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.

Aug 132014
 

rain for npp 3

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 9-3 (5 inn.) vs. Louisville,
7:00 p.m.
McGregor (0-0, 3.00) vs.
Wang (11-7, 3.94)
Harrisburg Postponed vs. Reading,
5:30 p.m.
Kroenke (2-5, 6.56) and TBD vs.
Nola (1-0, 1.80) and TBD
Potomac Postponed vs. Salem,
5:00 p.m.
TBD and TBD vs.
TBD and TBD
Hagerstown Postponed @ Delmarva,
4:35 p.m.
Lopez (2-1, 2.19) and
Swynenberg (1st Low-A start of ’14) vs.
Horacek (5-10, 3.98) and
Delgado (0-2, 3.65)
Auburn Postponed @ Jamestown,
6:05 p.m.
Bourque (1-4, 3.81) and
A. Williams (2-2, 5.61) vs.
Duncan (2-2, 3.45) and
DuRupau (1-2, 2.85)
GCL Nationals Lost, 4-1 vs. GCL Mets,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Lost, 4-3 (11 inn.) @ DSL Yankees1,
10:30 a.m.
W. Pena (3-4, 3.04) vs.
Guzman (5-1, 2.02)


Syracuse 9 Charlotte 3
• Laffey (W, 12-4) 5IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Perez 2-2, RBI, SB
• Laird 3-4, 3R, 2-2B, HR, 4RBI
• Moore 2-3, 2-2B, 2RBI

Turnabout is fair play as the Chiefs laid a 9-3 hurt in a rain-shortened five innings. Aaron Laffey got the complete-game win with a pedestrian three runs allowed over five innings on five hits and a walk. Brandon Laird doubled twice and got the scoring going with a two-run jack in the 1st, going 3-for-4 with four RBI on night. Syracuse scored in each of the first four innings before the game was called with two outs in the bottom of the 5th.

Harrisburg — Postponed
Rain spoiled the first of three games between Harrisburg and Reading yesterday afternoon, forcing a doubleheader tonight.

Potomac — Postponed
As feared, rain postponed a fourth straight date between the Red Sox and P-Nats, reducing this week’s five-game series to a pair of doubleheaders today and tomorrow.

Hagerstown vs. Delmarva — PPD
The 26th and 27th meeting between Delmarva and Hagerstown will take place tonight, thanks to the Sally League’s god-awful scheduling the rain. Tomorrow, Suns go up the coast to Jersey for Game nos. 20-23 of 27 against the BlueClaws.
In a story that should shock nobody here, the City of Fredericksburg says its **proposed** stadium project is in jeopardy

Auburn vs. Jamestown — PPD
Rain. Bad. No game. Play two today.
– Tarzan, Tonto, and Frankenstein

GCL Mets 4 GCL Nationals 1
• Yrizarri (L, 2-2) 5IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 5BB, 0K
• Reynoso 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• G. Ramirez 2-3, R, BB, SB
• Lora 2-4, RBI

The G-Mets put up four in the 3rd and held off the G-Nats for a 4-1 win. Deibi Yrizarri gave up all four runs on four hits and five walks with no strikeouts over five while losing his second game. Three of the free passes came in the 3rd and all three scored. Gilberto Ramirez singled twice, walked once, and scored the lone G-Nat run in the top of the 7th. Edwin Lora and Oliver Ortiz both went 2-for-4 as the G-Nats managed seven hits (all singles) total.

DSL Rockies 4 DSL Nationals 3 (11 inn.)
• Acevedo 5IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K, WP
• Rosario (BS, 2) 3IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, 2K
• Guance (BS, 1; L, 0-1) 2⅔ IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, K
• Rengel 3-6, R, 2B, HR, 3RBI
• A. Martinez 3-5
• Vilorio 3-4, 2-2B, BB, CS

The D-Nats ‘pen couldn’t hold a 3-2, givng up the equalizer in the 9th and the game-winner in the 11th for a 4-3 loss to the D-Rockies. Carlos Acevedo let in an unearned run over five innings of three-hit ball with no walks and three K’s and left with a 2-1 lead. Ramses Rosario allowed the D-Rox to tie it at 2-2 in his first inning of relief as did Hector Guance, who got the blown-save-loss for his efforts. Luis Rengel drove in all three runs including an 8th-inning solo shot that gave the D-Nats a 3-2 lead.

