Aug 312012
 

For most of the Nationals’ existence, the September call-ups have represented the hope of better things to come, especially in the wake of last-place finishes in five of their first six seasons. Most years, it was an audition for making the club the next spring — John Lannan in 2007, Shairon Martis in 2008, Ian Desmond in 2009, Wilson Ramos in 2010, Steve Lombardozzi in 2011*, etc.
*Honorable mention to Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock, too, since their September showcase helped make the pickup of Gio Gonzalez possible

Well, things have changed. The better things have come. And thus, the endgame has changed.

The “five or six” guys that have been promised to play in DC this September aren’t necessarily auditioning — they’re gonna be asked to add depth to the bench, pinch hit, perhaps mop up in the ‘pen. Starting assignments, with a couple of notable exceptions, aren’t terribly likely.

Who they gonna call? Well, let’s take a look:

John Lannan — Cheap and easy, just the way we like… to make predictions. Back-to-back shutouts is just gravy. And of course getting the nod the past two times the parent club has needed a pitcher for a doubleheader makes this an easy call. He’s expected to replace Stephen Strasburg in the big-club rotation.

Sandy Leon — A third catcher is de rigeur for contenders in September. A foundering backup (Jesus Flores) may be also be served notice, particularly when this Venezuelan backstop has a 46% CS rate and can switch-hit. I’d expect him to get at least a start per week, perhaps more if the team can clinch before the final weekend.

Eury Perez — As noted in the comments, Perez was nearly a given to get a look as a defensive replacement and a pinch-runner; hitting safely in 37 of 40 games at AAA and doubling his walk rate might actually garner him some starts.

Corey Brown — Brown is still on the 40-man and can serve many of the same functions as Perez, but with a bit more pop and adds another lefthanded bat off the bench.

Carlos Rivero — Working against Rivero is the possibility that ineffective but experienced veteran Mark DeRosa will get activated instead, but like Brown, he’s on the 40-man and as we know, Rizzo makes 40-man moves less often than he goes to the barber. Remember that before mentioning Zach Walters in the comments.

Mike MacDougal — That “said,” if ever there was a guy that Rizzo would add then jettison, it’s Mike MacDougal — veteran reliever who can work in a variety of situations, but mostly he’d be asked to spell a bullpen that’s been ridden hard all season long. This is purely a gut pick.

Other Possibilities
• Chris Marrero
• Yunesky Maya
• Jhonatan Solano

All three are on the 40-man but have big strikes against them. Marrero has been battling a bum hamstring and hasn’t exactly lit it up since returning to Syracuse two weeks ago. Maya isn’t likely to start, thus his best role is long relief, which doesn’t get the kind of work it used to get in DC these days. Solano is rehabbing from an injury and isn’t going to be chosen unless Leon gets hurt.

Not Gonna Happen
• Anthony Rendon
• Christian Garcia
• Ryan Perry
• Chien-Ming Wang

When Rendon got the call to Harrisburg two weeks ago, there was breathless typing about him getting a look this September. Since then, nearly every reputable source outside of the Natmosphere has dismissed that as talk-radio blather. Christian Garcia seemed like the “mystery guy” that manager Davey Johnson alluded to in some pressers, but his surprise invite to the AFL seems to take him off the table. Likewise for Ryan Perry

And Wang? Well, my favorite J-school professor taught me that it’s always good to end a column with a joke, and the idea of a has-been that can’t get AA batters out being sent up is pretty damn laughable.

Aug 312012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 2-0 @ Lehigh Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Mandel (5-5, 2.70) vs.
Brummett (4-5, 3.18)
Harrisburg Lost, 5-4 vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Pucetas (7-5, 3.35) vs.
Pettit (10-3, 3.93)
Potomac Lost, 3-1 @ Carolina,
7:15 p.m.
Swynenberg (6-5, 5.19) vs.
Suarez (0-0, 2.45)
Hagerstown Lost, 12-2 vs. Asheville,
7:05 p.m.
Schwartz (1-1, 3.34) vs.
Jensen (12-3, 4.34)
Auburn Lost, 8-6 @ Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Fischer (3-3, 4.40) vs.
Morel (2-5, 4.85)

