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Old 01-13-2019, 12:23 PM   #2701
Westheim
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2028 PORTLAND RACCOONS – Opening Day Roster (first set in parenthesis shows 2027 numbers, second set career numbers; players with an * are off season acquisitions):

SP Mark Roberts, 33, B:L, T:L (9-3, 2.69 ERA | 100-71, 2.99 ERA) – Mark Roberts returned to earth after his 2025 Triple Crown campaign, lacked sparkle for much of the last two seasons, didn't win a game in the 2026 postseason, and missed the last two months of 2027 on the DL. On paper still one of the elite pitchers with a dazzling arsenal, very good control, but the occasional home run bug… the strikeouts came down a bit the last two years, too. The tooth of time already chewing on him?
SP Rin Nomura, 29, B:L, T:L (19-8, 2.86 ERA | 28-13, 2.82 ERA) – in his first full season in the major leagues after venturing over the Pacific, Nomura used his 3-pitch mix efficiently to keep hitters guessing and also kept the ball on the ground most of the time. He pitched well enough to partake in the wins title in the Continental League in '27, but he is not exactly a strikeout monster.
SP Dan Delgadillo, 25, B:R, T:R (9-12, 3.88 ERA | 32-31, 3.61 ERA) – except for actually getting injured (which he didn't), Dan had his worst season on record in '27, and surrendered a career-high 23 home runs as he added a full run and change to his 2026 ERA of 2.76; this is nothing that can be rectified for a guy that is only 25 … or however old he actually is.
SP Rico Gutierrez, 28, B:L, T:L (13-11, 3.61 ERA | 74-54, 3.41 ERA) – I said before, that if he could keep the ball in the park a bit more, he would be a true ace. He led the CL in homers conceded in 2027. Has decent control while keeping batters alert with a move-happy 96mph heater.
SP George James, 24, B:R, T:R (6-4, 3.62 ERA | 8-5, 3.53 ERA) – 2024 first-rounder that pitched 99 very decent innings in '27 after the rotation had holes poked into it by the injury bug killing EVERYBODY. Groundballer with a nice 3 1/2 pitch mix, and probably also the best-hitting pitcher we have had in a while, with two homers in 41 career at-bats, including a slam.

MR Jonathan Fleischer, 25, B:L, T:R (1-1, 3.86 ERA | 2-2, 3.45 ERA) – right-hander with a 96mph heater and a nasty curveball, but unfortunately also with some significant control issues.
MR Jeff Kearney, 35, B:L, T:L (1-4, 2.82 ERA, 1 SV | 25-35, 4.50 ERA, 28 SV) – lethal to left-handed batters, but absolutely impossible to endure against right-handers, a true lefty specialist indeed. He walked quite a few batters in 2027 (5.3/9), which was also owed to the Raccoons carrying three lefties for most of the season and they had to force him into service against those dreaded right-handers from time to time.
MR Kevin Surginer, 28, B:R, T:R (3-2, 2.39 ERA, 1 SV | 26-18, 3.20 ERA, 4 SV) – very solid and mostly reliable reliever that goes about his job with so little noise that you sometimes entirely forget he's still there. Has in the past been a popular choice for long relief and extra inning battles, but also was a setup choice for Josh Boles late in the previous season.
MR Billy Brotman, 29, B:L, T:L (7-2, 2.54 ERA, 3 SV | 15-15, 2.56 ERA, 17 SV) – control remains an issue for Billy, but his tendency to keep the ball on the ground help him greatly. Unlike Kearney, you can also let him face right-handers without closing your eyes and waiting for the crack.
MR Dan McLin, 24, B:R, T:R (5-6, 2.36 ERA, 1 SV | 8-12, 3.35 ERA, 1 SV) – groundballer with a sinker/cutter combo that came around after a rocky April in his first season in Portland and proved himself the more valuable the longer the season went on.
SU Ricky Ohl, 29, B:R, T:R (1-3, 2.51 ERA, 10 SV | 14-9, 2.36 ERA, 20 SV) – aggressive strikeout pitcher who broke through the 12 K/9 mark for the first time in his 4-year career in 2027, but couldn't hold down the closer job even the second time around, then went onto the DL for the last few months, opening the gate for Josh Boles.
CL Josh Boles, 24, B:L, T:L (5-3, 1.21 ERA, 18 SV | 6-6, 1.94 ERA, 20 SV) – debuted mid-season in 2026 and never went away anymore. While injuries to Ricky Ohl and Jonathan Snyder down the stretch in 2027 surely helped him ascend to the closer's role, his 13.3 K/9 and 88 total strikeouts in 59.2 innings in '27 sure got him noticed, too. His dazzling knuckle curve unnerves both left- and right-handed batters and we can not imagine a better closer right now.

C Elias Tovias, 28, B:S, T:R (.260, 18 HR, 54 RBI | .254, 71 HR, 287 RBI) – Elias Matias Tovias Diaz was an above-average batter for the first time in three years and rallied from a .218 clip in his age 27 season to actually provide a bit of oomph from behind the plate. Good defense, good came calling, strong arm, and if the bat could stay the same as it was in 2027…
C Armando Leal *, 32, B:S, T:R (.249, 4 HR, 16 RBI | .280, 81 HR, 512 RBI) – our next attempt at a cheap backup; Leal came as free agent from the Blue Sox, and is sturdy on defense and used to be a significant batter at times, although sometimes not… wow, just like Tovias.

1B Kevin Harenberg, 30, B:L, T:L (.281, 18 HR, 83 RBI | .302, 125 HR, 608 RBI) – came up with his worst ever season in his first full year in Portland, amounting only to a .774 OPS. At times, it was as if the cleanup spot was very much vacant. At the same time, the 18 homers were his second-most ever, but that might have been a park factor issue compared to the Wolves' field.
SS/2B Tim Stalker, 29, B:R, T:R (.294, 13 HR, 50 RBI | .259, 44 HR, 267 RBI) – very good defensive shortstop, more than just token speed, and most of the time also a good batter; the latter actually pulled him back off the bench where Alberto Ramos put him in 2026, since Stalker was able to make the most of the injury time he was allotted and swatted the ball for 41 extra-base hits in just 391 attempts, good enough for an .854 OPS that should make some genuine sluggers on the roster blush with shame.
SS Alberto Ramos, 22, B:L3, T:R (.294, 1 HR, 33 RBI | .296, 4 HR, 79 RBI) – the 2026 Rookie of the Year Ramos was a treat all around, at least when he was able to stay on the field. Injuries limited him to 106 games last season, but if he would have been able to stick around he might have broken the franchise mark for stolen bases in a season, nipping 43 in roughly two thirds of a campaign.
3B Matt Nunley, 37, B:L, T:R (.247, 8 HR, 53 RBI | .278, 144 HR, 866 RBI) – eternal Matt Nunley, who signed a new 2-year deal, in his 16th major league season is now the active Raccoon with longest service time for the team after the departure of Cookie Carmona, but will have to share the hot corner with Rich Hereford this season.
3B/2B/SS/LF/RF Rich Hereford, 30, B:S, T:R (.288, 18 HR, 90 RBI | .284, 118 HR, 494 RBI) – skilled and versatile defender with a bat that can make the ball jump some distance, Hereford came over in a deadline deal with the Gold Sox in 2027 and will start his first full Coons season penduluming back and forth between third base and leftfield depending on who the opposing starter will be.
2B/LF/3B/SS Jarod Spencer, 30, B:R, T:R (.264, 0 HR, 42 RBI | .299, 7 HR, 309 RBI) – "Pop" Spencer remains an utterly weird player that has three times batted over .300 and stole a CL-leading 46 bases in 2025, and somehow still is not an above average career player with a 94 OPS+. Partially to blame is also his pathetic 2027 campaign in which he batted only .264 (57 points under his .321 mark from the year before), stole only 20 bags, and somehow managed to be worth negative WAR. Not an extra-base threat, but he can move the hindpaws quickly. While a natural second baseman, Tim Stalker made himself sound very important again in the second half in 2027 and conquered the keystone for the time being. Jarod Spencer will share leftfield duties with Rich Hereford and whoever outfielder dares to challenge them.

LF/CF/RF/1B Abel Mora, 31, B:L, T:R (.257, 16 HR, 82 RBI | .271, 99 HR, 531 RBI) – Mora became a free agent, then crawled back into the fold when the big deal he coveted did not materialize; as much of an allround player as you can find, hitting for average (having reached .300 once with the Wolves) and power, possessing good speed, and fielding very well, also throwing for eight assists last year. Not quite Neil Reece Reborn, but then again Neil's a Hall of Famer and they just don't fall from the skies.
1B/LF/RF/CF Rafael Gomez, 29, B:R, T:L (.288, 25 HR, 104 RBI | .271, 104 HR, 495 RBI) – his first full season in Portland saw him pile up 49 extra base hits, including a league-leading ten triples, which you would not necessarily expect from him. He also hit a career-high 25 home runs and there was never a serious challenge for his position at any point during the season or the winter; but he also one of those sluggers with a lower OPS (.810) than Tim Stalker in 2027…
LF/RF/CF/1B Omar Millan *, 25, B:L, T:L (.292, 0 HR, 34 RBI | .275, 14 HR, 176 RBI) – adept outfielder at all three positions and also quick paws to seamlessly join the club of dangerous runners we have assembled.
CF/LF/RF Juan Magallanes, 24, B:S, T:R (.266, 0 HR, 6 RBI | .230, 0 HR, 10 RBI) – the Colombian alumnus of a Jewish high school in Manhattan has yet to do anything to put up a positive career WAR, but at least he has enough defensive competence to cover Abel Mora and was able to outlast career failure Greg Borg for this roster spot.
LF Danny Morales *, 34, B:R, T:R (.214, 1 HR, 14 RBI | .273, 63 HR, 422 RBI) – besides providing a meaningful right-handed bat off the bench (we have chosen to ignore his 2027 stats for the 112 AB in which they were compiled…), Morales also offers some steady veteran presence to the team.

On disabled list:
SP Kyle Anderson, 29, B:R, T:R (8-4, 3.03 ERA | 69-72, 3.92 ERA) – just when Anderson was embarking on his best season ever, his UCL came partially unhinged in July, putting him on the DL for the rest of that season, and he is still soft-tossing and not expected to return to the team before May.

Otherwise unavailable: Nobody.

Other roster movement:
SP/MR Juan Barzaga, 31, B:R, T:R (3-1, 5.17 ERA | 4-3, 4.26 ERA) – waived and DFA'ed; 74 innings spread over five years and nothing but ill control… he DID put up that one nice start late in 2027, and he would have made the roster as fifth starter if Mark Roberts had missed Opening Day, but at some point he would have hit the waiver wire anyway.
MR Nick Derks, 27, B:R, T:R (1-0, 7.11 ERA | 3-2, 4.72 ERA) – waived and DFA'ed; launchpad sort of reliever that ran out of options at some point…
MR Yoo-chul Kim *, 29, B:R, T:R (1-4, 4.91 ERA, 1 SV | 28-40, 4.38 ERA, 7 SV) – waived and DFA'ed; truth be told, the Raccoons never wanted Kim, but had to take him to get their paws on Billy Ramm, an interesting younger pitcher that might make his major league debut at some point this season. We really, really, really hope that someone will take Kim off waivers.
MR Hector Morales, 27, B:L, T:L (0-0, 0.00 ERA | 1-0, 3.54 ERA) – waived and DFA'ed; pitched only a third of an inning in September before also landing on the DL…

The remaining surplus players (Gerster – the only position player – as well as Costilow, Ramm, and Moesker) had either already been moved to the AAA roster prior to Opening Day or still had an option to be reassigned now. Jason Butler had been out of options but had already cleared waivers in February.

OPENING DAY LINEUP:

Not much discussion about the starting lineup this year…

Vs. RHP: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – P Roberts
(Vs. LHP: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Spencer – P Roberts)

The lineup vs. left-handed pitchers can tilted more in a platoon sense by bringing in Morales and Magallanes, probably at the expense of Ramos and Mora, so yeah, it's a thing for once every two weeks to rest the other guys, but not a real option. Omar Millan will mostly rest Rafael Gomez and Kevin Harenberg, one way or another.

