May started with a series in Colorado. In the first game, Chris Smullen pitched a gem, going 8 innings, while allowing no runs on 3 H, 2 BB, and 5 K. Rob Rempert finished off the Gold Sox, 1-0, for his 10th save of the season. Game two of the series was also a close, albeit high scoring, affair. Neither starter made it out of the 4th inning, with the score 7-5, Fargo, after the 4th. After a HR by Andre Gavlan made the score 8-5, Lonnie Abing gave up a double and a one-out walk. Rob Rempert came in to finish the game, but gave up a walk to load the bases, before allowing a grand slam walk-off HR to Raul Martinez, giving the Gold Sox a 9-8 win. This was Rempert’s 2nd blown save in his last three appearances. Game 3 started off with a bang for Fargo, going up 3-0 on a bases loaded double by Jonathan Rebert, scoring all 3 runs. Rebert was 2-4 with a walk, and 3 RBI for the game. Gilberto Lopez helped the cause, going 2-3, with a walk and a sac fly and 4 RBI. Starter Luis Brisita only went 4 innings, giving up 5 R on 6 H and 5 BB, with 3 K. Dave Cawood got the win, pitching 3 1/3 innings, allowing 0 R and 3 H, with 2 BB and 2 K, raising his record to 1-1 on the season. The series win puts the Nordiques record at 15-13.
Cinco de Mayo was not a good day for the Nordiques. Starter Jesus Anguiano gave up 5 runs in the first, in route to an 18-2 loss the Manchester Marauders. Game 2 didn’t start much better than game 1, with Manchester going up 2-0 on a two-run single by Reggie Stoker. Duane Kowing, in his second game back from the IL, hit a two-run double in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 2. After a scoreless 2nd, Gunnar Stratmeyer hit a 3 run HR, to put Fargo up 5-2. Rocky Ballinger pitched well enough to get his first win of the season, going 5 innings, while giving up 3 runs on 4 H, 3 BB, and 7 K. Mel Rodriguez finished the final two scoreless innings, with 3 K, for his first save. The rubber game of the series started off a lot better for Fargo, with the Nordiques scoring runs in the first three innings, leading to a 7-4 win over the Marauders. Jon Turner got things started in the first, scoring on a single by Andre Gavlan. He then brought in a run in the second on a bases loaded HBP. Kowing hit a 3 run HR in the bottom of the 8th, to make the score 7-2. Chris Smullen had another superb effort, going 6 2/3 innings, giving up only 1 run on 3 H, 2 BB, with 9 K, upping his record to 4-1 on the season. Mel Rodriguez gave up back-to-back HR to Ben DeVivo and former Nordiques standout, Bo Bichette, before locking down his 2nd save of the year. Bo was the Nordiques first round, and fourth overall, pick in the 2016 draft, and is the earliest draft pick in Fargo franchise history, to still be playing in the major leagues. The series win puts the Fargo record at 17-14.
The Nordiques then headed to Vancouver, to face the Canadians. Game 1 saw Luis Brisita bounce back with a much better outing, going 6 innings, while allowing 3 R on 5 H, and 3 BB, with 6 K, in the 4-3 win. Duane Kowing had 2 solo HR in the game, and Andre Gavlan had what turned to be the game winning HR in the 8th. Lonnie Abing got his first win on the season, and Rob Rempert his 11th save, after striking out the side on 18 pitches in the 9th. Game 2 was a disaster, with Vancouver scoring 7 runs in the bottom of the 4th inning, and never looking back in a 15-6 drubbing. The only bright spots, were Arturo Guillen, going 2-4 with a double and 2 runs scored, and Gavlan, going 3-4, with a 2-run home run and 3 RBI. Omar Vincent and Gunnar Stratmeyer also had solo HR’s. Game 3 wasn’t much better, with Fargo losing 6-3. Jon Turner was 4-5, with a double. The series loss puts the Nordiques record at 18-16.
San Diego flew into town for a mid-week 3-game series. The first two games were nothing to write home about, with Fargo losing 9-2, and 5-0, with the second game a 3-hit shutout by the Dawgs Myron Payne, giving the Nordiques a 4-game losing streak. Trying to salvage the third game of the series, Fargo started with a bang, scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the first inning. San Diego starter Harlan Mollett was hurt on Jon Turner’s lead-off triple. He was replaced by Matthew Jensen, who promptly walked Arturo Guillen. Gilberto Lopez reached on an error, scoring Turner. Andre Gavlan followed that with a 2-run double, to put the Nordiques up 3-0, in route to a 4-1 win. Luis Brisita pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings, before giving up a HR to Fargo killer, Chris Sylvia. Sylvia was 5-8 for the series, with 3 HR, 4 R, and 3 RBI. This series loss puts the Fargo record at 19-18.
The Nordiques started a 7-game road trip in Portland, with 4 against the first place Panthers. Fargo had a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the 7th, before reliever Lonnie Abing gave up 3 runs, on 2 HR, blowing the lead and earning the loss, 5-3. Game 2 was a slugfest, with Fargo winning 10-9. Kowing had a great day, going 4-5, with a double and a HR, scoring 2 and driving in 4. Christopher Machamer got his first win, and Rempert pitched the 9th for save number 12. Game 3 pitted Chris Smullen against Victor Zuninga, in a pitcher’s duel. Smullen went 5 innings, giving up only 1 R on 4 H, 2 BB, and 3 K. Zuninga went 7, also giving up only 1 R on 3 H, 2 BB, and 5 K. Kowing hit a 2-run HR in the top of the 9th to put Fargo ahead 3-2, and Rempert earned his 13th save. The 4th and final game of the series went to Portland, 8-3. Although Duane Kowing jumped on Portland starter Brad Nissley, with a 2-run HR to start the scoring, Rocky Ballinger wasn’t able to hold the lead, giving up 2 in the first, 3 in the second, and 2 in the third, before being taken out on the wrong end of a 7-3 score. Nissley was able to finish the game, after giving up a solo HR to Arturo Guillen, in the third. He gave up 3 doubles in the 8 hits he allowed, and had 5 K, in the complete game win. The series split put the Fargo record at 21-20.
