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 072012
 

With roughly 2½ to 4 weeks to go in the regular season for the seven Nationals affiliates, it’s time for the annual assessment of playoff chances.

As noted in the comments, this time of year you’re just as likely to see folks proclaim that winning in the minors is overrated as you’ll see folks insist that it’s actually underrated. I can’t help but notice that it seems to be inversely proportional to the playoff chances of the writer’s favorite team or organization.

Obviously, player development is the most important objective of the farm system, even if I’m sure folks can come up with seemingly contradictory examples (*cough*, Carlos Alvarez, *cough*, Chien-Ming Wang, *cough*). As a prospect follower, I believe there is something to be said for playing an extra week or two of heightened competition. As a sportswriter, I love writing about the pennant chase. As a fan, I love playoff baseball.

For the third straight summer, we’re looking at multiple teams having a chance at postseason play. Without further ado, here’s a look at the odds for each affiliate…

SYRACUSE
Perhaps without the litany of injuries in Washington, the Chiefs might have had a chance at the playoffs with Corey Brown, Tyler Moore, and Bryce Harper in the lineup every day for another few weeks together. They’re still mathematically alive, as last September demonstrated that an 8½ game lead can vanish in a month. But with an elimination number of 21 with 28 games left, the odds are very slim. The Chiefs’ mission is keeping the potential call-ups healthy and ready for a September in DC.

HARRISBURG
A month ago, this team looked like a lock to make the playoffs, reeling off eight straight wins to begin July. They would then lose 10 of the next 11 and by month’s end fell from 1st place to 5th place in the E.L. West. They’re currently 4½ games out of wild-card contention and have eight (8) players on the DL, of which three (Chris Rahl, Jeff Kobernus, and Cameron Selik) are nearly certain not to return. Injuries and promotions (Eury Perez, Zach Walters) aside, the inability of the team to score in close ballgames and/or with runners in scoring position does not bode well for the team if it were to make it to the playoffs.

The good news is that they play their last 12 games against the two teams they’re chasing (Bowie, Richmond) but they have to make hay starting today against the Flying Squirrels. Ordinarily (see below), the talk would be about home-field advantage, but the Senators have played much better on the road (31-26) than at home (24-34) all season long. A similar showing in the six games against playoff contenders (Akron, Reading) in the next nine home games could make the last dozen overall merely an exercise in spoiling the hopes of their divisional foes.

POTOMAC
Potomac is fortunate in that the Carolina League chooses to have two four-team divisions despite having a balanced schedule. What this means it’s that it’s possible for a team to make the playoffs with a losing record or an inferior record to the other second-place if the balance of power happens to be in concentrated in one division, as it is this season and largely has been the past few seasons. There are 13 home games and 14 road games left for Potomac, and nine games left against the two teams they’re trying to beat out for the wild card. There are no more games against first-half winner and first-place Lynchburg.

This is significant because the Carolina League has not only reverted to a best-of-three for the first round, but a double half winner gets to host all three potential games. The first-half winner gets the choice of whether to host Game One, with the other team hosting Game Two and the potential Game Three. That’s a strong incentive to not mail in the second half as a certain Baltimore affiliate has in recent years. Should the P-Nats rally to win the division, as it did in 2011, the Hillcats might do well to gamble on opening in Woodbridge and having at least two chances to win in Lynchburg.

HAGERSTOWN
Hagerstown has been in contention all season long and has been hitting all season long, but the pitching has been unreliable. Fourteen different pitchers have made two or more starts for the Suns. Two starters have been sent up to Potomac (Alex Meyer, Nathan Karns), along with the team’s All-Star closer (Aaron Barrett). The replacements have had mixed success, but if this team is going to make the postseason, it will have to what it has done all season long and outslug its mound mistakes.

The Suns have had the more traditional home-road split — 36-18 at the Muni, 30-30 on the road. Fourteen of its last 25 are at home, and 19 of those 25 games are against divisional opponents. Like Potomac, they have no more games against the current first-place team, West Virginia, and just three more against the team that they’re tied for second place with (Hickory). Unlike Potomac, they do have a chance to knock back the first-half winners (Greensboro), if they make a run at winning both halves, though they’ll have to do it on the road. Overall, things look good to get to the playoffs, but getting past the first round is far less certain.

AUBURN
The Doubledays have been in the driver’s seat for the Pinckney Division all season long. They hold a 3½ game lead over second-place State College and have a favorable schedule (15 of 29 at home) the rest of the way. The problem is that with both rounds being best-of-three, it doesn’t matter how well they’re playing now. It’s how well they’re playing a month from now. Say what you will about them being one of the oldest teams in the league, though the gap between them and the league average is probably smaller than you might think (21.8 vs. 21.1 for the bats, 21.7 vs. 21.3 for the arms).

GCL NATIONALS
A four-game win streak has brought them under 10 games behind in the GCL East and to seven back in the wild card race, but this team only gets to the postseason as spectators.

DSL NATIONALS
The D-Nats have been a slightly better than .500 team for most of the season with a team that’s at league average for pitcher age and below league average for hitters. Unfortunately, in the DSL there are half-a-dozen teams that are .556+ (a.k.a. a 90-win team) and roughly the same number that are sub-.383 (a.k.a. a 100-loss team).

