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Old 05-27-2016, 09:45 AM   #1861
Westheim
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Raccoons (31-23) vs. Loggers (23-32) – June 4-7, 2012

The Loggers by now had descended into their usual place, buried deep in the North, despite ranking seventh in runs scored and runs allowed. Their rotation was actually the third-best in the league, but somehow it wasn’t working out for them at all. Bad luck was certainly a factor with a -12 run differential and nine games under .500. As far as the Critters were concerned, they had so far won three of four from Milwaukee this season.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (6-1, 3.09 ERA) vs. Roy Thomas (2-2, 7.25 ERA)
Scott Spears (1-3, 3.34 ERA) vs. Gil McDonald (2-7, 3.04 ERA)
Rich Hood (1-1, 5.14 ERA) vs. Fernando Cruz (2-6, 4.86 ERA)
Hector Santos (4-3, 4.38 ERA) vs. Gabriel Caro (7-3, 3.29 ERA)

Fernando Cruz is the only southpaw we will see in this series, but we have an option on L.A.’ Ernest Green on the weekend.

Meanwhile the Raccoons entered the week four wins away from their 2,900th franchise win in the regular season.

Game 1
MIL: SS Luján – 3B Sharp – RF Dally – CF Locke – LF P. Estrada – C McClendon – 1B Roncero – 2B O. Sandoval – P R. Thomas
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – C D. Alexander – P Brown

Brownie struck out three of the first five batters in the game, reaching 100 strikeouts for the season on June 4, which HAD to be a record, but somebody had spilled booze all over the notebook with the curious stats and had rendered most of them illegible. While John Alexander brought in single runs in both of his first two plate appearances, an RBI single in the first and an RBI groundout in the third, Brown, who had been spot on the first few innings, became unglued a bit in the middle innings and ran four full counts combined in the fourth and fifth innings, in the latter of which the Loggers had runners on the corners before Sharpie grounded out to waste the chance. Bottom 6th, Quebell and J-Alex hit balls hard to deep center, with both being caught by Philip Locke, before Pruitt rolled a sorry grounder through between Oscar Sandoval and Silvestro Roncero for a 2-out single. Jon Merritt came up and crashed a bomb to left center – outta here! The score was up to 4-0, and the bullpen got ready, since Brownie was on 98 pitches through six, and despite entering only six short of the next “100” strikeout milestone and getting four whiffs the first time through the order, he was still looking for #2,400. Roncero led off the top of the seventh with a blooping single to shallow right, but Sandoval bounced a 1-0 pitch back to Brown, who started a quick double play. The Loggers sent left-handed batter Edgar Alires to hit for Roy Thomas, and so Brown would get him, too, but once he was 0-2 on him, Alires drilled a magnificient shot to right that was a home run right off the bat. With that, Brownie was chased, Rockburn struck out Antonio Luján, and in the bottom of the inning it was Jason Seeley, who had entered with Rockburn in a double switch, to make the second and third out in separate plate appearances. Huh? Right. Jose Rivera retired D-Alex and Seeley to start the bottom 7th, then didn’t retire anybody beyond that. Yoshi singled, Palmer singled, Quebell walked, J-Alex singled in two, Pruitt singled in one more – insert pitching chance here – before Richard Williams allowed three more RBI singles to Merritt, Bowen, and D-Alex. Suddenly, it was a rout!

To be fair, after this Bill Conway tried to create some suspense: Sharpie hit him for a leadoff jack in the top 8th, Justin Dally singled, Philip Locke tripled, Pedro Estrada, the fool, actually struck out, before Conway plated the runner on third anyway with a wild pitch, then walked Henry McClendon, who was forced at second by Silvestro Roncero, and then Conway walked Oscar Sandoval. That was it! And with “it” I mean Conway’s major league career. We had to use a setup man (Steele) to clean up the mess the mop-up man made in a 10-1 game – it was outrageous!! Even more outrageous: despite STILL being up by six runs into the top 9th, the Raccoons indeed created a save situation for Angel Casas that a panicking manager rigorously exploited. Steele was torn to shreds by the Loggers, as Luján walked and Dally homered, and then he walked Locke as well. Once Merritt bobbled what would have been the final out by McClendon, Angel Casas was called into the mess, forcefully dismembered Roncero, and this one was in those books. 10-6 Brownies. Nomura 2-5; Palmer 3-4, BB, 2B; J. Alexander 3-5, 4 RBI; Pruitt 2-5, RBI; Merritt 2-3, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Bowen (PH) 1-1, RBI; Brown 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, W (7-1);

Nobody dared entering my office that night anymore. The sounds of furniture being tumbled over and fists drumming against the walls during the last innings had scared everybody away.

Funny thing is, when the Raccoons were up 8-1 in the seventh and it was Rockburn’s turn to bat, I thought “Nah”, shrugging, “They won’t blow this one. Let him bat and get a few more ou- … yeah, well, no.” – NEVER spit on extra runs!

There were consequences however. Not for Steele. Everybody has one or two free, even with me. No, Conway was banished. He had a 6.27 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP, and his BABIP was actually BETTER than league average, and it was better by 16 points! His BABIP was 13 points better than Brownie’s, and despite that his ERA was more than twice as high. He was dumped to St. Petersburg (poor Alley Cats!), and Pat Slayton was recalled after pitching to a 3.00 ERA in five outings in St. Pete.

You know, I muttered to myself, they will never learn that they stink after all if you always recall them right away! Yeah, well, I replied, but the alternative would be Sergio Vega, and come on!

Game 2
MIL: CF Brissett – 3B Sharp – LF Dally – RF Locke – SS Luján – 1B Roncero – C R. Hernandez – 2B Sandoval – P McDonald
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – C Bowen – P Spears

Just to give an indicator as to what we were in for with him, Scott Spears started his Raccoons debut with two walks, a wild pitch, and a hit for a run in the first inning. While the Coons flipped the score forcefully in the bottom 3rd when Yoshi, on an 11-game hitting streak, walked, Palmer tripled, and Quebell homered, Scott Spears was scuffling and relied on the defense to make spectacular plays, like Pruitt made one on Antonio Luján’s rocket to left that started the fourth inning. He took a double away, nursed Spears through another inning, but the top 5th was opened by Gil McDonald with a double on the first pitch, and Daniel Sharp singled with one out to put runners on the corners, and at this point Spears had possible the ONE good at-bat in his first start as a Critter, when he dispatched of the sophomore Justin Dally on three pitches and escaped unharmed after Locke grounded out to Nomura. Somehow Spears got through six without being toppled, and John Alexander’s homer in the bottom of the sixth put up an insurance run, 4-1, before Sugano pitched a quick seventh. Quebell was denied another homer by less than two feet in the bottom 7th, and this one would have counted for two as well, but Locke made the catch right against the fence. Thrasher put two on with singles in the top 8th before being excused with two outs for Law Rockburn to get a groundball out from Raúl Hernandez to end the inning. We then tried to get this one in without bothering Angel Casas, but Law gave up a leadoff triple to Sandoval in the ninth and that was that. Angel saved the game, but couldn’t save Rockburn’s ERA, as that run scored between two strikeouts. 4-2 Coons. Quebell 1-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Seeley 2-3, BB;

The Crusaders have lost seven of nine by now – fascinating…! – and have plunged beneath .500, leaving the North a 3-team race between the Coons, Elks, and Titans for now. We’re in a virtual tie with the Titans right now, and those Titans have four less games played…!?

Yoshi’s hitting streak ended at 11 games as that walk was everything we managed to get off the Loggers.

Game 3
MIL: SS Luján – 3B Sharp – RF Dally – CF Locke – LF P. Estrada – C McClendon – 1B Roncero – 2B Sandoval – P F. Cruz
POR: 2B Palmer – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – LF Seeley – SS Canning – C D. Alexander – P Hood

Everything went to **** real early in game 3 on Wednesday, with Rich Hood being humped for six runs in the first inning, and of those six runs four were even unearned. He started with a 4-pitch walk to Luján, Sharp doubled, and when Merritt was undressed by Dally’s bouncer for the first error of the inning, the gates were already wide open. Castro would also make an error when he dropped a fly, Ayers unleashed an errant torhw for the third error, but there were also four hits and two walks on Hood’s ledger. Add to that that the Loggers had a left-hander on the mound and the Coons fielded a lackluster lineup, and this game was basically over after 15 minutes. Since the situation was hopeless, Rich Hood was retained to throw 100 pitches before he would get a chance to retreat to some silent, dark corner to have a little breakdown, and lo and behold, he managed to cover six more innings on just two hits and a walk. Granted, that had to do with pitching to contact, and plenty of grounders to the middle infielders. He only had one strikeout (Locke) in seven innings. Fernando Cruz was still maintaining a 2-hit shutout when Hood was officially allowed to go cry under the shower, but that shutout was broken up by Keith Ayers with a homer in the bottom 7th. Against Tim Poe in the bottom 9th the Raccoons even got the tying run to the on-deck circle after a 2-run homer by Dylan Alexander and a pinch-hit single by Yoshi Nomura, but they were denied their undeserved comeback. 6-3 Loggers. Ayers 2-4, HR, RBI; Pruitt (PH) 1-1; D. Alexander 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Nomura (PH) 1-1; Slayton 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

With the Titans losing to the Indians and the Elks beating the Crusaders once more, the 34-22 Titans, 35-23 Elks, and 36-24 Coons were now all virtually tied atop the CL North, with three different records. Not sure whether I have seen something like that before SINCE SOMBODY DOUSED THE NOTEBOOK IN BOOZE!! … SLAPPY!!

That was not the only commotion. On Thursday we gave out free T-shirts to the first 10,000 fans with the Raccoons wordmark, which contained eyeballs inside the pair of O’s and a nose and whiskers beneath. Too bad that Maud only now realized that those T-shirts – made in Taiwan – had a rather unfortunate mistake, misspelling the team as “Racoons”.

Maud, why are you looking at me like that? What am I supposed to do? The Mexican Prick doesn’t want T-shirts made in Mexico, since even THERE they cost too much for him, AND HE’S MEXICAN!! Maud, stop crying. Maud, stop –

Bring on some game!!

Game 4
MIL: CF Brissett – 3B Sharp – LF Dally – RF Locke – SS Luján – 1B Roncero – C R. Hernandez – 2B O. Sandoval – P Caro
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – C Bowen – P Santos

All fans with a faulty T-shirt were compensated with 50% off on all alcoholic beverages for this game, which turned out to be a bad, bad, bad mistake.

What looked like a pitching duel at first soon ended with Santos getting splintered for four runs in the fourth inning. The Loggers had not had a hit through three, but opened the frame with a sharp single by Sharp, after which Justin Dally doubled to center. Santos struck out Locke in an attempt to reclaim control, but was then swamped by the following batters as Luján singled, Roncero doubled, and finally Hernandez homered. In turn the Raccoons lost a run in the bottom of the inning on a baserunning gaffe by Quebell, who hit a 1-out double, moved on, stopped halfway between second and third, made two steps back, and then made for third anyway, much to Justin Dally’s amusement, who got the outfield assist when Quebell was tagged out ten feet in front of the bag by Sharpie. Had he stayed at second, he more than likely would have scored on Pruitt’s following long single.

Santos went seven innings without any more accidents (flashback?), while the intoxicated home crowd was ironically chanting “One C! We only got one C!”, Maud was crying like ****, and the Raccoons, who were robbed of plenty of doubles, still out-hit the Loggers through eight innings, but it just wasn’t enough, was it? And that “through eight” was actually true, since Ron Thrasher didn’t retire anybody in the top 9th, left with no outs and three runners on base, and when Steele replaced him he allowed a 2-run double to Hernandez and a 2-run triple to Sandoval to get this game into the Ugly Zone – just like the crowd was now really getting tuned in (or out, depending on your perspective) and started hissing and booing. Steele left after an RBI single by Gabriel Caro (…!), which meant that two setup relievers had faced six batters combined, and had retired nobody at all – a fact that didn’t escape the blurred vision of the attendance, among which keen eyes spotted that lots of shirt-switching was going on to get everybody some discounted beer. Sugano entered to quickly clean up with a bouncer from Amari Brissett turned into a force at second base and then two strikeouts to Sharpie and Dally. Caro pitched a complete game 8-hitter. 9-1 Loggers. Quebell 3-4, 2B, RBI; Pruitt 2-4;

For his troubles, Manobu Sugano got a full cup of beer poured over him just as he was to enter the dugout, by a fat, red-nosed guy, whose “Racoons” T-shirt had further been adorned by something that turned the O’s into a particularly troubling display of male tools for procreation, and who also hollered with a heavy tongue at Sugano that there was no room on the team for him, for he had such tiny eyes, while the Coons’ logo’s eyes were really big – to underline that, he shook his monstrous food-and-beer store with both hands…

Yeah, this game won’t make the season highlight reel, probably.

The next day we also discovered that some two dozen seats had been ripped out and stolen, as well as the #2 retired for Christopher Powell, high on top of the batter’s eye. How the drunkards had even gotten up there was beyond me. Maud filed in sick for the weekend. I would have done the same, but somebody had to motivate Slappy to clean the park of about a thousand vomit stains, too…

Raccoons (33-25) vs. Pacifics (40-21) – June 8-10, 2012

Dominating the FL West, the Pacifics had sored 301 runs already, almost five per game, and on the other hand had allowed only 198, less than 3.3 per game! They led the FL in about all pitching categories, and the hitting wasn’t shabby for sure. The Raccoons had a big fish to swallow here, and they put a streak of five consecutive series wins against L.A. on the table that stretched all the way back to 2001! Yes, the 2001 Coons actually won a series from time to time.

Projected matchups:
Shunyo Yano (2-4, 4.88 ERA) vs. J.J. Wirth (8-3, 3.24 ERA)
Nick Brown (7-1, 2.97 ERA) vs. Jack Berry (7-3, 3.76 ERA)
Scott Spears (2-3, 3.05 ERA) vs. Brad Smith (5-4, 4.36 ERA)

Ernest Green (6-2, 2.74 ERA) pitched on Thursday after all, so we did not get a left-hander for this series. Jack Berry is the guy I traded away because “he would get bombed by big league pitching”. His 93-79 career record and 3.76 ERA claim differently. Let’s not explore the 2002 trade with the Buffaloes that was made to send him away, because I am close to tears already. Although I was right in one point: Berry is a living home run generator, surrendering ONE homer more to big league batters than Nick Brown, who has close to 50% more innings pitched. Oh well, we’ll see what he’s worth on Saturday in direct head-to-head competition.

Game 1
LAP: 3B Carroll – 2B V. Flores – CF J. Roberts – 1B Murphy – RF J. Thomas – LF Davenport – C Spears – SS Lulli – P Wirth
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – C Bowen – P Yano

J.J. Wirth was walky at first, issuing two free passes in both of the first two innings, but the Raccoons could never find a hit to accompany their free base runners. The top 3rd started with Errol Spears getting drilled by a so far perfect Yano, and with two outs Jens Carroll and ex-Coon Vic Flores had RBI hits to get the Pacifics 2-0 ahead. Bottom 3rd, leadoff walk to Palmer – dissolved in John Alexander’s double play. Another leadoff walk was issued to Pruitt in the fourth, and finally Jon Merritt came up with a single, the Coons’ first hit of the day, to put the tying runs on again. Jason Seeley unhelpfully whiffed before Bowen walked to load them up. Wirth’s first pitch to Yano was wild and escaped Spears, allowing Pruitt to score the first run, but Wirth then came back to strike out Yano and was lucky when Yoshi Nomura hit a vicious line to rightfield but EXACTLY to Josh Thomas. The walk parade continued unabated, with another one to Palmer to start the fifth, but, ay, Alexander hit into another double play. EIGHT walks were issued by Wirth through five, and the Coons could not possibly have done ANY LESS with them. Wirth even had the indecency to remain in the game, batted with two outs in the top 7th with nobody on, and with his single sparked a rally that culminated in Jimmy Roberts pulverizing Yano’s 102nd pitch of the night for a game-deciding 3-run homer, 6-1. Quebell managed to hit an RBI double in the eighth, and Castro found a way to hit into another double play in the same inning. 6-2 Pacifics. Quebell 2-3, BB, 2B, RBI; Slayton 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Somehow we can’t get out of the bottom 3 in starters’ ERA. Must be that the rotation is loaded with stinkers.

Except for Nick Brown of course.

Game 2
LAP: 3B Carroll – 2B V. Flores – CF J. Roberts – 1B Murphy – C Spears – LF Davenport – SS Lulli – RF J. Thomas – P Berry
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Castro – RF Seeley – C D. Alexander – 3B Canning – P Brown

Jens Carroll became #2,400 for Brownie right at the start of the game, but the Pacifics were soon starting to hit that old ball very, very well. They had three singles in the first two innings, no runs, but starting with Carroll again they hit the ball hard the entire third inning. Carroll and Vic Flores made hard outs before Jimmy Roberts doubled off the base of the wall and Stanley Murphy finally homered to left. Spears walked, Willie Davenport singled, and somehow Adriano Lulli made the third out after all. The Coons left three men in scoring position in the first three innings, already indicating that they were not going to be of any help for arguably the best pitcher on the team. Murphy homered again in the fifth, running the score to 3-0, and Pruitt had just saved Brown a run before that with a mildly spectacular grab on Jimmy Roberts’ drive to deep left. Brown hit a 1-out single in the bottom 5th with D-Alex already on base, but the only effect that turned out to have was that he was left along with him in scoring position.

Brown ended up being dismantled completely in the sixth inning. A leadoff walk to Josh Thomas was bad enough; Berry, who was home run prone like a four-year old with fine motor skill problems, wasn’t giving up anything to the Raccoons, and laid down a perfect bunt to get Thomas to second. Carroll grounded hard to third, where Canning pulled a Merritt and threw the ball away. After Flores struck out, only Brown’s fourth on the day, Roberts singled, scoring the fifth run for the Pacifics. That brought up Stanley Murphy, and when the pitching coach came out to inquire about Brownie’s well-being he clawed at him and would give up the ball. It came just how it had to come. Murphy raked a 1-2 pitch in the middle of the zone, and all over the park children started to cry, as Brown’s line ended up at 5 2/3 innings, 11 hits, two walks, and seven runs (three earned) once Murphy had deposited another one in the leftfield stands. The Raccoons would score a couple in the bottom of the seventh, but … ugh, who gives a ****? 8-2 Pacifics. Nomura 2-5, RBI; Palmer 2-5, RBI;

I must start cutting myself again, that worked well better than banging the fists against the wall.

Walt Canning was demoted to AAA after his unhelpful performance, batting 1-for-12, and fielding like Ricardo Martinez (who is stashed away in AAA Albuquerque by the Rebels). Dave Roudabush replaced him. Same skill set, same low expectations.

Game 3
LAP: 3B Carroll – 2B V. Flores – 1B Murphy – RF J. Thomas – LF Davenport – CF M. Perez – C B. Campbell – SS Lulli – P B. Smith
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Spears

For the second time this week a Raccoon hit a double, tried to get a triple, and was left with nothing but a bruise on his arm, and this time it was Yoshi to start the first inning. That cost a run, again, as he would have been on to be collected as well with Quebell’s 12th homer of the season, which now only picked up John Alexander for a 2-0 lead. Brad Smith, perhaps the best of their starters despite having the worst season ERA, then inexplicably walked Pruitt and Castro (slightly ruining his 5.1 K/BB ratio), before allowing a 3-run bomb to Merritt, 5-0! For the Coons!

Mind though, before going bonkers, that we had a very recent waiver claim pitching, and although Scott Spears was perfect the first time through the order, whiffing four in a row at one point, a lingering feeling of impending doom remained and was justified by the fourth inning and Josh Thomas’ 2-run homer to dead center, and it was DAMN DEEP down there. The Coons didn’t get any other runners off Smith in three innings before he was hit for in the top of the fifth. Spears came close to getting toppled in the sixth, with Murphy, whom he had struck out twice before, walking, and moving to third on Thomas’ single, but Spears struck out his last batter, one way or another, Willie Davenport, to escape a jam with a damn fine line after all. Bottom 6th, more stupidity on the bases by the home team, as Quebell hit a 1-out double, then was doubled off second base when Vic Flores caught Pruitt’s liner in one fluid motion on the way to the bag.

Top 7th, the pen took over and chaos reigned immediately. Mullins allowed a single to Manny Perez, then smacked Brian Campbell outright. After Lulli flew out deep to right, Ron Thrasher was called on to take care of PH Ramón Echevarria, whom he struck out, but then surrendered a 2-run double to Carroll anyway. Micah Steele came out to face Vic Flores, who singled to left on the first pitch, but Jimmy Roberts, who had replaced an ailing Carroll as pinch-runner, had to stop at third base. After that, Jason Seeley, who had entered along with Steele and had replaced Pruitt in leftfield, was waving his arms in huge circles trying to find the fly to left that Stanley “Browniekiller” Murphy hit on a 1-2 pitch. I closed my eyes and waited for the inevitable boos, but Seeley recovered and made a clumsy catch, but sometimes a catch is a catch is a catch… Steele made it through the eighth, but the Raccoons were unable to provide an insurance run, managing ONE hit from the second through the eighth. ONE. Angel Casas was thus charged with protecting a ONE-run lead, starting with Lulli in the top 9th. The righty shortstop struck out, but then left-hander Pedro Morán came out to pinch-hit and beat Angel with a double to deep left. Oh well, we still have – nothing: Jimmy Roberts CRUSHED a ball, deep right center, forget it, just forget it, just forget everything. 6-5 Pacifics. Quebell 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Spears 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K;

I … I … –

(sobs)

In other news

June 4 – Another pitcher is out for this season and the beginning of the next, as CIN SP Juan Garcia (3-4, 6.19 ERA) has been diagnosed with a torn flexor tendon and an estimated 11 months to recover from that.

Complaints and stuff

L.A.’s Stanley Murphy is the first player to have multiple 3-homer games, achieving his second such game almost a year after his first. On June 18, 2011, he branded the Stars for three dingers.

The 2,900th regular season franchise win remains up for grabs, mainly because our rotation is **** – you might have noticed – and to salvage the season I need to make a trade sooner rather than later, since everything I can pick off the dump somewhere will probably just turn into another Conway nightmare. Or Spears. Or … or the dented Denton.

By the way, Pedro Morán, who started the Pacifics’ comeback on Sunday, is 36 years old. This at-bat was his first at-bat … IN NINE YEARS. He amassed 763 AB with the Blue Sox from 1999 through 2003, then vanished. And he beat Angel Casas.

The 2012 Raccoons – rotten to the core.
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Old 05-27-2016, 08:27 PM   #1862
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2012 DRAFT POOL PREVIEW

The draft is only a few days away, so it’s time to throw an eye (better two) on the draft pool to see what’s in store for the Raccoons, who will have the #18 pick, but no supplemental round picks and will not come up again until #68 after that.

The 2012 draft is going to have a very peculiar mix, with a lot of things in short supply. One thing are catchers, of which we could find only two decent specimen (and Greg Elliott below is not included, he’s clumsy as heck, but he has some gear, apparently), and infielders are also underrepresented. A few stereotype first basemen, a few stereotype shortstops, yeah, but no immediately identifiable future star third baseman or so. (Still grumpy about losing out on now-almost-22-years-old Travis Bahner last year, who has a .837 OPS for Riverside, the Miners’ AA team)

What’s plenty in supply are highly rated pitchers (of which we have omitted those with routinely low pitch counts and little stamina on the Hotlist), and powerful corner outfielders, but if you’re looking for a centerfielder, you’re again out of luck. The 2012 draft – a draft of brutes. Also a draft of high schoolers, as almost all of our preferred picks are high school players.

The famous Hotlist (Players with * are in High School):

SP John Blankenship (13/11/15) *
SP Matt Gossen (14/12/9) *
SP Kyle Wiliams (11/12/9) *
SP Troy McCaskill (11/14/14)
SP Brian Leser (11/13/16) *
SP Josh Laraby (13/15/10) *
SP Jeff Magnotta (12/11/16) *

1B/C Greg Elliott (9/12/13)
1B Ryan Muse (9/13/12)
INF/LF Steve Dykstra (10/7/12)

RF/LF Nate Ellis (11/13/8) *
LF/RF Preston Asbridge (9/12/9)
RF/LF/1B Miles Greene (10/12/10)
RF/LF Brian Skinner (12/10/11) *
OF/1B Jose Avila (12/13/11) *
LF/RF Andrew Cooper (10/12/14) *
LF/1B/RF Tom Brown (10/14/12) *

Getting the first choice, I might pick Blankenship, a slight right-hander with the ability to hit a fly in the eye with his slider, also a groundballer. The chance for him to stick around until #18 however are about minus seven percent…
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Portland Raccoons, 54 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
1 OSANAI
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 05-28-2016, 03:33 PM   #1863
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Raccoons (36-28) @ Miners (34-29) – June 12-14, 2012

The Miners were third in runs scored and fourth in runs allowed in the Federal League, but they were in third place behind the surprise Rebels and the Cyclones. They had a top 3 rotation, too, and the Raccoons sure wished they could get back there… We have played the Miners only once in the last six years, lost two out of three then, but were still .694 all-time against them, the best mark against any team in the Federal League and the ABL.

Projected matchups:
Rich Hood (1-2, 4.29 ERA) vs. Takeru Sato (4-6, 4.57 ERA)
Hector Santos (4-4, 4.46 ERA) vs. Fred Dugo (7-4, 3.11 ERA)
Nick Brown (7-2, 3.07 ERA) vs. Miguel Rodriguez (8-4, 4.07 ERA)

Sato is a lefty, as we know very well; we don’t get to see their other left-hander, Barney Manning, who was on our Hotlist before the 2001 draft. Manning is only 61-62 with a 4.23 ERA for his major league career with a 1.5 K/BB and a history of nagging injuries, but the Raccoons picked ****ing Chris Beairsto instead of him…

We skip Shunyo Yano’s start here and instead will put him to the back of the line. We play nine games before the next off day, so Yano gets the start in the middle, and whether he will be skipped again with the following off day is entirely up to him…

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – CF J. Alexander – RF Ayers – LF Castro – C Bowen – P Hood
PIT: LF DeWeese – 3B Messer – 1B S. Butler – SS McWhorter – 2B Madison – CF Burkhart – RF Blanc – C Carbajal – P T. Sato

While Hood struck out three on a perfect first turn through the Miners’ lineup, the Raccoons put up two runs in the second inning against Sato, who would turn 40 during the playoffs if the Miners got there. Ayers and Castro reached base before a Yoshi double and a Palmer single plated a run each with two outs. Nomura was thrown out at home on Palmer’s single as he tested the arm of Mohammed Blanc. Hood retired R.J. DeWeese for a second time for 10 straight outs before Clay Messer came up with a single in the bottom 4th. Steve Butler doubled, immediately creating a tight spot, but when Tom McWhorter, the cleanup-hitting shortstop with zero home runs this season, hit a fly to left, Tomas Castro got to it near the line, Messer tagged and went, but found himself gunned down by a blink at home plate, and Hood’s sheet remained clean. But Hood knew fairly well how to shoot a game in the knee; Tim Burkhart drew a 1-out walk and moved up on Blanc’s groundout in the bottom 5th. We gave Jesus Carabajal four wide ones right away to get Hood to face the pitcher, but only did Sato hit an RBI single off Hood, nope, when DeWeese grounded a 1-2 pitch deep behind first where Quebell just barely snagged it, Hood was tardy to first base and had Quebell’s throw glance off his glove for an error that loaded the bags. Clay Messer flew out to left to strand all the runners and the Miners remained 2-1 behind, but … oh wow. The rotation.

The rotation managed to shovel itself a hole every day now, and Hood continued on his chosen path. McWhorter was on first with one out in the bottom 6th. Hood snapped a throw back there that was nowhere near the bag, and while Quebell scampered after it, McWhorter scrambled to second base – he was the tying run after all…! Once more Tomas Castro would hold on to Hood’s game, with the third good play to end an inning with men on base in this game when he shagged Burkhart’s drive to deep left. Top 7th, Bowen hit a leadoff single, and Hood laid down a poor bunt, which ironically enough was good for the Coons, since Takeru Sato desired to get the lead runner, but threw high into center and the Coons had two on with nobody out. Yoshi went on to load the sacks with a hard single to right before Sato slightly lost it and walked Palmer on four straight, shoving in a run. Merritt singled in another run before Felix Colón replaced Sato and got a soft fly to shallow left from Quebell and a double play from J-Alex, but the Coons were now up 4-1. Hood got another out from DeWeese in the eighth before being lifted for Slayton after throwing 101 messy pitches, which nevertheless generated a good line – somehow. Slayton got Messer before allowing a double to right to Steve Butler, who tried to reach third, and made the third out against Keith Ayers’ arm there. The Coons’ outfielder that didn’t make the starting lineup got PH appearances in the ninth and manufactured a run when Seeley walked, moved up to second in between, then scored on Pruitt’s single to right. Steele held down the Miners in the bottom of the inning and a 5-game losing streak was snapped. 5-1 Raccoons. Nomura 2-5, 2B, RBI; Pruitt (PH) 1-1, RBI; Quebell 2-5; Ayers 2-4; Hood 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (2-2);

Defense played a big role in Hood’s outing, and you can twist and turn that either way…

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Santos
PIT: RF Waggoner – 3B Messer – SS McWhorter – LF DeWeese – 2B Madison – CF Burkhart – 1B D. Graham – C Carbajal – P Dugo

After Hood had been perfect the first time through on Tuesday, the Wednesday affair saw Santos face the minimum in the first three innings, despite allowing infield singles to start both the first inning and the third inning. But William Waggoner was caught stealing by D-Alex, while the infield hit in the bottom 3rd was dissolved when Carbajal hit into a double play. The Furballs didn’t score initially, but Quebell and Pruitt reached with one out in the top 4th. Castro singled to center, and Quebell scored from second base while Tim Burkhart appared to get hurt on the throw to home plate and had to leave the game, with Steve Butler taking over. Merritt’s groundout scored another run, giving Santos a 2-0 lead, and Santos blew it instantly when he issued a leadoff walk to Waggoner and then was taken deep by the homerless McWhorter, and that one went to dead center, right over the 427’ sign. Back-to-back doubles by Dave Graham and Jesus Carbajal plated the go-ahead run in the fifth inning. The top 7th saw Merritt hit a leadoff single, then get doubled off on Dylan Alexander’s lineout to Graham. The Coons went down a run into the ninth in rather uninspired fashion, but there both Pruitt and Dylan Alexander, the latter with Merritt on first, hit hard drives, and both were caught on the warning track. 3-2 Miners. Pruitt 2-4, 2B; Merritt 2-4, RBI;

Well, at least we’ve gone multiple games in a row (two) without getting stuffed with six. It’s merely been TWO WEEKS since we last played back-to-back games without conceding six or more runs in either of them…

Counting on Ace Brown to extend that streak!

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Brown
PIT: RF Waggoner – 3B Messer – 1B S. Butler – SS McWhorter – 2B Madison – CF Burkhart – LF Blanc – C Carbajal – P M. Rodriguez

Tim Burkhart was in the lineup despite a barking back.

Ace Brown also got early support as Matt Pruitt – in anger! – hit the homer he was again denied the previous night and put the Coons up 3-0 in the first inning, collecting Nomura and J-Alex, who had both singled. As far as the ace was concerned, the stuff was not there from the start, Butler was close to a homer in the bottom 1st, and the Miners chewed through him by the bottom 3rd. Four singles off Brown were bad enough, but a soul-stabbing throwing error by Dylan Alexander meant that they not only soiled Brown’s line, but also scored four runs to flip the score. Two runs were unearned, but Nick Brown, who had been amazing until late May, had finally arrived in June and displayed his usual June form, and it was just not pretty to look at. Mohammed Blanc singled to start the bottom 4th, and with two out Brown would hit consecutive batters to load the bases before Steve Butler raked too hard and struck out to strand three Miners.

The Coons’ offense wandered a dark valley after the early bomb hit by Pruitt, and Rodriguez racked up eight strikeouts (to Brown’s three) through five innings. The Critters then had two men on with one out in the sixth, but Quebell and Pruitt made soft outs. Brown was removed after striking out Waggoner and Butler in the bottom 7th, sandwiching a Clay Messer single, when he drilled McWhorter with a 1-2 pitch, his third punched batter on the day, and we figured a) he was at 107 pitches now, b) he was no good anyway, and c) the Miners were probably ready to rip his arms off if he hit another one of theirs. Steele came in to face Steve Madison, the Miners sent a left-handed batter in Dave Graham, but Graham popped out to right on the first pitch, and Brown’s line closed with only the four runs from the third inning on it. The Raccoons had another shot at coming back in the eighth when Nomura was hit and J-Alex doubled. Two in scoring position with two down, Quebell hit the first pitch from Rodriguez into the gap, where Blanc caught it rather effortlessly, and that came after Palmer earlier in the inning had already made a deep out in rightfield. Closer Kevin Wanless pitched for the third straight day in the ninth inning then. Castro became the tying run with a 1-out walk and was moving when Merritt singled to center, with Castro only stopping at third base. Dylan Alexander hit a ball hard to the second baseman, to second, to first, go home. 4-3 Miners. J. Alexander 2-3, BB, 2B;

We will file this away under “****ing **** games we never want to talk about anymore”…

Raccoons (37-30) @ Indians (27-39) – June 15-17, 2012

Mired in last place, the Indians had allowed the most runs in the Continental League, with the worst rotation. Their starters were putting up a 5.22 ERA (despite Curtis Tobitt on that team!), which was well worse than even the Raccoons tethered front five. They were sixth in runs scored, but … that was a 5.22 ERA mark! The Coons had so far split four with them.

Projected matchups:
Scott Spears (2-3, 3.05 ERA) vs. Curtis Tobitt (7-3, 2.69 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (2-5, 5.18 ERA) vs. Tom Weise (4-7, 5.54 ERA)
Rich Hood (2-2, 3.49 ERA) vs. Samuel McMullen (2-5, 3.64 ERA)

Lefty on Sunday, and we really get their only two guys that aren’t bitten by ineptness. Tristan Broun was running an ERA of ELEVEN, but he had pitched on Wednesday, and with Tobitt’s normal turn falling on their off day on Thursday they weren’t going to pull any crazy moves to get him into the series for sure…

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Castro – RF Seeley – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Spears
IND: LF Kui – 2B M. Clark – RF J. Ortíz – 1B Tsung – C Paraz – SS R. Miller – CF J. Cardenas – 3B Reece – P Tobitt

The game started with Yoshi Nomura reaching on an uncaught third strike, but the Raccoons didn’t make anything out of Jose Paraz booting strike three. The Coons would not get another base runner until the fourth, when Palmer singled and Pruitt walked to start the inning, although they would not have scored if not for a balk by Curtis Tobitt when there were already two more coontails on his belt – they were striking out rabidly indeed. That run-scoring balk erased a 1-0 lead Tobitt had achieved himself with a leadoff double in the bottom 3rd, after which he moved up on groundouts to score. After an intentional walk to Sonny Reece to load the bases in the bottom 4th, Tobitt was up with two outs, but now grounded out to Palmer and kept the game tied. Tobitt issued two walks in the top 5th, but again the Coons bowed out without biting, and the game remained tied through seven innings. Tobitt struck out nine through seven, and despite a pitch count of 105 the Indians sent him back out for the top of the eighth. It surely didn’t hurt him: the Coons’ top of the order made three really quick outs. But Tobitt had to settle for a no-decision, just like Spears, when Sugano and Slayton held the Indians down in the bottom 8th. Helio Maggessi faced Quebell to start the ninth, and Quebell ripped a rising rocket to left on the 1-1 pitch – foul. He did single to center on the next pitch, however. Here came Castro, chumped a pitch into the ground in front of the plate, Paraz got Quebell forced out at second leisurely, but Castro legged out the return throw – then was caught stealing by Paraz and his pathetic stump for an arm! Oh come on, Coons!! GET SOME **** DONE!! Next thing everybody saw was Jason Seeley homering on a 3-1 pitch by Maggessi to break the 1-1 tie. Okay, that works as well. Angel Casas survived a 2-out double by PH Dave Padilla to get this one into the W column. 2-1 Critters. Seeley 1-3, BB, HR, RBI; Merritt 2-4; Spears 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K;

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – CF Seeley – C Bowen – 3B Roudabush – P Yano
IND: SS R. Miller – 2B M. Clark – RF J. Ortíz – 1B Tsung – C Paraz – CF Luxton – LF Bonneau – 3B Reece – P Weise

Nomura and Palmer opened the game with singles before the middle of the order farted out conclusively, and the same two guys were on base again with one out in the top of the third, and the result was remarkably identical, but in the next inning Yano would hit a 2-out single to score Jason Seeley from second base, and that was the first run of the game. (shakes head) Baseball, wicked ****.

Yano had a 1-hitter through five innings, but that sounded way more fantastic than it actually was. He had walked a couple, of which double plays had taken care, and there had been hard hits right to defenders all the way. His luck really ran out in the sixth, when the Indians suddenly found the holes and shackled him for five hits, all singles, for three runs before he was removed for Thrasher with two outs and two on, and Thrasher struck out Robbie Luxton to end the inning. Tom Weise struck out seven in five innings, allowing only four hits in total, while the Raccoons just couldn’t find a groove. Or competent relief. Kyle Mullins entered the bottom 8th, was taken yard by Ryan Miller and then allowed a double to Mark Clark, two right-handed batters. Rockburn cleaned up the mess, but there was no comeback from the Coons. 4-1 Indians. Nomura 2-4; Thrasher 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K;

That was it for Mullins and his 5.34 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. He was waived and DFA’ed and we would try our luck with Josh Gibson now.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – RF Ayers – CF Seeley – C Bowen – P Hood
IND: LF Bayle – 2B M. Clark – RF J. Ortíz – 1B Tsung – C Padilla – CF Kui – SS R. Miller – 3B Reece – P McMullen

Sam McMullen started this game with a pair of walks, then gave Merritt a single on a 1-2 pitch, loading the bags with nobody out. A team that needed a big hit with runners in scoring position in the worst way sent their best guy (at least in terms of countables), and Quebell … fouled out. Pruitt flew out to shallow left, no chance to score for Yoshi, and while Keith Ayers suddenly made the best show with a fly to deep left, but Jimmy Bayle had that as well, and Bayle would also draw a 2-out, bases-loaded walk in the bottom 2nd to give Rich Hood a headache. Hood’s control was calamitous; the defense dug him out of a tight spot in the first, when Nomura converted a vicious one-bouncer for a double play, but in the second he just kept walking them before Mark Clark fouled out. Bayle’s walk equalized Craig Bowen’s solo shot from the top 2nd, 1-1.