OFF SEASON CHANGES:

Again, the offseason was not the most frantic for the Raccoons, who made three deals, but resigned one of their own free agents (Mora) and added another (Morales) for cheap. BNN was not very engaged with them, either, putting them ninth in offseason WAR gains with a +1.2 WAR mark.

Top 5: Pacifics (+12.2), Gold Sox (+10.6), Condors (+10.0), Cyclones (+8.5), Indians (+3.7)
Bottom 5: Knights (-6.3), Scorpions (-6.5), Miners (-6.6), Stars (-9.9), Titans (-12.1)

Tempted to see how that one plays out. The Titans shed bushels of pitchers, including Shepherd, Gannon, Rosenthal, and San Pedro, also notably Adam Braun, and really only added Stephen Williams and … Bednarski? Oh well, we will get a look at them early on…

PREDICTION TIME:

The Coons fell from champions to 92-70 and third place in the North, behind even the ghastly Elks. The main problem was that the offense disappeared in the desert for about two months in July and August when they were just not scoring, ever. Now, to stay real here, the personnel is still mostly the same. We are thus counting on black devil magic wrecking the other teams this year, and that we can wiggle past all of them into the playoffs again.

The Raccoons will win 96 games and finish first in the North, and the playoffs are a crapshoot anyway.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT:

Oh boy.

The Portland farm was in last place last season, and it is still in last place, albeit wedged in there even more firmly. We shed our way to only two ranked prospects, none in the top 100. Four of the five top 200 prospects from last season are no longer ranked, mostly for losing value (Jamie O'Leary, George Burke, Dave Martinez), while Jonathan Fleischer, who was ranked #192, lost eligibility due to old age.

124th (new) – A CL Izzy Chavez, 20 – 2025 international free agent signed by Raccoons
189th (-2) – A SP Raffaello Sabre, 19 – 2025 international free agent signed by Raccoons

That leaves a depressing eight more to complete the franchise top 10:

A INF/RF Joe McFarlin, 22 (2027 3rd Rd.), INT 2B Fernando Solis, 19 (scouting discovery), AA 1B Craig Hollenbeck, 21 (2025 2nd Rd.), A 1B Eric Clarke, 21 (2027 1st Rd.), AAA SP Dave Martinez, 22 (2022 IFA), A 2B George Burke, 19 (2026 2nd Rd.), AAA SP Jamie O'Leary, 24 (2026 1st Rd.), INT 2B Edgar Torres, 18 (scouting discovery);

The top 5 overall prospects this year are:

#1 IND A INF Dan Schneller (was #1)
#2 NAS A 3B Chance Bossert (newly drafted)
#3 SFW AA 2B/SS Mario Colon (was #4)
#4 SAL ML SP Steve Younts (was #23)
#5 MIL A SP Josh Long (newly drafted)

Of last year's top 5, #5 Josh Heckman fell to #9 while also being traded from the Aces to the Rebels; #3 Frank Romero, a Knights outfielder, fell to #19 and did not make his anticipated major league debut, either; and #2 SP Andy Jimenes, also a Knight, moved to the major leagues in the second half and lost rookie eligibility. He went 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in a swingman role.

Next: first pitch.
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:06 PM   #2702
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Raccoons (0-0) vs. Titans (0-0) – April 4-6, 2028

For six years, the Raccoons had never won the season series against the Titans; the 9-9 tie from last season was their best effort in a long time against the Boston outlet that had somehow moved into the lead with the most rings ever in this decade… and had stomped the Raccoons while doing so.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (0-0) vs. Jeremy Waite (0-0)
Rin Nomura (0-0) vs. Dustin Wingo (0-0)
Dan Delgadillo (0-0) vs. Guillermo Regalado (0-0)

Right-left-right to start the season; unfortunately we get the sturdy part of the rotation and not the soft underbelly behind these three, Chris Munroe (a Raccoon more than a decade ago) and Lorenzo Viamontes.

Game 1
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS S. Williams – 1B Gasso – RF Kuramoto – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – C Leonard – P Waite
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – P Roberts

The season started… in some way? Roberts walked Willie Vega on four pitches, but Matt Nunley turned a strong double play on Stephen Williams, then also lunged and caught a Gus Gasso drive, but then was not seen again by the second inning, having been replaced for reasons of discomfort by Omar Millan playing left, with Hereford moving to the hot corner. And something surely wasn't right with Roberts, either. The first time through the order he struck out nobody and walked three in total, including Adrian Reichardt and Keith Leonard to begin the third inning. Waite bunted them over, but Willie Vega whiffed hacking and then Millan caught up with a Williams drive. Somehow though he also started the scoring for Portland, sinking a ball into the right-center gap for a leadoff double in the bottom 3rd, after which Hereford singled him in with one out after Ramos grounded out and Tim Stalker got hit by Waite. Mark Roberts was due to lead off the fifth inning as well and hit a single to center this time. Ramos also singled, and Stalker's groundout advanced them to scoring position. Hereford lined out to Adam Corder, and Harenberg failed as well (just like the previous go-around), flying out to Vega.

Roberts became stuck in the sixth inning for lots of pitches early (although he walked nobody past the third inning). Dan McLin replaced him with Corder at the plate, two outs, and Gus Gasso on first after singling earlier – that was the tying run in a 1-0 game. The tying run reached second base on a Corder single, but Rhett West then struck out, keeping Roberts' W alive, but the seventh inning offered an even worse jam. Reichardt remained unretired, slapping a leadoff single against McLin, and then Jeff Kearney allowed a single to Leonard. Waite bunted them into scoring position, but Vega grounded back to Kearney to keep them pinned while making the second out. Ricky Ohl now entered in a double switch that also put Magallanes in centerfield rather than Mora, and the Colombian made the play on PH Giovanni James' soft fly to shallow center, keeping the Titans on base. It was their last threat in the game – the Coons' Ohl and Josh Boles squeezed them out for the remainder of the game. 1-0 Critters! Harenberg 2-4; Roberts 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K, W (1-0) and 2-2, 2B;

There are a lot of things I did not like about this game, but maybe I can blame a small sample size for now and we - … yes, Mena, what is it? – About Nunley? – He did what??

By Wednesday morning, the Raccoons placed Matt Nunley on the DL with a broken fibula. That is a leg bone, I am told. I am also told that he will not be back before July.

Well, umm-I-guess… I guess we have to make a roster move?

With Nunley shunted to the DL, the Raccoons brought up 29-year-old 3B/OF Jaden Booker, a longtime Bayhawk that had signed a minor league contract *the same day*. He batted right-handed though, which was not perfect, but what ever was the **** perfect around here?

Booker had batted .207 (…) with no homers (…) for the Cyclones in 2027.

Game 2
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS S. Williams – 1B Gasso – RF Kuramoto – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – C Leonard – P Wingo
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 3B Hereford – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Spencer – P Nomura

The Titans threatened quite early to sit on Rin Nomura's face all game long, with Corder (walk) and West (double) reaching scoring position with nobody out in the second inning. At that point, Reichardt lined out to Ramos, Leonard grounded out to Harenberg, and Wingo popped out to keep them stranded. Portland would take another lead in the third inning, this time with a leadoff single by Jarod Spencer, who was bunted over by Nomura, then scored on Ramos' single to right-center to put the Raccoons ahead, 1-0. Ramos moved up to second base on Yasuhiro Kuramoto's throw home, but was then stranded by Stalker and Gomez. In a sensational move, the Raccoons scored ANOTHER run right in the NEXT inning – Hereford doubled and moved around to score on Tovias' single and Mora's groundout.

That aside it was another slow game for both offensive arrays. The Raccoons' Nomura nursed the 2-0 lead through six, but glitched in the seventh. Corder walked, West singled, and then Tovias also chipped in something, a passed ball that put the runners in scoring position with one out for Reichardt, the old war axe. Ramos contained Reichardt's bouncer, allowing the lead run to score, but Leonard also grounded out to Stalker, and the Coons remained 2-1 ahead. Nomura completed eight, retiring James, Vega, and Williams in order in his last inning, and Josh Boles did the same to Gasso, Kuramoto, and Corder in the ninth. 2-1 Coons. Hereford 2-4, 2B; Tovias 2-3; Spencer 1-2, BB; Nomura 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, W (1-0);

First place is first place. End of discussion.

Game 3
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – RF Good – 1B Gasso – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – C James – SS Spataro – P Regalado
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Millan – P Delgadillo

Adrian Reichardt led off with a single, stole second base, then moved for home on Matt Good's 1-out single, but Mora made a dandy play on the ball there and fired it home in time to kill the nagging Titan before he could touch the plate, and Delgadillo had a scoreless first once Gasso grounded out to short. Instead, the Raccoons would score first again. Alberto Ramos opened their hitting game with a triple into the rightfield corner, then coasted home when Rich Hereford banged a fastball over the rightfield fence; in the third, they teamed up again: Ramos hit a 1-out double, this time to left, then scored on a Hereford single to make it 3-0. Despite their great success (makes unsure motion), at this point the Critters still had an outfield batting 0-for-21. Gomez hit a single in the fourth, and Tovias also reached base with a walk, but then Mora flew out and Millan smacked into a double play.

Meanwhile, the Titans were despairing. The fifth inning began with a pair of singles off Delgadillo, Giovanni James going to second and Keith Spataro to first base. Regalado then bunted badly, getting James forced out, and when Spataro tried to nip third base with Reichardt at the plate, Tovias threw him out for the second red dot at third base in this inning. Reichardt ended up flying out to Millan to end the inning. No add agony to their misery, Rich Hereford then continued to put the game away single-handedly, smacking a second long ball off Regalado in the fifth inning. This time, too, somebody was on base. Tim Stalker had reached via the walk, had stolen second base, and then crossed home plate ahead of Hereford, who was now responsible of all RBI's in the Coons' 5-0 lead.

The Titans did get on the board in the sixth, where Delgadillo lost command pretty much completely and put Vega on with a leadoff walk, then Good with a single that sent Vega to third base with nobody out. Gasso popped out, but Rhett West hit a sac fly to center. While that was all for Boston in the inning, it was also all for Delgadillo after six innings, and the pen would get involved. They were neither stellar nor efficient, but they yielded no base hits to the Titans in the last three innings, although Kearney, Brotman, and McLin all walked a guy. But that was really it for Boston – the Raccoons coasted to a Rich Hereford-fueled victory and opened the season with a sweep of the dreaded Titans! 5-1 Furballs!! Ramos 2-4, 3B, 2B; Hereford 3-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI; Delgadillo 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W (1-0);

Raccoons (3-0) vs. Falcons (2-2) – April 7-9, 2028

It was the other way round with the Falcons – the Raccoons had not *lost* a season series to them in five years, and had gone 15-3 in the last two seasons combined, 7-2 in 2027. The Falcons had split a set with the Thunder, and had put 20 runs into each basket, but it was too early to say whether they were going to be less dreadful this season.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (0-0) vs. Alex Lopez (0-0)
George James (0-0) vs. Jesus Chavez (0-1, 9.53 ERA)
Mark Roberts (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Mike Fernandez (1-0, 3.38 ERA)

Three right-handers on offer here; the Raccoons would do what they always did and try to give everybody a start in the first week of the season anyway. Besides the two leftover starting pitchers, Jonathan Fleischer and Danny Morales had not seen action at all so far.

Game 1
CHA: LF Banfi – C Cooper – 1B Fowlkes – CF Salto – 3B Rolland – SS Folk – RF Camps – 2B Muller – P A. Lopez
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Leal – 3B Booker – CF Magallanes – P Gutierrez

Rico Gutierrez' first start of the season was one for the bin, but it was not his fault. All he yielded was a first-inning double to Pat Fowlkes, then a fourth-inning double to Matt Cooper, and then torrential rain washed him away. At that point, the Raccoons led 1-0 thanks to a Jaden Booker triple and Juan Magallanes sac fly, while when play resumed after almost two hours Cooper was still at third base with two outs and Jaylen Rolland batting. Long man Fleischer was in the game now, gave up a game-tying single to Rolland, walked Brody Folk on four pitches, and then was 3-1 against Juan Camps before the impatient Falcon grounded out to Booker. Alex Lopez was also gone, replaced by Nate Ziemke, a right-hander, so neither starter got much out of the ordeal.

