Aug 142011
 

The Potomac Nationals got just enough offense to not waste Paul Demny’s best outing of the year for a 3-2 win over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

Demny went eight innings, dominating seven of them, and gave up just two runs on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He only allowed two leadoff hits — a single in the 3rd, which he promptly erased with a 1-6-3 double play, and a double in the 8th. That double was followed by a triple to plate the first Pelican run, then a grounder to second to send in the final Myrtle Beach run.

After a disastrous stretch of road starts in July and early August (7R in Lynchburg over 1⅔ IP, 9R in Winston-Salem over 4IP, 5R in Salem over 4⅓ IP), the past two home starts have been just what Demny needs to regain some confidence. Even with a rainout today, he’ll likely start his next two games at the Pfitz, and can build on this run as the P-Nats slouch towards head for the playoffs.

Offensively, there’s still reason to worry. Like the night before, getting runners on was not a problem: Leadoff doubles in the 1st and 7th, one-out singles in the 2nd and 3rd, a leadoff walk in the 4th. But when you subtract leadoff hitter Archie Gilbert from the equation, that’s three less hits, one less run, and the only hit with a runner in scoring position.

Potomac would strand 10 runners, including runners on second and third in the bottom of the 7th, as neither Brian Peacock nor Steve Souza could deliver the killshot to turn a 3-0 game into a 5-0 game.

With Nelo and Smoker used the night before, Marcos Frias was called upon to close out the 9th and delivered the win and earned the save, working around a leadoff single and finishing strong with two strikeouts.

The win keeps pace with Frederick, which won its 30th game of the second half and its fourth straight, keeping the division deficit at four games. A loss by Lynchburg extended Potomac’s lead to six, lowering the magic number to clinch a playoff spot to 17.

Should the rain hold off, Cameron Selik (4-8, 4.33) is scheduled to start this afternoon against Justin Grimm (3-2, 3.55).

Aug 132011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitcher
Syracuse Won, 7-4 vs. Scranton/WB,
7:00 p.m.
Tom Milone (9-6, 3.52) vs.
Greg Smith (3-3, 5.16)
Harrisburg Won, 3-2 vs. Trenton,
7:00 p.m.
Oliver Perez (3-2, 3.04) vs.
Craig Heyer (8-6 3.92)
Potomac Won, 1-0 vs.
Myrtle Beach,
6:35 p.m.
Paul Demny (7-10, 4.94) vs.
Kennil Gomez (2-2, 3.65)
Hagerstown Won, 6-1 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
A.J. Cole (3-6, 3.82) vs.
Jarret Martin (5-8, 5.18)
Auburn Won, 12-3 @
Staten Island,
7:00 p.m.
Brian Dupra (3-2, 3.68) vs.
Matt Tracy (0-1, 3.18)
GCL Nationals Lost, 8-5
@ GCL Cards
vs. GCL Astros,
12:00 p.m.
TBD vs. TBD
DSL Nationals Won, 11-8
@ DSL Giants
@/va. DSL Cubs2,
10:30 a.m.
(doubleheader)TBD vs. TBD

Abbreviated version today, since I wanted to make sure I got the Strasburg story right.

Syracuse 7 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4
• Peacock (W, 3-1) 5⅔ IP, 7H, 1R, 1ER, BB, 9K, HR
• Tatusko (H, 1) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Hulett 2-4, R, 2-2B, RBI
• Solano 3-3, R, BB, RBI

A four-run 8th opened up a 3-2 game while J.D. Martin survived a rocky 9th to get the save and seal the 7-4 win. Chiefs are now 53-65, 14½ games behind Pawtucket in I.L. North.

Harrisburg 3 Trenton 2
• Rosenbaum 7IP, 5H, 2R, ER, BB, 9K
• McCoy 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Pena (W, 2-2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Harper 1-4, R, HR, 2RBI
• L Davis 3-4, 2R, 3B, CS
• Pahuta 2-3, 2B

Bryce Harper’s two-run homer gave Harrisburg a 3-2 walkoff win. With a loss by Bowie, the Sens are back in first place by a ½ game with a 67-52 mark.

Potomac 1 Myrtle Beach 0
• Strasburg 3IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• Bronson 4IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Hood 3-4, R
• Gilbert 2-4, RBI

Here’s what happened Last Night In Woodbridge

Hagerstown 6 Delmarva 1
• Grace (W, 11-5) 7IP, 1H, 0R, 3BB, 4K
• McCatty 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Freitas 2-5, R, 2K
• Keyes 2-5, R, 2RBI, 3K
• Nieto 3-4, R, 2B, 3B

Matt Grace one-hit Delmarva for seven innings as Hagerstown pounded out 12 hits in a 6-1 win. The victory keeps pace with Kannapolis as the Suns moved into 3rd place in the Sally North, but still trail by four games.

Auburn 12 Staten Island 3
• Karns 3⅔ IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 5K
• Jenkins (W, 3-0) 3⅓ IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 2K
• Kreis 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Ramsey 3-5, R, RBI
• Alvarez 3-5, 2R, SB

Auburn answered a two-run 1st with a five-run 2nd as the Doubledays routed the New York-Penn League’s best team 12-3. The win coupled with a loss by Mahoning Valley puts Auburn alone in first place by a game in the Pinckney Division.