Syracuse 2 Charlotte 0
• Lannan 9IP, 8H, 0R, 0BB, 10K
• Hoffpauir 2-3, 2B, RBI
• Carroll 2-4, R, 2B

The reigning I.L. pitcher of the week is making a bid for a repeat honors, as John Lannan tossed an eight-hit shutout for a 2-0 Syracuse win, its third straight. The 27-y.o. southpaw gave up eight singles but no walks and struck out a season-high 10 batters in his final start for the Chiefs. Next stop: Washington. Jarrett Hoffpauir went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI to lead the Syracuse offense, despite getting ejected in the bottom of the 5th.

Richmond 5 Harrisburg 4
• Broderick (ND) 6IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Frias 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Nelo (BS, 4; L, 1-6) ⅓IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 0K, HR
• Solano 2-4, R
• Bynum 1-3, R, 2B, BB, RBI

Make that 25 one-run losses as the Senators coughed up a walkoff loss in Richmond, 5-4. Hector Nelo blew his fourth save and took his sixth loss, giving up a leadoff homer in the 9th to achieve the former, then three singles and a walk with one out to earn the latter. The implosion handed a no-decision to Brian Broderick, who pitched six frames, gave up six hits and allowed three runs, no walks, and struck out two.

Carolina 3 Potomac 1
• Gilliam (L, 1-2) 7IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, BB, 3K, HR
• McCatty 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Souza 2-2, R, BB, SB
• Fernandez 1-3
• Hague 1-4, 2B

After making the playoffs in three of the last four seasons (2008, 2010, 2011), the Potomac Nationals will be going home after Labor Day, thanks to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Mudcats. Starter Rob Gilliam turned in quality start of three runs allowed over seven innings on seven hits and a walk. The offense, however, was held to just four hits and put just three runners into scoring position; the lone run coming in the 2nd on a Steve Souza Jr. leadoff single, a steal of second with an error on the throwout attempt to take 3rd, and a wild pitch to send P-Nat outfielder home.

Greensboro 12 Hagerstown 2
• Rauh (L, 3-3) 2IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 0K
• Bates 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Burns 3-4, R, SB
• Ramsey 2-3, 2B

With seven runs in the first four innings, first-half champs Greensboro made a 12-2 statement to Hagerstown, should the Suns survive the weekend. The Grasshoppers jumped all over starter Brian Rauh for five runs on seven hits and three walks over the first two innings to hand the 21-y.o. his third loss at Low-A. The bullpen fared no better as only Colin Bates emerged unscathed from the 12-run, 18-hit onslaught. Billy Burns (3-for-4) led the Suns offense with three singles and a stolen base. The loss, combined with a wins by Hickory and West Virginia, holds the magic number steady at four with four games to play. Hagerstown finishes up the regular season with a four-game set against playoff-bound Asheville starting tonight at Municipal Stadium.

Mahoning Valley 8 Auburn 6
• Pineyro 3⅔ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 3K, HR
• Harper (H, 3; L, 0-1) 1⅓ IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 2K
• Medina (BS, 1) ⅔ IP 1H, R, ER, BB, 2K, 2-2 IR-S
• Martinez 3-5, R, 2B
• Schill 2-5, R
• Ramos 1-3, 2BB, 2RBI

That uneasy feeling isn’t that convenience-store hot dog you ate last night, it’s the realization by now that with Auburn’s 8-6 loss to Mahoning Valley, the Nationals farm just might get shut out of the postseason. The Scrappers rallied for four runs in the bottom of the 8th against relievers Bryan Harper (loss) and Silvio Medina (blown save). Starter Ivan Pineyro was touched for four runs on six hits, including a three-run home run in the 4th that erased an early 4-1 Doubledays lead. Estarlin Martinez led the 10-hit Auburn offense with a double and two singles and a run scored. Like the Suns, the Doubledays magic number remained unchanged at six, with the second-place Muckdogs winning for the sixth straight game. NYPL wild-card leader Brooklyn lost to stay tied with Auburn at 42-28. Roster moves: LHP Blake Monar placed on the 7-day DL, retroactive to Au. 28; RHP Ronald Pena has been recalled from the GCL Nationals.

