Flintoff & Dunn's NEWS ARCHIVE
MAY 2012

It is intended that this page will maintain a historical record of previous news published on this site. From time to time we will archive old or outdated news on our "WHAT'S NEW" & "AUSSIES IN THE US LEAGUES" pages. It may interest some people to read the developments in chronological order right here.

ARCHIVED NEWS FROM MAY 2012 BEGINS BELOW:

ARCHIVE
MAY
2012

To make things easier for our loyal subscribers we will adopt a new format of
providing news involving
AUSTRALIAN Players in yellow text, while 
news about former AMLB IMPORT Players will be in white text.

  31 MAY 2012 - BALFOUR HOLDS IN LOSS TO TWINS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:


Grant Balfour

Having started the season as the assigned closer for the Oakland Athletics, Aussie GRANT BALFOUR earned quite a few saves but he collected his first hold of the season in the A's 2-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins. He didn't have it all his own way but he still posted a scoreless inning with 1.0ip 0h 0er 2bb 1k (3.55ERA). Balfour preserved Oakland's 2-0 lead in the contest when he put away the bottom of the eighth inning. It all started with a full count walk issued to Josh Willingham, followed by a five pitch walk to Justin Morneau as he contributed to his own pressure build up. He held his nerve to get Ryan Doumit to pop out to the short stop, Brian Dozier to fly out to centre field and he finished with a flourish by getting Trevor Plouffe struck out swinging. His uplifting effort was spoiled when the home standing Twins rallied to snatch the game with three runs in the bottom of the ninth.

  30 MAY 2012 - MILLWOOD AMONG OLD ABL ALUMNI!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:


Kevin Millwood

That old war horse and former ABL import pitcher KEVIN MILLWOOD (Melbourne Monarchs 1997) continues to prove his pedigree with another splendid start for the Seattle Mariners, even though they fell 2-4 to the ultra-tough Texas Rangers. 'Big Kev' made his fourth successive high quality start with 5.0ip 4h 1er 2bb 5k to take a hard luck no-decision. His season record now stands at 3-4, 3.56ERA and this is even more impressive given the fact that he must have been precariously close to facing the end of his major league career when he was floundering just a few weeks ago.

While watching a recorded MLB game between the LA Angels and the Yankees last night I had cause to think about many imports from the original ABL alumni who were coaches rather than the players that we may remember more easily. It came to mind when the camera focussed on Angles' long serving third base coach DINO EBEL who, as some may recall, was a player in the early years of our ABL.

For a bit of fun here are some of the former ABL import alumni who I could easily follow-up, particularly among former managers and coaches. This list is by no means exhaustive and we'd be happy for anyone to send us updates of other significant former imports that we will add to a new page:

OSCAR ACOSTA (Pitching Coach - Melbourne Reds 1997-98):   He managed the Cubs Class A Lansing Lugnuts in the Midwest League in 1999, and was then promoted to the Major League level, serving as the pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs (2000–01) and Texas Rangers (2002). Tragically, the popular Acosta was killed in an automobile accident on April 19, 2006, while coaching in the New York Yankees minor league system.

DOUG AULT (Manager - Sydney Blues 1992-1994):  Was a Major League Baseball first baseman and designated hitter who played for the Texas Rangers (1976) and Toronto Blue Jays (1977–1978, 1980). Following his playing career, Ault served as a minor league manager in the Blue Jays. Ault died at his home in Tarpon Springs, Florida, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 54 years old.

BUDDY BAILEY (Manager - Gold Coast Cougars 1996):  Bailey initially joined the Cub organisation as its roving minor league catching instructor, before assuming the managerial reins of the Daytona Cubs of the Class A Florida State League in the middle of the 2006 season. He then spent 2007 and 2008 as a manager in high classification leagues. Bailey then returned to Daytona for the 2009–2011 seasons.

DARREN BALSLEY (Manager - Sydney Blues 1996): Is the current pitching coach at Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres franchise. He was a minor-league pitcher before he decided to go into coaching.

MIKE COOLBAUGH (Player - Sydney Blues 1996):  Played 44 games in the major leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers (2001) and St. Louis Cardinals (2002). Following his professional playing career, Coolbaugh turned to coaching. On July 3, 2007, he was hired as first base coach for the Tulsa Drillers, a Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. On July 22, 2007, Coolbaugh was killed during the ninth inning of a game against the Arkansas Travelers in North Little Rock, Arkansas, when a line drive hit by Drillers catcher Tino Sanchez struck him in the neck while he was standing in the first base coach's box.  The result was a severe brain haemorrhage that essentially killed Coolbaugh on impact. On November 8, 2007, MLB general managers decided that base coaches would wear helmets starting in the 2008 season in a generic baseball rule that continues today.

DINO EBEL (Player - Adelaide Giants 1991): Is a former minor league baseball player and manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers who is currently the third base coach for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

MARV FOLEY (Manager - Perth Heat 1996):  Is a former Major League Baseball catcher and coach, former minor league baseball coach and manager, and current Major League catching instructor for the Colorado Rockies.

