May 052011
 

It was hard to tell which was colder: the windchill or the Nats bats, as the Potomac Nationals were shut out 3-0 on a blustery Wednesday night in Woodbridge.

Potomac batters pushed just three balls out of the infield (all flyouts), while Myrtle Beach starter Joe Wieland was sensational in striking out 13 in six innings, with 67 of 92 pitches thrown for strikes. He had a no-hitter going through four and a third until J.P. Ramirez lifted a popup that Wieland himself misplayed. Thanks to the scorekeeper’s indifference to questionable interpretation of Rule 10.05a(4), the error was ruled a hit.

Infield singles to second base by Eury Perez in the sixth, via a cricket swing on a ball in the dirt, and Cutter Dykstra in the eighth were the only other hits on the night for Potomac.

But the game was not without moments of fire, as two P-Nats were ejected. The first came in sixth inning as Trevor Holder took exception to field umpire Matt Jones’s call of safe on the footrace between him and Leury Garcia to the first base bag. There was a small scrum as both Holder and first baseman Steve Souza took turns jawing, while players attempted to pull them away but ultimately Holder spiking the ball was the tipping point and sent him packing.

Jeff Kobernus was the second to be ejected, upset with the same umpire’s call made from across the diamond (Cutter Dykstra was on second base at the the time) on a slow roller to third that he appeared to have beaten out. Much like Holder, Kobernus throwing down the helmet made the umpire’s decision to listen or eject a moot point.

With the loss, Potomac drops to 10-15 for the season and heads out for yet another road trip, swinging through North Carolina to face Kinston for four games tonight through Sunday, then Winston-Salem on Monday through Wednesday before heading home next weekend to host Wilmington.

May 042011
 

First rumored here in the comments, just confirmed through my sources, and now officially announced on MiLB.com — Cameron Selik is coming to Potomac.

As the headline says, this is one of several moves that were made today…

• OF Eury Perez was activated from the disabled list

• OF J.R. Higley was returned to Extended Spring Training (XST)

• RHP Dean Weaver was assigned from XST

• LHP Ryan Demmin was sent to XST

Selik last pitched for Hagerstown on Saturday. With Hagerstown traveling today from Georgia to Maryland, and Potomac headed to Kinston tomorrow night, he’s most likely going to make his first High-A start this weekend in North Carolina. So far, there has been no corresponding move to backfill Selik, but if/when that information comes to light, we’ll update this post.

UPDATE: Jeremy Mayo was activated and played last night with Brian Peacock placed on the DL. Cameron Selik was tracking pitches in Woodbridge so it’s apparent that these moves were made much earlier than announced, particularly as Mayo had been spotted in the bullpen earlier this series (though it’s not unusual for inactive guys to stay with the team).

May 042011
 

The Quick Rundown…

Team Yesterday’s Result Today’s Game Pitching Matchup
Syracuse Chiefs Postponed OFF DAY N/A
Harrisburg Senators Won, 3-0 @ Bowie, 7:05 p.m. Brad Meyers (3-1, 2.45) vs.
Mitch Atkins (0-0, 9.00)
Potomac Nationals Lost, 20-6 vs. Myrtle Beach, 7:05 p.m. Trevor Holder (1-2, 6.75) vs.
Joe Wieland (1-2, 2.52)
Hagerstown Suns Won, 8-2 OFF DAY N/A

Syracuse-Rochester — PPD
Oh, look: A rainout! The fifth postponement of the season for Syracuse will force this game to be made up as a doubleheader on Saturday, June 25.

Harrisburg 3 Bowie 0
• Peacock (W, 4-1) 7IP 2H 0R 1BB 8K
• McCoy (H, 3) 1IP 0H 0R 0BB 1K
• Mattheus (S, 4) 1IP 0H 0R 0BB 1K
• Johnson 3-5, 2-2B,
• Lombardozzi 2-5, RBI
• Tucker 3-4, SB

Stellar pitching and solo HRs from Derek Norris and Bill Rhinehart carried the Harrisburg Senators past the Bowie Baysox, 3-0. Brad Peacock, Pat McCoy, and Ryan Mattheus combined for a two-hit shutout, the second in as many nights, with Peacock lowering his ERA to 1.16 and raising his strikeout tally to 36 — both second-best in the Eastern League. The longballs helped mask a poor performance in the clutch as the Sens were just 1-for-12 with RISP and left nine men on base.

Myrtle Beach 20 Potomac 6
• Clegg (L, 1-2) 3⅔ IP 13H 11R 7ER 1BB 1K 1HR
• Demmin 3⅓ IP 2H 1R 1ER 1BB 3K 1HR
• Higley 3-3, R, 2B, BB, RBI
• Leon 2-4, R, 2B, 3-3 SB-CS

See my take on yesterday’s debacle. Or not. We won’t blame you.