GCL Cardinals 8 GCL Nationals 5
• Slaten 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Baez 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Ramos 2-4, 2R, 2B, HR, 2RBI, BB

The G-Nats rolled out six pitchers and subbed in three batters as it’s evaluation mode. Oh, and they lost, 8-5 to the G-Cards, dropping back into a tie for last place in the GCL East.

DSL Nationals 11 DSL Giants 8
• Pineyro (W, 4-5) 7IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 7K
• Hernandez, Jr 1⅔ IP, 8H, 8R, 8ER, 0BB, 0K, 1HR
• Eusebio 3-5, 2R, RBI
• Reyes 2-3, 2R, 2-2B

The D-Giants beat on J.J. Hernandez for all eight runs in the bottom of the 9th before Kelvin Rodriguez came on and got the last out in an 11-8 win. The D-Nats are now 30-32, but the elimination number is now one.

Aug 132011
 

Click this bad boy to see the video

Believe the hype.

It’s not often that I can say a rehab start isn’t overrated. Usually, they’re a disappointment. Not this time. This was everything anyone could have possibly hoped for, perhaps even more.

In thirty-three pitches over three innings, Stephen Strasburg gave nine Myrtle Beach Pelicans batters a story to tell their children and grandchildren about the time they faced him. I know that because I had the pleasure of hearing a former minor-leaguer tell me about what it was like to face Dwight Gooden, a should-have-been Hall-of-Famer.

Two of them will boast that they got a hit, conveniently leaving out the part that the ball never left the infield, a byproduct of how hard Strasburg throws as they drove the ball into the dirt in front of home plate to produce a 30-foot hop that gave them time enough to beat the throw.

Four of them might be honest enough to say “Strasburg struck me out and I never had a chance,” like Vince DiFazio (pictured above) and maybe Leury Garcia will tell them “He got me twice.”

Strasburg threw mostly fastballs, hitting 96 to 99 m.p.h. on the scoreboard gun that was actually only juiced one or two m.p.h. This was the first time that was done this season, and of course, it was only done for Strasburg. Same goes for the four armed guards (I believe they were PWC officers) that were stationed along the home dugout, the first-base field boxes, and the bullpen.

But he also tossed a couple of curves and changeups that batters at this level just simply can’t adjust to on the fly, much like the guys three levels up in the National League. Twenty-six of the 33 pitches went for strikes and no batted ball left the infield in fair territory.

The announced attendance of 8,619 was the largest non-firework crowd at the Pfitz, according to Mark Zuckerman, who was stationed in the “press row” of the backless reserved seats below the press box, which rarely has more reporters than radio guys, never mind last night’s contingent. (If you’re reading, Mark, I was the guy wearing a red Nats cap in the field boxes below you ;-)

To their credit, the crowd didn’t disperse en masse when Strasburg left. And those that stayed got to see a pretty good ballgame, which, now I’ll tell you about quickly…

Evan Bronson followed Strasburg on the mound and despite throwing a wee bit softer, got similar results. He threw four scoreless innings and allowed three hits, but walked none and struck out two.

Meanwhile, the Myrtle Beach pitchers were up to the task of keeping their hitters in the game by keeping Potomac off the board. The P-Nats had baserunners in seven of the eight innings they came to bat, but were denied until the 6th.

With one out, Destin Hood tapped a grounder to deep short for an infield hit and took second when the throw went into the Potomac dugout. After a grounder to short, Archie Gilbert delivered the lone run of the game with an RBI single to left that sent in Hood.

Josh Smoker took the ball from Bronson in the 8th and retired the two- and three-hole hitters before giving up a single. Matt LeCroy called on Hector Nelo to face the next batter, the 25-year-old veteran catcher DiFazio. Nelo stranded Smoker’s runner with an infield popup.

Hood led off the bottom of the 8th with a single to right (his third in a 3-for-4 night) and Brian Peacock followed suit with a single to left. But like any 1-0 game, the Pelican defense got the key DP that it needed to prevent the insurance run, getting Gilbert on a sharp 6-4-3 sequence and popping up Steve Souza to end the 8th.

Nelo, who throws two kinds of fastballs (hard and hit-the-bull), nailed down the game with a little panache. He struck out the first batter looking, gave up an infield single that he might have fielded but followed the coaching that says let the infielders get it, then induced a liner to Souza who applied the tag on the runner for the game-ending double play.

Bronson got the win (#4), Smoker the hold (#5), and Nelo the save (#15) as Potomac kept pace with Frederick in the Carolina League north and got game back as Lynchburg lost to fall to five games behind Potomac, reducing the magic number to 19.

Paul Demny (7-10, 4.94) gets the start tonight in game three of the four-game series, opposed by Kennil Gomez (2-2, 3.65).