Jaden Booker had been a defensive replacement in the Titans series, and had tripled in his first Coons at-bat in the third inning. He one-upped that in the fifth, cracking a solo jack to left-center off Ziemke to break the 1-1 tie. And for a while it looked like this might actually turn out to be enough – the Raccoons squeezed Fleischer for 51 pitches and 3.1 innings, and after the rocky start to his outing he got the Critters clean through seven innings, and what more can you ask for from your scruffy long man then bringing up Ohl and Boles? Well, besides another run or two? But everybody was fighting the mud at this point and at one point John Muller was almost swallowed by a quagmire at second base, but was pulled out in time by Folk and Fowlkes. Ricky Ohl axed the top of the order without much trouble in the eighth, Omar Millan reached base in the bottom 8th, but Spencer spanked into a double play before Ramos doubled with two outs. Nothing came of that, either, and then it was on Boles – and he blew it. Graciano Salto's leadoff jack tied the game at two, and after a Camps single, Jason Carmichaal hit a 2-out blast to right to put the Falcons on top. Barend Kok slugged a double off Boles before he was hauled in, disgraced, with Surginer ending the inning. Righty George Barnett then faced the Coons in the bottom 9th, retired Hereford and Harenberg on grounders, then served up a homer to Rafael Gomez that cut the gap to 4-3. Well, too little, too – wow, mamma! Armando Leal with a pole scratcher in rightfield, and we were tied!!

Soon after that, we were also embroiled in extra innings. Surginer did the 10th, then was hit for by Morales (leaving only George James uninvolved this season), and Billy Brotman took over, but walked two against an entirely right-handed lineup at this point before Carlos Padilla pinch-hit and struck out to end the top 11th. The Raccoons filled them up against lefty Danny Burgess in the bottom 11th; Stalker grounded out, but Hereford hit a 1-out single to center, stole second, but Harenberg struck out whilst Rafael Gomez was walked intentionally. Leal was walked unintentionally, bringing up Jaden Booker with three on and two down. He hit a long drive to center, but couldn't beat Juan Camps – the inning ended, and another one broke soon. Brotman was none the sharper in the 12th and the Falcons broke through with a Cooper single, another walk to Salto, and finally Rolland's 2-out RBI single before a fly to Gomez ended the inning. Bottom 12th, Burgess struck out Millan, then got PH Elias Tovias to ground out. Ramos dropped a single into left, Stalker squeezed a single past Brody Folk. Here came Hereford, resultless in this game after driving in five in the previous one. The 0-2 pitch NICKED him, and the bags were now loaded for Kevin Harenberg. One to tie, two to win, and a grounder to Tony Casillas to lose. 5-4 Falcons. Ramos 4-6, 2B; Stalker 2-6; Booker 2-5, HR, 3B, RBI; Fleischer 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K;

This game helped nothing, in no way.

Game 2
CHA: 3B Rolland – C Cooper – RF Kok – 1B Fowlkes – CF Camps – SS Folk – LF N. Nelson – 2B Casillas – P J. Chavez
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Millan – P James

George James threw ten pitches before the first mound visit to see whether he had pulse at all. In that time, Rolland and Cooper hit singles and both scored on a long Barend Kok double, with Kok then making it to third base on a wild pitch. Fowlkes' groundout brought in that runner, too, and James walked Camps and allowed a single to Folk before the inning would be over in some fashion, down 3-0. That's what we need after 9.1 pointless innings from the pen – a ****ty outing by a starter! Get your **** together!

While James was certainly bad enough to warrant an early exit, the Coons could not afford something like that. So he had to keep soldiering on while the Raccoons did precious little, a solo homer by Rafael Gomez in the second inning aside. The score was somehow still 3-1 despite plenty of traffic when the Raccoons had Mora on first base and the pitcher's slot up with one out in the bottom 5th. Nope, he's gotta bat – the only fresh guys were Kearney, and this was still a very much right-handed lineup, and McLin. To be precise, James bunted, and to be more precise, badly so. Mora was forced out before a 2-out single by Ramos and a walk drawn by Spencer loaded the bases for Rich Hereford, team leader with 6 RBI, who picked up a seventh ribbie when the ex-Coon Chavez spiked a 3-2 pitch in the dirt. Harenberg flipped the score with a 2-run single to right-center, and then Gomez was retired by a hustling Kok in shallow right, but somehow James was now in for a 4-3 win that he even defended in the sixth inning against the top of the order. Tim Stalker batted for him in the bottom 6th, grounding out to end that inning with Mora on first base.

With Boles unavailable after a long and gruesome outing, the Coons saw their best chances in sending McLin out for two innings and then putting Ohl in the ninth, with Kearney maybe coming in against a left-hander in between. It didn’t work out at all. McLin got through the seventh, then yielded a leadoff double to Fowlkes and a 2-run homer to ****ing ex-Elk Brody Folk to have the Falcons flip the game right back. But that was nothing about the good beating that the Falcons gave Ricky Ohl. Three hits, two walks, four runs in the ninth, crowned by Nate Nelson's bases-clearing double. 9-4 Falcons. Ramos 2-5; Gomez 2-4, HR, RBI; Mora 2-3, BB; Booker (PH) 1-1, 2B;

There was a change in the Falcons' pitching assignment for the Sunday game, with left-hander Chris Rountree (0-0, 11.25 ERA) taking the start instead of the right-handed Fernandez.

Game 3
CHA: LF Banfi – C Cooper – 1B Fowlkes – RF Kok – CF Salto – 3B Rolland – SS Folk – 2B Casillas – P Rountree
POR: SS Stalker – RF Booker – 3B Hereford – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – LF Morales – P Roberts

Rake'Em Rich hit a 2-run homer in the first inning, having found Tim Stalker on base as well as Chris Rountree's fastball to be wanting from the pitcher's perspective. While the Falcons made up a run right away in unearned fashion thanks to singles by Rolland and Folk as well as, mainly, a throwing error by Booker in the top 2nd, the Coons had runners on the corners with one out in the bottom 2nd, then had Roberts put the ball to short for a double play, then had two more runners aboard in the third, but Tovias grounded out to Rolland. So it was a 2-1 game in the middle innings, with no less than six vicious flies hit off Roberts in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings combined. One fell for a double, none reached the fence, and the outfielders were doing splendid work because the Falcons didn't make up the run, while the Coons didn't make up their mind about maybe poking Rountree some more until Rich Hereford came to the plate leading off the bottom 6th and hit a 420-foot blast to left-center for his fourth homer of the season, 3-1! The Critters followed that up with a Gomez single to right, then a Tovias fly to center that seemed to sink into Salto's glove until it beat the defender by mere inches and fell for a double. Gomez could not score because of the initially apparent catch and the Coons had two in scoring position with nobody out. Spencer rammed an RBI single through the left side, 4-1, before Mora struck out. Danny Morales got his first Coons RBI with a sac fly to Kok, 5-1, and then Roberts kept the inning going with a single to left. Rountree threw a wild 0-2 pitch to advance the runners, but Stalker still ended up grounding out to Folk to end the inning. Everything looked awesome, Roberts had a nice seventh, and then it didn't look awesome again when he had a cringy eighth. Three deep flies in a row, one of which went out (Cooper), and one of which fell for a double (Fowlkes). When Kok popped out, the Coons brought a fresh right-hander, Kevin Surginer entering in a double switch as we were fully intent to have him end the game with four outs. Salto grounded out to end the inning before things got weird again; Surginer's entry ended Hereford's day, with Booker moving to third and Millan entering in rightfield, batting ninth. In the bottom 8th, and against different relievers, the Coons got a Spencer single, a pinch-hit single from Harenberg, then two outs, before Ramos hit an RBI single off George Barnett in Stalker's spot. When Booker also hit an RBI single, Surginer came up, but the Raccoons were not going to fudge around with this one. Surginer went to bat, dutifully struck out, then put the Falcons away in order. 7-2 Coons. Ramos (PH) 1-1, RBI; Hereford 3-3, BB, 2 HR, 3 RBI; Gomez 2-4; Spencer 2-4, RBI; Harenberg (PH) 1-1; Roberts 7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (2-0) and 1-3;

In other news

April 3 – Opening Day ends soon for DAL SP Matt Diduch (0-0, 3.00 ERA), who leaves his assignment early and will miss three months with a herniated disc.
April 7 – Salem utility Raimondo Odescalchi (.250, 0 HR, 0 RBI) might miss most of the season with a broken kneecap.
April 8 – LAP SP Dave Christiansen (2-0, 1.59 ERA) spins a 2-hit shutout against the Rebels. The Pacifics win 9-0.
April 9 – CIN 3B/SS Ricardo Rangel (.464, 0 HR, 4 RBI) goes 4-for-6 with 3 RBI in the Cyclones' 11-4 drubbing of the Stars.

Complaints and stuff

I keep watching that replay of Nunley shagging Gasso's liner and how he lands awkwardly, but then walks off the field unaided. I keep watching that and I still can not quite grasp it, but as you can see, he's laid up there on the couch, casted from thigh to toe. There is nothing quite like a 37-year-old man with a pink long leg cast. He picked the color himself. (Matt Nunley waves while holding a cup of cocoa in the other paw)

Word on Mark Roberts is that his arm feels heavy and when he winds up and tosses the ball it feels like a few pounds worth of sand grinding his bones and muscles. Which is dandy, I say, because what better problems could we even have? (rummages through the closet with beverages) Where is … Maud! Maud!! – Where is the glycol??

Yoo-chul Kim went unclaimed, refused his assignment to the minor leagues, and in the end had to be released. That was not such a good trade until now. Maybe Billy Ramm will make us forget this ever happened at some point down the road.

Rich Hereford was outrageously snubbed for Player of the Week. .478 with 4 HR and 10 RBI was not good enough for the electorate. They picked the Bayhawks' Jon Correa instead, who batted .524 with 4 HR and 7 RBI. No, Maud, we will write an incensed letter anyway!

Fun Fact: On April 3, 1996, Indy's Dan George tossed the earliest no-hitter in a season when he held the Crusaders hitless in a 3-0 victory.

George, then 23, would have an 18-year career and 218 wins and 2,516 ERA, but didn't get much love on the Hall of Fame ballot when he appeared in 2016 and dropped off right away. Maybe that 3.71 ERA was detrimental. The Crusaders no-hitter was his first ever complete game back then, in 56 attempts.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:13 PM   #2703
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Raccoons (4-2) vs. Aces (3-3) – April 10-12, 2028

The Aces had come out of the first week with 20 runs scored and 21 runs allowed, all quite middling in the Continental League at this point, but also almost identical to what the Falcons had put out before they had come to Portland (where the scoring had merrily continued). Vegas was batting .212 in the early going, which was certainly not sustainable. They also had seen their bullpen exploded time and again, with a 6.52 ERA mark that was the worst in the league at this early stage. The Raccoons had taken the season series in 2027, winning five out of nine games from them.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (1-0, 1.13 ERA) vs. Ed Hague (1-0, 2.25 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Abramo Archibugi (0-1, 2.57 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-0, 2.45 ERA) vs. Joel Trotter (0-0)

Archibugi was the sole left-hander on offer for this series (although they had three in their rotation). Worse yet, that Tuesday matchup was also the first game for which new ownership would be in the house in person. Nick Valdes had announced his attendance on Monday morning, had pointed out that he wished to see the champagne cool and the Raccoons hot, and had hinted that a trip over from his usual hideaways to the cold Pacific Northwest was a significant investment to him.