Hagerstown 8 Rome 2
• Jordan (ND) 2⅓ IP 3H 1R 1ER 0BB 0K
• Applebee (W, 1-1) 3⅔ 2H 1R 1ER 0BB 0K 1HR
• Graham 2IP 0H 0R 0BB 1K
• Harper 2-5, R, RBI, SB
• Taylor 2-4, 2R, 2-2B, 2RBI

RHP Taylor Jordan’s bid for win #6 was derailed by a line drive off his left elbow, but a five-run 7th secured an 8-2 victory for the Hagerstown Suns, capping another four-game sweep and and winning the season series 8-0. Bryce Harper sparked the rally with bunt single, took second on a walk, and stole third. He came home on a groundout, finishing the game at 2-for-5, which raised his average to .358. Michael Taylor also doubled twice and drove in two and scored two runs. Paul Applebee got the win with one run allowed on two hits and walks over three and 2/3rds innings of relief.

May 032011
 

The Potomac pitchers limited the Myrtle Beach to just eight singles on Tuesday afternoon. The problem were those eight doubles, two triples, and five home runs as the Myrtle Beach lineup had their way with 23 hits in a 20-6 assault and battery.

The trainwreck tenor of  the game was set immediately as the top three Pelican hitters tripled, singled and doubled for a 2-0 lead before a single out was recorded. That out was an ill-advised attempted steal of third with nobody out, the first of three would-be base thieves Sandy Leon would thwart.

After a flyout to the cleanup hitter, there was a brief hope that maybe starter Mitchell Clegg would escape with just a couple of runs. Instead, it was single, double, triple, double for three more runs and a 5-0 deficit.

After extending the lead to 6-0 with a leadoff triple and a sac fly, Potomac returned the favor with a five-run second inning with two singles, two doubles,  a triple, and a couple of run-scoring outs to pull within one at 6-5.

But the hits (and the runs) just kept coming, capped by a grand slam in the fourth that ended Clegg’s outing. Though the last four runs were unearned, that’s the lipstick on the piggish line of 11 runs allowed on 13 hits with one walk and one strikeout over three and 2/3rds.

Ryan Demmin followed Clegg, retiring the last batter of the fourth and getting through the fifth and sixth, but anyone wondering if perhaps luck was being pushed had their suspicions confirmed with a leadoff homer to start the seventh. Demmin would finish the frame after a walk to the second batter, for a final line of 3.1IP 2H 1R 1ER 1BB and 3K, his best outing of the year.

Adam Olbrychowski, coming off a blown save last night, was asked to pitch the eighth, but fared even worse with three runs allowed on three hits and a walk. In the ninth, Jose Lozada took one for the team (and saved the bullpen), allowing the last five runs on five hits without a walk or a strikeout.

The loss drops Potomac to 10-14 for the year and ties the series at 1-1. Trevor Holder (1-2, 6.75) will be tasked with pitching the team to a series victory tomorrow night, opposed by Myrtle Beach’s Joe Wieland (1-2, 2.52)

May 032011
 

The Quick Rundown…

Team Yesterday’s Result Today’s Game Pitching Matchup
Syracuse Chiefs Won, 3-2 vs. Rochester, 2:00 p.m. Tom Milone (1-3, 5.40) vs.
Andy Baldwin (2-2, 7.25)
Harrisburg Senators Won, 2-0 @ Bowie, 7:05 p.m. Brad Peacock (3-1, 1.50) vs.
Steve Johnson (1-0, 0.90)
Potomac Nationals Won, 3-2 vs. Myrtle Beach, 11:05 a.m. Mitchell Clegg (1-1, 4.60) vs.
Robbie Ross (2-1, 2.61)
Hagerstown Suns Won, 5-0 @ Rome, 10:30 a.m. Taylor Jordan (5-0, 2.25) vs.
Carlos Perez (2-2, 4.68)

Syracuse 3 Rochester 2
• Martin (ND) 5⅓ IP 5H 2R 0ER 1BB 1K
• Balester (W, 1-0) 2IP 1H 0R 0ER 1BB 3K
• Bernadina 1-3, 2BB, CS
• Marrero 1-4, BB, RBI

While the Red Wings were able to take a 2-0 lead into the 8th, courtesy of a two-spot on the board in the sixth, the Chiefs fought back scoring one run in the 8th and a pair of runs in the 9th inning. Chris McConnell’s RBI bases-loaded single won the game in walkoff fashion by a score of 3-2. After J.D. Martin allowed six earned runs in his last start, he improved dramatically last night, allowing two runs, both unearned, on five hits and a walk over five and a 1/3 innings. Josh Wilkie and Collin Balester pitched in relief, collectively pitching three and 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on four hits and a walk while striking out five. With three errors committed by Rochester and one by the Chiefs, all five runs of the game were unearned.

