Luke Erickson

Luke Erickson is a season-ticket holder for the Potomac Nationals, but makes a point of seeing games in Hagerstown and Harrisburg at least once a summer. When the PNats are away on the weekend, Luke finds a minor-league game somewhere to watch, and generally attends 70-80 baseball games a year up across several states. A former sportswriter with newspapers in Massachusetts and Oregon, Luke lives in Western Fairfax County with his wife and two sons.

Apr 242012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse OFF DAY @ Rochester,
7:05 p.m.
Lannan (0-2, 7.50) vs.
DeVries (0-1, 2.87)
Harrisburg OFF DAY @ Altoona,
6:30 p.m.
Mandel (1-0, 0.96) vs.
Colla (0-2, 5.14)
Potomac Lost, 4-1 @ Winston-Salem,
7:00 p.m.
Winters (1-1, 3.71) vs.
Arroyo (0-1, 10.80)
Hagerstown OFF DAY @ Rome,
7:00 p.m.
Meyer (1-2, 6.75) vs.
Holland (1-2, 1.37)

Yesterday was a scheduled off day for three of the four full-season affiliates, and as luck would have it, all four teams will be on the road for the next three before Potomac, Harrisburg and Syracuse return home on Friday. The rainouts also have given us a treat in that Alex Meyer will be pitching near Scouting The Sally’s home base in Georgia, which should give us an opportunity to get a view from “outside the bubble” from a more scouting-oriented prospect writer.

Winston-Salem 4 Potomac 1
• Swynenberg (L, 1-1) 5⅓ IP, 9H, 2R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K
• Wort 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Bloxom 2-4, 2B, 2K, E(6)
• Moore 1-3, 2B

With two errors to the first two batters, the Dash struck early for two unearned runs while Winston-Salem’s Andre Rienzo stifled the Potomac lineup for seven innings for a 4-1 win over the P-Nats. Matt Swynenberg scattered nine hits over five and a 1/3rd innings, walking none and fanning three, but those two unearned runs did him in for his first loss. The damage could have been much worse, as the Dash batters went just 2-for-17 with RISP and stranded 12 runners. After answering the Winston-Salem’s two runs in the bottom of the 1st with a run in the top of the 2nd, Potomac went in order from the 3rd to the 6th until David Freitas led off the 7th with a single. The last gasp came in the 9th as a hit batsmen (Freitas), double (Justin Bloxom), and a walk (Kevin Keyes) loaded the bases with two outs in the 9th, but Sean Nicol couldn’t connect and went down swinging to end the game.

Apr 232012
 

Danny RosenbaumOn the strength of his four-hit complete game on last Wednesday, Danny Rosenbaum was named the Eastern League’s Pitcher of the Week for the period of April 16 to 22.

Rosenbaum walked none and struck out nine for the game, throwing just 95 pitches — 71 for strikes — to earn his second win in three starts for the Harrisburg Senators. The 22nd-round pick of the 2009 draft leads the Eastern League with a 0.65 WHIP and is fourth in ERA with a mark of 1.25.

The complete game was Rosenbaum’s second nine-inning effort in less than a calendar year, as the 24-year-old tossed a shutout last June against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a three-hit, one-walk effort.

Apr 232012
 

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-1;
Won 1-0
OFF DAY n/a
Harrisburg Postponed OFF DAY n/a
Potomac Postponed @ Winston-Salem,
7:00 p.m.
Applebee (1-0, 1.35) vs.
Rienzo (2-0, 1.00)
Hagerstown Postponed OFF DAY n/a

Buffalo 6 Syracuse 1 — GAME ONE
• Maya (L, 1-2) 5IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, BB, 3K, HR, WP
• Pena 2IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 2K
• Harper 2-3, R, HR, RBI
• Johnson 2-4

The long Nationals nightmare is over as Bryce Harper finally homered (above, video 1, video 2) at AAA, but the Syracuse Chiefs lost, 6-1. Yunesky Maya was in midseason form, giving up three runs on seven hits and a walk over five innings. He also committed an error. Josh Johnson and Harper both had two hits, but the Chiefs managed on six total as they dropped their sixth straight decision.