Aug 302012
 

Rather than wait until, say, after the regular season, multiple leagues have begun issue the press releases for the postseason awards, perhaps because Labor Day is so early this year.

Here’s a rundown of how the Nationals farmhands have been honored thus far…

GCL
Matt Foat was named to the GCL’s All-Star team at second base, the lone G-Nat to make the squad. The 22-year-old NDFA posted a line of .333/.404/.401 in 43 games. He signed on June 11, after a breakout season at USC in which he hit .323 with 3HR and 27RBI in 54 games.

SALLY LEAGUE
To no one’s surprise, Matt Skole was named the League’s MVP and starting 3B for his .286/.438/.574 marks over 101 games, which included 27HRs and will likely be good enough to earn him the HR title as well. He’s also the focus of John Sickels’s prospect report today.

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE
As noted a couple of days ago, Corey Brown and Carlos Rivero were named to the International League’s All-Star team at outfield and and third base, respectively. Both are acquisitions under Rizzo, with Brown coming in the December 2010 Washington-Oakland trade and Rivero getting claimed in December 2011 on waivers from Philadelphia.

The Carolina and Eastern Leagues have issued their postseason awards, but no Nationals were honored. The New York-Penn League has not yet announced its awards.

Aug 302012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 3-2;
Won, 7-5
@ Charlotte,
7:15 p.m.
Lannan (8-11, 4.58) vs.
Carroll (3-6, 5.15)
Harrisburg Lost, 3-2 @ Richmond,
7:05 p.m.
Broderick (2-0, 4.24) vs.
Fitzgerald (7-8, 3.20)
Potomac Lost, 6-2 @ Carolina,
7:15 p.m.
Gilliam (1-1, 4.66) vs.
Cooper (8-7, 3.83)
Hagerstown Lost, 4-0 @ Greensboro,
7:00 p.m.
Rauh (3-2, 3.93) vs.
Heaney (0-2, 5.79)
Auburn Won, 6-4 @ Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Pineyro (3-1, 3.21)
Merritt (3-4, 4.02)

Syracuse 3 Charlotte 2 — GAME ONE
• Duke (W, 15-5) 5⅔ IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 4K, HR
• Garcia (SV, 12) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Walters 2-2
• Teahen 2-3, R, RBI

The Chiefs broke a 0-0 tie with two in the 5th and tacked on one in the 6th to take the first game, 3-2. Starter Zach Duke won his 15th game with both Knights runs allowed on seven hits with no walks and four K’s. Christian Garcia worked the last of the 7th and kept Charlotte off the board for his 12th AAA save. Zach Walters and Mark Teahen combined for four of the eight Syracuse hits, which included Eury Perez extending his hit streak to 16 games while stealing his 20th base as a Chief.

Syracuse 7 Charlotte 5 — GAME TWO
• Maya 4IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 5K
• Arnesen (W, 3-3) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• MacDougal (SV, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Brown 2-3, R, 3B, BB, RBI
• Valdez 2-4, 2R, 2B, HR, 2RBI

Syracuse scored seven times in the last three innings to overcome a 4-0 deficit and sweep the doubleheader with a 7-5 win. Starter Yunesky Maya got knocked around for four runs on six hits and two walks over four innings. Erik Arnesen got the win and Mike MacDougal the save as each tossed a scoreless inning in relief. The Chiefs racked up 11 hits, with Jesus Valdez homering and Mark Teahen driving in three. Eury Perez went 2-for-5 to push his streak to 17 games amd raise his average to .331 in 40 games with Syracuse.