Harrisburg 2 Bowie 0
• Tatusko 6⅔ IP 2H 0R 3BB 9K
• VanAllen (H, 2) 1IP 1H 0ER 1BB 2K
• Mattheus (S, 3) 1⅓ IP 1H 0R 0BB 4K
• Tucker 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Lombardozzi 2-4, 2B
• Valdez 1-4, R, HR

Solo home runs by Jesus Valdez in the fourth and Jonathan Tucker in the fifth, gave the Harrisburg a 2-0 lead and three Sens pitchers combined to keep it that way to defeat Bowie. While Ryan Tatusko allowed four runs in his last start, he kept Bowie off the board, pitching six and 2/3rd scoreless innings, allowing only two hits, three walks and striking out nine. Ryan Mattheus also pitched a great game, earning his third save while pitching one and a 1/3rd innings, allowing only one hit and striking out four. Steve Lombardozzi had another stellar game, going 2-for-4 at the plate and hitting his 6th double of the season. He has now raised his season to .306.

Potomac 3 Myrtle Beach 2
• Rosenbaum (ND) 7IP 3H 0R 3BB 4K
• Wort (H, 1) 1IP 0H 0R 1BB 2K
• Olbrychowski (BS, 2) ⅔ IP 2H 2R 2ER 0K 1HR
• Kobernus 1-4, BB, 2SB
• Hood 1-3, BB, RBI

See Sue’s take in the long-awaited return of Last Night In Woodbridge

Hagerstown 5 Rome 0
• McKenzie (W, 2-3) 7IP 4H 0R 1BB 2K
• Eusebio 1IP 0H 0R 0BB 0K
• Harper 3-3, R, 2B, 2BB
• Freitas 3-4, R, 2RBI
• Kelso 2-4, 2R, BB, SB, CS

Bounceback outings was the theme of the night for the starters and Chris McKenzie, who had given up 18 runs in his last three starts over just six innings, was no exception. He threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out two. The Suns would provide him plenty of support with five runs and eleven hits, nine of which were collected by Bryce Harper, David Freitas and Blake Kelso. Wilson Eusebio and Matt Swynenberg each threw a scoreless inning to complete the shutout, which was the sixth thrown by Suns pitchers this season.

May 032011
 

What happens when a stoppable force meets a moveable object?

In a game that neither team played particularly well, the Potomac Nationals scored single runs in the last three innings to not lose, 3-2 against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The two teams combined to leave 19 men on base, collecting just nine hits between them as the pitchers issued 11 walks and the fielders committed five errors.

Myrtle Beach’s Barret Loux, who had beaten Potomac in his previous outing last Wednesday, was the most dominant pitcher of the night. He allowed just an infield hit to Jeff Kobernus in the first inning and struck out 10 over five and 2/3rds innings, mixing in a decent fastball (~88-92) a good change (~80-82) and slow curve (~73-77) that kept the P-Nats bats off-kilter.

Potomac’s Danny Rosenbaum started slow but finished strong, walking three batters in the first three innings, but retiring the last 10 in a row. He is still having difficulty commanding his pitches but got the pot of gold with a rainbow curve to Jeff DiFazio for a called third strike to escape a bases-loaded jam in the third.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the seventh, when Sandy Leon drew a leadoff walk and Myrtle Beach threw away the ensuing sacrifice attempt and handed Potomac the lead with a wild pitch and send the would-be sacrificer, Jose Lozada, to third. There he would stay after a groundout and two strikeouts (with a walk and steal by Jeff Kobernus sandwiched in-between) ended the inning.

The second Potomac run was much more earned, rulebook or otherwise, as Steven Souza doubled to right to lead off the eighth, and newly activated Justin Bloxom sacrificed him to third. J.P. Ramirez slapped a burner to the drawn-in shortstop for the infield hit and RBI.

With Pat Lehman unavailable after a two-inning stint on Sunday, manager Matt LeCroy sent Adam Olbrychowski out for the ninth to secure the win. Three batters later — a flyout, a walk, and a two-run homer — the two teams were tied at 2-2. Olbrychowski would leave three batters later after what was ruled a two-base error and a walk followed a tapper back to the mound. Joe Testa retired the only batter he faced with a caught-looking strikeout.