And with that it was off to the races to see which starting pitcher could get torn apart by the wild dogs first. McMullen crapped out and allowed a 2-out, 2-run single to Keith Ayers(!) in the top 3rd, but the Indians made up the two runs before they made an out in the bottom 3rd, with a single by Juan Ortíz, a walk by Mun-wah Tsung, and then a 2-run triple by Padilla, who miraculously was left on third base after a foul out, another walk, and then a double play hit into by Sonny Reece. Three-three after three.

Yoshi Nomura’s home run gave Hood the third lead on the day, making it 4-3 in the top 4th, Hood for once didn’t cough up the game-tying run right away, and the Coons tacked on a run in the fifth, Seeley hitting a sac fly. Hood kept hobbling on, although his pitch count was at 94 through five, having walked five and whiffed four. Top 6th, bases loaded AGAIN with nobody out AGAIN, and it was Quebell up AGAIN. Sam McMullen issued one last walk, his seventh, to force home a run against Quebell, 6-3 Coons, and then was gone with right-hander Brock Bose replacing him. Bose got Pruitt in a way, with Pruitt going to 0-4 on the day when he grounded to Tsung, and Tsung got Palmer thrown out at home, but that was it for Bose in terms of success, and the Raccoons then tore him open. Ayers hit a 2-run double to right, Seeley and Bowen both hit RBI singles to left, the Coons reached double digits, and after Hood grounded out it was Yoshi with an RBI single to right – a 6-run inning for an 11-3 lead!

Hood got two outs on two pitches in the bottom 6th before Sonny Reece singled to center in a full count. The Indians, down by eight, had stopped bothering and had reliever Johnny Watson bat with two down, and Hood smacked him real good with a 2-2 pitch. Alright, that’s it for the white kid from the hood. Law Rockburn came in and got Bayle to fly out to right to end the inning, and between Law and Josh Gibson, the Raccoons finished out this game without any more damage. 11-3 Critters! Nomura 2-4, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Palmer 3-5, BB; Merritt 2-4, 2 BB; Quebell 2-4, BB, RBI; Ayers 2-4, BB, 2B, 4 RBI; Bowen 2-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Rockburn 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K; Gibson 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

So they CAN get a hit with a runner in scoring position! Hah!

In other news

June 11 – The Condors place OF Shawn Blackburn (.270, 4 HR, 19 RBI) on the DL with a pretty severe concussion and don’t expect him back this season.
June 13 – The Canadiens announce a 6-yr, $18.64M extension to SP Rod Taylor. The 31-year old right-hander, who has been with the Canadiens his entire career, is 121-79 with a 3.43 ERA and 1,900 strikeouts right now. He has led the CL in strikeouts the last four years, but he has also led the CL in home runs allowed three times already, most recently in ’10.
June 16 – Dallas’ SP Jose Flores (11-3, 2.02 ERA) 3-hits the Pacifics in a 3-0 shutout.

Complaints and stuff

Friday’s 2-1 win on Jason Seeley’s homer was the 2,900th in franchise history (regular season only), and the W went to Pat Slayton, who got the last out in the eighth. Oh, whatever works.

For those who like to count: if the Coons make it to 93 wins this season, that will be their 3,000th franchise win *including* playoffs.

Ricardo Carmona came off the minor league DL on Saturday, going 1-3 with a walk in a 5-4 loss to the Los Reyes Crows. On those Los Reyes Crows: 2006 first-rounder Jimmy Oatmeal, who had moved to the Condors’ AAA team earlier this season, batted league average even for 15 games, then went down with a hip strain. He’s 24 now, and might turn into a major leaguer after all. Although – after he missed six weeks on the DL, he came back batting 2-for-12 this week, with 3 K. Regardless, watch out for September. We will not get involved with that, our last series with Tijuana ends on August 29.
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Old 05-28-2016, 04:05 PM   #1864
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2012 AMATEUR DRAFT

As always when your team won’t have a pick higher than #18, the draft generated about as much excitement as “Pizza for dinner? Why not, I haven’t had pizza since Monday.” –

We’d like to have a new pitching prospect to worry about, but if the competition would pick the field thin by #18 I really had no clue what we would select then. I wasn’t into a short-stamina starting pitcher at all, and all our 2-pitch experiments (like recent first rounder Dan Moon) really weren’t working out all that well.

The first two selections in the draft were pitchers, with the Gold Sox selecting SP Randy Prater, while the Condors took SP Troy McCaskill. The Wolves took RF/LF Nate Ellis with the #3 pick. The top 5 were completed by the Falcons taking OF Erik Pearcy (quite low on our list), and #5 was SP Josh Laraby to the Buffaloes. The #1 pick, Prater, was one of those cases with excellent stuff and really low stamina (Calderón had him with 5 stamina, which was less than what Antonio Donis had when he debuted and struggled) that we tried to stay away from if at all possible.

My secret favorite, SP John Blankenship, was picked at #11 by the Bayhawks. After that, Brian Leser moved up into the top pitcher role on our list, and when he was picked by the Knights at #16, we were pretty much down to Kyle Williams and Jeff Magnotta. Calderón liked the latter much better, and there was also a medical record on Williams, with some issues here and there, which made the decision between those two rather easy. Magnotta became a Coon, and Kyle Williams was picked up by the Gold Sox with the #25 pick.

As a testament to the lopsidedness of the draft class, the first round consisted entirely of starting pitchers and outfielders, with the exception of 1B Randy Muse, picked at #15 by the Wolves. The next infielder, 3B Luis Baca, was taken at #26, also by the Wolves, and no actual catcher was taken until #47, when the Capitals selected Paul March, one of two proper catchers on our shortlist. Greg Elliott, the clumsy guy with the catcher’s gear, was taken before that, but he didn’t really actually count…

The Hotlist was emptied long before the Raccoons were up to pick again; in fact, the Hotlist was empty by the time Calderón and I returned from dinner, between picks #53 (the Wolves taking SP Brett Dill, who had only two pitches and thus had not been on the Hotlist) and #54 (again the Wolves taking 1B Justin Anderson).

The shortlist (that was not really hot and not really short, either) was largely empty by the time we hit the sixth round. There was one of those 2-pitch pitchers left on there, but Calderón steered me to a left-hander with three pitchers that initially hadn’t been listed, but could perhaps theoretically become hammered into the shape of a major leaguer.

2012 PORTLAND RACCOONS DRAFT CLASS

Round 1 (#18) – SP Jeff Magnotta, 19, from Southbury, CT – right-hander with high control potential to spot his 91mph fastball where he needs it, accompanied by a treacherous changeup and a swooping splitter.
Round 2 (#68) – LF/RF Wes McPoland, 20, from Haverhill, MA – has power to all fields and all depths, but he really swings at everything whether it’s at his feet or not…
Round 3 (#92) – INF/RF Bobby Burke, 19, from North Brunswick Township, NJ – might read “INF” but he is really a third baseman, not quite agile enough to play up the middle; his arm is definitely true, but he also likes to hack at everything in his general direction.
Round 4 (#116) – SP Damani Knight, 20, from Wolcott, CT – right-hander with a 90mph heater and an assortment of curve, slider, and changeup, the latter clearly the most promising, but the fastball comes dead straight…
Round 5 (#140) – 2B Bryan Bingham, 18, from Roanoke, VA – think Yoshi Nomura, in the general blueprint; contact bat with a good eye, no nasty hacks, but also no power and no speed, but of course if we were about as enthusiastic about him as we had been about Yoshi, we would have taken him 122 picks earlier. But the general idea is Yoshi #2?
Round 6 (#164) – SP Matt Picard, 21, from Springfield, MO – southpaw with three pitches, throws only 89mph, and that’s a rather straight 89mph, too…
Round 7 (#188) – SP Blake Kelly, 18, from Queens, NY – has only two pitches, although those two pitches are a moving 92mph fastball and a well-sliding slider.
Round 8 (#212) – INF Ryan Schwaiger, 19, from Port Orchard, WA – hits like a shortstop, doesn’t quite field like one
Round 9 (#236) – LF/RF/1B Chris Thomson, 21, from Wausau, WI – hits a bit for contact, but not really for power, and also doesn’t field well, or run well, but … but he looked so sad and we took him anyway. It’s the Three-Legged-Puppy Effect.
Round 10 (#260) – SS/2B Dallas Lemley, 18, from Pine Island Center, FL – definitely not a shortstop! Lemley might have to find a home at second base, although it’s tough to find a home for someone with limited range, no arm to speak of, and no power; we mainly took him because of the slight promise in his contact abilities.
Round 11 (#284) – C Bryan Gibson, 18, from Fort Hood, TX – no catching abilities whatsoever, Gibson will be the second position player named Gibson we take in the draft and convert to a pitcher (the other of course being Josh Gibson); there is *some* promise in terms of a curveball…
Round 12 (#308) – SP Ryan Martinez, 19, from East Greenbush, NY – not much in terms of anything; he claims to throw five pitches, but I’m not so sure…

All draft picks were assigned to single-A Aumsville, while we also did some widespread purging in the minors with one or two prominent casualties, as we released in order of dubious prominence:

AA LF/RF Pete Schipper, 25 – sometimes 15 minutes of fame are really 15 minutes of fame, and his .783 OPS in 79 AB for the ’09 Coons were really the best hitting he ever did anywhere for any length of time, but he achieved more than most last-rounders…
AAA LF Jerry Saenz, 27 – he’s batting .207/.264/.293 in AAA and he’s bemoaning that he’s not on the big club. Good luck with that … elsewhere.
AA OF William Quinn, 23 – 2009 third-rounder, no hitting ability whatsoever!
AA SP Chad Royston, 24 – 2008 fifth-rounder, eaten up by injuries, completely broken…
AA 1B Jonathan Marsh, 22 – had a .622 OPS in Ham Lake in ’10, a .675 OPS in ’11, and now regressed to .588; add to that the fact that he’s defensive dynamite…
AA INF Marcos Montez, 23 – was at one point (few years back) in the discussion of the second baseman of the future, but he has never hit at any level in any season since being dragged out of the jungle by Vince Guerra in ’05.

Also gone and probably never mentioned before: AA MR Roberto Jimenez, a scouting discovery by Whitebread; AA MR Roberto Ramirez, a scouting discovery by Vince Guerra (so it’s been a few years!), who was in his fifth AA season; A MR Ford Pilger, our 2010 eighth-rounder; A MR’s Jordan Manzano and Henry Mendoza, more discoveries by Whitebread; A MR Ethan Reynolds, our 2010 eleventh-rounder; A C Manny Melendez, who must have gotten in through an open window…; A 2B Danny Plascencia, our 2010 last-rounder; A OF Ruben Calvo, who was dragged in by a cat, I swear!; A OF Dustin Rotter, a trash can signing from last winter; A OF/2B/3B Johnny Terrazas, another meal money thief brought home from vacation by Whitebread; furthermore another half dozen players were thrown out of the international complex because there was just no hope whatsoever, mainly 19-year olds, before they could clutter up the professional system even more;

… and after this purge of Stalinist proportions, we still have an overhang of about half a dozen players in Aumsville, which I can’t select between, mainly infielders. Maybe it’s because they are ALL bad, and worse yet, equally bad!

One player that had already packed his **** in Aumsville and then was recalled at the last minute as he was already in the line of applicants for a job at the production line at Frank’s Fish Stick Factory, is 2011 eleventh-rounder Rick Conley. He has allowed 10 runs in 12 innings since being drafted, his control is a hot mess, but something about his makeup says that not all is lost. It might just be that I have a soft spot for 11th-round southpaws, but … eh…

When I was out of ideas in round 6, the scouting director recommendation was actually Picard. The Star Trek nerd that I am, I couldn’t pass on him then… And that 2-pitch guy that was the last pitcher on the shortlist when we then took Picard? That’s Kelly in round 7. So no damage by my nerdism here. I hope.
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Old 05-29-2016, 03:09 PM   #1865
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Raccoons (39-31) vs. Titans (40-27) – June 18-20, 2012

The Titans were in, leading the division, so taking at least two of three from them in this 3-game, midweek set was highly advisable. Right now, the Coons were only 2 1/2 games out, one behind the Elks, and six ahead of the Crusaders (whatever was going wrong for them), but a clutch (…!) performance was desirable. And the Titans certainly weren’t infallible. They were fourth in offense, but only seventh in runs allowed, and their rotation was quite struggling, sitting 10th in the CL with a 4.44 ERA, four points and one rank behind the Raccoons’ own miserable crew. This was a 3-3 season series so far.

Projected matchups:
Hector Santos (4-5, 4.46 ERA) vs. Tommy Wilson (3-7, 5.59 ERA)
Nick Brown (7-3, 3.05 ERA) vs. Alex Lindsey (5-6, 5.65 ERA)
Scott Spears (2-3, 2.81 ERA) vs. Tony Hamlyn (8-3, 3.23 ERA)

Hamlyn was by far their best starter, and he will also be the only left-hander in this series.

Game 1
BOS: SS M. Rivera – RF J. Flores – 2B J. Ramirez – C Suda – CF J. Gusmán – 1B Legendre – LF Thurman – 3B K. Williams – P T. Wilson
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – P Santos

Santos struck out six in the first three innings while allowing a single to Ken Williams and smacking Javier Gusmán, not allowing runs, and Santos was himself smacked to start the third inning. The Coons would go on to load the bases on an error by Mike Rivera and single by Pruitt, who had put the Coons up 1-0 with a homer in the first inning, but Quebell hit into an inning-ending double play, and Dylan Alexander killed another effort in the fourth with a double play of his own. Hector Santos wasn’t really in trouble until with two outs in the sixth inning, when “Quasimodo” Suda beat Seeley in center for a double that would have been a triple for most batters. Santos walked Gusmán after that, but then got out when Alexis Legendre flew out to Pruitt. Santos would go another inning before being hit for in the bottom 7th, but Castro struck out in his spot and the Coons, who had left another pair in the bottom 6th, didn’t get on at all, and the lead remained a tenuous 1-0. The eighth, with three left-handed Titans at the top of the order wanting to be dissected, didn’t go to Thrasher, the nominal setup man, but to the recently brilliant Manobu Sugano, who struck out Rivera, Jesus Flores, and Jesus Ramirez in order, and the ninth inning was dealt competently with by Angel Casas, getting groundouts from Suda and Gusmán before Legendre went down flailing. 1-0 Raccoons! Pruitt 2-4, HR, RBI; Seeley 2-3; Santos 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, W (5-5);

This was a 1-0 game, but the Titans really only were up that one time and other than that whiffed 13 times and didn’t really make much of a fuss. The Coons had only six hits themselves, but let’s focus on the Titans’ non-offense for the moment: this can stay that way, thanks.

Game 2
BOS: SS M. Rivera – 1B Legendre – C Suda – CF K. Williams – LF Hayashi – 2B J. Ramirez – RF J. Gusmán – 3B N. Chavez – P Lindsey
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – P Brown

After Santos’ dominant start on Monday, it was pretty clear on Tuesday that Nick Brown would not even come close to such a stellar performance. Rivera opened the contest with a single, but was caught stealing, yet Brown then drilled Suda to put another man on base before striking out Williams. Brown didn’t fool anybody. The Titans went through their order the first time seeing only 19 pitches, with Lindsey singling on that 19th pitch to give the Titans a 1-out runner in the third inning, Rivera reached with an infield single on the very next pitch, and then Legendre bombed Brown with a 3-run shot to left. Pruitt didn’t even run after it, it was outta here so hard.

The Raccoons rallied back to tie the game in the same inning, with a leadoff jack by Dylan Alexander and a 2-out, 2-run single by John Alexander with the bases loaded. Merritt hit a bloop to left after that, but Toki Hayashi made a great play on that, holding the Coons to just three and a tied ballgame. Brownie struck out the side in the fourth before Nelson Chavez hit a leadoff double in the fifth. Lindsey bunted him over, but Rivera and Legendre didn’t get him in, both making rather shallow outs to Pruitt. The Raccoons also had a leadoff double in their half of the fifth, with Yoshi Nomura hitting a two-baser to center. Lindsey hurled a wild one to get Yoshi to third, Palmer walked, and Pruitt singled past Legendre to give the Raccoons the lead, and J-Alex would tack on another run with a sac fly, 5-3. Brown continued to be no good, was in the process of walking the bases full in the top of the sixth when Ramirez swung over ball four in a full count, but still conceded a run on Gusmán’s single. While Brown made it to the eighth, this was merely because of a low pitch count despite four runs allowed and eight strikeouts, but once there he drilled Legendre to give the Titans the tying run on base with nobody out. Micah Steele came on, walked Suda, and then allowed a 3-run shot to Hayashi to flip the score in the Titans’ favor, 7-5. The Raccoons had the tying runs on for Quebell in the eighth – he struck out – and the tying run at the plate when Ayers drew a 2-out walk off Tommy Wooldridge in the ninth, but then it was Dylan Alexander to strike out. 7-5 Titans. Nomura 2-5, 2B; Palmer 1-2, 3 BB; Pruitt 2-4, BB, RBI; J. Alexander 1-3, BB, HR, 3 RBI;

Yuck. The Raccoons out-hit the Titans 10-7, but somehow this one was always going to get away… Of course, looking at tomorrow’s matchup, that series win seems hard to get now.

Game 3
BOS: SS M. Rivera – RF J. Flores – 2B J. Ramirez – C Suda – CF J. Gusmán – LF Hayashi – 1B Legendre – 3B N. Chavez – P Hamlyn
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – RF Ayers – CF Seeley – C Bowen – P Spears

The project of winning this series was complicated early on by a home run hit by Jesus Flores, but the Raccoons roared right back past the Titans in the bottom of the first inning, Palmer reaching, and Quebell hitting his 13th home run of the year to flip the score to 2-1. Also in the same inning, Ayers hit a single to reach the .200 plateau. Spears allowed two singles in the top 3rd, which was enough for the Titans to tie the game on Jesus Ramirez’ groundout, but the Coons came back in the next inning. Seeley had led off that inning with a double, moved up on Bowen’s out deep in right, but Spears popped out to short. Yoshi batted with two outs and sent a fly to left that didn’t look like much off the bat, but kept stretching and stretching until it vanished barely six feet over the fence – go-ahead home run! And that was not all, as just like Brownie in the middle game this time the ace got waffled. Hamlyn conceded a leadoff triple to Jason Seeley in the bottom 6th before running a full count to Bowen, whose roundhouse swing for ball four was well over the curveball, but Suda couldn’t come up with it, either, and the ball bounced away. Bowen dashed up one line, Seeley came crashing down the other line, the Titans didn’t get anybody, and the Raccoons took a 5-2 lead on the passed ball. Spears made it into the eighth inning, got one out from PH Juan Gutierrez, then left the game with the same top 3 batters up again that Sugano had retired on strikeouts on Monday, and here was Sugano again, entering with Castro in a double switch that removed Matt Pruitt. This time Sugano created a mess, drilling Rivera and allowing a single to Ramirez, which brought Angel Casas in with the tying run at the plate in Suda, who was interested in making up his error, and hit an RBI single on a 2-1 pitch, but Angel then whiffed Gusmán. Good news: the Coons came roaring back against Iemitsu Rin, who first walked Seeley and then allowed run-scoring extra-base hits to Castro and Palmer, another single to Merritt, and when Dan Parker replaced him, Quebell hit a 2-run double. That brought Angel Casas to the plate, and up by six we didn’t really care. He struck out, but this game was in the bag. 9-3 Critters. Palmer 2-5, 2B, RBI; Quebell 2-4, BB, HR, 2B, 4 RBI; Pruitt 2-4; Seeley 2-3, BB, 3B, 2B; Castro 1-1, 3B, RBI; Spears 7.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, W (3-3);

The Elks won two of three from the Indians, so we’re still one behind them, but we closed the gap to the Titans by a game, and we’re accounting for that as success for now.

Raccoons (41-32) @ Falcons (34-36) – June 22-24, 2012

The Falcons really weren’t scoring, plating 3.86 runs per game, which put them 11th in the Continental League. Their pitching ranked fourth, with 306 runs conceded, a -36 run differential, which was quite a bit worse in terms of expected record then what they were actually producing. In other words, they had all the luck, but despite all the luck and the Coons chronically short on it, the Falcons had lost two of three games to the Critters so far.

Projected matchups:
Rich Hood (3-2, 3.71 ERA) vs. Adrian Valencia (6-4, 3.73 ERA)
Hector Santos (5-5, 4.09 ERA) vs. Alfredo Collazo (6-7, 3.98 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (2-6, 5.15 ERA) vs. Steve Kreider (7-5, 3.99 ERA)

Facing the southpaw Valencia in front of two right-handers, we start the final 17-game stretch before the All Star Game here. Although Yano has not been even remotely good, I didn’t actually skip him here, but rather shoved him back two days into the #5 spot in the rotation, and moving Santos up to #4. The #4 spot will be the spot that gets the final game before the All Star game, so Yano will lose another start after all.

Game 1
POR: 2B Palmer – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – CF Seeley – C Bowen – SS Roudabush – P Hood
CHA: CF J. Garcia – LF J. Jimenez – 1B Valenzuela – 3B Ladd – SS Reeve – 2B Da Silva – RF Winstead – C T. Turner – P Valencia

Merritt and Pruitt had hits to go to the corners in the first inning, but neither Quebell nor Ayers managed to get at least one run in. Instead, Maxime Da Silva hit a homer to put the Falcons up 1-0 in the bottom of the second. The Raccoons were about invisible offensively after that, except for a 2-out double by Hood himself in the fifth, but that didn’t lead anywhere, either. Hood didn’t fool anybody, much like Brown on Tuesday, and also maintained a really low pitch count, but that didn’t mean that the Falcons weren’t tagging him. Hood walked Valenzuela with two outs in the bottom 6th, then allowed an RBI triple to Wes Ladd, 2-0 for the other team. Da Silva hit a leadoff double in the seventh, but was stranded. Both pitchers were done after seven, with John Alexander hitting for Hood in the top 8th, but Hoshi Watanabe sat down the Coons in order, but right-hander Jerry Scott made life hard for himself in the top of the ninth. Nomura hit for Merritt and worked a leadoff walk, but poor grounders by Pruitt and Quebell did little to help the Coons’ cause. Dylan Alexander batted for Ayers, and finally a sound! D-Alex lined into the corner in left and cruised into second with an RBI double, bringing up Seeley with a chance to tie the game after all, but his fly to center, while deep, ended up with Jaime Garcia. Pruitt 2-4; D. Alexander (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Hood 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, L (3-3) and 1-2, 2B;

For what it’s worth, every starter has gone seven innings so far this week. Well, it’s not worth that much, we’re still only .500 on the week…

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Pruitt – RF J. Alexander – LF Seeley – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – C D. Alexander – P Santos
CHA: SS Ibarra – RF Nieves – C F. Chavez – 1B Valenzuela – LF J. Jimenez – 3B Ladd – CF J. Garcia – 2B Reeve – P Collazo

It looked an awful lot like rain this Saturday, but at least the Coons scored a run in the first to take an early lead. Palmer was on initially, got forced out by Pruitt, but Pruitt then scored on John Alexander’s triple into the gap in right center. Now, Santos had dominated the Titans on Monday after being spotted an early 1-0 lead, striking out nine, but this time his stay was not quite as successful. While the Falcons ran a lot of 2-strike counts, they managed to get the ball in play and had five singles against only two strikeouts in the first four innings. While they couldn’t score on their own, Santos would to it for them, plating Fernando Chavez with a wild pitch with two outs in the fourth. That tied the score, and the Coons didn’t look much like offense, and also the skies opened. There was a 40-minute delay in the middle of the fifth inning, and Santos was removed with one out in the sixth with the Falcons having runners on the corners in a tied game, after the Coons had stranded runners on the corners in the top of the inning. Steele came in to replace Santos, almost allowed another 3-run homer, but Jose Jimenez’ drive only made it to the warning track and into Seeley’s glove, but that was still enough to score the go-ahead run with a sac fly. Top 7th, Merritt hit a leadoff double, but it just wasn’t meant to be at all. Merritt was on third after Castro’s groundout, after which Dylan Alexander lined out to the shortstop Rich Ibarra, and Quebell struck out against Watanabe in Steele’s place. Thrasher allowed a run in the bottom 7th, with Yoshi singling off Alex Ramirez to start the top 8th, bringing up the tying run again, but that run never moved off first base. 4-1 Falcons. Nomura 2-4; J. Alexander 2-4, 3B, RBI; Ayers (PH) 1-1;

Jon Merritt has now hit in 12 straight games. It’s more glorious than it sounds, as he has only 15 hits in those 12 games and is batting only .348, which isn’t that much for a streak.

This was the third time this week we scored only one run, and in six of the last ten games the offense has produced two runs or less…

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – C Bowen – P Yano
CHA: SS Ibarra – RF Nieves – C F. Chavez – 1B Valenzuela – LF J. Jimenez – 3B Ladd – CF J. Garcia – 2B Reeve – P Kreider

Yano walked three in the first two innings, but didn’t allow a hit until the third, yet there allowed three in one inning and conceded a run. The Raccoons continued to play dead, amassing one hit the first time through, interrupted their continuous meal for a moment in the top of the fifth inning. Tomas Castro hit a 1-out single, and while the Coons had already had Palmer thrown out stealing in the game, Castro also took off and was safe at second against Chavez’ throw. Bowen then ticketed a fast line to center that fell in and Castro scored the tying run, 1-1. Yano’s bunt was fielded by Kreider, who tried to get Bowen at second, but his throw was wild and into center, giving the Coons first and second with one out and the top of the order up. Yet, Nomura flew out to center and Palmer struck out, leaving the precious runs on base. But, oh look! Another chance materialized in the top 6th, with Pruitt hitting a leadoff single and Quebell walking. Two on, NO outs.

Listen, you second-rate skunks! If you don’t take the lead right now, you will NOT be allowed to plunder the park’s trash cans before we’re heading for the airport! Think about this!

Alexander fouled out, Merritt popped out, and Castro hit a sorry pop behind second base, but it DID get past Ron Reeve and fell in – the Raccoons took the lead after all! Since Quebell moved to third, drawing a throw, was safe, and Castro also moved up, Bowen got four wide ones with two out, and Yano, who had taken over 80 pitches through five innings, was hit for with Seeley. The count ran full, but Seeley eventually lined out to Reeve to keep it at 2-1. A leadoff walk drawn by Yoshi in the seventh only served as a means to another double play hit into by Palmer, but Quebell hit a leadoff double in the top 8th. The Falcons bypassed John Alexander in an interesting move, bringing up Merritt and his 12-game hitting streak, which was in active danger with an 0-2 day for him, facing righty Alex Ramirez. The 2-2 pitch brushed Merritt’s uniform at the chest, which was kinda good news / bad news, since it would kill his streak unless the Coons actually blew their 2-1 lead, but it also loaded the bags with nobody out for Tomas Castro. The centerfielder grounded up the middle, which could be a double play, but Rich Ibarra missed it and it went into center for an RBI single! Bowen struck out, D-Alex hit for Sugano and hit a sac fly to left, 4-1, after which Ramirez walked Yoshi to reload the sacks, Gutierrez hit for Palmer, but struck out.

Steele was assigned the bottom 8th in the 4-1 game, but fudged up (again). After an error by John Alexander started a Falcons rally, Steele loaded the bags with two singles, and was replaced with Angel, who had to negotiate not only the tying runs on base, but also had to pitch a 5-out save here, starting with PH César Aguilar in the #6 hole. Aguilar struck out, but Jaime Garcia hit a 2-1 pitch to shallow right for a 2-run single, axing the Coons’ lead to 4-3 before Ron Reeve struck out. The Coons stranded two in the ninth, which for Angel started with a K to Tyler Winstead, but Ibarra singled to right. Domingo Nieves moved him up with a sorry grounder, which made Fernando Chavez the do-or-die man for Charlotte, Angel was already on 26 pitches and Chavez yanked the first pitch high to center – high, but not deep. Not deep at all, and Castro had it! 4-3 Raccoons. Castro 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Bowen 2-3, RBI; Slayton 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Jon Merritt did come to bat in the top of the ninth after all, but walked, thus ending his 12-game hitting streak.

In other news

June 20 – The Aces send C Rafael Rodriguez (.273, 0 HR, 5 RBI) and a third-rate prospect to the Condors to acquire LF/RF Rusty Zackery (.266, 4 HR, 9 RBI). Neither Rodriguez nor Zackery were a starter with their old team.
June 22 – DAL SP Jesus Cabrera (5-3, 3.00 ERA) needs to have bone spurs removed from his elbow and will be out for the season.
June 22 – The Wolves are 3-hit in a 2-0 shutout by the Buffaloes’ Jorge Silva (6-7, 3.67 ERA).
June 24 – Washington’s SP Chris York (6-3, 4.63 ERA) 2-hits the Stars in a 2-0 shutout. It’s York’s 35th complete game and 10th shutout, and his first shutout since ’08.

Complaints and stuff

Slow week for the offense. The Coons could certainly use some more output. But one thing that keeps fascinating me is that we are still in second place (tied, but still) for stolen bases! Second! The Coons! When was that ever the case!?

I actually checked, and the closest the Critters came to second place in stolen bases in recent memory was 2005, when they stole 82 sacks, but 54 of those were courtesy of one trick pony Yoshi Yamada. They were fourth that year, behind the Crusaders, Aces, and Condors. Here is also a good example of stolen bases giving you NOTHING for your total offense, as the Condors were 11th in runs scored that year, with 612, 38 off the 10th-place Loggers, and the Raccoons were DEAD-last, with 548 runs scored, 260 less than the league-leading Titans.

Actually, the ONLY time the Raccoons finished second in stolen bases was *1979*, also known as the Raccoons worst season EVER, finishing 55-107.

Yoshi Nomura at this point leads the All Star fan voting in terms of Continental League second basemen. Quebell and Brown are in the top 3 in their categories, but that’s it for Coons. Angel Casas is greatly underappreciated in this sport, I tell you.

Like everybody else we waived this year, nobody wanted a piece of Kyle Mullins. What a surprise!

Unless he gets mercy-shot before, Nick Brown should have two starts next week, and sits 10 K out of 22nd place on all-time strikeout ladder. Normally we’d be quite sure… but… it’s a month starting with J.

Thankfully they don’t play baseball in January.
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Raccoons (42-34) @ Aces (38-37) – June 25-27, 2012

While second in the South, the Aces were nevertheless a healthy 15 1/2 games out of the Thunder, who were thundering their way through everybody and everything. Granted, the third-worst offense in the Continental League shouldn’t necessarily be a qualifying point for the playoffs, especially when the pitching was about average at best. The Coons had taken two of three from the Aces earlier in the season.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (7-3, 3.26 ERA) vs. Ian Rutter (4-4, 3.97 ERA)
Scott Spears (3-3, 2.76 ERA) vs. Juan Valdevez (10-2, 2.12 ERA)
Rich Hood (3-3, 3.51 ERA) vs. Jaquan Wagoner (5-6, 3.11 ERA)

Those were three entirely decent right-handers. We had the bad luck to miss their two 5+ ERA guys, lefty Anthony Bryant and righty William Hinkley.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – P Brown
LVA: 2B H. Jones – LF Zackery – CF Shearing – RF Bednarski – C Durango – SS Dahlke – 1B R. Avila – 3B F. Soto – P Rutter

This one could well go either way for Nick Brown, who struck out three of the first four Aces, then issued 2-out walks in the bottom 2nd to Tom Dahlke and Ricky Avila before Francisco Soto also went down flailing. Rutter struck out to open the third before Howard Jones walked, and Rusty Zackery reached on an infield single, but Conor Shearing hit into a double play to dissolve this tight spot as well, but Brown was already well over 50 pitches. Shearing was also the eyesore for the Raccoons’ offense, picking three high flies to the deeper centerfield regions that were hit by Quebell, J-Alex, and Jon Merritt consecutively between the first and second innings. Palmer, who had singled in the first, singled again in the fourth, with Pruitt hitting a single past the reach of Soto to give Quebell two on and nobody out, and Quebell did what he did best and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play before Alexander flew out to Shearing, and whom else? Mike Bednarski would put the Aces up 1-0 with his 12th homer of the year in the bottom 4th, and Brown was more swimming than anything else by then, with the Aces being retired on three sharp grounders to Merritt in the bottom 5th, and he didn’t bobble a single one.

Top 6th, the Coons were in action, somehow, some slow-motion action at least. Michael Palmer hit his third single of the game before Quebell and John Alexander were added to the bases with Rutter’s first two walks. Bases loaded, two outs for Merritt, who quickly became Rutter’s sixth strikeout victim. Brown ended up going seven innings after all when the Aces suddenly stopped letting his blood for balls and walks and started hacking, generating four more strikeouts in the sixth and seventh. Rutter was also gone after seven, with Zack Entwistle taking over, a right-hander, for the eighth inning, and Nomura led off, but Yoshi grounded out. Palmer singled AGAIN, and Quebell had a hit with two outs, but Alexander struck out to strand another two runners. Now, Entwistle had entered in a double switch with Sean McDermott coming in at first base, and he was a left-hander, and when he led off the bottom 8th, Brown did get another batter after all. Now remember, he entered 10 strikeouts behind Juan Correa for 22nd place on the all time strikeout table, and he had nine so far. If he could - … the count ran full, pitch number eight of the at-bat was low and McDermott hacked over it anyway – it’s a strikeout! It’s a share of 22nd place! That was all very well, but it didn’t save him from another pathetic defeat. The Coons couldn’t score a run for their sorry lives, and between Josh Gibson and Manobu Sugano even surrendered another run in the bottom of the eighth after Brown had left. 2-0 Aces. Palmer 4-4; Brown 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 10 K, L (7-4);

What a sad bunch… Michael Palmer had more hits than the rest of the flock combined. Maybe I should reintroduce scheduled whippings…

Nick Brown has now lost his last three decisions, and has won only one of his last eight games, which is more concern to me right now than some career strikeout things. And this was not a bad start. It was actually his first good start of the month!

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Seeley – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Spears
LVA: 3B Downing – 2B H. Jones – CF Shearing – RF Bednarski – C Durango – 1B McDermott – LF Richards – SS Dahlke – P Valdevez

Spears was speared for two runs on three hits (and a run-scoring wild pitch…) in the first inning, but the Raccoons had singles by Quebell, Seeley, and Castro to load the bases with nobody out in the top 2nd. That brought up Jon Merritt, who hadn’t been particularly useful in promising spots in Brown’s start on Monday, whipped an 0-1 to deep left, high and well gone! GRAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!

Merritt, after procuring a 4-2 lead in the top half of the second, preserved it in the bottom half. After Tom Dahlke hit a 1-out triple off Spears, Valdevez lined a 1-2 pitch to left, and Merritt made a lightning-quick swipe before it could get over his head, and Spears got out of the inning with a K to Josh Downing. Meanwhile Valdevez, who came in with 85 K and nine walks in 98.2 innings, was oddly hittable, didn’t strike out anybody in the early innings, and conceded another run in the top 3rd on singles by Palmer and Pruitt and Quebell’s sac fly. Valdevez was out of the game after only four innings, being hit for in the bottom 4th, but the Raccoons had their own issue on the mound, and Spears was readily hittable. The Aces came back to 5-3 in the third, and had the tying runs on in the fourth but Howard Jones lifted out to Seeley to end that inning. The Coons would better keep adding runs, and did so in the fifth off Ignacio Garcia, with Palmer hitting a single before we got back-to-back RBI doubles from Pruitt and Quebell. Spears didn’t get through six in a 7-3 game, allowing nine hits in 5 2/3 innings and left with a man on that Law Rockburn took care of.

The Coons then emptied a bucket full of misery over the Aces’ pen. After not getting anything done the previous day for Nick Brown, the Coons added a run in the seventh, then romped for a 4-run eighth in which Castro and Merritt both homered. One day after a game in which teams combined for 12 hits between them, in this one the Coons out-hit the Aces 17-11, and creamed them even clearer in the final score. 12-3 Critters. Nomura 2-5, 2B; Palmer 4-5, RBI; Pruitt 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Quebell 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Castro 2-5, HR, RBI; Merritt 3-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI; Slayton 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Two homers by Merritt in ONE game! There were years where he didn’t hit two all season! And even more amazing: Palmer, with back-to-back 4-hit efforts!

However, there’s no sunshine without rain. Yoshi Nomura tweaked his back on a swing in the eighth and was listed as DTD. We would leave him out of the lineup for the rubber game, and possibly he would need another one or two games of rest, but he should be good again after that.

Game 3
POR: 2B Palmer – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – CF Castro – C Bowen – SS M. Gutierrez – P Hood
LVA: 1B McDermott – LF Zackery – CF Shearing – RF Bednarski – C Durango – SS Dahlke – 2B Downing – 3B F. Soto – P Wagoner

The rubber game was kinda a pitcher’s duel, but really wasn’t. The Coons didn’t get a hit until Pruitt singled in the fourth, which led to nothing in particular, but the Aces were only held back between stingy defense because Rich Hood wasn’t fooling anybody and wasn’t getting anything past any hitter, and was rescued by double plays in the second and third innings. The game was scoreless through four, but the Aces finally bowled over Hood in the fifth. Downing led off with a double and Hood couldn’t help but to allow an RBI single in a full count to Jaquan Wagoner, the opposing pitcher. McDermott singled, then Hood threw a wild pitch. Conor Shearing cashed in the runners with a 2-run triple, putting the Coons in a 3-0 hole, which grew bigger at frightening speed. Hood issued a leadoff walk to Eduardo Durango in the bottom 6th, and two base hits later was down 4-0 with runners in scoring position and one out, and Wagoner batting again, and Wagoner AGAIN beat Hood with a 2-run single. That was well enough suckage for one game, and the Raccoons couldn’t get relief for their pains, either. Josh Gibson came in and was burned for another two runs, as this one turned into a feverish rout. The Aces were up by nine with Wagoner maintaining a 1-hit shutout with 7 K into the ninth, but Palmer singled with two outs there. The Aces immediately removed Wagoner for Chris Spindler, who allowed a single to Merritt, but Pruitt grounded out to end the game. 9-0 Aces.