Aug 122011
 

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

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 49-61, 4th place I.L. North, 13½ games behind

Good Brad Meyers 1.23 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in August
Bad Seth Bynum .194/.248/.280 since All-Star Break
Interesting Garrett Mock 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP in August

HARRISBURG SENATORS 66-52, 2nd place E.L. West, ½ game behind

Good Tyler Moore .333/.385/.590 since All-Star Break
Bad Adam Fox .159/.245/.318 since All-Star Break
Interesting Rafael Martin 0.95 ERA, 0.88 WHIP

POTOMAC NATIONALS 24-22, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 4 games behind (53-62 overall)

Good Sandy Leon .275/.331/.443 since C.L. All-Star Break
Bad 535 RA (4.65/G) is 36 R more than 7th place C.L. pitching staff
Interesting The chance to make the playoffs despite being 6th in hitting, 7th in fielding, 8th in pitching

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 23-22, 4th place Sally League North Divison, 4 games behind (63-52 overall)

Good Michael Taylor .324/.373/.610 since All-Star Break
Bad Dean Weaver 6.62 ERA, 1.53 WHIP
Interesting Adrian Nieto .522 SLG in first 6G

AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS 32-22, T1st place Pinckney Division, New York-Penn League, 1½ games ahead

Good Brian Dupra 2.96 ERA, 1.23 WHIP as a starter
Bad Angel Montilla .184/.304/.289 in August
Interesting Justin Miller .467 SLG, 1E in 44G

GCL NATIONALS 14-27, 4th place GCL East, 17 games behind (Eliminated)

Good 19-y.o. Estarlin Martinez .311/.406/.517
Bad J.C. Valdez, Wes Schill 12E in 29, 32G
Interesting Jack McGeary 1.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in first 3G (8IP)

DSL NATIONALS 29-32, 7th place, Boca Chica South Division, 10 games behind

Good Gilberto Mendez 5-0, 2.35 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
Bad Bienvenido Valdez .111/.304/.111 in last 10G
Interesting Wilman Rodriguez .333/.389/.515 since DSL All-Star Break
Aug 122011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitcher
Syracuse Lost, 3-2 vs. Scranton/WB,
7:00 p.m.
Brad Peacock (2-1, 4.97) vs.
Manny Banuelos (0-0, 2.45)
Harrisburg Won, 4-1 vs. Trenton,
7:00 p.m.
Danny Rosenbaum
(1-0, 1.59) vs.
Dellin Betances (4-6, 3.57)
Potomac Lost, 12-5 vs.
Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Stephen Strasburg (rehab) vs.
Wilfredo Boscan (4-9, 4.15)
Hagerstown Won, 6-2 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Matt Grace (10-5, 4.60) vs.
David Baker (2-2, 2.37)
Auburn Lost, 7-4 @
Staten Island,
7:00 p.m.
Nathan Karns (1-2, 5.29) vs.
Evan DeLuca (3-2, 3.40)
GCL Nationals OFF DAY @ GCL Cards,
12:00 p.m.
N/A
DSL Nationals Lost, 5-4;
Lost, 16-2
@/vs. DSL Rangers
@ DSL Giants,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD

Buffalo 3 Syracuse 2
• Meyers 5IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 2K
• Mock (H, 1) 2⅓ IP, 0H, 1R, 1ER, BB, 3K
• Lombardozzi 3-5, 2R, 2B
• Marrero 0-1, RBI, 2BB

With single runs in the 8th and 9th innings, Buffalo tied, then beat Syracuse in a 3-2 pitcher’s duel. Josh Wilkie took the loss while Atahualpa Severino blew the save, both spoiling the efforts of Brad Meyers, who started and went the first five innings. Steve Lombardozzi accounted for half the Chiefs hits with a 3-for-5 afternoon and scored both runs. The loss put the brakes on a modest three-game win streak. Syracuse is now 52-65, 14½ games behind in the I.L. North with an elimination number of 11.

Harrisburg 4 Richmond 1
• Roark (W, 7-8) 7IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 5K
• Martin (S, 10) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Norris 1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB
• McConnell 1-3, R, HR, 2RBI

After a shaky first inning — double, double, single (out at HP; Bryce Harper assist) to start the game — Tanner Roark dug in and guided the Sens to a 4-1 win, taking the series against the Flying Squirrels. Roark went seven innings, allowing just the first-inning run on six hits, no walks, and struck out five. He also singled in two at-bats. Four Sens went 1-for-3, with Derek Norris and Chris McConnell homering. Rafael Martin worked around a single in the to earn save #10. The win keeps pace with Bowie, as Harrisburg still trails the Baysox by a ½ game in the E.L. West.

Myrtle Beach 12 Potomac 5
• Davis (L, 0-2) 4⅓ IP, 7H, 7R, 6ER, 3BB, 6K
• Testa 2⅓ IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Peacock 2-4, R, 2RBI
• Perez 2-4, 2R

Two former AA pitchers looked like they were making their High-A debuts Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 6 Delmarva 2
• Applebee (W, 6-2) 5IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Weaver, D (S, 1) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Kelso 2-4, R, RBI, BB
• Rogers 2-5, R, 2B, 2RBI

Hagerstown scored early and often, building a 5-0 lead after three innings and cruising to a 6-2 win over Delmarva. Paul Applebee got the win with five scoreless innings with just two hits and a walk allowed while setting down three on strikes. Dean Weaver got his first save for the Suns with two shutdown innings to finish. Blake Kelso and Mills Rogers both singled twice to lead the offense. The win keeps pace with Kannapolis, as Hagerstown still trails in the Sally North by four games.