Down 2-2, the P-Nats were staring at extras when Chris Curran singled with one out, took second when pinch-hitter Francisco Soriano drew a walk, and went to third when Jeff Kobernus beat out a would-be double play ball. Destin Hood sent him home with the gamewinner, an infield hit to deep shortstop that he beat, securing the 3-2 win.

The two teams resume play today with a Tuesday matinee, as Mitchell Clegg is scheduled to pitch against Robbie Ross.

May 022011
 

Earlier today in the comments, it was mentioned that Justin Bloxom is Woodbridge-bound. This morning, Stephen King was promoted to Harrisburg and a very reliable source is telling me that Kyle Morrison has been released to make room. This appears to be a chain reaction to the placement of Michael Aubrey on the 7-Day DL late last week, as Adam Fox has been assigned from Harrisburg to Syracuse.

So to recap:

SYRACUSE
Michael Aubrey to DL

HARRISBURG
Adam Fox promoted to Syracuse

POTOMAC
Stephen King promoted to Harrisburg
Kyle Morrison released

EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING
Justin Bloxom assigend to Potomac

KNEE BONE
Connected to the thigh bone.
Just making sure you’re paying attention

Not reported last week because it was implicit, but when Roger Bernadina was returned to Syracuse when filling in for Ian Desmond, Erik Arnesen was likewise sent back to Harrisburg. As always, if/when I get official word on the moves, this space will be updated.

UPDATE: MiLB.com is now officially reporting the addition of Bloxom and release of Kyle Morrison

May 022011
 

The Quick Rundown…

Team Yesterday’s Result Today’s Game Pitching Matchup
Syracuse Chiefs Lost, 9-6 vs. Rochester, 7:00 p.m. J.D. Martin (0-2, 7.62) vs.
Scott Diamond (1-1, 3.48)
Harrisburg Senators Lost, 8-7 @ Bowie, 7:05 p.m. Ryan Tatusko (0-2, 7.71) vs.
Wynn Pelzer (1-1, 0.95)
Potomac Nationals Won, 5-2 vs. Myrtle Beach, 7:05 p.m. Danny Rosenbaum (1-1, 2.82) vs.
Barret Loux (2-1, 3.72)
Hagerstown Suns Won, 4-0 @ West Virginia, 10:30 a.m. Chris McKenzie (1-3, 12.46) vs.
TBD

Rochester 9 Syrcause 6
• Detwiler (L, 2-1)2⅔ IP 9H 7R 7ER 2BB 0K
• Mandel 2IP 0H 0R 0BB 1K
• Marrero 2-4, 2R
• Flores 2-4, 2B, RBI
• McConnell 2-4, 2B, 2RBI

A six-run third spelled doom for Ross Detwiler and the Syracuse as the Chiefs went down 9-6 to Rochester. Detwiler was chased with two outs in the third, charged with seven runs on nine hits and two walks. The Syracuse ‘pen allowed just two runs the rest of the way, but the offense couldn’t dig out from the 7-3 hole after three. Chris Marrero, Jesus Flores and Chris McConnell each went 2-for-4 to pace the 10-hit attack.

New Britain 8 Harrisburg 7 (10 inn.)
• Davis (ND) 5IP 10H 6R 5ER 1BB 5K
• Arnesen 3IP 2H 1R 1ER 0BB 3K
• Rahl 3-6, R, 2B
• Valdez 3-5, R, 2B, RBI
• Fox 2-5, 2RBI

Harrisburg built a 6-1 lead early, rallied to tie in the 9th, but fell in the botom of the 10th by an 8-7 count. Starter Erik Davis saw his ERA balloon from 1.15 to 3.05 as the spring-training pickup was knocked for six runs on 10 hits and a walk over the first five innings. Five Senators collected multiple hits as Harrisburg pounded out 14 hits, led by leadoff hitter Chris Rahl’s 3-for-5 effort. On three days’ rest from a spot start at Syracuse, Erik Arnesen threw three innings to follow Davis, giving up the go-ahead run. Devan Ivany’s two-out single in the top of the ninth forced extras but New Britain would touch Pat McCoy for a leadoff double in the 10th, then pushed in the gamewinner with a sacrifice and a fielder’s choice.

Potomac 5 Salem 2
• Bronson (W, 1-0) 5IP 2H 1R 1ER 2BB 4K
• Lehman (S, 6) 2IP 0H 0R 2K
• King 2-4, R, 2B
• Peacock 2-4, 2RBI

Potomac jumped out to a 4-0 lead early and cruised to 5-2 win on Sunday, finishing their prolonged 17-game road trip at 7-10. Evan Bronson got the win with five solid innings in his first start of the season, allowing one run on two hits and two walks. Pat Lehman came on with runners on second and third in the eighth and stranded them both, retiring six straight batters for his sixth save of the season. Stephen King and Brian Peacock both went 2-for-4 to lead the Potomac offense. King went 6-for-11 in the series with three doubles.