My feelings are not only hurt – their foundations are shattered. Let’s get outta here!

Raccoons (43-36) vs. Loggers (30-48) – June 28-July 1, 2012

Seven losses in a row had thrown the Loggers into the for them all too familiar last place in the North. Their offense was average, with the sixth-most runs scored in the league, but their pitching was falling apart left and right, with the second-most runs conceded. Their rotation and bullpen were equally embarrassing with ERA’s roughly around 4.50. The Coons had an edge in the season series, 5-3.

Projected matchups:
Hector Santos (5-6, 4.04 ERA) vs. Ramón Jimenez (6-6, 4.80 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (3-6, 4.95 ERA) vs. Gabriel Caro (8-6, 3.53 ERA)
Nick Brown (7-4, 3.14 ERA) vs. Roy Thomas (2-6, 6.52 ERA)
Scott Spears (4-3, 2.94 ERA) vs. Gil McDonald (3-10, 4.53 ERA)

We miss the Loggers’ only lefty, Fernando Cruz (4-9, 4.84 ERA), but with the way things are going that is not necessarily a bad thing…

Yoshi looks much better already, and might be back by Friday.

Game 1
MIL: SS Luján – 1B Roncero – RF Dally – CF Locke – LF P. Estrada – C R. Hernandez – 3B F. Cuevas – 2B O. Sandoval – P R. Jimenez
POR: 2B Palmer – 3B Merritt – RF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – CF Seeley – LF Castro – C D. Alexander – SS M. Gutierrez – P Santos

Bottom 2nd, the Coons had the bases loaded with nobody out after Jimenez issued walks to Quebell and Castro sandwiching a Jason Seeley single up the middle. A struggling Jimenez walked in a run to D-Alex, but then rescued himself with strikeouts to Gutierrez and Santos before Palmer grounded out to short. Another lackluster loot in a 3-on, no-outs spot. And after that, Santos allowed a single to Jimenez in the third, Antonio Luján tripled, and Santos – for good measure – threw a wild pitch to give Milwaukee the lead.

Bottom 3rd, Merritt with a leadoff single, and Jimenez then ran full counts against J-Alex and Quebell and walked them both. AGAIN … three on, no outs! Seeley hit into a run-scoring double play, and Castro flew out to left. Okay. The next Furball to **** out of a 3-on, no-out spot like that will go without cake and candy for a week! AND I MEAN IT!! ONLY BREAD CRUMBS FOR YOU!!

Palmer drove in Dylan Alexander with a single in the fourth inning, giving the Raccoons a 3-2 lead, and the next best thing that Hector Santos could come up was a leadoff single allowed to Jimenez. JIMENEZ!! GODDAMNIT!! Of course the Loggers tied the game in the inning, and the Loggers had Fernando Cuevas on base with one out in the sixth and that was well enough bollocks for one pitcher in one game and Santos was yanked after allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Rockburn cleaned up behind Santos, with Daniel Sharp hitting for Jimenez and stranding the runner with a groundout to Palmer at second base, so both starters were out combining for 10 1/3 innings. After Jimenez, Richard Williams, a right-hander, was sent into the game and wasn’t particularly challenged by the Coons’ order until the bottom 8th when Seeley and D-Alex singled. With two outs, Matt Pruitt came out to pinch-hit, and the Loggers stuck with Williams, who extinguished the Raccoons with a strikeout to Pruitt. Tim Poe was in for Milwaukee in the bottom 9th, and he also had a walk issue, giving out 18 freebies in 34 innings, and after Palmer grounded out he put on Merritt with a 1-out walk. That was the winning run, and there were left-handers coming up against the righty Poe, with J-Alex grounding out to first and Quebell going down glaring.

Extra innings, with two innings by Angel Casas (9th and 10th) going to waste opposite Poe. By the 11th, Slayton was in and struck out the side, with Roudabush, who had entered with Slayton in a double switch and replaced a hitless Gutierrez at short, hopping a grounder up the middle for a leadoff single. Palmer bunted him to second base, with the Loggers walking Merritt intentionally, so their lefty Kevin Cummings could face five consecutive left-handed batters. For the Coons, this went about as well as it sounded. Five up, five down, except for Castro in the 12th, who was nicked and caught stealing… The next base runner for the Raccoons would be … Castro, with a 1-out single in the 15th, with Cummings STILL in there, and Josh Gibson next in the lineup after pitching two clean innings.

There was nobody left other than the ailing Yoshi on the bench, who was a hero about it and grabbed a stick, but EVERYBODY knew that Castro would run again. He was thrown out AGAIN by Raúl Hernandez, who came in with a CS% under a quarter! And THEN YOSHI DOUBLED TO LEFT. IT WAS OUTRAGEOUS!! Bowen grounded out, and we threw in Sugano, our last reliever, into the 16th. And the most reliable guy just imploded, walked Justin Dally to get started, then allowed a soft single to Amari Brissett, an infield single to Pedro Estrada, and another soft single to Raúl Hernandez that scored two. CUMMINGS would single in a run, Sugano walked in another run against Luján… ****ing hell. ****ing hell, ****ing hell, ****ing hell.

Bottom 16th. Roudabush singled. Palmer walked, which finally got the ****ing Cummings chased, with Jose Rivera taking over and walking Merritt. BASES LOADED, NO OUTS. John Alexander came up having an 0-6 day. He struck out… Quebell flew out to left for no good, either, with the Loggers switching pitchers once more with Rivera getting hurt. Melvin Alvarado got a ****ty fly to center from Seeley, and that was it. 7-3 Loggers. D. Alexander 3-5, BB, 2B, RBI; Nomura (PH) 1-1, 2B; Roudabush 2-3; Casas 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K; Slayton 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K; Gibson 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

16 runners stranded. What to say other than I hate the whole bunch?

Oh yeah, and John Alexander is on a diet. And Quebell, too. And **** it, Sugano as well.

I hate all of them.

While the pen wasn’t completely blown, and outside of Gibson and Slayton everybody was available theoretically, we had Yano up next, and that was probably going to push out pen over the cliff for good.

Game 2
MIL: SS Luján – 1B Roncero – RF Dally – CF Locke – LF P. Estrada – 3B Sharp – C R. Hernandez – 2B O. Sandoval – P Caro
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – CF Seeley – C Bowen – RF Ayers – P Yano

We really needed plenty of new players, but right now we didn’t have anybody, and Silvestro Roncero’s solo home run in the first inning definitely sent the mood southwards right away. Because where you find one with Yano, another five are not far removed. Yano struck out the side in the second, but he wasn’t going to fool this poor, tethered soul. For now, Yoshi tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom 3rd, scoring Ayers, who had drawn a leadoff walk. Ayers singled his next time up in the fifth inning, then was caught stealing, sending the Coons to 0/3 against Hernandez in this series. A single by Oscar Sandoval to start the sixth was their first hit since Roncero’s homer, but after Caro’s bunt was poor and taken to second to force Sandoval by Yano, Luján hit into a double play. The bottom of the inning saw a 1-out single to left hit by Michael Palmer, after which Pruitt bounced the ball back to Caro, but Caro bobbled the ball at first, then threw hastily to second, and wildly, too, right into centerfield. Two on, one out for Quebell, who grounded out, and Merritt whiffed. Of course Yano then blew up in the seventh, walked Roncero to get started, and was dismantled for three singles and two runs. The Raccoons’ answer to that was to strike out three times in the bottom 7th, but then generated an actual rally in the eighth. Castro led off with a walk, before Caro was chopped up with singles by Palmer, Pruitt, Quebell, and John Alexander, as the Raccoons scored three out of the blue to take a 4-3 lead for Angel Casas, who had thrown two innings on Thursday, but had only expended 19 pitches doing so. Pedro Estrada drew a 1-out walk, but other than that Henry McClendon, Daniel Sharp, and Raúl Hernandez all struck out. 4-3 Blighters. Merritt 2-4, RBI; J. Alexander (PH) 1-1, RBI; Ayers 1-2, BB;

And what now, J-Alex? You think you’re getting back onto the dessert list for one game-winning RBI? How many have you fudged up already!?

Game 3
MIL: SS Luján – 1B Roncero – RF Dally – CF Locke – LF P. Estrada – C R. Hernandez – 3B Ito – 2B O. Sandoval – P R. Thomas
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – 1B Pruitt – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – LF Castro – CF Seeley – C Bowen – P Brown

We were thin in the pen after all, so seven innings from Brownie would be a swell thing. To start the game he struck out Antonio Luján, severing his temporary ties with Hall of Famer Juan Correa for 22nd place on the all-time strikeout table. Brown struck out the first SIX Loggers in the game, Suketsune Ito grounded out on the first pitch in the third, Sandoval went up in flames for #7, and then Roy Thomas singled to right. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Brown then walked Luján and Roncero in full counts before Justin Dally grounded out hard to Pruitt at first base, and that gave Brown a pitch count WELL over 50 after three innings. Great…

To top that off, the Coons went down in order the first time through their lineup against the 6+ ERA hurler Thomas, and when Yoshi reached in the fourth inning that came on an error by Ito. Brownie had 11 strikeouts through five, as well as 91 pitches on the odometer, with Jon Merritt chipping in an error to further aggravate the situation. Thomas made it 4 2/3 innings before allowing a hit to Jason Seeley, a single to right, and nothing came of that either. Brown was toast after six, having struck out a dozen, and his sheet remained clean for Merritt starting a double play on Hernandez with the bases loaded this time. Regardless, six innings of 3-hit, 12 K, shutout ball, and his ****ing team wasn’t going to score one ****ing run for him – Brown was winless yet again. Then Slayton came in and was turned inside out for two runs in the seventh. ****ing hell! The Coons had runners on the corners with two out in the bottom 8th against Thomas (THOMAS!!!) when Matt Pruitt lined a ball to deep right, and Dally caught it. The Loggers had the guts to have Thomas bat in the ninth inning, but why not. Steele coughed up a homer to Luján, Thomas pitched a 4-hit shutout, and the Raccoons were sent spiraling into a pitch-black hole. 4-0 Loggers. Brown 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 12 K;



Who are the top prospects after all right now?

Game 4
MIL: C R. Hernandez – SS Luján – RF Locke – LF P. Estrada – 1B Roncero – 3B Sharp – CF Gilmor – 2B O. Sandoval – P McDonald
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – C D. Alexander – P Spears

McDonald’s second pitch struck Yoshi Nomura in the hand, Yoshi went down and rolled around on the ground for a while before being dragged out. So, this was going really well! Manuel Gutierrez replaced him in time to be caught up in Palmer’s double play, the ball was jumping off the bats of the Loggers real well (without early effect on the scoreboard, everything right to the outfielders), but the Coons came through in the bottom 2nd. J-Alex and Merritt singled to get to the corners with nobody out. Castro’s bouncer undressed Silvestro Roncero for an RBI single, and then Dylan Alexander hit into the next double play, scoring Merritt from third for a 2-0 lead. But a 2-run lead would sooner or later be toppled with the way Spears was pitching…

Top of the fourth. Luján – line drive single to left. Locke – line drive single to left and a 12-game hitting streak. Estrada – line drive single to right. Then Roncero struck out and Sharp hit into a pretty fat double play. The Raccoons also loaded the bases in the inning, but with two out and Spears coming up, and he was 1-for-21 on the season and wasn’t going to improve his track record here and now, flying out to shallow left to Estrada. The next inning saw John Alexander tack on a run with a 2-out RBI single, but those hard hit balls were falling in again for Spears. Hernandez and Locke both hit doubles in the sixth, getting the Loggers onto the board in what was now a 3-1 game, and Spears didn’t get anybody in the seventh. Sharp walked, Nick Gilmor singled, and that was that. With Amari Brissett out to hit for Sandoval, Ron Thrasher was given the assignment, got a grounder for a fielder’s choice at second base from Brissett and a double play turned by Merritt from Henry McClendon. Sugano was brought in after Steele walked Luján in the eighth, got the next two outs, and with another three left-handers up for the ninth, he remained in the game with a 2-run lead! Well, at least until Cuevas singled. With two outs and a man on first, Angel Casas came in, allowed a single to Ito, then allowed another single to Orlando Valdez – a relief pitcher!! – and Raúl Hernandez hit a 2-2 pitch to left center that was … hnnnnggghh – Pruitt got there. 3-2 Raccoons. J. Alexander 3-4, 2B, RBI; Merritt 1-2, 2 BB, 2B;

A number of people on this staff should be glad they’re not a horse…

In other news

June 30 – TOP OF/3B Joe Cowan (.216, 1 HR, 18 RBI) is out for the season, needing to have a torn labrum repaired.
July 1 – The Aces place 2B/3B Howard Jones (.279, 1 HR, 13 RBI) on the DL with a fractured tibia. He will miss at least six weeks.
July 1 – SFW 3B/SS Jamie Wilson (.294, 6 HR, 33 RBI) has suffered an oblique strain. He’s out for two weeks.

Complaints and stuff

First, the good news. No structural damage to Yoshi’s paw after getting slapped on it by Gil McDonald, but it’s glowing in all kinds of colors right now and it will be a few days before he can grab a bat. That’s all the good news.

Carlosito sent a message from the depths of hell that he was unhappy with the on-field performance of the team as well as with whatever he heard about how the front office was running. So people actually DID see how I chased yelling after Maud that one night when she ran onto the street in tears because of that mild T-shirt disaster and “Half Prize Beer Night” a few weeks back.

Slappy! There are still barf stains all over the park!

In terms of things that actually bother me (I still have the pictures of Big Carlos and … stuff, and it’s bad enough that even Carlosito can’t kick me outta here unless I actually start murdering people… although, with this pitching staff…), the Crusaders are rallying back and guess whom they will rally over for eight games in the next two weeks? Right. Your favorite woodland creatures. No, NOT THE ELKS!! How do you – Shame on you!!

Y’know who I feel bad for? Jose Rivera (2-3, 4.91 ERA), who tore his UCL in that 16th inning in THAT game and is headed for Tommy John surgery. We should make a pitching donation to the Loggers. And **** it, give them some of our pseudo-hitters, too. Yeah, it was one ****ed up week. Roy Thomas shaved a full run off his ERA in one start against the Raccoons. That’s how well things are going right now.

Just when I wanted to write something about how nobody talks about Hector Santos, who was quietly doing this and that, he delivers a real cucumber game and everything falls to **** in general. The international free agent period is open however, so why not plant some new false hopes? Money is not an issue, we’re more than a million in the green.

ABL CAREER STRIKEOUTS (excerpt, 10 guys ahead of Nick Brown, plus now with all active pitchers)

1st – Martin Garcia – 3,783
2nd – Tony Hamlyn – 3,392 (active)

6th – Javier Cruz – 3,108 (active)

8th – Chris York – 2,959 (active)

12th – Robbie Campbell – 2,763
13th – Leland Lewis – 2,664 (HOF)
14th – Manuel Movonda – 2,663
15th – Kiyohira Sasaki – 2,640
16th – Kelvin Yates – 2,618 (active)
17th – Craig Hansen – 2,578 (HOF)
t-18th – Dan George – 2,516
t-18th – Bill Smith – 2,516
20th – Angel Romero – 2,499
21st – Dennis Fried – 2,455
22nd – Nick Brown – 2,439 (active)

I’d say that’s two starts’ worth of strikeouts (which would be cocky, since he still doesn’t really “have” it), but both those starts will be against the Crusaders, and he’s historically bad against them.
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Raccoons (45-38) vs. Crusaders (42-40) – July 2-5, 2012

Either the Raccoons’ or the Crusaders’ season could well end in the space of the next 11 games, and with the way things were going right now, I wasn’t betting on the Crusaders to book early October holidays. While we had taken three of four games the first time the two teams had met, nothing was going for the Coons at this point, while the Crusaders kept motoring with their second-best offense. Their rotation had struggled earlier, but had reeled themselves in (largely) now, but they were still only tied for eighth in runs allowed in the league. Their run differential of +57 did hint at some horrendous luck and a record that was not trustworthy…

Projected matchups:
Rich Hood (3-4, 4.47 ERA) vs. Paul Miller (6-6, 4.50 ERA)
Hector Santos (5-6, 4.10 ERA) vs. Kelvin Yates (12-3, 2.47 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (3-6, 4.88 ERA) vs. A.J. Bartels (7-4, 3.91 ERA)
Nick Brown (7-4, 2.98 ERA) vs. Pancho Trevino (4-9, 5.37 ERA)

Their leadoff man Roberto Pena was still on the DL, but could come off any day now.

Four more right-handers to contend with. We should see a left-hander on Friday in Vancouver’s Johnny Krom, however.

Game 1
NYC: 2B Caraballo – C G. Ortíz – LF M. Ortíz – 1B Manfull – 3B Bond – CF J. Gonzalez – RF Talamante – SS Kester – P P. Miller
POR: 2B Palmer – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – CF Seeley – SS Roudabush – C D. Alexander – P Hood

To say that the Coons had little going on would have been a gross overstatement, with a lonely Seeley single their only output in four innings. Miraculously Rich Hood held the Crusaders scoreless for as long, but allowed a run on a 2-out RBI double by Francisco Caraballo in the fifth, and then a solo homer to Kevin Bond in the sixth. In between, the Raccoons had tied the score on two shy singles eluding the infielders, but when they had Palmer and Merritt on the corners with nobody out in the bottom 6th after two more soft singles, the supposed middle of the order crapped out entirely as Pruitt fouled out behind the dish, Quebell hit into a fielder’s choice at second base, and John Alexander pooped out to Caraballo. Hood was headed for another loss after seven not completely bad innings, although he issued three leadoff walks, which were three reasons to put a block of soap into a sock and spank him. Josh Gibson got the two Ortízes in the top 8th before feeling something and requiring replacement with Law Rockburn. Bottom 8th, Palmer hit a leadoff single and stole second base. The middle of the order was up again, but the Crusaders weren’t really bothered by that. A mistake: Matt Pruitt singled to right, and the speedy Palmer scored, tying the game at two in the bottom 8th. Quebell singled, putting two on, but Alexander and Seeley made poor outs to waste the chance. Law took care of the ninth, and Paul Miller was STILL AT IT in the bottom of the inning, and wasn’t replaced after a leadoff single by Dave Roudabush, either. Dylan Alexander came up, hacked once and missed, hacked twice and missed, hacked thrice and ended the game with a booming bomb to left center that was outta here right off that old bat. 4-2 Raccoons. Seeley 2-4; Roudabush 1-2, 2 BB; D. Alexander 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; Hood 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K; Rockburn 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, W (3-0);

Josh Gibson was later diagnosed with a oblique tweak (yeah, that’s actually in our trainer’s medical book! I didn’t believe it, he showed me. It’s handwritten, though.) and was DTD for a couple of days. With Yoshi also ailing, we were now down to 23 players.

Game 2
NYC: SS Kester – 3B Bond – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – 2B Moultrie – CF J. Gonzalez – P Yates
POR: SS Palmer – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – 2B M. Gutierrez – P Santos

Stanton Martin, who had had Monday off and didn’t even appear as a pinch-hitter, was back in the lineup, and just after the midway point of the season he was sporting 23 homers and 84 RBI. That was nuts. That was really nuts. Fortunately, Santos had him under control in another low-key game for the offense. The Raccoons scratched out a run when Jon Merritt doubled into the gap in the third, scoring Gutierrez, and that was it for the first five innings. Santos would pitch seven shutout innings on five hits, all but one singles, but Thrasher couldn’t get through the eighth. Martin Ortíz’ 2-out single brought up Stanton Martin as the go-ahead run, and Angel Casas was going to come in and try a 4-out save. Castro replaced Seeley in a double switch here and would lead off the bottom 8th. Angel drilled Martin (…!) before allowing a vicious liner (…!) to B.J. Manfull that ended up in Quebell’s glove after a quick swipe with the glove. Maybe I was panicking, but Angel was off right now, and that couldn’t be any good. The Coons had their first two men (Castro, Palmer) on in the bottom 8th, but between Merritt (K), Pruitt (deep F8), and Quebell (3) didn’t score anything once again. Angel Casas then struck out the side. 1-0 Critters. Merritt 2-4, 2B, RBI; Castro 1-1; Santos 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, W (6-6); Casas 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, SV (25);

Both teams were able to declare their leadoff batters healthy before game 3, as Yoshi Nomura’s paw wasn’t purple anymore, and Roberto Pena was also recovered from a mild hamstring strain.

For the Fourth of July, we had a promotion where every fan at the park received an American flag, more or less. The stripes were all there, but in the blue field there was the Raccoons logo surrounded by eight stars – one for every playoff appearance of the Critters.

Game 3
NYC: CF R. Pena – 2B Caraballo – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – 3B Bond – SS Kester – P Bartels
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – RF Ayers – C Bowen – P Yano

Caraballo’s error in the first and Manfull’s error in the third inning weren’t exploited by the Raccoons, but they did get a 2-run homer from Craig Bowen to take an early lead in this game in the second inning. That was not going to be enough, however, not with Yano pitching. Indeed he was getting torn open by the fourth inning, despite the Martin Brothers going down on three pitches to start the frame. Manfull drew a 4-pitch walk, Gabe Ortíz was drilled with the first pitch, and the Crusaders took gruesome revenge, with doubles by Bond and Bartels scoring three runs in the inning, and Caraballo’s leadoff jack in the fifth gave them a 4-2 lead. While Pruitt couldn’t get anybody to cross home plate in a runners on first and third, two outs scenario in the bottom of the fifth, the Crusaders hung one last run on Yano in the sixth before getting into the Coons’ pen, where Thrasher delivered two innings, but couldn’t get a bunt down in the bottom 7th and killed that inning offensively. Bottom of the eighth, Pruitt got on to start the frame. Quebell’s drive to right wasn’t deep enough and caught, but Merritt hit an RBI triple to center, at least bringing up the tying run. Castro’s fly to deep right was also caught by Stanton Martin, but Merritt scored, 5-4.

If it had been a RISP situation, Seeley would probably have hit for Ayers here against the righty Bartels, but it wasn’t, so Ayers batted for himself and was down to two strikes quickly before raking a 1-2 pitch to deep left. Was this one gonna go? It was! Home run! Tied game! And then… and then the Crusaders’ middle of the order overran Micah Steele, Gabriel Ortíz hit an RBI single with two outs, and the Coons were sent to the bottom of the ninth trailing anyway. Yoshi drew a 1-out walk from Scott Hood to become the tying run. Palmer’s grounder to Kevin Bond had the potential to end the game, but Bond tried to get two so badly that he lost the ball in transfer and didn’t get anybody. Big break for the Coons! Now, Pruitt batting with runners on first and second and one out! The 0-1 … PAST Daryl Anderson! (voice cracks) Wild pitch, runners in scoring position! The 1-1, grounded up the middle, PAST Moultrie into center! Nomura scores, Palmer around third, Pena throwing home, Palmer coming in- … and he’s out! And he’s hurt, too! NOOO!!!

Quebell flew out to left, which meant extra innings. Roudabush replaced Palmer at short. Sugano pitched a scoreless inning, but that didn’t help in any way. Law Rockburn got five quick outs after Sugano before Bond doubled with two outs in the 12th, followed right away by an RBI single by Jaime Kester. The Crusaders took the lead, and in the three extra innings, the Raccoons never hit the ball out of the infield, and never had a base runner. 7-6 Crusaders. Pruitt 2-6, RBI; Bowen 2-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Thrasher 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K; Sugano 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Well, if Palmer goes down, this was the end of our season, I fear. Put those Coons flags on half-staff then.

Game 4
NYC: CF R. Pena – 2B Caraballo – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – C G. Ortíz – 1B Batlle – 3B D. Anderson – SS Kester – P P. Trevino
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Seeley – RF J. Alexander – C Bowen – SS M. Gutierrez – P Brown

Another day, another go-ahead 2-run homer by Craig Bowen! Again coming in the second inning, these were the first runs of the game, and Yoshi Nomura added a solo shot to lead off the third inning afterwards, handing Brown a 3-0 lead. Brownie faced the minimum the first time through the order, but the pitch counts grew longer already and the Crusaders were looking for an opening, something like an unexpected hit by the pitcher. Trevino listened, and hit a 1-out single to left in the sixth inning, only their second hit and third baserunner off Brown, but the game didn’t suddenly tilt, Pena struck out, and Caraballo grounded out to Merritt.

Roberto Pena was hurt in his second game off the DL, making a stretching grab and tumble on a drive by John Alexander in the seventh inning. Tim Austin replaced him. Top 8th, Paco Batlle led off with a double off the wall in right, for sure the most danger the Crusaders had posed in this game, but Anderson grounded out to short, keeping the runner pinned, and Kester struck out. The Crusaders did NOT hit for Trevino in this spot with a runner on second and two outs – come on, Brownie, have him! Trevino bounced an 0-1 pitch to Merritt, who retired the pitcher at first base. Eight shutout innings, but Brown’s pitch count had reached 103, and I was … disinclined, to say the least. These were the Crusaders after all. They had hair on their teeth, and these hairs had tiny teeth themselves! D-Alex hit for Brown, singled, but nothing came of that in the bottom 8th. Angel got the top of the order, starting with Austin, who struck out. Ayers had replaced John Alexander for defense and caught Caraballo’s fly for the second out before things started to get wonky, as both of the Martin Brothers singled, and those weren’t convincing singles. Especially the latter by Stanton Martin was just BARELY past Gutierrez, but it was past him after all. The runners were on the corners, Gabriel Ortíz batting – strikeout! 3-0 Brownies. Bowen 1-3, HR, 2 RBI; D. Alexander 1-1; Brown 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, W (8-4);

Roberto Pena (.236, 0 HR, 14 RBI) was out for another three to four weeks with a knee sprain, so we would not see him in the return series in New York after the All Star game.

Remarkable: Stanton Martin had come in batting .341/.365/.618, but in this series went 2-for-13 with no extra base hits, no walks, and five strikeouts.

Raccoons (48-39) vs. Canadiens (47-38) – July 6-8, 2012

Another dicey series was upon us, and the Raccoons’ little black noses were bleeding for the foul stench that had come over Portland again. The Elks were doing it all on pitching, conceding the second-least runs in the league, while their offense ranked eighth. Their run differential was only +18, so compare that to the Crusaders’. The Coons’ was +41, by the way. So far we were 6-3 against the Elks this year.

Projected matchups:
Scott Spears (5-3, 2.82 ERA) vs. Johnny Krom (5-4, 3.10 ERA)
Rich Hood (3-4, 4.22 ERA) vs. Bill King (5-8, 4.34 ERA)
Hector Santos (6-6, 3.82 ERA) vs. Juichi Fujita (9-5, 3.66 ERA)

Like I said before, Krom was a left-hander, and the only one we’d get in the set. Michael Palmer is still being evaluated; we sure could have used him in the opener.

Game 1
VAN: CF K. Evans – RF E. Garcia – LF Cameron – 1B Gilbert – C Baca – SS Rice – 3B T. Pena – 2B M. Austin – P Krom
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – CF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – LF Seeley – C Bowen – SS Roudabush – P Spears

The Coons scored a pair in the first inning, but they were unearned after a Gary Rice throwing error opened the inning. Spears was wildly adrift from the start, allowed four hits and a run in the first two innings, and walked a pair in the third before being rescued on nifty plays by Merritt and Seeley. A 36-minute rain delay in the fourth inning didn’t help and he delivered an entirely unconvincing outing, but the defense helped to maintain the 2-1 lead through six innings, with an insurance run tacked on in the bottom 6th, when Roudabush hit a sac fly with the bases loaded and one out. Pruitt batted for Spears, but flew out to leftfielder Don Cameron. Quebell added a run with an RBI single in the bottom 7th, plating Alexander with two down, Tony Pena made a throwing error on Ayers’ grounder, but Luis Beltran, the ex-Coon, struck out Seeley to get out the jam. Law Rockburn scuffled in the top 8th, needing only one out to end the inning and inheriting nobody from Sugano, but allowed hits to Ray Gilbert and Alonso Baca to bring up the tying run before Gary Rice popped out to short, and Angel Casas couldn’t go without drama, either. He made a fielding error and allowed hits to Jose Mendoza and Enrique Garcia, which placed the tying runs on the bases with two outs, but after Don Cameron flew out easily to left, he “only” conceded an unearned run. 4-2 Coons. Quebell 2-3, BB, RBI; Spears 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, W (6-3); Sugano 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

This was Adrian Quebell’s first RBI in ten days. Brrrr, the offense is bad…

And it was going to get much worse. Michael Palmer was placed on the DL before the middle game of the set, after being diagnosed with a groin strain. He figures to miss the rest of the month, and we just found a deep hole in our lineup. We called up Pat Whitehouse, our third-rounder in the 2006 draft. Ordinary right-handed shortstop, good defense, meager bat. He’s been in the organization the entire time, and never made a dime, this is his first time on the 40-man roster. Him, Roudabush, and Gutierrez might take turns here and we’ll see whether any of them stand out. Probably not.

Game 2
VAN: CF K. Evans – C M. Thomas – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – RF E. Garcia – 2B Rice – SS Lawrence – P King
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Castro – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – C Bowen – 3B Roudabush – SS M. Gutierrez – P Hood

Rich Hood struggled, which was not news, and the Elks took a 1-0 lead in the second on three hits. More interesting was Yoshi Nomura getting drilled by a Bill King pitch that was closer to the dugout than to the plate. The injury-tested Raccoons and especially the hurting Nomura were disgruntled, but the fact that Hood hit the Elks’ second baseman Gary Rice in the top 4th was certainly totally coincidentally.

The Raccoons vaguely moved for the first time in the bottom 4th after Quebell opened the frame with a single, and Rice misfiled a John Alexander double play grounder for a throwing error that put the runs required to flip the score on base with nobody out. Bowen hurled the first pitch he saw right through Ray Gilbert for an RBI double, tying the game. Roudabush popped out to Rice, and Gutierrez was walked intentionally to get to Hood, which was a curious choice, and Hood singled up the middle to get himself a lead, his first major league RBI. Yoshi hit a sac fly to conclude a 3-run inning. Hood’s response to a 3-1 lead was to spend the entire fifth inning behind in the count, loading the bases, and then lucking out of that mess when Pruitt caught Mitsuhide Suzuki’s sizzling hot liner to left center. The Coons had two in the bottom of the frame when John Alexander was denied a homer by Enrique Garcia at the wall, and Hood didn’t reappear for the sixth, being sent showering on 94 messy pitches. Thrasher pitched the inning, and the Coons had another chance to break the game open in the bottom of that inning, Seeley, Nomura, and Castro loading the bases with consecutive 1-out singles, and this time they indeed broke through King and reliever Peter Edwards. Pruitt plated a run with a groundout, another one came in on a wild pitch, and then Quebell cranked a 2-run homer, running the score to 7-1. The Elks had their own chance in the top 8th, getting the leadoff man Suzuki on with a double off Gibson, before Slayton filled the bags. With two outs, Kurt Evans sent a drive to deep, deep right, deep, deep – caught by Seeley. The Elks got three hits, including two doubles, off Slayton in the ninth and … didn’t score. Mark Thomas hit the first double, but was thrown out at third base by Pruitt. They left runners on the corners. 7-1 Critters. Pruitt 2-5, RBI; Quebell 3-4, HR, 2 RBI; Seeley (PH) 1-1, BB;

Pat Whitehouse made his major league debut in the eighth inning, entering in a double switch with Slayton. He got an at-bat in the bottom 8th and grounded out, leaving Quebell on first.

What’s more, the Titans lost their fourth game of the week, and the Raccoons vaulted past them into first place in the North! The Titans were playing the Elks four-and-four around the break, and had split the first series evenly.

Game 3
VAN: CF K. Evans – 3B Suzuki – LF Cameron – 1B Gilbert – C Baca – SS Rice – RF E. Garcia – 2B Lawrence – P Fujita
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – C Bowen – CF Castro – SS Roudabush – P Santos

Hector Santos was trying to get a winning record before the break and to get to 100 K, which would require him to … well, win the game and strike out five. Kurt Evans started out the game with two strikes, then homered. Oh, well. Can’t have it all, I guess. Suzuki and Cameron singled before Ray Gilbert blasted an unassuming baseball to Kingdom Come, running up a 4-0 score, four batters into the game. The next batter, Alonso Baca, hit a ball to deep left that was a candidate, but ended up with Pruitt on the track, and Santos certainly looked like **** in this game…

It certainly didn’t get better for anybody in brown involved in this game. Merritt made his 15th error in the third inning, and that run came in to score, and Yoshi Nomura left another game with an injury, this time a tweak in the shoulder after flinging a baseball to get a close out at first. Santos was yanked after 5 1/3 innings, on a 5-1 hook and with only four strikeouts, after walking Gary Rice. He had driven in the Coons’ only run, though… There really wasn’t much more to report in this game. Fujita vanquished the Raccoons efficiently over eight innings. When Pedro Alvarado came out for the ninth, Craig Bowen greeted him with a leadoff jack, Keith Ayers hit a pinch-hit homer with two down, but that was all to this non-rally. 5-3 Canadiens. Ayers (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI;

We could have gone to 9-3 against them this season, but … no. Hector Santos started the game still sleeping. I’m really souring on him…

In other news

July 2 – CHA SP Max Shepherd (3-8, 3.42 ERA) has suffered a high-grade hamstring strain and could even be out for the season.
July 5 – The Indians give up and deal LF/RF Yohan Bonneau (.274, 3 HR, 13 RBI) and cash to the Stars for three prospects including #151 AAA SP/CL Chris Rose, as well as 3B Sonny Reece (.273, 4 HR, 20 RBI) to the Titans for another two prospects.
July 5 – 39-year old veteran SP Takeru Sato (5-8, 4.50 ERA) has been placed on the DL by the Miners. Sato needs to have bone chips removed from his elbow and is out for the season.
July 7 – 10-time All Star and 2-time Hitter of the Year SFB LF/RF Ron Alston (.338, 19 HR, 58 RBI) has his 2,000th career hit. Alston hits a double in the first inning off Jaylen “Midnight” Martin to reach 2,000, chips in another double later and drives in a run in the Bayhawks’ 4-1 win over the Condors.
July 8 – The Cyclones’ LF/RF/1B Will Bailey (.395, 9 HR, 52 RBI) swats his 300th career home run, a solo shot off the Miners’ Fred Dugo.
July 8 – LAP SP Bruce Mark (11-5, 2.48 ERA) sparkles in a 1-hit shutout over the Scorpions, with John Hudson’s third inning single the only blemish.
July 8 – For whatever reason, the Crusaders pick up SP Rodrigo Moreno (3-12, 5.67 ERA) from the Bayhawks, parting with 2B Todd Moultrie (.106, 0 HR, 2 RBI) and a non-prospect.
July 8 – The Falcons acquire 1B Juan Diaz (.214, 9 HR, 39 RBI) from the Blue Sox in exchange for OF Jaime Garcia (.214, 1 HR, 23 RBI) and a second-rate prospect.

Complaints and stuff

Yoshi ended up defeated in the All Star Game voting by OCT Dave McCormick by less than 700 votes. That’s a sour one…

Almost equally sour: he’s hurt yet again. A mild shoulder strain should still bother him when we go to New York after the All Star game.

Scott Spears’ peripherals are gruesome, K/BB hardly over 1.5, K/9 under six, and he’s getting a .259 BABIP turned in his favor, and as such it has somehow worked out for a 5-0 record since coming to Portland for him.

On the third we added our first international false hope of the year, blowing $280k (so, most of a team’s free international allotment) on 17-year old Panamanian right-hander Vic Mercado. He’s a groundballer with a nasty changeup, although overall stuff is not as interesting as his ability to locate his 88mph fastball with utmost precision.

Stanton Martin is an amazing player, but he’s also a total wreck. He is 33 years old, and in his career has only twice managed to stay healthy enough to play more than 125 games. A lot of 110’s in that career batting log in the games column. His Hall of Fame case will be an interesting one. Right now, despite a .295/.331/.508 slash and 199 HR with 925 RBI I’d say nope. Well, he didn’t break out until he was 26 (in 2005), but then led the league in slugging three times, and he also as three Platinum Sticks and a pile of Gold Gloves, but no, he has yet to show more to make the Hall, on my ballot at least. His first few playoff runs were also poor, ironically, because the Crusaders actually were the World Champions then, but in 2011, when they lost to the Pacifics, he batted .432/.457/.659 in the playoffs.

Oh, right. Who’s representing the Coons at the All Star game?

Nick Brown.

Fín.

The Indians – THE INDIANS – have FIVE All-Stars! Have you seen where they’re at? FIVE!! I give up. **** the All Star game.
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:31 PM   #1868
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All Star Game – July 10, 2012

Like I said, aside from Nick Brown nobody on this team made the All Star Game. It was Brownie’s sixth trip, and he was wholly unsuccessful, walking two and conceding a run in the fourth inning. The game took a good long while, 14 innings, until the Continental League broke through to win 5-4. Kel Yates was named MVP.

Swiftly ahead!

Raccoons (50-40) @ Crusaders (46-43) – July 12-15, 2012

The Crusaders had swept – one might be inclined to call it “swamped” – the Indians before the All Star Game, coming in with a 3-game winning streak. They were still second in runs scored, and ninth in runs allowed, despite the low-key 4-game set we played in Portland, in which the teams scored 23 runs combined. The Coons are fourth in runs scored and third in runs allowed by now.