Investment…

Game 1
LVA: SS A. Medina – LF Dunlap – CF Serrano – C Motley – 2B Roundtree – 3B J. Navarro – RF Beckwith – 1B Cornejo – P Hague
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – 3B Booker – C Leal – P Nomura

Speaking of the Pacific Northwest, at game time on Monday it was near freezing (35 degrees) and soon started to drizzle, which thickened to slight sleet by the third inning. In this mess, the Aces took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, with both runs doubly unearned thanks to errors by both Jaden Booker and Abel Mora, although I was not going to absolve Rin Nomura for allowing that 2-out RBI single to Ed Hague, either… Hague almost drove in another run the next time around, then with Gil Cornejo on second base and two outs in the fourth. Nomura also more or less struck out nobody, and the Aces kept slapping hits off him, but didn't score again until Andres Medina's leadoff jack in the fifth that ran the score to 3-0 on slow and tardy Coons that only got on the board for the first time in the bottom of that inning with a Ramos leadoff single, his first stolen base of the year, then an RBI single by Tim Stalker. That was all in the inning, with the 3-4-5 batters going down immediately. Jaden Booker refused to go down silently, making another gruesome fielding error in the sixth inning that put the leadoff man Jose Navarro on base, whom the Aces sure enough moved around to score swiftly, 4-1. Nothing would get better from here. Raccoons pitching, foremost Jeff Kearney, remained clumsy, as did the defense, and the offense excelled at putting one guy on and then leaving him out there to die. They did that in the sixth, then in the seventh, put even two on in the eighth, after which Armando Leal flew out to centerfielder Danny Serrano to end that inning. The ninth saw J.D. Hamm retire Spencer and Ramos before Magallanes batted for Tim Stalker, walked, and then Hereford found Serrano's glove again. 4-1 Aces. Ramos 2-5; Harenberg 2-3, BB; Tovias (PH) 1-1;

The Aces moved Joel Trotter into the middle game, pushing Archibugi to Wednesday.

And the Raccoons moved to cozy up the place for Nick Valdes.

Game 2
LVA: SS A. Medina – LF Dunlap – RF M. Hamilton – CF Serrano – C Motley – 1B Cornejo – 3B A. Velez – 2B Roundtree – P Trotter
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Millan – P Delgadillo

Yusneldan, under the watchful gaze of the Raccoons' new owner, started the game with a leadoff walk to Medina, but Tom Dunlap hit into a double play before things could get out of paw really soon. The Aces got only one more runner the first time through, Trotter doubling into the leftfield corner, while the Raccoons stranded pairs in the second – when Delgadillo struck out – and the third, which ended on a slow Gomez fly to left with Hereford and Harenberg having reached with two outs. Top 4th, Delgadillo issued a 1-out walk to Matt Hamilton, who got forced out by Serrano. Stalker could have ended the inning by handling Josh Motley's grounder, but instead fumbled it for the Coons' fourth error in the series. Soon enough, the Coons also cashed their fourth unearned run of the series … and the fifth. Gil Cornejo turned a 1-2 pitch into a 2-run triple to centerfield, and the Aces had another lead. Alberto Velez, the former Logger, flew out to left to end the inning.

Bottom 4th, the Raccoons got Omar Millan on base with a 2-out single, which brought up Delgadillo again. His grounder to right eluded Steve Roundtree and Gil Cornejo for another single, and the tying runs were on. Alberto Ramos' grounder to right was intercepted by Roundtree, but he couldn't turn it into anything useful, and the Coons had filled them up for .192/.250/.192 batter Tim Stalker, who struck out. In turn, Trotter hit another double in the fifth, then scored on Tom Dunlap's 2-out single that extended the score to 3-0. On to the bottom 5th, where Rich Hereford drew a 4-pitch walk leading off before Harenberg singled. A passed ball moved the runners into scoring position, where they remained after Gomez struck out, Tovias struck out, and Mora… popped out. No word yet on how happy Nick Valdes was with the course of the game, but I ****ing wasn't.

And I would not grow happy with the game down the road, either. The Aces tried to pick Delgadillo apart, limb for limb, by the seventh inning, with three hits and a run falling out of him before Billy Brotman contained Serrano and Motley to get out of the inning. The score remained 4-0 into the ninth inning, where Jarod Spencer made the first out before Ramos walked and stole second. Stalker flew out uselessly before Franklin Alvarado nicked Hereford, then surrendered an RBI single to Harenberg. That brought up the tying run in Rafael Gomez, but by now all hopes and dreams had been suffocated and I refused to believe in miracles, or anything that would not draw the ire of the new ownership. Gomez' single to left loaded the bases, making Tovias the winning run at the plate. He had no RBI on the season – he picked up three on a shot through Gil Cornejo and up the rightfield line, all the way into the corner, while the middle of the order guys circled the bases to tie the game while Elias stopped at second base. Mora's fly to Dunlap served to give us extra innings, which would see Josh Boles entering in the 10th in Mora's slot, fumbled Serrano's grounder to begin the inning for yet another error, then hit Velez with two outs. Steve Roundtree popped out to end the inning. Millan led off the bottom of the inning with a single, after which Spencer struggled to get a bunt down and eventually grounded out, but that at least moved the winning run to second base for Ramos. The Aces had none of that – they walked him intentionally to bring up Stalker, now batting .172, but upped that to a spiffy .200 with a blast to leftfield. Up, up, up, and outta here! 7-4 Raccoons!! Ramos 1-3, 3 BB; Harenberg 3-5, RBI; Gomez 2-5; Millan 2-4, BB;

Don't you think that the seven runs while making a single out in a last-ditch rally would have saved me from a 3-hour talk with Nick Valdes, who had MADE NOTES about every single thing he had not enjoyed. This only started with the on-field performance, but extended to the cleanliness of the entire place and also the friendliness of usher #38. We play the Knights on our next home weekend. He will be back then. So we have about ten days to set everything straight around here.

Game 3
LVA: SS A. Medina – LF Dunlap – RF M. Hamilton – CF Serrano – C Motley – 2B Roundtree – 3B J. Navarro – 1B Cornejo – P Archibugi
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – LF Spencer – C Magallanes – P Gutierrez

Calamity continued for Portland – Rico Gutierrez pitched for four outs, then left with shoulder woes, leaving Kevin Surginer to enter the scoreless game in the second inning. Surginer struck out two in the second, then three in the third, but in between walked Cornejo and Dunlap and also drilled Medina, but nobody scored. Danny Morales hit a single in his place in the bottom 3rd, Hereford doubled with two outs, but Harenberg popped out to strand the runners to keep the game without an official score. With Kearney taking over on the mound for the fourth, the Critters had another chance brewing in the bottom 4th. Singles put Gomez and Spencer on the corners with one out for Magallanes, who lacked a base hit for the season, but popping out to Medina didn't help his cause, and Jaden Booker went down on strikes in Kearney's spot.

While the Raccoons prepared to routinely pour out their entire bullpen and couldn't get a run across, somehow the Aces could not land a hit. Dan McLin pitched two hitless innings, extending the Coons' combined no-hitter to six frames. It didn't last – Josh Motley hit a 1-out single off McLin in the seventh, but by then Elias Tovias had also put the Coons in the lead with a solo homer in the bottom 6th. Roundtree popped out to Ramos, after which the Coons made a double switch, bringing on Brotman in the #7 hole and Millan to play leftfield. Billy secured a grounder to Stalker from Cornejo to end the threat, while Millan hit a 1-out single over Roundtree in the bottom 7th. Ramos singled up the middle, both runners pulled off a double steal, after which the Aces walked Stalker intentionally to have a double play chance on Rich Hereford, who had a 1.299 OPS at this point. I would have enjoyed a slam at this point, but didn't get it. A sac fly was decent, though, extending the score to 2-0. Harenberg however grounded out. Archibugi(!) and Dunlap hit singles off Brotman in the eighth, but Ricky Ohl came on, rung up PH Jon Gilbert and got another grounder to Stalker from Serrano. Somehow they kept hanging on by the skin of their teeth …! And there was no point in stopping to do that now – Josh Motley hit a leadoff double off Josh Boles in the ninth, then scored on consecutive groundouts. Tim Stalker again came into play with Cornejo batting, snagging a scorched liner to end the game. 2-1 Critters. Gomez 2-4, 2B; Morales (PH) 1-1; Millan (PH) 1-1; Surginer 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; McLin 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, W (1-1);

The Raccoons placed Rico Gutierrez on the DL with a shoulder ailment on Thursday, their off day. For now we called up an extra reliever to help out the beleaguered bullpen, since they would not need a starting pitcher until next week. Steve Costilow was added to the roster.

Raccoons (6-3) @ Canadiens (5-4) – April 14-16, 2028

I. Want. Blood. Damn Elks! Stupid Elks! I hate the Elks! The Elks were second in the division right now, second in runs scored, but tied for ninth in runs allowed. Their rotation had been wonky, putting up a 4.60 ERA through nine games. The Raccoons lost 11 of 18 games to the damn, stupid Elks in '27.

Projected matchups:
George James (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Jeremy Truett (1-0, 2.16 ERA)
Mark Roberts (2-0, 0.67 ERA) vs. Leon Hernandez (0-2, 8.49 ERA)
Rin Nomura (1-1, 1.29 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (0-1, 3.46 ERA)

Nothing but right-handed pitchers on offer here.

And I want their blood.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Millan – P James
VAN: LF A. Torres – 1B Day – RF Coca – CF Wojnarowski – 3B Anton – SS Byrd – C R. Ortíz – 2B Gura – P Truett

Portland struck first, thanks to Ramos singling, stealing, scoring on a Stalker double in the first inning, but then the middle of the order also collectively cucked out and left Stalker on second base with two whiffs and a sad pop. If only George James hadn't folded right away in the first inning…! Alex Torres popped out, but then they rapped out a Norman Day double, a walk drawn by Tony Coca, an infield single contained, but not conclusively played by Matt Anton, and finally John Byrd's score-flipping 2-run single… The Coons did not go down without wasting more chances for sure; Hereford and Harenberg both failed when Ramos and Stalker were on base again in the third inning, and James grounded out with Gomez and Millan on the corners in the fourth.

On to the fifth, where Ramos led off flying out to center, but then Stalker and Hereford hit singles to go to the corners. Here came Kevin Harenberg, who – fun fact – in his 10th game this year had 10 hits… all of them singles! He didn't get a hit at all here, but at least tied the score when he flew out to Brian Wojnarowski in centerfield, allowing Stalker to scamper home. And while James was wonky, at one point walking the opposing pitcher (sigh…), he held up just well enough with some help from the D that Abel Mora could put the Coons on top again with a 2-out solo homer in the sixth inning, a shot to right that JUST barely made it over Tony Coca's glove and the fence to get us a 3-2 edge.

The Elks' starter fell first after both went seven in a game with plenty of hits. Truett stranded runners on the corners by whiffing Rafael Gomez in the seventh, but then allowed a single to Mora and a double up the rightfield line to Millan in the eighth, which with one out and righty Troy Charters coming in also ended the day of George James. Jarod Spencer batted for him, walked in a full count, and brought up Ramos with three on and one out. Ramos grounded at Matt Anton, who zipped the ball to second in attempt of a double play, but Spencer took out disgusting Ted Gura to break it up, and the Mora scored when Ramos reached first base safely without a throw coming over. Stalker grounded out to Anton then, stranding another two runners. This was still a dicey, 4-2 game; Kearney retired Wojnarowski to begin the bottom 8th, then Ohl came on and conceded 2-out singles to John Byrd and Ricky Ortíz. Ted Gura came up, the disgusting scoundrel, and popped out to Harenberg. It could just as well be a 10-7 game now – both teams had stranded them by the bushel! The Coons got nothing going in the ninth, then stuck with Ohl for a strikeout of Adan Myles in the #9 hole, then a walk to Torres. That was Josh Boles' cue, but he would face PH Luke Gross, a righty, rather than the left-handed batter Norman Day as the tying run. Gross rolled out to Hereford in a full count before Boles lost Coca on four pitches. That brought up the winning run – but the Elks kept going for the platoon edge and sent Manny Sanchez to bat for Wojnarowski, who was the defending Player of the Year, if you recall. This was inexplicable to me. They needed to be punished. They needed to be bled! Sanchez grounded out to Spencer at second base to end the game. 4-2 Coons. Ramos 2-5, RBI; Stalker 3-5, 2B, RBI; Hereford 2-5; Mora 2-4, HR, RBI; Millan 2-3, BB, 2B; James 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, W (1-0);

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Spencer – RF Millan – P Roberts
VAN: SS Byrd – 3B Anton – LF A. Torres – RF Coca – CF Wojnarowski – C M. Sanchez – 1B L. Gross – 2B Gura – P L. Hernandez

Mark Roberts was solid, allowing three hits in his first four innings of work. One of them was a Tony Coca homer in the second inning, giving the Elks a 1-0 edge that held up for a while as Leon Hernandez retired the first 14 Raccoons he faced, although he struck out only two, but there was A LOT of soft contact. He finally lost Mora to a 2-out walk in the top of the fifth, and Jarod Spencer then also took the no-hitter away with a single up the middle. Omar Millan also looped a ball to left-center softly, where it was contained quickly, but Abel Mora managed to scurry around to score from second base on the single, knotting the score at one and bringing up Mark Roberts with two outs, so maybe we could continue the momentum next inn- HO-LY WHISKERS!! Mark Roberts – A SHOT … to centerfield! High! Deep! GONE!!! … I DON'T BELIEVE IT!!

