Sep 042012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Harrisburg Lost, 7-2 END OF SEASON N/A
Potomac Won, 3-0
(5½ inn.)
END OF SEASON N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 3-2 END OF SEASON N/A
Auburn Won, 5-3 @ Williamsport,
7:05 p.m.
Monar (2-3, 2.96) vs.
Joaquin (1-4, 4.14)

Rochester 6 Syracuse 4
• Maya (L, 11-10) 7⅓ IP, 11H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• MacDougal ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Brown 2-4, R, HR(25), 2RBI
• Carroll 2-3, RBI

Rochester opened up a 4-0 lead early with a pair of runs in each of the first two innings and held off Syracuse late for a 6-4 win. Yunesky Maya gave up all six runs on 11 hits over seven and a 1/3rd innings, walking two and striking out two. Corey Brown smacked his 25th home run and drove in two (nos. 70, 71), both of which led the Chiefs in 2012. Syracuse finished the season 70-74, 14½ games off the pace in 5th place in the I.L. North.

Bowie 7 Harrisburg 2
• Olbrychowski (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 5K
• Rendon 2-3, R, HR, RBI
• Bloxom 1-4, R, HR, RBI

The Baysox got three runs early off recently promoted Adam Olbrychowski and pounded the Sens late for a 7-2 win. Adam Olbrychowski allowed three runs on five hits and two walks and struck out five in his first career AA start, but suffered the loss. Anthony Rendon and Justin Bloxom hit back-to-back home runs with two out in the 9th to break up the shutout. Harrisburg dropped 36 of its last 52 games to fall from 1st to 5th, ending the season at 64-78 and 18½ games behind.

Potomac 3 Wilmington 0 (5frac12; inn.)
• Hill (W, 1-1) 5IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 6K
• Keyes 1-3, R, HR(21), 2RBI

Rain shortened this one to five and a 1/2 innings, with Potomac shutting out Wilmington for the second straight game, 3-0. Taylor Hill got the win in his third Carolina League start, allowing just one walk and three hits while striking out six. Kevin Keyes drove in two with his 21st HR in the 4th to lead the P-Nats offense. Potomac won six of its last ten but finished the second half 33-36 and went 64-75 overall.

Asheville 3 Hagerstown 2
• Jordan (L, 3-4) 4IP, 10H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 3K
• Holt 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Newsome 3-4, 2R, 2-2B
• Dykstra 2-4, SB(32)
• Jimenez 2-4, 2-2B, RBI

Asheville peppered the field with ten hits over the first four innings, scoring three times en route to a 3-2 victory over Hagerstown in the regular-season finale for both playoff-bound teams. Taylor Jordan took the loss, giving up the aforementioned three on ten over four with no walks and three strikeouts. Brett Newsome led the 11-hit Suns attack with a single and two doubles, scoring both Suns runs. Hagerstown won the 2nd half with a 40-28 mark and went 82-55 overall, two games better than 1st-half champion Greensboro and third-best overall in the South Atlantic League.

Auburn 5 Batavia 3
• Lee (W, 3-1) 5⅓ IP, 6H, 2R, 1ER, 3BB, 5K
• Benincasa (H, 3) 2⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K, 2-1 IR-S
• Self (SV, 14) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K
• Pleffner 3-4, 2R, HR, BB, RBI
• Ramos 3-4, 2B, RBI

Home runs by Shawn Pleffner and Estarlin Martinez highlighted a three-run 6th, as Auburn stopped Batavia’s nine-game win streak with a 5-3 triumph to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the Pinckney Division title. The win gives the Doubledays the first division-title tiebreaker (head-to-head, 7-5), effectively lowering the magic number to clinch at one. Nick Lee earned the win with two runs allowed on six hits and three walks over five and a 1/3rd. Derek Self withstood a pair of two-out doubles to record his 14th save. Pleffner and Ramos both went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead the 12-hit Auburn offense. The Doubledays wrap up their 10-game road trip (and the regular season) with a pair of games in Williamsport.