Projected matchups:
Scott Spears (6-3, 2.71 ERA) vs. Pancho Trevino (4-10, 5.23 ERA)
Hector Santos (6-7, 3.97 ERA) vs. A.J. Bartels (7-4, 4.03 ERA)
Nick Brown (8-4, 2.80 ERA) vs. Rodrigo Moreno (3-12, 5.67 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (3-6, 5.04 ERA) vs. Paul Miller (7-7, 4.43 ERA)

That’s everybody’s best guess for their rotation, but I have actual reasoning for ours for this set:

Nick Brown threw 21 pitches on Tuesday. I was not entirely comfortable to start him on two days’ rest, but I would go on three games’ rest with him. We had an off day on Monday after this series, so we could skip one sorry soul until next Saturday. Yano had not gotten a start before the break, and I was really unhappy with both Hood and Santos. Since Yano had already missed a few starts and was too expensive to have him catch dust permanently, he would get a start, while Hood would take a seat. Between him and Santos I liked that we could start Santos in front of Brownie on regular rest. Spears went on five days’ rest on Thursday and Yano was tacked on at the back end.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Seeley – CF Castro – C D. Alexander – SS M. Gutierrez – P Spears
NYC: SS J. Ortega – 2B Caraballo – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – 3B Kester – CF Talamante – P P. Trevino

Spears was thumped in the first innings, four hits, all hard, for three runs, with a 2-run double by B.J. Manfull and an RBI double by Gabe Ortíz responsible for the counters. The Coons came back from that early deficit fairly quickly. Dylan Alexander hit his 10th home run in the second inning, 3-1, and in the top of the fourth Quebell opened with a single, Castro doubled off the wall in center, Trevino scored one run with a wild pitch, and the tying run came home on Gutierrez’ single to center. The inning would be prolonged on an error by Francisco Caraballo that put Spears on base, but the Coons left them loaded eventually, with the Crusaders chipping in leaving a pair in scoring position in the bottom 4th, in which Pancho Trevino had left a mark with a 1-out double. Jorge Orega singled, stole second, but they were left there when Caraballo fouled out and Martin Ortíz flew out to center. Yeah, this one could go either way, and Caraballo had a hand in it. He made another error in the fifth, this one putting Quebell on with one out. Seeley(!) was walked intentionally, then got forced out by a Castro grounder. D-Alex came up and ran a 3-0 count but had the greenest light available with Gutierrez and Spears behind him. He wonked the 3-0 real hard, deep center, deep, high, gone!

And the Crusaders kept melting. Down 6-3, Trevino walked Gutierrez, then was replaced by Dan Hutchings. Spears hit a 1-1 pitch past Caraballo, Gutierrez went to third, Stanton Martin fired a terrible throw up the leftfield line that was in nobody’s cover area, and Gutierrez let those paws fly and scored on the error, while Spears went to second base, from where he scored on Yoshi’s deep single to left, 8-3. Stanton Martin made everything worse for the home crowd by popping out on a 3-0 pitch to start the bottom of the inning, and things like this helped Spears to survive six laborious innings. The Raccoons’ pen scuffled a bit, with Rockburn making a mess in the ninth that he cleaned up himself, but the Coons rolled over the Crusaders’ pen for five runs in the last two innings, turning this game into a horrible rout. 13-3 Raccoons! Ayers (PH) 2-3; Castro 2-6, 2B, RBI; D. Alexander 2-3, 2 BB, 2 HR, 4 RBI; Gutierrez 2-3, 2 BB, 3 RBI; J. Alexander (PH) 1-1, RBI; Rockburn 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

The bottom of the order did all the work here. The top four in our lineup went a combined 3-for-20, with 1 RBI. The bottom five including pinch-hitters: 10-for-20, and 9 RBI.

It WAS a strange game. The Coons out-hit the Crusaders 13-12, but drew nine walks while giving up only a pair, and then there were those three errors, making four runs (all on Trevino) unearned.

We’re back in the lead in the North. And Spears is STILL undefeated as a Critter! And YOSHI – despite being carried off on a stretcher every other game – now has a 10-game hitting streak.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Castro – RF J. Alexander – C D. Alexander – SS M. Gutierrez – P Santos
NYC: SS J. Ortega – 2B Caraballo – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – 3B Bond – CF Talamante – P P. Miller

Both pitchers had their issues, with the Raccoons pouring out a few runs early. Two in the first, and Yoshi reached an 11-game hitting streak with a 2-out RBI double in the third. Gabe Ortíz homered off Santos in the bottom of the inning, but the Raccoons got the run back on a run-scoring groundout by Gutierrez, who was then caught stealing, in the fourth. There was also a rain delay in the fourth inning that went more than half an hour, so there was lots of stuff going on…

Santos was nursed through six, with Francisco Caraballo doubling home Paul Miller, who had opened the inning with a single. That got the Crusaders back to 4-2, and the Coons might want to explore the idea of an insurance run or two. Instead, Miller hit Nomura to start the top 7th, AND WE REALLY WEREN’T IN THE MOOD FOR THIS ****!! Jon Merritt told Miller to suck it in the best way possible and walloped a 3-2 pitch in the tenth row in the leftfield stands, upping the score to 6-2 (which probably saved Caraballo a few teeth come the bottom of the inning). Merritt wound up having a really good day, coming up again with the bases loaded and two outs in the top 8th and hit another 3-2 pitch, this one off Charlie Deacon, for a 2-run single to center, 8-2 Coons. Amazingly, that didn’t get the Critters out of the woods. Micah Steele was brought in for the eighth. He had been shackled recently, and that trend continued with a pair of homers allowed to Caraballo and a true moonshot to Stanton Martin. Slayton appeared up by four to get the remaining four outs, but issued a double and a walk, and **** it, bring Angel. He struck out Kevin Bond to escape the mess in the eighth, and even though the Raccoons broke through Deacon and Jean-Christophe Fernandes for another four runs in the top of the ninth, Angel was retained for the bottom 9th, retiring the side in order. 12-4 Furballs! Nomura 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Merritt 4-5, HR, 4 RBI; Pruitt 2-5, 2B; Whitehouse (PH) 2-2, 3B, 2 RBI; Santos 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 K, W (7-7); Casas 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Pat Whitehouse had his first major league hit in this game, pinch-hitting for Josh Gibson in the eighth and hitting an infield single. He scored on Merritt’s single, too. Then there was obviously his contribution in the ninth inning, a 2-out, 2-run triple off Fernandes that sent Charlie Deacon’s ERA to 7.45;

Everybody seeing the Coons getting shut out with Brownie starting in game 3, after two orgies for 25 runs in the first two games, please raise your paws.

That’s a lotta paws.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – CF Seeley – C D. Alexander – SS Whitehouse – P Brown
NYC: SS J. Ortega – 2B Caraballo – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – 3B Bond – CF T. Austin – P Bartels

Nope, no shutout. Merritt singled, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on Pruitt’s single to get the Raccoons on the board in the first. Nick Brown entered with an outside chance at 21st place in the all-time strikeout table if he could find ten whiffs from the Crusaders somewhere, but things REALLY didn’t go that way from early on, and the only strikeout he got in on his first trip through the lineup was to the pitcher, A.J. Bartels. By then, Caraballo had tied the game with a solo homer. The score remained 1-1 through four, with the Raccoons mounting *something* in the fifth. Whitehouse led off with a single, but was forced on a bad bunt by Brown. The Coons still got a walk from Nomura and a Pruitt single to load the bases. That loaded the sacks, with Quebell running a full count against Bartels before swinging over a curveball, but it bounced off Ortíz’ chest protector and glanced off the side of his helmet and got a way to the backstop! Quebell really flung the paws on his way up the first base line and beat out a dazzled Ortíz to be safe – and Brown came home with the go-ahead run! Poor A.J. Bartels faced only one more batter: John Alexander went deep on an 0-1 pitch – GRAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAMMMM!!!!

For the Crusaders, it kept getting worse. Whitehouse was on again in the sixth and bunted to second successfully this time by Brownie. Yoshi was 0-2 and looking for a hit, floating a soft line to center that Tim Austin dove on – and missed it! Austin was beat and had to race after it as it went all the way to the wall, and Yoshi had an RBI triple! Down by six, the Crusaders continued to make contact eagerly, but it was really bad contact all the way since Caraballo had dished that first inning home run. In the bottom 8th it was B.J. Manfull to hit a leadoff double, the first hard contact Brownie had allowed in a while, but the inning fizzled out again for the Crusaders as Ortíz grounded out to first, and Bond and Austin struck out. Yoshi homered off Hutchings in the ninth and Brown got a shot at the complete game, with 95 pitches through eight, but an 8-pitch walk drawn by Paco Batlle ended his bid right away. Steele replaced him and managed to get three outs without getting bombed. 8-1 Brownies! Nomura 2-4, BB, HR, 3B, 2 RBI; Pruitt 3-5, RBI; J. Alexander 2-4, HR, 4 RBI; Whitehouse 2-4; Brown 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, W (9-4);

Atypical start for Nick Brown for sure. Odd bit: he allowed three homers in all of April and May. He’s allowed seven homers since.

Game 4
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF J. Alexander – RF Ayers – C Bowen – SS Roudabush – P Yano
NYC: SS J. Ortega – 2B Caraballo – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – 3B Bond – CF Talamante – P Yates

Matt Pruitt killed the first with a double play, and the second by getting Yoshi forced at second base, while Yano was secretly trying to work the Crusaders back into the pennant race by allowing a single to Yates in the bottom 3rd, another one to Ortega, then a balk… Caraballo plated the first run of the game with a sac fly before Martin Ortíz also flew out deep to right, but Ayers made two good plays here to hold them to a single run. Yano struck out to strand a pair in the fourth, then allowed another two singles to Bond and Talamante in the bottom 5th to start the inning. Yates bunted them over, and Yano came back with a key strikeout (his first in the game) to get Ortega out. Caraballo grounded out to third to keep the Crusaders within easy reach, but with Yano the trouble never stopped. Martin Ortíz opened the sixth with yet another single, and then Stanton Martin livened up a dark series for him with a 2-run homer. Manfull doubled, and Yano was chased on ten hits.

If the Raccoons could just get a few hits…! No, they couldn’t and this was not going to become a sweep. Merritt reached base with a single to start the top 8th, and then Pruitt, Quebell, and J-Alex struck out in succession. This was the way things were going in this game. Ron Thrasher was pitching in the eighth and faced the fat part of the order. He walked Ortíz, and then Stanton Martin doubled off the wall in left – but he came into second base hobbling and then kneed down and was grinning, obviously in pain. That was probably WORSE for the Crusaders than losing six of eight to the Coons! Those Coons had their pen – Thrasher, Gibson, and Rockburn – waffled for three runs in the inning, and were themselves forcefully shut out on six singles. 6-0 Crusaders. Merritt 2-4; Roudabush 2-3;

Martin Ortíz’ leadoff single in the sixth was his 2,000th career hit. He has more awards than anybody can be bothered to list. Maybe we should mention that he has no Pitcher of the Year award. That’s about it. A pretty insane .290/.390/.457 hitter with 241 HR, 1,078 RBI, 335 SB, who in his career has led the league in both homers and triples (in different years, though), Ortíz is one of only two players to make $4M annually in the league.

In other news

July 13 – The Cyclones acquire LF R.J. DeWeese (.255, 13 HR, 40 RBI) from the Miners, parting with MR Ron Funderburk (2-0, 1.70 ERA, 2 SV) and #90 prospect AA SP Kevin Hall.
July 14 – DAL 1B/3B Dennis Berman (.317, 11 HR, 44 RBI) reaches the 2,500 hits mark with a leadoff single in the sixth inning of the Stars’ 6-1 win over the Scorpions. The hit comes off Antonio Pena. Berman, who split his career between the Cyclones and Stars, is a .284 batter with 252 HR and 1,113 RBI. He has three Platinum Sticks and a Gold Glove.
July 14 – Tijuana swingman Manuel “Doom” Rojas (4-7, 3.64 ERA, 1 SV) wrestles down the Falcons in a 1-0 game, pitching a 3-hit shutout.
July 15 – The Titans lose CL Tommy Wooldridge (0-1, 2.06 ERA, 19 SV) – the 33-year old has torn his rotator cuff and is out for the year – as well as 2B/SS Mike Rivera (.277, 0 HR, 21 RBI), who might miss a month with a broke finger.

Complaints and stuff

The only other $4M+ player? Sioux Falls pays Oliver Torres $4.04M this season, the last of five years he’s received as much. He’s never played more than 128 games in any of those last four seasons, he’s a complete wreck.

We’re back to .500 against the Crusaders all-time, 321-321, which leaves the Titans as the only North team we’re under .500 against: 306-334, which looks a bit sad.

I’m watching Ricardo Carmona closely in AAA, but he’s not making noise to get a callup. He was hurt for almost two months and returned in the last days of June. Since then his slash is consistently sinking. He’s not in the groove. Granted, it doesn’t take MUCH groove to be an improvement over our outfield. You have three guys that obviously don’t hit anything, and one that had a hot start and is by now so cold, to have a nice cold one just shove the can in his mouth for half an hour. That’s John Alexander of course. Pruitt is the only guy mostly motoring forward, but even his slash line keeps dropping. So Carmona might be an improvement after all.

Another improvement – doubtlessly – would be Sandy Sambrano, but he’s not likely to make it back this month. Same for Palmer. Colin Baldwin is even further off.

We signed 18-year old Dominican SS Tony Viera for $61,000 this week. He has great range, but not all that much of an arm. This is a tricky one. He might end up at second base. He can steal bases, and the bat has a hint of power in it, a potential 12/7/12 according to Calderón. I think that he has an actual shot.

Right now we have only one more offer out there. We were after two other starting pitchers, but missed out on a cheaper one, and I exited the bidding war for 18-year old Cuban SP Alfredo Mendoza when the price came close to $300k. Not that we can’t afford it right now, but we’d completely shoot us out of next year’s international free agent period, and I don’t even think as much of Mendoza as of Mercado, whom we signed earlier this month. The other player we’re after is a cheaper one, too, and we would not receive a penalty next year if we get him at the current price.
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:28 AM   #1869
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Raccoons (53-41) @ Titans (52-39) – July 17-19, 2012

Big 3-game series in Boston in which the Raccoons can take the top dog spot in the North by taking two of three. They were so far 5-4 against Boston this year, outlasting their top 3 offense. The Titans had issues with their pitching, ranking only seventh in runs allowed and had the second-worst rotation with a 4.54 ERA. The Raccoons’ own rotation, which had sat 10th for a long, long while, had recovered to fifth place by now with a 4.05 ERA.

Projected matchups:
Scott Spears (7-3, 2.84 ERA) vs. Tony Hamlyn (9-7, 3.66 ERA)
Hector Santos (7-7, 3.91 ERA) vs. Chester Graham (11-6, 4.12 ERA)
Nick Brown (9-4, 2.71 ERA) vs. Tommy Wilson (3-11, 5.20 ERA)

This series starts with back-to-back left-handed pitchers thrown at us by the Titans, and here’s also a real test for Scott Spears, still undefeated as a Critter.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – C D. Alexander – CF Seeley – SS Roudabush – P Spears
BOS: CF J. Gusmán – 1B Legendre – 2B J. Ramirez – C Suda – RF J. Flores – LF Hayashi – SS N. Chavez – 3B K. Williams – P Hamlyn

Hamlyn wasn’t the pitcher of years past anymore and conceded nine hits in the first five innings, striking out only five. The bad news for the Raccoons were that he got those strikeouts whenever he needed one real bad, and whatever offense wasn’t killed with a K, Matt Pruitt ruined with a double play in the first and a devastating foul pop in the third. The Coons were still up 2-1 after five, a homer aside (Dylan Alexander and Ken Williams responsible) augmented by Yoshi singling home Roudabush in the top 5th. Roudabush struck out to strand a runner in the sixth, and Quebell struck out to strand two in the seventh; meanwhile the Coons had lost Scott Spears to an apparent injury after getting a deep fly out to center from “Quasimodo” Suda. Rockburn stepped in and finished the inning, but Ron Thrasher blew the lead in the seventh inning, walking two and allowing a creeping single to rightfield to Javier Gusmán as the Titans took a 3-2 lead. “Dodo” Iwase didn’t concede anything to the Coons in the eighth, but Roudabush hit a leadoff single against Iemitsu Rin in the ninth, representing the tying run. John Alexander struck out, Yoshi singled, Merritt struck out. One idea would be to hit Bowen for Pruitt, the death of all offense in this game, but Bowen was an automatic strikeout and Rin was whiffing almost SIXTEEN per nine innings. Pruitt batted, grounded out, and everyone had known it before it had even happened. 3-2 Titans. Nomura 3-5, RBI; Merritt 2-4, BB; Quebell 2-4, 2B; Roudabush 2-4; Whitehouse (PH) 1-1;

In this infernal **** game, the Raccoons outhit the Titans 12-6, and still wound up with a bitter loss.

Ugh!

Jason Seeley went 0-4 with 2 K and lowered his slash to .212/.295/.316. It was time to roll the dice: Ricardo Carmona would make his major league debut on Wednesday! The main prize for the Jose Morales adventure last season was batting under .300 by now in St. Petersburg, but … well, sometimes ya gotta roll those old dice.

… except that he DIDN’T make his major league debut on Wednesday. Rain washed out the game, and a double header was scheduled for Thursday.

By the time it was Thursday, we also had the news on Scott Spears, who was diagnosed with elbow inflammation and would require being shut down for a few weeks. He ended up on the DL. Bill Conway would be recalled to take the spot in the rotation – AFTER the double header. We added an extra reliever in George Youngblood (2.86 ERA in 28.1 innings) for the double header. Conway was 3-0 with a 3.23 ERA, 17 BB and 58 K in 55.2 innings in St. Pete. He had last pitched on Monday, so he would be a fit for Saturday, but between him and Yano it was probably a wash…

We made one last change and flicked the order between Brownie and Santos for the double header. Nick Brown would probably use up less bullpen and give us more options in game 3.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – C Bowen – CF Carmona – SS Whitehouse – P Brown
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – 1B Legendre – C Suda – CF K. Williams – RF Hayashi – LF Rosa – 3B Reece – SS N. Chavez – P C. Graham

Brown required five K to match Dennis Fried (a.k.a. the one that got away for nothing) in the all-time strikeouts table, didn’t get anybody in the first two innings and dug himself a hole in the third that consisted of a leadoff single by good, old Sonny Reece and himself misfielding a bunt by Chester Graham, but here he escaped with three strikeouts to Javier Gusmán, Jesus Ramirez, and Alexis Legendre. The Titans did get on the board, though, in the bottom 4th with a leadoff double by Suda, who scored on Toki Hayashi’s single to left center. While Brown equalized Fried with a strikeout to Reece leading off the fifth and rallied right past him with two more whiffs in the inning, the Raccoons’ sorry offense consisted of a pair of Yoshi Nomura singles and that was about it so far. Nomura didn’t get on in his third attempt (sucker!), and so this one looked like another one of those sour losses. Brownie allowed another run in his last inning, the seventh, on a 2-out RBI single by Sonny Reece, but was left quite definitely hanging in the breeze by his teammates. A Whitehouse single and an error put the tying runs on in the eighth, but Merritt struck out for the third time on the day, and in the ninth a 2-out homer by Keith Ayers came too late to be of any value. 2-1 Titans. Nomura 2-4; Whitehouse 2-3; Brown 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, L (9-5);

Ricardo Carmona went 0-3 in his debut, but pretty much everybody in this game posted an oh-fer.

The Titans removed Tommy Wilson from the third game, but we still got a right-hander with an unpleasant ERA, as Alex Lindsey (8-6, 5.12 ERA) took the ball. He had started three games against Portland this season, being peppered for 17 runs in total, but somehow he went 0-1 and the Titans won the two games in which he didn’t receive a decision, one of those being a Hector Santos start…

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – C D. Alexander – LF Castro – SS M. Gutierrez – P Santos
BOS: CF J. Gusmán – SS Rosa – 2B J. Ramirez – C Suda – RF J. Flores – LF Hayashi – 1B J. Gutierrez – 3B K. Williams – P Lindsey

Ricardo Carmona singled up the middle for his first major league hit, coming in the first inning just before Lindsey blinked out of consciousness for a while, drilled Merritt, and then walked Quebell and J-Alex to shove home a run. The Raccoons’ famous clutchness came into play, they scratched out a run on a sac fly by D-Alex, and then Castro struck out…

Castro soon enough excused himself from the game with a barking shoulder, with Pruitt taking the spot in left. Offensive ineptitude and general brittleness were soon joined by disjointed fielding, with a Merritt error and a downright stupid attempt by Santos to get the lead runner on Lindsey’s bunt creating a more than juicy chance for the Titans in the bottom 3rd. Gusmán hurled a ball to deep right, with J-Alex making the catch at the wall. Santos doubled in a run in the fourth inning, and didn’t allow a hit until Gusmán singled to lead off the bottom 6th, and at that point was already over 70 pitches anyway. The Raccoons had had the bases loaded in the top 6th, with Santos chipping in a single, but when Yoshi flew out to Hayashi (and dropped to 0-4), Dylan Alexander was thrown out at home trying to tag up and score. The Titans got on the board with a single by Jesus Ramirez and ultimately a sac fly, but Suda gave the run back in the top 7th, allowing Carmona, who had hit a leadoff double, to score on a passed ball. Santos finished seven strong innings, handing the Titans very little to work with despite some early hiccups, and Sugano, Steele, and Casas closed out the game competently. Carmona 2-5, 2B; Merritt 2-4, 2B; Quebell 3-4, BB, 2B; Pruitt 1-2, BB, 2B; Santos 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, W (8-7) and 2-3, 2B, RBI;

Castro aside, there was another casualty: Yoshi Nomura’s hitting streak ended at 15 games with an ugly 0-5. Castro in turn was diagnosed with shoulder tendinitis and ended up thrown onto the pyre of broken bodies. He might only miss the minimum 15 days on the DL, but the list (Baldwin, Castro, Palmer, Sambrano, Spears) was growing longer…

Raccoons (54-43) @ Condors (34-61) – July 20-22, 2012

While rotten to the core, arguably, the Condors had so far the upper hand in the season series, 2-1 over the Coons. They were dead last in runs scored in the CL, and their pitching was about mediocre. It was hardly a wonder they were 27 under .500 and 35.5 behind the romping Thunder. They also had a few injuries, including third baseman Dan Jones, but it was nowhere near as bad for them as it was for us.

Projected matchups:
Shunyo Yano (3-7, 5.05 ERA) vs. Manuel Rojas (4-7, 3.64 ERA)
Rich Hood (4-4, 4.01 ERA) vs. Doug Thompson (6-7, 3.54 ERA)
Bill Conway (2-4, 6.27 ERA) vs. Colin Sabatino (2-7, 4.88 ERA)

That’s three right-handers, and we miss “Midnight” Martin. I’m happy already.

We needed a replacement for Tomas Castro, and it wasn’t Seeley, who had been sent down and had promptly tweaked a hamstring. Not too serious, but he was not a good candidate for this weekend’s slate of games. Jimmy Fucito was added to the roster, but he was struggling in AAA…

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – RF J. Alexander – SS Whitehouse – P Yano
TIJ: 3B Dasher – SS Eroh – LF Crum – RF Branch – CF Feldmann – 2B M. Miller – 1B R. Morris – C P. Fernandez – P Rojas

After Merritt popped out to first to strand runners in scoring position in the top of the first, Craig Dasher, whom we saw for the first time and who was batting a crisp .206 with no power to speak of, walloped a leadoff jack off Shunyo Yano. That was pretty depressing in the first place, but Yano then went on to retire the next 13 batters in a row before Matthew Miller hit a 1-out single in the bottom 5th of a 1-1 game. Rob Morris singled. Pablo Fernandez singled, the Condors took a 2-1 lead. Well, the pitcher’s up, perhaps - … or perhaps Manuel Rojas would hit a ****ing RBI double to take Yano apart. Another run scored on a groundout and Yano sat in a 3-run hole with an entirely unhelpful offense around him.

Top 7th, there was a chance for a comeback after all, although it had more to do with Rojas melting than with the Coons doing anything useful. Rojas simply walked the bases full before getting to Matt Pruitt with two outs. Those were the tying runs, and Pruitt could use a big knock, ranking behind both of our normal starting middle infielders in terms of home runs. He gingerly rolled an 0-1 pitch to Ron Eroh, and that was the inning. Baseball still got weirder, with Slayton pitching in his usual murky ways in the bottom of the seventh. Fernandez hit a 1-out single, advanced on a passed ball, and then Rojas singled to right (…), the Condors sent the runner, John Alexander hammered him out at home, but shook that old arm and held his side and also left the game. 4-1 Condors. Quebell 2-4; Whitehouse 1-2, BB;

Gettin’ down to the bones here!

Interlude: trade

Not a blockbuster trade, but on Saturday before their middle game against the Condors the Raccoons announced a deal with the Loggers that brought 32-year old swingman Richard Williams (1-0, 5.74 ERA, 1 SV) to Portland in exchange for 29-yr old AAA SP Greg Dodson and 21-yr old AA OF Martin Sorto.

There was little doubt that Richard Williams would line right in with the other troublemakers, but at least the price was negligible. Sorto was our ninth-ranked prospect, but wasn’t actually ranked in the country, and his performance in Ham Lake was entirely forgettable. Nobody needed Dodson much.

Williams was to slide into the rotation, and except for Brown and Santos he could replace just about anybody. We’d know more after this series was over… He remained designated for assignment for the rest of the weekend.

Raccoons (54-43) @ Condors (34-61) – July 20-22, 2012

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – RF Ayers – SS Whitehouse – P Hood
TIJ: 3B Dasher – 2B Dougal – 1B May – C R. Rodriguez – CF Feldmann – LF Eroh – RF Newman – SS M. Miller – P D. Thompson

Nick May doubled home Stanley Dougal to put Rich Hood into an early 1-0 hole in the first inning, but the Raccoons came roaring back with four hits and two runs in the top 2nd. That was about as much roar as they had shown in the last week. What they did show well at all times however was gross incompetence and rank stupidity. Hood issued a leadoff walk to Thompson in the bottom 3rd, somehow wasn’t punished for it, then issued another leadoff walk, this one to Rafael Rodriguez, in the bottom 4th. After a fielder’s choice hit into by Ryan Feldmann, the Condors came up with back-to-back hits by Ron Eroh and Will Newman to tie the game at two, and had two in scoring position with one out. Wonderously, Hood got a pop to Quebell from Miller, and was as good as out of the inning, Thompson grounded to Merritt, and Merritt THREW IT AWAY. NOOOOO!!!! HOW DARE YOU!!!??

It took two innings for the white spots I was seeing to disappear and for the people around be to regain their hearing. By then Hood had departed, leaving a runner on second for Micah Steele that of course scored anyway on a 2-out single by Miller, and the Raccoons trailed 5-2 after six, and 6-2 after seven after May homered off Gibson. There was some form of movement in the top 9th and it had an unearned smell to it. Whitehouse was dinked by Doug Thompson to start the inning, and when Manuel Gutierrez singled past the clumsy May, the Coons had two on with four to make up. Yoshi was out of the game, but continue breathing, it was not an injury, but a case of a double switch. Bowen hit for Gibson while the Condors sent reliever Tim Moray, recently anointed the new closer. Bowen hit the first pitch softly to center, a horrendous bloop that found a hole and became an RBI single. Nobody out, the tying run came to the plate in Carmona, who nursed an 0-4 day and flew out to center. Pruitt grounded to short, where Miller ate first dirt, then the ball, and the bases were loaded for Quebell and hopefully (…) Merritt.

And this sequence would soon rival the infamous Juan Diaz game from ten years earlier. Quebell took ball one, before Moray through a pitch in the dirt that escaped through Rodriguez’ wickets for a passed ball and Gutierrez scored, 6-4. Alright, the 2-0, in the dirt again and well off the plate and past Rodriguez again! Bowen scored! 6-5! Quebell, who still had not swung, had the green light under the condition that the 3-0 would come through his zip code. It did, and boy, oh boy, did Adrian Quebell give it a ride. Career homer #96 flipped the score, plus the current pitcher, and probably the Condors manager and his mother. The inning wasn’t even over! Dylan Alexander drew a walk with two outs against Jose Sanchez, who then threw a wild pitch of his own and conceded the run on Ayers’ single. Ayers was then caught stealing as we got a bit cocky. Angel Casas struck out the side after the most cruel 6-run turnaround I had seen in a while. 8-6 Blighters. Nomura 2-4; Bowen (PH) 1-1, RBI; Quebell 3-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Ayers 2-5, 3B, 2 RBI; Gutierrez 1-2;

What a bollocks game. How glad I am that our pitching is sound. Ha. Ha-hah.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – RF Fucito – SS M. Gutierrez – P Conway
TIJ: 3B Dasher – SS Eroh – 1B T. Cardenas – RF Branch – CF Feldmann – C P. Fernandez – LF Newman – SS M. Miller – P Sabatino

Craig Dasher would have opened another game with a homer if Jimmy Fucito hadn’t picked the ball off the top of the fence in deep right. Instead the Coons scored first, D-Alex walking, Fucito hitting a liner over the shortstop that went into the gap for a double, and Gutierrez then brought home Alexander with a sac fly to center. The Condors came roaring back to tie the game in the same inning, and Ron Eroh homered in the third for a 2-1 Condors lead, while the Raccoons had Carmona caught stealing and Yoshi picked off first…

Conway didn’t survive the fifth inning, in which he was set on fire for four runs with Ryan Feldmann at second and two outs when Slayton came in. The useless dork Slayton walked the bases full before Merritt was actually fed a ball in play by Miller and got the third out. The Coons were down by five after six innings, but Sabatino ran into issues in the seventh inning. D-Alex hit a leadoff double, Fucito singled to left, and Gutierrez walked in a full count to load the bases. Keith Ayers hit for the pitcher and walked, forcing home a run, and then Yoshi split the outfielders with a marvelous gapper that emptied the bases with a 3-run double! Nomura scored on Pruitt’s single, tying the score at six, as the Condors were left wondering what in the heck was going wrong all the time. But just as quickly as the Coons had roared in, they roared out again. Rockburn was branded by Feldmann for a solo homer in the seventh, and that was only the start, because the incompetent setup chumps completely butchered the eighth inning, with Steele getting raked for four hits and four runs, including two bombs, left a man on base, and with two outs Thrasher was too **** to get out of that, walked a man, allowed a single, walked in a run. 12-6 Condors. Nomura 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Pruitt 2-5, RBI; D. Alexander 2-3, BB, 2 2B; Fucito 2-4, 2B; Gutierrez 1-2, BB, RBI;

And yes, this was the worst offense in the league, and yes, Micah Steele was brought in to help fortify the back end of the pen, and not my pre-existing heart condition.

In other news

July 16 – SFW SP Kurt Doyle(4-12, 4.92 ERA), just recently acquired from the Knights, is found to have a damaged elbow ligament and will be out until next season.
July 17 – Big, big blow for the Crusaders: RF/LF Stanton Martin (.335, 26 HR, 93 RBI) has a broken bone in his elbow and is definitely out for the 2012 season.
July 17 – SFB 1B Andrew Simmons (.258, 5 HR, 38 RBI) has manufactured a 20-game hitting streak.
July 18 – ATL 3B/2B Carlos Martinez (.244, 11 HR, 43 RBI) is placed on the DL. “Car-Mart” is shelved by shoulder tendinitis and will be shut down for a month.
July 20 – WAS RF/CF Victor Sarabia (.253, 6 HR, 37 RBI) has a broken thumb and is placed on the DL for about six weeks.
July 20 – Another thumb injury gets IND 2B Jong-beom Kym (.278, 10 HR, 41 RBI) on the DL. The 28-year old rookie and international signing has suffered a sprained thumb and will miss at least four weeks.
July 20 – SAL SP Tim Dunn (4-10, 4.28 ERA) 3-hits the Miners in a 6-0 shutout.
July 21 – CIN INF Bob Hall (.230, 5 HR, 34 RBI) gets his 2,500th career hit with a fourth inning single off the Stars’ Billy Lawson in today’s 10-7 Cyclones loss to the Stars. A 1991 first-rounder by the Miners, Hall debuted in ’92 and had since played for six teams, including four in the FL East. A consistent contact batter, he has amassed 178 HR and 1,190 RBI with a .276/.349/.416 slash in his career. He was an All Star twice and won a ring with the 2010 Cyclones.
July 22 – Bayhawks’ Andrew Simmons (.263, 5 HR, 39 RBI) has his hitting streak reach 25 games with a double in the Bayhawks’ 5-3 loss to the Crusaders.

Complaints and stuff

Micah Steele’s ERA in his last 22 games is almost nine. He by now is as tradable as Craig Bowen. Well, I know ONE free agent we’ll have this year…

I was trying to come up with a Ron Alston-sized trade before the deadline, but my overtures for pitchers like “Midnight” Martin or Reynaldo Rendon have been completely unsuccessful. There aren’t enough players in our system to get somebody like that. Well, if I was willing to bundle up Hector Santos, perhaps - … but why trade then?

Hector Santos, who is ten years Nick Brown’s junior, in ten years might well be where Nick Brown is right now. And with better control! His K/BB is certainly appealing!

Well, I guess the Crusaders are dead for the year, then. Pena is also out, and a few guys are scuffling, and their outfield replacements aren’t thrilling at all. Plus, the pitching…

But, good news! We can post this table again:

ABL CAREER STRIKEOUTS (excerpt, 10 guys ahead of Nick Brown, plus now with all active pitchers)

1st – Martin Garcia – 3,783
2nd – Tony Hamlyn – 3,415 (active)

6th – Javier Cruz – 3,121 (active)

8th – Chris York – 2,979 (active)

11th – Kisho Saito – 2,800 (HOF)
12th – Robbie Campbell – 2,763
13th – Leland Lewis – 2,664 (HOF)
14th – Manuel Movonda – 2,663
15th – Kelvin Yates – 2,648 (active)
16th – Kiyohira Sasaki – 2,640
17th – Craig Hansen – 2,578 (HOF)
t-18th – Dan George – 2,516
t-18th – Bill Smith – 2,516
20th – Angel Romero – 2,499
21st – Nick Brown – 2,459 (active)

Barring a grisly woodchipping accident, there are only two guys that Nick Brown can’t realistically catch in his career. Garcia of course, and York and Yates are both his age and are progressing at the same speed, but Kel is one bad injury away from having his lead on Brownie eaten up. Hamlyn is 37 and his pace has slowed down real hard, and Cruz will be 40 this winter and has a bad season and no contract for ’13.
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The Raccoons spent Monday travelling home, plus dumping Bill Conway onto a truck transporting livestock to Alabama, and he’d have to find his way to St. Petersburg from there, and getting Richard Williams out of DFA limbo and onto the major league club. He would take over Conway’s spot in the rotation, so his turn wouldn’t actually come up until the weekend.

Raccoons (55-45) vs. Thunder (70-25) – July 24-26, 2012

The badass Thunder were badass, which was really all there was to say about them. They were first in basically everything in the CL, except homers (7th) and stolen bases (10th), and their pitchers weren’t exactly masters of the strikeout (10th), but it was REALLY hard to poke holes into what they had. They had posted .720 marks or better EVERY month this season. They were actually struggling right now, coming in with just a .700 clip in their last ten games… They had swept the Raccoons aside with little ado in the team’s first meeting of the season.

Projected matchups:
Hector Santos (8-7, 3.76 ERA) vs. Daniel Dickerson (10-5, 4.26 ERA)
Nick Brown (9-5, 2.70 ERA) vs. Edgar Amador (9-2, 2.87 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (3-8, 5.10 ERA) vs. Bob King (13-3, 2.00 ERA)

We miss their left-hander, Ed Michaels, who’s also the weakest link in their rotation. These are all righties, and Brownie will get to face the Fat Cat on Wednesday. Amador by now has blossomed up to 315 pounds, but apparently he gets the job done.

John Alexander was out for a few days with forearm stiffness. We were expecting him back on the weekend. Plus, by the weekend Michael Palmer and Sandy Sambrano should be able to start rehab assignments in St. Petersburg. Piecing this thing back together!

Game 1
OCT: 2B Farias – 1B J. Roberts – 3B D. McCormick – RF Reese – CF Matthews – C J. Martinez – SS Janes – LF A. Rodriguez – P Dickerson
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – RF Ayers – SS Whitehouse – P Santos

The Raccoons weren’t going to break out of their hitting slump in this series, that was painfully obvious early on. After three scoreless innings to start this affair, both teams put their first two batters on in the fourth. But while Tom Reese crashed a monumental 435-foot homer to put the Thunder 3-0 ahead, Jon Merritt for the Coons hit into a double play and D-Alex struck out to keep it 3-0. One inning earlier, Santos had bunted into a force of Whitehouse at second base. When Dickerson chipped a bunt back to him in the fifth, Santos tried to return the favor, didn’t retire anybody, but generated an unpleasant 2 on, no outs situation instead. The unstoppable Thunder put two more on him in the inning, with Tom Reese hitting a 2-out, 2-run single, and that was about it for Santos, except for the leadoff single to Jesus Martinez he conceded in the sixth. Thrasher came in and conceded the run in the most stupid way imaginable – as always – with a 2-out single on a 2-2 pitch by Daniel Dickerson, who quite definitely shut out the Raccoons on six hits in this opener. 6-0 Thunder. Pruitt 3-4; Quebell 2-4;

Well, that was a stinker. Their lineup actually tilts to the left, so this should give Nick Brown an easier time. But he still needs to hit a homer, too, to get a W here. A shutout alone won’t do… (Career home runs for Nick Brown: zero)

He would not face the Fat Cat, however, as the Thunder jumbled their rotation and sent William Raven (8-5, 3.54 ERA) instead.