Aug 122014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 9-3 vs. Louisville,
7:00 p.m.
Laffey (11-4, 3.20) vs.
E. Johnson (5-6, 6.29)
Harrisburg OFF DAY vs. Reading,
7:00 p.m.
Kroenke (2-5, 6.56) vs.
Nola (1-0, 1.80)
Potomac OFF DAY vs. Salem,
5:00 p.m.
TBD and TBD vs.
TBD and TBD
Hagerstown Won, 13-7 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Swynenberg (1st Low-A start of ’14)
vs. Horacek (5-10, 3.98)
Auburn Lost, 6-2 @ Jamestown,
7:05 p.m.
Bourque (1-4, 3.81) vs.
Duncan (2-2, 3.45)
GCL Nationals Won, 3-0 (6 inn.) @ GCL Mets,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Won, 3-1 @ DSL Rockies,
10:30 a.m.
Acevedo (3-3, 3.91) vs.
Oviedo (3-2, 2.54)


Charlotte 9 Syracuse 3
• Hill (L, 10-6) 4+ IP, 8H, 7R, 7ER, 2BB, K, 3HBP
• Stange 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 3-3 IR-S
• Rhymes 2-4, R, 2B, HR, 3RBI
• Moore 2-4, R

The Knights scored three times in the 5th to break open a 4-3 game and made single-run crusades in the 7th and 9th to complete a 9-3 conquest of the Chiefs. Taylor Hill put on 13 baserunners in the space of 25 batters faced over four-plus innings. Seven of them crossed home plate, including the three he left to Daniel Stange, who was greeted with a two-run single by the “other” Michael Taylor before inducing a double play, which scored the third inherited run. All three Syracuse runs came in the 3rd as Will “Don’t Call Me Buster” Rhymes smacked his fifth home run. Rhymes and Tyler “Boz Thinks I’m Boggs” Moore both went 2-for-4 with a run scored as the Chiefs managed eight hits and three walks total.

Harrisburg — OFF DAY
The elimination number for the Western Division race is down to five for Harrisburg, which hosts Eastern Division cellar-dweller Reading for the next three at City Island. The Fightins now lead the Senators by four and 1/2 games to avoid the tag of the worst record in the Eastern League. Roster move: LHP Felipe Rivero reassigned from Hagerstown.

Potomac — OFF DAY
The rain that washed out this past weekend’s slate between Salem and Potomac has followed them to Woodbridge as thunderstorms are forecast for today. For Potomac, one or more cancellations could actually be to their benefit as it will make it harder for second-place Lynchburg to catch them as well as make it possible to win by less than a game or by percentage points.

Hagerstown 13 Delmarva 7
• Giolito (W, 9-2) 5IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 6K, HBP
• Difo 5-6, 2R, 2RBI
• Bautista 3-5, 2R, BB, RBI
• W. Rodriguez 3-5, R, HR, 3RBI
• Lopez 3-6, 2R, HR, 4RBI

Hagerstown got a touchdown on their opening drive, featuring deep completions beyond the secondary by Rafael Bautista and Wilman Rodriguez, and added a pair of field goals for a 13-7 win over Delmarva. Lucas Giolito won his 9th game with five shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out six. Wilmer Difo went 5-for-6 to lead the 19-hit parade while Bautista, Rodriguez, and Carlos Lopez, who had a two-run homer in the 6th, had three hits apiece. It’s not all roses as reliever Andrew Cooper was hammered for six runs on seven hits and a walk over an inning and 2/3rds — the third time in a week that the Suns ‘pen was charged with three or more runs. Roster move: RHP Matt Swynenberg reassigned from Auburn.