Hagerstown 4 Rome 0
• Grace (W, 2-3) 6IP 2H 0R 3BB 3K
• McCatty (H, 2) 2IP 1H 0R 1BB 1K
• Manno 1IP 0H 0R 1BB 2K
• Kelso 2-4, R, 2B
• Oduber 1-4, RBI, SB

Like Bobby Hansen two nights before, Matt Grace rebounded from a terrible outing, combining with Shane McCatty and Chris Manno on a three-hit shutout in a 4-0 Hagerstown win over Rome. Grace allowed just two hits and three walks over six innings for his second win, with McCatty tossing two scoreless innings for his second hold. Chris Manno pitched the ninth and struck out two. The great pitching helped mask a mediocre offensive output, as the Suns were just 3-for-16 with RISP. Blake Kelso led the eight-it attack with a single and a double in four at-bats.

May 012011
 

As longtime readers know, I have a soft spot for the independent brand of the game. That’s in part because I was a season-ticket holder to an indy team for the three years prior to my moving to Northern Virginia, but also because it’s a throwback to the way the minors were nearly a hundred years ago. In the days before radio and TV, conservative estimates had more than 400 pro and semipro teams across the U.S., each built to win but also willing to sell its best players to the major leagues to stay afloat, which of course created bidding wars. Thus, the NAPBL was formed to kill the competition and save the owners from themselves organize and professionalize the minors.

Today, the independent teams are still built to win, but the players are no longer sold — though organizations have been known to send (badly needed) equipment as a thank-you. In many ways, the indys have become a thing of chance. For the younger and/or undrafted guys (typically, collegiate ballplayers), it’s a last chance to get noticed. For the older guys, it’s a second chance to get back into the minors. And for the rest, it’s simply a chance to keep playing for the love of the game (Hagerstown folks might remember a MI named Vic Davilla who became the Albert Pujols of the Can-Am League, retiring in 2008 at the age of 35 after 12 seasons in indy ball with a line of .313/.373/.502).

On Friday night, the Atlantic League started up. It’s widely considered the best of the bunch because it has the highest payroll and operates in the larger markets on the East Coast. It’s also the only one without any rules regarding age or service time. Consequently, it attracts AA/AAA talent and sends players back and forth to the majors with the greatest frequency (which it touts) though it’s commonly as a stopgap (which it doesn’t) to keep prospects at the desired level.

Unfortunately, it requires eyeballing the rosters of each and every team to see familiar names, so this feature will be sporadic and will undoubtedly be a bit incomplete. But here’s the players I spotted today, answering for some “Hey, where’d _____ end up?”

Dan Lyons, Long Island Ducks

Yunior Novoa, Lancaster Barnstormers

Jason Botts, York Revolution

May 012011
 

In preparing for the season reviews this fall, I was saving the Nats stats for the month of April when it occurred to me that a monthly leaderboard might not be so bad. Folks over a certain age can remember that the Sunday newspaper sports section was the one time each week you could see how every batter and pitcher was doing in the majors.

Since it’s not compiled elsewhere so succinctly, here’s a look at the team leaders for each of the Nats affiliates, using the standard 2.7PA per game played for batters and 0.8IP per game for pitchers. In bold are the organizational leaders for each category.

STATISTIC SYRACUSE HARRISBURG POTOMAC HAGERSTOWN
AVERAGE Bynum, .253 Lombardozzi, .278 Kobernus, .284 Kelso, .342
ON-BASE PCT Bynum, .326 Johnson, .360 Hood, .418 Harper, .432
SLUGGING Bynum, .422 Lombardozzi, .468 Souza, .558 Harper, .681
HOME RUNS Bynum/Marrero, 3 Moore, 3 Souza, 5 Harper, 6
RBI Bynum, 14 Lombardozzi, 9 Souza, 21 Harper, 19
EARNED RUN AVG Detwiler, 2.22 Peacock, 1.50 Demny, 2.08 Selik, 0.31
WINS Detwiler, 2 Meyers/Peacock, 3 Eight tied at 1 Jordan, 5
SAVES Kimball, 4 Mattheus, 2 Lehman, 5 Mano/Graham, 3
STRIKEOUTS Maya, 26 Meyers, 31 Rosenbaum, 18 Selik, 30
WHIP Stammen, 0.87 Peacock, 0.83 Demny, 1.29 Selik, 0.90