Syracuse 1 Buffalo 0 — GAME TWO
• Roark (W, 1-3) 6IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 4K, E (pickoff)
• Perry (SV, 2) 1IP, H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Brown 1-2, R, HR, RBI
• Moore 1-2

Corey Brown’s solo shot in the 4th was all the support that Tanner Roark would get, but with some help from Ryan Perry, it was all he would need as the Chiefs took the nightcap of the doubleheader, 1-0. Roark tosses six strong innings, alllowing just two hits and two walks (one intenional) while striking out four. He also worked around what could have been a critical error in the 6th, throwing to Brown in CF instead Johnson at SS on a pickoff attempt with one out. The error moved the runner up to third, but Roark painted the corner for a backwards K for the second out and got a grounder to second to end the threat. Perry also danced in and out of danger in the 7th by putting on the tying run with a walk and giving up a single before Tyler Moore pounced on the ensuing bunt for the 3-5 putout and then started the 1-6-3 DP to end the game.

HARRISBURG — PPD
The Senators took two of three from the Thunder in the rain-shortened series and have an off day today before a three-game, midweek set against Altoona. A makeup date for Sunday’s postponement is pending, with the two teams meeting again in Harrisburg in June (15-17) and the Senators visiting Trenton next in late July (26-29).

POTOMAC — PPD
Rain washed out both weekend games against the Salem Red Sox and will likely force some shuffling of the rotation as well. When the two games will be made up has not yet been announced, but the guess here is that one will be made up in Salem when the P-Nats visit May 8-10, and the other will be made up during the June 8-10. Absent another rainout, Potomac could go from May 8 to June 17 without a day off, which could mean as many as 44 games in 41 games.

HAGERSTOWN — PPD
The rain gave the Suns a 2-0 series win against the BlueClaws and a head start on their long bus ride to Georgia to face the Braves for four and GreenJackets for three before heading back and hosting Rome for three and Augusta for four. Makeup dates for the two missed games have not been announced, but with the half system, it’s probable that a pair of doubleheaders will be played when Hagerstown next visits Lakewood on May 24-27.

Apr 222012
 

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Buffalo,
12:00 p.m.
Maya (1-1, 2.60) and
Roark (0-3, 6.46) vs.
Familia (1-1, 6.59) and
Schwinden (2-1, 2.25)
Harrisburg Won, 4-1 @ Trenton,
1:05 p.m.
Mandel (1-1, 0.96) vs.
Marshall (2-1, 5.40)
Potomac Postponed vs. Salem,
12:05 p.m.
Grace (1-1, 7.00) and
Applebee (1-0, 1.35) vs.
Couch (2-1, 3.38) and TBD
Hagerstown Postponed vs. Lakewood,
1:05 p.m.
Dupra (0-3, 5.02) and
Meyer (1-2, 6.75) vs.
Manzanillo (0-1, 6.55) and
Nesseth (1-1, 7.59)

Rain washed out three of four games on the Washington Nationals farm last night, and with percentages of 80, 80 and 100 forecast for Woodbridge, Hagerstown, and Trenton, there’s a good chance that it’ll be another three rainouts today. Without further ado, here’s how things went in Trenton, NJ.

Harrisburg 4 Trenton 1
• Demny (W, 1-1) 6⅓ IP, 7H, 1R, 1ER, BB, 3K
• McCoy (H, 2) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Garcia (SV, 1) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Rahl 3-4, 2R, 3B, HR, 3RBI
• Hood 2-4, R
• Pahuta 2-4, R
• Valdez OF assist at 2B (4th in 9G)

Walks had been the bugaboo for Paul Demny — 13 in 11⅔ innings — in his first three outings, but with just one last night, the 22-year-old Texan was able to pitch into 7th inning for the first time this season. Thanks to Chris Rahl’s two-run triple in the top of the 7th, Demny would get the win, too. Rahl fell short of the cycle, but singled, tripled, and homered (#4, second in the Nats minors behind Tyler Moore) to drive in three of the four Senator runs. Harrisburg got 10 hits total, including a double by Chris McConnell to halt an 0-for-21 skid, while Pat McCoy and Christian Garcia both tossed an inning and a third of scoreless relief to earn the hold and save, respectively.

Apr 212012
 


A few more moves were made today, as the shuffling between Extended Spring Training continues.

POTOMAC
• IF Zach Walters activated from the DL
• C Sam Palace placed on the DL

HAGERSTOWN
• 1B Steve Souza activated from Potomac DL, assigned to Hagerstown
• 2B Hendry Jimenez assigned to Extended Spring Training
• LHP Ben Hawkins assigned to Hagerstown from Auburn

AUBURN
• LHP Christian Meza assigned to Auburn from Hagerstown

It’s been a busy week on the transaction front, with two posts and items in the notes. I repeated this morning’s Hagerstown-Auburn transaction above, but in keeping with the headline, here’s a recap:

• Xavier Paul placed on Syracuse restricted list (personal matter)
• IF Josh Johnson assigned to Syracuse from Harrisburg
• IF Chris McConnell assigned to Harrisburg from Syracuse
• C Jeff Howell assigned to Syracuse from Harrisburg
• C James Skelton assigned to Harrisburg from Potomac
• C Sam Palace activated from DL
• IF Brent Greer placed on the DL
• LHP Josh Smoker placed on the DL
• RHP Shane McCatty activated from XST, assigned to Potomac
• IF Cutter Dykstra activated from XST, assigned to Hagerstown
• OF Narciso Mesa assigned to XST from Hagerstown

Obviously more moves are coming, so I’ll do my best to keep you folks informed.