Vermont 7 Auburn 4
• M Rodriguez 2⅔ IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, 3BB, K
• Hanks 2⅔ IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Skole 1-2, RBI, 3BB
• Norfork 1-3, R, SB

A pair of errors to start the 7th doomed the Doubledays, as coughed up four unearned runs to turn a 4-3 lead into the eventual losing score of 7-4. Kelvin Lopez was charged with the loss (and those four runs) over an inning and a 1/3rd. Manny Rodriguez got the start, but gave up three runs in two and 2/3rds on three hits and three walks. Auburn would get just six hits, with Matt Skole reaching base four times (hit, three walks) to lead the offense. The loss drops Auburn back into a first-place tie with Mahoning Valley in the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League with a 32-22 mark.

GCL Nationals — OFF DAY
Thanks to rainouts, it’s six games over the next four days for the G-Nats, starting today with a nine-inning tilt against the G-Cards.

DSL Rangers 5 DSL Nationals 4 — COMP OF SUSP GM
• Guzman, Je (L, 0-2) 2IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, BB, K
• Barrientos 5⅓ IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 6K
• W Rodriguez 2-4, R, 2B, SB
• Ruiz 2-5, R, 2B

Joel Barrientos pitched in five and a 1/3rd innings of scoreless relief in the continuation of a game suspended last week, but the D-Nats offense couldn’t muster enough runs to complete the comeback, falling 5-4 to the D-Rangers.

DSL Rangers 16 DSL Nationals 2 — GAME TWO

• Moscat (L, 3-6) 3IP, 6H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 4K
• Marmolejos-Diaz 2-3, R, HR, BB, RBI
• Eusebio 2-4, R, 2B

Like sailors on shore leave, the D-Rangers scored in every inning against all four D-Nats pitcher in a 16-2 rout in the seven-inning game that followed. Felix Moscat took the loss, his sixth, with six runs given up over three innings on six hits and two walks. The two losses dropped the D-Nats to 29-32 and lowered their elimination number to two.

Aug 122011
 

Last week, Myrtle Beach’s Miguel De Los Santos and Erik Davis squared off in a 3-0 near no-hitter, looking like two AA pitchers pitching against High-A hitters.

Last night, they looked like two Low-A pitchers making their High-A debuts as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans flew past the Potomac Nationals 12-5 to take the first game of the four-game series.

Maybe that’s a little cruel, because both men showed flashes of what had gotten them past this level — through four innings, the two combined for 15 strikeouts — but games like last week are what you should expect when veteran pitchers throw against less experienced lineups.

Instead, both men walked three batters and got into deep counts on seemingly every batter. De Los Santos was a little better, giving up no extra-base hits — Davis gave up a long double and a longer triple despite the speedy Eury Perez and Archie Gilbert in center and right to chase them down — but was so slow to the plate that he gave up six stolen bases.

Davis did himself no favors with two hit batsman and a bases-loaded walk, his third, and was victimized by Zach Walters’s first error as a P-Nat when Neil Holland came in to relieve Davis with the bases loaded and one out. Instead of an inning-ending double play and a manageable 5-3 deficit going into the bottom of the 5th, it was 7-3 and the momentum shifted.

The Pelicans put the game away with a five-run seventh, as Rob Wort’s struggles continued with three walks and two extra-base hits. Joe Testa would also give up a hit before settling down to finish the game with two scoreless innings, working around leadoff triple in the 9th. If you’ve lost count, that’s three triples and three doubles for Myrtle Beach.

Offensively, the P-Nats were led by Destin Hood and Brian Peacock, who each went 2-for-4. Hood was one of the six base thieves, even taking third base on the stolen-base attempt. While his knee may be aching from a scrape suffered last week in Myrtle Beach, it appears to be healing — a problem that P-Nats media man Will Flemming said via Twitter is getting better every day.

The loss knocks Potomac back to four games behind Frederick, four ahead of Lynchburg in the Carolina League’s Northern Division.

Tonight’s game is a sellout, with Stephen Strasburg set to make a rehab outing of 50 pitches or three innings. Evan Bronson (3-3, 3.67) gets the unenviable task of trying to follow that act, while Wilfredo Boscan (4-9, 4.15) will toe the slab for Myrtle Beach.