Sep 032012
 

Not sure how much earlier the PR machine can push out the news (September 28th in 2010, September 10th last year), but today it was announced that the Washington Nationals Player and Pitcher of the Year honors will go to 3B Matt Skole and RHP Nathan Karns.

Photo Credit: Potomac Nationals

Both players split time between Hagerstown and Potomac, with a considerable contingent upset that the promotion of Skole came only slightly faster than Mississippi’s ratification of the 13th Amendment.

Skole was named the Sally League’s MVP late last week and 3B for the Postseason All-Star team. He led the Sally League with 27 HRs and a slugging percentage of .574 and has a combined line of .292/.427/.562 and 104 RBI entering play today. Skole was a 2011 fifth-round pick out of Georgia Tech and led the New York Penn League in RBI with 48 in 72 games last summer.

Karns spent too much time in the Sally League to garner either an All-Star nod or postseason honors from the Carolina League, but led the Potomac starters in ERA (2.26), WHIP (1.02), and strikeouts (87). Combined, Karns went 11-4 with a 2.17 ERA, 2.09 FIP, 1.01 WHIP with 47BB (3.65/9) and 148K’s (11.48/9). Karns was 12th-round pick out of Texas Tech but underwent shoulder surgery in 2010 and did not pitch for the Nationals until last summer, when he went 3-2 in 13 starts in the GCL and Auburn.

At 23 (in late July) and 24 (turning 25 in November), Skole and Karns will have high expectations from fans next year to produce similar results at subsequent levels, particularly for Skole, who appears to be playing second fiddle to Anthony Rendon in the 3B depth chart… unless he is converted to another position. Karns, who was shut down after hitting an unspecified innings limit, will represent a more difficult decision for the front office of deciding whether to continue developing him as a starter or, as speculated last offseason, whether he’ll be converted to relief to accelerate his ascent to AAA and/or D.C.

The two are slated to be honored on Friday night in Nationals Park prior to the Nationals game with the Miami Marlins.

Sep 032012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 8-7 @ Rochester,
1:05 p.m.
Maya (11-9, 3.72) vs.
Martis (3-3, 5.40)
Harrisburg Lost, 11-5 vs. Bowie,
2:00 p.m.
Olbrychowski (1st AA start
of ’12) vs. TBD
Potomac Won, 4-0
(11 inn.)
@ Wilmington,
1:35 p.m.
Hill (0-1, 7.20) vs.
Ridings (6-1, 2.67)
Hagerstown Lost, 7-3 vs. Asheville,
1:05 p.m.
Jordan (3-3, 3.75) vs.
Gagnon (0-0, 2.84)
Auburn Lost, 8-7 @ Batavia,
1:05 p.m.
Lee (2-1, 3.97) vs.
O’Shea (3-2, 2.91)

Syracuse 8 Rochester 7
• Atkins 5IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 0BB, 5K, HR
• Davis (W, 1-0) 2IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Garcia (SV, 14) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Valdez 2-4, R, HR, 2RBI
• Marrero 2-4, R, 2RBI
• Walters 2-4, R, RBI

The Chiefs rallied from a 6-0 deficit to win their home finale, 8-7 over the Red Wings. Erik Davis got the win in relief, his first in AAA, while Christian Garcia threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save. Every Syracuse batter hit safely with Jesus Valdez, Chris Marrero, and Zach Walters each going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Roster moves: LHP Zach Duke and RHP Christian Garcia recalled to Washington.

Harrisburg 11 Bowie 5
• Holder (W, 4-3) 7IP, 6H, R, ER, 0BB, K, HR
• Frias 2IP, 2H, 4R, 1ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Hood 3-5, 2R, RBI
• Lozada 2-3, 2R, 2B, HR, BB, 3RBI

The Senators filibustered for nine runs en route to an 11-5 win over the Baysox. Trevor Holder closed out 2012 with seven strong innings, giving up a run on six hits with no walks and one K for his fourth win. Destin Hood led the hit column with a 3-for-5 afternoon, scoring twice and driving in one. Roster moves: RHP Adam Olbrychowski promoted from Potomac; LHP Danny Rosenbaum placed on the 7-Day DL. Manager moves: Anthony Rendon was benched for not running out a fly ball.