Richmond 3 Harrisburg 2
• Perry 6IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 6K
• McCoy (L, 7-3) ⅓ IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K
• Tucker 2-3, R, BB
• Lozada 1-3, R

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west… and the Sens lose by one run. Might not be what you learned in school, but it sure seems that way as Harrisburg dropped a 3-2 ballgame in Richmond, losing by a single run for the 24th time in 2012. Pat McCoy took the loss by giving up a run on three hits in the 7th, a half-inning after Harrisburg tied the game at 2-2. Starter Ryan Perry gave up two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out six over six innings but got the no-decision. Jonny Tucker singled twice and walked once to lead the Harrisburg offense.

Carolina 6 Potomac 2
• Hill (L, 0-1) 6⅓ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 4K, HR
• Holland ⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 1-1 IR-S
• Sanchez 3-4, R, 2B, 2SB (24,25)
• Ramirez 1-3, R, 2B

A pair of two-run rallies by Carolina in the 7th and 8th innings was the difference as Potomac fell, 6-2. Taylor Hill fared much better in his second High-A start, pitching into the 7th inning but took the loss. He was charged with four runs on six hits but no walks and four strikeouts over six and a 1/3rd innings. Adrian Sanchez paced the P-Nats offense with two singles, a double, and two stolen bases. The loss combined with a Wilmington win lowered the tragic number to one, meaning the next Blue Rocks win or the next P-Nats loss will eliminate Potomac from the postseason for the first time since 2009.

Greensboro 4 Hagerstown 0
• Jordan (L, 3-3) 5IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, K, HR
• Kreis 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Miller 1-2
• Montilla 1-3

Hagerstown’s six-game win streak was stopped cold with a 4-0 shutout in Greensboro. The Suns were held to just four hits and three walks, two of which were drawn by veteran 1B Brett Newsome, the sole Hagerstown batter to reach base twice. Taylor Jordan took the loss, giving up all four Grasshopper runs on seven hits over five innings, walking none and striking out one. The magic number to clinch remains at four as second-place Hickory won while third-place West Virginia lost.

Auburn 6 State College 4
• Hudgins 1⅔ IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, K
• Davis (W, 4-1) 3⅓ IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K, 3-0 IR-S
• Henke (H, 5) 3IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 6K
• Self (SV, 12) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• McQuillan 3-4, 2R, 2B, 2-3B, BB, 2RBI
• Miller 1-3, 2B, 2BB

If there’s a tragedy to the NYPL this season, it’s that a very good team is going to be on the outside looking in when the postseason starts. For now, that’s the Batavia Muckdogs, which won its fifth straight and 40th overall (.580 W%) but remains two games behind the Auburn Doubledays, which won its fourth straight with a 6-4 win over the State College Spikes. Will Hudgins struggled in his first SS-A start, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks over an inning and a 1/3rd. Cody Davis stranded the bases loaded in the 2nd and went three more frames to get the win. Leadoff man Mike McQuillan only stopped at first the two times he drew walks, doubling once and tripling twice to pace the Auburn offense, which scored only six runs after 28 in the previous two games. The Doubledays magic number is now six with seven games to play. In the event that Batavia overtakes Auburn, the Doubledays would need to finish ahead of current wild-card leader Brooklyn (which has the same 42-27 mark) to earn the fourth playoff spot, as the Cyclones hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with a series sweep earlier this month. Roster moves: LHP Andrew Wall placed on the 7-Day DL (strained calf); RHP Robert Benincasa activated from the 7-Day DL.

Aug 292012
 

Despite the increased number of single-A exceptions afforded to them, the Nationals 2012 Arizona Fall League selections will still have a Rule 5/40-Man Evaluation feel to it, particularly among the pitchers.

Here’s a look at who’s been named to play for the Salt River Rafters, per multiple online sources:
• RHP Christian Garcia
• RHP Ryan Perry
• 3B/SS Jason Martinson*
• RHP Paul Demny
• 3B Anthony Rendon
• CF Brian Goodwin
*Taxi squad, eligible to play twice per week

This does not come as a shock, of course. As I wrote roughly 25 hours ago: “[W]hat remains to be seen is whether those exceptions will be used or whether teams will still game the system to send Rule 5 candidates that they haven’t made up their minds on.” There are still two slots available, one for a pitcher, the other an infielder, according to Byron Kerr of MASN.