Aug 112011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitcher
Syracuse Won, 6-1 @ Buffalo,
1:05 p.m.
Brad Meyers (4-4, 4.06) vs.
Miguel Batista (1-0, 5.00)
Harrisburg Lost, 3-1 vs. Richmond,
7:00 p.m.
Tanner Roark (6-8, 5.73) vs.
Ryan Verdugo (7-4, 4.07)
Potomac Won, 6-5 vs.
Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Erik Davis (0-1, 3.38)
vs. Miguel De Los Santos
(3-3, 2.95)
Hagerstown Lost, 6-4 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Paul Applebee (5-2, 3.77)
vs. Matt Bywater (0-1, 3.00)
Auburn Won, 9-5;
Won, 7-1
vs. Vermont,
7:05 p.m.
Manny Rodriguez (2-2, 4.15)
vs. Drew Granier (0-1, 1.80)
GCL Nationals Postponed
vs. GCL Marlins
OFF DAY N/A
DSL Nationals Lost, 9-2
vs. DSL Phillies
@/vs.
DSL Rangers,
10:30 a.m. (DH)
TBD vs. TBD

Syracuse 6 Buffalo 1
• Stammen (W, 9-6) 7IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 6K, HR
• Hyde 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Zinicola 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Bernadina 3-3, 2-2B
• Lombardozzi 3-5, R, 3RBI

Steve Lombardozzi’s two-run single highlighted a five-run 6th as the Syracuse Chiefs took their third straight against Buffalo, 6-1. Craig Stammen got with win with seven solid innings, allowing one run on six hits and three walks and six strikeouts. Lee Hyde and Zech Zinicola both turned in a scoreless inning of relief to seal the deal. Roger Bernadina and Lombaradozzi both had three hits in an 11-hit attack. The Chiefs improve to 52-64, 13½ games off the pace in the I.L. North.

Richmond 3 Harrisburg 1
• Martis 7IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 10K
• Pena 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Johnson 2-3, R, 2B
• Fox 1-1, 2B, RBI

Roger Kieschnick’s two-run HR in the top of the 9th off Pat Lehman broke a 1-1 tie as Harrisburg fell into second place with a 3-1 loss. Shairon Martis struck out 10 for third time this season, giving up a run on six hits but no walks. The Flying Squirrels moundsmen kept the Senators in committee with just five hits allowed, with Josh Johnson leading the way with a 2-for-3 night. Harrisburg now trails Bowie by a ½ game but leads Richmond by 1½ games with tonight’s matchup the final meeting between the Squirrels and Sens.

Potomac 6 Salem 5
• Olbrychowski (ND) 5⅓ IP, 11H, 3R, 2ER, BB, 5K
• Smoker (W, 4-2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 0K
• Hood 2-4, R, 2RBI
• Gilbert 1-3, R, RBI

The P-Nats pulled this one out of their [hats] Last Night In Woodbridge

Delmarva 6 Hagerstown 4
• Swynenberg (ND) 6IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 3K
• Brown ⅔ IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K, 2-2 IR-S
• W Moore 1-3, 2B
• Martinson 1-4, 3B, 3RBI

The Suns bullpen imploded in the bottom 8th, giving up four runs to turn what might have been an improbable 4-2 win into a 6-4 loss. Hagerstown scored its four runs on just four hits, manufacturing a run in the 1st and plating two of the three walks issued with Jason Martinson’s bases-clearing triple in the 6th. Matt Swynenberg got the no-decision despite his third straight quality start, with two runs issued in six hits and a walk. The loss sets the Suns at .500 with a 22-22 mark, four games behind Kannapolis in the Sally North.

Auburn 9 Vermont 5 — GAME ONE
• Meza, C 3⅔ IP, 2H, 3R, 2ER, 3BB, 5K
• Rivera, M (W, 2-0) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Ramsey 3-4, R, 2-2B, RBI
• Ortega 3-4, 2R, 2B
• Burns 2-3, R, 2B, 2RBI

The Doubledays put away game one early, scoring six in the 1st en route to a 9-5 win over Vermont. Caleb Ramsey and Bryce Ortega both went 3-for-4 to highlight the 15-hit onslaught, which also included a two-run homer from Bowden’s Folly. Christian Meza couldn’t get out of the 4th, charged with three runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks while striking out five. Manny Rivera got the win by finishing the inning and pitching a scoreless 5th.

Auburn 7 Vermont 1 — GAME TWO
• Estevez (W, 4-2) 6IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 6K
• Mirowski 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 1K
• J Miller 3-4, R, 2B, HR, 2RBI
• Skole 2-4, R, 2RBI

Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez got his team-leading fourth win with six strong innings as the Doubledays took the doubleheader with a 7-1 win in the nightcap. Estevez allowed just a run on three hits and three walks but set down six on strikes (also team leader, T8th in the NYPL with 46). Five Auburn batters collected multiple hits, with Justin Miller leading the charge with a 3-for-4 night. The sweep extends the Doubledays’ first-place lead over second-place Mahoning Valley to a full game, 1½ games over third-place Jamestown.

GCL Nationals — PPD
Rain postponed yesterday’s contest in Viera. It will be made up with a pair of seven-inning games on Monday, August 15.