Potomac 4 Wilmington 0 (11 inn.)
• Grace 8IP, 6H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Holland (W, 7-1) 2⅓ IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Barrett (SV, 1) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 3-0 IR-S
• Souza 1-5, R, HR, 4RBI, OF assist at HP

Steve Souza’s grand slam in the 11th broke up a 0-0 tie as the P-Nats finally won a game in Delaware with 4-0 shutout of the Blue Rocks. Matt Grace, Neil Holland and Aaron Barrett combined on the eight-hit shutout, with Holland earning his 7th win and Barrett earning his first Hi-A save.

Asheville 7 Hagerstown 3
• Estevez 4IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 6BB, 2K
• Meza 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Burns 1-4, RBI, SB
• Ramsey 1-4, R, HR, RBI

Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez labored through four innings Last Night In Hagerstown.

Batavia 8 Auburn 7
• Encarnacion 3⅔ IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 4K
• Medina 1IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 0K, 2HR
• Kieboom 2-4, R, RBI
• Alvarez 1-3, R, 2RBI

The Doubledays couldn’t stop the hottest team in the minors, losing 8-7 to the Muckdogs — the 9th straight win by Batavia and 19th triumph in 21 games. Silvio Medina gave up two home runs in the 7th to turn a 6-5 lead into an 8-6 deficit. Auburn got the tying run to second with no outs in the 9th, but lined out and struck out twice to end it. The loss drops Auburn into a tie with Batavia for the Pinckney Division lead, and three-way tie with Brooklyn for the wild card. Brooklyn holds the tiebreakers with both Auburn and Batavia in the event of a tie for the wild card; Auburn holds a 6-5 advantage in head-to-head play going into today’s game but it’s not clear how that would be resolved in the event of a Batavia win today and tie at the end of the season.

Sep 022012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 8-4 vs. Rochester,
7:00 p.m.
Duke (15-5, 3.51) vs.
Blackburn (3-1, 3.12)
Harrisburg Lost, 8-5;
Won, 4-0
vs. Bowie,
2:00 p.m.
Holder (3-3, 4.17)
vs. TBA
Potomac Lost, 5-1 @ Wilmington,
1:35 p.m.
Grace (9-12, 5.13) vs.
Ferguson (4-2, 3.34)
Hagerstown Won, 2-1 vs. Asheville,
7:05 p.m.
Jordan (3-3, 3.75) vs.
Winkler (10-10, 4.49)
Auburn Won, 11-3 @ Batavia,
5:05 p.m.
Encarnacion (5-1, 4.01) vs.
Cuda (7-1, 3.97)

Rochester 8 Syracuse 4
• Roark 5⅔ IP, 5H, R, ER, 2BB, 3K
• Arnesen 2IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, K
• Valdez 2-3, R, BB, 2RBI
• Teahen 2-5, R, HR, RBI

A three-run 7th deleted an early 3-1 lead and a four-run 9th broke a 4-4 tie as Rochester doubled up Syracuse, 8-4, ending a modest four-game win streak. Erik Arnesen took the loss, giving up the four last-inning tallies on five hits after pitching a scoreless eighth. Starter Tanner Roark went the first five and 2/3rds and gave up five hits and two walks while striking out three. Jesus VAldez reached base three times on a pair of singles and a walk and drove in two to lead the Chiefs offense. Roster moves: LHP John Lannan, CF Eury Perez, C Sandy Leon recalled to Washington; C James Skelton promoted from Harrisburg, IF Manny Mayorson activated from 7-Day DL.

Bowie 8 Harrisburg 5 — GAME ONE
• Wang (L, 1-5) 2IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, BB, 2K, 2HR
• Barthmaier 3IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 1K
• Hood 2-4, R, RBI
• Nicol 2-2, 2B, BB, RBI

Chien-Ming Wang finished up his reign of error rehab tour by giving up six runs on seven hits—two of which can’t be blamed on the defense as they cleared the outfield wall—and a walk in an 8-5 loss to Bowie. Sean Nicol singled, doubled, and walked as the Senators racked up nine hits but struggled with RISP with a 4-for-15 mark and left eight runners on base.