Vermont 6 Auburn 2
• Ott 5IP, 4H, R, ER, BB, 5K, HR, WP
• Ramos (BS, 2; L, 1-2) 2IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, K
• Williamson 2-3, RBI
• Marmolejos-Diaz 2-4, R, 2B, 3B

The Lake Monsters scored five unanswered runs to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 6-2 win over the Doubledays. Travis Ott gave up a solo shot with two out in the 1st but finished with the one run allowed on four hits. He walked one and struck out five. David Ramos blew yet another save as he was knocked for two runs in the 6th and was charged with the loss. Clay Williamson singled twice while “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz doubled and tripled to lead the Auburn offense. Roster move: RHP John Feliz reassigned from the GCL Nationals.

GCL Nationals 3 GCL Mets 0 (6 inn.)
• K. Simmons 2IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Vasquez (W, 1-2) 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, HBP, WP
• Valerio (S, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Ortiz 1-2, R, HR, 3RBI
• Lora 1-2, BB

Oliver Ortiz’s three-run homer in the last of the 5th was the difference in a 3-0 G-Nats win over the G-Mets in six innings (rain). Kyle Simmons got the start and went two scoreless innings with two hits and two walks with… wait for it… two strikeouts. Daury Vasquez got the win with three shutout frames while Maximo Valerio was awarded the save for recording a goose egg in the 6th. The G-Nats totaled just four hits and one walk with Edwin Lora the sole batter to record one of each.

DSL Nationals 3 DSL Rockies 1
• M. Pena (W, 1-1) 5IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 3K
• Morel (H, 3) 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Mota 2-4, 2B
• A. Martinez 2-4, R, 3B

The D-Nats stopped a two-game slide with a 3-1 win over the D-Rockies. Malvin Pena, who took Joan Baez’s place in the rotation, earned his first “W” with five frames of one-run ball, giving up three hits, no walks, and setting down three on strikes. Angher Cespedes completed four innings of shutdown relief that earned holds for Melvin Morel (#3) and Miguel Vargas (#1) as he set ‘em down in order in the 9th for the save (#8). The trio of Israel Mota, Anderson Franco, and Andres Martinez combined to go 5-for-12 with double (Mota), triple (Martinez) and home run (Franco) as the D-Nats registered eight hits for the game.

Aug 112014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 5-1 vs. Charlotte,
7:00 p.m.
Hill (10-5, 2.52) vs.
Doran (3-1, 6.55)
Harrisburg Lost, 3-0 OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Postponed OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Won, 5-3 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Giolito (8-2, 2.35) vs.
Gonzalez (6-1, 2.84)
Auburn Won, 10-2 vs. Vermont,
7:05 p.m.
Ott (1-2, 3.20) vs.
Cr. Perez (1-2, 4.28)
GCL Nationals OFF DAY vs. GCL Mets,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Lost, 8-5 vs. DSL Rockies,
10:30 a.m.
M. Pena (0-1, 6.86) vs.
Viloria (0-2, 3.94)


Syracuse 5 Louisville 1
• Cole (W, 4-0) 7IP, 9H, R, ER, BB, 3K, HBP
• Cedeno 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Kobernus 3-5, R, 2B, RBI, SB
• Burriss 2-4, R, 2RBI, BB, SB(20)
• Rhymes 2-4, R, RBI

A.J. Cole improved to 4-0 with seven strong innings versus Louisville as Syracuse took the game 5-1, the series 3-1, and held onto sole possession of first place by a game over Pawtucket. Cole scattered nine hits and walked one while striking out three. The defense turned two double plays for him while Eury Perez gunned down a runner trying to stretch a single into a double. Emmanuel Burris and Jeff Kobernus both reached base three times and swiped a bag to lead the 11-hit, five-walk attack for the Chiefs.

Binghamton 3 Harrisburg 0
• Simmons (L, 2-3) 6IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 8K
• Holland 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Keyes 1-3, 2B, BB
• Latimore 1-4, OF assist at 2B

Another quality start, but another feeble offensive effort doomed the Senators as they dropped the series finale to the B-Mets, 3-0. James Simmons gave up all three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out a season-high of eight. The Harrisburg bullpen clamped down Binghamton for another three scoreless innings — nine and 2/3rds total for the series — but for the second straight game the lineup produced just four hits and drew but two bases-on-balls as they were shut out for the seventh time this season.

