Gomes' double sends Dogs over Saguaros
Brazilian backstop helps Phoenix slow down first-place Surprise
In a league known for its offensive displays, Phoenix's game at Surprise on Monday afternoon featured a relatively sedate seven total runs. No batters collected more than a single hit, but the most telling blow was a two-RBI double by Desert Dogs catcher Yan Gomes in the second inning as Phoenix edged the Saguaros, 4-3.
The Blue Jays prospect was a member of the Desert Dogs taxi squad, which limits him to just two games each week. Gomes' 13th game of the AFL campaign saw the backstop collect his second extra-base hit and his second and third RBIs. He's batting .214 with hits in each of his last three games.
"I was really just trying to get something to drive in the guy [on base]. I got a pitch to hit and it turned into a double," Gomes said. "I've kind of been trying to get it going and I just got a good pitch to swing at."
One of 26 Minor Leaguers born in Brazil, Gomes spent the bulk of the 2011 regular season with Double-A New Hampshire, where he batted .250 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs in 79 games. It was the second full season for the 24-year-old, whom the Blue Jays took out of Barry University in Florida with their 10th-round pick in the 2009 Draft.
After spending most of the fall campaign playing twice a week, Gomes was moved up to the regular roster last week. It's a welcome transition for the Brazilian.
"When you're only playing every three days, it makes it tough to get your timing down," Gomes said of being on the taxi squad. "It's definitely better more people get to see me play. It's a positive to get more at-bats and more playing time."
With just nine games left in the season, Gomes isn't overly concerning himself with results.
"It's always a good thing to have big numbers, but it's important to have good swings and finish strong," he said.
Surprise, which entered the game with the circuit's best record at 20-7, jumped out to an early lead in the first inning as Rangers prospect Mike Olt -- the reigning AFL Player of the Week -- clubbed a two-out, two-run shot, his league-leading ninth home run. The longball gave Olt sole possession of the RBI lead as well, with 32 in 19 games.
Phoenix answered in the top of the second as each of the first four batters reached base. Gomes drove in Corban Joseph and Rob Segedin (both of the Yankees) before scoring on a single by fellow Toronto farmhand Anthony Gose.
The Desert Dogs added a fourth run in the third when Chad Huffman (Indians) doubled and came home on a two-out hit by Segedin.
Both clubs' pitching staffs took over from there, with only an eighth-inning homer by the Saguaros' Kevin Mattison (Marlins) adding to the score.
Phoenix starter David Phelps (Yankees) improved to 1-2 after allowing a pair of runs on three hits over five solid frames. He struck out three and walked one. Indians bullpen prospect Cory Burns notched his first save with a scoreless ninth.
Alex Sanabia (Marlins) suffered his first defeat of the fall, falling to 2-1 after yielding four runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings. He fanned four and walked four, his highest total in six AFL starts.
The loss put a dent in Surprise's efforts to post the best record in AFL history. The 1999 Mesa Solar Sox went 31-13 (.705); the Saguaros are now 20-8 (.714).
John Parker is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.