BOB GEREN (Manager - Gold Coast Cougars 1998):  Is a former Major League Baseball catcher and manager. During a 5-year playing career, he played for the New York Yankees (1988–1991) and the San Diego Padres (1993). He managed the Oakland Athletics from 2007 through 2011. Geren is currently the bench coach for the New York Mets.

HAROLD ‘GOMER’ HODGE (Manager - Hunter Eagles 1995):  Was an professional baseball player, coach and manager. He appeared in 80 Major League Baseball games as a pinch hitter, third baseman and first baseman for the Cleveland Indians in 1971. His minor league playing career extended over 12 seasons, through 1976, and he later managed and served as a batting instructor in the minor league organizations of the Indians, Montreal Expos and Red Sox through 2002. Gomer Hodge died May 13, 2007 from Lou Gehrig's Disease.

DENNIS HOLMBERG (Manager - Sydney Storm 1999):  Is a former minor league baseball player and major league coach as a bullpen coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. He is currently a minor league manager for the Bluefield Blue Jays of the Appalachian League.

TOM LAWLESS (Manager - East Coast Cougars 1995):  Was a Major League Baseball player between 1982 and 1990, playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos, St. Louis Cardinals, and Toronto Blue Jays. Lawless, who only hit two regular-season home runs his entire career, is also remembered for his dramatic game-winning home run in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series. He entered the coaching ranks and has become a successful minor league manager. In 2007, he served as a coach for the China national baseball team. Lawless is now a minor league manager in the Houston Astros organisation.

STEVE LIVESEY (Manager - IBLA MLB All-Stars 2001 & Melbourne Reds 1999):  Is the minor league hitting coordinator for the Tampa Bay Rays.

TOM NIETO (Manager - Melbourne Reds 1997-1998):  Is a former Major League Baseball catcher and former manager of the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. He played in a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Nieto previously served as the New York Mets' bench coach and catching instructor.

HOWIE NORSETTER (Manager - Melbourne Bushrangers 1991):  Of course most Australian baseball devotees would know that Howie Norsetter has been the head Australian based scout for the Minnesota Twins organisation and he is responsible for signing many young Australians to professional contracts with the Twins.

DAN RADISON (Manager - Brisbane Bandits 1994-1996):   Was most recently appointed first-base coach of the Washington Nationals by then newly named permanent manager Jim Riggleman in 2009.

PAUL RUNGE (Melbourne Reds 1995):  Is a former professional baseball player. He played all or part of eight seasons in Major League Baseball for the Atlanta Braves from 1981 until 1988. Runge coached at several minor league levels with the Braves organisation from 1993 to 2010. He currently serves as minor league field coordinator for the Houston Astros. Runge owned the best winning record for a manager in the history of our original ABL competition.

JIM SAUL (Manager - Melbourne Reds 1996):  Is a longtime catcher, manager and coach in minor league baseball. The 2008 season marked Saul's 50th season in professional baseball, all but three of them at the minor-league level. In Major League Baseball, Saul coached for three seasons, with the Chicago Cubs (1975-1976) and Oakland Athletics (1979).

TOM TREBELHORN (Manager - Perth Heat 1998):  Is a former manager in Major League Baseball for the Milwaukee Brewers (1986–1991) and Chicago Cubs (1994). He currently serves as the manager of the Class A Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the San Francisco Giants organisation.

RALPH ‘ROCKET’ WHEELER (Manager - Sydney Blues 1995):  Is a former minor league infielder and the current minor league manager for the Rookie class Gulf Coast Braves. Wheeler attended the University of Houston where he obtained his nickname "Rocket" for his speed and hustle. 

  29 MAY 2012 - BLACKLEY STARTS & BALFOUR RELIEVES!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:


Travis Blackley

 


Grant Balfour

Aussie TRAVIS BLACKLEY made a terrific return to starting pitching today and he was unlucky not to collect the win when his Oakland Athletics were overrun 4-5 by the Minnesota Twins in late innings. In his first start for the US pro season Blackley threw 72 pitches with 43 strikes for a quality outing of 5.0ip 3h 1er 1bb 3k (0.82ERA) to take a no-decision. In the very first inning Travis was confronted with a leadoff base runner when Denard Span singled but he left facing the minimum when he induced Joe Mauer to ground into an inning ending double play to the short stop. He then allowed only one base runner in the second when Ryan Doumit reached on his own throwing error. Blackley used eleven pitches for a 1-2-3 third, then only Joe Mauer reached on an infield single in a clean fourth. Without looking for excuses Travis may have been getting weary by the time that the light hitting Trevor Plouffe struck "lightning in a bottle" with his solo home run to left field in the bottom of the fifth. Blackley finished the inning as his last contribution of the day and he departed with his team still holding a 2-1 advantage.