Harrisburg 4 Bowie 0 — GAME TWO
• Tatusko (W, 4-5) 5IP, 5H, 0R, 2BB, 5K
• Zinicola 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Van Ostrand 3-3, R, HR, 2RBI
• Bloxom 2-3
• Rendon 1-2, 2R, HR, RBI

Ryan Tatusko and Zech Zinicola combined on a seven-hit shutout to split the doubleheader as the Senators took the second game, 4-0. Tatusko tossed five scoreless innings, letting up five hits and two walks, but keeping the ball on the ground for nine of the 15 outs, including a pair of double play balls.
Jimmy Van Ostrand’s two-run home run and Anthony Rendon’s second AA home run powered the Harrisburg offense. Roster moves: C Jhonatan Solano optioned to Harrisburg from Washington following his activation from the MLB 15-Day DL.

Wilmington 5 Potomac 1
• Ray 5IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 4K
• Testa (L, 1-1) 2IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 3K, 2HR
• Skole 2-4, 2-2B, RBI
• Ramirez 1-3

Robbie Ray turned his string of rough outings around, but a four-run 6th sent the P-Nats to their eighth straight defeat in Wilmington, 5-1. Ray walked four and struck out four but gave up just one hit and one run over five innings. Joe Testa was taken deep twice in the 6th to take the loss. Potomac managed just three hits, with Matt Skole doubling twice in four at-bats and driving in the sole Potomac run.

Hagerstown 2 Asheville 1
• Anderson (W, 1-1) 5IP, 1H, 0R, 3BB, 6K
• Turnbull (H, 1) 3IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Kreis (SV, 3) 1IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K
• Dykstra 3-4, R
• Miller 2-4, 2B, 3B, 2RBI

Justin Miller’s RBI triple in the 1st and RBI double in the 8th supplied the offense while three Hagerstown pitchers stifled Asheville for a 2-1 win. Dixon Anderson won his first Sally League game with five scoreless frames, giving up just a hit and walking three while striking out six. Kylin Turnbull made his first Suns appearance since July 16 with three goose eggs, two hits allowed, a walk and three K’s. Alex Kreis weathered a pair of doubles in the 9th to record his third save. Cutter Dykstra led the hit column, collecting three of the Suns six hits.

Auburn 11 Mahoning Valley 3
• Mooneyham 6IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 5K
• Henke (W, 6-1) 2IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, K
• Renda 3-6, R, RBI
• McQuillan 2-4, 3R, BB, 3RBI
• Ramos 2-3, R, HR, BB, 2RBI

Auburn scored nine unanswered runs in the final two innings to turn a 3-2 nailbiter into an 11-3 laugher over Mahoning Valley. The second-place Muckdogs racked up their eighth straight win to stay just one back and set up the chance to overtake the Doubledays as the two Pinckney Division rivals face off today and tomorrow in Batavia. Travis Henke won his sixth game in relief of Brett Mooneyham, who turned in a quality start with two runs allowed on five hits and two walks over the first six innings. Auburn pounded out 12 hits with leadoff man Mike McQuillan leading the way with three runs scored, three runs driven in, two singles and a walk.

Sep 012012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 5-2 vs. Rochester,
7:00 p.m.
Roark (6-17, 4.50) vs.
Vasquez (9-6, 2.78)
Harrisburg Lost, 9-2 vs. Bowie,
5:30 p.m.
Wang (1-4, 5.82) and
Tatusko (3-5, 3.72) vs.
Bascom (6-6, 4.34) and
Loomis (0-0, 3.95)
Potomac Won, 3-0 @ Wilmington,
6:05 p.m.
Ray (4-12, 6.79) vs.
Adam (6-12, 3.61)
Hagerstown Won, 4-3 vs. Asheville,
7:05 p.m.
Anderson (0-1, 5.79) vs.
Gillingham
Auburn Won, 8-6 @ Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Mooneyham (2-2, 2.72) vs.
Aviles (0-2, 5.61)