While I took a while to contain myself back at home on my couch, Mark Roberts was entirely calm and collected. He somehow knew that he had them in the bag. While there was the occasional hard-hit ball, the Elks didn't get another base runner until Ted Gura doubled in the bottom of the eighth, and then was still stranded by Roberts. In between, Rich Hereford had added a run to the Coons' tally with a 2-out RBI single in the top 8th, plating Millan. Bottom 9th, Matt Anton flew out to Rafael Gomez, who was by now in rightfield. Alex Torres grounded out to Hereford at the hot corner. And then the gears still jammed. Coca coaxed a walk, Roberts' first and only one in the game, and Wojnarowski hit a single. It was suddenly a save situation, and the Coons went to Ricky Ohl by necessity with Roberts over 100 pitches and Sanchez on the approach again. A strikeout ended the game. 5-1 Furballs! Mora 1-2, BB; Spencer 2-4; Millan 2-3, RBI; Roberts 8.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (3-0) and 1-2, HR, 3 RBI;

Coons! Coons! Coons!

At this point we were 8-3 and the only team with a winning record in the division. The East Coast faction tied for second place with equal 6-6 marks.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Gomez – CF Mora – LF Millan – RF Booker – C Leal – P Nomura
VAN: SS Byrd – 3B Anton – LF A. Torres – RF Coca – CF Wojnarowski – 1B Myles – C R. Ortíz – 2B Gura – P Cervantes

Calling Rin Nomura "a bit all over the place" would be the mildest understatement of recent decades. Juan Diaz in '01 had been "a bit all over the place". Nomura on Sunday was completely out of whack, like a fine Swiss watch having been flattened first by a sledgehammer, then a semi truck. While the Coons pulled out a 1-0 lead in unearned fashion thanks to a throwing error by Ortíz in the second inning that allowed Mora to go first-to-third on a stolen base attempt, then to score on Millan's sac fly, Nomura had already had runners all over the place in the first two innings of his start, but completely disentwirled in the third. After Byrd opened with a groundout, Anton singled, and walks to Torres and Coca filled the bags. Wojnarowski flipped the score with a 2-run single up the middle, after which Nomura also walked Myles to fill them up, and Ortíz to push in another run. Gura's sac fly made it 4-1 and Cervantes grounded out, but if there had been an inning straight from a part of hell run by one of the most fiendish baseball gods, who had been banished from baseball god heaven even by his fellow baseball gods … it was this one.

Nomura faced five more batters, didn't get a strike past any of them, and yielded a leadoff single to Coca in the bottom 5th. After Wojnarowski flew out in deep center, it was deemed enough for today and Fleischer replaced him. Just when I considered the Coons dead and buried and rued the missed chance for a sweep in disgusting Elkland, Ramos hit a single in the sixth and Rich Hereford cashed his first homer of the week and #5 on the season, a 2-run shot outta rightfield that cut the gap to 4-3 and made it a baseball game again. Steve Costilow would get through the bottom 6th despite knocking Ted Gura (which I generally did approve of, but not in close games), getting a double play bunt from Cervantes, and then Mora stabbed the same Cervantes with a leadoff jack to right-center in the seventh. EVEN!! Next thing you know, Millan and Booker went to the corners for Leal, a .091 batter, with nobody out. Armando cracked a ball towards second base that LOOKED like Gura would spin it for two, but he didn't get to it, it was up the middle and into center for an RBI single! COONS IN THE LEAD!! **** THE ELKS!! At this point, we rudely interrupted Kevin Harenberg's off-day dinner and he was grumpy enough to whack Cervantes for an RBI double (hear, hear!) to run the score to 6-4, and that was the final nail into the Elks' starter's coffin. He issued an intentional walk to Ramos, after which Andy Purdy had to worry about three on and nobody out. Tim Stalker promptly struck out, but that brought up league RBI leader Rich Hereford! COME ON, RICHARD – poke 'em! I chanted "Here-ford! Here-ford!" while bouncing up and down on my couch in front of the TV. When Andy Purdy threw a 2-2 heater down and in, Rich Hereford didn't miss it – a booming drive to left! Up, and UP! AND UP! GRAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMM!!!!!!

That wasn't all in the inning. Omar Millan would hit a 2-out, 2-piece off Purdy to run the score to 12-4, but I didn't realize until later, squealing in ecstasy between the pillows. That was even before a cavalcade of errors and wild pitches aided the Coons to another three runs in the eighth, and there was one more extra run driven in by Danny Morales in the ninth. On the flip side, Abel Mora managed to sprain a finger in the rout, Kevin Surginer gave up a 2-piece to Coca, and Dan McLin walked the bags full in the bottom 9th without getting an out. Brotman came in and got a sac fly from Ortíz, but then surrendered the remaining runners, too, on Gura and Byrd singles. Then Matt Anton hit a 3-piece. Uh, say, has someone kept counting runs? How many have there been? Oh, he just struck out Torres and they are walking off. Apparently we scored runs aplenty. 16-12 Furballs. Ramos 3-5, RBI; Hereford 3-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI; Morales 2-2, RBI; Mora 2-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Millan 1-2, BB, HR, 4 RBI; Booker 3-5; Leal 2-5, RBI; Harenberg (PH) 1-2, 2B, RBI;

Apparently Steve Costilow was the winner of this nut job of a game!

In other news

April 13 – RIC INF Evan Donahue (.130, 0 HR, 1 RBI) is out for the season with a ruptured disc.
April 16 – SFW SP Scott Soviero (1-2, 3.80 ERA) 1-hits the Wolves in a 4-0 shutout. A single by C Elijah Bean (.262, 2 HR, 6 RBI) is all the Wolves manage in the game.
April 16 – The Pacifics send 40-year-old 2B/3B Jamie Wilson (.125, 0 HR, 0 RBI) to the Crusaders for 34-year-old outfielder Nate Ellis (.256, 3 HR, 5 RBI).

Complaints and stuff

**** THE ELKS!!

(coughs)

The Raccoons have put Rico Gutierrez on the DL on Thursday, but there is a chance that he will be ready again after the minimum 15-day stint. The Druid doesn't think it is serious, or fatal. That shoulder will come back together, he claims.

Now, the Raccoons have Monday off, so we don't need an extra starter until next Saturday, and then will only need him for one start. We will think about that when the time arrives.

Fun Fact: 31 years ago today, Los Angeles' Lance Branch hit for the cycle in an 11-5 win over the Miners.

That was before his Raccoons stint; which encompassed only 76 games in 1999. We got him from the Pacifics for a trio of ultimately no-use relievers, then turned him over the Scorpions in July for a package including Gary Fifield, one of the 38 candidates to replace whatever David Vinson was (except tough to replace). Fifield eventually retired as a .212 batter with 27 homers, including one of those great half-seasons as a Coon in 2002, where he hit 16 dingers… and batted .229…

It is also way past my bedtime.
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Old 01-16-2019, 04:56 PM   #2704
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Raccoons (9-3) @ Crusaders (6-7) – April 18-20, 2028

The Crusaders were middling throughout early on, hugging the .500 mark as closely as possible while having as many runs scored as they had allowed. They really struggled to stand out in any way so far; their pitchers had the most strikeouts in the Continental League, and that was really the only major stat in which they ranked in either the top 3 or bottom 3 in the CL. The Raccoons had not lost the season series to New York for three straight years, taking home 10 wins in 18 games in 2027.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (1-0, 2.19 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (1-1, 6.97 ERA)
George James (1-0, 3.46 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (1-1, 2.25 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-0, 0.82 ERA) vs. Doug Moffatt (1-2, 3.44 ERA)

All right-handers to come up here; we expect them to skip Jesse Wright (0-0, 9.00 ERA) utilizing their off day on Monday. The Coons also used that off day to venture forth on just four starting pitchers and would only add another starting pitcher on the weekend.

Meanwhile we were also a paw short; Abel Mora's sprained finger would hold him out of at least this series.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – LF Millan – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – P Delgadillo
NYC: 2B Jam. Wilson – 1B Elder – CF Hatley – 3B Schmit – LF Espinosa – C Asay – RF Torruellas – SS Cameron – P E. Cannon

The Raccoons stacked them in the first inning with walks to Ramos and Hereford as well as a Harenberg single, but Rafael Gomez cracked a bouncer at Joe Cameron for a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, but at least the Crusaders, after Delgadillo put on both Jamie Wilson and Jay Elder to begin his night, Nick Hatley also hit into a double play. Unfortunately the second inning ALSO began with the Crusaders putting two men on base, which soon devolved into a 1-out RBI single by Cameron, then a 2-out RBI single by Wilson, on which Cameron was thrown out at home to end the inning. While Delgadillo fooled nobody at all, the Raccoons at least kept pace. Alberto Ramos opened the top 3rd with a double to left, and then Tim Stalker hit a booming homer in the same direction to tie the score right away. And then? Bottom 3rd, Delgadillo offered a leadoff walk to Jay Elder, then a single to Nick Hatley. Nobody out, but Elder was thrown out at third base on the single, and while Hatley moved up to second base, he was then caught stealing third base. Two outs at third base in one inning – magnificient! And then Andy Schmit hit a 400-footer to right-center and put up the Crusaders, 3-2, anyway.

Sigh! At least he could get a bunt down in the fourth, moving Tovias (reached on error) and Magallanes (walk) into scoring position with one out. Ramos tied the game with a sac fly Hatley, and then Stalker hit a ball behind Hatley for a 2-out RBI double, before Rich Hereford burned Eddie Cannon with a deep fly to right that clanked off the foul pole and extended the Raccoons' new lead to 6-3. Once Harenberg followed that up with a single, the Crusaders yanked Cannon and dove into the pen. That worked for the moment, while nothing worked for Delgadillo. He barely got through five innings, but not without giving up a long 2-out, 2-run homer to Hatley in the fifth that cut the lead back to a single run. Dan McLin worked hard to blow that 1-run lead as well in the sixth, issuing a leadoff walk to Juan Espinosa, who however was also caught stealing by Tovias. He followed that up with a 2-out RBI single that cashed Harenberg in the top 7th, but Elder had an RBI single of his own in the bottom of the inning. That one plated Nick Shaffer, who had hit a leadoff single against McLin, had been balked over by Brotman, and now scored handily. Could Raccoons hitting outdo Raccoons pitching? Danny Morales drew a leadoff walk from Steve Casey in the eighth, batting ninth after a double switch. Ramos then lined to right, where Rafael Torruellas tried to make a play, couldn't and instead gave the Coons two bases rather than one when the ball got under his glove and behind him. One run scored on a Stalker sac fly to deep center, the other on Hereford's single to right. Those runs finally stuck – Billy Brotman got another out in the eighth, Fleischer got two, and even Josh Boles pitched an inning without getting rocked deeply. 9-6 Raccoons. Ramos 2-3, BB, 2 2B, RBI; Stalker 2-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI; Hereford 3-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Harenberg 3-5, 2B;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – LF Millan – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – P James
NYC: 2B Jam. Wilson – 1B Elder – CF Hatley – 3B Schmit – LF Espinosa – C Asay – RF Torruellas – SS Cameron – P Rutkowski

The Coons just couldn't get any decent starting pitching – George James walked the bags full with one out in the bottom 1st, and then the Coons failed to turn a double play on Espinosa's grounder. That scored one run; Jason Asay's clean single to center scored a second one, after which Torruellas struck out. Rutkowski would make the 2-0 hold up through the early innings before hitting Rafael Gomez with two outs in the fourth, then gave up a single to Omar Millan. Elias Tovias hit a liner over the head of Jay Elder that bounced fair just once in the outfield, then made its way for the jutting part of the seats in foul territory, where it took Torruellas sufficiently long to make a play to allow the tying runs to score on the 2-out double. Magallanes, hitless in '28, was then walked intentionally, after which James struck out to end the inning. Over this, he showed great anger, which was some relief – he knew about the concept of strikeouts after all! Not that it stopped him from issuing another 2-out walk to Hatley in the fifth, then with two outs and Elder already on base. Millan made a fine play on a Schmit fly to end the inning anyway.