Aussie compatriot and team mate GRANT BALFOUR was also called to action later in this game with the scores tied at 3-3 facing an inherited runner at third base with two out in the bottom of the sixth. He maintained parity in the contest by getting Ryan Doumit to fly out to left field. Up again for the bottom of the seventh Balfour again got his job done with Brian Dozier flying out to left and Trevor Plouffe flying out to right ahead of an uncharacteristic four pitch walk to Alexi
Casilla. It amounted to nothing when Denard Span grounded out to short to end the inning. Both Aussies were foiled when the Twins rallied to snatch the game in the eighth inning. His line for the game was 1.1ip 0h 0er 1bb 0k (3.70ERA).

... and from yesterday's MLB action:

Even though his Oakland Athletics were shut out in a 0-2 defeat by the New York Yankees, Australia's GRANT BALFOUR did his job with another scoreless inning of middle relief. He pitched 1.0ip 0h 0er 0bb 1k while throwing ten of 15 total pitches for strikes in another efficient display of power. Pitching to a dangerous trio in the top of the eighth, Balfour got Robinson Cano to fly out to left, Mick Swisher to fly out to centre and he polished off his work with Andruw Jones struck out swinging on four pitches. Unfortunately there were no runs on offer for his A's in this game.

  24 MAY 2012 - BALFOUR ZEROES IN LOSS TO ANGELS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:


Grant Balfour

Aussie right hander GRANT BALFOUR hurled another scoreless inning of "no frills" relief with 1.0ip 0h 0er 0bb 0k (4.09ERA) for the Oakland Athletics who fell short 1-3 to the Los Angeles Angels in an eleven inning game. Grant threw 13 of 18 pitches for strikes to keep the game squared at 1-1 when he dispensed with the top of the tenth inning. He started by getting Erick Aybar to fly out to centre field before rolling a couple of ground balls with Mike Trout grounding to short and Maicer Izturis grounding out to the first baseman. To be fair Balfour hasn't done anything wrong since losing his closer role recently and maybe he is making a case to be reinstated at the sharp end?

Evergreen former ABL import KEVIN MILLWOOD (Melbourne Monarchs 1997) continued his late career upswing with his third successive win and another scoreless start as he anchored the Seattle Mariners to a 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers. 'Big Kev' pitched another masterly 6.0ip 3h 0er 1bb 2k to further improve his season record to 3-4, 3.72ERA. Who could have guessed that the 37yo journeyman would respond to such a poor start with his latest club to be one of the hottest pitchers in the majors at present?

  23 MAY 2012 - BLACKLEY STILL CLEAN WITH OAKLAND!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Travis Blackley
Knowing TRAVIS BLACKLEY as I do, I can assure you that he doesn't like losing yet he must be enjoying his own personal success since his shift from the San Francisco Giants to the Oakland Athletics this season. Blackley continues to maintain a blank ERA with the A's after his latest strong middle relief outing of 3.2ip 3h 0er 0bb 3k in their 0-5 defeat by the local rival Los Angeles Angels.
Travis was asked to come into the game early in relief of starter Graham Godfrey who lasted just three innings that cost four runs. He did his primary job of eating some innings for his team while keeping them in sight of a comeback rally later in the game. Taking over for the top of the fourth Blackley had Erick Aybar struck out swinging and Peter Bourjos pop out to second before John Hestor poked a two out single up the middle. The hit did no damage when young gun Mike Trout grounded into a fielder's choice to the short stop. In the fifth Travis again got two quick outs with Maicer Izturis grounding out to third and Albert Pujols struck out swinging ahead of another two out infield single by Kendrys Morales. Again it caused no damage when powerhouse Mark Trumbo lined out to the first baseman. Rolling into the sixth 'Trav' had to work around some tough luck when Howie Kendrick reached on a throwing error, Erick Aybar flied out to centre and speedy Peter Bourjos legged out an infield single to the third baseman. He hung tough to get John Hestor to line out to right field and Mike Trout was struck out looking after a nine pitch full count. In the top of the seventh Blackley was into extra duty when he got Maicer Izturis to foul out to the first baseman and Albert Pujols to fly out to left field. He was then relieved after Kendrys Morales reached on an error and the unearned run scored later in the inning. It was a terrific effort for Blackley who threw 39 of 56 pitches for strikes as an unsung hero in the losing cause.
  21 MAY 2012 - BALFOUR GRINDS OUT GIANTS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:


Grant Balfour

David Ross

Australian GRANT BALFOUR pitched another scoreless inning of middle relief with 1.0ip 1h 0er 0bb 1k (4.29ERA) for the Oakland Athletics who beat their "bay bridge" rivals the San Francisco Giants 6-2. In this game Grant had to battle hard with full counts to both Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford who flied out to left and struck out swinging respectively. Melky Cabrera singled into left field before 'Balf' ended the inning with productive star Buster Posey popping out to the second baseman.


Atlanta Braves backup catcher DAVID ROSS (MLB All-Stars 2001) demonstrated once again what a useful offensive and defensive player he is when he supplied one of their two runs in their 2-0 shutout victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Making the start behind the dish, Ross batted 1-4 (.303) with his second home run of the season that opened the scoring in the third inning.

