The Nats will reportedly pay its minor-leaguers through September, ostensibly to avoid another PR fiasco, which I realize is redundant; the next PR-savvy move Washington makes will the first. As one person noted in the comments at Hardball Talk, Kansas City has signed an inordinate number of highly-rated undrafted prospects, which may be attributable to its stance of committing to pay its players and staff through the season from the onset of the pandemic. Thus, the Nats’ decision may simply be a ham-handed attempt to level the playing field for acquiring future talent.
Syracuse 17 Lehigh Valley 9 – 2017
• Voth 5IP, 6H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 1K, 2HR
• Martin (W, 2-1) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 2-1 IR-S
• Stevenson 3-4, 3R, 2B, 3B, BB, 2RBI
• Snyder 3-5, 2R, 2B, HR, 6RBI, BB
• Difo 3-6, 2R, 2B, RBI
The Chiefs got to see a bullpen meltdown from the dugout instead of the field as the IronPigs gave up 10 runs to give Syracuse a 17-9 win. Austin Voth raised his ERA with six runs and on six hits and two Taylor Hills over five innings. Erick Fedde recorded his first AA blown save while Rafael Martin vultured the win with the last two outs in the 8th after letting in the ninth Lehigh Valley run. Brandon Snyder singled, doubled, and delivered an Earl Weaver special in the 9th for six RBIs to lead the Chiefs’ 18-hit outburst. This would be just the 21st of 54 wins that season for Syracuse, which finished dead last in 2016 and 2017 and barely avoided a third straight season in 2018.
Harrisburg 3 Trenton 2 – 2011
• Roark (W, 4-2) 6IP, 7H, 2ER, 0BB, 3K
• Barthmaier (H, 2) 1⅓ IP, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Lombardozzi 2-4, 2R, BB
• Moore 1-5, 3B, RBI
Steve Lombardozzi offered another strong leadoff performance with a first-inning single, scoring on Tyler Moore triple for the first run of the game. Trenton answered with two runs with a leadoff single from Raymond Kruml and a run-scoring double from Bradley “Not So” Suttle. Derek Norris gave up a passed ball to help Suttle advance to third, and Suttle scored an earned run on a Cody Johnson single. Harrisburg battled back with two runs in the top of the 7th and yet again Lombardozzi was at the center of the rally. Jonathan Tucker singled, advanced on a balk, and Lombardozzi singled on a grounder. Josh Johnson than landed the decisive punch with a one-out double to score both Tucker and Lombardozzi. Following a strong seven innings of two-run ball, Jimmy Barthmaier stranded a leadoff single against Roark as part of a strong four-out appearance. Pat McCoy and Rafael Martin combined to silence the Thunder for the last five outs to earn hold no. 5 and save no. 1, respectively. Conversely, Harrisburg was in the midst of its last 80-win season, which ended with a sweep on the road by second-place Richmond as the series was delayed two days due to Tropical Storm Lee and City Island Field was flooded.
Myrtle Beach 2 Potomac 1 – 2012
• Holder (L, 3-2) 7⅔ IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, BB, K
• Testa ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Walters 2-4, R, HR, RBI
• Ramirez 2-3
Potomac ran themselves out of the 9th inning, as J.P. Ramirez was gunned down on a would-be sac fly to left and Kevin Keyes trying to score from second on an infield hit by Michael Taylor, ending the game on a 2-1 score in favor of Myrtle Beach. Zach Walters accounted for the sole P-Nats run with his 5th HR. Trevor Holder was the tough-luck LP, allowing both Pelican runs (one unearned) on seven hits and a walk. The wheels came off the bus for Potomac in 2012 (64-75) after a five-year run of winning seasons, with three playoff appearances (2008, 2010, 2011) and two Mills Cup Championships (2008, 2010).
Hagerstown 9 Lakewood 6 – 2013
• Purke 4⅔ IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 2K, WP
• Meza (W, 1-0) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Benincasa (SV, 10) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Renda 2-4, 2R, 2B, BB, SB
• Norfork 2-5, R, 2-2B, RBI
• Martinez 2-3, 2R, 2-2B, BB
In an improbable turn of events, the Suns won the first half with a 9-6 win over Lakewood by a half game over Hickory. Starter Matt Purke turned in four and 2/3rds innings of work, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out two. Christian Meza got the win in relief, walking one and striking out two over an inning and a 1/3rd. Tony Renda doubled once, tying for the league lead at 24, while Khayyan Norfork and Estarlin Martinez both doubled twice as the Suns pounded out 12 hits total. With the Sally League’s
arbitrary predetermined playoff format, Hagerstown hosts Games Two and Three (if necessary) of the Semifinals, and should they advance, Games One and Two of the Finals. For those wondering, the Suns took four of seven games from Hickory during the first half and play them six times in the second half. A year later, Hagerstown would lose the first half on a tiebreaker as the Greensboro Grasshoppers would win the last 10 games of the half, including a sweep of the Suns.
Batavia 11 Auburn 6 – 2018
• Ramirez (L, 0-1) 4+ IP, 5H, 7R, 5ER, 3BB, 1K, 2HBP
• Guillen 2IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, 3K, 3-3 IR-S
• Agustin 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Reynolds 2-3, R, BB
• Pineda 2-4, 2RBI
A five-run 5th broke open a 3-2 game as Batavia evened up the series with an 11-6 win. Yonathan Ramirez’s 19th NYPL start since 2016 was another disappointment as he was charged with seven runs on five hits and three walks over four-plus innings. He hit two batters and struck out one. Telmito Agustin homered while Matt Reynolds singled twice and walked once. Among the non-rehabs, 18-y.o. Israel Pineda drove in two while going 2-for-4. 2018 would end a five-year playoff drought for Auburn, which began its affiliation with the Nationals with an NYPL title run in 2011. The Doubledays would be swept in the best-of-three series by the Renegades – the only two games between Auburn and Hudson Valley that season.