What does seem certain is that neither Alex Meyer nor Nathan Karns will be going — Mike Rizzo said that Meyer was done for the year in today’s radio appearance on 106.7FM. It’s probably also a good bet that Matt Purke will not be sent either [insert insinuation of possible surgery here].

Given that the unfilled pitcher slot is probably going to a reliever, the most logical bets are: Rob Wort, Trevor Holder, and the Pats McCoy and Lehman (listed in order of likelihood in my opinion).

Likewise, if indeed an infielder is chosen to fill out the position-player contingent, the most likely candidates are Jeff Kobernus and Matt Skole. Kobernus had a rib fractured by a thrown pitch in late July, but could conceivably be ready to go by the October 9 start. Kobernus is also eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

Less likely candidates include Zach Walters and Carlos Rivero. Walters was sent last year, but repeats aren’t very common. Rivero seems more likely to be a September callup, but if he’s not, his odds still seem rather slim, given that few AAA players have been sent under Rizzo’s stewardship.

A month ago, Ricky Hague would have garnered a mention, but a reliable source has indicated to me that he won’t be going. Skole should certainly merit consideration, given his strong year offensively, though it’s also conceivable that he’ll be spending instrux learning a new defensive position (that’s purely speculation, unless it turns out I’m right ;-) which would make it unlikely to have him play the new position at that level so soon (unless he’s allowed to DH, which is possible).

If it’s not an infielder, the only logical choice would be Destin Hood, another Rule 5 candidate, but one who’s young and been hurt for long stretches this season. But he is also just a year remove from a breakout season and did play at AA all season long.

To play devil’s advocate, with most of the organization’s top pitching prospects unavailable due to injury, surgery, or innings limitation, the Nationals have little choice but to send older pitchers. Sending guys strictly by age or level would be a farce unless it was mandated by the rules. So like the late Spike, I’m a little uninspired by the choices, but I do understand them.

Aug 292012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed @ Charlotte,
6:15 p.m. (DH)
Duke (14-5, 3.52) and
Maya (11-9, 3.58) vs.
Leesman (12-9, 2.46) and
Zaleski (6-5, 3.77)
Harrisburg Won, 2-1 @ Richmond,
7:05 p.m.
Perry (2-4, 2.82) vs.
Kickham (11-10, 2.91)
Potomac Won, 4-1 @ Carolina,
7:15 p.m.
Hill (0-0, 9.82) vs.
Roberts (4-9, 5.91)
Hagerstown Won, 8-0 @ Greensboro,
7:00 p.m.
Jordan (3-2, 3.19) vs.
Lyman (2-6, 6.46)
Auburn Won, 16-4 @ State College,
7:05 p.m.
Hudgins (0-0, 0.00)
Sampson (0-1, 2.63)

Syracuse vs. Charlotte — PPD
Rain forced a postponement and created a doubleheader for the Chiefs and Knights tonight in Charlotte. Meanwhile, Carlos Rivero and Corey Brown were both named to the International League’s 2012 postseason All-Star team at 3B and in the OF, respectively.

Harrisburg 2 Richmond 1
• Holder 5IP, 7H, R, ER, 2BB, K
• Frias (W, 4-4) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Tatusko (SV, 1) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Bloxom 2-4, RBI
• Rendon 1-3, R, 3B, BB

The tables turned on Harrisburg as a cheap run in the 8th proved to be difference in a 2-1 win over Richmond, ending a four-game losing streak. Jose Lozada reached on a forceout, stole second and came in on two wild pitches with two outs to score the gamewinner. Marcos Frias got the win with a scoreless 7th in relief of starter Trevor Holder, who scattered seven hits over five innings and allowed one run, walked two, and struck out two. Justin Bloxom was the sole Senator to collect multiple hits with a 2-for-4 effort.