DSL Phillies 9 DSL Nationals 2
• Guzman (L, 0-2) 6⅓ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 5K
• Hernandez Jr (BS, 3) ⅔ IP, H, R, ER, 0BB, 0K, 3-3 IR-S
• W Rodriguez 2-3, R, 2B
• Ruiz 1-4, 2SB

A five-run 7th erased a 2-0 lead and a four-run 9th erased all doubt as the D-Nats fell below .500 with 9-2 loss to the D-Phillies. Jesus Guzman was charged with four runs on six hits and two walks over six and a 1/3rd innings and took the loss. J.J. Hernandez let in all three runners he inherited for the blown save. Wilman Rodriguez led the batters with a 2-for-3 effort, including a double and a run scored. The loss drops the D-Nats to 29-30, eight games behind in the B.C. South, and reduces the elimination number to six.

Aug 112011
 

Destin Hood’s RBI single in the bottom of the 9th gave Potomac a 6-5 win, salvaging the series (and regular-season) finale between the Salem Red Sox and Potomac Nationals.

Like Monday night, as Salem learned that you can’t give your opponent chance after chance and expect to win. With eight walks and three hit batsmen, the P-Nats got 11 “extra” baserunners.

To Potomac’s credit, aside from the patience necessary to draw those walks, they made their four (4) hits count. All of them came with an RBI attached, with Zach Walters hitting a sac fly and Jose Lozada hitting a too-slow grounder for the other two RBIs.

Still, the bipolar (well, seemingly more polar, as in ice-cold) nature of the team’s offense leaves much to be desired. Tonight they got a gift, but absent the long ball and/or some luck, this should have been something like a 7-2 loss.

Adam Olbrychowski got the start and lasted into the sixth, giving up 11 hits and a walk, and leaving with two runners on and one out. Marcos Frias stranded them both with a strikeout and a baserunning blunder as former National farmhand Alex Valdez tried to score from third with two outs after a ball skipped about 20 feet past Sandy Leon, who threw to Frias for the 2-1 play at the plate to end the inning.

Frias, however, would surrender a solo shot to right in the 7th while Trevor Holder would give up the game-tying run on a blast to left in the 8th. Josh Smoker would pitch the 9th and work around two walks, getting credit for the efforts of the P-Nat bats in the ninth.

Lozada led off with a walk, two pitches after pulling a 400-foot foul down the RF line. Eury Perez popped up his sacrifice attempt for the first out. Francisco Soriano drew the 8th and final walk to push Lozada to second base. Jeff Kobernus made the second out on a deep fly ball to right-center, Lozada playing it safe by drifting about a third of the way down the basepath and retreating when it was caught.

Hood got the two-out walkoff when he scorched a grounder off the glove of Salem third-baseman Valdez into shallow left as Lozada scampered home with the gamewinner, well ahead of the too-late throw.

The win kept pace with Frederick and improves Potomac to 24-21, five games ahead of third-place Lynchburg and lowering their magic number to 21 with 24 games left to play in the second half.

Tonight, Erik Davis (0-1, 3.38) and Miguel De Los Santos (3-3, 2.95) take the hill in a rematch of last week’s near no-hitter in Myrtle Beach.

Aug 102011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitcher
Syracuse Won, 3-2
(11 inn.)
@ Buffalo,
7:05 p.m.
Craig Stammen (8-6, 4.82) vs.
Dylan Owen (5-5, 4.72)
Harrisburg Won, 5-4 vs. Richmond,
7:00 p.m.
Shairon Martis (7-4, 3.17) vs.
Eric Surkamp (8-4, 2.09)
Potomac Lost, 7-4 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Adam Olbrychowski (4-6, 4.58)
vs. Ryan Pressly (6-9, 4.25)
Hagerstown OFF DAY @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Robbie Ray (2-2. 2.29) vs.
Jacob Cowan (0-0, 1.50)
Auburn Postponed vs. Vermont,
6:05 p.m.
Wirkin Estevez (3-2, 4.19) and
Christian Meza (1-1, 7.71) vs.
Tyler Vail (1-3, 2.96) and
J.C. Menna (2-4, 5.09)
GCL Nationals Postponed
vs. GCL Mets
vs. GCL Marlins,
12:00 p.m.
Gregory Baez (1-1, 3.68) vs.
Austin Brice (3-0, 3.86)
DSL Nationals Lost, 8-5
vs. DSL Mets1
vs. DSL Phillies,
10:30 a.m.
Felix Moscat (3-5, 4.69) vs.
Ranfi Casimiro (2-1, 1.29)

Syracuse 3 Buffalo 2 (11 inn.)
• Maya 6IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 8K
• Wilkie (W, 3-4) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, K
• J Valdez 3-5, BB
• C Brown 2-4
• Solano 1-1, RBI

Jhonatan Solano’s pinch-hit RBI single ended this one after 11 innings as Syracuse edged Buffalo, 3-2. The two teams combined for 24 hits and 26 runners left on, with neither team scoring from the 4th to the 10th. Yunesky Maya turned in his first quality start since July 4, tossing six innings and allowing two runs on seven hits and no walks (first no-walk start since 7/9). Josh Wilkie was the winner in relief, pitching the 10th and 11th with two hits allowed for his third win. Corey Brown was one of four Cheifs to collect multiple hits; his two singles extended his hit streak to seven games. The win improved Syracuse to 51-64, 14½ games behind Lehigh Valley and Pawtucket in the I.L. North.

