As the picture above shows, it was a very close call. Brian Goodwin was ruled to have left early on a would-be sacrifice fly. Equally unclear: Whether or not the umpires erred in the appeal play itself when it appeared that Peoria was allowed to appeal twice with the Javelinas tagging both home plate and third base. As of this writing, the game is under appeal, but chances are it will be denied.
Goodwin had tripled to lead off the inning and went 2-for-3 with a walk overall as the Rafters’ designated hitter. The next inning, Anthony Rendon also smacked a leadoff three-bagger, with speedster Billy Hamilton slamming into the outfield wall trying to track the ball down. Hamilton would leave the game with an injury but was spotted on the field during the postgame celebration, so it’s likely the injury is not as serious as it initially appeared.
Rendon’s hit was his only one in four at-bats. Defensively, the 22-year-old caught a foul pop and started a 5-4-3 DP in the 9th.
Matt Skole was third Nats position player to make it into the game, but was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts (both swinging). The 23-year-old was busy at first base with 11 putouts and two assists, including a 3-6-1 double play, but did show his inexperience on a bunt by Hamilton in which Ryan Perry pounced but had to eat it because Skole had strayed too far from the bag.
Perry got the start but was as sharp as a knife. A butter knife. The 25-year-old labored through three innings and gave up all four Peoria runs on eight hits and two walks to suffer the loss. He had zero (0) strikeouts and just 34 of 57 pitches went for strikes.
Aaron Barrett appeared for two batters and was 25 pitches short of a Bill Lee perfect game with two outs on two strikes thrown.
With the loss, Salt River finishes the 2012 AFL campaign with 17 wins 14 losses and two ties.
While we await this afternoon’s AFL Championship game — sorry, not likely to live-tweet; I’m in charge of the animals today, plus the dogs — let’s take a look some Nats-related stuff as we ease into that ugly time where everyday news is not a guarantee…
ANOTHER SIX-YEAR FREE AGENT SIGNING The Rocket broke it: The Nationals have signed Caleb Clay, a 24-year-old six-year free agent from the Boston organization. Clay has already undergone Tommy John surgery (2007) but has stalled at AA for the past two years as a reliever after starting his first four seasons. SoxProspects pegs him thusly: “Over-the-top, fluid delivery. Lanky frame, still has some projection. Fastball sits between 88-90 mph with good sinking movement. Can induce a lot of groundballs, but he can also give up a lot of hard contact.”
His hallmark has been control, with a career rate of 2.9BB/9IP and season-best of 1.8 per in 2010, and since switching to relief he’s been able to get strikeouts — 8.2K/9IP the past two seasons with Portland. I was unable to confirm if he is still rocking this Balester-esque ‘stache. Best guess at this point: relief inventory for Harrisburg.
OPTIONS AND SERVICE TIME
Todd Boss over at NationalsArmRace.com has done the hard work on trying to break down the options and service time of the current Nationals roster. With the Nationals ascendancy, this has become less of an issue than it was a few seasons ago, but as we saw with the likes of Ryan Perry (today’s starter in the AFL championship game), it hasn’t gone away. You might want to bookmark this one as I anticipate we’ll be revisiting this issue in the next couple of weeks as we may see some moves that can be explained with this information.
Jason Martinson came off the bench to belt a two-run home run in place of Anthony Rendon as Salt River closed out the regular season with a 7-3 win over Surprise.
Rendon was not hurt, just manager Matt Williams emptying the bench. The 22-year-old singled, walked twice and scored two runs. Defensively, he had two assists while Martinson snared a liner in the 8th for his lone defensive chance; both played third base.
Brian Goodwin also played and went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored as the Salt River DH.
Cole Kimball was the sole Nats pitcher to appear and had another subpar outing, allowing a run on four hits and a walk over two innings. The 2006 draft pick saw his AFL ERA inflate to 4.80 and his opponent BA rise to .290 with 18 hits allowed in 15 fall innings.
The Rafters will play against the Javelinas in the AFL Championship Game tomorrow, which will be televised on the MLB Network.
With a pair of three-run rallies in the 4th and 5th innings, Salt River cruised past Peoria 6-4 to clinch a spot in the Arizona Fall League Championship Game on Saturday.
Three Nationals saw game action:
Matt Skole batted third but went 0-for-3 with a walk. He handled all five defensive chances at first base without an error.
Jason Martinson finished the AFL season with a six-game hit streak, as the taxi-squad third baseman notched an assist and was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Aaron Barrett gave up a run on two hits and a walk but was credited with a hold while pitching the 8th inning.
Salt River’s opponent for the title game remains to be seen, as second-place Surprise lost to second-place Scottsdale yesterday to keep Peoria in first place by a ½ game. The Rafters visit the Sagauros this afternoon and can eliminate Peoria with a win while the Javelinas host the Desert Dogs and can earn a rematch against Salt River with a win or a Surprise loss.
The Scorpions stung the Rafters for seven first-inning runs en route to a 13-6 win that delayed Salt River’s title hopes for another day.
Paul Demny was among the pitchers victimized by Scottsdale, giving up three runs on six hits over three innings. The 23-year-old walked none and struck out threw 31 of 53 pitches for strikes.