Aug 072012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 5-4;
Lost, 4-3
vs. Buffalo,
7:00 p.m.
Maya (9-8, 3.54) vs.
McHugh (1-3, 3.75)
Harrisburg OFF DAY @ Richmond,
7:05 p.m.
Wang (1-2, 3.52) vs.
Heston (7-4, 2.39)
Potomac OFF DAY @ Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Meyer (1-0, 0.53) vs.
TBD
Hagerstown Lost, 3-1 OFF DAY N/A
Auburn Lost, 3-1 vs. Jamestown,
7:05 p.m.
Encarnacion (3-1, 4.42) vs.
Hope (1-3, 4.17)
GCL Nationals Won, 5-3 @ GCL Cardinals,
12:00 p.m.
Vasquez (2-6, 3.86) vs.
Villegas (4-2, 6.45)
DSL Nationals Lost, 6-3 vs. DSL Cubs2,
10:30 a.m.
Valdez (2-1, 6.27) vs.
Torrez (5-1, 1.04)

Syracuse 5 Buffalo 4 — GAME ONE
• Duke (W, 12-5) 6IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 8K, 2HR
• Pena (SV, 4) 1IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, K
• Perez 2-3, 2R, BB, RBI, SB, E
• Hoffpauir 1-3, 2B, RBI

A two-run 5th and a three-run 6th pushed Syracuse past Buffalo for a 5-4 win in game one. Zach Duke turned in a quality start, working around two solo shots and giving up three runs total on five hits and a walk while striking out eight to earn his I.L.-leading 12th win. Eury Perez singled twice and scored twice to lead the Chiefs offense.

Buffalo 4 Syracuse 3 — GAME TWO
• Arnesen (L, 2-3) 2IP, 3H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Atkins 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Perez 1-4, 2B, RBI (17-gm hit streak)
• Hoffpauir 1-2, R, 2B, BB, RBI

The tying run was left on third as the Chiefs rallied for three in the 7th but lost to the Bison in the nightcap, 4-3. Spot starter Erik Arnesen, who was working on just two days’ rest, tired in the second and gave up all four Buffalo runs. Eury Perez extended his hit streak to 17 games with an RBI double in the 7th. Roster moves: OF Jesus Valdez activated from the TIL, C Carlos Maldonado outrighted from Washington, LHP Atahualpa Severino designated for assignment.

HARRISBURG SENATORS — OFF DAY
After a 3-3 homestand, the Senators make a quick trip to the scenic (no, not really) confines of Richmond for three games against the Flying Squirrels before returning on Friday for a six-games-in-seven-days homestand against Binghamton and Akron.

POTOMAC NATIONALS — OFF DAY
Anthony Rendon is expected to play today when the Potomac Nationals open the second leg of their road trip with three games against Myrtle Beach. Roster move: C Jeff Howell transferred from Syracuse.

Lexington 3 Hagerstown 1
• Rauh (L, 1-2) 6IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 5K, 2WP
• Holt 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Burns 2-3, BB, CS
• Nieto 1-2, R

After blowouts in the first two games, the series finale was a pitcher’s duel, but Lexington completed the sweep of Hagerstown, 3-1. The game featured five double plays and three outs at home plate, including two on double plays by the Suns. Brian Rauh took the loss with two runs allowed on two hits and two walks over six innings. Hagerstown outhit Lexington 5-4, with Billy Burns reaching base three times with two singles and a walk. Roster move: C Jeremy Mayo transferred from Syracuse and placed on the 7-Day DL. Again.

Brooklyn 3 Auburn 1
• Fischer (L, 1-3) 5IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 3K, 2HR
• Boyden 3IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Pleffner 2-4
• McQuillan 1-4, R

Brooklyn completed its three-game sweep of Auburn with a 3-1 win, handing the Doubledays their first series sweep and three-game skid of the season. David Fischer gave up all three Cyclones runs, including a pair of solo shots in the fourth, on six hits and a walk while striking out three. Auburn loaded the bases with three straight singles to open up the game, then got just one run and two more hits the rest of the game. Shawn Pleffner, who had been activated from the DL just prior to the game, led the hit column with a 2-for-4 game.

GCL Nationals 5 GCL Cardinals 3
• Estevez 3IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 6K
• Hudgins (W, 3-3) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Heredia (SV, 1) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Nix 2-3, R, 2B, 2RBI, SB
• Lippincott 2-3, 2R, 3B, BB, RBI
• Severino 2-4, 2B, RBI

With three strong innings from Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez, and a pair of two-run rallies, the G-Nats opened up a 4-0 lead and held off the G-Cards for a 5-3 win. Estevez struck out six and allowed two hits and a walk over three scoreless innings. Will Hudgins earned the win in relief while Inocencio Heredia got the last four outs for the save. Tony Nix led the offense with a 2-for-3 game, including a double, a stolen base, a run scored, and two runs driven in.