A blast from Australia's IBLA past RYAN LANGERHANS (IBLA Internationals 2001) returned to the big leagues with another team when he came into an extra inning game for the Los Angeles Angels who were edged 2-3 by the San Diego Padres in 13 innings. Langerhans, who has played with Braves, Rockies, Nationals and Mariners, took over at left field in the bottom of the tenth. In the top of the eleventh he executed a sacrifice bunt to advance a team mate on the bases before he was replaced on defence in the bottom of the same inning.

  20 MAY 2012 - BLACKLEY & BALFOUR PITCH FOR A's!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Travis Blackley


Grant Balfour

 




Kevin Millwood

As fate would have it Australian lefty TRAVIS BLACKLEY made his debut for his new team Oakland Athletics against his most recent former club San Francisco Giants and it wasn't his fault that the Giants beat the A's 6-8. Travis pitched a tidy 1.0ip 0h 0er 0bb 0k (0.00ERA) when he required just seven pitches to tuck away a scoreless ninth inning in the losing cause. Blackley used two pitches to get Brandon Crawford to ground out to first, another two to get Melky Cabrera to ground out to short then three more to get Angel Pagan ground out to second. He made rolling ground balls to his infield look like a training drill on this occasion.

TRAVIS BLACKLEY was back in action today, along with his new Aussie team mate GRANT BALFOUR who he followed to the bump at the end of the Oakland Athletics 0-4 shutout loss to the Giants. Blackley was solid again with 1.1ip 1h 0er 0bb 1k (0.00ERA) while Balfour wasn't so effective with 0.2ip 2h 2er 1bb 1k (4.50ERA). In fairness to Grant he was again thrust into a tough situation with two runners on and none out in the bottom of the second and he rapidly loaded the bases with a perhaps semi-intentional four pitch walk to Gregor Blanco. He next gave himself hope of an escape by striking out Brandon Crawford who was called out on strikes before Melky Cabrera lifted a sacrifice fly to right field. Quality hitter Buster Posey did further damage when he ripped a ground rule double to deep right centre for another run batted in. When Angel Pagan followed with another two RBI single up the middle Balfour was lifted while Oakland's manager Bob Melvin was ejected from the game while still arguing a hit-by-pitch decision earlier in the frame. Aussie compatriot Blackley was introduced and he finished the inning with Brandon Belt called out on strikes. In the bottom of the eighth Joaquin Arias poked a leadoff single into centre field but he was erased when Blackley induced Emmanuel Burriss to ground into a double play to the first baseman that he completed himself when covering the first base bag. 'Trav' then kept his scoreless streak with his new club going when he got Jemile Weeks to ground out to the short stop.

Just less than a week ago we reported that one of the major league's great "war horses" KEVIN MILLWOOD (Melbourne Monarchs 1997) had rolled back the clock to post his first win of the 2012 season. On that occasion he pitched seven innings for one run in a sterling effort, but he went even better in his next start with a magnificent complete nine inning game shutout to anchor his Seattle Mariners to a 4-0 blanking of the Colorado Rockies. Millwood's 113 pitch clinic saw him further improve his record to 2-4, 4.17ERA with the brilliant line of 9.0ip 2h 0er 1bb 7k.

Another former ABL import veteran VERNON WELLS (Sydney Storm 1999) batted 2-5 (.244) with a run batted in to help the Los Angeles Angels to swamp the San Diego Padres 7-2.

  18 MAY 2012 - GRANT BALFOUR HELPS A's TO BEAT RANGERS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Grant Balfour
Australia's GRANT BALFOUR seems to be responding positively to his recent "mini demotion" from being the designated closer for the Oakland Athletics. Back in a middle relief role Grant did all that was asked of him with 1.1ip 1h 0er 0bb 1k (3.72ERA) as he helped the A's to topple the high rolling Texas Rangers 5-4 after ten innings. As he has done so often in the past Balfour put out the fire of a blazing Texas rally in the bottom of the sixth with two on and one out, just after the Rangers had taken over the lead with two runs already scored in the frame. To make matters worse he then had to cast aside the distraction of a passed ball that advanced the runners to second and third. He left them both stranded when Michael Young grounded out to the third baseman and Adrian Beltre grounded out to the first baseman. In the bottom of the seventh he allowed a leadoff single to David Murphy on a 3-1 count and Murphy stole second just as he struck out Nelson Cruz. Grant got powerhouse catcher Mike Napoli to ground out to third before handing the ball over to the rest of the Oakland bullpen. You'd have to say that Balfour was a key factor in enabling the winning result as the Rangers could have run away with the game in the sixth.
  15 MAY 2012 - GRANT BALFOUR CLEAN v ANGELS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Grant Balfour
While we are unable to find absolute confirmation, there is plenty of suggestion and some evidence that Australia's hard throwing reliever GRANT BALFOUR has lost his closing job for the Oakland Athletics... at least for the time being? The latest evidence came when he pitched an inning of middle relief for the A's who were already leading handily during their 5-0 shutout victory over the local rival Los Angeles Angels. Grant pitched a neat seventh inning to preserve a 4-0 advantage with 1.0ip 0h 0er 0bb 1k (4.00ERA) when he threw nine of just twelve pitches for strikes. Taking over for the top of the seventh 'Balf' had Alberto Callaspo called out on strikes, Vernon Wells ground out to the short stop and Erick Aybar fly out to centre field. All he can do now is to do his job effectively as often as possible and hopefully he'll get another opportunity to close down the track.