That 2-2 tie was tough to break, even with James on the mound. The Raccoons tried every trick in the book after getting only one guy – Magallanes with a single! – on base the third time through the order when Harenberg reached base in the eighth. Spencer ran for him, was caught stealing, and that was it for tricks. Jay Elder's leadoff double in the bottom 8th ended James, but not the 2-2 tie. Kearney and Ohl would come in to quell the threat that got to 90 feet away, but would not cross. Then, when Elias Tovias opened the ninth with a leadoff single off Travis Giordano, there was no pinch-runner left to throw out there. Magallanes bunted the runner to second base, after which Jaden Booker walked, which was not furthering our cause. Ramos and Stalker made the last two outs in the inning. Ohl moved the game to extra innings where Hereford was denied extra bases in deep left by Ivan Vega before Spencer and Gomez hit a pair of singles that put them on the corners with one out. That brought up the #6 spot occupied by the pitcher at this point, so Armando Leal grabbed a stick and in a full count drew a bases-loading walk from Giordano, who normally was not the walking sort. Here came Tovias again, popped out, and the Coons went all out and sent Danny Morales to bat for Magallanes, the last bat off the bench. That count also ran full and ended up with Giordano missing grossly on the 3-2, pushing home Jarod Spencer with the first run in six innings. Jaden Booker then grounded over to short, Cameron to first… vaguely. Elder couldn't smother the spiked throw, the ball went into the dugout, and the Coons got two runs free or charge! Giordano then got directions first to walk Ramos onto the open base, then to the dugout himself, after which Jared Stone, a righty with a 16.20 ERA, nailed Tim Stalker to push in another run. Kevin Surginer ended the game after Hereford struck out aiming for the fences. 6-2 Coons. Spencer 1-1; Gomez 2-4; Tovias 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Morales (PH) 0-0, BB, RBI;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Millan – C Leal – 2B Spencer – P Roberts
NYC: C F. Delgado – 1B Elder – 3B Schmit – LF I. Vega – CF Hatley – SS Cameron – 2B Jam. Wilson – RF Torruellas – P Moffatt

Mark Roberts didn't even get an out before he loaded the bases in his first inning. A single by Felipe Delgado, a walk issued to Jay Elder, and then he nailed Andy Schmit outright. Ivan Vega hit an RBI single up the middle right away, and while Hatley struck out, a Joe Cameron grand slam to dead center surely moved this game away from Roberts and the Raccoons, who also had to swallow Alberto Ramos leaving the game with an injury right after the first inning. Stalker moved to short, Booker entered the game, and I was checking out where the next subway entrance was so I could throw myself in front of a train. It was a game entirely worth being flushed down the toilet without asking any further questions. While Roberts lasted five innings without allowing another run and struck out seven, the bottom line was ghastly, because Doug Moffatt at the same time shut down the Raccoons' offense more or less completely, allowing only two hits in five innings while ringing up six. The Crusaders piled three hits and two runs on Steve Costilow in the bottom 6th, putting the Raccoons in a 7-0 hole.

In eleven out of ten cases, the Raccoons were dead. Armando Leal hit a 2-run homer in the seventh that didn't make much difference. Rich Hereford hit a 2-run homer in the eighth and suddenly they were in save distance. If they wanted to rally all the way, though, they had to do it with the bottom of the order in the ninth inning against … Chris Klein? Well, the Crusaders probably knew best what to do with their countless millions. He struck out Leal. He struck out Spencer. Elias Tovias poked a 3-2 pitch into play, but grounded out. 7-4 Crusaders. Ramos 0-0, BB; Hereford 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Leal 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Spencer 2-4;

What happened to the team that knew how to pitch well and never scored a run?

Raccoons (11-4) vs. Knights (6-9) – April 21-23, 2028

The Raccoons were tied for second place in runs scored at this point, which had been the Knights' specialty for years with a strong hitting core around Ruben Luna. But Luna was no more, the Knights as a whole were not all that much anymore, and they were ninth in runs scored and tied for fifth in runs allowed, roughly equal with the Raccoons in the latter regard. The Raccoons had won six of nine games from Atlanta in 2027.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (1-1, 2.95 ERA) vs. Tim Wells (1-2, 2.77 ERA)
Billy Ramm (0-0) vs. Jim Shannon (0-1, 4.15 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (2-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. Mario Rosas (0-3, 7.79 ERA)

Left, right, and left from the Knights here, who had three southpaws in total in the rotation.

The Coons made roster moves; Steve Costilow (6.00 ERA) was sent back to AAA for Billy Ramm (5.14 ERA in AAA) who would make the spot start for Gutierrez. Furthermore, we put Alberto Ramos on the DL with a squishy shoulder (oh goody!) and brought up right-handed batting, 25-year-old INF German Sanchez as spare infielder. Sanchez had been a trash heap signing a few years back after originally signing with the Crusaders in 2019.

Oh by the way, when Ramm makes his spot start, ownership will be in the house!

Game 1
ATL: RF M. Walker – SS Duling – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Tadlock – CF N. Hall – 3B A. Alvarez – LF G. Ramirez – C Ayala – P Wells
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – LF Morales – CF Magallanes – P Nomura

The mess continued. Adrian Alvarez hit an RBI single in the second inning, in which the Knights hit a total of three singles, and the fourth inning saw the singles by Nate Hall and Alvarez, a throwing error by Juan Magallanes that allowed Hall to score, and then a Harenberg error put Victor Ayala on, too. Nomura drilled the opposing pitcher to load up the bases with one out. Mark Walker grounded a ball to Hereford, who tried to get two but couldn't. Alvarez scored with only the pitcher put out at second base. Mike Duling walked on four pitches to restock the bases, but at least Josh Johnson flew out to Rafael Gomez, keeping the score at 3-0. While the Knights were running circles around them, and the game took place in rain that had started in the fourth inning and got steadily worse, the Raccoons amounted only to one base hit in the first five innings before Magallanes led off the bottom 6th with a soft single. Nomura bunted him to second base, Stalker flew out to right, but Spencer dropped a ball into the gap between Guadalupe Ramirez and Nate Hall for an RBI double. Yay, life! Except, no, death. The game went into a rain delay at this point, and never emerged from it. It was finally called hours later. 3-1 Knights. Magallanes 1-2;

Well, at least THIS was not the game Nick Valdes attended…

Who's going to pitch again on Saturday?

Game 2
ATL: RF M. Walker – SS Duling – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Tadlock – CF N. Hall – LF C. Mendoza – 3B A. Alvarez – C Ayala – P Shannon
POR: SS Stalker – CF Millan – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – LF Spencer – C Tovias – 2B Sanchez – P Ramm

Two debutees at once – oh jolly! The Knights had no trouble reaching base against Billy Ramm, putting two on in the first before Ron Tadlock hit into a double play, after which Nate Hall hit a solo homer in the second inning. Mark Walker then hit into a double play to end the third inning, while the Coons had another slow start against Jim Shannon, but German Sanchez' first plate appearance of his major league career yielded a leadoff walk in the bottom 3rd, after which Ramm bunted him to second base. Tim Stalker put a clean single into centerfield and the speedy Sanchez dashed around third base to score the tying run. But while Tim Stalker stole second base, the Raccoons couldn't get him around to score, other than the Knights and Nate Hall in the fourth inning. Hall hit a single, stole second base and made it to third before the Coons walked Ayala with two outs to get to the pitcher Shannon. Ramm, however, was not even close to getting out of this one, surrendering a sharp RBI single to break the tie again. Only a nifty play on Mark Walker by Tim Stalker ended the inning, down 2-1.

The misery wasn't close to an end. The Knights had two more 2-out hits before Ramm ached his way out of the fifth inning, and in the bottom of that frame, Elias Tovias led off with a double to left, then was thrown out at third base when he misguidedly thought he had a triple. I could hardly believe it and I was sure that Nick Valdes wouldn't be able to believe it either. Tovias continued to suck on defense then in the sixth. Adrian Alvarez led off the top 6th with a single, Ramm leaked a walk to Ayala, and then Tovias threw away Shannon's bunt for a 2-base, run-scoring error. The gates were wide open now; Mark Walker grounded past Sanchez, which plated both runs, and Gomez' throw home also allowed Walker to second base. The Coons lifted the useless Ramm after five innings, nine hits, and four walks, and five runs and counting. It would end up being six after Jonathan Fleischer failed to keep Walker on base. The runner moved up on Mike Duling's fly to right, then scored on John Johnson's groundout. Even with Shannon out after the seventh inning, the Coons couldn't get a paw up against them. There was no miraculous comeback this time. The Raccoons lost feebly and entirely meekly. 7-1 Knights. Booker (PH) 1-1;

Four of the six runs on Ramm were unearned, somehow leaving him with a 3.60 ERA after this shambling appearance.

Game 3
ATL: RF M. Walker – SS Duling – 1B Tadlock – LF C. Mendoza – 2B J. Johnson – CF N. Hall – 3B A. Alvarez – C Ayala – P Rosas
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – LF Morales – C Leal – P Delgadillo

Another game, another early deficit, as the Raccoons starters kept and kept and kept stinking it up. Chris Mendoza hit a leadoff double in the second inning, Adrian Alvarez added a single, and with runners on the corners, Ayala landed a 2-run double behind Rafael Gomez to put the Knights up 2-0 in the second inning. Delgadillo kept fooling nobody, but at least the Raccoons made some vague motion for offense in the bottom of the third inning. Tim Stalker hit a 1-out single, then was in motion when Jarod Spencer found the gap in left-center for an RBI double. Too bad that Hereford grounded out and Harenberg whiffed… But somebody else came through – not necessarily Rafael Gomez, who was batting .209 and struggled to find even second gear for his season, but at least he drew a leadoff walk in the bottom 4th. Danny Morales, bit piece at best on the roster, was the one coming through, rocking a 410-footer to right-center to flip the score and give the Raccoons their first lead since New York.

Unfortunately, Delgadillo kept being pushed around… sixth-inning doubles by Ron Tadlock and John Johnson would tie the score while the home team still sat on just three base hits. Hadn't they been second in runs scored just a few days ago?? Yusneldan lumbered through seven before being hauled in, after which Ricky Ohl saw to the 3-3 tie in the eighth, and Billy Brotman did so in the ninth. The Coons were still on three base hits as the bottom 9th blossomed and with it a walkoff chance to end a 3-game losing streak. Lefty Adrian McQuinn was the pitcher, and secured three quick outs from the 4-5-6 batters that were now a combined 0-for-10 in the game. Top 10th, McLin struck out Ray Collado and Walker before Duling grounded out to Rich Hereford, bringing up the bottom of the order against right-hander Ray Blair. Morales whiffed and Leal flew out to right, but Magallanes walked. However, Tim Stalker had no magic in him right now and grounded out. Top 11th, McLin walked Mendoza with one out, and then a potential double play grounder eluded Spencer for a single to right with Josh Johnson at the plate. Guadalupe Ramirez broke the tie with a clean single to left, and only then did Alvarez hit into a double play, keeping the score at 4-3. Ed Blair yielded a 1-out single to Hereford in the bottom 11th, upon which the royally useless Kevin Harenberg immediately bopped into a game-ending double play. 4-3 Knights.