Game 2
OCT: 2B Farias – C J. Martinez – CF Reese – RF M. Cruz – 3B D. McCormick – SS Janes – 1B J. Roberts – LF Matthews – P Raven
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – CF Carmona – SS M. Gutierrez – RF Fucito – P Brown

Brownie melted away in the first inning, however, starting with a Jesus Martinez singled before he walked two and drilled Erik Janes to force in a run before Jimmy Roberts flew out to center on a 3-1 pitch, which was a pretty dumb thing to do. The Coons also had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the inning, but Craig Bowen hit into a double play and that was that. Another bases loaded event was kindly sponsored by an error by Dave McCormick in the bottom 2nd. Gutierrez (infield single) and Brown (outfield single) had actual base hits, but the Raccoons were held to a sac fly by Yoshi Nomura.

Meanwhile the roster decimation for the Critters continued. Jon Merritt made a leaping grab in the third inning, came down awkwardly and appeared to roll his ankle. He limped off, leaving for Roudabush to take over…

In the fourth, Yoshi made an error to put the leadoff man Erik Janes on base. William Raven singled with two outs, his second hit off Nick Brown’s pitching-inept look-alike, but somehow he made it through another inning, then actually got a lead, 2-1, when Yoshi homered with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Alas, the lead didn’t last, which gets us back to the inept look-alike. Brown walked Tom Reese in the fifth, Manny Cruz hit a single, and then Brown hit consecutive batters to force in the tying run. He somehow escaped with two strikeouts to Roberts and Jeffrey Matthews, but only got one more out before he was finally chased in the sixth. Lawrence Rockburn inherited Emilio Farias on first base and made sure to get the Thunder in front with two hard hits to Martinez and Reese, putting the Raccoons 4-2 down. Keith Ayers came close to a pinch-hit 2-run homer in the bottom 7th, which would have tied the game, but “close” is no “cigar”, and the Raccoons eventually went down without a threat again. 4-2 Thunder. Quebell 2-3, BB; Gutierrez 2-4;

But at least Manobu Sugano hit another batter in the ninth – four hit batters, all by left-handed pitchers, has got to be a team record, but I’m too sad to look it up.

Jon Merritt’s ankle was no big deal after icing it overnight, and he was only lightly hobbled by Thursday morning, but that was not 100%. He was listed as DTD and would not be in the lineup for the last game of the set, and we’d see how things were on Friday. John Alexander however reported back to his unit and was back in the lineup for game three.

Game 3
OCT: 2B Farias – 1B J. Roberts – 3B D. McCormick – RF Reese – CF Matthews – C J. Martinez – SS Janes – LF V. Diaz – P E. Amador
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – SS Whitehouse – C D. Alexander – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Yano

The first inning saw some more of that slasher movie RISP hitting for the Coons, who had Yoshi and Carmona on to start their inning, and then had Pruitt fly out softly to left, Quebell popped to short, and Alexander flew out gingerly to shallow center. Erik Janes bombed Yano for a solo jack in the top 2nd, but at least got a bunt down in the bottom 2nd to shove Dylan Alexander and Gutierrez into scoring position with two outs. At this point, “Fat Cat” Amador had the game take a turn for the worse in an intensity that was normally reserved for current Raccoons pitchers, and not former graduates. Yoshi hit a soaring floater to right, not deep, but right at the line, and it actually dinked right ONTO the line and got past a tumbling Tom Reese. The ball dinked off the wall in front of the stands and stayed away from either Reese or Matthews for long enough to give Nomura a 2-run double. Carmona singled, moving him to third, and when Carmona took off to steal second base, Martinez unleashed a horrible throw into centerfield, allowing Yoshi to score and sending Carmona to third, from where Pruitt drove him in with a bloop single to center. Yano now had a 4-1 lead, although it was obvious for anyone that three runs weren’t enough. He walked Tom Reese to start the fourth and Reese scored right away on Matthews’ double, and a 2-run shot by Jimmy Roberts in the fifth got the teams even.

While Yano lasted the longest out of all starters in the series, six innings, he had still further expanded his ERA. His spot in the order came up in the bottom 6th, with the Coons having D-Alex on second with a walk, Gutierrez on first with a single, and nobody out. Jon Merritt grabbed a bat, hit into a double play, and Yoshi could barely salvage one run with a single up the middle, giving Yano a posthumous 5-4 lead, which nevertheless didn’t survive contact with Rockburn in the seventh inning. The Thunder took the lead before they made an out, with Manny Cruz and Emilio Farias hitting singles, Rockburn balking, then conceding the runs on another single by Jimmy Roberts. Reese got on – as always – and then a 3-run homer by Martinez cut Rockburn open top-to-bottom and also moved this game well out of the reach of a terrible team. 10-5 Thunder. Nomura 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Carmona 2-5; Gutierrez 2-4;

These Thunder. World Series Champions. There, I said it.

While they robbed me of the last bit of faith and hope, at least they didn’t empty my fridge and I still have my fudge bars. (opens fridge) WHERE ARE MY FUDGE BARS???

(Matt Pruitt and Adrian Quebell gallop past on the hallway, fudge on the snouts)

Raccoons (55-48) vs. Bayhawks (45-57) – July 27-29, 2012

The Bayhawks has lost five straight (some to the Titans), but they also had the most horrible luck in the league, playing seven games under their expected record. They actually had a +13 run differential with both offense and defense producing slightly more than the league average in runs. Their rotation was aching, however, 10th in the CL, and they had only won one game of six played against the Raccoons this year.

Projected matchups:
Rich Hood (4-4, 4.12 ERA) vs. Reynaldo Rendon (8-6, 2.79 ERA)
Richard Williams (1-0, 5.74 ERA) vs. Milt Beauchamp (5-6, 4.34 ERA)
Hector Santos (8-8, 4.04 ERA) vs. Felipe Ramirez (10-6, 3.78 ERA)

Three more right-handers. They don’t have anything else. Can you imagine these horrendous Critters even trying to hit a left-hander?

San Fran’s 1B Andrew Simmons had had a 25-game hitting streak at the end of last week, but it had already ended by the time they got here, without another game tacked on. The Titans had held him 0-5 when they beat the Bayhawks 7-5 on Tuesday.

Game 1
SFB: CF Holt – SS J. Amador – RF Alston – LF J. Gomez – 1B Simmons – C A. Ramirez – 3B J. Rodriguez – 2B Moultrie – P Rendon
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – CF Carmona – C D. Alexander – SS Whitehouse – P Hood

Ron Alston ripped #22 off Hood in the first inning, putting the Birds 1-0 ahead, but the Coons rallied back right away against Rendon. This time they made something out of two on, no outs, despite Pruitt’s deep fly to center being caught by Jasper Holt. Quebell hit an RBI single, John Alexander hit another RBI single, and Carmona loaded them up with yet another single. Rendon was slightly sweating right now, made a mistake to D-Alex, and the Coons backstop made sure it was gonna hurt with a deep drive to the opposite field. GRAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAMMMM!!!!

Now, could Hood go at least six without giving up six? How about that for a challenge! He might be playing for his job here. Maybe the Baybirds will talk about trading Rendon after all now. He allowed another run in the next inning, driven in by Quebell, and was gone after three. Ron Carter was ticketed for two runs with a 2-run single by Dylan Alexander in the fourth, and a Quebell sac fly in the fifth. Rich Hood had critical traffic in the second and third innings, but the Bayhawks stranded a man on third in the former and three all over the place in the latter, and through the middle innings, Hood had some easy going, and actually wound up pitching seven innings without conceding another run, and how was that for an improvement over what he had shown so far? He must have been doing something right in this game; when Micah Steele was put in for the eighth to get some pressure-free at-bats in, the Bayhawks immediately spanked him for two runs. D-Alex had none of that, hit a 2-run homer off Damon Barnett in the bottom of the inning, and the Raccoons cruised to an easy one. 12-3 Raccoons. Nomura 2-4, BB; Merritt 3-4, BB; Pruitt 2-5; Quebell 3-4, 3 RBI; J. Alexander 3-5, RBI; Carmona 2-5; D. Alexander 3-5, 2 HR, 8 RBI; Hood 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (5-4);

A soul-soother! Boy, did we need that one after four consecutive dismal losses. As far as Rich Hood is concerned, among his 11 major league starts he’s gone further than seven innings only once (7.1), and holding the opposition to one run is something he’s not done that often…

Game 2
SFB: CF Holt – SS J. Amador – RF Alston – LF J. Gomez – 1B Simmons – 3B J. Rodriguez – C A. Ramirez – 2B Moultrie – P Beauchamp
POR: 2B Nomura – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – CF Carmona – C D. Alexander – SS Whitehouse – P Williams

Richard Williams’ first Coons started went mostly well, although he got irretrievably stuck in the sixth inning, leaving with two outs and two on in a 1-0 deficit. Javier Rodriguez had opened the fifth with a double, had stolen third base, his 19th of the year, and then scored on Antonio Ramirez’ groundout. Ron Thrasher was assigned to clean up the left-handed Andrew Simmons, and got a grounder to short. But a day after pouring 17 hits onto Rendon and the bullpen, the Raccoons only managed to bring 16 men to the plate in five innings, with Jon Merritt hitting into a double play and Ricardo Carmona getting caught stealing to hold themselves as short as possible. They did open the bottom 7th with a pair of singles though, and that brought up Quebell, nominally still the cleanup man. But Quebell grounded out, and Alexander walked, with Craig Bowen hitting for Pat Slayton in the #6 hole with the bases loaded and one out, and Bowen rolled the first pitch into a double play.

While I wept in agony in one of the corners of my office, Jasper Holt tripled off Josh Gibson in the eighth and scored on a wild pitch. The Raccoons then made up a run on a donation when Ron Alston dropped a ball in right, before Angel Casas got to pitch the ninth in dire need of work. He retired Simmons, Rodriguez, and Ramirez in short order, and the Raccoons had a chance against Valentim Innocentes in the bottom 9th when Quebell doubled off the wall in right with one out. John Alexander grounded up the middle, but Todd Moultrie managed to get the glove on it and made a marvelous play to get Alexander at first. Options for a pinch-hitter for Angel Casas were few and far between. Jimmy Fucito grabbed a bat, but nobody expected him to get home Quebell from third. He popped out. Pooped out. Whatever. 2-1 Bayhawks. Quebell 2-4, 2B;

Rotten to the core…

Game 3
SFB: CF Holt – SS J. Amador – RF Alston – LF J. Gomez – 1B Simmons – 3B J. Rodriguez – C A. Ramirez – 2B Brazeal – P F. Ramirez
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – LF J. Alexander – RF Fucito – C Bowen – SS Roudabush – P Santos

The first time through the order the Raccoons had two runners and hit into two double plays, so back to the Aspirin. Santos was in trouble in the first after an error by Yoshi and a walk to Jose Gomez. Simmons drove a ball to deep left, but Alexander, spelling Pruitt for a day as we entered a long string of games, had that one caught. Santos struck out six in the first four innings, but also threw over 60 pitches, so he definitely wouldn’t go deep into this one. He ended up going six innings, and conceded a run on a Jose Gomez single in the sixth inning. That scored Jesus Amador, who had opened the inning with a single that dropped in front of Fucito in right, and that was also 66% of the Birds’ total hits off Santos in this game. Regardless, he was in a 1-0 hole, since the Raccoons offense once more did nothing at all. The suckers had Carmona reach with a leadoff single in the bottom 7th, the hit-and-run was on when Jon Merritt lined to Simmons, and that was a double play as well.

Bottom 8th, Bowen drew a 1-out walk. Pruitt hit for Roudabush and singled, at which point Gutierrez was put in to run for Bowen, who was the tying run, and Dylan Alexander hit for Steele in the #9 slot. D-Alex had waffled his second homer off Damon Barnett on Friday, but now – understandably… – struck out, which left things to Yoshi. He floated a 2-1 pitch to left, curving to the line, and Jose Gomez couldn’t catch up! It’s in! It’s extra bases! Gutierrez in to score! Pruitt in to score! The Coons have the lead! Carmona left him on second, and Angel Casas got to face the opposite-handed middle of the order in the ninth, and switch-hitter Gomez and lefty Javy Rodriguez both singled. With two outs, the Bayhawks dug through the detritus on their bench and found another left-hander, Omarion Thompson, to bat for Ramirez. Angel Casas had already struck out Alston and Simmons, however, and made it three with OT. 2-1 Blighters! Nomura 1-3, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Pruitt (PH) 1-1; Whitehouse (PH) 1-1; Santos 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K;

In other news

July 23 – The Indians place 1B Mun-wah Tsung (.266, 12 HR, 52 RBI) on the DL with a sprained thumb. The slugger should be out for at least a month.
July 25 – The Indians deal MR Brock Bose (3-0, 3.75 ERA) to the Canadiens in exchange for two middling prospects.
July 25 – The Condors receive C Miguel Torres (.228, 12 HR, 53 RBI) from the Warriors, parting with SP Doug Thompson (6-7, 3.60 ERA) and a prospect.
July 26 – The Canadiens pick up another reliever, Pat Treglown (2-3, 4.93 ERA, 4 SV) being traded for with the Wolves. The Wolves receive two unranked prospects.
July 27 – Another trade by a crumbling team: the Condors send swingman Colin Sabatino (3-7, 5.05 ERA, 3 SV) to the Rebels for two prospects, including #34 SP Scott Vigil.
July 29 – BIG TRADE!! The Indians sell the silverware now and trade SP Curtis Tobitt (10-5, 2.98 ERA) to the Titans for all the prospects they have, five in total, although only #45 AA SS Raúl Matías is actually ranked. Curtis Tobitt, 32, will be a free agent after the 2013 season.
July 29 – LVA CL Ryosei Kato (4-4, 2.68 ERA, 23 SV) is diagnosed with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow. That might be the end of the road for the 40-year old right-hander.
July 30 – CIN RF/LF/1B Will Bailey (.351, 10 HR, 59 RBI) figures to miss three weeks with a strained hamstring.

Complaints and stuff

Whenever you get as conclusively beaten as the Raccoons were creamed by the Thunder this week (20-7 runs total), you know you’re not a playoff team. After that sweep, we were 4 1/2 out, since the Titans swept the Bayhawks, and at that point it was also not necessary to further look for pitching or hitting, or anything other than something to calm down the voices in the head that told you to just kill yourself.

And so the Titans won the deadline. Curtis Tobitt is exactly the kind of player I wanted to trade for earlier (Rendon is not a bad guy, he just fell into a black hole on Friday, and look at what the Raccoons did the rest of the week…), but a generic lack of prospects (unless the Coons had been willing to part with Santos AND Carmona) prevented any meaningful deal.

Nobody wanted to trade for Craig Bowen, by the way.

In team stats, Dylan Alexander’s 8 RBI game on Friday is not a team record. Neil Reece, Vern Kinnear, and Craig Bowen each had games with 9 RBI. The next rank of 8 RBI D-Alex will now share with Daniel Hall, Mark Dawson, and Julio Mata, who is certainly the oddball in this group.

I told you earlier that Jimmy Eichelkraut batted league average (just over .700 OPS) for the Condors’ AAA team. Yeah, that’s over. In 220+ AB, he’s now at a .604 OPS.

Prospect watch. How would everybody like a continuation of the Brownie Dynasty? You know, at some point Nick Brown will go fishing, but in 2011 we picked a right-hander named Chris Brown in the second round of the draft. He is 11-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 20 AA starts this year, with 152 strikeouts in 154.1 innings. There is a problem: 68 walks. Little Brownie will turn 23 in August, but here might be the best pitching prospect out of Aumsville right now.
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Old 06-03-2016, 12:40 PM   #1871
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Raccoons (57-49) @ Falcons (48-53) – July 30-August 1, 2012

The Falcons weren’t scoring a lot of runs at all, just over 3.9 per game for 11th in the Continental League. Their pitching was sound, with the third-best rotation and a capable bullpen, but that couldn’t keep them afloat, as they still ran a -38 run differential. They were already buried by 27 games by the Thunder. Against the dear Coons, they were 3-3 on the season.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (9-6, 2.78 ERA) vs. Steve Kreider (9-8, 3.80 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (3-8, 5.15 ERA) vs. Donnie Fitzgerald (1-6, 7.30 ERA)
Rich Hood (5-4, 3.84 ERA) vs. Adrian Valencia (9-5, 3.23 ERA)

Southpaw on Wednesday, and we might get two more on the weekend in our 4-game set in Indy.

Sandy Sambrano had already started rehab in St. Pete on Saturday. Michael Palmer was scheduled to go there by Wednesday. Both could rejoin us on the weekend. Maybe. Tomas Castro was also expected back by the weekend. Getting this team healthy might do more good than randomly swapping prospects for more Richard Williams-types.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – RF Ayers – SS M. Gutierrez – P Brown
CHA: LF DeBoer – CF J. Jimenez – 3B Ladd – 1B J. Diaz – RF Nieves – 2B Da Silva – C T. Turner – SS Pollack – P Kreider

The Coons took a 1-0 lead when Yoshi opened the game with a double and scored on Carmona’s single – the first RBI in Carmona’s extremely underwhelming debut – but Brownie didn’t have anything in terms of stuff, and when that combined with nightmare defense in the second inning, the Falcons easily threw three runs onto the board, two of which were unearned after a Gutierrez error, and they scored on a Jimmy DeBoer bloop to shallow left in which Matt Pruitt and Gutierrez were too concerned not to break a claw rather than actually going after the ball, which fell in for the 2-out, 2-run single, on a 2-2 pitch. No strikeouts through two innings for Brownie, who would pick up a few against the bottom of the order later, but this start was to be filed away under the category “gruesome”.

He did lead off the fifth with a single, though, bringing the tying run to the plate. Nomura struck out, but Carmona found the gap for a double that put the tying runs in scoring position with one out. Matt Pruitt had singled in his last at-bat, extending a hitting streak to 11 games, so he had done his day’s work and grounded out to first, an example that Quebell followed instantly. The Coons had the exact same offensive opportunity again in the sixth inning: D-Alex singled, Ayers doubled, which brought up Gutierrez, unfortunately. John Alexander hit for him, which only led to an intentional walk, and now we only had right-handed chumps and the automatic strikeout Craig Bowen available to hit for Brownie. **** it, let Brownie do the magic. At least he bats left-handed. 2-1 pitch lined to right, OVER Maxime Da Silva, into right, Ayers turning third, he’s in to score, tied ballgame!

The top of the order excused themselves from participation then, leaving J-Alex and Brown on base. Brown responded to his own heroics by walking leadoff man Domingo Nieves on four pitches in the bottom 6th, and with Nieves at second nursed another 3-0 count to Tom Turner, who then grounded out to Yoshi, moving up Nieves. That brought up blink-and-you-miss-him ex-Coon Melvin Pollack, who had a grand total of 11 AB on the year, had struck out already in the game, and was probably an easy meal for Brown again, and indeed Brown retired him on a casual grounder to Dave Roudabush at short. Kreider departed after two leadoff walks in the top 7th, but Hoshi Watanabe found some tool to hit into a double play all too readily (Dylan Alexander), Brown was left with a no-decision eventually. Quebell had runners on the corners with one out in the top 9th and hit into a double play as well. The Coons found their way to the tenth inning, in which they left the go-ahead run on second base when Roudabush struck out, and in the bottom of the frame it Micah Steele to shovel the bases full with nobody out. Ron Thrasher replaced him to try and save the forsaken, but walked in the winning run against RELIEVER Matt Collins. 4-3 Falcons. Nomura 2-5, 2B; Carmona 2-5, 2B, RBI; Pruitt 2-4, BB; D. Alexander 2-4, 2B; Brown 7.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K and 2-3, 2 RBI;

THEY ARE SO GODDAMN AWFUL!!!

By the way, Nick Brown over his last seven games: 2-3 with a 1.48 ERA and 54 K in 48 2/3 innings. 2-3!!

Donnie Fitzgerald got shafted before the middle game and was replaced by Alfredo Collazo (9-10, 4.19 ERA), another righty.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – SS Whitehouse – P Yano
CHA: LF DeBoer – 1B J. Diaz – C F. Chavez – 3B Ladd – CF J. Jimenez – RF Nieves – 2B C. Aguilar – SS Da Silva – P Collazo

Collazo was completely bonkers and issued walks, wild pitches, and also a few hits without any huge formalities. Ask and you receive. The Raccoons asked, got the bases loaded with nobody out in the top 2nd and scored two runs on a wild pitch and a groundout by Whitehouse, then got two more runs in the third despite leadoff man Ricardo Carmona getting caught trying to steal third base. More runs were always better with the horrible Shunyo Yano pitching, and the Coons saddled Collazo with six runs on seven hits and four walks in five innings. The last hit was a 2-run homer by D-Alex, tying him for the team lead in dingers with Quebell. Yano made it through six with a 3-hit shutout, and we were a bit worried that something might be wrong with him, but when the Falcons came back to waffle him for four hits and two runs and knocked him out in the bottom 7th, we were relieved to see that he was still in normal condition. Manobu Sugano inherited two on with one out, filled them up with a single by Maxime Da Silva, but then struck out PH David Rincón and got a soft line right to Yoshi from Jimmy DeBoer. The Coons regained their 6-run advantage with a Gutierrez sac fly in the eighth and a solo shot by Quebell (no tie no more) in the ninth, all off Juan Carlos Bojorquez, but Josh Gibson got stuck in the ninth after a scoreless eighth and left runners on the corners and no outs to Ron Thrasher, who of course conceded the runs. 8-4 Raccoons. Carmona 2-5; Quebell 2-3, 2 BB, HR, RBI; Merritt 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; D. Alexander 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI;

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – RF Ayers – 3B Merritt – 1B Pruitt – C D. Alexander – LF Fucito – CF J. Alexander – SS Whitehouse – P Hood
CHA: CF DeBoer – LF J. Jimenez – 3B Ladd – 1B J. Diaz – RF Nieves – 2B Da Silva – C T. Turner – SS Pollack – P Valencia

Both teams scored a run early on, with a John Alexander triple and Pat Whitehouse’s groundout doing it for the Coons in the second inning. Rich Hood’s mound presence was largely cosmetic, with the defense doing all the work, or sometimes not. Tied at one, both teams had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth inning, and for both teams an error was involved (Keith Ayers getting the blame for the Coons), but while J-Alex and Whitehouse made too entirely harmless outs, the Falcons at least got a sac fly from Nieves and took a 2-1 lead. The Raccoons had the tying run on in the eighth, borked it, the Falcons tacked on a run against Hood and Sugano in the bottom of the inning, and when Ricardo Carmona reached with an infield single in the ninth that was well short of sparking a rally. Nomura grounded out, Bowen hit for an 0-4 Ayers and whiffed, and that was it. 3-1 Falcons. Pruitt 2-3, BB, J. Alexander 2-4, 3B; Carmona (PH) 1-1;

Matt Pruitt had a 13-game hitting streak, but the Coons had their first series loss against the Falcons since 2010.

Raccoons (58-51) @ Indians (44-64) – August 2-5, 2012

Most of the decent players the Indians had had had ended up on the trade market or on the DL in recent weeks, so this team was merely a shell now. Well, the bullpen was still good, and they still had Jose Paraz, but he had a weak season as well, and he was 35 by now. Overall, they were eighth in runs scored and dead-last in runs allowed with a -119 run differential. Their rotation had been last in the CL even WITH Curtis Tobitt, and they probably wouldn’t get out of there without Curtis Tobitt. But here came the Coons, who were only 4-3 against Indy this season.

Projected matchups:
Richard Williams (1-1, 5.30 ERA) vs. Tom Weise (10-9, 4.20 ERA)
Hector Santos (8-8, 3.93 ERA) vs. Aaron Walsh (2-2, 5.69 ERA)
Nick Brown (9-6, 2.72 ERA) vs. Tristan Broun (4-8, 5.91 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (4-8, 5.03 ERA) vs. Sadakano Imamura (2-7, 5.56 ERA)

We only get one left-hander, Broun vs. Brown on Saturday, with Sam McMullen (2-11, 5.66 ERA) having pitched on Wednesday. Yoshi was thus penciled in for an off day on Saturday. Except for him and Merritt everybody had enjoyed a day off already since Sunday, and Merritt got his day off to open this set.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – C D. Alexander – SS Whitehouse – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Williams
IND: CF J. Wilson – LF Kui – C Paraz – RF J. Ortíz – 1B S. Guerra – 2B Mathews – SS R. Miller – 3B R. Garza – P Weise

Williams coughed up a run in the first, but had a 2-out single in the top of the second that also moved Whitehouse to third base and brought up Yoshi Nomura, who hit a ball right into the corner in rightfield, where the ball stopped dead for long enough that Yoshi ended up with a 2-run triple. Weise then balked him in, 3-1. The next two innings were killed with double plays by Quebell and Whitehouse, respectively, but Richard Williams, who was abusing the defense but was otherwise okay, hit a leadoff double in the top 5th, and Carmona and Quebell got well-placed hits to score two more in the inning and take a 5-1 lead. After another double play hit into by D-Alex in the top of the eighth, Williams was still on the mound, but a Ramón Garza single to start the bottom 8th chased him. Ron Thrasher came in and made a mess, plating the run before somehow getting out of it when Juan Ortíz bounced right into his glove to keep two men stranded in scoring position. Thankfully Angel Casas was well rested and made short work of the Indians in the ninth. 5-2 Coons. Pruitt 2-4; Williams 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W (2-1) and 2-3, 2B;

Sandy Sambrano was activated from his rehab assignment for game 2, and Jimmy Fucito was sent back to St. Pete after batting .167 in 18 AB.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – RF J. Alexander – SS Whitehouse – C Bowen – P Santos
IND: CF J. Wilson – LF Kui – C Paraz – RF J. Ortíz – 1B S. Guerra – 2B Mathews – SS R. Miller – 3B R. Garza – P Walsh

Matt Pruitt and John Wilson robbed another of doubles in the first inning. Wilson left the game in the second inning with an injury, but the Indians, who hit the ball all over the place against Santos, scored a run to take a 1-0 lead. Craig Bowen opened the third and fifth innings by reaching base, once on an error, and was bunted to second base by Hector Santos both times. The first scoring opportunity just vaporized, and Whitehouse killed the fourth with an inning-ending double play, but Yoshi Nomura hit a game-tying RBI double in the fifth, and the Raccoons all of a sudden didn’t look quite so lost anymore. Or maybe they still were. Nomura was left on by Carmona and Pruitt, and when Quebell drew a leadoff walk in the top 6th, Merritt improved on an 0-2, 2 K day with a double play hit into. The bottom 6th saw the Indians’ pitcher Aaron Walsh hit a leadoff double just past the reach of Pruitt, but Santos finally got his **** together and struck out Robbie Luxton, Ming Kui, and Jose Paraz in order, got through the seventh with some poor contact, but there was no reward for him, not even a participatory ribbon. The Coons couldn’t get through Aaron Walsh at all, and when Sandy Sambrano hit a pinch-hit single off Helio Maggessi in the ninth that only led to ANOTHER ****ING DOUBLE PLAY hit into by Craig Bowen. Law Rockburn pitched the eighth and started the ninth but left before completion with some tweak he felt.

Extra innings, Yoshi and Carmona hit 1-out singles in the 10th, pulling up Pruitt, whose 14-game hitting streak was approaching extinction. He floated another pitch weakly to Jimmy Bayle, the Indians’ third leftfielder of the game, for the second out, and Quebell fouled out behind third. We had to go to the 11th to finally break through, then ironically against the first left-hander the Indians threw into the fray. Ryan O’Quinn served up a homer to John Alexander, his 10th on the year, to break the tie, and Sambrano and Bowen also had hits. Gutierrez whiffed for the second out, but Yoshi singled to center to score Sambrano. When Carmona walked, Pruitt did get another at-bat, but he grounded the first pitch back to O`Quinn and was laden with a 0-6 line. Pruitt was squawking when he was replaced in the field for defense, but I hushed him down. If they walk you three times it might not be your fault, but if you go 0-6 then you don’t deserve another chance if somehow this thing goes even longer. Funny thing is, the Indians came uncomfortably close to extending this game. Garza and Luxton both hit singles off Angel Casas and after an ill-advised throw to third by Keith Ayers (who had replaced Pruitt for defense…) were both in scoring position with two outs and rookie Shane Larsen batting, who was still searching for his first major league hit – better cue the dramatic music. Lesser fools have sunk the Coons on these occasions. Larsen grounded up the middle where we had Sambrano at short, he had to spin around to make a throw and – to first – bang-bang – OUT! 3-1 Blighters. Nomura 3-6, 2B, 2 RBI; Quebell 2-4, BB; J. Alexander 3-4, BB, HR, RBI; Sambrano (PH) 2-2; Bowen 2-5, 2B; Santos 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K; Rockburn 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Hector Santos faced Joey Mathews three times and struck him out three times. The middle K put Santos at 100 strikeouts more than walks for the season, which is a nice mark to reach in early August.

And so Pruitt’s run ended at 14, and the Coons also left 14 men on base, which if you add the three double plays over 11 innings leaves you with an unfathomable and horrendous performance whenever there is a Furball on base.

Tomas Castro was sent on rehab to the minors, just for two or three days to get warm. I think Carmona will be sent back to St. Pete then. He’s just not clicking.

Game 3
POR: 2B Sambrano – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – CF J. Alexander – C D. Alexander – SS Roudabush – P Brown
IND: CF J. Wilson – 3B Mathews – RF J. Ortíz – 1B S. Guerra – C Padilla – LF Bayle – 2B Larsen – SS R. Miller – P Broun

Quebell was assessed an error on the first play behind Nick Brown, putting John Wilson and his sore shoulder on first base. Wilson stole second, but was eventually left on base when Ayers caught a deep drive by Santiago Guerra. The Coons hit into the first double play (…) in the second, leaving plenty room for another horrendous box score. The Indians made TWO errors in the third inning, which only led to Pruitt flying out to Wilson with the bases loaded to end that frame, and for a while Tristan Broun had more hits than the entire Furballs lineup after singling off Brown his first time up. Roudabush would single in the fifth, which didn’t lead anywhere, but the Raccoons had an actual chance to finally put something on the board in the sixth inning. Merritt had drawn a leadoff walk, Broun’s third given up, and Pruitt’s pathetic hobbler escaped Guerra and went into right. Quebell walked to fill them up before Ayers grounded to Joey Mathews, who fired home to get Merritt and Ayers was out at first as well!

FOR ****’S SAKE, GET YOUR ****ING ***ES MOVING, YOU ****ING ****HOLES!!!

The foundations of the park were shaking slightly. An earthquake? Nah. Probably some lunatic who couldn’t bear it anymore. There I was, banging against the shatterproof glass of my assigned suite, and yet they weren’t scoring. John Alexander grounded out to Larsen, Brown came out broken in the sixth, walked Ortíz, walked Guerra, drilled Dave Padilla, Bayle whiffed, but Larsen hit a ****ty infield single – first major league hit … - and Ryan Miller hit a hard 2-run single, and this one was going down the drain. Tristan Broun pitched a 3-hit shutout through eight, but the Arrowheads understandably panicked when he issued a leadoff walk to Quebell in the ninth. Helio Maggessi took over, and that run never moved off first. 3-0 Indians. Roudabush 2-3;

TRISTAN BROUN!! ****ING TRISTAN BROUN!! AAAAAARRRRRGGGHHH!!!

(is tasered again by some security goon)

Trsssstnnn … Brooouuu… (waves with all non-paralyzed arms)

Game 4
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Sambrano – RF J. Alexander – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – LF Carmona – SS M. Gutierrez – C Bowen – P Yano
IND: SS R. Miller – LF Kui – C Paraz – RF J. Ortíz – 1B S. Guerra – 3B Mathews – CF Luxton – 2B M. Clark – P Imamura

Yoshi and Sandy opened the game with singles, which was not necessarily putting the Indians in danger of trailing early, and indeed the Coons didn’t score in the first. They DID score in the second, in which they had a single, three walks, and three stolen bases, and somehow that worked out for one run. Bring up Yano, who allowed a single and two walks to load the bases in the bottom 2nd, but fear not: there’s two out and the pitcher up to – ****. Imamura singled to left, plating two, and Ryan Miller followed up with an RBI single, and as soon as that the Indians held an insurmountable 2-run lead.

If there was a positive to take away from a real trash can game that saw Yano knocked out after four and a third, down 5-4 and with a man on first, then it was Ricardo Carmona, who reached base each of his first three at-bats, ran actual circles around the Indians battery and stole four bases to score each time he was on. That was some fun. The rest of the team was anything but. They had the tying run on first twice before reaching the ninth, never moved him further. The top 9th saw Helio Maggessi unavailable and since the Indians had been mixing and matching for a while, they were now left with left-hander Juan Bernard, who had a 9.72 ERA and walked three for every two he struck out. He faced the middle of the order. Quebell walked. That was all. 5-4 Indians. Sambrano 2-3, 2 BB; Carmona 3-5, 4 SB; Whitehouse 2-2; Thrasher 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K;

Juan Ortíz (.286, 19 HR, 67 RBI) had two hits in this game, including the single that Ron Thrasher allowed, which was Ortíz’ 2,000th base hit. He will turn 34 on Monday. Happy birthday, now bugger off.

Ricardo Carmona tied the mark Sandy Sambrano had set earlier in the season with four stolen bases in a game. The Coons still lost.

In other news

July 31 – It cycles ‘round here! CIN LF R.J. DeWeese (.251, 16 HR, 47 RBI) connects for four hits in the Cyclones’ 8-7 loss to the Warriors, one of each kind, with a triple in the first, a single in the fifth, a double in the seventh, and a solo home run off Dan Nordahl in the ninth. The 50th cycle in ABL history is the fourth this season and the first for the Cincinnati franchise. Of the four cycles this year, three came in losing efforts, including that by SFW Gil Gross on May 16. Four cycles in a year had previously been achieved in 1989, 1997, and 2004, and there have never been five in a season.
August 3 – The Pacifics take a hit with the news that 3B/2B Jens Carroll (.308, 3 HR, 48 RBI) is out for the year with a torn posterior cruciate ligament.
August 4 – MIL OF Philip Locke (.303, 9 HR, 60 RBI) has a huge tear in his labrum and needs surgery to get it stapled back together. The Loggers estimate that with the severity of the injury he could well miss almost a full year.

Complaints and stuff

(lights a black candle and draws the blinds)

Law Rockburn is out for the season with a partial tear in his labrum, so that’s that. He’s a free agent after the season and I don’t know whether we will try to resign him. He’s 32 and ever since hitting the big three-oh he’s been a bit too average for my taste. He appeared in 528 games for the Coons, 39-19 with 18 SV and a 2.87 ERA. K/BB almost 3.9 …

Kevin Denton was called up and put in the pen. He made one of those forgettable starts when all hell broke lose after Colin Baldwin’s injury in May. He is the only righty reliever on the 40-man roster that’s not hurt and the 40-man roster is full right now. More moves might well come next week. I can’t do anything sophisticated right now … I can’t even pick up the phone after that taser incident.

Does all this make Josh Gibson our setup man? (shivers)

Hidden somewhere deep beneath the tears of agony are some nice facts. Like that we’re halfway through Craig Bowen’s immovable contract. So let’s cheer up.

There weren’t many things in the scouting report on August 1 that I didn’t know yet (most of our rotation stinks and will stink more in the future, except for Brownie and Santos), but there were a few takeaways. Outfielder Mike Cook got a ratings upgrade, and this year’s seventh-rounder Blake Kelly got a significant stuff upgrade. He has struck out ten in 8.1 innings so far in Aumsville, where there isn’t enough work with too many relievers and infielders around. Well, we won’t purge Kelly, that’s for sure.
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Old 06-04-2016, 05:43 PM   #1872
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Raccoons (60-53) @ Crusaders (57-55) – August 6-8, 2012

This was not the team I wanted to have on the plate in the current state of dysfunction, but eh, what are you gonna – … anyway, while half dis-Martin-ed, the Crusaders were still very much in this “race” between four thoroughly unimpressive teams, although their offensie potential was slashed right now. They were still second in runs scored in the league, but ninth in runs allowed. That pitching staff struggled to get reeled in for sure. The Raccoons had creamed them 9-3 for the year, but I had a bad feeling that payback was imminent.

Projected matchups:
Rich Hood (5-5, 3.71 ERA) vs. Kelvin Yates (13-4, 2.33 ERA)
Richard Williams (2-1, 4.83 ERA) vs. Pancho Trevino (6-12, 4.67 ERA)
Hector Santos (8-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. Paul Miller (8-9, 4.46 ERA)

This is a full set of right-handers. The Crusaders were not only without Stanton Martin, who merely hit 26 homers in 90 games before falling apart for the year, but also without 3B Kevin Bond, but the Raccoons still hadn’t called Michael Palmer back from his rehab assignment, either.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – SS M. Gutierrez – P Hood
NYC: CF R. Pena – SS J. Ortega – LF M. Ortíz – 1B Manfull – 2B Caraballo – C G. Ortíz – RF Talamante – 3B Kester – P Yates

Adrian Quebell hit into an inning-ending double play right away in the first inning, but the Crusaders stranded two in scoring position when B.J. Manfull light out softly to Pruitt in shallow left and Francisco Caraballo popped out to first as well. Things took a swing for the worse for the Crusaders however in the second inning. Kel Yates put two men on, then was checked out by the trainer and manager – and they hauled him in. Yates out with an injury, and Joe O’Brian – the same Joe O’Brian that had an underwhelming appearance over 13 games as a Raccoon in 2011 – had nothing better on his game plan than conceding a 3-run homer to Manuel Gutierrez. *Gutierrez*.