Latest news also tells us that TRAVIS BLACKLEY will become the fourth Aussie to join the Oakland A's organisation after the Athletics signed him off waivers from the San Francisco Giants this week.
  14 MAY 2012 - BALFOUR CAN'T DENY TIGERS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Grant Balfour

Kevin Millwood

Vernon Wells
Oakland Athletics Australian closer GRANT BALFOUR was called to duty earlier than usual and it wasn't a successful experience for him during their 1-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Grant was asked to put out a fire in the top of the sixth in a 1-1 ballgame just as the Tigers had rallied after two outs to load the bases. Unfortunately he wasn't able to prevent Detroit from going ahead when Austin Jackson won an eight pitch battle to push across a run with a RBI walk. He ended that inning with Andy Dirks struck out swinging. Balfour also took care of dangerous slugger Miguel Cabrera when he fanned him to lead off the top of the seventh before he was relieved himself. Although he wouldn't be too happy with the walk he issued that plated the go ahead run, Grant could not be blamed entirely for the team's loss. His line for the game was 0.2ip 0h 0er 1bb 2k (4.24ERA) while his team mate Jarrod Parker took the loss because it was his base runner who scored that decisive run.

Having played with several clubs over many major league seasons former ABL import KEVIN MILLWOOD (Melbourne Monarchs 1997) is one of the great "survivors" in big league baseball and he showed that he is still not done yet! 'Big Kev' notched his first win of the 2012 season with a sterling 7.0ip 3h 1er 4bb 6k (5.09ERA) for the Seattle Mariners who trumped the New York Yankees 6-2. 37yo Millwood was the junior in this battle as he went head-to-head with returning Yankee starter Andy Pettitte who is nearing his 40th birthday. Millwood's record improved to 1-4, 5.09ERA.

Still perhaps the most reliable backup catcher in the big leagues, DAVID ROSS (MLB All-Stars 2001) gave his All-Star team mate Brian McCann another breather when he started behind the dish for the in-form Atlanta Braves in their latest 7-4 win over the St.Louis Cardinals. Ross also contributed with the bat by hitting 1-3 (.310) and drawing a walk.

Former ABL import VERNON WELLS (Sydney Storm 1999) hammered his fifth home run of the season as he continues to platoon in the outfield for the Los Angeles Angels in their 6-13 loss to the Texas Rangers. The veteran is pressing for more playing time among a range of outfield options for the 'Halos' with this latest 2-4 (.233) effort that included the long ball RBI.
  12 MAY 2012 - JOSH SPENCE EFFICIENT v PHILLIES!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Josh Spence
Aussie left hander JOSH SPENCE required only seven pitches, six thrown for strikes, to roll through another scoreless inning with 1.0ip 0h 0er 0bb 0k (4.35ERA) for the San Diego Padres who were beaten 3-7 by the Philadelphia Phillies. Josh pitched the Padres' final defensive inning in the bottom of the eighth and he did so in double-quick fashion. He got Freddy Galvis to fly out to right field, pinch hitter Juan Pierre lined out to right and Jimmy Rollins grounded out to the third baseman. It was all too late for his team, but then he couldn't do much more.
  11 MAY 2012 - GRANT BALFOUR TIDY FOR A's v TIGERS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Grant Balfour
Australia's big league closer GRANT BALFOUR was given another inning of work and he posted another scoreless inning with 1.0ip 1h 0er 0bb 0k (4.41ERA) for the Oakland Athletics who were overmatched 6-10 by the Detroit Tigers. Grant needed only fifteen pitches with nine strikes to take care of the lower part of the Tigers lineup in the top of the ninth. He was made to work early when Ryan Raburn battled for a full count before hammering a double to deep centre field after seeing his eighth pitch. Raburn moved to third base on Balfour's wild pitch before the first out was banked when Don Kelly grounded out to the second baseman. The inning ended in frenetic fashion when Ramon Satiago grounded back to the mound and Raburn was caught stealing home as the catcher completed the unusual double play to the first baseman. It was a cool headed play initiated by the Aussie pitcher.
  10 MAY 2012 - SPENCE & BLACKLEY PITCH IN!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Josh Spence