In other news

April 17 – Gold Sox SP Robby Gonzalez (3-0, 0.83 ERA) not only remains unscored upon in a 6-0 win over the Scorpions, but also refuses to concede a base hit to Sacramento. This is the 53rd no-hitter in ABL history, and the first ever for a Gold Sox pitcher.
April 17 – DEN RF/1B Brad Gore (.245, 0 HR, 5 RBI) might be out for a month with a broken foot.
April 18 – The Canadiens' Emilio Farias (.333, 0 HR, 0 RBI) lands his first base hit of the season, which is also the 41-year-old's 2,500th career hit, of which 2,499 have not been for the Canadiens. Farias was a 2-time batting champion in the 2010s and is a career .317 batter with only 10 home runs.
April 19 – DAL INF Bob Rojas (.338, 0 HR, 7 RBI) is on a 20-game hitting streak that began in 2027 with the Pacifics.
April 19 – OCT CF Dave Garcia (.264, 0 HR, 7 RBI) will be out for at least six weeks with a strained oblique. Garcia, 33, amounted to only 158 games in the last two years combined.
April 20 – The hitting streak of Star Bob Rojas (.324, 0 HR, 7 RBI) that began in a different year and with a different team ends with an 0-for-3 day in a 3-2 win over the Wolves.
April 22 – The Cyclones overcome a 2-1 deficit against the Pacifics with a 10-run eighth inning to claim an 11-2 victory. In that momentous eighth inning, CIN SS Frank Eisenberg (.274, 0 HR, 13 RBI) hits both a 2-run triple and a 3-run double for Player of the Game honors.

Complaints and stuff

Well, unsurprisingly Nick Valdes gave me **** after the drab presentation the Raccoons offered on Saturday. He questioned a lot of things, foremost why the heck an undercooked pitcher like Billy Ramm was starting such an important game. I responded that we had suffered quite a few injuries already. Valdes responded that everybody had injuries. Injuries could not be an excuse.

Speaking of injuries… Alberto Ramos will miss about six weeks with the shoulder thing, which is such a good thing to hear… did you notice that ever since he left the game on Thursday, things have been going downhill in a straight line? He reminds me more an dmore and more off the young Cookie. An awesome presence on the field… WHEN he was on the field at all.

But the crisis is here and the crisis is real. Once Ramos was gone, the team scored nine runs in 38 innings. Looks like the large-scale, riotous sucking will start a few months earlier than usual this season…

Also this week, Kyle Anderson started a rehab assignment in the minors. We will see how that goes. Any sort of pitcher being even remotely decent would help right now after a week in which Raccoons starting pitchers allowed themselves to be ravished for a 4.88 ERA. Which does not sound so bad until you realize that there were also plenty of unearned runs that were really just the result of one error followed by lots more braindead pitching. Raccoons starting pitchers allowed 6.17 runs per nine innings overall this week. WHILE the offense went on the DL.

Fun Fact: Only once before were the Gold Sox involved in a no-hitter, then on the receiving end on July 25, 2025, when Richmond's Todd Wood held them hitless in an 8-0 rout.

Not that Denver is that great for cycles, either. "Only" four have been hit a mile above sea level, and then three of those by visiting players. Eugene Carter in 2011 was the only Gold Sock to ever hit a cycle at home. He was also a catcher with only 20 career triples and 51 career homers across nine years of major league service with four different teams.
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Old 01-17-2019, 06:19 AM   #2705
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Raccoons (11-7) vs. Bayhawks (5-14) – April 24-26, 2028

The Raccoons, 0-4 since losing Alberto Ramos onto the DL, faced the worst team in the majors, coincidentally also the only CL South team they had come up short against in the season series in 2027 (4-5). The Baybirds were sixth in runs scored but dead last in runs conceded, surrendering counters to the opposition at a rate of 5.5 runs per game, not really a sustainable rate if you longed for something other than the cellar.

Projected matchups:
George James (1-0, 3.15 ERA) vs. Matt Huf (0-3, 3.60 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-1, 2.33 ERA) vs. Alejandro Mendez (1-1, 3.45 ERA)
Rin Nomura (1-2, 2.96 ERA) vs. Mike Cavallin (0-1, 4.71 ERA)

Two right-handers followed by the southpaw Cavallin on Wednesday. The Raccoons so far actually had a winning record against pitchers of either couleur, but if the trajectory was pointing downwards right now this was also a good time to get rid of that 3-2 record against lefties.

There was still no roster move regarding Billy Ramm, since we were not entirely sure that Rico Gutierrez could make his next start.

Game 1
SFB: CF Hawthorne – SS O. Camacho – 1B Caraballo – LF J. Correa – RF C. Martinez – 3B G. Ortíz – C Jai. Jackson – 2B Quantrille – P Huf
POR: LF Millan – SS Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – C Tovias – P James

No, nothing was scheduled to immediately get better. The Bayhawks got a leadoff single in the first hit by George Hawthorne, but then also an Omar Camacho double play of the 4-6-3 fashion. Cesar Martinez improved on that performance in the second inning with a leadoff jack to left, and James merrily kept putting runners on base. He walked Greg Ortíz, allowed a single to Jeremy Quantrille, and when Ortíz raced for third base on that play, Rafael Gomez' wild throw allowed him to score. Somehow Matt Huf did not drive in Quantrille from second base with a spiked grounder that Jarod Spencer JUST got paws on at the keystone, and the Bayhawks had to settle for a 2-0 lead. Not that this would stop James from pitching like complete and utter garbage – the third inning would begin with a Camacho single, then inept walks given out to Tomas Caraballo and Jon Correa. And why stop there? With the bases loaded and nobody out, James missed with all four attempts to Martinez, walking in a run, and also walked Ortíz on five pitches, at which point he was yanked. Jeff Kearney replaced him, yet brought no relief. Run-scoring walk to Jaiden Jackson, then two run-scoring groundouts to further balloon the score, an RBI single hit by Hawthorne, then two walks to fill the bases again. Down 8-0 and with three on once more, the Raccoons lifted the white flag and sent Jonathan Fleischer to do whatever he liked. Nothing mattered anymore. In the end, he surrendered three more runs on two singles by Correa and Martinez. It had rained nine runs on the Raccoons in the inning, and now it rained a steady shower of boos from the stands by all of those that weren't going home right away. There was some fine pitching on display despite the Raccoons' staff pitching like recycled dog's dinner – Matt Huf carried a 2-hitter into the deep innings, and only started to fade late. The Raccoons had no runs, but the bases loaded in the bottom 9th when Danny Morales batted with two outs … and grounded out to short, leaving the ex-Coon Huf with a 5-hit shutout. 14-0 Bayhawks. Mora 2-3, BB; Surginer 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K;

As indicated, the Bayhawks plated three more runs after shackling James and Kearney for 11. Fleischer surrendered one in the fifth; Surginer surrendered an unearned run (Gomez again…) in the eighth; and Danny Morales allowed a run in the ninth but was probably second-best "pitcher" to Surginer in this effort.

"Effort".

Game 2
SFB: CF Hawthorne – SS O. Camacho – LF J. Correa – RF C. Martinez – 1B Caraballo – 3B G. Ortíz – C R. Anderson – 2B Quantrille – P A. Mendez
POR: LF Millan – 2B Spencer – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Booker – C Tovias – SS Sanchez – P Roberts

Although it would have been the honorable thing to do after a 14-run drubbing to extend a losing streak to five and that also cost the team the lead in the division, the wacky Coons did not fold outright and instead were back on the field for Tuesday. Great resilience! If only they could add a vague semblance of success to that, because Alberto Ramos will be out until the end of May and I can't take a 36-game losing streak…

Roberts walked two and threw a wild pitch in the opening inning and somehow escaped without conceding a septillion runs right away when Caraballo flew out to Mora in center to end the inning. The Bayhawks would put the leadoff man on in every inning to start this game, and Hawthorne was on his second leadoff walk by the top of the third. Roberts seemed fine until he surrendered a 2-run homer to Cesar Martinez, and once again the tailspin began. Caraballo singled, Greg Ortíz doubled him in, and it was 3-0 before the inning was over. The Coons had stranded a pair in the first inning and weren't inclined to score further down the road, either, with Hereford smashing a ball into an inning-ending double play when Millan and Spencer put up back-to-back 1-out singles in the bottom 3rd. Bottom 4th, Harenberg drew a leadoff walk (yay, slugger!), Mora flew out to right, but Booker found the gap for a double. Runners in scoring position, one out, Tovias had a chance to keep his team in the game here, grounded out embarrassingly to Caraballo to keep the runners parked, and German Sanchez flew out to left… Sanchez at least had going for him that nobody expected him to be remotely useful, dead or alive, at any point, on or off the field…

Roberts was done after five innings and 104 ghastly pitches, burying the crushed bullpen even further. That beleaguered bullpen was even able to throw a few zeroes on the wall, but the same thing was done by "Ant" Mendez, who was not moved by the Raccoons pity attempts to hit a ball with the stick. There was the occasional sad single, but no runner in scoring position early in an inning until Omar Millan hit a leadoff double in the eighth that Hawthorne in center touched, but couldn't contain in a backwards motion. A Greg Ortíz error on Spencer's grounder put runners on the corners and brought up the tying run, who was in a flying retreat to the tune of 4-for-26, but did we have any choice at all? Hereford struck out, Harenberg hit a useless sac fly, and Mora flew out to left. Alex Ramos then saw them off 1-2-3 in the ninth. 3-1 Bayhawks. Millan 2-4; Spencer 2-4; Harenberg 1-2, BB, RBI;

(sits silently in a dark office)

Game 3
SFB: CF Hawthorne – SS O. Camacho – LF J. Correa – RF C. Martinez – 1B Caraballo – 3B G. Ortíz – C R. Anderson – 2B Hawkins – P Cavallin
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – RF Booker – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – 1B Gomez – CF Magallanes – C Leal – P Nomura

Another day, another early deficit, this time when Nomura bled a 1-out single to Mike Cavallin, the opposing pitcher, in the third inning, swiftly followed by a Hawthorne gapper that split Morales and Magallanes for a double and plated even the tardy pitcher from first base to put San Francisco up 1-0. That was all the Bayhawks got off a scruffy Nomura through five, but was still enough to hold off the Raccoons, who amounted to three singles off Cavallin, two of those with two down, and the one that didn't come with two down, Magallanes' in the fifth, ended up being erased on a failed stolen base attempt. Top 6th, the Bayhawks opened the inning with a Correa single, Martinez drew a 4-pitch walk, and Caraballo singled to load them up with nobody out. Magallanes could not get to an Ortíz gapper that plated two, and after Ryan Anderson struck out, Tom Hawkins brought in another run with a groundout, putting their lead at 4-0, in other words, enough to win another three games against the sucker bunch that called this place home and that was on the verge of a 7-game losing streak. San Francisco added on with a solo homer by Correa in the seventh, the fifth and final run off Nomura.

That game was probably over. Time to get senselessly drunk. But I was still fighting to open the bottle due to all the crying and shaking and considered to just break off the bottle neck on the edge of the desk when the Raccoons put Morales and Magallanes got on base in the bottom 7th. Oh great, the teasers are back! Omar Millan batted for Surginer and hit an RBI single. Jarod Spencer came up with two down as well… and hit an RBI single. Tim Stalker hit a drive to center that eluded Hawthorne and ended up with him reached third base standing up on a 2-run triple that cut the gap to 5-4. Booker walked, and Hereford struck out, and the inning was over. The Baybirds pulled a run back in the eighth, unearned against Jonathan Fleischer who allowed a leadoff double to Ortíz before a 2-out fumble by Spencer allowed the runner to score. The disgusting Critters never put another runner on base. 6-4 Bayhawks. Stalker 2-4, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI; Morales 2-4; Millan (PH) 1-2, RBI;

(shrugs)

On the following off day, the Raccoons sent Billy Ramm back to AAA and activated Rico Gutierrez from the DL. He would start on Saturday.

Raccoons (11-10) @ Titans (13-9) – April 28-30, 2028

The Titans had not yet found their stride despite going 11-5 ever since a wobbly opening week. They were second from the bottom in runs scored, but had also conceded the fewest runs – 3.05 markers per game for the opposition. The Coons inexplicably were 3-0 against them in 2028, but how on Earth was THIS series not ending in another sweep?