Potomac vs. Salem — PPD
Well, there will be a doubleheader on Wednesday. And Tuesday, too, as the entire weekend series between Potomac and Salem was rained out. That’ll make up two of the three games lost, which affects both C.L. playoff races as the Red Sox are still in wild-card contention, having gotten some help from a Hillcats sweep of the Dash over the weekend to knock Winston-Salem back to third place in the Southern Division’s overall standings. Lynchburg also made up a game and a half on Potomac, though they still trail in the loss column by five. Meanwhile, Myrtle Beach continues to win — seven straight — and has opened up a five-game lead in their quest to take both halves.

Hagerstown 5 Kannapolis 3
• Suero 5IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 6K, HR
• Ullmann (W, 4-1) 2IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, K
• Napoli (SV, 4) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• W. Rodriguez 2-3, R, BB, RBI, SB
• Mesa 2-4, 2B, SB
• Lopez 2-4

Hagerstown completed its four-game sweep of Kannapolis with a 5-3 win. The Suns fell behind 2-1 after four and a half, but posted a picket fence with single runs in their last four “ups” to pull away. Wander Suero started and had a shutout going until Toby Thomas took him deep for a two-run HR with one out in the 5th. Ryan Ullmann got the win in relief while David Napoli earned the save, the fourth for both, respectively. Wilman Rodriguez singled twice, scored a run, drove in a run, walked and stole a base to lead the 11-hit attack for the Suns.

Auburn 10 Vermont 2
• A. Martinez (W, 1-1) 6IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• McDowell 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Abreu 4-4, 3R, HR, 3RBI, 2SB
• Read 1-4, R, HR, 4RBI

Raudy Read baked the offensive cake with a three-run HR in the 3rd while Osvaldo Abreu frosted it in the 7th with a solo shot as Auburn pummeled Vermont, 10-2. Anderson Martinez evened up his won-loss mark at 1-1 with both Lake Monster runs given up on five hits and no walks while setting down two on strikes. The Doubldays totaled 11 hits with Abreu leading the way with a 4-for-4 game with three runs scored and two stolen bases.

GCL Nationals — OFF DAY
The G-Nats continue to play .500 ball with yet another 3-3 week. They’ll host the G-Mets today and Wednesday with a trip to Port St. Lucie tomorrow, then go home-away-home on Thursday through Saturday against the G-Cards.

DSL Nationals — OFF DAY
Two weeks remain in the season but the tragic number is now in single digits for both the division title and the wild-card chase. After reeling off eight straight, the D-Nats are on a two-game slide but need just five wins to surpass last season’s total of 38.

Aug 102014
 

No, I Said The White PhoneLike his teammate Taylor Hill, his stay on the big Nats may be brief, but for today Michael Taylor will be a major-leaguer as multiple outlets are reporting that the 23-y.o. outfielder will join the big club in Atlanta.

Taylor will be replacing either Jayson Werth or Steve Souza, who was called up last week to replace outmak..er, fielder Nate McLouth, as both rightfielders are battling injuries

Taylor is in the midst of a breakout season, which began in Harrisburg where he batted .313/.396/.539 with 22HR and 34SB in 98 games, which earned him a trip to the Eastern League All-Star game and the 2014 Futures game.

He’s barely skipped a beat in Syracuse going 5-for-13 with three doubles and a triple with two RBI, albeit in four games.

Corresponding moves have obviously not yet been made, and in a season with more movement than after a bad buffet, it’s pointless to guess. As always, if/when those moves are made today, this space will be updated.

UPDATE: Steven Souza is going to the DL. Thus far, there’s just one corresponding move: UT Jose Lozada has been reassigned from Harrisburg. The P-Nats, who were rained out for the entire weekend, and the Senators both have Monday off — so it’s unlikely that any more moves will be made (or announced) until Tuesday.

Aug 092014
 


Rosters for the 2014 New York-Penn League All-Star team were announced this week and will include two Auburn Doubledays — Jose “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz and Mario Sanchez.

Diaz was selected as a first baseman and has posted a line of .266/.344/.373 with one home run and 24RBI in 47 games. He’s a 21-y.o. from the Dominican Republic in his fourth professional season, having spent last year in the GCL and his first two seasons in the DSL.