Apr 212012
 

“This one was over early.”

That’s what the brain said, after giving up six runs to the first eight batters Adam Olbrychowski faced, punctuated by a two-run HR by Salem’s Drew Hedman.

But then Oblrychowski settled down, retiring eight straight batters while the offense chipped away at the 6-0 deficit with a solo HR by Justin Bloxom in the 2nd and an RBI groundout by Michael Taylor in the 3rd.

So the heart said, “Well, maybe if Olby can give us five innings, we can make this a ballgame.”

After back-to-back walks in the 4th, then a nifty 8-6-4 double play when Salem tried to hit-and-run with leadoff hitter Jackie Bradley Jr., the heart started to flutter. Then a two-run shot deep to left field reminded us that the brain was right all along, putting the Red Sox up 8-2 after three and a 1/2 innings.

A five-run 5th put the game away for Salem, as the Red Sox prospects battered Trevor Holder for a triple, two doubles and a single to take a commanding 13-2 lead.

Randolph Oduber struck back with a two-run shot in the bottom of the 5th, but it was too little, too late.

Wilson Eusebio, Neil Holland and Cameron Selik combined for four and 1/3rd scoreless innings of relief, but their Salem counterparts matched them zero for zero, with Blake Kelso’s two-out single to left in the 7th the last gasp over the final four innings.

With the loss, Potomac falls to 6-7 on the season, tied for second place with the Frederick Keys in the Carolina League’s Northern Division, two and a 1/2 games behind the Lynchburg Hillcats. Matt Grace (1-1, 7.00) is slated to take the hill tonight against Salem’s Keith Couch (2-1, 3.38) in Game Three of the four-game series.

Apr 212012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-4 vs. Buffalo,
2:00 p.m.
Roark (0-3, 6.46) vs.
Familia (1-1, 6.59)
Harrisburg Lost, 6-5
(12 inn.)
@ Trenton,
5:05 p.m.
Demny (0-1, 5.40) vs.
Hall (2-1, 3.94)
Potomac Lost, 13-4 vs. Salem,
6:35 p.m.
Grace (1-1, 7.00) vs.
Couch (2-1, 3.38)
Hagerstown Won, 15-2 vs. Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
Dupra (0-3, 5.02) vs.
Manzanillo (0-1, 6.55)

Buffalo 6 Syracuse 4
• Atkins (L, 1-2) 5IP, 10H, 5R, 5ER, BB, 2K, HR
• Arnesen 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Rivero 2-4, 2B, RBI
• Moore 1-4, HR, 2RBI
• Harper 0-3, BB, 2K, OF assist (HP)

THe GBI curse is alive and well, as Mitch Atkins gave up 10 hits and five runs in a 6-4 loss to Buffalo — the fifth straight defeat for Syracuse. Tyler Moore gave the Chiefs a brief 2-1 lead with his sixth HR in the bottom of the first. After Bryce Harper Ankieled a runner at the plate in the next half-inning, it looked like this might be a good night. But things fell apart from there, as the Bisons trampled Atkins for a run in 3rd, two in the 4th, and another in the 5th. Carlos Rivero doubled in a run in the 6th and Mark Teahen singled in a run in the 7th, but Syracuse went down in order in the last two innings to end any hopes of a comeback.

Trenton 6 Harrisburg 5 (12 inn.)
• Gilliam 4+ IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 3K
• Davis 3⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Leon 3-3, 2B, BB, RBI, SF
• Kobernus 3-6, 2-2B, RBI, 2CS, E
• Pahuta 3-6

After rallying for two in the top of the 12th, the Sens ‘pen gave back three for a 6-5 loss in 12 innings. After letting in starter Robert Gilliam’s two runs in the bottom of the 5th, the relief work was shut-down: six straight goose eggs, highlighted by Erik Davis’s 3⅔ scoreless IP. Hector Nelo worked around a single and a walk in the 11th, but was tagged for three straight hits in the 12th and left with a 5-4 lead. Pat Lehman came on with nobody out and got the first on a sacrifice, but a Jeff Kobernus throwing error sent in the tying run and sacrifice fly drove in the gamewinner. Sandy Leon, Kobernus, and Tim Pahuta combined for nine of the 12 Harrisburg hits, but the no-alibi number for the offense (as in u-g-l-y) was the 0-for-9 with RISP, six of them with two outs.