Potomac 4 Carolina 1
• Grace (W, 9-12) 6IP, 6H, R, ER, 2BB, 6K, HR
• Barrett (H, 2) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Wort (SV, 12) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Keyes 2-4, R, 2B, HR(20), 2RBI
• Skole 2-4, R, 2B, 2RBI
• Sanchez 2-4, R, 2B

Potomac finally got a win in North Carolina, ending an 0-16 run with a 4-1 victory over Carolina. The Nos. 1-4 batters accounted for all seven hits, with Kevin Keyes leading the charge with a double (27), a home run (20), and two RBI (74, 75). Matt Grace finished up a strong August with one run on six hits (yep, a home run) with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings for his third win in his last four starts and an ERA of 3.00 for the month. Potomac’s elimination number fell to three with Wilmington’s 6-5 win over Myrtle Beach, making a sweep-or-go-home scenario in Delaware this weekend even more likely.

Hagerstown 8 Greensboro 0
• Estevez 4IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 4K, 2WP
• Holt (W, 4-2) 3IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Eusebio 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Ortega 3-4, 3R, 2B, 3B, HR
• Dykstra 3-4, RBI

Three Hagerstown hurlers combined on a three-hit shutout as the Suns won their sixth straight game, 8-0. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez got the start and went the first four, giving up a walk and two hits. Greg Holt got the win with three perfect innings of relief while Wilson Esuebio gave up a hit and a walk over the final two frames. Bryce Ortega doubled, tripled, homered, and drove in four to lead the Hagerstown offense, which pounded out 13 hits total. The win, combined with a loss by Hickory, lowered the Suns magic number to four with six games to play

Auburn 16 State College 4
• Lee (W, 2-1) 5IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 5K
• Medina 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Lopez 3-5, 4R, BB
• Kieboom 3-6, 2B, RBI

Auburn picked up where they left off last night and continued to pummel State College, 16-4, for a third straight win. Every starter had at least one hit, seven had two, and Carlos Lopez and Spencer Kieboom both had trifectas as the Doubledays skewered the Spikes moundsmen for 18 hits total. Nick Lee got the win with three runs allowed on four hits and four walks over five innings. He also struck out five. The win lowered Auburn’s magic number to seven with eight to play, including two against second-place Batavia, which swept a doubleheader to remain two behind.

Aug 282012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-2 @ Charlotte,
7:15 p.m.
Duke (14-5, 3.52) vs.
Leesman (12-9, 2.46)
Harrisburg Lost, 8-6 @ Richmond,
7:05 p.m.
Holder (3-3, 4.46) vs.
Heston (9-6, 2.12)
Potomac OFF DAY @ Carolina,
7:15 p.m.
Grace (8-12, 5.30) vs.
Jimenez (8-8, 5.19)
Hagerstown OFF DAY @ Greensboro,
7:00 p.m.
Estevez (5-1, 5.79) vs.
Hodges (8-8, 3.60)
Auburn Won, 12-1 @ State College,
7:05 p.m.
Lee (1-1, 3.83) vs.
Rodriguez (3-2, 3.32)

Charlotte 6 Syracuse 2
• Roark (L, 6-17) 6IP, 10H, 5R, 2ER, 0BB, 5K
• Severino 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Leon 1-3, R, 2B, BB, RBI
• Marrero 1-3, R, BB

A three-run 3rd would prove to be enough as the Knights inflicted more than a flesh wound on the Chiefs, winning the game 6-2 and eliminating Syracuse from the I.L. playoffs. Starter Tanner Roark surrendered 10 hits for five runs (two earned) over six innings to lose his 17th game. He walked none and struck out five. Chris Marrero and Sandy Leon both went 1-for-3 with a walk while Eury Perez extended his hit streak to 15 with a bunt single in the 3rd.

Richmond 8 Harrisburg 6
• Wang 5IP, 9H, 6R, 6ER, BB, 3K, HR
• Demny (L, 6-8) ⅔IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 2K
• Nicol 2-3, R, RBI
• Solano 2-4, R, RBI

After overcoming a five-run deficit courtesy of Chien-Ming Wang to take a 6-5 lead, the Harrisburg offense ground to a halt in the late innings and fell to Richmond, 8-6. Facing the worst offense in the Eastern League, Wang was hammered for six runs on nine hits and a walk over five innings and struck out three. He also gave up his fifth HR in eight starts with the Senators. Sean Nicol, who replaced Seth Bynum on defense during the middle of an at-bat in the 3rd inning, led the Senators offense with a 2-for-3 game, followed closely by Jhonatan Solano’s 2-for-4 effort. No explanation was given for Bynum’s replacement, according to Patriot-News beat writer Geoff Morrow.