Brian Goodwin led off as the Rafters DH but had an afternoon to forget: 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. The whiff has been the sore spot for Goodwin this fall, as the 22-year-old has racked up 24 in 19 games.
Anthony Rendon batted cleanup and reached base three times (two singles and a walk) while scoring a run. Defensively, he had two assists and no putouts while playing third base.
With the loss, Salt River’s lead over Scottsdale in the AFL East has been cut to 1½ games with two to play. The Rafters host the AFL West-leading Peoria this afternoon while Scottsdale hosts last-place Mesa tonight.
Ryan Perry got the win with a run (solo HR) on three hits given up over four innings, along with three walks and two strikeouts. Perry struggled to find the plate with just 35 of 67 pitches going for strikes.
Matt Skole once again batted third and played first, stroking two singles, drawing two walks, driving in two (including a sac fly) and scoring twice to push his numbers to .321/.429/.554. Defensively, the Georgian racked up eight putouts without an error.
Anthony Rendon shook off Saturday’s oh-fer with a pair of doubles and a walk to improve his line to .319/.488/.686. Rendon played third but had no assists or putouts.
Cole Kimball was scorched for the second time in three outings, surrendering three runs on two hits two walks over an inning and 2/3rds. He did strikeout three, but his ERA ballooned to 4.85 and the 27-year-old has as many walks (8) as strikeouts (8) in 13 innings this fall.
The win puts Salt River in the driver’s seat for a spot in the AFL Championship game on Saturday, as the Rafters lead the AFL East by 2½ games with three to play. They can eliminate second-place Scottsdale with a win today as the two teams meet at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick this afternoon.
Salt River scored five unanswered runs in the final three innings for an 11-5 win over Phoenix that stopped a three-game skid.
Brian Goodwin and Jason Martinson sandwiched the top and the bottom of the Rafters’ batting order. Goodwin, who made two putouts in centerfield, went 1-for-4 with two walks and two runs scored. Martinson hit safely for the fifth straight game, smacking an RBI double, drawing two walks, and getting away with a two-out steal of third. He had no defensive chances.
Aaron Barrett had another 1-2-3 inning, breezing through the eighth inning on six pitches with two groundouts and a strikeout. The 24-year-old Hoosier lowered his ERA to 2.70 and has nine strikeouts in 10 innings this fall.
Salt River’s win kept pace with Scottsdale, which broke its five-game slide with a 4-3 win over Surprise. The two teams remain separated by a game and a half in the AFL East with just four games left — including a head-to-head matchup on Tuesday afternoon.
The Solar Sox scorched the Rafters for two in the 7th to break a 4-4 tie and held on for a 7-5 win, sending Salt River to its third straight loss.
Four Nationals saw game action:
Brian Goodwin was the DH and went 1-for-5 with an RBI double, a run scored, but whiffed twice.
Matt Skole also had an RBI double and drew a walk while going 1-for-3. He handled all four defensive chances without an error.
Anthony Rendon saw his 10-game on-base streak snapped with an 0-for-4 effort and two strikeouts. Defensively, he had a putout and two assists.
Cole Kimball went two scoreless innings and allowed a hit and a walk while fanning one, with 17 of 27 pitches thrown for strikes.
Scottsdale lost its fifth in a row, and still trails Salt River by 1½ games with five games left to play and just one more head-to-head matchup (Tuesday). The Rafters finish the penultimate week of the 2012 AFL season with a game against Phoenix this afternoon.
…Anthony Rendon moved up to the No. 2 spot and went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, hitting safely in eight of nine and extending his on-base streak to 10 games. Defensively, Rendon had no official chances but got a glove on an infield single and a double to left field.
…Paul Demny was the first man out of the ‘pen but was greeted with an RBI double to let in an inherited runner in the 5th, then gave up another double to lead off the 6th; the run scoring two batters later on a sacrifice fly. The final line was one run on two hits, no walks, and two strikeouts over an inning and a third.
Despite the loss, Salt River held on to its 1½-game lead in the AFL East, thanks to Scottsdale’s fourth straight loss. The Rafters host the last-place Solar Sox this afternoon, while the Scorpions head for Phoenix to face the Desert Dogs.
Matt Skole’s two-run homer in the 5th broke open a 4-3 game as Salt River ultimately spoiled Surprise, 8-3.
An inning later, the 23-year-old struck again with a two-run single for a total of four RBIs while going 2-for-4 to boost his line to .300/.410/.540 for the fall campaign. Defensively, he was error-free at first, handling all seven chances.
Brian Goodwin remains hitless since the Rising Stars games, but still scored a run and hit a sacrifice fly from the leadoff spot. He manned center field and caught three flyouts.
Jason Martinson spelled Anthony Rendon third base and hit safely for the fourth straight game. The fellow Texan doubled and scored a run, but also struck out twice.
Aaron Barrett pitched the eighth and pounded the strike zone (7-of-8) while setting down the side in order, lowering his ERA to an even 3.00.
The Rafters win combined with a Scorpions loss opens up a 1½-game lead in the AFL East for Salt River with seven games to play. The two teams rematch tonight with the Rafters playing host.