Sanchez is a 19-y.o. Venezuelan who skipped the GCL after spending the 2012 and 2013 campaigns in the D.R. This season, his third, he’s 5-0 with three saves in 13 relief appearances. Over 28⅓ innings he’s allowed 12 runs (eight earned) on 22 hits (one HR) with eight walks and 22 strikeouts for a 2.54/3.38/1.06 line.

Brooklyn is the host of the 10th annual exhibition, which will pit players from the American League against players from the National League on Tuesday, August 19th.

Aug 082014
 

GBI for NPP 2Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 66-51, 1st place I.L. North, 2 games ahead

Good Manny Delcarmen 0-1, 1.26 ERA, 0.63 WHIP in last 10 appearances
Bad Josh Johnson .043 ISO
Interesting 803 batting K 3rd fewest in 14-team I.L.



HARRISBURG SENATORS 47-70, 6th place E.L. West, 18½ games behind

Good Quincy Latimore .323/.462/.742 4HR, 11RBI in last 10G
Bad Current pitchers with a sub-3.00 ERA: 1 (Derek Self, 2.67)
Interesting Paolo Espino 10HBP, 1.97 BB/9IP, 4.3 K:BB ratio



POTOMAC NATIONALS 26-18, 1st place C.L. North, 4 games ahead (64-49 overall)

Good Ian Dickson 1-0, 2.76 ERA since return to rotation (3GS)
Bad Khayyan Norfork .188/.257.250 in last 10G
Interesting Lead league with intentional walks drawn (12)



HAGERSTOWN SUNS 29-18, T1st place Sally North, 2 games ahead (73-44 overall)

Good Wilmer Difo .454 SLG%, 40SB, 32-game on-base streak
Bad Wirkin Estevez 0-2, 9.18 ERA, 1.98 WHIP in five Low-A starts
Interesting 0-for-6 in pinch-hitting



AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 24-28, 2nd place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 8½ games behind

Good Mario Sanchez 4-0, 3SV, 2.49 ER, 1.07 WHIP in 12 appearances
Bad Chris Riopedre .447 OPS in 14G
Interesting .964 Fld. Pct. 11th in 14-team NYPL



GCL NATIONALS 22-21, 3rd place GCL East, 5½ games behind

Good Jorge Tillero .316/.381/.368 in 23G
Bad Daury Vasquez 0-2, 9.22 ERA, 2.27 WHIP in eight appearances
Interesting 2nd fewest passed balls (7), 2nd worst CS% (24) in the GCL



DSL NATIONALS 34-24, 3rd place Boca Chica South, 6½ games behind

Good 18-y.o. Wilber Pena 2-0, 1.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP in last three GS
Bad 19-y.o. Sandy Guerrero .167/.300/.292 in last 10G
Interesting Team batting 6th in 36-team DSL (6.34 R/G)
Aug 072014
 

Randolph Oduber homered twice, while Matt Spann put on just two baserunners over six shutout innings as Potomac rolled to its fifth straight win, 10-2 over Winston-Salem.

The Groovin’ Aruban drove in six runs total with a three-run blast off the scoreboard in left-center to highlight Potomac’s five-run 3rd, an RBI groundout in the 4th, and a two-run shot to right in the 8th. The six RBIs were a career-best in a single game for the 2010 32nd Rd. pick out of Western Oklahoma State College.

Meanwhile, Matthew Spann quietly and efficiently dispatched the Dash with nobody reaching second base as Keon Barnum, who rapped a clean single up the middle with one out in the 2nd, watched his teammates fly out twice. Zach Voight got plunked an inning later but was out two full strides as Tony Renda had to wait for him to slide before he could apply the tag.

The next ten Winston-Salem batters trotted back into the dugout as Spann would not let another runner reach. Spann would issue no walks and strike out four while earning his eighth win for Potomac and tenth win overall for the 2014 campaign.

Offensively, Ike Ballou was also a force for the Woodbridge nine, beginning with a two-run triple that preceded the Oduber bomb in the 3rd, then connecting for an RBI double in the 4th, and a single in the 5th. He would walk in his final plate appearance to finish the proverbial triple shy of the cycle while improving his line to .356/.396/.667 in his first 10 games at High-A.