POTOMAC NATIONALS — OFF DAY
With Wilmington’s win in the sole game in the Carolina League on Monday night, the tragic number for Potomac fell to four with seven games to play in the states of North Carolina and Delaware, where the P-Nats are a “perfect” 0-for-23 this season. The P-Nats trail the Blue Rocks by three games, the Keys by two games, and the Hillcats by a ½ game. Despite playing Wilmington in the final three games, Potomac does not control its own destiny, as Lynchburg can still win the second half title in addition to needing to surpass both Frederick and Wilmington in the standings if that happens. Also, with cancellations for both the Keys and P-Nats last Sunday, it’s possible for those two teams to tie atop the Carolina League North and finish a ½ game ahead of the Hillcats and Blue Rocks. Should that happen, there will be a one-game play-in game with Frederick hosting Potomac. Roster moves: RHP Alex Meyer placed on 7-Day DL, RHP Shane McCatty activated from 7-Day DL.

HAGERSTOWN SUNS — OFF DAY
Unlike Potomac or Auburn, Hagerstown is more comfortably positioned to make the playoffs with a four-game lead in loss column and a three-game lead in the Sally League’s Northern Division. The three top teams each have seven games left, but the two cancellations the Suns have had in August positions them to possibly win on percentage points with 68 maximum games in the second half to 70 for the Crawdads and Power.

Auburn 12 State College 1
• Encarnacion (W, 5-1) 6IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 4K
• McGeary 2IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 3K
• Pleffner 3-5, 2R, BB, HR, RBI
• Lopez 3-4, R, 3RBI, E(13)

A seven-run top of the 1st made the outcome of this one a no-doubter as Auburn blasted State College, 12-1. Pedro Encarnacion won his fifth game with just two hits and a walk given up over six innings. The Doubledays pounded out 16 hits with every batter hitting safely and five collecting multiple hits, with Shawn Pleffner and Carlos Lopez both collecting three hits. Batavia was rained out, thus the Auburn lead is 2½ games and the magic number to win the division is down to eight.

Aug 272012
 

Caleb Ramsey has been named the South Atlantic League’s Batter of the Week for the week of August 20 to 26, the second Nationals farmhand to be honored this week.

Ramsey batted safely in five of six games during the week, collecting 10 hits and five extra-base hits, with a pair of doubles, a trio of triples and 10 RBI while scoring five runs and drawing two walks.

He’s the second Sun to earn the Sally League’s Batter of the Week honors, following Steve Souza Jr. (July 2-8). Alex Meyer earned Pitcher of the Week honors for the week of June 11-17.

The 2011 eleventh-round pick out of the University of Houston is batting .324/.407/.465 for the month of August and has played in 120 of the Suns 130 games thus far.

Aug 272012
 

John LannanJohn Lannan became the latest Syracuse pitcher to win the International League Pitcher of the Week award for the period of August 20-26, following Zach Duke (Aug. 6-12) and Tanner Roark (Jul. 23-29), on the strength of his three-hit shutout against Gwinnett on Saturday.

Lannan needed just 87 pitches to cut the gem, throwing 60 for strikes and facing just 29 batters while walking one and striking out two in the 1-0 contest. Presumably, he was a in a better mood afterwards than in the picture above.

Lannan is a 2005 11th-round draft pick out of Siena College who vaulted from High-A Potomac to DC in 2007 with a 12-3, 2.31 ERA performance in the minors and a 2-2, 4.15 mark in the majors. He’s expected to return to the Washington rotation soon, having won both spot starts in July and August.

Lannan is the fourth Syracuse Chief to win the I.L.’s weekly honors, with Corey Brown winning Batter of the Week for May 21-27.