Unfortunately Rich Hood was completely unable to silence the Crusaders. They had five hits in the first two innings, including a 2-out RBI single by pinch-hitter Herb Beckmann in the bottom of the second, and afterwards constantly seemed to have either their first or second batter on base. Hood pitched out of the stretch almost the entire game, and was rescued by nifty double plays started by Merritt and Nomura en route to somehow going seven innings without allowing more than the early run. The Crusaders made FOUR errors in the game, which somehow only generated one additional run for the Coons in the fifth, when the Crusaders made two errors, and the Raccoons did precious little themselves until somehow they accidentally laid an egg with a run in the ninth inning that was somewhat nicely produced. Somewhat. Sambrano had a pinch-hit single, stole second, Yoshi was intentionally walked, Carmona grounded out to move up the runners, and Pruitt hit a fly deep enough to left to get Sandy home with the run. 5-1 Coons. Sambrano (PH) 1-1; Hood 7.0 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, W (6-5);

Since July 1, Adrian Quebell has had *11* RBI. Way to go for a cleanup man. In this time, he has actually IMPROVED his slash line in average and OBP, and dropped two points of slugging. And he has THREE strikeouts in his last *61* at-bats! THREE!! And he still can’t get **** home. He is as unclutch as you can be, it’s as simple as that.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – RF Sambrano – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – CF Carmona – SS Whitehouse – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Williams
NYC: CF R. Pena – 3B Kester – LF M. Ortíz – 1B Manfull – 2B Caraballo – C G. Ortíz – SS Boisvert – RF Talamante – P P. Trevino

The Crusaders lost Carlos Talamante to injury on the first pitch of the game as he caught a hissing line drive off Yoshi Nomura’s bat. The Raccoons would load the bases in the inning anyway until Carmona struck out to leave them loaded, and they stranded two more in scoring position in the second inning, also without scoring. Williams was not a pleasure to look at right from the start, and in the bottom 4th the Crusaders had the bases loaded with nobody out after singles by Jaime Kester and Martin Ortíz and an effortless 4-pitch walk to B.J. Manfull. A run-scoring double play grounder to short by Francisco Caraballo was all the Crusaders got, but that still put them 1-0 ahead.

Top 5th then, and Sandy and Pruitt led off with singles. Quebell never moved the bat and took a 4-pitch walk, loading them up with nobody out now in turn for D-Alex, who helplessly struck out. Carmona grounded to short, and he was about the one guy on the team who could get away with it, beating out the relay throw to plate the tying run while getting Quebell forced out at second. Pat Whitehouse, the unassuming fourth-string shortstop, lined one to right, scoring Pruitt with the go-ahead run on a single, 2-1, before Gutierrez flew out to center. Pruitt tacked on a run in the sixth with a 2-out RBI single, plating Sambrano, who had singled himself and then taken his 16th bag and the second in this series. Too bad that the effort was for naught: Martin Ortíz led off the bottom 6th with a single and Caraballo took Williams so deep the ball was already halfway to the Pacific by the time Williams had nicked Gabe Ortíz, which led directly to his removal. Kevin Denton somehow got a double play in his first relief appearance in the majors, and Trevino didn’t receive a decision either, being removed after a Whitehouse single in the top 7th. The Coons scratched out a bases-loaded situation in the top 8th, all with two down, as Pruitt singled, Quebell walked, and D-Alex legged out an infield single. That brought up Carmona, who was 0-4 and had ruined a 3 on, 2 out spot already. Jon Merritt hit for him, flew out to cen- no! Tim Austin dropped the ball! Inserted in a double switch, Austin made a clumsy mistake, and the Raccoons got TWO runs on the error! That sucked the air out of the Crusaders – they went six up, six down from there, with Angel pitching a 2 K ninth. 5-3 Furballs. Pruitt 4-5, 2B, RBI; Quebell 1-2, 3 BB; Whitehouse 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Thrasher 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, W (5-3);

By Wednesday, the Crusaders knew that Kel Yates was done for the season, being shut down with shoulder inflammation. He had already gone down last year in the second half of the year.

We made a roster move before the third game as well, with Dave Roudabush waived and DFA’ed, and Michael Palmer added from St. Petersburg, batting .360 over 25 AB in rehab. Tomas Castro is still in the hells of Florida, but should be back this weekend.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – CF Carmona – RF J. Alexander – C Bowen – P Santos
NYC: 3B Kester – SS J. Ortega – 1B Manfull – C G. Ortíz – CF K. Wood – LF T. Austin – 2B Boisvert – RF Beckmann – P P. Miller

The Raccoons were yet again donated a prime chance to do real damage by defensive ineptitude on New York’s side in the second inning. Quebell’s liner to left was capitally misplayed by Austin and became a double instead of an F7, and when Merritt grounded to Jorge Ortega, the shortstop bumbled the ball and was assessed the Crusaders’ sixth error in the set, putting runners on the corners. Carmona flashed those shiny, pretty legs with a 2-run triple, then scored on a wild pitch by Paul Miller, 3-0. In the first few innings it appeared that Hector Santos might run with that 3-0 lead, but the Crusaders had two hard hits in the fourth and scored a run, making this a closer 3-1 affair, at least for an inning. Quebell drove in a run by accident in the top 5th when the Crusaders couldn’t turn the double play and only erased Pruitt at second, while Yoshi scored from third base. The Crusaders pulled another run back in the bottom of the inning, but Santos then was more or less unthreatened for the rest of his outing. Sugano replaced him in the bottom 8th against B.J. Manfull, a tough lefty, with Santos at 90 pitches and two outs and nobody on. Sugano struck out the only batter he faced in the series, and the Coons overcame Scott Hood for two runs in the top 9th, which meant it was 6-2 and not Angel Casas, but Micah Steele was assigned the bottom of the inning. Gabe Ortíz led off with a single, but the Crusaders then went down on Ken Wood’s foul pop, a K to Tim Austin, and Ian Boisvert popping out to short. 6-2 Furballs! Nomura 2-4, BB, 2 2B; Quebell 3-5, 2B, RBI; Santos 7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, W (9-8) and 1-3;

A sweep! I must say I find it baffling that we’re 12-3 against New York, yet 6-5 against Indy and 2-4 against the Scavengers…

The Elks beat the Titans 7-4 on Wednesday, taking over the division lead from Boston, but they had another game on our off day, and in that instance the Elks were up 7-0 after seven before coughing up six runs for the Titans between the eighth and ninth. Mathematically inclined followers might however realized that that still handed them the win, 7-6, and they now led the North 1 1/2 games over both the Coons and the Titans.

Raccoons (63-53) @ Gold Sox (47-67) – August 10-12, 2012

The dismal Sox were not only in the bottom 3 in most offensive categories in the Federal League, including 10th in runs scored, but also dead last in runs allowed, with 611 runs amassed against them, which were more than 5.3 runs per game. Their rotation was the worst with a 5.27 ERA, and their pen was in the bottom 3 as well. We had not seen them in four years, and had dropped the last three engagements before that. Our last series win had come in 2003, and the last time we beat them before that was before Ricardo Carmona saw a kindergarten from the inside, in ’95. If there are kindergartens in Panama. What the heck do I know?

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (9-7, 2.78 ERA) vs. Alex Hurtado (5-12, 4.74 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (4-9, 5.21 ERA) vs. Yuzo Hayashi (6-11, 5.64 ERA)
Rich Hood (6-5, 3.51 ERA) vs. C.J. Fishel (9-8, 5.08 ERA)

Lefty on Sunday, and you might remember Hayashi being among the Japanese international free agents I showcased last winter. We picked up Yano and Sugano, and let him be. What a nice addition he (nickname “Meltdown”) would have made to our rotation.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Sambrano – 3B Merritt – CF Carmona – C D. Alexander – P Brown
DEN: SS Silvas – 3B Maxwell – RF V. Sanchez – C E. Carter – 1B Carr – CF Perri – 2B Ybarra – LF Hiscock – P Hurtado

Only three batters in the Sox’ lineup (Victorino Sanchez, Lionnel Perri, and Pancho Ybarra) had ever seen Nick Brown, and they were barely .160 combined.

The Coons undressed Hurtado in the first as they batted around the order with four runs plated in total via a Quebell RBI double, a 2-run single by Carmona, and an RBI single by D-Alex. After stranding two in the second, the Coons had Merritt reach on an error in the top 3rd and Carmona hit another RBI triple to add the fifth run of the game, and Yoshi would score Carmona with a sac fly later in the inning, 6-0. Brown struck out four in the first three innings, allowing only one single, but the bottom 4th started with singles by Brian Maxwell and Sanchez before Eugene Carter doubled into the corner in right, bringing in the first run for the Gold Sox. 6-1, runner in scoring position and nobody out it looked like Brown might topple right now, but he struck out Dave Carr, Lionnel Perri grounded out to third base, with Merritt playing it as smartly as possible, and Ybarra struck out. The rally promptly stifled, the Coons came back with two runs off Eddie DeBlock in the sixth inning, which saw with two outs another RBI triple by Ricardo Carmona. Nick Brown struck out ten in the game, but only lasted six innings before reaching 100 pitches. The Critters tacked on two runs in the top 7th, both unearned, and with a 10-1 lead I considered the job well done and Kevin Denton came into the game. He can’t possibly give up nine runs in three innings, right? Well, we will never find out, since he was removed before the inning was over… Ybarra homered right away, and then he loaded the bases with a hit and two walks while getting only two outs. Steele struck out Eugene Carter to contain the flood. Carmona hit a double and scored in the top 8th, 11-2, and that was already his fifth hit on the day! Could the Raccoons bring him up once more? They could: Pruitt and Quebell reached base in the ninth before Bowen and Gutierrez struck out, and so Carmona came to the plate again against righty Luis Hernandez, lined the first pitch up the middle, but no! Williams Silvas made the catch, soaring through the air like a bird to rob Carmona of the history books. 11-2 Brownies! Palmer 2-6; Quebell 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Carmona 5-6, 2 3B, 2B, 4 RBI; Ayers (PH) 2-2, 2B, RBI; Brown 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, W (10-7); Steele 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

New York’s Roberto Pena also went 5-6 on this day, with one triple and two doubles and plating only two. The Crusaders clubbed Sioux Falls 10-3 in that game.

Game 2
POR: 2B Palmer – 3B Merritt – LF Carmona – 1B Quebell – CF Sambrano – RF Ayers – SS Whtehouse – C D. Alexander – P Yano
DEN: RF Hiscock – SS Ybarra – LF V. Sanchez – C E. Carter – 1B Carr – CF Perri – 3B D. Hamilton – 2B Reeve – P Fishel

The Gold Sox moved up Fishel, the left-hander, and the Raccoons were visibly distraught, amounting to two hits in the first five innings, and that was not enough to get a run home, or even to third base. The Gold Sox didn’t find a way through Shunyo Yano, either, and so the first run didn’t get onto the board until the leadoff jack in the sixth hit by Michael Palmer. Carmona walked but was thrown out on the base paths on Quebell’s single, then made a throwing error in the bottom 6th that allowed the tying run to score, and the Gold Sox kept rolling to take a lead on a suddenly deflating Yano. The Gold Sox remained up 2-1 when neither Merritt nor Carmona managed to bring in John Alexander from second base in the eighth inning, and the Coons trailed into the ninth, facing Luis Hernandez, 77 K in 53.2 IP. The Raccoons were extinguished without as much as a squeal. 2-1 Gold Sox. Carmona 2-4; J. Alexander (PH) 1-1;

The Gold Sox were on something here. With the Raccoons all too easily vanquished by the at-best-mediocre left-hander, the Sox dropped Yuzo Hayashi from the series completely and instead sent in another left-hander in Jim Moore (5-6, 3.76 ERA).

The Raccoons meanwhile made two roster moves and sent Pat Whitehouse to St. Petersburg, activating Tomas Castro from rehab, and also dumped the hapless Denton back to Ham Lake (…) with his 19.64 ERA, activating Scott Spears after a rehab start in St. Pete. Williams will go to the bullpen, but that can’t happen until after Williams will have made the start on Monday, since Spears had his start on Saturday, and we can’t work it out.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – CF Sambrano – 1B Pruitt – 3B Merritt – LF Castro – RF Ayers – C Bowen – P Hood
DEN: SS Silvas – 3B Maxwell – RF V. Sanchez – C E. Carter – 1B Carr – CF Perri – 2B Ybarra – LF Reeve – P J. Moore

The Coons loaded the bases in the top 1st … on THREE ERRORS. Silvas made errant throws to put on Palmer and Sambrano, and then Jim Moore threw away a ball from Pruitt, trying to start a double play. A shaken Moore walked in a run against Merritt, and conceded an RBI single to Castro, but Ayers popped out to short and Bowen whiffed, leaving it at 2-0. On their own, the Raccoons couldn’t be bothered to produce much, and only got another run over home plate in the top 6th, when Bowen singled in Pruitt, and that was with Merritt making the third out on the base paths. Rich Hood had fought him high traffic volumes on the bases the entire game, and was clobbered out of the game for good by back-to-back doubles by Carter and Carr in the bottom of that inning, the latter a 2-run double. Steele replaced Hood, but surrendered the tying run on the third consecutive double by Lionnel Perri, and so Hood was left with a no-decision. The Coons pen continued to scuffle after Steele was sent to bed without a goodnight smooch, with Thrasher walking two in the seventh and being rescued by Slayton, who got into trouble on his own in the eighth and was dug out by Sugano after leaving two on, but not until after Sugano had loaded the sacks with another walk. The Gold Sox stranded five between the two innings, and the game remained tied … somehow. The Coons stumbled into extras, where the first pitch of overtime was issued by Dave Walk, and Walk had it clocked WELL out of right by Yoshi Nomura, who livened up an 0-4 day with a go-ahead leadoff homer, which was GREAT since the Raccoons had Josh Gibson in the #4 slot after two double switches and Angel Casas was the only reliever left in the pen. Palmer, Sambrano, and D-Alex went down without even leaving tracks, bringing the closer in with a 4-3 lead to face the 6-7-8 part of the order, which resulted in the side slaughtered with three strikeouts. 4-3 Coons. Castro 2-4, RBI; Bowen 2-4, 2B, RBI;

In other news

August 8 – SFW OF Jose Morales (.341, 20 HR, 56 RBI) is out for two weeks with shoulder tendinitis.
August 9 – PIT SP Fred Dugo (12-8, 3.02 ERA) hurls a 2-hitter in a 4-0 shutout over the Rebels, who lose their starter Brian Furst (9-9, 3.83 ERA) for the year with a partial tear in the labrum.

Complaints and stuff

Piecing the crew back together. Spears will start next week, and that means the only pieces still missing are Rockburn and Baldwin. Rockburn is of course out for the season, most likely, while Colin Baldwin is not coming back before September.

Still crummy baseball, though. How they are half a game out of the lead now is beyond me. They haven’t played well for longer than a game or two at a time since May. Playing well and playing successful is wildly not always the same thing. But after a 4-2 over the Loggers on June 5, the Coons had won seven of their last eight. Their only streak vaguely as successful as that was right before the All Star break, exploiting the Loggers, Crusaders, and Elks for six of seven and eight of ten. If not for that desperately pathetic loss on Saturday, they’d have a 6-game winning streak and the lead in the North.

Saturday was real bad…

Next week, our good old friends, the Capitals. Ah, those early 90s were good fun. Plus, Loggers.
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Old 06-05-2016, 02:16 PM   #1873
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Raccoons (65-54) vs. Capitals (58-60) – August 13-15, 2012

The Capitals were on a tear, having won their last nine games, so now the Raccoons, who had been playing “meh” baseball for several weeks, had a blazing hot team on their paws. Overall the Capitals’ numbers weren’t impressive at all, sixth in runs scored in the Federal League, and seventh in runs allowed, with a -1 run differential (Coons: +77). They led the league in home runs, too. We hadn’t beat them since 2006, with the last two series both going 2-1 in their favor, most recently in ’11.

Projected matchups:
Richard Williams (2-1, 4.85 ERA) vs. Manuel Hernandez (7-5, 3.67 ERA)
Hector Santos (9-8, 3.72 ERA) vs. Tyler Sullivan (7-11, 5.63 ERA)
Nick Brown (10-7, 2.74 ERA) vs. Chris York (10-5, 3.85 ERA)

More things might work against the Raccoons than their recently indifferent performance. The series starts with two left-handed starters, and they played a double-header on Saturday, meaning if their any smart, they’re flicking the righty York with the lefty Dean Merritt (7-12, 4.43 ERA) to quell the Raccoons for three days. The only guy we definitely won’t see is ex-Coon Randy Farley (9-10, 4.10 ERA), who was trying to squeeze out 200 career wins before running out of time – going on 39 here – and was 14 W short.

Game 1
WAS: 2B A. Rodriguez – SS J. Perez – C J. Flores – 1B T. Ramos – 3B J. Soto – RF Munn – LF McCarthy – CF J. Simmons – P M. Hernandez
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – CF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – 3B J. Merritt – LF Carmona – RF Ayers – C Bowen – P Williams

Early on this looked like a potential high-offense game. Jalen Simmons hit a 2-run homer off Richard Williams with two out in the second, and Williams after that walked the pitcher, conceded a single to Alberto Rodriguez and also walked Jose Perez before Jose Flores fouled out in rightfield to keep the runners stranded. Bottom 2nd, Manuel Hernandez walked the bases full with nobody out, bringing up the hapless Keith Ayers, who flew out harmlessly to left, and the best the Coons managed to collect was a sac fly by Craig Bowen, remaining down 2-1. Williams would get run in the fifth inning after the Capitals expanded their lead to 5-1 after a bombastic 2-run homer by Jesus Soto, with the Raccoons requiring help in the form of their leadoff men Castro and Nomura reaching on being smacked and an error, respectively, to score two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Down 5-3, Carmona hit a leadoff triple in the bottom 6th, and even the runts of the litter were inspired, with Ayers and Bowen hitting back-to-back singles off Hernandez to put the go-ahead run aboard with nobody out. Castro flew out to center and Yoshi hit into a fielder’s choice, which at least got Ayers home with the tying run, but the go-ahead run remained on first until Palmer singled.

Castro had replaced Sambrano in center, and Pat Slayton had pitched the top 6th sitting in the #3 hole, where now the usual occupant against righty pitching, Matt Pruitt came out to pinch-hit. He was due to strike out after hacking at two low pitches, but the third one was up and met by Matt. Deep fly to right, Danny Munn stretching in vain, and it was in for a 2-run, go-ahead double! Lefty Kevin Jones replaced Hernandez, but got clobbered for three more hits and two additional runs, and the Critters were up 9-5. Now they just had to piece nine outs together from a strained bullpen that was a man short and had already spewn forth and flushed down two of the remaining six pitchers. Things predictably went badly, starting with Sugano, who uncharacteristically walked two in the seventh and the leadoff man Aaron Case in the eighth. Steele replaced him, was characteristically no help neither dead nor alive and left with two on and two outs and three left-handed batters up. Ron Thrasher got the assignment here, and was promptly 3-bombed by Tony Ramos, the former Titan. That brought the Capitals to within a run, and an end to all experiments, as Angel Casas entered in another double switch that sat down Yoshi, and the bullpen closed for the day. He struck out Soto, but another ex-Coon in Marcos Bruno (not great anymore, but still pretty darn good), erased Gutierrez, Quebell, and Merritt 1-2-3 in the bottom 8th, and Angel blew the save after singles by Rickey Jackson and Jalen Simmons, plus a groundout by another ex-Titan, Rudy Garrison, that actually brought home the tying run. Carmona was on base with a leadoff single in the bottom 9th, but with the horrendous portion of the lineup behind him EVERYBODY knew he’d steal, and he was caught. There was no pitcher to rescue Angel Casas, who had to endure to the 11th until the Capitals tore him right open for four runs, including a 3-run homer by Rodriguez. Cynically, Ricardo Carmona singled home Quebell in the bottom of the inning for no greater good. 13-10 Capitals. Nomura 2-5, 2B, RBI; Palmer 2-6, 2B, RBI; Pruitt (PH) 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI; Quebell 3-5, BB, RBI; Carmona 4-5, BB, 3B, 2 RBI;

Arf.

After consecutive extra-inning losses and consistent poor performance by the starting pitching, our pen was now properly shot, and Hector Santos ain’t famous for pitching complete games… Worse, the only guy to reasonably put on waivers to get in fresh blood right now with an extra reliever was Carmona, and he was JUST heating up. We might even be forced to piggy-back Santos with Spears in the middle game, which was liable to produce more problems down the road as the week would progress and the Raccoons regress...

At least I restocked on fudge bars. I also checked, and we still have a stash of Capt’n Coma left over from the bad times, which I might check on if it’s still good.

Game 2
WAS: 2B A. Rodriguez – SS J. Perez – C J. Flores – 1B T. Ramos – 3B J. Soto – RF Munn – LF McCarthy – CF J. Simmons – P Sullivan
POR: CF Carmona – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B J. Merritt – 2B Sambrano – C D. Alexander – RF Ayers – P Santos

Santos sat down the first 13 Capitals before Soto and Munn hit back-to-back singles to create instant drama. While the inning was resolved with a fly out to shallow right by Jimmy McCarthy and a K to Simmons, the general state of the game was worrisome, with no runs on the board and no intent visible by the Raccoons to change that any time soon. Santos had logged an out in the eighth inning exactly twice this season, but even then we could ill afford extra innings. Santos and Carmona hit 1-out singles in the bottom 5th, but were left on, but in the next frame Quebell hit a leadoff single and Jon Merritt wrestled a walk from Tyler Sullivan, and the Coons jumped onto the board with an RBI double by Sandy and a 2-run single by D-Alex, 3-0 after six, but three of the first four Capitals hit singles off Santos to not only jump onto the board with two runs, but also thoroughly ruining his pitch count. The Coons exploited three walks in the bottom 7th for two takeback runs, but Santos couldn’t go longer than two more outs before he showed a sharp drop in velocity. Jose Perez doubled with two out in the eighth, and Josh Gibson was thrown in to see whether he could avoid blowing a 5-2 lead. He struck out Soto, but had nothing in the tank by the ninth, walking two before departing for Scott Spears, who had thrown 124 pitches three days ago (what are those donkeys in AAA doing with my rehabbing players!!??). He allowed two hard flies to Chris Parker and Jalen Simmons, but somehow Carmona and Ayers managed to make breathtaking plays and end the game. 5-2 Coons. Carmona 2-5; Pruitt 2-4, BB; Sambrano 2-3, BB, 2B, RBI; D. Alexander 2-3, 3 RBI; Santos 7.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, W (10-8) and 1-3;

Yep, that’s our Chris Parker of old, Raccoon from 1998 to 2002, a.k.a. The Time When The Forest Wept, so inane were those Raccoons back then. He’s been stealing a deserving player’s roster spot for 15 years now, so congrats to him.

Hector Santos threw 104 pitches, his season high. He reached 101 before, but sometimes he’s toast by 90. Also: first career save for Scott Spears, although halves should be awarded to Carmona and Ayers instead. Keith Ayers – not one good at-bat the entire season, but half a save; knock yourself out.

And the Capitals did NOT send Merritt, but stayed with Chris York, which can’t possibly be a bad thing, right? Regarding the pen, the best case scenario would still be a complete game shutout by Brownie, who was 11 K off another jump up the career strikeouts board.

Game 3
WAS: 3B J. Soto – SS J. Perez – C J. Flores – 2B A. Rodriguez – 1B T. Ramos – LF McCarthy – RF Munn – CF J. Simmons – P York
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B J. Merritt – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – C D. Alexander – P Brown

Facing one of only four active pitchers ahead of him in career strikeouts and with the Raccoons in dire need of a peak performance, Nick Brown couldn’t come up with such one, or even a decent, deep outing. The Capitals had three hits in their first four batters to score two runs in the first inning, and Jesus Soto hit a 2-run homer in the second to send them soaring 4-0, while the Coons were retired in order by York. Nick Brown, while rocked in his day job, had the only Raccoons hit through five innings, and when they did finally get on in the middle innings, they also hit into double plays once again. Scorched for 11 hits and five runs over eight innings, Nick Brown wound up with a crushing defeat with at best a pyrrhic victory over York in strikeouts, whiffing six to York’s five, but Chris York probably didn’t bother too hard, since in the end it was him who dealt a 6-hit shutout in a completely depressing affair for the home crowd, even before Ron Thrasher and Micah Steele conspired to cock up another three runs on a Jesus Flores homer in the ninth inning. 8-0 Capitals. Merritt 2-3; Castro (PH) 1-1;

First, this game sucked balls. Second, at least Nick Brown protected the wounded pen, except for some wannabe-setup scum – and Steele was the Loggers’ closer for years, so that’s why they have a 10-year rent on last place – and with the off day on Thursday we could get things back in order.

Except for some emotional scarring, but that comes with the job.

Raccoons (66-56) @ Loggers (45-75) – August 17-19, 2012

The Raccoons were merely 7-5 on the once more desperately bad Loggers this year, but was it a symptom or was it the cause for the Raccoons’ misery? Who knew, and who bothered… The Loggers had lost five straight, were 8th in runs scored, and 11th in runs allowed with a meager rotation and the worst bullpen in the league. They also had seven more or less key players to them on the DL, including Daniel Sharp, who was out with a strained hip.

Projected matchups:
Shunyo Yano (4-10, 5.10 ERA) vs. Roman Jimenez (8-9, 4.73 ERA)
Scott Spears (7-3, 2.75 ERA) vs. Gabriel Caro (11-10, 3.62 ERA)
Rich Hood (6-5, 3.60 ERA) vs. TBD

Horrid weather had forced the Loggers to play three games in the last two games, and we weren’t quite sure what to expect on Sunday. Jimenez and Caro are right-handers, however.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – RF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – SS Palmer – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – P Yano
MIL: LF Alires – 2B O. Sandoval – 1B Roncero – RF Dally – SS Luján – C R. Hernandez – CF Gilmor – 3B Ito – P R. Jimenez

Dylan Alexander set the Raccoons ahead with an RBI single in the second inning, and they would add a run on a productive groundout by Nomura before the frame was over after depressingly leaving runners on the corners after getting them there with one out in the first. The Loggers weren’t yet picking up Yano, and helped out with errors when so inclined, which led to an unearned run in the fourth inning. Jimenez lost control completely in those middle innings, issued two walks on his way to load the bases with one out in the top 5th, with D-Alex back at the plate, and he tied for the home run lead on the team when he creamed an 0-1 pitch to deep right and outta here. GRAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!

There weren’t many things in life that were certainties, but when it came to Shunyo Yano, we were sure by now; he was a total dork. The instant he was spotted with a 7-0 lead he started slacking again and the Loggers immediately created an opening into this game. Antonio Luján and Raúl Hernandez hit back-to-back doubles to start the bottom 5th and one run scored. Edgar Alires hit a leadoff triple in the sixth, and also scored on Oscar Sandoval’s groundout to short. Of course, the Loggers were also horrible, and by the seventh, Greg Dodson was pitching, whom they had received in the trash trade for Richard Williams. His ERA was almost 9. Michael Palmer led off with a single in the seventh, but Castro forced him, then took off to steal second base, took third on Hernandez’ errant throw, then scored on a wild pitch. Two dismal teams – head to head with another! D-Alex hit another homer, 9-2, but the bottom 7th saw Yano come apart completely. He faced four batters, retired none, then was pulled with the manager taking Merritt’s glove and slapping Yano on the head before sending him to the showers. The Loggers would bring the tying run to the plate in the inning after starting seven behind when a Carmona error and a walk to Silvestro Roncero loaded the bases, but in that spot Manobu Sugano struck out Justin Dally and the Coons remained ahead by four.

Milwaukee’s Oscar Valdez and Portland’s Richard Williams nursed a total ERA of 12 and were thus not the suspected candidates to do it, but both pitched two shutout innings after this near-implosion to close out the game. 9-5 Furballs. Merritt 2-4, 2B; D. Alexander 3-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI; Williams 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Admittedly, one team is more dismal than the other, and I still think the team has it in them, even with the hollow bullpen and the rotation filled with second-rate jokes. And their inane RISP hitting. And what else …

Oh, and in this one our top 5 batters went 3-for-24 with two walks, and SOMEHOW the team poured out nine runs…

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – 1B Pruitt – RF J. Alexander – SS Palmer – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – LF Castro – P Spears
MIL: LF Alires – 2B O. Sandoval – 1B Roncero – RF Dally – SS Luján – C R. Hernandez – CF Gilmor – 3B F. Cuevas – P Caro

When Gabriel Caro started pitching, Yoshi Nomura sniffed cookies in his right pants pocket. His whiskers twitched in characteristic fashion, and that was picked up by Pruitt and Quebell in the dugout. Before Caro could blink twice, a whole flock of hungry Raccoons was all over him. Yoshi reached base to start the inning, drawing a walk. Carmona, who had made a few hard outs in the opener, was retired on a line drive, but then the hits machine jumped into action. Pruitt doubled, John Alexander singled, plating two. Palmer, D-Alex, and Merritt all reached, 3-0 with the bags loaded, before Castro lined out to short. Finally arriving at the pitcher, Gabriel Caro walked Spears on four pitches to force home the fourth run, and then Yoshi hit an 0-1 pitch into the gap in left center, emptying the bases and putting up a 7-spot in the first. The Loggers had to haul in Caro in the third inning, and when he retired to the showers, he still had Pruitt clawed firm to his pants with the snout shoved deep into the pocket to reach even the last crumbs.

Any decent pitcher would have run with a 7-run lead and would sparkled, but the Raccoons were looking for somebody like that to magically appear on the roster. Scott Spears struggled badly once he got the ball and spilled three runs in five innings before putting two more runners on base in the sixth to get yanked. The Raccoons had added two runs in the top 6th, so they were still up by six runs when Thrasher replaced Spears and struck out two to escape the jam, and the Raccoons tore through another ex-Furball in the eighth, shoving Ted Reese around for three runs, including D-Alex’ fourth hit of the day, an RBI double. 12-3 Raccoons. Nomura 2-4, BB, 2 2B, 3 RBI; Carmona 3-6; Pruitt 2-6, 2B; J. Alexander 3-5, 3 RBI; D. Alexander 4-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Thrasher 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

The ravaged Loggers put up another right-hander for the Sunday game, Ramón Huertas (1-2, 3.44 ERA), who had spent most of the year in Lubbock with their AAA team, posting a 4.51 ERA there.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF J. Alexander – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – P Hood
MIL: CF Gilmor – 1B Roncero – C McClendon – RF Dally – SS Luján – 2B O. Sandoval – LF Hodgers – 3B F. Cuevas – P Huertas

RISP hitting fell apart again after a couple of good games. Huertas walked people left and right, but the Raccoons left a runner in scoring position in the third, two in scoring position (when the bottom of the order was understandably dispatched) in the fourth, and when they had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth, John Alexander’s sac fly was all they could manage. Hood held up nicely early on, allowing only one hit in four innings, but Luján and Sandoval opened the bottom 5th with singles. Victor Hodgers bunted them into scoring position but Hood came back to strike out Fernando Cuevas before Huertas lined out to center. Huertas allowed five hits and six walks in six plus innings, but it wasn’t until he was removed after Palmer’s leadoff single in the seventh and the appearance of Ted Reese that the Loggers started to crumble. Pruitt and J-Alex drove in runs in the inning to give Hood a 3-0 lead. Rich Hood showed some very fine crumbling as well by the seventh, which had two on for the Loggers and Suketsune Ito retired with a very deep fly to center to end the inning, and he put two more on in the eighth and was removed for Pat Slayton to face the right-hander Luján, who grounded out to Yoshi on the first pitch to end another inning with two left on base. Yoshi then led off the ninth with a double off Kevin Cummings before Sambrano ran for him, but it didn’t really matter afterwards since even a paraplegic badger would have scored on Palmer triple into the gap in right center. Pruitt would score him with a sac fly for enough insurance to not remove Slayton, and the Loggers got only one man on and didn’t break up the shutout. 5-0 Furballs! Nomura 2-5, 2B; Palmer 3-5, 3B, RBI; J. Alexander 1-1, 2 BB, 2 RBI; Castro 2-4, 2B; Hood 7.2 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, W (7-5); Slayton 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, SV (1);

In other news

August 15 – IND RF Juan Ortíz (.290, 21 HR, 71 RBI) is expected to miss a month with a strained biceps.
August 16 – Boston’s newly traded-for ace SP Curtis Tobitt (11-7, 3.24 ERA) sparkles in a 4-1 win over the Cyclones in which he strikes out 16 batters to tie the Continental League record set by Kelvin Yates, then of the Condors, in 2005. The major league record remains 18 strikeouts, put up by Washington’s Chris York in 2004.
August 16 – Double-whammy for the Indians: C Jose Paraz (.263, 10 HR, 46 RBI) could miss the rest of the season with a torn quad.
August 18 – Often injured WAS RF/CF Victor Sarabia (.253, 6 HR, 37 RBI) is just off the DL and returns to the DL right away, expected to miss three weeks with a sprained thumb.
August 18 – RIC INF Bob Butler (.279, 5 HR, 41 RBI) is out for the year with a ruptured achilles tendon.

Complaints and stuff

The Coons were back 2 1/2 early in the week, but came back on the weekend with the dominant sweep over the sorry Loggers (and boy, was it time for that!).

Not much else to say this week. Let’s crunch some numbers instead.

PORTLAND RACCOONS – FRANCHISE STOLEN BASE LEADERS

1st – Matt Higgins – 220
2nd – Conceicao Guerin – 193
3rd – Tomas Castro – 140
4th – Daniel Hall – 99
5th – Armando Sanchez – 78
6th – Yoshi Yamada – 68
7th – Ben O’Morrissey – 63
8th – Ken Clark – 57
9th – Stephen Buell – 46
10th – Luke Newton – 41

t-15th – Santiago Trevino – 24
t-28th – Sandy Sambrano – 16
t-34th – Matt Pruitt – 14
t-40th – Michael Palmer – 12
t-46th – Ricardo Carmona – 11
t-51th – Nick Brown – 9

Okay, I didn’t want to include any current players under 10 SB, but Nick Brown… I can’t resist. I’m weak when it comes to Brownie.

Below, Hector Santos. Shouldn’t he do better than he does? I don’t know, I feel like he should be closer to Brownie in performance than to Rich Hood, who’s a lot more mundane and scouted 12/12/11 by Calderón.
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Old 06-05-2016, 07:19 PM   #1874
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Santos has a good K/9 and his BABIP is a little high at .294. A few less balls dropping in, and he's got an ERA to match Brownie. That 1.03 WHIP and less than 2 BB/9 are very good, at least to my eyes.
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Old 06-05-2016, 10:23 PM   #1875
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I feel like you've done a remarkable job putting the pieces back together and moving forward. However, with how the season seems to be going, I can't help but shake the feeling you're being set up for heartbreak -- say, eliminated on the last week of the season.
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Old 06-06-2016, 03:29 PM   #1876
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Raccoons (69-56) @ Titans (66-57) – August 21-23, 2012

With an off day on Monday, the Coons traveled on to Boston to face the Titans once more, who were fifth in runs scored and seventh in runs allowed with a creaky rotation that pitched to a 4.52 ERA even after the midseason addition of Curtis Tobitt, whose first four starts for the Blues had yielded an ERA of almost five, but they did have the third-best pen. Both teams had split the first dozen games evenly so far, 6-6.

Projected matchups:
Hector Santos (10-8, 3.65 ERA) vs. Curtis Tobitt (11-7, 3.24 ERA)
Nick Brown (10-8, 2.87 ERA) vs. Tony Hamlyn (13-10, 3.14 ERA)
Scott Spears (8-3, 2.88 ERA) vs. Tommy Wilson (4-16, 5.79 ERA)

I don’t like to see their 1-2 punch in this series. We may come off a sweep of the Loggers and plating over 20 runs in that series, but that was the LOGGERS. This is not the Loggers. Not at all. The Raccoons will push back the horrible Shunyo Yano to the end of the queue and all the way to Saturday.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – SS Palmer – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – P Santos
BOS: SS M. Rivera – RF J. Gusmán – 2B J. Ramirez – C Suda – LF J. Flores – 1B Hayashi – 3B K. Williams – CF Thurman – P Tobitt

Santos plainly struggled to hit his marks and it led to some hard hits by the Titans early in the game. A double play killed the first inning for Boston, but after a leadoff walk to Toki Hayashi in the bottom 2nd the Titans brought him around with a 2-out RBI double by Zachary Thurman. They left Jesus Flores on third base in the fourth, while Tobitt didn’t allow a hit the first time through the order. Carmona singled in the fourth and stole second base, but was ultimately left on second base along with D-Alex. The Coons finally amounted to something in the fifth. J-Alex and Merritt both singled to lead off, and Yoshi Nomura drove home the tying run with the third single of the inning, but that was also all they got. Meanwhile Santos was kept alive by defense alone. The Titans had Mike Rivera on second with one out in the fifth, and “Quasimodo” Suda in the same situation in the sixth, and never got them in, for Yoshi, Pruitt, and John Alexander all made great plays to get those two innings over with. Drilling Mike Rivera in the seventh was the end for Santos then; it was already his second hit batter in the game. He received a no-decision while Ron Thrasher got out of the inning and incidentally got himself lined up for the W when Dylan Alexander cracked a leadoff jack off Tobitt in the top 8th, his 18th homer of the year. Sugano and Steele held on in the bottom 8th, Sambrano had a pinch-hit single off Iemitsu Rin in the top 9th before being caught stealing, but the bottom 9th opened with a grisly throwing error by Jon Merritt that put leadoff man Ken Williams on second base in a 2-1 game. Angel Casas got Thurman to ground out, moving up the runner, and struck out Jesus Rivera, bringing up another lefty in Mike Rivera. 2-1 pitch, fly to right, not really deep, Alexander coming – has it. 2-1 Raccoons. Nomura 2-5, RBI; Sambrano (PH) 1-1; Merritt 2-4; Santos 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K;

We did NOT see Hamlyn on Wednesday. Rather, the Titans sent right-hander Melvin Andrade (12-8, 4.91 ERA) into the middle game against Brownie, who sat at 2,494 strikeouts entering the contest.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – CF Sambrano – C D. Alexander – RF J. Alexander – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Brown
BOS: SS M. Rivera – 1B Legendre – C Suda – CF K. Williams – LF Hayashi – 2B J. Ramirez – RF Thurman – 3B Reece – P Andrade

Nick Brown had one of those games where he got to two strikes effortlessly, but then got stuck, and the Raccoons plated a run in the first inning on Yoshi’s leadoff double (#30 on the year) and Pruitt’s single, but then killed their next two innings with double plays (#6 million on the year……).

