up 2 runs on 6 H, 1 BB, with 10 K. Lopez had a 2 run HR and knocked in all three runs in the win, giving the Nordiques a record of 7-6.
Heading out on a 6-game road trip to Washington and Erie, the Nordiques started with 2 wins in Washington. Brisita got the win in game 2, going 5 innings, giving up 1 run on 3 H, 2 BB, and 8 K. After losing the final game in the nation’s capital, Fargo had a record of 9-7. Then the Nordiques ran into a tough Erie squad, that swept Fargo by scores of 4-3, 3-1, and 9-2, putting the Nordiques record at 9-10. During the second game aginst Erie, Denver Wright was injured while pitching, and will be out for 6-7 weeks. He has a record of 0-1 while pitching 15 1/3 innings, giving up 6 runs on 11 H, 6 BB, and 14 K, with an ERA of 2.93. Hopefully he can come back with the same form he had when he was injured. After the Erie series, Jon Turner was placed on a rehab assignment in New Orleans.
Fargo finishes up the month with a six game homestand, starting with the perennial powerhouse, Austin Bats. The Nordiques started the scoring, with 2 runs in the first on an RBI single by Jonathan Rembert, and a run scoring ground out by Luis Hernandez. The second inning saw the homestanding Nordiques score a couple of more runs on a 2 run single by Rebert. Fargo went on to win the first game of the series by the score of 7-2. Luis Brisita pitched a masterful complete game, allowing just 2 runs on 6 H, 1 BB and 9 K, his best outing to date for Fargo. The Nordiques won game 2 by the score of 5-4, eeking out the win on the strength of HR’s by Gavlan, Rebert, and light hitting Mike Bromberek, and despite giving up 2 HR’s to Elton Hedgecock. The Nordiques were able to complete the clean sweep of Austin, winning game 3, 3-2. Gavlan hit his 6th HR, and Orlando Hernandez got the win in relief of Chris Smullen. This put the Fargo record at 12-10 for the year.
The final series for the month of April was at home against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Gilberto Lopez gave the Nordiques a 1-0 lead in the first, with his 6th HR of the season. In the third, Lopez started off the inning with a double, and was brought to score by Jonathan Rebert, making the score 2-0. Unfortunately, that would be all the scoring for Fargo, as the Scrappers scored a single run in the 6th and two more runs in the seventh, to take home the win, 3-2. Lonnie Abing took the loss in relief, after Orlando Lopez pitched 6 solid innings. Game two was similar to game one, in that the Scrappers came back to win, after falling behind 3-0. Gilberto Lopez had another solid game, with a single and then a 2 run HR, that put Fargo ahead 3-0 in the seventh. When Rob Rempert came into the game in the 9th, things looked good for the Nordiques, but he had his 1st blown save and loss, giving up a go-ahead 2 run HR, and then a 2 out, run scoring, single. Fargo went down 1-2-3 in the ninth. Final score, 5-3. The third game of the series was another nail-biter. Mahoning Valley jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first, off starter Jesus Anguiano. In the bottom of the 6th, Gilberto Lopez was again in the middle of an offensive outburst, hitting a lead-off double, and scoring on Jonathan Rebert’s 2 run HR. Jose Ortega hit a run scoring single, later in the inning, putting the Nordiques ahead, 3-2. After allowing a game-tying HR in the 8th, Mel Rodriquez got the win, when Steve Behe hit a game winning single in the bottom of the 10th, to make the final score, 4-3, Nordiques.
Fargo finished the month with a record of 13-12, good for 4th place in the Heartland, 1 game behind Manchester, and ½ game ahead of Colorado. After his poor first outing, Luis Brisita bounced back to have a good month of April. He had a 3-0 record in 6 starts, with 11 BB and 37 K in 36 1/3 innings, and an ERA of 3.47. Rob Rempert was 1-1, with 9 saves in 10 opportunities, 5 BB and 13 K in 13 innings pitched. On the offensive side, Gilberto Lopez was the star for the month, hitting .322, with an OPS of 1.026. He had 4 2B, 7 HR, 15 BB, 17 R, and 22 RBI. Arturo Guillen was a close second, hitting .304, with an OPS of .837, and 6 2B, 2 HR, 15 BB, and 13 R. Jonathan Rebert filled in nicely for the injured Duane Kowing, hitting .273, with an OPS of .931, and 2 2B, 5 HR, 9 R, and 12 RBI. Speaking of Duane Kowing, he played in 10 games before getting hurt. He hit only .229, but had a .956 OPS, on the strength of 7 BB, 4 HPB, 5 2B, and 2 HR. He is expected to back in the starting lineup within the next week. Some other highlights for the month of April:
FA signee Andre Gavlan, and Omar Vincent have 6 HR apiece
Luis Hernandez had 6 SB to go with a .315 OBP
Chris Smullen was 2-1 with a team-leading ERA of 3.34, and 28 K
Mel Rodriguez was 2-1 in relief, with 20 K, and an ERA of 1.98
CL Artie Rines, pitcher of the month in EPBL 3-0, 7 SV, 15 K, 0.75 ERA
SP Calvin Wagstaff, injured in spring training, has anther 7 weeks on IL
SP Denver Wright, injured 4/22, will be out another 5 weeks
RP Jose Hernandez, injured in spring training, another 4-5 weeks
1B Duane Kowing, injured 1/12, has only 4 more days
Down on the farm:
AAA New Orleans 13-7, ½ GB, in 2nd
AA Jacksonville Suns 9-12, 5 GB in 3rd
A Greensboro Grasshoppers 8-13, 5 GB in 4th
R Fort Myers Miracle 16-7, in 1st, 1 game ahead