DSL Cubs2 6 DSL Nationals 3
• Ruiz 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Sanchez (L, 0-1) 2IP, 3H, 5R, 5ER, BB, K, HR
• Bautista 2-4, SB
• Aguero 1-3, R, 2SB

Raul Ruiz threw three scoreless innings in his D-Nats debut, but the DSL Cubs2 feasted on the first man out of the ‘pen for five runs in a 6-3 win. Ruiz gave up just a hit and struck out two. 17-y.o. Mario Sanchez was lit up for a three-run HR and five runs total in the 5th after pitching a scoreless 4th. 18-y.o. Raudy Read smacked his 8th HR, tied for second-best in the DSL, while 19-y.o. Rafael Bautista was the sole D-Nat to collect multiple hits with a pair of singles and a stole base, no. 36, which leads the DSL. Yesterday afternoon, the Nationals announced the signing of four International Free Agents. James Wagner of the Washington Post has the few details made available.

Aug 062012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Buffalo,
5:00 p.m.
Duke (11-5, 3.78) and
Lannan (6-10, 5.24) vs.
Z. Wheeler (AAA debut)
and Mejia (1-2, 3.57)
Harrisburg Lost, 6-3
(5½ inn, rain)
OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Lost, 6-4 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 16-6 vs. Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Rauh (1-1, 6.59) vs.
Cruz (8-5, 3.75)
Auburn Lost, 8-0
(8 inn., rain)
@ Brooklyn,
11:00 a.m.
Fischer (1-2, 5.25) vs.
Lara (5-1, 2.72)
GCL Nationals OFF DAY vs. GCL Cardinals,
12:00 p.m.
Selsor (0-2, 6.12) vs.
Foody (0-1, 5.68)
DSL Nationals OFF DAY @ DSL Cubs2,
10:30 a.m.
Silvestre (4-3, 3.81) vs.
Santana (1-3, 2.85)

SYRACUSE CHIEFS — PPD
Rain postponed Sunday’s series finale and will be made up today with a doubleheader in Syracuse.

Richmond 6 Harrisburg 3 (5½ inn.)
• Rosenbaum (L, 7-9) 4+IP, 6H, 6R, 4ER, 3BB, 4K
• Tatusko 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 2-0 IR-S
• Goodwin 2-3, R, 3B, RBI
• Nicol 2-2, 2RBI

Danny Rosenbaum failed to retire any of the six batters he faced in the four-run 5th as Senators dropped a rain-shortened series finale, 6-3. The 24-year-old southpaw gave up six runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks but suffered his 9th loss. The Senators rallied for two in their half of the 5th to cut the deficit from 6-1 to 6-3, but the umpires called it after waiting 47 minutes midway through the 6th, killing the chance for comeback and a three-game sweep. Brian Goodwin and Sean Nicol accounted for four of Harrisburg’s nine hits and all three RBI. Roster moves: Geoff Morrow of the Patriot News is reporting C James Skelton will return from Potomac, OF J.R. Higley will return to Hagerstown.

Winston-Salem 6 Potomac 4
• Grace (L, 6-11) 3IP, 9H, 5R, 5ER, BB, 2K, 0HR
• Barrett 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, HBP
• Ramirez 2-4
• Soriano 2-4, 3B

Make it a perfect 0-for-10 at BB&T Park as the Potomac Nationals lost again in Winston-Salem, 6-4. Starter Matt Grace was skewered for five runs on nine hits (seven singles, a double, and a triple) and a walk over three innings to lose his team-leading 11th game. Joe Testa, Aaron Barrett, and Neil Holland combined for one run over five innings of relief, but the offense could only manage one four-run outburst in the 6th. J.P. Ramirez and Francisco Soriano paced the P-Nats offense with 2-for-4 efforts.

Lexington 16 Hagerstown 6
• Jordan (L, 0-2) 3IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 4K, HR
• Ramsey 3-5, R, 2-2B
• Burns 3-5, 2B, RBI, CS, E
• Alvarez 2-3, R, 2B, 3B, BB, RBI

Lexington ran roughshod over Hagerstown for the second straight game, turning a 3-0 deficit into a 16-6 beatdown. Starter Taylor Jordan lasted just three innings, giving up five runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four. None of the four Suns pitchers emerged unscathed, with each of the three relievers giving up three or more runs. Caleb Ramsey and Billy Burns combined to go 6-for-10 with three doubles to pace the Hagerstown offense. Roster move: RHP Wilson Eusebio activated from DL.

Brooklyn 8 Auburn 0 (8 inn.)
• Mooneyham (L, 1-1) 1⅔ IP, 5H, 6R, 3ER, 2BB, 3K, HR
• Henke 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• E. Martinez 1-3, BB (17-gm hit streak)
• Manuel 1-2, BB

Though Johan Santana did toss three rehab innings with the expected results (0R, 1H, 1BB, 3K), the Doubledays made the rest of the Cyclones pitchers look good in a rain-shortened 8-0 shutout. Starter Brett Mooneyham was knocked around for six runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks over an inning and 2/3rds. Auburn mustered just four hits while committing four errors, though Estarlin Martinez did extend his hit streak to 17 games with a single in the top half of the 8th. Roster move: Auburn PR man Eli Pearlstein has announced that Anthony Rendon’s rehab stint with the Doubedays is over and will return to the Potomac Nationals, most likely on Tuesday in Myrtle Beach.