Aug 272012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 7-0 @ Charlotte,
7:15 p.m.
Roark (6-16, 4.57) vs.
Axelrod (7-5, 2.88)
Harrisburg Postponed @ Richmond,
7:05 p.m.
Wang (1-4, 5.17) vs.
Westcott (11-10, 4.03)
Potomac Lost, 10-7 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Cancelled OFF DAY N/A
Auburn Won, 4-0 @ State College,
7:05 p.m.
Encarnacion (4-1, 4.28) vs.
Creasy (0-4, 4.99)

Syracuse 7 Gwinnett 0
• Mandel (W, 5-5) 9IP, 6H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Leon 3-4, 2-2B, BB, RBI
• Rivero 3-5, R, 2RBI
• Johnson 2-4, 2R, BB, SB

Jeff Mandel followed the lead of John Lannan and spun a six-hit shutout on Sunday night, but had much more margin for error as the score was 7-0 Syracuse over Gwinnett. Mandel walked none and struck out four, throwing 102 pitches and 69 for strikes for his fifth AAA win. Sandy Leon went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a walk and an RBI to lead the Chiefs offense, which pounded out 12 hits and drew five walks. Carlos Rivero was close behind a 3-for-5 effort and drove in two. Eury Perez tripled to extend his hit streak to 14 games.

Bowie vs. Harrisburg — PPD
Rain postponed the finale of the four-game series turning it into a three-game sweep for the Baysox. The Senators head down the road to Richmond for four games before returning to Harrisburg for what will now be a five-game series, with this game being made up as part of a doubleheader on Saturday.

Frederick 10 Potomac 7
• Ray (L, 4-12) 3⅓ IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 4BB, 4K, 2HR
• Olbrychowski 3IP, 4H, 0R, 2BB, 3K, 1-0 IR-S
• Skole 2-4, 2B, BB, 2RBI
• Kelso 2-5, R, 2RBI
• Keyes 2-4, 2R, 2B, BB

One winning streak was stopped while another losing streak was extended as the P-Nats fell to the Keys, 10-7. The loss snapped a five-game run for Potomac but continued starter Robbie Ray’s August swirl with his fifth loss in as many starts. The 20-year-old southpaw gave up a pair of home runs, including a three-run blast in the first and five runs total on four hits and four walks over three and a 1/3rd innings. The nos. 2, 3, 4 batters Blake Kelso, Matt Skole, and Kevin Keyes combined for six hits, three runs, two doubles, two walks and four RBI as Potomac pounded out 10 hits and drew six walks (three by Steve Souza). The loss lowered the P-Nats’ tragic number to five with seven games to play, including three against the current first-place Wilmington, which split a doubleheader with Lynchburg and leads Potomac by 2½, Lynchburg by two, and Frederick by a ½ game in the somebody-has-to-win-this (right?) Carolina League’s Northern Division.

Hagerstown vs. Delmarva — CANCELLED
Hagerstown was leading 1-0 in the top of the 3rd when the rains came, forcing the final meeting between these two teams to be cancelled. This is the second cancellation in the second half, setting up the possibility of a division title on percentage points, though the Suns still lead the division by three games and have a magic number of six with seven games left to play. Today is a scheduled off day with Hagerstown making its final regular-season road trip to Greensboro for a three-game series starting tomorrow.

Auburn 4 Mahoning Valley 0
• Mooneyham (W, 2-2) 6IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 3K
• Boyden 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Henke 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Manuel 2-3, BB, RBI
• McQuillan 2-4, R

Auburn closed out the regular-season home schedule with badly needed 4-0 shutout of Mahoning Valley. Starter Brett Mooneyham went the first six frames, allowing just a hit and two walks and striking out three to get the victory, his second for the Doubledays. Michael Boyden and Travis Henke combined for three innings of scoreless relief, each allowing a hit and striking out two. Craig Manuel reached base three times with two singles and a walk to lead the 10-hit Auburn attack. The win kept pace with second-place Batavia to maintain the Pinckney Division lead of two games and lower the magic number to clinch to nine with 10 to play. Next up: a three-game series against third-place State College.