Travis Blackley
Australia's specialist lefty reliever JOSH SPENCE was "stretched out" a bit more than usual with 1.2ip 4h 1er 0bb 2k (4.82ERA) for the San Diego Padres during their 2-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies. Spence was called into action for the top of the eighth with his team already trailing 2-5 and he immediately allowed a base runner when Michael Cuddyer stroked a leadoff single into left field. Spence hit back to get both Tyler Colvin and Wilin Rosario struck out swinging, but in the meantime Cuddyer had stolen second base to place himself in scoring position. It proved to be a productive offensive move when Chris Nelson squirted a two out RBI single into shallow right field for an insurance run. The inning ended with Dexter Fowler fouling out to the first baseman. Josh took the ball into the ninth and again the leadoff man was aboard when pinch hitter Jordan Pacheco singled into right centre field. Veteran Marco Scutaro flied out to left before another base runner threatened when Jonathan Herrera singled up the middle. Spence secured the second out with the dangerous Carlos Gonzalez popping out to the second baseman then he handled the ball over for Brad Brach to get the last out for his team in the losing cause.

Aussie ace TRAVIS BLACKLEY battled hard again with 1.0ip 2h 1er 0bb 0k (9.00ERA) for the San Francisco Giants who were already well on their way to a 2-6 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 'Trav' was efficient with 12 of 19 pitches thrown for strikes while pitching the sixth inning but a couple of hits were enough to charge him with the earned run. Blackley erased the leadoff man with James Loney popping out to the short stop but the big blow followed when A.J Ellis tripled to deep centre field. Scott Van Slyke poked a RBI single through the middle to score the run before he re-grouped to end the inning with no further damage. Blackley got Dee Gordon to ground out to the first baseman as the runner advanced, then Adam Kennedy flied out to right field.

Atlanta Braves' backup catcher DAVID ROSS (MLB All-Stars 2001) batted 1-3 (.308) as one of their paltry four safe hits in a 0-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
  9 MAY 2012 - GRANT BALFOUR TAKES HIS FIRST WIN!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Grant Balfour
Australian flame thrower GRANT BALFOUR has had better outings in the big leagues and gone unrewarded, so he deserves to enjoy his first win of the season that came when his Oakland Athletics rallied late to overcome the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3. In fact Grant was on the hook for the loss after pitching 1.0ip 2h 1er 1bb 0k, only to see his team mates mount a mighty five run rally in the bottom of the ninth to overturn a 2-3 deficit. Grant came on for the top of the ninth in a 2-2 ballgame and the threat came immediately when Eric Thames spanked a leadoff triple into deep left centre field. He got Brett Lawrie to ground out to the second baseman, then he intentionally walked Colby Rasmus. The second out was in the bank when veteran Omar Vizquel popped up an attempted bunt to the third baseman. Unfortunately Balfour couldn't quite seal the deal when Kelly Johnson plated the go ahead run with his RBI single into right field. He would not have been too happy to end the inning with Younel Escobar grounding into a fielder's choice to the short stop because the Jays had taken the lead with three A's outs remaining. His mood was surely much more buoyant when new team mate Brandon Inge blasted a walkoff grand slam homer to snatch the win a few minutes later! Grant's record was boosted to 1-1, 4.70ERA.

Veteran major league starter KEVIN MILLWOOD (Melbourne Monarchs 1997) took another loss after pitching 5.0ip 8h 5er 5bb 3k for the Seattle Mariners in their 4-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers. 'Big Kev's' record slumped to 0-4, 5.88ERA as he has clearly seen better days.
  8 MAY 2012 - TRAVIS BLACKLEY DOGGED BY DODGERS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Travis Blackley




Vernon Wells
You just had to feel for Australia's seasoned major league pitcher TRAVIS BLACKLEY who was a victim of more than just his own pitching performance while trying to keep his San Francisco Giants afloat in a game where they were steamrolled 1-9 by their arch rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Travis pitched an ugly looking 1.0ip 3h 4r 3er 1bb 0k (9.00ERA) yet I can assure you that he was not nearly as bad as it may have looked on paper. Blackley came into the game to pitch the bottom of the eighth with a runner on first and nobody out, hoping to keep the Giants within reach in a 1-4 game. Just to paint the picture we must remind you of a tried and trusted baseball adage that the ball will always find the weaknesses in the field... and so it was for Blackley here. Tony Gwynn Junior was the first batter he faced and, predictably, he dropped down a sacrifice bunt only to see a routine play botched when stand-in first baseman Buster Posey, an All-Star catcher, booted the ball to leave both runners safe. The speedy Dee Gordon took advantage by dropping down another bunt towards the third baseman only to see relative rookie Conor Gillaspie, who was filling in for Pablo Sandoval at third base, fail to make an out after a wayward throw. With the bases loaded and still none out Blackley was under the blowtorch and things went further downhill when he issued a four pitch walk to Mark Ellis to push across a run. Next Adam Kennedy poked a pinch hit RBI single into right field, followed by Andre Ethier's RBI single into left that saw the wheels falling off the Giants' wagon. Another run scored when Juan Rivera grounded out to the short stop following a wild pitch. The game had disappeared in the rear view mirror by the time that he ended the inning with James Loney and Juan Uribe both grounding out to first. It was a painful inning for San Francisco but, as we said, not all of Blackley's fault... baseball can be a challenge at times!