GCL NATIONALS — OFF DAY
It’s Cardinals, Marlins, then Astros and home games on Monday, Wednesday, and a doubleheader on Friday. Roster move: RHP Chris McKenzie assigned from Hagerstown (rehab).

DSL NATIONALS — OFF DAY
This week’s opponents are the DSL Cubs2, Mets1, and Yankees1 squads with home games on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Roster move: LHP Raul Ruiz, a 21-y.o. that was previously with VSL Pirates from 2008-2010, assigned from Washington.

Aug 052012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 1-0 @ Buffalo,
1:05 p.m.
Duke (11-5, 3.78) vs.
Z. Wheeler (AAA debut)
Harrisburg Won, 1-0 vs. Richmond,
2:00 p.m.
Rosenbaum (7-8, 3.64) vs.
Westcott (9-8, 3.72)
Potomac Lost, 10-8 @ Winston-Salem,
5:00 p.m.
Grace (6-10, 5.67) vs.
Bassitt (2-2, 3.12)
Hagerstown Lost, 8-0 vs. Lexington,
1:05 p.m.
Jordan (0-1, 3.46) vs.
Devenksi (6-5, 4.23)
Auburn Lost, 4-1 @ Brooklyn,
5:00 p.m.
Mooneyham (1-0, 1.37) vs.
J. Santana (rehab)
GCL Nationals Postponed OFF DAY N/A
DSL Nationals Tied, 0-0
(Suspended)
OFF DAY N/A

Buffalo 1 Syracuse 0
• Roark (L, 6-13) 7IP, 6H, R, ER, BB, 4K
• Garcia 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Negrych 2-5
• Rivero 2-3, BB

The Chiefs put runners on in seven of nine inning, including three in the 6th, but couldn’t push any across for a 1-0 loss to Buffalo. Tanner Roark was the tough-luck loser, giving up the sole run on six hits and a walk over seven innings while striking out four. It was his third straight one-run, seven-inning outing. Syracuse outhit Buffalo 10-6, with Jim Negrych and Carlos Rivero both singling twice. The Chiefs left 12 runners on and went 1-for-12 with RISP. Roster moves: C Sandy Leon optioned from Washington, C Jeremy Mayo transferred from Hagerstown.

Harrisburg 1 Richmond 0
• Perry 7IP, 5H, 0R, BB, 3K
• McCoy (W, 6-1) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Nelo (SV, 14) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Goodwin 1-4, R, HR, RBI
• Bloxom 2-3, 2B

Brian Goodwin’s solo shot in the last of the 8th was the difference in a 1-0 Harrisburg win over Richmond. Ryan Perry went the first seven innings and gave up five hits and a walk with three strikeouts. The win went to Pat McCoy for a scoreless 8th, with one hit allowed. Hector Nelo shut the door with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save. The Senators were held to just three hits (Justin Bloxom went 2-for-3 with a double) as the Flying Squirrels’ Chris Gloor got the complete-game loss.

Winston-Salem 10 Potomac 8
• Ray (L, 4-8) 2⅔ IP, 7H, 8R, 8ER, 3BB, 3K, 3HR
• Carr 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Martinson 2-4, 4R, BB, HR, 2RBI
• King 4-5, R
• Kelso 2-5, R, 2B, 2RBI

Robbie Ray was lit up for eight runs over two and 2/3rds innings, include three home runs, as the Potomac Nationals lost another one to Winston-Salem, 10-8. Jason Martinson homered and drove in two, scoring four times to push his run tally to 96 and his RBI mark to 100, both of which lead the minor leagues. Stephen King led the hit column with a 4-for-5 night while Kevin Keyes launched his third HR of the week (17th of the season). Roster moves: C James Skelton transferred from Harrisburg, OF Steve Souza Jr. placed on the 7-Day DL (leg injury).

Lexington 8 Hagerstown 0
• Hansen (L, 2-4) 4⅔ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 5K, 2HR
• Ortega 1-2, 2B, BB
• Newsome 1-3, 2B

Last Night In Hagerstown was postponed due to a last-minute trip to DC to acquire a new copyeditor, and the timing was fortuitous because the Suns were not shining in an 8-0 loss to Lexington. Bobby Hansen Jr. got bit but the longball, serving up two solo shots and four runs total over four and 2/3rds on six hits and two walks. He did strike out five. Justin Miller and Angel Montilla singled while Bryce Ortega and Brett Newsome doubled for the four Hagerstown hits.

Brooklyn 4 Auburn 1
• Monar 5IP, 3H, R, ER, 5BB, 4K
• Medina (L, 0-2) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 0K
• Mesa 3-3, R, 2B
• Ramos 2-4

If the PA guy for Brooklyn is any good, the fans got to hear nine of these songs as Auburn pitchers issued nine walks in a 4-1 loss to Brooklyn. Blake Monar gave up five in his five innings of work but allowed just one run and three hits. Silvio Medina was not so fortunate, taking the loss as his three free passes resulted in the three runs that broke up a 1-1 tie in the 7th. The Doubledays outhit the Cyclones 6-5, with Narciso Mesa and Wander Ramos combining to go 5-for-7.