Harrisburg 5 Richmond 4
• Arnesen (W, 7-3) 7IP, 7H, 4R, 2ER, 2BB, 7K, HR
• Martin (S, 9) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Komatsu 2-3, 2R, 2B, BB, 2SB
• Davis 2-4, 3RBI

It was a veteran effort for Harrisburg as Erik Arnesen threw seven strong innings, Leonard Davis drove in three runs, and Rafael Martin nailed down the 8th and 9th as the Senators defeated the Flying Squirrels, 5-4. The first four batters in the Harrisburg lineup combined for seven of the eight hits and all five RBI. Davis drove in the first two runs of the decisive three-run 7th that saw the Senators come back from a 4-2 deficit while Tyler Moore’s sac fly proved to be the gamewinner. The win kept pace with Bowie, the third straight for both the Sens and Baysox, and knocked Richmond back to 2½ games behind in the E.L. West.

Salem 7 Potomac 4
• Selik (L, 4-8) 1⅓ IP, 3H, 4R, 2ER, 2BB, 0K
• Holland 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Hood 3-4, 2R, 2HR, 2RBI
• Walters 2-4

Potomac fell behind early (again) and the offense couldn’t get it going (again), losing (7-4) to the Salem Red Sox for the second straight game and the fifth straight meeting between the two teams. Cameron Selik took the loss, getting knocked from the box after facing just 10 batters, but giving up three hits, two walks, and hitting a batter. Destin Hood cranked two solo HRs in a 3-for-4 afternoon, while Zach Walters went 2-for-4. The rest of the lineup was 2-for-23. The loss drops Potomac to 23-21, three games behind Frederick, while Lynchburg crept to within four games behind in third place, increasing the importance of the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 ‘Cats-’Nats series in Lynchburg.

Auburn Doubledays — PPD
Rain struck in upstate New York, forcing a doubleheader tonight at 6:05 against the Vermont Lake Monsters.

Hagerstown Suns — OFF DAY
The Suns start the first of four four-game series this month, alternating road then home, with a trip across the state of Maryland to Delmarva before retuning to the Muni to face Lexington. Seventeen of their last 26 games are against divisional foes, thirteen against the three teams they’re chasing for the second-half title in the Sally League North.

GCL Nationals — PPD
Rain postponed yesterday’s contest in Viera. It will be made up with a pair of seven-inning games on Sunday, August 14.

DSL Mets1 8 DSL Nationals 5
• Silvestre (ND) 5IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 4K
• Suero, W (BS, 2; L, 3-2) 2IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 4K
• Eusebio 2-5, R, 2B, RBI, SB
• Ruiz 2-5, 2R, 2B, RBI

A three-run rally in the 6th erased a 4-3 D-Nats lead as the DSL Mets1 squad would beat them 8-5. Wander Suero took the loss, allowing those three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batsmen. Hector Silvestre got the no-decision for his three runs on five innings pitched. Three D-Nats had multiple hits, with Diomedes Eusebio and Adderling Ruix both doubling and driving in a run. The loss drops the D-Nats back to .500 at 29-29, seven games behind and reduces their elimination number to eight.

Aug 092011
 


[Ed. Note: Another guest column for frequent commenter BinM]

As we cross the 3/4 mark for the full-season franchises, I offer another opinionated view of the progress of each team to date…

Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) — 50-64 W-L
This team has confounded me all season. They’ve held what looked to be solid talent all year, but have never put together a run. This has surely been a disapointment for the Syracuse faithful, and for those of us who root for them from afar as well. Everything I’ve said before is still in effect, as the offense struggles and the pitching staff suffers from the constant shifts due to callups / returns from the big club.

From the hitters’ side, Chris Marrero (.308/.380/.467) and Matt Antonelli (.297/.384/.451) have been consistent, while Jhonatan Solano (.273/.322/.393) has turned it up a notch and Steve Lombardozzi (.318/.359/.436) has been a solid addition to the team. Some of the others aren’t slouches at the plate either, but either lack the ‘prospect’ cachet, or are just plain “old.”

For the pitching staff, the roster shuttle between D.C. and New York has disrupted any consistency in who manager Randy Knorr can count on. Syracuse has seen 29 different pitchers on the mound this year. Only Tom Milone (19GP, 117IP, 10.9:1 K-W, 1.03WHIP) has been dominant for the year among the starters. Craig Stammen has been steady, but unimpressive (20GP, 117⅔ IP, 3.75:1 K-BB, 1.41WHIP), as has Yunesky Maya
(17GP, 99⅓ IP, 2.83:1 K-BB, 1.30 WHIP). The latter two have both seen callups to DC this season, primarily due to their 40-man roster status. The bullpen has been a grab bag of late, but individually look to be AAA level or worse, as no one is stepping up as a real candidate for promotion.