The series concludes this afternoon as Ian Dickson (3-8, 5.27) faces off against top White Sox pick Carlos “Didn’t I Just Sign For You?” Rodon (0-0, 6.00). Potomac will then make the drive down I-81 to take on the Salem Red Sox for three over the weekend, then return to the Pfitz for three more next Tuesday through Thursday.

PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: Like an annoying neighbor, Lynchburg just won’t go away as the Hillcats have strung together three straight wins to remain three behind the P-Nats. Wilmington has fallen to five games back. Myrtle Beach has also reclaimed sole possession of first place in the Southern Division by a game over Winston-Salem, two and a half over Carolina.

Aug 062014
 

Postgame CelebrationThe regular season is now less than a month away, which means it’s time for the annual assessment of seeing minor-league baseball past Labor Day [insert Philadelphia Phillies joke here].

Since this site took off in 2010, the Nats have had multiple affiliates make the playoffs in each season — two in 2010, three in 2011, two in 2012, four last summer. Barring multiple collapses, that streak should continue. With a lot of luck, they could match last season’s high-water mark.

Obviously, development is more important than winning, but as a season-ticket holder, I’m biased towards the latter but also because it’s just plain more fun to write about a pennant race (hence a post like this, natch).

Without further ado, here’s a look at the odds of postseason play from AAA to the DSL…

SYRACUSE
For years, Syracuse was a collection of 4A replacement-level players so it’s confusing to see multiple players under the age of 25. But perhaps more unusual is that the team is winning and clicking on all cylinders. Unfortunately, they’re in a three-way fight with Pawtucket and Rochester and the schedule does not favor them. The Chiefs have eight games left against the RedWings, but just two against the PawSox, who also only have two against Rochester and an August schedule of also-rans. Meanwhile, Syracuse and Rochester play each other six times. Yes, there’s still the possibility of the wild card but we could very well see one of those three teams finish with a better record than the Southern or Western Division teams… and miss the playoffs.

HARRISBURG
The Senators are battling to not finish with the worst record in the Eastern League, and trail the Fightins by a game and a half to avoid that dishonor.

POTOMAC
The P-Nats are already in the playoffs, having won the first-half title for the Northern Division. With the first round a meager best-of-three, they still have the incentive to win the second half and get home-field advantage for all three games (currently, they will be home for the second and third game, if necessary; as first-half champs they had the choice of first game at home or hosting a deciding game). They have a three-game lead over both the Hillcats and Blue Rocks with four games left against each. Should they advance, the Mills Cup begins at the Southern Division series winner and finishes at the Northern Division, as is League custom in even-numbered seasons.

HAGERSTOWN
While some folks called it an epic choke, the reality is that the Grasshoppers pulled off a fantastic comeback to win the first half Northern Division title by finishing with 10 straight wins — the first three against the Suns. Hagerstown took three of four in late June but the two teams have been more or less even ever since. The Suns can get to the playoffs by either winning the 2nd half or by finishing ahead of the Intimidators Crawdads for the second-best best overall record (currently, it’s a 5½ game lead) in the Northern Division if Greensboro takes both halves. Hagerstown hosts Kannapolis tomorrow through Sunday. The Suns host the Grasshoppers for three games August 19-21, then visit Hickory the 22nd through the 24th. Like Potomac, should Hagerstown advance to the Finals, they’ll travel to the Southern Division Series winner for Games One and Two, then host Game Three, and if necessary, Games Four and Five.

AUBURN
Trailing State College by 8½ games, Auburn’s only realistic chance is to sneak in via the wild card. The good news is that they’ve beaten three of the four teams ahead of them in the wild-card race (Connecticut, Brooklyn, and Staten Island). The bad news: they have no more games against them. The fourth, Williamsport, they play just three times more at Falcon Park (Aug. 22-24). With a record of just 23-27, it would seem doubtful that they’d go far in the postseason, but with two short (best-of-three) series, anything is possible.

GCL NATIONALS
Unlike Auburn, the G-Nats do have a winning record… albeit against the. same. three. teams. But if they somehow manage to knock off the GCL East-leading G-Cards down the stretch, it’s only a one-game playoff to make it to the Finals, which are a mere best of the three.