GCL Nationals vs. GCL Astros — PPD
The GCL Nationals were rained out for the fourth time to give the players an extra day off. This one will be made up with a doubleheader on Friday, August 10.

DSL Nationals 0 DSL Phillies 0 — SUSP.
• Gomez 2⅔ IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 2K

Inclement weather stopped play in this one in the top of the third with the score tied at 0-0. It will most likely be resumed as part of a doubleheader when these two teams next meet on Monday, August 20.

Aug 042012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 13-7 @ Buffalo,
7:05 p.m.
Roark (6-12, 4.95) vs.
Schwinden (4-4, 2.38)
Harrisburg Won, 4-3 vs. Richmond,
7:00 p.m.
Perry (1-2, 1.82) vs.
Gloor (2-2, 2.23)
Potomac Lost, 6-4 @ Winston-Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Ray (4-7, 5.19) vs.
Snodgress (1-0, 0.75)
Hagerstown Won, 6-3 vs. Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Hansen (2-3, 4.63) vs.
Rollins (0-0, 16.20)
Auburn Won, 6-4 @ Brooklyn,
6:00 p.m.
Monar (2-3, 3.12) vs.
Robles (2-1, 2.04)
GCL Nationals Won, 4-3
(10 inn.)
vs. GCL Astros,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Won, 6-5 vs. DSL Phillies,
10:30 a.m.
Gomez (6-3, 3.27) vs.
Sanchez (3-3, 3.67)

Buffalo 13 Syracuse 7
• Mandel (L, 2-4) 2⅓ IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, BB, 2K, 2HR
• Atkins 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Hoffpauir 3-4, 2R, HR, BB, 2RBI
• Teahen 3-5, R
• Brown 2-5, R, HR, RBI

With a four-run 3rd and three-run 4th, Buffalo erased an early 5-2 deficit and went on to stampede Syracuse, 13-7. Jeff Mandel was gored twice (two HR) and gave up six runs on seven hits over two and a 1/3rd innings to take the loss. Four relievers followed and only Mitch Atkins went unscathed as the Bisons racked up 19 hits total. Corey Brown (2-for-5) and Jarrett Hoffpauir (3-for-4) both homered as the Chiefs pounded out 15 hits with all nine starters reaching base. Roster moves: LHP John Lannan optioned to/from Washington, IF Zach Walters promoted from Harrisburg, OF Jesus Valdez placed on Temporary Inactive List, C Koyie Hill released, C Carlos Maldonado designated for assignment, C Jeff Howell activated from the 7-Day DL.

Harrisburg 4 Richmond 3
• Holder 6IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 0BB, 4K
• Broderick (W, 1-0) 2⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 3K
• Davis (SV, 5) ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 1-0 IR-S
• Goodwin 2-4, 2R, 2B, BB, SB, CS
• Van Ostrand 1-4, R, 2RBI

The Senators rallied for two in the 7th and held on for 4-3 win over Richmond. Doubles by Brian Goodwin (2-for-4) and Seth Bynum (1-for-3) with Jimmy Van Ostrand’s RBI single in between did the deed. Brian Broderick got the win in relief of Trevor Holder, who turned in a quality start with two runs allowed on five hits over the first six innings. Erik Davis got the final out of the ninth for his fifth save. Roster moves: IF Seth Bynum transferred from Syracuse, OF Destin Hood placed on 7-Day DL, OF J.R. Higley transferred from Hagerstown.
Winston-Salem 6 Potomac 4
• Gilliam 6IP, 9H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 5K
• Demmin (L, 1-2) 1IP, 1H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, K
• Souza 1-2, R, BB, HR, SB, OF assist at 2B
• Sanchez 2-5, R, HR, RBI

Potomac’s Carolina blues continued with another loss to Winston-Salem, 6-4. The Dash rallied for three runs after Ryan Demmin retired the first two batters in the 7th, with a pair of walks, catcher’s interference, and a triple to clear the bases. The P-Nats had built a 3-0 lead on the strength of solo HRs by Adrian Sanchez and Steve Souza, who left the game with an injury after the aforementioned triple. Starter Rob Gilliam gave up three runs on nine hits over six innings but walked none and struck out five. Roster moves: C David Freitas traded to Oakland Athletics, C Sam Palace activated from the DL.

Hagerstown 6 Lexington 3
• Schwartz 5IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 6K
• Hollins 3IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Bates (W, 7-3) 1IP, 0H, 0R, K
• Skole 2-3, R, 2B, HR, 2BB, 5RBI
• Burns 2-5, R

Matt Skole’s 25th home run was, um, legendary as his walkoff grand slam with two outs in the 9th turned a 3-2 loss into a 6-3 win. Skole also had an RBI double and walked twice to notch six total bases and drive in five. Colin Bates got the win by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth. Blake Schwartz gave up all three Lexington runs on six hits and four walks. Billy Burns went 2-for-5 with a run scored after being activated from the DL prior to the game.

