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Baptist befuddles Trappers

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The Minnesota Twins, Salt Lake's parent club, own a 26-30 record. It's pitching staff is giving up an average of 4.20 runs every game, and that's just because Brad Radke is having a sensational year.

Maybe it's time for the Twins to solicit some help. Maybe it's time they look at, and seriously consider, Salt Lake's Travis Baptist.The Buzz pitcher worked the Edmonton batters like they were kids trying to hit a pinata, as the Buzz shelled the Trappers 11-0 Thursday night at Franklin Quest. Baptist would throw what initially looked like a meatball right over the heart of the plate, then jerk it away right at the last second.

The Trapper hitters would gear up and swing with all their might, which only made them look silly when they almost fell to the ground after taking a big cut and coming up empty. It was like Baptist had the baseball attached to an invisible string, jerking it away whenever a Trapper swung.

"His curve ball was really biting tonight," said Buzz manager Phil Roof. "He pitched his heart out."

Baptist went six innings, only allowing four hits while striking out seven. But those types of numbers aren't anything new. While the Buzz pitching staff as a whole has mightily struggled with inconsistency all year, Baptist has maintained the proficiency of a foreign automobile.

In his 10 starts this year, Baptist has compiled a 7-2 record with a Greg Maddux like 1.87 ERA. His runs against average is easily the best on Salt Lake and ranks him second in the Pacific Coast League.

All of which makes you wonder what in the world Minnesota is waiting for? Roof doesn't know what the hold-up is either?

"He has all the right stuff to be pitching in the Big Leagues," said Roof. "And he will be before the end of the year. He's like a Jamie Moyer - can change speeds, has a lot of movement. He knows all the tricks."

Of course, it helps when your team gives you the comfort of pitching with a big lead.

"I'll admit, it's a lot easier to throw with a four of six run lead," said Baptist. "I didn't feel strong tonight, but that probably helped me. It made me keep my fastball down. When I get it up that's when I get hurt."

Utah gave Baptist a comfort zone in the third inning when Esteban Beltre and Scott Stahoviak drove in back-to-back runs, putting the Buzz up 2-0. Salt Lake would add two more in the fifth and four in the sixth, highlighted by Beltre's 2 RBI base knock, to push ahead 8-0.

"We got some good hitting tonight which you need to start off a homestand," said Roof. "I thought we waited for good pitches to hit and when we did we hit the ball hard."

Baptist, meanwhile, didn't see many hard hit balls from his side.

"Travis kept them off balance and never really gave them much to do anything with," said Roof. "He's been doing that all year though. I'm tellin' ya', he's a player."

Ken Ramos added a 3-run blast in the eighth to account for the final score. Salt Lake is now 26-24 and trails division leading Fresno by three games.