Harrisburg Senators (AA) — 61-49 W-L
The team has stumbled since my last summary, dropping from a 3½ game lead, into second place, and are now back to a ½ game lead over Bowie in their division. Overall, the hitting has either slumped or fallen to injury, and the starters have been spotty, as the promotion of Brad Peacock left the staff without their stopper. In the bullpen, the backend is still solid, but the bridge has collapsed.

From the hitters’ side of things, the promotion of Lombardozzi (.309/.366/.454, 40RS), the trade of Bill Rhinehart (.283/.376/.587, 59RBI) and the injury to Gilbert (.298/.377/.472, 46RS), has stymied the offense of late, with no one stepping up to fill those gaps. Both Chris Rahl (.293/.343/.420, 44RS) and Tyler Moore (.273/.311/.532, 75RBI) continue to do their parts, and Norris is chipping in as well (.212/.373/.435, 56RS), but it hasn’t been enough.

The pitching is showing signs of wear as well, with Davis being demoted to Potomac after a series of bad outings; Only Arnesen (92⅔ IP, 2.53ERA, 1.09WHIP, 4.37:1 K-BB), and Shairon Martis (102⅓ IP, 3.17ERA, 1.27WHIP, 3.55:1 K-BB) have shown any stability for the starting five. Perhaps the recently promoted Danny Rosenbaum (132IP, 2.59ERA, 1.17WHIP, 2.25:1 K-BB in Potomac) will give them a boost.

From the bullpen, the combination of Cory VanAllen / Rafael Martin / Pat Lehman / Hassan Pena have been both stable and effective all year, but the bridge combo of Carlos Martinez / Jimmy Barthmaier / Pat McCoy has been high-risk, low-reward for most of the year.

Potomac Nationals (A+) — 23-20 [2nd half], 52-60 W-L overall
While the P-Nats are challenging for a playoff spot, I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that this years’ team is just a bad mix of real prospects and probable OG’s. The backend of the bullpen has been the only thing that is close to consistent all year, staffed by a couple of old-for-level arms; The starting arms (with a couple of exceptions) have been yo-yos, and the lineup (again, with exceptions) is cluttered with 2-3 tool players who will likely struggle at higher levels.

Starting with the hitters, Destin Hood (.285/.371/.467, 67RBI) and Jeff Kobernus (.281/.313/.386, 49RS, 39SB) have been getting it done all season. Sandy Leon could be a decent defensive catcher in the making. The rest of the roster, as much as I like them, is flawed. Justin Bloxom can hit, but has no glove skill; Souza plays a reasonably sound 1B, has shown both some power and patience at the plate, but has a very long swing; Perez is proving to be a one-tool player (speed), and J.P. Ramirez may have topped out at this level. The rest of the lineup and bench looks to be a collection of utility players and OG’s to me.

The starting staff will suffer from the loss of staff ace Rosenbaum (20GA, 132.0IP, 2.59ERA, 1.17WHIP, 2.25:1K-W), but still holds the lefty Sammy Solis and Cameron Selik, who both still hold promise. The bullpen has been a BB-prone minefield all season, save for the steadying influences of middle relievers Marcos Frias (22yo RH) and Joe Testa (25yo LH), setup man Josh Smoker (22yo LH), and closer Hector Nelo (24 yo RH).

Hagerstown Suns (A) — 22-21 [2nd half], 62-51 W-L overall
Slightly off the pace for a postseason appearance, the Suns are still in the hunt. They’ve maintained their offense, despite the loss of Harper (via transfer to Harrisburg) and Randolph Oduber (to injury). The starting staff remains solid as well, but the bullpen has taken a hit with some recent moves.

Offensively, they are mid-pack in most team categories, but are getting great seasons from David Freitas (.288/.416/.464, 53RS, 63RBI) and Blake Kelso (.292/.361/.357, 62RS, 43RBI), and good production out of Adrian Sanchez, Jason Martinson, Micahel Taylor, as well as Kevin Keyes, and OGs Sean Nicol and Brett Newsome.

The starting staff has been this teams’ cornerstone all season, with solid performances from 2010 draft picks Matt Grace (LH, 10-game winner to date), Robbie Ray (LH, 16GS, 2.29ERA, 1.18WHIP, 2.46:1 K-BB), and A.J. Cole (RH, 13GS, 3.82ERA, 1.24WHIP, 4.29:1 K-BB), as well as the injured Bobby Hansen, Taylor Jordan, and the since transferred Sammy Solis. On the other hand, the bullpen that looked so good through the 1st half of the season has fallen on hard times. The long relief corps of Paul Applebee and Matt Swynenberg have held steady, but the backend has fallen apart — Neil Holland (16GA, 1.13ERA, 0.92WHIP, 3.6:1K-W) was promoted to Potomac, Ben Graham (29GA, 2.95ERA, 1.21WHIP, 6Sv) just came off the DL, and Chris Manno (33GA, 0.85ERA, 0.80WHIP, 3.2:1K-W, 12Sv) was traded. No one has truly stepped in to fill that gap, but some help might be available in Auburn, depending on their late-season playoff chances.