Auburn 6 Staten Island 4
• Pineyro 6IP, 7H, R, ER, 2BB, 5K
• Benincasa (BS, 2; W, 1-0) 2IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 1BB, 5K
• Self (SV, 8) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Norfork 2-3, 2R, 2B, BB, SB
• McQuillan 2-5, R, 2B, SB

Auburn answered a three-run 7th with a four-run 8th to take the game, 6-4, and complete the three-game sweep of Staten Island. Starter Ivan Pineyro scattered seven hits and allowed just one run over six frames, walking two and striking out five. The Doubledays collected ten hits by five players, with Khayyan Norfork and Mike McQuillan each hitting a single and a double swiping a base. Anthony Rendon was 0-for-4 with a walk as the DH. Robert Benincasa got the blown-save win while Derek Self notched his eighth save with a scoreless 9th. Roster move: LHP Jack McGeary assigned from Hagerstown and placed on the 7-Day DL.

GCL Nationals 4 GCL Marlins 3 (10 inn.)
• Barrientos (W, 3-0) 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 5K, WP
• Peters (SV, 1) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Jennings 2-5, R, 3B, RBI, SB(10)
• Foat 2-5, R, SB
• Piwnica-Worms 1-3, R, 2BB, SB

The G-Nats opened up a six-run lead with crooked numbers in three of the first four innings and held off a late charge from the G-Astros for a 6-4 win. Joel Barrientos improved to 3-0 with two runs allowed on six hits and a walk over five innings with five strikeouts. John Peters got the last four outs for the save. Hayden Jennings singled, tripled, and stole his 10th base to lead the G-Nats offense.

DSL Nationals 6 DSL Phillies 5
• De La Cruz 3IP, 0H, 0R, 3BB, K
• K. Rodriguez (BS, 2; W, 3-2) 2⅔ IP, 1H, R, ER, 3BB, 4K, HR, 2-2 IR-S
• Marmolejos-Diaz 1-4, R, BB, RBI
• Abreu 1-3, R, 2RBI

After blowing a four-run lead in the 7th, the DSL Nationals rallied for two in the top of the 9th to beat the DSL Phillies, 6-5. Kelvin Rodriguez, who served up a three-run HR as part of the D-Phils five-run rally in the 7th, got the blown-save win by pitching the final two and 2/3rds innings. Emmanuel De La Cruz got the start and threw three no-hit innings, walking three and striking out one. The D-Nats managed just six hits, but three were for extra-bases with “Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz hitting a solo home run.

Aug 032012
 

David Freitas, a 15th-round draft pick out of the University of Hawaii and three-time All-Star in the Washington Nationals minor leagues, has been traded to the Oakland Athletics for C Kurt Suzuki. He is the second catcher to be traded from the Nats to A’s in less than eight months.

Freitas had been hitting .271/.374/.407 in 78 games for High-A Potomac when the trade was announced this afternoon. He was the starting catcher in the 2012 Carolina League All-Star Game, the 2011 Sally League All-Star game, and the 2010 New York-Penn League All Star game.

A corresponding move has not yet been formally announced, but with the activation of Jeremy Mayo on Wednesday — which put the Hagerstown roster at three active catchers — it would appear that one of the Suns backstops will be joining the P-Nats in Winston-Salem tonight (if they’re not already there).

Aug 032012
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 54-58, T5th place I.L. North, 7½ games behind

Good Eury Perez .408/.453/.490 in 13G since callup (hit safely in every game)
Bad Austin Bibens-Dirkx 6.27ERA, 1.61WHIP in last 10 appearances
Interesting Yunesky Maya 3-1, 3.00ERA since I.L. All-Star Break (4 starts)

HARRISBURG SENATORS 53-59, 5th place E.L. West, 13½ games behind

Good Trevor Holder 2-1, 2.84 ERA in last three appearances
Bad 11-for-65 (.169) with RISP on last road trip (eight games)
Interesting Chien-Ming Wang in 2011/12 — 15GS in MLB, 16GS in Minors
(H/T Geoff Morrow of Patriot-News)

POTOMAC NATIONALS 20-20, 1st place C.L. North Division, ½ game ahead (51-59 overall)

Good Alex Meyer 1-0, 0.53ERA, 0.94WHIP, 15K in first 3 starts (17IP)
Bad 849 team batting K’s — 1st in eight-team C.L.
Interesting Erick Fernandez .393/.514/.429 in last 10 games

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 23-18, T1st place Sally League North Divison, 1 game ahead (65-45 overall)

Good Richie Mirowski 3-0, 1.76ERA in first 8 appearances
Bad Carlos Alvarez .417OPS in 13 games since callup
Interesting 167 teams SBs lead Sally League

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 27-16, 1st place Pinckney Division, N.Y.-Penn League, 3 games ahead

Good Brett Mooneyham 1-0, 1.37 ERA, 1.02WHIP in first five appearances (4GS)
Bad Jordan Poole 44K in 100AB over 28G
Interesting Estarlin Martinez .913OPS, 15G hit streak

GCL NATIONALS 16-24, 4th Place GCL East, 11 games behind

Good Austin Chubb .262/.319/.500 in 16G
Bad Adalberto Mieses 1.75WHIP in 24IP
Interesting Will Hudgins 2.93ERA, 1.08WHIP in 27⅔IP

DSL NATIONALS 28-24, 4th Place Boca Chica South Division, 8½ games behind

Good 17-y.o. Jonathan Aquino 1.06WHIP in 10⅓ IP
Bad 17-y.o. Wester Suarez .529OPS in 16G
Interesting 19-y.o. Rafael Bautista 34SB, 4CS (89.5% success rate)
Aug 032012
 

The estimable Bill “The Rocket” Ladson is reporting that IF Zach Walters has been promoted from Harrisburg to Syracuse, which has been confirmed by MASN’s Byron Kerr.