Former No.1 overall draft selection VERNON WELLS (Sydney Storm 1999) batted 2-4 (.238) to help his Los Angeles Angels to dominate the Minnesota Twins 8-3.
  7 MAY 2012 - JOSH SPENCE TIDY IN LOSS TO MIAMI!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Josh Spence


Geelong native JOSH SPENCE pitched a tidy ninth inning for the San Diego Padres at the end of their 3-6 defeat by the Miami Marlins with 1.0ip 1h 0er 0bb 0k (4.70ERA). Even though the game was nearly out of reach in the top of the ninth, Josh did what was required of him by not allowing the meat of the Marlins lineup to add any more insurance runs. His first pitch claimed high priced free agent Jose Reyes who flied out to centre field ahead of Emilio Bonifacio's single into left field on a full count pitch. He then got Hanley Ramirez to ground out back to the mound for his own assist on a fielder's choice play that erased the lead runner second base. Two pitches later the inning was concluded with Logan Morrison grounding out to the first baseman. His Padres failed to make any inroads in the bottom of the ninth.

VERNON WELLS (Sydney Storm 1999) batted 1-4 (.227) as a minor contribution to the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The reliable DAVID ROSS (MLB All-Stars 2001) also batted 1-4 (.304) to help the red-hot Atlanta Braves to romp 7-2 past the Colorado Rockies.
  6 MAY 2012 - GRANT BALFOUR SAVES FOR No.7!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Grant Balfour
Live arm Aussie GRANT BALFOUR hit back from a rough outing last time to notch his seventh save of the season as he preserved a tight 4-3 win for the Oakland Athletics over the in-form Tampa Bay Rays in a 12 inning epic at Tropicana Field. Balfour was cool amid the heat of the kitchen in Tampa with a poised 1.0ip 1h 0er 0bb 0k (4.40ERA). After Jonny Gomes had put the A's 4-3 ahead with his home run in the top of the 12th, Grant was entrusted with the save in the home half of the inning as the game time ticked past four hours. The pressure was ramped up when he lost a full count battle with B.J Upton who poked a leadoff single into left field to put the tying run aboard with nobody out. Balfour then finished his mission quickly with Carlos Pena popping out to the second baseman then, with a 3-0 count in his favour, Matt Joyce inexplicably grounded into an inning ending double play to the short stop... GAME OVER!

Veteran outfielder VERNON WELLS (Sydney Storm 1999) batted a useful 1-2 (.226) plus two walks to help his Los Angeles Angels to get the better of the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2.
  5 MAY 2012 - TRAVIS BLACKLEY & JOSH SPENCE BOTH TAGGED!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Travis Blackley




Josh Spence


Comeback man TRAVIS BLACKLEY made his second appearance for the San Francisco Giants with an inning of middle relief during their 4-6 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park. Travis did a decent job against the fast-starting 'Brew Crew' in this game with 1.0ip 1h 1er 0bb 1k (3.00ERA). Blackley relieved Cy Young starter Tim Lincecum for the top of the sixth and he got the first out with Alex Gonzalez struck out swinging. Unfortunately, his next pitch to Jonathon Lucroy was crushed for a triple to deep centre field. With a 3-1 lead in the game the Brewers were able to gamble with a surprising squeeze bunt by Travis Ishikawa that scored the run at the expense of a sacrifice fielded by the catcher. Another two pitches had Nyjer Morgan fly out to left field. The Giants battled back to tie the game in the home half of the sixth and if the rally had been just a bit longer Blackley may have swooped for the win!

Australian lefty JOSH SPENCE was the eighth and final pitcher called upon by the San Diego Padres to take the ball in their 8-9 loss to the Miami Marlins after 12 innings. In fact, Josh won't be feeling too good about becoming the losing pitcher when he allowed the winning run to score with an unconvincing 1.0ip 1h 1er 2bb 2k. As it often happens in these situations, the warning sirens were blaring early when Spence issued a five pitch free pass to Hanley Ramirez as the leadoff hitter in the top of the 12th inning. Josh then got Greg Dobbs called out on strikes before the decisive blow followed when Omar Infante blasted a RBI double into deep left field for what proved to be the winning run. With the damage already done he was next asked to give Giancarlo Stanton an intentional walk. At least Spence kept the game within reach when he finished the inning with Steve Cishek bunting into a fielder's choice that he handled himself and then a three pitch swinging strike out of Brett Hayes. There was to be no late heroics for the Padres at home as his record now stands at 0-1, 5.40ERA.