After a chewy beginning and lots of pitches for little loot, Nick Brown started the bottom 4th with a K to Alexis Legendre, his 200th of the season, also struck out Suda, Ken Williams doubled to represent the tying run, but Toki Hayashi struck out as well, which moved Brownie into a tie for a top 20 spot all time with Angel Romero, who infamously had a 10+ ERA in four starts as a Critter, but before Brown could boot him, he had to survive a scary third inning in which the Titans brought runners into scoring position before Mike Rivera’s groundout stranded them. Pruitt tacked on another run with an RBI double in the sixth before the Titans walked Quebell intentionally and Andrade struck out both Sambrano and D-Alex to escape, but the bottom 6th drew some recognition for Brownie by the home crowd when Suda whiffed for the second out in the inning. Not only was this the one that broke the tie with Angel Romero, but it was also Brownie’s 2,500th strikeout overall! I was so happy, I burst into tears instantly.

The happy end of this particular game had yet to secured, though. Javier Gusmán led off the seventh with a single, and the bases were filled after two walks to Thurman and Sonny Reece. The Titans didn’t hit for Andrade, who popped out to first, and that brought up the left-hander Rivera, who wasn’t hit for, either. That was not the place to go to Thrasher for sure. Brownie was on 102 pitches, but a true ace would get a strikeout here – but a grounder to Yoshi for a comfortable third out would to the job as well, and the Coons’ 2-0 lead remained in one piece, expanded to 3-0 in the eighth with a leadoff single by Yoshi, an RBI triple by Palmer – and then they left Palmer on third. Pat Slayton was unable to get the eighth in and Angel Casas came into the game with two outs and runners on the corners, getting a fly out to center from Hayashi. He finished the game – not without conceding a run on a pinch-hit RBI triple by Jesus Flores in the ninth – but by then the gap was bigger. To everybody’s befuddlement, Manuel Gutierrez had hit a 2-run homer in the top of the inning. 5-1 Brownies! Nomura 3-5, 2B; Palmer 2-5, 3B, RBI; Pruitt 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Quebell 1-2, 2 BB; Castro 1-1; Brown 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K, W (11-8);

BROOOOOOOW-NIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!

Brownie! Brownie! Brownie!

Please excuse me. I am just giddy as hell.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – CF Sambrano – C Bowen – RF Ayers – P Spears
BOS: SS M. Rivera – RF J. Gusmán – 2B J. Ramirez – C Suda – LF J. Flores – 1B Hayashi – 3B K. Williams – CF Thurman – P Hamlyn

Giddy didn’t survive contact with Scott Spears and Tony Hamlyn in the Thursday game, however. The Titans were on top of Spears from the start and had two hits in the first, two hits in the second, a walk and a hit in the third, and never scored. Ken Williams socked a solo homer in the fourth to get them on the board, but overall over five innings they had nine hits and 11 total runners and got only that one counter while making two outs on the base paths, precisely at third base, on a bad bunt by Hamlyn, and on Gusmán getting caught stealing. But Spears was torn up for good in the sixth inning, in which the Titans just kept raking away at him, and in a twisted way it was Hamlyn to knock him out with a 1-out, 2-run single in the inning. That ran the Raccoons’ deficit to 4-0, and that also brings us to Hamlyn, who was nursing a no-hitter against three walks, one of them intentional. But Hamlyn’s 82nd pitch of the game was one that Quebell liked and hit a hard single to left, thus ending the no-hit bid at the start of the seventh inning. Then Merritt hit into a double play… The Raccoons never got another hit in the game, or a base runner for that matter. This should not be an excuse, but it had already drizzled once early in the game in the second inning, but the rain started for real in the eighth inning and after a long rain delay the ninth inning ended up being washed out. 5-0 Titans.

This was Scott Spears’ first loss as a Raccoon. By contrast, this was also Tony Hamlyn’s 250th career win.

Raccoons (71-57) vs. Aces (68-59) – August 24-26, 2012

The Aces overall were very middling in all aspects, and while they were in second place in the South, they were a shocking 22 1/2 games out of the Thunder. In the North they’d be right in the thick of things. This season series was so far also even at 3-3. The Coons have won the last three season series against Las Vegas.

Projected matchups:
Rich Hood (7-5, 3.32 ERA) vs. Jaquan Wagoner (10-11, 3.24 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (5-10, 5.20 ERA) vs. William Hinkley (6-13, 5.94 ERA)
Hector Santos (10-8, 3.55 ERA) vs. Ian Rutter (9-7, 3.39 ERA)

Three righties in this series.

Game 1
LVA: 3B Downing – 2B H. Jones – CF Shearing – RF Bednarski – C Durango – LF Zackery – 1B F. Soto – SS Dahlke – P Wagoner
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – RF Carmona – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – P Hood

Sad offense continued in the opener against Vegas. Jon Merritt’s single in the bottom 3rd was the first base knock by either team, but it was the Aces to get on the board first with a 2-out double by Mike Bednarski and an RBI single by Eduardo Durango. Bottom 5th, Merritt was on with a walk again, only the Coons’ third runner in the game, and then it was Jaquan Wagoner to give the Raccoons a shot when he threw away Rich Hood’s bunt, putting runners in scoring position with one out for Yoshi, who hit a sac fly to left center, but that was all the Critters pulled out. That 1-1 lead was incredibly short-lived, with Howard Jones cranking a homer off Hood in the top 6th, and a Merritt error produced more drama before Rusty Zackery stranded two with a hard fly to right, where Carmona had already made some nifty catches in this game.

The Coons weren’t beaten just yet – Quebell homered in the bottom 6th to tie the score – and Hood received a no-decision after all, but in the top 8th the game broke apart for good between the entirely inept Micah Steele and Dylan Alexander. Howard Jones singled, was run for by Ricky Avila, who took off to swipe second base, Alexander’s throw was nowhere near the bag, Avila made for third and would later score on Conor Shearing’s sac fly. Then Bednarski yanked one out off Steele. Bottom of the inning, Yoshi doubled and Pruitt reached on an error to put the tying runs on, but Quebell and Alexander had only a K and a poor pop in them. Bottom 9th, Carmona out, Sambrano out, Bowen – hold on. Bowen doubled to right, and Ayers walked when hitting for Josh Gibson. The tying runs were on and Yoshi singled to left to load them up against righty Zack Entwistle, who had been 2-2 on Yoshi, and was 2-2 on Palmer as well before Palmer grounded up the middle, right through between the infielders! Bowen scored, Ayers sent around third base, Ayers going home, the throw from Shearing, Ayers is gonna be – SAFE!! KEITH AYERS IS SAFE AT HOME!! KEITH AYERS IS SAFE AT HOME!!! And while we were still screaming over that, Matt Pruitt hit a 2-2 pitch into right, Yoshi had been running on Entwistle’s movement to the plate, and he scored handily – IT’S A WALKOFF!!! 5-4 Blighters!! Nomura 2-4, 2B, RBI; Bowen (PH) 1-1, 2B; Hood 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K;

KEITH AYERS SAFE AT HOME!!! Nope, still not over the 2009 season finale.

Game 2
LVA: 3B Downing – 2B H. Jones – CF Shearing – RF Bednarski – C Durango – 1B Myers – LF Richards – SS Dahlke – P Hinkley
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – 3B Sambrano – RF J. Alexander – CF Castro – P Yano

Either the Aces were bringing rocket launchers to the plate and just nobody noticed, or Shunyo Yano was yet getting worse. The Aces effortlessly got three runs on four hits, all for extra bases, in the first three innings, and led 4-0 in the middle of the fifth, at which point the Raccoons were still looking through William Hinkley’s stuff, either for a base hit, which would have been nice, or for donuts, which they would have liked even more. D-Alex hit a leadoff jack in the bottom 5th to at least get on the board, but the team still trailed 4-1. The Coons got two more hits through Sambrano and Castro, the former scoring, closing to 4-2, and Yano had been hit for, so it could only get better now. The Raccoons loaded the bases on an error and two walks in the bottom of the sixth, but when Merritt pinch-hit with two outs, he rolled out to short, and that would have been good for two if the Aces had needed it, too. The Aces turned an actual double play on Palmer to end the seventh with Castro and Yoshi on base, too… The tying runs were on AGAIN in the bottom 8th, and with nobody out, after a Pruitt double and a walk drawn by Quebell, and this time they broke through … sorta. D-Alex grounded out, moving up the runners, and Sambrano brought home a run with a sac fly to center, 4-3. Bowen hit for Richard Williams, who had pitched two scoreless frames, and grounded to third for the - … throwing error by Francisco Soto, and it was past Ralph Myers and into the stands! The Coons got the tying run home! And Castro hit a gapper into right center, nobody got that one, Bowen scored with the go-ahead run, and Castro was in with an RBI triple, banging his chest all pumped up at third base! Carmona flew out to end the inning, but Angel Casas got an appointment for the ninth now and struck out Tom Dahlke, Danny Rice, and Josh Downing in order! 5-4 Raccoons!!! Sambrano 1-1, 2 BB, 2B, RBI; Castro 2-3, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; Williams 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, W (3-1);

Oh my fur coat! The Aces must be wondering whether they’re cursed by now.

Game 3
LVA: 3B Downing – 2B H. Jones – CF Shearing – RF Bednarski – C Durango – LF Zackery – 1B Myers – SS Dahlke – P Rutter
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – CF Carmona – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – P Santos

The Aces were visibly angry, and hit the ball real hard off Santos early in the game. Josh Downing opened the game with a double, but never got moved off second base with two hard outs to Palmer, and then a fly to right, and there were a few more hard contacts and two men on in the second, but the Aces didn’t score. The Coons started the bottom 2nd with a Quebell walk and then singles by D-Alex and Carmona to load the sacks with nobody out, and John Alexander got a run in with a hard single to right. Ian Rutter was disconcerted in a very visible way, wiping his forehead repeatedly, then threw a wild pitch and walked Merritt anyway. That was 2-0, and still three on, no outs. Santos struck out, Yoshi forced in a run with a walk, but Palmer popped out and Pruitt lined out to Howard Jones to keep it at 3-0. Unfortunately Santos really didn’t have anything and kept getting hammered, but it took the Aces until the fifth inning to get onto the board, with Bednarski driving in a pair with a 2-out single to right. Time to restart the offense, boys! Too bad that it was Quebell of all people to be up with runners on first and third and one out, because that was a double play before he ever grabbed a bat.

Santos made it through six pretty much on fumes, striking out Rutter to finish his day, and the Coons could hit for him in the bottom 6th with J-Alex (walk) and Merritt (single) standing on second and first with two outs. Castro grounded out to first on the first pitch. The Aces had the tying run on with nobody out in the top 7th after Downing’s leadoff single against Slayton, then was caught stealing, just before another single by Ron Richards. As far as blown opportunities were concerned, the teams were just about as even as in the actual score, and the Coons weren’t letting up, either. Yoshi singled to start the bottom 7th, chasing Rutter, and Palmer singled off the righty Dave Hughes, who then had the bleak outlook on five left-handed batters aligned against him. Pruitt singled to right on 2-0, bases loaded, and Quebell sent a fly to deep center, deep center, no, caught by Conor Shearing. But that was at least a sac fly, and then a convenient one-hopper by Dylan Alexander to Downing, who flung to second, the return throw – safe! Oooh, that was close. But the Raccoons had another run in and were up 5-2 now, and we were just trying to ignore the double play Merritt hit into in the eighth. Angel Casas was out again, spilled a 2-out double to Ricky Avila in the ninth, but struck out Shearing to end the game. 5-2 Furballs! Palmer 2-4; J. Alexander 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Santos 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (11-8);

And despite the Coons going 5-1 on the week, the Elks didn’t miss a beat either, went 5-1 as well, and we’re still half a game back.

In other news

August 21 – SFB SP Felipe Rivera (11-8, 3.67 ERA) 3-hits the Thunder in a 6-0 shutout. The Thunder have been shut out for the fifth time in August after being shut out only three times from April through July.

Complaints and stuff

Since most of the crew has been reassembled, things are trending upwards! We basically only lack Colin Baldwin now to replace the outrageous Yano in the rotation, and then all the pieces that we can get back this year (Law Rockburn – maybe at the end of the season, but maybe not), will be back in uniform. Colin looks like he will start a rehab assignment early next week, and since he was out for half the season I would like to give him at least two, better three starts, but that still leaves him time to get back and pull some Yano starts out of the dumpster.

Well, it’s not always pretty, but the results are getting much better. We’re 16-7 in August, and 14-4 in the last three weeks! We’re gonna play the Scavengers and Indy next week, but the following week we’re in for a tough job with the Elks and Crusaders on the plate. We still have 12 games against the teams in the CL North race, plus three against the Thunder…

Odd bit: Jon Merritt played in his 2,000th major league game on Sunday.

BNN didn’t bother with a news story for Brownie’s 2,500th career strikeout. Gotta check whether the Agitator made a call there. And of course:

ABL CAREER STRIKEOUTS (excerpt, 10 guys ahead of Nick Brown, plus now with all active pitchers)

1st – Martin Garcia – 3,783
2nd – Tony Hamlyn – 3,459 (active)

6th – Javier Cruz – 3,142 (active)
7th – Chris York – 3,025 (active)

10th – Bastyao Caixinha – 2,844 (HOF)
11th – Kisho Saito – 2,800 (HOF)
12th – Robbie Campbell – 2,763
13th – Kelvin Yates – 2,665 (active)
14th – Leland Lewis – 2,664 (HOF)
15th – Manuel Movonda – 2,663
16th – Kiyohira Sasaki – 2,640
17th – Craig Hansen – 2,578 (HOF)
t-18th – Dan George – 2,516
t-18th – Bill Smith – 2,516
20th – Nick Brown – 2,501 (active)

Brownie has two starts next week, so we could possibly see this table again next Sunday.
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Raccoons (74-57) vs. Condors (54-76) – August 27-29, 2012

While their pitching was sound, the Condors’ offense was outright dismal, scoring the least runs in the Continental League. They were really at the bottom of the table or very close to it in almost all categories on offense, except for stolen bases (t-7th). They did have the third-best rotation in the CL, but it wasn’t helping them on bit, lingering in last place in the South, 39 1/2 games out in August. Yet, somehow, they were 4-2 against these Raccoons this season, which was not something to be proud of in Coon City…

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (11-8, 2.76 ERA) vs. Manuel Rojas (7-9, 3.71 ERA)
Scott Spears (8-4, 3.09 ERA) vs. Dave Hogan (6-7, 5.82 ERA)
Rich Hood (7-5, 3.27 ERA) vs. Jaylen Martin (9-11, 3.19 ERA)

These are all right-handed pitchers. They also had a few batters on the DL, including Tomas Cardenas, so they were even missing some of the little talent they carried around.

Game 1
TIJ: 3B Dasher – 2B Dougal – 1B May – RF Branch – CF Feldmann – LF Eroh – C R. Rodriguez – SS M. Miller – P Rojas
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Carmona – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – C Bowen – P Brown

Both sides would make plenty of outs on the base paths in this game. Ron Eroh was caught stealing in the top 2nd, Tomas Castro was thrown out on a long single that was really not a double in the bottom of the same inning, and Carmona was gunned down at third on a double steal going foul in the fourth. However, Quebell’s leadoff triple in the bottom 2nd had led to the game’s first run, and the Raccoons put up three in the bottom 4th despite Carmona’s mishap, with one run singled home by Brownie with two outs after Bowen had received an intentional walk. The same situation transpired again in the bottom 6th, when Castro was on first with two outs, made it to third on a stolen base attempt during which Rafael Rodriguez airmailed the ball to centerfield, and Bowen was walked again, but this time Brownie grounded out to second base. On the mound, despite facing a lineup of beggars, Nick Brown was not dominant at all, lacking the last bit of bite to get people struck out. The Condors readily put balls in play even with two strikes, but were still shut out over seven innings with four singles and two walks. It was good enough then for Brownie. Micah Steele managed to pitch a scoreless eighth, not something anybody was putting money on in a sane mind, but Pat Slayton only faced one batter in the ninth and was taken deep by Nick May. With a left-hander in Ezra Branch next, Manobu Sugano replaced Slayton right away, whiffed Branch, and then finished the game since he was already on it. 4-1 Brownies! Quebell 2-4, 3B; Merritt 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Castro 3-4, RBI; Brown 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, W (12-8) and 1-3, RBI;

The Elks were destroyed, 9-1, by the Thunder, which put the Raccoons into the lead in the North!

Game 2
TIJ: 3B Dasher – 2B M. Miller – LF Crum – 1B R. Morris – C Bedinghaus – CF Feldmann – RF Newman – SS Eroh – P Hogan
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – 3B Sambrano – RF J. Alexander – CF Castro – P Spears

Spears was in trouble in due time. Johnny Crum was close to hitting one out in the first inning, and the Condors loaded the bases with three singles in the second before Spears arrived at Hogan just in time to escape the nightmare with the third out registered on a pop. The Raccoons responded with two walks drawn by Quebell and Sambrano in the bottom of the inning before Castro singled with two outs, scoring Quebell, and that set off a string of four straight 2-out singles, plating four runs in the inning! The 4-run outburst did little to calm a seemingly nervous and insecure Spears, who missed the zone far and wide occasionally, and sometimes came down the middle real good. The Condors were inept, however. They put five men on across the next three innings, and stranded all of them, while John Alexander hit a solo homer in the fourth to extend the lead to 5-0. Carmona hit for Spears in the bottom 6th with our starter already over 100 pitches, while somehow keeping up shutout ball. A sac fly by Carmona brought in Sambrano from third, 6-0, and the ball was handed to Richard Williams to pitch two or maybe even three innings here, and indeed he breezed through the last three innings on just 30 pitches, and it really wasn’t all hard contact at all. The Coons had added a run on a Pruitt groundout in the last few innings. 7-0 Critters. Nomura 2-4, 2B; Palmer 2-4, 2 RBI; Castro 2-3, RBI; Spears 6.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, W (9-4) and 1-2, RBI; Williams 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, SV (2);

This is Williams’ first save with the Raccoons. He got his other save with the Loggers earlier this year.

Game 3
TIJ: 3B Dasher – 2B Dougal – 1B May – C Bedinghaus – CF Feldmann – RF Raupp – LF Newman – SS M. Miller – P J. Martin
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – CF Carmona – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – RF J. Alexander – P Hood

Jaylen “Midnight” Martin on paper was by far the best player on the Condors, who sent a cleanup batter in Bill Bedinghaus well under .200 in batting average. The Condors got an early jump this time, with Rich Hood, who faced an entirely right-handed lineup, conceding two singles and a walk to load the bases, then allowed a 2-run double to Ryan Feldmann to fall behind in the first inning. Jimmy Raupp struck out and Will Newman rolled out to Hood, but that was some early damage, and “Midnight” was no pushover. The Coons got a leadoff double from Yoshi in the bottom 3rd, and just barely managed to drag him over home plate before the inning ended, and aside from that looked pretty puzzled by Martin. By contrast, Rich Hood never gained control of a ghastly underpowered lineup and conceded another run in the second (involving a bad throw by Pruitt) and one more in the fifth, while showing no sparkle whatsoever. It also rained a bit in the middle innings, then let up, then started again in the seventh.

Into the bottom 7th, Jaylen Martin looked like a winner. Then D-Alex led off with a homer, his 20th of the year, just curving around the inside of the foul pole in rightfield. Merritt walked. J-Alex singled, Merritt to third. Nobody out, runners on the corners, and those were the tying runs. Matt Pruitt batted for Hood and singled up the middle and into center, scoring the third run for the Raccoons. Yoshi struck out, and Palmer nursed a 2-1 count when the rain got too heavy and the tarp came on. Down 4-3, go-ahead runs on base, and the Condors had to leave town urgently. I sent Slappy to lock ALL the gates. Slappy, lock ALL THE GATES. NOBODY’S GONNA GET OUTTA HERE!!

An hour later, rain subsumed and play resumed with Kaz Kichida replacing “Midnight” Martin, and the lights were about to go out for the Condors. Palmer doubled to left to tie the score, Sambrano drew a walk. And then Quebell … (breathes heavily) … Quebell hit into a double play. The ****ing moron!!

When play continued in the eighth, Josh Gibson occupied our #4 slot with Quebell banished to clean the toilets. He put two men on, but Sugano struck out Branch to strand them. Carmona hit a leadoff single in the bottom 8th, stole his 13th base, but nobody hit the ball out of the infield and he was stranded at third base. This one would be a winner after all, however, with Pruitt hitting a leadoff single in the bottom 9th. Yoshi walked, and when Sambrano singled to center, Pruitt had the jetpack ignited by remote control and whooshed around the bases in world record time, and arrived well safe ahead of Ezra Branch’s throw home. 5-4 Critters! Palmer 2-5, 2B, RBI; D. Alexander 2-4, HR, RBI; J. Alexander 2-4, 2B; Pruitt (PH) 2-2, RBI; Sugano 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, W 4-1);

5-4 is also our final tally against Tijuana this year, and losing the season series would have been shameful. It also would have ended our string of seven consecutive season series taken from them. We haven’t dropped five or more to them since 2004!

The Elks remain half a game behind after creaming the Thunder on Tuesday and shutting them out on Wednesday. They had tomorrow off, then would play the Loggers on the weekend. We have four with Indy up, and that season series hasn’t been a blast for Portland so far either.

Raccoons (77-57) vs. Indians (57-76) – August 30-September 2, 2012

From the worst offense in the league to the worst pitching in the league, the Indians ranked dead last in runs allowed, with 671 counters against them, or just over five per game. The rotation was also worst in the league with a 4.75 ERA, while their offense was eighth. They were last in stolen bases, but second in home runs, but more than half of their 105 home runs was either on the DL (Jose Paraz, Juan Ortíz, Mun-wah Tsung) or had been traded away. We were 6-5 against them so far.

Projected matchups:
Shunyo Yano (5-10, 5.27 ERA) vs. Sadakuno Imamura (5-7, 5.16 ERA)
Hector Santos (11-8, 3.53 ERA) vs. Tristan Broun (5-12, 5.43 ERA)
Nick Brown (12-8, 2.66 ERA) vs. Tom Weise (12-12, 4.11 ERA)
Scott Spears (9-4, 2.91 ERA) vs. Aaron Walsh (4-3, 4.15 ERA)

Broun is a left-hander, one of two they currently drag around, but we’ll not get to see Sam McMullen, who has similarly horrible numbers to Broun.

The Raccoons will play a bunch more games before their next off day and we will get everybody a day off somewhere. Quebell starts it. (grumbles)

Game 1
IND: CF J. Wilson – RF Bayle – C Padilla – 1B S. Guerra – LF Kui – 2B Mathews – SS R. Miller – 3B R. Garza – P Imamura
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Sambrano – 1B Pruitt – C D. Alexander – CF Carmona – 3B Merritt – RF J. Alexander – P Yano

The Indians led this game in a hurry. John Wilson hit a leadoff triple, and scored on Jimmy Bayle’s fly to center, putting Yano in a hole at 1-0. That didn’t LOOK like a really big hole, but Imamura was spot on from the start, and Yano, despite lining up zeroes on the board after that first inning mishap, kept trailing and trailing. The Coons killed their only early scoring chance with a double play that Palmer hit into in the third, and that was it for a long, long while. When Matt Pruitt hit a leadoff single in the seventh that was enough to cause a mild uproar and excitement in the park, but D-Alex hit into a double play and sadness returned immediately. Yano made it through eight, which was newsworthy in its own right, with only the one run allowed, print a few more of those papers, just to make sure we don’t run out, but he was still trailing in the middle of the eighth. A leadoff walk drawn by Merritt in the bottom 8th was enough reason to bring Castro to run for him, which turned out to be a waste of player material. John Alexander clocked an 0-1 pitch by Imamura and catapulted it far up the rightfield stands, instantly flipping the score in the Coons’ favor! Indians pitching folded after that, issuing four walks, with Ricardo Munoz issuing a bases-loaded walk to Pruitt for an extra run that Angel Casas didn’t need, eating Santiago Guerra, Ming Kui, and Joey Mathews with hair and cap and all, three strikeouts in ten pitches. 3-1 Raccoons! Pruitt 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; J. Alexander 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Yano 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, W (6-10);

Angel Casas saved #40, Yano got an out in the eighth inning for the first time in over four months, and the Raccoons were now a full game ahead of Vancouver.

Game 2
IND: CF J. Wilson – SS R. Miller – C Padilla – 1B S. Guerra – LF Kui – 2B Mathews – RF Luxton – 3B M. Clark – P Broun
POR: SS Palmer – 2B Sambrano – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – RF D. Alexander – CF Castro – RF Ayers – P Santos

Hector Santos was horrendous – there was no way around it. The Indians made hard contact, hard contact, hard contact all the time, and hit a leadoff double three times in the first five innings. That they only scored one run from those three leadoff doubles speaks volumes about the overall quality of their team, and then the run was even unearned after an error by Pruitt. But Santos certainly wasn’t fooling anybody, and apart from Pruitt’s ill misgrab, the defense was spectacular, with any number of nice plays made all over the field, and no less then superb defense was necessary to keep Santos from getting culled. He was also at odds with D-Alex behind the dish, and a wild pitch aside Alexander also had some struggles on defense. Santiago Guerra reached with an infield single to start the top 6th that was Alexander’s fault. Offensively, the Coons were silent the first time through the order, but Tomas Castro hit a 2-run homer in the bottom 4th to flip the score. They didn’t follow on, however, and that brings us back to that Guerra infield single. At some point gloves were rendered to have no effect, and eventually the Indians were to turn fully into a meatball, and it was Joey Mathews with a 2-run homer in the top 6th that flipped the score back in their favor.

John Alexander hit for Santos with two outs and two on in the bottom 6th, but popped out to Guerra, which was not helpful at all. Slayton and Thrasher kept the Indians in range with scoreless innings before Quebell ruined Broun’s day in the bottom 8th, slapping a leadoff jack to tie the game and flush Broun off the mound. Ricardo Munoz, who had walked in the insurance run the previous day, replaced him, and within ten seconds drowned in runners as Merritt singled, D-Alex singled, and Castro walked. Three on, no outs for Ayers, which was not the best guy to come up, especially with a right-handed pitcher, and with Yoshi sitting on the bench picking his nose. So Yoshi grabbed a bat, but was soon a part of the biggest bubble burst in a while, teaming up with Bowen to hit into consecutive force outs at home before Palmer rolled out to third for good. Nobody was expecting anything from Bowen except a pretty thick wallet, but Yoshi? Yoshi? I am disappointed. Yoshi hung the furry cheeks and whiskers and blinked at me out of his cute black button eyes, then grabbed his glove, since he now had to field. The bottom of the first inning of unnecessary extras would start with a D-Alex single, which was bad, since a) he was slower than a corpse, and b) Bowen was gone and we couldn’t run for him. Castro flew out, bringing up Yoshi’s slot. With determination he hit a liner to center, Wilson started in, then reversed and ran out, but he wasn’t getting it any which way, this one was to deep center and against the wall! Dylan Alexander chugged around second as Wilson hustled after the ball that stopped dead in front of the wall in the deepest part of centerfield. D-Alex was sent around third with the bat boy jogging alongside him and handing him an oxygen mask. Yoshi slid in at third base before Alexander got to home plate, but he still arrived there way in front of the ball! WALKOFF TRIPLE!! 4-3 Critters!! Sambrano 2-4, BB; Quebell 3-5, HR, RBI; Merritt 3-5, 2B; D. Alexander 2-5; Ayers 1-1, 2 BB, 2B; Nomura 1-2, 3B, RBI;

After that walkoff triple, Yoshi came back to me and scratched at my pants. Those cute black eyes! I handed him a cracker and he rushed off with it. The love continues.

The baseball gods put the roster expansion into the middle of this series. The Raccoons added a few people to increase versatility. Lefty reliever George Youngblood was recalled, plus third catcher Tom McNeela, who was batting .267, but mostly singles, in AAA, Walt Canning, Jason Seeley, who had batted over .340 since being demoted to AAA, and Brett Gentry for the sake of his right-handed bat.

Game 3
IND: CF L. Martinez – LF Bayle – 2B Kym – 1B S. Guerra – 3B Mathews – SS R. Miller – C Dunn – RF Kui – P Weise
POR: 2B Nomura – CF Sambrano – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – 3B Merritt – RF J. Alexander – SS M. Gutierrez – P Brown

Nick Brown walked the first two batters of the game before Jong-beom Kym struck out and Guerra bounced into a double play. The next two innings yielded a Ryan Miller single and four strikeouts and we didn’t quite now what we had on the mound after all, but at least D-Alex continued his power campaign and hit a 2-run homer in the bottom 2nd (Quebell had walked) to put the team up 2-0 early on. Brown struck out Kym and Guerra to start the fourth, and Mathews grounded out. We looked at the stats again. The magic number for this game was a round two paws full – he had seven now, but the pitch count was shooting up like a space-bound rocket. Weise also engaged in a strikeout orgy at times, whiffing the side ending with Brown in the bottom 5th. Brown returned the favor – almost – whiffing Weise to start the top 6th, number nine, and then also got Leon Martinez, who made his season debut as a call-up, for #10 before Jimmy Bayle grounded out, but Brownie got another one in the seventh to claim sole possession of 18th place before his time in the game ran out. His spot to hit came up with two on and one out in the bottom 7th, and he wasn’t quite as well with the stick this season as in the last few years, and he was also just under 100 pitches. Nope, nope, let’s get a batter here. Jason Seeley had been blazing hot in AAA, grounded out on a 3-0 pitch, and Yoshi lined out hard to Kym. The score remained 2-0, and when Seeley came back to the lineup, the hitting coach slapped him with a spare glove repeatedly. The Coons got an insurance run in the bottom 8th, with Angel taking over in the ninth, where Leon Martinez’ infield single almost got the Indians rolling. Kym singled with two outs, putting runners on the corners and bringing up Guerra, who had at least nominal power. And he DID hit a 2-2 pitch hard to left, fairly deep, uh-oh, no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-Pruitt had it. But it was closer than all fans with heart ailments would have liked. 3-0 Brownies!! Quebell 1-2, 2 BB, 2B; D. Alexander 3-4, HR, 3 RBI; Brown 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 11 K, W (13-8);

Thank heavens for that early hit of Brownie, because I see myself killing him by sending him for a 142-pitch complete game no-hit bid one of these days.

Coons still undefeated this week! Nine wins in a row!

Game 4
IND: CF J. Wilson – C Padilla – 2B Kym – 1B S. Guerra – LF Kui – RF Bayle – 3B Mathews – SS M. Clark – P Walsh
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – C D. Alexander – 1B Quebell – LF Seeley – 3B Merritt – CF Carmona – RF J. Alexander – P Spears

Santiago Guerra hit the one he didn’t quite get in the ninth inning on Saturday, a solo shot to set the Indians ahead 1-0 in the second inning of the Sunday afternoon affair. Ming Kui added a double right away and scored in the same inning, and the Raccoons had a rally to conduct if they wanted to extend their winning streak. They only had a single in the first three innings, however, while Joey Mathews hit a solo home run in the fourth to add to the Indians lead, 3-0. Offensively, the Raccoons were still not doing much, some of them because they weren’t even given a chance. Yoshi Nomura was drilled by Walsh his second and his third time up, and the latter would cost the pitcher. Palmer singled, only the second hit for Portland, before D-Alex flew out to Ming Kui in left. That brought up Quebell, who was in full swing mode on the first pitch and OH DEAR – WHAT A BOMB!! That one was NEVER going to come down again!! FAR AND FAR AND FAR AWAY!!!

With the game properly tied, Spears issued a leadoff walk to Mathews in the top 7th. Mathews was on second with two outs when we sent Thrasher to face the left-handed Wilson, but the Indians countered with right-handed batter Ramón Garza. Thrasher still got him with a soft fly to medium center, however, and the run was stranded. Bottom 7th: Jon Merritt walked, Carmona singled and was forced on a fielder’s choice hit into by J-Alex. Pruitt hit for Thrasher and walked, loading them up for Yoshi. C’MON, WALSH!! HIT HIM AGAIN, YOU SUCKER!! Nope, he didn’t, and neither Nomura nor Palmer got a run in, which was a shame. Don’t gimme those eyes again, Yoshi. No, you can’t have a cracker until you get home a run. No-ho! Now take your glove. Get outta my pockets!!

Things went south much more after that. The ****ty Micah Steele allowed a homer to Guerra in the eighth to put Indy on top, 4-3, and in the bottom of the inning we had D-Alex and Quebell on the corners with no outs before Seeley struck out and Merritt hit into a double play. The bottom 9th saw Helio Maggessi trying to cling onto one for Indy, but he walked Carmona on four straight balls to star the inning. And here was the rookie on first who everybody expected to run now. But as long as John Alexander, who had hit two homers in the last few games and could end this one with a single swipe, was at the plate, Ricardo Carmona wasn’t gonna get a steal sign. Maggessi got ahead of Alexander, but he put the 1-2 pitch in play, a line to right center, and that was a single. Jimmy Bayle picked it up and Carmona was going to third, and so was Bayle’s throw, but he was NEVER gonna get him! Carmona was safe at third with the tying run, and Alexander alertly moved up to second with the winning run – and nobody out! Sandy Sambrano batted for Pat Slayton, popped out, Yoshi Nomura lined out to short, and Michael Palmer flew to deep center, but Robbie Luxton made that play. 4-3 Indians. Palmer 2-5; Quebell 2-4, HR, 3 RBI;

Words can’t describe the agony.

In other news

August 29 – VAN SP Bill King (11-10, 3.55 ERA) 3-hits the Thunder in a 5-0 shutout, the sixth shutout suffered by the Thunder this month.
August 31 – LVA SP Anthony Bryant (8-8, 4.59 ERA) is not only out for this season with radial nerve compression, but he might also miss the start of the next season.

Complaints and stuff

Sunday’s dismal loss dropped the Coons into a tie with the Elks, and like I said, the Elks are up next week … in Elk Town. That’s a TERRIBLE proposition and can make for all kinds of bad stories. Plus the Crusaders on the weekend. Brrrrr. The Crusaders can still swipe this one, even without Stanton Martin, but they have to start beating teams now, and preferably teams like the Raccoons.

At least we’ll miss Rod Taylor and Juichi Fujita in the Vancouver set, and will play their “lesser” starters, that’s a plus for sure.

Nick Brown has 21 scoreless innings going, which is juicy as hell. What was his record? It was a few years back and I can’t remember on the fly…

ABL CAREER STRIKEOUTS (excerpt, 10 guys ahead of Nick Brown, plus now with all active pitchers)

1st – Martin Garcia – 3,783
2nd – Tony Hamlyn – 3,468 (active)

6th – Javier Cruz – 3,153 (active)
7th – Chris York – 3,031 (active)
8th – Carlos Asquabal – 2,995 (HOF)
9th – Arnold McCray – 2,900
10th – Bastyao Caixinha – 2,844 (HOF)
11th – Kisho Saito – 2,800 (HOF)
12th – Robbie Campbell – 2,763
13th – Kelvin Yates – 2,665 (active)
14th – Leland Lewis – 2,664 (HOF)
15th – Manuel Movonda – 2,663
16th – Kiyohira Sasaki – 2,640
17th – Craig Hansen – 2,578 (HOF)
18th – Nick Brown – 2,517 (active)

Jimmy Oatmeal was called up by the Condors on September 1, but hasn’t played yet. He was also called up briefly last September and didn’t play then either. His slash in AAA in ’12: .233/.281/.370; why do they even bother?
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Old 06-11-2016, 04:34 PM   #1878
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Raccoons (80-58) @ Canadiens (79-57) – September 3-5, 2012

The Canadiens had a 5-game winning streak going (brr…), while ranking fourth in offense and third in pitching in the Continental League, with a +97 run differential. Their rotation had the second-best ERA in the CL, but the bullpen was scuffling at times. So far, the Raccoons had the upper hand in the season series, leading 8-4, and they would better keep up this pace in this 3-game midweek set. The Elks will also be our opponents on the final weekend of the season.

Projected matchups:
Rich Hood (7-5, 3.39 ERA) vs. Johnny Krom (12-6, 3.02 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (6-10, 5.05 ERA) vs. Bill King (11-10, 3.55 ERA)
Hector Santos (11-8, 3.51 ERA) vs. Juichi Fujita (17-7, 3.59 ERA)

We’re actually not missing Juichi Fujita, who was swapped with Brad Osborne while the Raccoons got chocked in Sunday’s game against the Indians. Any which way you comb this, however, we’re facing a left-hander on Monday, and none after that.

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – C D. Alexander – CF Castro – RF Ayers – P Hood
VAN: CF Holland – 2B T. Pena – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – RF Southcott – SS Lawrence – C M. Thomas – P Krom

Johnny Krom came out wild and walked two on his way to fill the bases in the first inning, but nothing came of that for the Raccoons. Rich Hood had two outs in the bottom 2nd with nobody on until Clint Southcott – or as I like to call him, Hell’s Offspring No.16 – hit a looper to right that Keith Ayers appeared to catch in a dive, but that was ruled a trapped ball, giving Southcott a single. Hood mentally unwound immediately, walked Jaylin Lawrence, and fell to a 2-run double by Mark Thomas that was not far from a 3-run homer at the 412’ sign in centerfield. Ray Gilbert chucked his 23rd homer of the season in the next inning, giving the Elks a 3-0 lead while the Raccoons engorged in more futility, leaving Castro on second base in the top 2nd and killing a leadoff single by Rich Hood and Yoshi getting plunked with two pathetic grounders to Tony Pena in the fifth. Johnny Krom was cruising (Krosing?) right along until he suddenly forgot how to pitch at all and threw right down the middle to three consecutive Raccoons in the sixth inning. Jon Merritt homered, D-Alex doubled, and Castro homered as well, and all of a sudden this was a tied ballgame.