The corresponding move appears to be the reassignment of longtime National farmhand Seth Bynum from Syracuse to Harrisburg, though OF Jesus Valdez has also been placed on the temporary inactive list, a move that appears to be related to the expected up-and-back for LHP John Lannan.
Walters was acquired at the 2011 trading deadline for RHP Jason Marquis and finished the season at High-A Potomac, which was essentially a promotion as he had spent the beginning of the 2011 season with Low-A South Bend.

Walters was a late addition to Washington’s 2011 Arizona Fall League team, ostensibly going in place of Anthony Rendon, but racked up a line of just .205/.253/.301 and made six errors. He began 2012, as predicted, at Potomac but slowly before heating up in mid-May and earning a promotion to Harrisburg in mid-June.

Walters has been touted as a potential backup to current middle infielders Danny Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi, but make no mistake: It’s his bat, not his glove that has gotten him from High-A to AAA thus far, as the errors have continue to pile up since the AFL (30 in his last 100 games). Walters can switch-hit, but he’s stronger as LHB than a RHB and has played at second base and third base as well as shortstop.

Aug 032012
 

Kevin Keyes gets congrats after his three-run HR in the 8th

After dropping the continuation from Wednesday by a 5-3 count in 10 innings, a quartet of Nationals pitchers combined for a five-hit, 8-0 shutout of the Salem Red Sox to claim sole possession of first place in the Carolina League’s Northern Division.

Nathan Karns got the win, his eighth, with five scoreless innings, which lowered his ERA from 1.84 to 1.70. But at the risk of sounding spoiled, this was not his best outing. This is not the Salem squad that finished the first half 41-28 — no Jackie Bradley Jr. (1.002 OPS), no Travis Shaw (.957).

The unofficial pitch count was 81 pitches, 45 for strikes. Three walks and a hit batsmen over five innings meant just one 1-2-3 inning and more than a couple of prolonged at-bats. The six strikeouts were nice, but Karns could have set down eight or nine against this lineup in five frames (he struck out 11 in seven in June).

Offensively, Potomac got started early for the second straight game. Three straight hits to go up 1-0, a sacrifice fly to go up 2-0, then another single to make it 3-0. With a little hesitation from J.P. Ramirez, it might have been 4-0 as the first ended with Stephen King slicing a double to right field. The two would get it done in the fourth with King ripping a double down the left field line, an error helping Ramirez to score.

As the pic above shows, the P-Nats busted the game wide open in the 8th as Adrian Sanchez singled, Ricky Hague walked, and Kevin Keyes deposited a fat fastball to left for home run #16 and RBIs 56, 57, and 58 (both team-best). Jason Martinson singled and scored on Blake Kelso’s RBI double to finish the four-run barrage.

Aaron Barrett followed Karns in the 6th and struck out the first two batters en route to his two goose eggs. Joe Testa worked around a single and a walk in the 8th to put up another zero. Rob Wort gave up a leadoff double to start the ninth then set down the next three, finishing with the strikeout to complete the team shutout.

With the win, Potomac evens its record at 20-20, a frac12; game better than Frederick and Wilmington and a full game better than Lynchburg. Salem did take two-of-three for the first opponent to win a series at the Pfitz since April. Tonight, it’s the start of a six-games-in-seven-nights stretch against the current co-leaders of the Southern Division, the Winston-Salem Dash and the Myrtle Beach. Rob Gilliam (0-0, 1.69) makes his second start.

Aug 032012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 2-0 @ Buffalo,
7:05 p.m.
Mandel (2-3, 2.53) vs.
Familia (7-7, 4.88)
Harrisburg Lost, 4-3
(12 inn.)
vs. Richmond,
7:00 p.m.
Holder (2-2, 5.66) vs.
Fitzgerald (7-7, 3.74)
Potomac Lost, 5-3;
Won, 8-0
@ Winston-Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Gilliam (0-0, 1.69) vs.
McCray (5-3, 3.72)
Hagerstown Won, 9-7 vs. Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Schwartz (1-0, 2.38) vs.
Dufek (5-2, 5.25)
Auburn Won, 11-3 @ Staten Island,
7:00 p.m.
Pineyro (1-1, 3.60) vs.
Flight (1-3, 5.86)
GCL Nationals Won, 4-3
(10 inn.)
@ GCL Astros,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Won, 10-4 @ DSL Phillies,
10:30 a.m.
Valerio (1-4, 3.60) vs.
Santos (4-2, 4.21)

Syracuse 2 Buffalo 0
• Maya (W, 9-8) 7⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 7K
• Severino (H, 6) ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• MacDougal (SV, 1) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Perez 1-3, CS
• Rivero 1-2, R, BB, HR, RBI

Three Syracuse Chiefs combined on a two-hit shutout of the Buffalo Bisons, 2-0. Yunesky Maya, who gave up one run over eight innings in his previous start, threw seven and 2/3rds scoreless to get the win, allowing just two hits and a walk while fanning seven. Atahualpa Severino got the final out of the eighth for his sixth hold while recently signed veteran Mike MacDougal pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save, his first for Syracuse this season.