DSL NATIONALS
With 36 teams in five wildly uneven divisions (ten, ten, six, six, and four), the D-Nats are riding an eight-game win streak but are still 3½ games out of the hunt for the wildcard, eight for the division despite a .589 winning percentage. As noted a couple of years ago, there’s very little parity in this league — nine teams are playing .600+ ball, six are below .400.

Aug 062014
 

Literally, the lights went out in the 8th. But figuratively, Brian Rauh was lights out for most of the night as Potomac tripled up Winston-Salem, 6-2.

The 23-year-old has had an up and down season thus far for Potomac, missing nearly two months from late April to late June, while shifting between starting and relieving over the last few weeks.

Thus, when he walked the first two batters in the 1st, his no-hit bid for three and a 1/3rd innings would almost go unnoticed. Courtney Hawkins, who’s venturing into Billy Rowell territory as he’s in his third season with the Dash but is only 21, broke it up with a one-out double in the 4th.

Rauh would let up his second hit in the 5th, and his third in the 6th, which came after his fourth walk to put runners on second and third with one out. A whiff (#4) and a lineout to third ended the threat and Rauh’s night.

Meanwhile, the offense broke out for three in the third. Dash pitcher J.B. Wendelken also hadn’t given up a hit, but that was over Estarlin Martinez got aboard with a swinging bunt single, followed by Pedro Severino’s first safety, then a two-run triple by Isaac Ballou. Tony Renda hit a flyball to medium center, which was deep enough for Ballou to, um, dash home with the third run.

Potomac got another run in the 5th, then two more in the 6th to extend the lead to 6-0 before Richie Mirowski had an adventuresome 7th as Winston Salem got to him for four flares/singles. A Stephen Perez error extended the inning and rendered one of the two runs given up unearned. Mirowski would strike out the side with a series of curves and changes.

As the pic shows, the stadium lights actually went out for 25 minutes in the bottom of the 8th, but the layoff didn’t affect the outcome as both teams put on a pair of runners in their final “ups,” but couldn’t push them across.

The Hillcats won to keep pace while the Blue Rocks dropped to four back of the P-Nats, who lead the C.L. North by three games. Tonight, it’s southpaw Matthew Spann (7-5, 4.65) against northpaw James Dykstra (2-0, 2.70) in game two of the series.

Aug 042014
 

Ripple
With the promotion of Steve Souza from Syracuse to Washington to replace an allegedly injured Nate McLouth, also comes the promotion of CF Michael Taylor from Harrisburg to take Souza’s place on the Syracuse roster.

Now, obviously it’s possible that both moves could be reversed in two weeks when McLouth is eligible to be activated, but it seems awfully convenient coincidental that the Nats waited until after the non-waiver trade deadline to make any of these moves. Washington GM Mike Rizzo is as brilliant as he is stubborn, and we could very well be seeing both traits on display here.

It’s been a topic of debate in the comments as to where Brian Goodwin is and/or what has happened to him. Officially, he’s on the DL (and without explanation), which, to remind the newcomers here, does not necessarily mean that a player is injured. But common sense — a misnomer, as Mark Twain once said because it’s so rarely found — does suggest that Goodwin is indeed hurt. It’s one thing to stash a guy for a week, but as of today it’s been a month.

Thus, the rumor that Goodwin has suffered a separated shoulder (via the comments) doesn’t seem all that implausible. Of course, that is the function of rumor — to fill in the gaps of knowledge when there is no official information. But if it’s true — and there is precedent in the example of Matt Purke, who went missing in the summer of 2012 only to be revealed during the 2012-13 offseason that he had undergone shoulder surgery — then we may be seeing an injury allow one prospect to leapfrog another again, just as we did with Tyler Moore and Chris Marrero.

The Senators and Chiefs also announced the following moves…
• RHP Josh Roenicke released
• RHP Scott McGregor reassigned from Harrisburg to Syracuse
• IF Ricky Hague and RHP Sam Runion activated from the 7-Day DL

It’s possible that Roenicke’s release was at his request; at the time he was signed he reportedly had a June 15 opt-out clause. Though it seems more likely that he was released outright with a two in-season FAs backfilling the gaps.

As always, if there are further moves related to this story, look for this space to be updated.