Salem 13 Potomac 4
• Olbrychowski (L, 0-3) 4IP, 7H, 8R, 7ER, 2BB, 2K, 2HR
• Eusebio 2⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Kelso 3-4
• Oduber 1-4, 2R, HR, 2RBI
• Sanchez 2-3, R, E

It was one to forget Last Night In Woodbridge

Hagerstown 15 Lakewood 2
• Estevez (W, 2-0) 6IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 9K, HR
• Lucas 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Skole 4-4, 2R, 2-2B, HR, 4RBI, BB
• Dykstra 4-6, 4R, 2-2B, RBI, SB
• Nieto 2-4, R, HR, 3RBI
• Ramsey 2-6, R, 3RBI

The fireworks started early at the Muni, as the Suns exploded for 15 runs on 19 hits in a 15-2 pinch of the BlueClaws. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez turned in his best outing of the year: two runs over six innings with nine strikeouts for the win and a quality start. Every Suns batter got a hit [insert Cheech & Chong reference here] including home runs by Matt Skole, Adrian Nieto (his second in as many games), Brett Newsome, and J.P. Ramirez. Prior to the game, LHP Ben Hawkins was activated from XST, swapping places with LHP Christian Meza on the Suns roster.

Apr 202012
 

It’s back! Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues. For the newcomers, this is a ripoff of tribute to comedian Demetri Martin’s segment from his old show on Comedy Central.

And of course, the obligatory caveats: sample sizes are here small, it’s early in the season, minors stats aren’t as meaningful as we think, past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance, etc.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 3-11, 6th place I.L. North, 7½ games behind

Good Tyler Moore .296/.361/.611, 5HR, 14 RBI in 14G
Bad Corey VanAllen 7BB in 7⅔ IP over 5 appearances
Interesting Mitch Atkins 0.75ERA in 1st two starts despite 7BB

HARRISBURG SENATORS 10-5, 1st place E.L. West, ½ game ahead

Good Danny Rosenbaum 2-0, 1.25 ERA, 0.65WHIP in 3 starts
Bad Chris McConnell 0-for-15, 2E since reassignment from AAA
Interesting Jeff Kobernus .403 OBP (.313 in ’11)

POTOMAC NATIONALS 6-6, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 2½ games behind

Good David Freitas .333/.419/.611, 8RBI (tied for team lead)
Bad Justin Bloxom .159/.255/.205, 5E in 12G
Interesting Kyle Winters 17K in 17IP

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 7-8, 4th place Sally League North Divison, 3 games behind

Good Jason Martinson .319/.437/.534, 8SB in 15G
Bad Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez 1.53 WHIP, 8.16 ERA in 3 starts
Interesting Taylor Hill 2-0, 2.45 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 1.93 FIP in 3 appearances
Apr 202012
 

Don’t look now, but the Potomac Nationals have just won three in a row, beating the Salem Red Sox, 10-4.

With five runs in the 6th and three more in the 7th, the P-Nats bats feasted on the Salem bullpen for eight of their 10 hits. Like most big innings, it started slowly: a walk to David Freitas, the team’s leader in OBP (.419), and singles by Justin Bloxom and Kevin Keyes to clog the bases.

After a strikeout by Wade Moore, one of 13 on the night, the thought of an inning-ending DP was the fear for the home crowd and the hope for the beleaguered reliever.

For an instant, it looked like that might happen, but the grounder off the bat of Adrian Sanchez took a 15-foot hop that the speedy infielder beat out for a hit and an RBI, giving Potomac a 3-2 lead with the bases still juiced.

The No. 9 batter Francisco Soriano had been hitless at the Pfitz last weekend, but connected for a triple down the right field line to empty the bases and the rout was on.

Early on, though, this was a pitcher’s duel of sorts. Both pitchers had their moments of wildness (4BB for Salem’s Miguel Celestino, 3BB for Potomac’s Bobby Hansen Jr.) and their flashes of brilliance — Hansen catching Sox prospects Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts looking in the first, Celestino retiring the last seven batters he faced.

Hansen still struggled some with leaving fastballs up and over the plate, but with three of his five K’s written backwards in the scorebook, he’s also showing some skill at working the corners. But most important: he got seven of his 10 other outs on the ground, something that everybody ought to appreciate.