Binghamton 4 Harrisburg 3 (12 inn.)
• Wang 6⅔ IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 2K, HR
• Barthmaier (L, 0-2) ⅔ IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, BB, K
• Skelton 3-3, RBI, SAC, SF
• Goodwin 3-5, BB
• Van Ostrand 2-6, R

Perhaps it’s time for a trip to AAMCO, as the Sens’ struggles in the clutch continued in a 4-3 loss to Binghamton in 12 innings. Harrisburg went 0-for-15 with RISP and left on 14 runners on. Chien-Ming Wang made his 16th rehab start over the past two seasons and gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk over six and 2/3rds innings. Jimmy Barthmaier suffered the loss, his second for Harrisburg in three appearances. The Senators collected 12 hits with the #1 and #2 batters, Brian Goodwin and James Skelton, combining for six hits.

Salem 3 Potomac 3 — GAME ONE (Comp.)
• Olbrychowski (L, 4-10) 1IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 0K

It took just one and a half innings to decide the suspended game as Salem scored twice against Adam Olbrychowski to secure a 5-3 win. Potomac threatened in the 9th with a pair of one-out walks before Adrian Sanchez hit into a DP and stranded Stephen King at second after a leadoff double in the 10th.

Potomac 8 Salem 0 — GAME TWO
• Karns (W, 8-2) 5IP, 3H, 0R, 3BB, 6K, HBP
• Barrett 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Ramirez 3-4, R, RBI
• King 2-4, 2-2B

Four Potomac pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 9 West Virginia 7
• Hill 2⅔ IP, 7H, 7R, 5ER, 2BB, 0K, 0HR
• Meza (W, 7-1) 3⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Holt (SV, 3) 3IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Ortega 3-5, 2R, 3B, 2RBI
• Nieto 2-4, R, 2B, BB, RBI, SB, PB(14)
• Ramsey 2-4, 2R, BB, RBI

The Suns outslugged the Power, 9-7, to reclaim first place in the Sally League. Starter Taylor Hill struggled, allowing all seven West Virginia runs on seven hits and two walks and struck out none. Christian Meza and Greg Holt got the win and save respectively, combining for six and a 1/3rd no-hit, scoreless innings of relief with four strikeouts. Hagerstown pounded out 12 hits with Bryce Ortega leading the hit column with a 3-for-5 night and Matt Skole connecting for his league-leading 24th home run. Roster move: C Jeremy Mayo activated from the DL.

Auburn Doubledays 11 Staten Island Yankees 3
• Lee 4⅓ IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 2K
• Davis (W, 3-0) 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 3K, 3-2 IR-S
• Martinez 3-5, R, HR, 5RBI (15-game hit streak)
• Rendon 3-4, 3R, 2-2B, RBI
• McQuillan 3-5, 2R, 2B, BB, 2RBI

Estarlin Martinez extended his hit streak to 15 games and drove in five as Auburn smacked Staten Island, 11-3. Martinez went 3-for-5 with a home run as the Doubledays pounded out 18 hits. Cody Davis let in two of three inherited runners but was credited with the win in relief of starter Nick Lee. Anthony Rendon showed no ill effects from last night’s HBP, doubling twice and scoring thrice with an RBI and two assists on defense.

GCL Nationals 4 GCL Marlins 3 (10 inn.)
• Estevez 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Anderson 4IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Foat 3-4, R, 2B, RBI
• Lippincott 2-5, 2B, RBI
• Piwnica-Worms 2-5

Brian Lippincott’s RBI double in the last of the 10th took the edge off Wilson Esuebio blowing a 3-0 lead in the 9th for a 4-3 G-Nats win over the G-Marlins. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez made his first appearance since May 14 with two perfect innings to start the game, followed by four scoreless from Dixon Anderson and two from Bobby Lucas. Eusebio blew the 3-0 lead by giving up three in the 9th. The G-Nats rapped out 12 hits total, with Matt Foat leading the charge with a 3-for-4 afternoon, but were a woeful 1-for-8 with RISP with 10 runners left on base. Roster move: Estevez assigned to GCL (rehab).

DSL Nationals 10 DSL Pirates2 4
• Benitez (W, 2-1) 5IP, 3H, R, ER, 4BB, 6K
• Ramos 2IP, 3H, 2R, ER, BB, 2K
• Read 3-4, R, 2B, HR, 4RBI
• A. Martinez 3-5, 2R, 2-2B, RBI
• Aguero 2-4, 2R, 2B, BB, 2RBI

A six-run 2nd propelled the D-Nats past the D-Pirates2 squad, 10-4. Juan Benitez got the win with five innings of one-run ball, giving up three hits and walking four while striking out six. Raudy Read led the offense with a single, double, and a home run to drive in four runs.