Yet as these things go, Rich Hood was still not exactly befuddling anybody. Gilbert drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning, and bloop singles by Don Cameron and Clint ****head did Hood in, plating the go-ahead run for the Elks again. There was a most awkward pseudo-rally in the top of the seventh inning in which Quebell drew a 2-out walk and Merritt and D-Alex reached on consecutive infield singles, but ultimately that one fizzled out with Castro’s first-pitch fly out to Cameron in left, and with their despicable RISP hitting the Raccoons once again dropped a game in which they swiftly out-hit the opposition (10-7). 4-3 Canadiens. Merritt 3-3, BB, HR, RBI; D. Alexander 2-4, 2B;

Micah Steele had another game in which he didn’t retire anybody, issuing a single and a walk to two right-handers. Can’t wait for that dork to pack his **** and disappear.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – CF Carmona – RF J. Alexander – C Bowen – P Yano
VAN: CF Holland – RF K. Evans – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – SS Rice – 2B Lawrence – C M. Thomas – P B. King

Matt Pruitt had killed an inning on Monday with a double play, and he did so again in the top 1st of the middle game. Yoshi had singled, Palmer had reached on an error by Mitsuhide Suzuki, and then – nada. Then came Yano, walked Ross Holland and Kurt Evans, following by a titanic 3-run homer trebucheted outta left centerfield by Gilbert. And thus the Raccoons’ season came to a sticky end.

Top 2nd, the bases were loaded after a Gilbert error on Yano’s grounder, bringing up Yoshi with two outs, and sometimes a .400 OBP was just not enough, was it? Nomura popped out, and the Raccoons were already shooting up the LOB count again. Top 3rd, Palmer singled, Quebell walked, and Mark Thomas couldn’t dig out Merritt’s bouncer, and the bases were loaded AGAIN, now with one out, and for Ricardo Carmona to hit into a double play. The Coons didn’t get onto the board until Craig Bowen’s solo homer in the fourth, then trailing 3-1. Then Yano singled while probably fearing for his life with me having another 24 hours to come up with an elaborate death trap to spring in front of his locker back in Portland, and Yoshi singled as well. At some point, the sheer gravity of brown-clad baserunners HAD to cause that infield to topple over and flush them across home plate! And here was Palmer, hitting a double into the gap in right center, and that brought in Yano with the second run. Runners on second and third, Pruitt-in-a-hole grounded out to first to keep them on, but Quebell finally came through and singled to right, flipping the score to 4-3 (and 9-2 in hits, and 13-5 in total runners) before King threw eight straight balls to load the bases again with walks to Merritt and Carmona, but obviously John Alexander would foul out in a full count…

King was gone after five, Yano stumbled through six, and the 4-3 lead was handed to Thrasher in the bottom 7th, which started with the switch-hitter Gary Rice and the left-hander Lawrence, got both, and then Josh Gibson retired Mark Thomas on a grounder. The Elks got the tying run on base briefly against Sugano in the eighth inning, but left him at first base, and while the Coons’ own offense had gone to sleep with Bill King out of the game – they had only one hit in four innings against the pen – Angel Casas was completely not in danger in the ninth. 4-3 Raccoons. Nomura 2-4, BB; Palmer 2-4, 2B, RBI;

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – RF Sambrano – CF Carmona – 3B M. Gutierrez – P Santos
VAN: CF Holland – RF K. Evans – 1B Gilbert – LF Cameron – 3B Suzuki – SS Rice – 2B M. Austin – C M. Thomas – P Fujita

No no-no for Fujita this time, as Yoshi opened the game with a single, but ended up stranded on third base in the first inning. The Elks took the lead on back-to-back doubles by Evans and Gilbert in the bottom 1st, but their first base slugger hurt himself sliding (or rather tumbling) into second base, and was replaced by Tony Pena. Well, it was enough damage for a single series anyway. But having Gilbert out didn’t make Santos exempt from allowing runs to the first-sacker: Pena singled home Ross Holland with the second run in the bottom of the third…

By then there had already been a rain delay of almost one hour, so Santos’ time in the game was likely limited, but at least there was movement on the base paths in the top of the fourth, too. Quebell and D-Alex led off with definite singles before Sandy Sambrano wrestled a full count walk from Fujita to load the sacks with nobody out, but a Carmona sac fly was all the Critters got and kept trailing, 2-1, for another inning. Yoshi led off the fifth with a double, which was just barely enough to get him home on a Pruitt sac fly to tie the score. In return, Fujita reached base on a Gutierrez error to start the bottom 5th. Holland bunted, yet badly, and Fujita was out at second, yet next another one of those dreadful sequences unfolded that made you wish you would have picked a purposeful job decades ago. Holland stole second base, then made it to third when Quebell botched Kurt Evans’ grounder, putting runners on the corners. Then EVANS stole second base. Santos was no help in maintaining order, either, and conceded both runs on a single hit by – you bet – Tony Pena. The Raccoons would have the tying runs on base in the sixth, and a runner in scoring position in the seventh and eighth, and didn’t score squat, but the Canadiens got two singles and another huge 3-run homer by Gary Rice in the bottom 8th off Dirk – err, Dick Williams. The Coons put two meaningless runs on Jayden Reed in the top 9th, bringing in closer Pedro Alvarado with two outs, but a very quick K to Sandy Sambrano ended this game. 7-4 Canadiens. Nomura 2-4, 2B; Quebell 3-5, 3B, 2B, RBI; D. Alexander 2-5, RBI; Youngblood 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

Raccoons (81-60) vs. Crusaders (74-65) – September 7-9, 2012

The Crusaders had lost a few key pieces of their lineup by now, with most notably Stanton Martin out for the year, but to be fair they had been in fourth place even before that, mostly because the pitching had never been much good the entire season. They were second in runs scored, still, but they were eighth in runs allowed. They also had been nothing short of butchered by the Raccoons this season, winning only three of the 15 games between the teams so far!

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (13-8, 2.56 ERA) vs. Pancho Trevino (7-13, 4.42 ERA)
Scott Spears (9-4, 2.98 ERA) vs. A.J. Bartels (13-7, 4.00 ERA)
Rich Hood (7-6, 3.50 ERA) vs. Rodrigo Moreno (9-14, 4.90 ERA)

We face three right-handers. Nick Brown would enter this series with a 21-innings scoreless streak. He used to get clobbered by the Crusaders in recent years, but this year had conceded only one run in 16 innings; he only faced them twice.

Game 1
NYC: CF R. Pena – SS J. Ortega – LF M. Ortíz – 1B Manfull – 2B Caraballo – C G. Ortíz – 3B Kester – RF T. Austin – P P. Trevino
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – C D. Alexander – CF Carmona – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – P Brown

The weather radar looked dreadful to the west as this game got underway. Nick Brown ran three 3-ball counts in the first five batters, but none of them reached, and he was perfect the first time through. Early support came via Adrian Quebell’s 20th homer of the season, collecting Yoshi, too, for a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Crusaders continued to not get on despite Brownie running more and more 3-ball counts, but they always grounded out to some infielder. The Raccoons didn’t amount to much additional offense early on, either, but Yoshi Nomura doubled in Merritt in the bottom 5th to run the score to 3-0. Brownie retired the first 17 batters in the game before Trevino hit a ****ty first-pitch blooper to shallow left into no man’s land for a single, causing A LOT of moaning in the stands – and in an office above. Although: his pitch count was at almost 80 in the sixth, so… The rain finally came in the bottom of the sixth, and boy, did it come. Quebell reached base with a walk before it became obvious that Mother Nature had been influenced by Neptune and tried to drown mankind in one big storm. D-Alex made an out before the tarp was brought onto the field, with two groundscrew members almost getting swallowed by the tarp which developed some mean-spirited man-killing consciousness. With the Crusaders never getting past first base in the game, the umpires decided not to delay the conclusion of the game until tomorrow, but rather called the game very quickly before paddling back to their hotel in a small rubber boat. 3-0 Brownies. Nomura 2-3, 2B, RBI; Quebell 1-2, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Brown 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, W (14-8);

Well, I’ll take this. Brownie wouldn’t have been able to keep up over nine at his measly pace (six 3-ball counts, and none of them got on!), but he ran his scoreless innings streak to 27 and also won his fourth consecutive start.

Game 2
NYC: CF R. Pena – SS J. Ortega – LF M. Ortíz – 1B Manfull – 2B Caraballo – 3B Bond – C G. Ortíz – RF Bowden – P Bartels
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – RF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – C D. Alexander – CF Castro – 3B Merritt – P Spears

The Crusaders got the early offense in the middle game which started once the field had been cleared of stranded and still snapping sharks. For Scott Spears bad control mingled with hard contact allowed to conspire to knock him out in the third inning. He walked two in the first, in which Sambrano made an error that made the two runs unearned, but the Crusaders just kept pressure-cooking him and he was yanked after a 2-run homer by Kevin Bond, trailing 5-0 after just 2 1/3 innings.

That was a deep hole to get out of, but the Raccoons, who were mostly held silent the first time through the order, actually made noise in the middle innings. Sambrano singled in the fourth, stole his 20th base, and Quebell singled him in, 5-1, and in the next inning we had Castro and Merritt on to start the frame. Richard Williams was pitching in long relief and was to lay down a bunt, which he did nicely, and Gabriel Ortíz made a grisly throwing error past B.J. Manfull that not only put in a run for the Coons, but also put two runners in scoring position with nobody out, and Yoshi Nomura at the plate as the tying run. Unfortunately, his rocket to deep right went more or less right into Jeff Bowden’s glove, with Merritt scoring on a sac fly, but that was all the Critters got. Top 7th, George Youngblood was pitching and had already retired Roberto Pena and Jorge Ortega when Dylan Alexander dropped an easy foul pop by Martin Ortíz. Given a second life, Ortíz singled to right two pitches later, and Youngblood exploded in two doubles that gave the Crusaders a 7-3 lead.

Bottom of the inning, Merritt led off with another single. Jason Seeley hit for Youngblood and singled to center, and Bartels then hit Nomura to load the bags with no outs, bringing up the tying run again. While the Crusaders very casually started to get a reliever up, the Critters kept rolling: Palmer singled to right, plating two, and Sambrano singled up the middle to restock the sacks for Quebell. Still no relief coming for A.J: Bartels, who conceded a sac fly, Quebell to Bowden, 7-6, before the Crusaders finally had Charlie Deacon – a right-hander! – ready to replace the battered Bartels. My opinion of Deacon is well known, I guess, but here he was 0-2 on Matt Pruitt, who then grounded out to first base, the remaining runners moving up. D-Alex was down 0-2 as well, then grounded hard to left and that one went through between the infielders! Into left! Palmer scored! Sambrano already around third, and he scores as well! Coons have the lead!!!

The eighth was uneventful – something new in this game – and Angel Casas came into the ninth to forcefully extinguish the Crusaders, eliminating Roberto Pena and PH Jaime Kester with strikeouts before Martin Ortíz grounded out to Nomura. 8-7 Furballs!! Sambrano 2-4; D. Alexander 2-4, 2 RBI; Merritt 2-3, BB; Seeley (PH) 1-2; Williams 3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K;

The Elks out-hit the Titans 11-5 in their game, but lost 3-2 anyway, which hands sole possession of first place to the Furballs!

Also: we have run 14-4 seasons against every North opponent except the Canadiens in the past, but we have NEVER gone 15-3 against anybody. Now’s the chance. Rich Hood has the ball.

Game 3
NYC: CF R. Pena – SS J. Ortega – LF M. Ortíz – 1B Manfull – 2B Caraballo – C G. Ortíz – 3B Bond – RF Talamante – P R. Moreno
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – RF J. Alexander – CF Seeley – C Bowen – P Hood

Yet it was again the Crusaders to score first. Francisco Caraballo hit a triple in the second inning and was comfortably scored by Gabe Ortíz. Those were the latter two of three consecutive deep flies to right, as Rich Hood scuffled early on. That was the only run early on in the game, with neither team putting up a whole lot of pressure. The next scoring opportunity arose via Caraballo as well, who hit a leadoff double in the fifth inning. Ortíz struck out, Bond grounded out, moving up the runner to third base, and we walked Carlos Talamante intentionally before Hood struck out Moreno to escape his tight spot unharmed. But some offense would be nice now!

The Critters had their own leadoff double in the bottom 5th, John Alexander hitting a hard rocket off the top of the fence in right center. Puzzlingly, it would be Rich Hood to bring in the run. Seeley and Bowen just failed, but Hood singled to right to score J-Alex with the tying run, 1-1. Unfortunately, Rich Hood got hopelessly stuck in the very next inning. He walked Pena, and then Ortega reached on an infield single. Martin Ortíz’ proper single loaded the bases with nobody out, and Pat Slayton was asked to get out of the inning, which he very didn’t. Gabe Ortíz singled, he drilled (!!) Bond, and Talamante hit another single, plating four runs total. Down 5-1, the Coons started the bottom 6th by also loading the bases without being retired. Palmer walked, Pruitt and Quebell singled. Merritt grounded to short where the ball escaped Ortega in mysterious fashion and became a 2-run single into left center, but the inning then quickly ended on a fly to right by J-Alex, and Seeley hitting into a pretty fat double play. His grounder to short was a double play so hard from the start, Merritt didn’t even run to second, but rather returned to the dugout right away.

The tying runs were on again in the bottom 7th. Bowen hit a leadoff double to right center before Tomas Castro hit for Thrasher and singled. Tying runs on the corners, nobody out, Moreno, who had no strikeouts in the game, got Yoshi to 0-2 before leaving a waste pitch up in the middle and Yoshi slapped it to the opposite field, up the leftfield line and almost all the way to the wall! Bowen in, Castro got a good start on it and turned third and they weren’t gonna get him! TWO-RUN DOUBLE BY YOSHI, AND WE’RE TIED!!! The Crusaders then set fire to their own team bus, and a throwing error by Caraballo allowed Nomura to score on a grounder by Pruitt. Up 6-5, the ball went to Steele, who had carefully tended to a 1-run lead in the eighth the day before, too, and here struck out Caraballo and Gabe Ortíz before Sugano was brought in to retire Bond. The most uproar was actually caused with Angel pitching in the ninth. Paco Batlle hit a 1-out single, but again that was the furthest the Crusaders got. 6-5 Raccoons!! Bowen 2-4, 2B; Castro (PH) 1-1, BB;

15-3!

Yet this game is another example of why Pat Slayton is a crap pitcher. His ERA might still be around 2, but his CRAP-RA is about ****ing eleven.

Except for Seeley, every Coons starter had a hit.

In other news

September 3 – DAL 3B/2B Hector Garcia (.292, 12 HR, 71 RBI) could be out for the year with an intercostal strain.
September 3 – LAP INF Adriano Lulli (.230, 11 HR, 52 RBI) is quite definitely out for the year with a broken knee cap.

Complaints and stuff

The Thunder bundled up the CL South on Monday, September 3 (!!), shutting out the Aces 3-0 behind Ed Michaels. They not only raced towards the playoffs at breakneck speed, they also built on their lead in total playoff appearances, making October for the 12th time. The Stars and Blue Sox have ten appearances each, with at least the Blue Sox not getting one this year.

I missed this last week – sorry, Adrian – but Adrian Quebell hit his 100th home run last Sunday in the loss to Indy. Side note: he’s also the only player to fail to appear in only game this year. The rain-shortened affair on Friday was Pruitt’s second game entirely without appearance this year.

The remaining games for the three still competing North teams – New York is done now:

POR: 3@IND, 3@OCT, 3vsATL, 3vsBOS, 3@MIL, 3@VAN
VAN: 4@MIL, 3@LVA, 3vsCHA, 3vsIND, 4@NYC, 3vsPOR
BOS: 4vsNYC, 3@SFB, 3@TIJ, 3@POR, 4vsIND, 3vsMIL

Infielder Aaron Tolwith (mostly Loggers, now Rebels) was on waivers this week, but while we could use a right-handed bat off the bench for the last month I fear that him and Nick Brown still want to take each other’s heads off, so I passed.

As we’re on Loggers infielders, Sharpie has been laboring on a hip strain/sprain/disarticulation for over a month now, and he suffered another setback this week and might not come back until the last week of the year. He’s batted .290/.363/.375 for the Loggers this year, roughly his career slash of .279/.358/.382, but was it worth the $1.46M they paid him? For a broken team like the Loggers with the smallest budget in the league, probably not. Sharpie, 35, is a free agent this fall.

Ralph Ford pitched a shutout for the Blue Sox this week. His record is grisly, the ERA a bit over four. While neither has torn out any trees away from Portland, both Ford and Randy Farley had better success after they were contemporary Raccoons, but we’ll always have Carl Bean’s best few years from that time, a decade ago when Nick Brown came up.

I’ve gotten my greedy paws on a closed alpha of a game that came out of Kickstarter on not much of a budget at all and lingered in will-it-ever-be-playable limbo for a good while; I'm into this one quite badly, and will be chasing bugs and collecting data for balancing, which will cut into the Raccoons’ available playtime the next weeks.
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Last edited by Westheim; 06-11-2016 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 06-11-2016, 09:10 PM   #1879
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How can you take a break with 3 weeks to go and a 2-game lead?

Talk about leavin; them hangin'......
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Old 06-12-2016, 04:16 AM   #1880
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When did I say "break"?

---

Raccoons (84-60) @ Indians (60-83) – September 11-13, 2012

The Indians were already eliminated after a dismal season with a -125 run differential, mainly caused by the worst rotation in the Continental League and the second-most runs allowed overall. It had been a tough battle for the Raccoons, however, who had only gone 9-6 against Indy this year.

Projected matchups:
Hector Santos (11-9, 3.52 ERA) vs. Sadakuno Imamura (5-8, 4.80 ERA)
Nick Brown (14-8, 2.49 ERA) vs. Tom Weise (12-14, 4.07 ERA)
Scott Spears (9-4, 3.16 ERA) vs. Tristan Broun (5-13, 5.48 ERA)

Broun will be a left-hander on Thursday. Shunyo Yano was skipped when his turn fell on the off day. We also have to watch Nick Brown, who is already on 206 innings and has never tossed more than 225.2 in the regular season (although he tossed 245.2 innings in 2010, his only playoff campaign). Depending on how things go, and in case the Critters will already have rounded up the division by then, we might not want him to make that 34th start. But that’s a big “IF” – for now he has a 27-inning scoreless streak (his record: 40 1/3 or 38, depending on whether you allow incomplete innings, between the 2009 and 2010 seasons).

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – C D. Alexander – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – LF Carmona – CF Castro – RF J. Alexander – P Santos
IND: CF J. Wilson – C Padilla – 1B Tsung – 2B Kym – LF Kui – 3B Mathews – RF Bayle – SS R. Miller – P Imamura

Lots of traffic, not a single run in the first three innings. The Indians had a commotion going on in every inning, while the Coons loaded them up in the top 3rd, but Quebell flew out to leave three on. For consecutive games, the Raccoons’ first run was driven in by their own pitcher, as Carmona drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, stole second moved up on a groundout, and then scored on Santos’ single. John Alexander had been walked intentionally before that and scored on a single by Nomura, 2-0, and Imamura didn’t get out of the inning until another RBI single by Michael Palmer, 3-0 Coons in the fourth. The Indians had two more runners on base in the bottom 4th and Santos didn’t have a clean inning until the fifth, and he just barely got that in before a rain shower broke over the park and doused the field for an hour. Santos did not return afterwards, but was in line for the W with five complete innings of shutout ball.

Castro singled, stole his 17th base, and scored on Nomura’s single in the top 6th to put a run on César Garcia and extend the lead to 4-0, before we had to figure out how to piece together four innings with the pen without blowing up. That sounded like a task that wouldn’t have you break sweats, but it wasn’t, thanks to George Youngblood, who walked a pair between two groundouts, and when Josh Gibson came out, he walked Jimmy Bayle too before Ryan Miller thankfully fouled out to keep another three runners stranded. Bottom 7th, Gibson allowed a leadoff single to Robbie Luxton, who hit in the #9 slot, before John Wilson hit into a double play. Dave Padilla hit a hard single to center, and it just wasn’t ending, even when Sugano came in. He walked Mun-wah Tsung, putting on two runners, before Jong-beom Kym popped out to short. The Indians would never get a run across home plate, stranding ten aside from one runner caught stealing and three double plays turned against them. 5-0 Coons. Nomura 2-3, 2 BB, 2 RBI; Castro 2-4; Santos 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, W (12-9) and 1-1, RBI;

Colin Baldwin made his third rehab start on this day. He had 12 walks and 12 strikeouts in 19.2 innings in AAA, but that will have to do; he’s been added to the roster again.

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – C D. Alexander – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – CF Castro – RF Seeley – P Brown
IND: CF J. Wilson – RF Kui – 2B Kym – 1B Tsung – C Padilla – LF Bayle – 3B Mathews – SS R. Miller – P Weise

I am extremely unhappy to confirm that Nick Brown’s iffy command from the weekend did not go away suddenly, and he ran four consecutive full counts in the second inning. He didn’t survive it this time, as he walked Tsung and then conceded the run on a Dave Padilla double, so the scoreless innings streak was over at 28. Brown continued to struggle badly, and would eventually issued five walks in the game. How the Indians only scored two runs from those walks and four hits they had will have to investigated, but Brown was on the losing side, 2-1, when he was removed. The Raccoons had the odd runner here and there, but two more double plays as well before Castro plated Pruitt with a groundout in the top 7th after Pruitt had opened the inning with a double.

At least Brown wouldn’t take the loss. Steele and Thrasher combined for a scoreless bottom 7th before Tom Weise came apart out of the blue. His pitch count wasn’t even that high to begin the eighth, just under 90, but he walked John Alexander and Yoshi to start the inning before Palmer singled to left center, just enough on that one to score J-Alex with the tying run. D-Alex then chopped a high bouncer past Jong-beom Kym somehow for a single to center. Nomura lost track of the ball and failed to score from second base on this one, but the bases were loaded with nobody out, but when Quebell popped out, another double play was surely just lurking around the corner, but the Raccoons actually got their crap together and scored three more runs in the inning on a Pruitt single, Sambrano getting drilled, and Seeley drawing a bases-loaded walk, turning the score over to 5-2 in their favor. The Indians didn’t come back against Youngblood in the bottom of the inning when Tsung followed up Kym’s single with a double play grounder to Nomura. Angel Casas had a 1-2-3 ninth. 5-2 Critters. Pruitt 2-4, 2B, RBI; Merritt 2-4;

Ron Thrasher picked up the W in relief. With eight wins he now ties Scott Spears for third on the roster. Yep, that’s true, of all the pitchers we have, Brownie and Santos are 1-2, and then it’s a reliever and a swingman from the Federal League. Hood and Yano have seven apiece.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – CF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – 3B Merritt – LF Gentry – C Bowen – RF Ayers – P Spears
IND: CF J. Wilson – C Padilla – 1B Tsung – 2B Kym – LF Kui – 3B Mathews – RF Bayle – SS R. Miller – P Broun

Said swingman from the Federal League was in trouble as soon as he had his shoes on in the third game, with John Wilson and Dave Padilla hitting singles and some shoddy defense allowing the into scoring position. From there, the Korean Brigade (although that’s ethnic Koreans; two of them are actually Canadian citizens) collectively failed with a Tsung pop, Kym whiffing, and Kui flying out to right. From there, zeroes were flying onto the board in frantic fashion. Neither lineup did much, with the Raccoons falling in droves to the normally rather pedestrian Tristan Broun, who came in with walks and strikeouts in the 70s over 133 innings, but after six shutout innings in this one had whiffed nine and walked absolutely nobody. The Coons had been on second base once, and only briefly. Maybe a Ryan Miller error would provide an opening. He botched Craig Bowen’s bouncer to start the seventh inning, and Keith Ayers’ sorry roller was not played in time by Joey Mathews, and with that infield single, just like that, the Coons had runners on first and second and nobody out. Pruitt hit for Spears and grinded out a walk, bases loaded, and with the greatest of pains, the Raccoons would get ONE run home on Palmer’s groundout. It was failure all around in this game, and next the Coons’ pen could get a shot at failing. Ming Kui singled off the very first pitch by a reliever, Josh Gibson in this case, stole second, then somehow was left there by his completely awful team. They also left Padilla on second in the bottom 8th, where he had arrived with a double off Pat Slayton, the only batter that Slayton faced in this game… And in terms of I-can’t-believe-it, Craig Bowen reached second base on a jaw-dropping error by John Wilson to start the ninth inning, and he was stranded as well. Angel Casas thus had no cushion in facing the 4-5-6 batters. Kym grounded out to Gutierrez at third, but Kui gave a 2-2 pitch a nice ride that only ended on the edge of the warning track and in Keith Ayers’ glove. Joey Mathews was an easy K to seal the sweep, however. 1-0 Critters! Quebell 2-4; Spears 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, W (10-4);

Scott Spears still had reserves left at 83 pitches, but I thought it was imperative to generate offense.

Well, it worked after all! Barely.

Raccoons (87-60) @ Thunder (103-43) – September 14-16, 2012

What shall I say? They’re awesome. It’s as simple as that. They ranked first in runs scored, first in runs allowed, first in starters’ ERA, first in bullpen ERA, first in defense, first in OBP and OPS, first in attractiveness … They were however 10th in stolen bases. That’s it! That’s our inroad! That’s how we can beat them! (giggles)

Projected matchups:
Rich Hood (7-6, 3.64 ERA) vs. William Raven (10-7, 3.80 ERA)
Shunyo Yano (7-10, 5.03 ERA) vs. Edgar Amador (14-5, 3.16 ERA)
Hector Santos (12-9, 3.42 ERA) vs. Daniel Dickerson (16-8, 3.79 ERA)

Three right-handers, not that it matters once you’ve been creamed by 45-12 runs over six games. The Thunder would place their regular shortstop, rookie Erik Janes (.331, 7 HR, 72 RBI) on the DL during the weekend. The 22-year old future ROTY was out for the season with a groin strain.

A few words for the statistically inclined; the Thunder were chasing the record for most regular season wins by the 2004 Titans, who went 117-45. To get there, they better not let up against the Raccoons, who so far had not managed to win a game against the Thunder this year. The Raccoons have gone 0-9 against a CL South team just twice in their history, against the 1977 Bayhawks and the 1985 Knights, and starting with this stuff again now would be regarded as bad form…

Game 1
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – C D. Alexander – 1B Quebell – CF Sambrano – LF Pruitt – RF J. Alexander – 3B Merritt – P Hood
OCT: SS Farias – 1B Gershkovich – C J. Martinez – RF M. Cruz – 2B A. Martinez – CF Kim – 3B Reese – LF D. McCormick – P Raven

The Coons opened the game with a walk drawn by Nomura, a single to right by Palmer, and a sure-as-heck double play that Quebell hit into to end the inning after D-Alex had popped out to left. As these things went, the Thunder were right on top of Rich Hood from the very start – Emilio Farias singled on the first pitch – and romped him for three runs in the second inning, although to be fair, two of those were unearned for a messy error by John Messit- Merritt. Myeong-keun Kim reached on that to start the inning, Tom Reese doubled, and the gates were open far and wide after that. The Coons had a walk by Merritt and a Tom Reese error going for them in the top 3rd, but didn’t score when Dylan Alexander’s drive to right was intercepted by Manny Cruz, and after four innings a sudden rain shower forced a halt of proceedings. The rain delay lasted two hours, and understandably neither starter was back after that.

Francois Picard pitched for the Thunder after the delay, and was turned inside out by the Coons in no time at all. Merritt started a string of base hits with one out that didn’t cease until the game was tied and Picard hauled in for a collective beating by his team mates. A Merritt single was followed by a pinch-hit RBI double by Brett Gentry, and three more singles by Nomura, Palmer, and D-Alex, but Sergio Alvarez shut down the procession when he replaced Picard and Quebell and Sambrano made outs to end the inning. The tie also didn’t last long; Kim singled home Jesus Martinez off Richard Williams (didn’t we know better than bringing in Williams…??) in the bottom 5th and the Thunder reclaimed a 4-3 lead.

But the Furballs had another comeback in them. Carmona opened the seventh with a single, pinch-hitting for Dick Williams. He couldn’t even attempt to steal before Yoshi Nomura doubled up the leftfield line, Dave McCormick was not the swiftest defender in the outfield, and Carmona handily scored the tying run. D-Alex would single, and Carlos Castro then served a fat fastball to Quebell who romped it for an RBI double to right center, sending the Coons soaring at 5-4, with runners on second and third and one out. Ex-Critter Donald Sims took over at that point, but conceded another run on a sac fly by Sandy Sambrano, 6-4. The following inning the Coons had something brewing again as Merritt hit a 1-out single. When Carmona bounced back to the mound, Sims tried to get two, but rushed the throw and missed Farias at second base. All hands safe, and when Yoshi singled to right, the bases were loaded for Palmer. Sims stayed in with the left-handers looming behind Palmer, but there was not much to retire purposefully after a rocket shot by Palmer to deep left, on a 2-0 pitch, that completely escaped the overwhelmed McCormick as the base paths were bustling with Furballs and Palmer ended up with a 3-run triple!! Tommy Costello replaced Sims, who left with the head hanging so hard that it dangled between his knees, but Palmer scored on an error by Farias before Costello uncorked a wild pitch and then walked Quebell anyway, and this ineptness allowed the Coons to run up a cricket score in the inning, with Sambrano singling to load the bases before Castro pinch-hit for Micah Steele and plated two with a soft single to right. John Alexander made the second out, but Merritt and Carmona both hit RBI singles, generating a 10-run lead. Only two full-time starters remained in the game for Portland after that (Palmer and Yoshi – not enough infielders on the roster), and little of importance happened, aside from the fact that the Thunder made the third out at third base in the bottom 8th when Tom Reese was thrown out by Ricardo Carmona after a Alejandro Rodriguez single. 14-4 Furballs!!!! Nomura 3-5, BB, 2B, RBI; Palmer 3-6, 3B, 4 RBI; D. Alexander 2-5, 2 RBI; Castro (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI; Merritt 3-4, BB, RBI; Gentry (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Carmona (PH) 2-3, RBI;

HECK YEAH, RACCOONS!!! RACCOONS RACCOONS RACCOONS!!!

When Yoshi doubled home Carmona to tie the game in the seventh that gave him his 76th RBI this year. Not shabby for a leadoff batter (mostly) indeed! Yet, Emilio Farias just grinned. He has 85 RBI.

…and we have a 7-game winning streak. The Elks and Titans also routed their opponents (Vegas and the Baybirds, respectively). The Coons were thus assured of holding onto the lead over the weekend with a 2 1/2 game lead over Vancouver and a 5 1/2 over Boston.

Also, the AAA season ended this Friday, with the Alley Cats getting waffled 15-1 by the Akron Ostriches (Miners), but that freed up the player pool there for a few more callups. Bill Conway and Chris Mathis were added for some more arm options out of the pen. The 25-year-old Mathis would make his major league debut after being the ninth round pick by the Critters in the 2009 draft. 92mph fastball, good curve, but nothing special. He pitched to a 4.66 ERA in St. Pete this year, but that was with treacherous defense behind him. The 1.5 K/BB is not great, however. We also added Dave Roudabush, with Kevin Denton being waived and designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

The Coons also made a last minute switch in their rotation before game 2. Shunyo Yano was booted and Hector Santos would start on short rest. He had only thrown 72 pitches in his last start on Tuesday due to ill-inclined weather, and I found this to be sensible. Colin Baldwin (4-3, 4.09 ERA) would start on Sunday!

Game 2
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – C D. Alexander – 1B Quebell – RF Sambrano – CF Carmona – LF Pruitt – 3B Merritt – P Santos
OCT: 2B Farias – 1B J. Roberts – RF Reese – 3B D. McCormick – CF Matthews – C J. Martinez – SS Dowdy – LF A. Rodriguez – P Amador

Santos lasted only five innings, conceding eight hits and two runs to the Thunder, who constantly found a place to flick a soft line to. Included in those eight hits were the first two career base knocks of shortstop Elijah Dowdy, both of which were instrumental in the two runs that scored, single tallies in the second and fourth innings. The Raccoons had originally taken the lead on a groundout by Matt Pruitt that plated Sambrano in the top 2nd, but even before that they had seen Dylan Alexander thrown out at home on a Quebell double to end the first inning. The Fat Cat was cruising after the early scare until Quebell just barely got another double past Tom Reese’s glove, this one at the start of the seventh inning. That tying run was never moved off second base with Sambrano flying out to shallow center, Carmona grounding out to short, Pruitt walking, and Castro (hitting for Merritt) grounding out to first. In turn, Manobu Sugano walked two and allowed an RBI double to Armando Martinez in the bottom of the inning, but the Coons, despite being now down 3-1, had the tying runs on base with nobody out in the eighth again. Seeley singled for the pitcher, and Nomura walked off the Fat Cat, who then balked over the runners! Michael Palmer then grounded the 0-1 pitch softly up the third base line, and McCormick – really a first baseman and nothing else – took A LONG TIME to get in and had no play! Seeley scored, Palmer safe, Yoshi at third, nobody out still! And then Robert Parsons got out of the mess with D-Alex lining out to Dowdy, and Quebell …….. hitting into a double play. The Coons faced closer Arturo Lopez in the top 9th, 91 K in 69 IP. They never set a foot on base, and Sambrano and J-Alex whiffed. 3-2 Thunder. Quebell 2-4, 2 2B; Seeley (PH) 1-1;

Bill Conway faced two right-handers in the bottom 8th, and both singled. How can you go from “perfectly serviceable and almost good” to “can of donkey ****” in less than a year?

At least the Elks also took a 1-run loss by the Aces, so no ground was lost this Saturday.

Game 3
POR: 2B Nomura – SS Palmer – RF Sambrano – 1B Quebell – LF Castro – 3B Merritt – C Bowen – CF Seeley – P Baldwin
OCT: SS Farias – 1B Gershkovich – C J. Martinez – RF M. Cruz – 2B A. Martinez – CF Kim – 3B Reese – LF Matthews – P Dickerson

Kim’s sac fly gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead in the bottom 2nd. Yoshi Nomura had doubled in the first, and the Raccoons would make ten straight outs before Sambrano singled in the fourth, stole second, but was left on after Quebell struck out and Castro grounded out. Manny Cruz’ home run off Baldwin extended the Thunder lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the inning, and the Raccoons continued to look completely clueless, although **** didn’t really start to stink until Daniel Dickerson’s leadoff double in the bottom 5th. Baldwin hadn’t gotten nothing against the Thunder, and Mike Gershkovich rocked his first career homer off him in the same inning, extending the lead further to 4-0. Baldwin exited one Jesus Martinez single later, with Chris Mathis making his major league debut with a strikeout to Manny Cruz before Armando Martinez flew out to Castro in deep left.

The game looked like it was basically over then, but when Ricardo Carmona hit for Mathis to start the sixth inning he hit a hard single to right, and Yoshi soon flicked another single in the other direction. Two on, nobody out, Palmer sent a quick bouncer to the right side that the lunging Armando Martinez managed to knock down, but it dropped out of his glove when he hit the ground and rolled away far enough to allow Palmer to leg out the scrambling Martinez’ throw. Bases loaded, no outs for Sambrano, who hit a 2-2 pitch in floating manner to shallow center and into no man’s land: RBI single! Quebell was next with the tying runs all on base. If you DARE to hit into a double play, you will be benched IMMEDIATELY!! And thusly, Quebell popped out to Gershkovich, and CASTRO was the ass to hit into the double play instead. And that meant it was time for some headache medicine (draws a revolver from the desk’s top drawer) …

Quebell would hit a 3-run homer in the eighth, which didn’t then tie the game anymore because Pat Slayton had cocked up a run with plenty of hard contact against him in the bottom 7th. For his accidental outburst, Quebell made a grievous error in the bottom 8th that helped the Thunder to topple the Coons pen for good, and they took the three runs right back, with – frighteningly – Sugano issuing consecutive bases-loaded walks. The Raccoons couldn’t get out of the inning so badly, Angel Casas had to come in and get the elusive final out, but by then sufficient damage had been done. 8-4 Thunder. Nomura 3-4, 2B; Sambrano 2-4, RBI; Pruitt (PH) 1-1;

The Elks came back from a 4-1 deficit to beat the Aces, 5-4, and so our lead has been molten down to 1 1/2 games. The Titans also moved closer to 3 1/2 out with consecutive 4-3 wins over the Baybirds.

In other news

September 13 – VAN CL Pedro Alvarado (2-3, 1.71 ERA, 43 SV) closes out the Canadiens’ 6-4 win over the Loggers, notching his 400th save. The 33-year old, who debuted as a 19-year old, has spent his entire career with the Canadiens, going 63-57 with a 2.47 ERA and 1,228 K in 881 appearances. He was the Reliever of the Year twice, and even won Pitcher of the Year honors in 2005!

Complaints and stuff

I don’t think I’m too negative when I say that the Raccoons won’t make the World Series this year. Do not save those dates. The CLCS is open to debate, but the World Series is not.

Remaining games:
POR: 3vsATL, 3vsBOS, 3@MIL, 3@VAN
VAN: 3vsCHA, 3vsIND, 4@NYC, 3vsPOR
BOS: 3@TIJ, 3@POR, 4vsIND, 3vsMIL

I don’t dig the fact that we have both of our competitors on our plate and they won’t play another. The Titan’s schedule in particular is a bit of a laugher and I’d say they are an even bigger threat than the Elks. In other words, the Raccoons have gone 30-21 (.588) against their remaining opponents, but the Titans are 31-19 (.620) against theirs. The Titans remaining strength of schedule is a meager .437, too, compared to .490-ish for the Coons and Elks. For completeness, the Elks have so far gone 27-23 (.540) against their remaining opponents.

Minor leagues: St. Petersburg and Ham Lake played .500-ish, with the Alley Cats just below and the Panthers just above the mark. It’s the first time in almost a decade that our AA team has turned a winning season. Sometimes 71-69 just has to do. The A-level Aumsville Beagles were clobbered however, finishing 51-89.
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