Paul Applebee got the win with two scoreless innings of relief, while Shane McCatty made his first appearance since joining the club yesterday. McCatty was charged with two runs in the 9th thanks to another error-called-a-hit as Soriano misplayed what should have been an inning-ending popup, which was instead recorded as two-run double. On a ball hit to shallow left field. Really.

The win improves Potomac to 6-6, their first day at .500 in the 2012 season. The series continues tonight with Adam Olbrychowski (0-2, 6.97) taking the hill against Brandon Workman, making his first start of the season.

Apr 202012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 11-7 vs. Buffalo,
7:00 p.m.
Atkins (1-1, 0.75) vs.
Harvey (0-1, 7.62)
Harrisburg Won, 6-2 @ Trenton,
7:05 p.m.
Gilliam (1-2, 5.82) vs.
Heyer (1-1, 1.69)
Potomac Won, 10-4 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Olbrychowski (0-2, 6.97) vs.
Workman (6-7, 3.71 @ A- in ’11)
Hagerstown Won, 11-9
(10 inn.)
vs. Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
Estevez (1-0, 8.16) vs.
Martinez (2-0, 3.78)

Pawtucket 11 Syracuse 7
• Duke (ND) 4IP, 8H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Martin 3IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Moore 3-4, 2B, 3RBI, BB
• Brown 2-6, 2R, 2B, HR, 2RBI, 4K
• Harper 1-2, 3BB, K

A four-run 5th inning put the PawSox ahead for good as they completed a four-game sweep of the Chiefs with an 11-7 pounding yesterday afternoon. Austin Bibens-Dirkx took the loss, letting in both runners he inherited and surrendering three straight doubles. Rafael Martin put out the fire and turned in his best outing of the season with a run given up on one hit over three innings. Tyler Moore led the 11-hit attack with a 3-for-4 afternoon, including a double and a walk. Speaking of which, Bryce Harper may have just discovered the value of the base on balls by drawing three walks, doubling his season total to six.

Harrisburg 6 Trenton 2
• Ballard (W, 1-1) 6⅔ IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 8K
• Garcia (H, 3) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Valdez 3-4, 2R, 2B, BB, SB, 2RBI, OF assist (2B)
• Hood 3-5, R, RBI, SB
• Kobernus 3-5, 2R, 2SB (10, 11)

With a four-run first, the Sens put the hurt on the Thunder early and cruised to a 6-2 win, their third straight. Mike Ballard kept up the string of strong pitching, tossing six and 2/3rds innings with one unearned run on four hits and two walks for his first “W.” Jesus Valdez, Destin Hood, and Jeff Kobernus combined for nine of the 14 Harrisburg hits, with Kobernus swiping two more bases to increase his SB total to 11. Christian Garcia struck out three of the five batters he faced for the hold, his third of the season.

Potomac 10 Salem 4
• Hansen (ND) 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 5K
• Applebee (W, 1-0) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Sanchez 3-4, 2R, 2RBI
• Bloxom 2-3, 2R, 2B, BB, RBI
• Soriano 1-3, 2R, BB, 3B, 3RBI

A five-run 6th broke open a 2-2 game as the P-Nats cruised to a 10-4 win Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 11 Lakewood 9 (10 inn.)
• McKenzie ⅓ IP, 3H, 6R, 5ER, 3BB, HR, HBP
• Meza 3⅔ IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Barrett (W, 1-0) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Martinson 3-6, 3R, 2RBI
• Skole 2-3, 3R, 3BB, HR, 2RBI
• Nieto 1-5, R, HR, 4RBI (GS)

Matt Skole’s two-run shot in the bottom of the 10th gave the Hagerstown Suns an improbably 11-9 walkoff win in extras. Hagerstown pounded out 15 hits in the contest, but not before taking a beating early. Chris McKenzie got knocked from the box in the 1st, giving up three hits and three walks to the eight batters he faced to put the Suns in 6-0 early. Christian Meza put the kibosh on the BlueClaws and led the quartet of Suns relievers, who combined for eight and 2/3rds relief with three runs allowed. Adrian Nieto’s grand slam in the bottom of the third launched the comeback bid as the two teams eventually fought to a 9-9 tie after six and half innings. Aaron Barrett got the win with three strikeouts over the last inning and a 1/3rd. Prior to the game, Cutter Dykstra was activated from Extended Spring Training, and went 2-for-6 while playing 3B. Narciso Mesa was taken off the roster and assigned to XST to make room for Dykstra.