Quad-Cities pitchers have been given the green light to try to go the distance.
As of Tuesday, the Houston Astros shifted from the tandem pitching system it used throughout the first three months of the season at all of its minor-league clubs to a more traditional setup which includes a starting rotation and relievers.
Houston’s short-season teams will continue to employ the so-called piggyback system which has pitchers rotating between starting and relief roles, but the River Bandits and high-A Lancaster in the California League are now working with a six-pitcher rotation.
That allows starting pitchers to work beyond five innings with efficient and effective performances.
“That is the next challenge for our guys,’’ River Bandits manager Omar Lopez said. “The goals don’t change but if they have a good start they will be allowed to work deeper into games.’’
Currently, the Quad-Cities rotation includes Colton Cain, Lance McCullers, Vincent Velasquez, Juan Minaya, Jordan Jankowski and Mike Hauschild.
Other pitchers on the staff will move into relief roles and John Neely will continue to work as the team’s closer, where he has converted on 12 of 14 save opportunities.
“The objective with the piggyback was accomplished and now we move forward with a different set-up,’’ Lopez said.
HOME COOKING: When Cedar Rapids outfielder Max Kepler drove home the game-winning run in the Kernels’ win over Peoria with a walk-off single on Sunday, the native of Berlin, Germany, treated his teammates to some home cooking.
The win was Cedar Rapids’ 10th straight to open the second half and as part of a longstanding tradition, reaching that mark means that the Kernels will be treated to a German-style dinner at the Ox Yoke Inn in the Amana Colonies by the club’s board of directors.
Keppler told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that Wiener schnitzel and Sauerbraten would be part of his order, while Kernels third baseman Travis Harrison explained why Cedar Rapids has had the success it has had.
“We pull for each other,’’ Harrison said. “There are no selfish guys on this team. We all just want to win the game.’’
PERSONAL SACRIFICE: It took some sacrifice — three of them to be exact — but Wisconsin’s Alfredo Rodriguez played his way into the Midwest League record book this week.
With three sacrifice bunts Sunday in a game against Kane County, Rodriguez tied a league record shared by several players but a feat which had not been accomplished since June 29, 1993 when Anthony Sylvestri of Kane County had three sacrifices in the same game.
MOVING UP: Midwest League batting leader Devon Travis of West Michigan was promoted by the Tigers over the weekend to high-A Lakeland in the Florida State League.
Travis, a 13th-round pick of Detroit in the 2012 draft and the MVP of last month’s all-star game, was batting .352 when he was promoted.
BOOK SIGNING: The author of “Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere,’’ which tells the story of the Clinton LumberKings’ 2010 season, will host a book signing at Friday’s LumberKings game.
Lucas Mann will be signing during the LumberKings’ 7 p.m. game against Burlington at Ashford University Field. His work, priced at $25, is available for purchase at the Clinton club’s business office.
PASSING THROUGH: Cedar Rapids’ new affiliation with the Minnesota Twins resulted in the Kernels hosting a major-league rehab Monday for the first time since 1998.
Twins starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey earned a win as he works his way back from a back injury, allowing two runs on two hits over six innings. Pelfrey struck out six and did not walk a batter in a 6-3 win over Peoria.
GARCIA STAYS HOT: Former River Bandits outfielder Anthony Garcia earned his second player of the week award in the Florida State League in the past month by batting .429 last week for Palm Beach. Garcia overcame a woeful start to the season to hit .385 for manager Johnny Rodriguez’ team in June.
In the Midwest League, West Michigan’s Jeff Holm was named the batter of the week after going 10-for-26 at the plate last week. He had one double, one triple and two homers during the week.
The league’s pitcher of the week is a reliever, Scott Griggs of Great Lakes. Griggs struck out 15 batters and allowed one hit in eight innings of relief work during the week.
Quad-Cities River Bandits
Today: at Kane County, 6:30 p.m.
Friday: at Kane County, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday: at Kane County, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday: at Kane County, 1 p.m.
Monday: at Kane County, noon
Wednesday: vs. Bowling Green, 7 p.m. (John Deere Classic Celebration, Golf Night, Pay your Bill Wednesday)
Today: vs. Burlington, 7 p.m. (Fourth of July Regalia Manufacturing giveaway, postgame fireworks)
Friday: vs. Burlington, 7 p.m. (iWireless/WQAD LumberKings t-shirt giveaway)
Saturday: vs. Cedar Rapids, 6 p.m. (Jewel-Osco/Quad-Cities CW giveaway, Ed Randall Bat for the Cure, postgame concert with Down 24)
Sunday: vs. Cedar Rapids, 2 p.m. (Family Day, All Faiths Day)
Monday: vs. Cedar Rapids, 7 p.m. (Mouthwatering Monday concessions discounts, Miller Manic Monday)
Wednesday: at West Michigan, 6 p.m.
BY THE NUMBERS
If nothing else, Quad-Cities has been consistent. The River Bandits have won 15 games in each of the first three months of the season, going 15-8 in April, 15-15 in May and 15-11 in June.
Clinton’s team batting average in June continues a season-long climb. After batting .245 as a team in April, the LumberKings hit .271 in May before reaching the .281 mark last month to climb into third in hitting among Midwest League clubs with a .267 average for the season.
COMING TO THE QC
Taylor Guerrieri: The Bowling Green pitcher will join the River Bandits’ Carlos Correa at the Futures Game later this month. A first-round pick of the Rays in 2011 and the second-rated prospect in the Tampa Bay organization, Guerrieri is 6-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 13 starts for the Hot Rods.
Andrew Toles: An outfielder, Toles is currently batting .306 for Bowling Green. He leads the Midwest League with 42 stolen bases and ranks second in the league with 94 hits and nine triples this season. The Georgia native was a third-round pick of the Rays in 2012 out of Chipola Junior College.
The top-hitting former River Bandit in the major leagues this season is St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter, whose .322 average ranks seventh in the majors.
Carpenter played for Quad-Cities in 2009, batting .295 in 29 games for the River Bandits in the second of the three stops he made that season in the Cardinals farm system after being drafted out of TCU.