The last three games of the road trip were in Philadelphia. Game one saw Brisita back to his opening day form, giving up 6 R in 5 innings, on 8 H, 1 BB, 3 HR, with 6 K, in the 11-1 blow-out loss, earning his first loss of the young season. With his mother in the stands, Norm Bates started his first game for Fargo, going 6 1/3 innings, giving up 5 R on 7 H, 5 BB, with 4 K, in the 6-4 loss.
The Nordiques started a 13 game homestand against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Chris Smullen started things off, going 5 2/3, while allowing 8 R on 9 H, and 0 BB, with 5 K. He actually got the win, after Duane Kowing kept up his hot hitting May, with a grand slam in a 5-run third, putting Fargo up 5-4. The Nordiques went on to win by a field goal, 12-9. In game 2, Rocky Ballinger pitched well enough to win, but came up on the short end of a 2-1 score. Ballinger went 5 innings, giving up the 2 R on 6 H, and 3 BB, with 3 K. Jon Turner hit a 1-out double, in the 8th, but had to be taken out because of an injury. He only missed a few days with this injury. Game 3 had Luis Brisita getting his 5th win of the season, by a score of 4-1. Gunnar Stratmeyer hit a 2-run HR in the second, his 6th, putting Fargo ahead 2-0, a lead they would not relinquish. Brisita went 6, while giving up just the 1 R on 3 H, and 4 BB, with 5 K. The series win gave the Nordiques a record of 23-24.
A 4-game series against the St. Louis Sultans was next. In game 1, Andrew Gavlan hit a grand slam HR in the bottom of the 8th to put the Nordiques ahead to stay, 8-7, in the 9-7 win. In game 2, Gilberto Lopez hit for the cycle, going 4-5, with 3 R and 2 RBI. Yet, he wasn’t named player of the game, as Jonathon Rebert went 3-4, with 2 doubles, a HR, 3 R, and 4 RBI. Jesus Anguiano went 5 1/3, giving up 2 R on 6 H, and 1 BB, with 4 K, in the 11-2 win. After the game, Gilberto Lopez had this to say: “A triple is so hard to hit. To just decide to get one in a game when you need it for a cycle, it’s impossible. Usually something weird must happen, the ball kicking past an outfielder or somebody falling down.” In game 3, Gunnar Stratmeyer went 4-5, with a double and a HR, scoring 1 and knocking in 2. Smullen took the loss, after going 6, and giving up 5 R on 7 H, and 2 BB, with 6 K, with the final score, 9-5. In this game, Gilberto Lopez was hit in the foot by a pitch, and had to come out of the game. X-rays taken after the game showed a fracture, which will put Lopez on the shelf for 3 weeks. In game 4, Rocky Ballinger lasted only 2/3 of an inning, allowing 6 R on 3 H, 2 BB, and 3 HBP. Sultan starter, Johnny Allstaff, pitched a 1 hit shutout, with the only hit, a 2-out single by 9th place hitter, Gilberto Nieves, in the 11-0 whitewashing.
The final series of the homestand, and the month of May, was against the Nashville Outlaws. Luis Brisita secured his 6th win, going 6 innings, while allowing 2 R on 5 H, and 1 BB, with 12 K. Arturo Guillen was 3-5, with a HR, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. Jon Turner was 2-5, with 2 runs scored, and Duane Kowing went 3-4, with 1 run scored and 2 RBI, in the 10-6 win. In game 2, Norm Bates lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing 7 R on 8 H, 2 HR, and 3 BB, with 3 K, in the 10-4 loss. Jesus Anguiano earned the win in game 3, pitching 8 scoreless innings, allowing 6 H, and 2 BB, with 2 K. Rob Rempert got his league leading 17th save, in the 3-0 win. That put the Nordiques record at an even 27-27, good for 3rd place in the Heartland, 5 games behind Portland, ½ game behind Manchester, and ½ game ahead of Austin.
Some May highlights:
Duane Kowing – 12 HR, 34 RBI, .425 BA, 1.439 OPS, Player of the week 2x, Batter of the month for May
Jonathan Rebert – .386 BA, 1.043 OPA, 8 2B
Luis Brisita – 3-1, 9.8 K/9, 2.6 K/BB
Chris Smullen – 3-2, 3.93 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.7 K/BB
Rob Rempert – 8/9 SV, 0.88 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, .111 OBA
Gilberto Lopez – Injured 5/27, Fractured foot, out 3 weeks
Calvin Wagstaff – Injured 3/20 (spring training), has 2 weeks left on IL
Denver Wright – Injured 4/22, Has 1 week left
Down on the farm:
AAA New Orleans 28-20, 2 ½ GB, in 2nd place
AA Jacksonville 23-25, 10 ½ GB, in 3rd place
A Greensboro 17-32, 16 GB, in 4th place
R Fort Myers 35-15, – GB, in 1st place, 2 games ahead of Tampa, 1-0 in 1st round of playoffs