The previous day journeyman veteran KEVIN MILLWOOD (Melbourne Monarchs 1997) took his third loss with 6.1ip 7h 4er 2bb 4k for the Seattle Mariners who were edged 3-4 by the tough Tampa Bay Rays. Millwood's record was left at 0-3, 5.34ERA.
  3 MAY 2012 - TRAVIS BLACKLEY BACK IN THE BIGS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Travis Blackley





Liam Hendriks












Having last pitched in the major leagues with the San Francisco Giants in 2007, TRAVIS BLACKLEY has since plied his trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics and New York Mets, along with stints in Mexico and Korea. Yesterday his career turned full circle when he made a stunning return to the big leagues with the Giants during their 2-3 loss to the Miami Marlins. Following some terrific form as a starter with their 'AAA' Fresno team, Travis earned a call up to the majors as a reliever for San Francisco and he looked right back at home. His first big league outing for five years saw him post a quality 2.0ip 1h 0er 1bb 1k (0.00ERA) as the threw 19 of 31 pitches for strikes. Blackley took over for the top of the sixth and it was a clean inning when he had opposing pitcher Carlos Zambrano fly out to centre field, Jose Reyes ground out to the third baseman and Emilio Bonifacio struck out swinging. 'Trav' had to battle a bit in the seventh after a four pitch walk to Austin Kearns that followed the first out when leadoff batter Hanley Ramirez grounded back to the hill. Omar Infante flied out to centre field but, with two out, he faced runners at the corners when Giancarlo Stanton singled into left field. He emerged unscathed when the dangerous Gaby Sanchez flied out to right field on the very next pitch. Welcome back to the big time Travis Blackley!

One of the youngest starting pitchers in the major leagues, Aussie tyro LIAM HENDRIKS has been quite literally "living the dream" since last season and into this season with the Minnesota Twins big league club. For all that there are always times for a pitcher when he has a day that he might rather forget in terms of results. However, Liam will not be able to forget his latest start that did not go well for him in the Twins 0-9 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. While Liam was getting knocked around early by the Angels hitters, his opponent, Jared Weaver, was on his way to recording the second MLB "NO HITTER" in two weeks. Although 'Flintoff & Dunn' has never sought to be an apologist for Australian baseball or its players, we have some sympathy for our young strike thrower who obviously ran into a "buzz saw" on this occasion and not all of the hits he allowed were off the fat part of the bat... it happens! It all started innocently enough when Kendrys Morales delivered a two out RBI double for one run in the first inning. Three hits, a hit batter and a sacrifice in the second inning posted another two runs for the 'Halos'. As one positive for Hendriks he managed to remove superstar Albert Pujols for the second time to get the leadoff man in the third but, unfortunately, a home run to Morales and three successive singles brought out the hook. A sixth and final earned run for Liam was cashed in after he had been taken out of the game. His line for the day was 2.1ip 9h 6er 0bb 1k as his season record slid to 0-2, 9.00ERA. I've seen Jared Weaver cop similar punishment to that which Liam Hendriks suffered here and perhaps there is a NO HITTER waiting somewhere in Liam's future... we certainly hope so.

  2 MAY 2012 - GRANT BALFOUR BRUISED IN BOSTON!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Grant Balfour
The Oakland Athletics held on for a solid 5-3 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, yet it was not a red letter day for A's closer GRANT BALFOUR who was touched up for 0.1ip 3h 2er 1bb 1k (4.73ERA).
It is a strange baseball phenomenon that closers often struggle for motivation, or for some other reason, in non-save situations and this may have been the case for 'Balf' on this occasion. Pitching with a four run lead to begin the bottom of the ninth he was immediately threatened when Cody Ross doubled into left field. Grant then got Jarrod Saltalamacchia called out on strikes before a Marlon Byrd single placed Boston runners at the corners. Nick Punto worked a full count before taking a walk to load the bases to be followed by Mike Aviles who punched another full count pitch up the middle for a two RBI single. Balfour was then relieved by Jordan Norbeto who preserved the narrower win for Oakland.
  1 MAY 2012 - JOSH SPENCE CLEAN v BREWERS!
Here is an update of what some Aussies and former AMLB imports have been doing in the US major leagues:

Josh Spence

Victorian lefty JOSH SPENCE bounced back well from his troubled last outing with a solid inning of relief for the San Diego Padres, even though they were bossed 3-8 by the Milwaukee Brewers. Josh pitched 1.0ip 0h 0er 1bb 1k (4.76ERA) while throwing ten of 18 total pitches for strikes. Spence took over from Padres' starter Joe Weiland for the top of the sixth and it began with a quick out when Mat Gamel grounded his third straight strike back to the mound for Spence to make his own assist. Next he fought back to strike out the underrated evergreen Alex Gonzalez swinging on a full count after Spence had been down in the count 3-0. A five pitch walk to George Kottaras was a two out blemish although it didn't mean a lot when he took care of opposing pitcher Randy Wolf who also grounded back to the hill for Josh to take another assist for the inning. That was his work done for the day.

Former ABL import star VERNON WELLS (Sydney Storm 1999) made a minor contribution to the Los Angeles Angels narrow 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins by batting 1-3 (.225).

If anyone takes the trouble to contact us with any reasonably substantiated news of interest to AMLB supporters, we will publish this news on this site! Click these to contact Adrian Dunn or Peter Flintoff.