Syracuse 5 Lehigh Valley 2
• Mandel (W, 6-5) 7IP, 7H, R, ER, BB, 6K, HR; 2-3, R, RBI
• Garcia (S, 13) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Brown 2-5, 2R
• Teahen 2-5, R, 2B, 3RBI

With five runs in the first two “ups” and seven strong innings from Jeff Mandel, the Syracuse Chiefs cruised to their fourth straight win with a 5-2 victory over the Lehigh IronPigs. Mandel also contributed to his own cause with a 2-for-3 night at the plate, including an RBI single. He allowed one run on a home run, walked one and struck out six. Christian Garcia struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his 13th save. Mark Teahen led the offense with a 2-for-5 night, driving in three.

Bowie 9 Harrisburg 2
• Pucetas (L, 7-6) 6⅓ IP, 9H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 5K
• Martin 1⅔ IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 0K, 1-1 IR-S
• Hood 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Bynum 1-2, R, HR, BB, RBI

A five-run seventh broke open a 3-2 game as Harrisburg dropped its third straight, 9-2. Kevin Pucetas took the loss, charged with six runs on nine hits and two walks and five K’s. Home runs by Destin Hood and Seth Bynum prevented the shutout as the Senators only managed one other hit, a single by Brian Goodwin, while striking out 13 times.

Potomac 3 Carolina 0
• Swynenberg (W, 7-5) 6IP, 4H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Carr (H, 3) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 0K
• Wort (SV, 13) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Ramirez 3-4, R
• Sanchez 2-5, R

Three Potomac pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout of Carolina, 3-0. Matt Swynenberg got his seventh win with four hits and one walk allowed over the first six frames, striking out five. Adam Carr walked two in his inning of work but gave up no hits. Rob Wort earned his 13th save by throwing two scoreless innings, giving up a hit, walking none and fanning two. J.P. Ramirez went 3-for-4 to lead the eight-hit Potomac offense.

Hagerstown 4 Asheville 3
• Schwartz 6IP, 5H, R, ER, 0BB, 7K
• Holt (BS, 3; W, 5-2) 2IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 0K
• Mirowski (SV, 3) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Higley 2-3, R, 2B, BB, RBI
• Miller 2-4, R, RBI, 2SB

After coughing up the lead in the top of the 7th, the Suns rallied for two in the bottom half and held on for a 4-3 win. A loss by Hickory dropped the MiLB.com-listed magic number to two, but with a lead of four in the loss column with three games to go, Hagerstown clinched the second-half Sally League Northern Division title. Greg Holt got the blown-save-win in relief of Blake Schwartz, who allowed just a run on five hits over six innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. J.R. Higley paced the Suns attack with single, double, and a walk while driving in one run and scoring another. Roster moves: RHP Leonard Hollins placed on the Temporary Inactive List; LHP Kylin Turnbull activated from the 7-Day DL.

Auburn 8 Mahoning Valley 6
• Fischer 4IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, K, HR
• Pena (W, 1-0) 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Self (SV, 13) ⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 2-1 IR-S
• Martinez 2-4, R, BB, RBI
• Ramos 2-5, R, 2B, 2RBI

Auburn overcame an early 5-0 deficit, scoring eight runs across the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings and surviving a late charge by Mahoning Valley for an 8-6 win. Starter David Fischer was tattooed for five runs on seven hits and two walks over four innings, with all five runs coming in the the second. Ronald Pena picked him with three scoreless innings of relief to earn the win. The Doubledays pounded out 10 hits, with Estarlin Martinez (2-for-4) and Wander Ramos (2-for-5) leading the charge. Batavia, however, continues to breathe down Auburn’s neck, winning its seventh straight game to remain one game behind in the NYPL Pinckney Division. The two teams meet in Batavia for two games on Sunday and Monday.

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.