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (2-0, 4.07 ERA) vs. Guillermo Regalado (2-1, 3.86 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Chris Munroe (2-0, 2.74 ERA)
George James (1-1, 5.73 ERA) vs. Lorenzo Viamontes (0-3, 3.67 ERA)

Three right-handers. Not that it matters.

Also, Nick Valdes called and sent emails and also hired a blimp that flew over Raccoons Ballpark before we left for Boston on Thursday, urgently requesting more info on the current depressing situation. I ignored all of it.

I could not offer any explanation. Maybe my head. But no explanation. Except that Alberto Ramos had gone on the DL. Stupid Ramos! It was all his fault!

Game 1
POR: LF Millan – 2B Spencer – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Booker – SS Stalker – C Tovias – P Delgadillo
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – RF Good – 1B Gasso – C Leonard – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – SS Spataro – P Regalado

The Raccoons wasted a Jaden Booker double in the second inning before the skies crashed down on them once more. Delgadillo opened the bottom 2nd with a single surrendered to Gus Gasso, quickly followed by a free pass to Keith Leonard. While Adam Corder popped out, Delgadillo balked the runners into scoring position. Rhett West hit a sac fly to left, Spataro walked on four semi-intentional pitches, and when Regalado grounded to Stalker with two outs, Stalker fumbled the ****ing ball for an error that stacked the bags for none other than Our Doom, Adrian Reichardt. Stunningly, Reichardt failed to stun the Coons for the rest of the game and fouled out behind home plate, keeping Boston to a 1-0 lead after two innings. Of course, any 1-0 deficit was transitory with the royal clown show we had going on. The Raccoons had chances to pull even or ahead; Spencer hit into a double play to kill the third inning, and Stalker grounded out to short to strand Harenberg and Booker in the fourth. The bottom 4th saw West hit a leadoff single and Delgadillo walk Spataro, with the runners being then bunted over by Regalado. This time, Reichardt would not be indeed, knocking a 2-run double into the leftfield corner to extend the Titans' edge to 3-0, and they made it 4-0 in the fifth on Corder's 2-out double to deep center that plated Gus Gasso.

That was all from Delgadillo, but nearly all from the royal clown show, which put Hereford and Harenberg on base with singles in the sixth, and then had Abel Mora hit into another priced double play. Instead, Rhett West hit a 2-out single off Fleischer in the seventh that plated Leonard (walked by Kearney on four pitches) and Corder (double off Fleischer). Jarod Spencer in turn hit into another double play in the eighth…! It was almost fascinating. Another run fell out of Fleischer in the bottom 8th despite him retiring the first two batters. Willie Vega then singled, was balked over, but Fleischer walked Matt Good anyway, and to cut a long tragedy a bit shorter, allowed another run on a Gasso single. The Raccoons were good for a meaningless run off Javy Salomon in the ninth, and that was all. 7-1 Titans. Hereford 2-4; Harenberg 2-4; Gomez (PH) 1-1, 3B; Booker 3-4, 2B, RBI;

Game 2
POR: LF Millan – 2B Spencer – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – SS Stalker – RF Gomez – C Tovias – P Gutierrez
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS S. Williams – 1B Gasso – RF Kuramoto – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – C Leonard – P Munroe

When Millan, Harenberg, and Mora piled up first-inning singles on Chris Munroe, a Coon a long while ago, to SCORE A RUN IN THE FIRST, panic broke out in the ranks immediately. Oh dear, their first lead since Sunday (and the second since previous Tuesday in New York, three teams ago)! – what do? what do?? Chaos intensified when Tim Stalker turned an 0-2 pitch into a clean 2-out RBI single to center, increasing their lead to 2-0 (the largest since New York…); also, Chris Munroe left the game with an apparent injury, because no healthy pitcher could surrender four hits in one inning to those brown-clad window lickers from the Pacific wilderness, right? Long-serving Rafael Urbano entered the game and got Rafael Gomez to fly out to left, ending the top 1st. That was not the only early loss for the Titans, who also had Reichardt struck in the hand by a Gutierrez pitch and he had to leave the game, too. Spataro replaced him, while West was already on base after a single, and then Gutierrez walked Leonard on four pitches. The Titans sent Mike Bednarski, hitless on the year, to pinch-hit, which should have made me feel good, but if Bednarski would ever hit a grand slam in his life, this was the spot to do it. Nope, he hit a soft liner to Spencer for the second out, and Vega flew out to Millan, stranding a full set as the Titans were actively hurting.

Not that the Coons felt all that well, with Gutierrez going over to routinely throwing three balls to everybody. The Titans still made three outs without getting on base in the bottom 3rd, but Corder drew the leadoff walk in the fourth. Spataro grounded a 3-1 pitch to short, but Corder took out Spencer to break up the double play, and Leonard grounded out to Harenberg on ANOTHER 3-1 pitch. GODDAMNIT, RICO, GET YOUR ****ING **** **** TOGETHER!!!

Meanwhile, three hits scored another run in the fifth inning… for Portland! Millan led off with a double to left, Hereford singled and stole second, and then Harenberg placed an infield grounder so well that nobody could play it and he got an RBI infield single out of it, 3-0. Abel Mora upped to 4-0 with a double to center, and all of this was left-handed batters undoing left-handed pitcher Mike Stank, who frankly reeked like defeat, at least until he encountered right-handed batters again and struck out Stalker and Gomez to strand a pair in scoring position. But maybe the Raccoons would be alright after losing eight in a row – Gutierrez started to pitch more to contact after running up 89 pitches in five innings of 2-hit ball. There was no shutout in the cards, but at least he managed to get through another two innings on then just 19 pitches. Things looked good for a change … until Jeff Kearney came out for the eighth, faced two left-handed batters, and put both of them on base. Giovanni James had a pinch-hit single, and Vega walked on four pitches. Kevin Surginer replaced him, whiffed Stephen Williams before loading the bags with a free pass to Gasso. Yasuhiro Kuramoto popped out, but Corder sent a deep drive to right. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh Gomez at the fence. RIGHT AT THE FENCE. 4-0 Coons. Millan 2-4, BB, 2B; Hereford 2-5; Harenberg 2-5, RBI; Mora 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Tovias 2-3, BB; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 K, W (1-0); Surginer 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, SV (2);

Game 3
POR: LF Millan – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – SS Stalker – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 2B Sanchez – P Geo. James
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – RF Good – 1B Gasso – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – C Gio. James – SS Spataro – P Viamontes

Viamontes had 17 walks and six strikeouts in 27 innings this year, which was supposed to instill us with confidence, but confidence died at some point during the most recent homestand. Also, George James had 16 walks in 22 innings, so it was not like there were no common issues here. In fact, Viamontes had a clean first inning, while James was in trouble before he even registered a single out. Reichardt singled, Vega walked, and then they couldn't turn a double play on Good. Gus Gasso plated the first run of the game with a groundout, after which Corder flew out to shallow rightfield to end the inning. Meanwhile, Viamontes walked nobody and struck out three the first time through the Raccoons' order… The miserable Coons had only one hit and one walk against him through five, while whiffing six times (so as many as he had rung up in 27 prior innings), and James got blown up in the bottom 5th after singles by Spataro and Reichardt, when Willie Vega hit a 2-out, 3-run blast that they struggled to measure, 4-0, and George James was erased for good by Giovanni James in the bottom 6th with another raucous 2-run blast to center, and also with two outs. McLin ended that inning, then began the bottom 7th by walking the demon Viamontes. (angrily throws Coons cap against the nearest wall) YOU ASS!! That run would come around to score when Billy Brotman failed to remove left-handed batters, but wasn't that all this team was about? Failing, failing, failing, 52 years later and still failing… Viamontes pitched 5-hit shutout, walking only Tim Stalker once, and that was it. 7-0 Titans. Stalker 1-2, BB; Morales (PH) 1-1;

In other news

April 25 – LAP SP Jim Bryant (1-1, 5.79 ERA) will be shut down for three weeks due to forearm tendinitis.
April 26 – PIT RF/LF Yvon Bonaccorsi (.286, 2 HR, 12 RBI) might be lost for the season with a torn labrum.
April 27 – The Pacifics will also be without OF Justin Fowler (.417, 6 HR, 24 RBI) for the month of May. Fowler is out with a strained abdominal muscle.
April 29 – VAN CL Troy Charters (1-2, 4.35 ERA, 4 SV) notches his 300th career save by preserving a 4-1 Canadiens win over the Crusaders. The 35-year-old Charters, who was on his 11th major league team, has a 3.81 ERA and 877 K for his career encompassing 910 games.
April 29 – CHA OF Graciano Salto (.267, 3 HR, 9 RBI) figures to miss at least a month with a broken finger.
April 29 – The Loggers trade INF/LF Sam Green (.297, 1 HR, 14 RBI) and a prospect to the Stars for SP Alex Contreras (2-1, 1.93 ERA).

Complaints and stuff

I don't know, I got nothing. Although I must admit it probably takes real skill to suck this bad and this consistently.

Regarding the stats table for April I would like to remind you that early last week the team was not only 11-3 but also second in runs scored. Well, stopping ALL the scoring and losing eight of nine took care of everything nice around here. Now we only have a pitching staff surrendering the most walks in the league and I don't ****ing know why.

I feel a losing season materializing, and a pretty ****ing bad one.

1997 anyone?

Fun Fact: After 24 games in 1997, the Raccoons were already 8-16 and had established that there was something seriously wrong about them.

Funnily enough, back then I blamed rotten luck for the dastardly dysfunctional April, because why wouldn't I? The team was largely identical to the one that had won 108 games the previous year – still the record for wins for a Raccoons team and also their only triple-digit wins season. But there are parallels – a dire stretch to end April (1-6), no offense of any sort, and the key player – then Neil Reece – going on the DL pretty much as soon as the season started, while another major contributor was struggling to meet the .200 mark. Now it's Rafael Gomez, then it was Vern Kinnear.

It all worked out for Vern – who was a Coons Rookie of the Year like Ramos and Nunley – in the end.

Yellow #16 on the blue shirt, fist raised, stomping first base to win Game 7 in 2001…
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Old 01-18-2019, 11:17 AM   #2706
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Raccoons (12-12) @ Loggers (14-10) – May 1-3, 2028

The situation had eroded badly enough that the Raccoons found themselves behind the Loggers at the start of May, which was always provoking a feeling of foreboding. If you can't beat the Loggers… well… doom. Milwaukee had started reasonably well, but the writing was on the wall for them as well. They had as many runs scored as they had conceded, both right around the league average of 4.1 per game. Things could obviously still go either way for them, but c'mon, it was the Loggers. Things usually went downhill for them early and fast. Probably not this week, though. The Loggers had not won a season series from the Raccoons since *2013*, and had won eight times against Portland in 2027.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (3-2, 2.81 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (2-2, 4.78 ERA)
Rin Nomura (1-3, 3.77 ERA) vs. Alex Contreras (2-1, 1.93 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (2-1, 4.60 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (3-2, 3.71 ERA)

These were all right-handers. Contreras and Soto had both pitched in a double-header on Friday, so they could also arrive the other way round, but why would you shift back the better guy?

Game 1
POR: LF Millan – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – SS Stalker – RF Gomez – 2B Spencer – C Leal – P Roberts
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – CF Hollingsworth – 1B Cambra – RF W. Trevino – C J. Young – SS Ferrer – LF Rueda – 2B Becker – P Shepherd

Morgan Shepherd not only rung up six Critters in the first three innings, but was also the only Logger with a base hit their first time through the order, a 2-out single up the middle in the bottom 3rd. He swiftly scored on a long double by Vinny Diaz before Steve Hollingsworth (.366, 3 HR, 8 RBI in April…) flew out to Abel Mora. Up until then, Mark Roberts had whiffed three Loggers, all in the second inning. The Coons got their first hit in the fourth, Hereford singling to right after Abel Mora had drawn a leadoff walk against Shepherd. Two on, no outs cried for something stupid, but Manny Ferrer's only play on Harenberg's grounder was to first, yet after that Tim Stalker grounded back to the mound on a 3-1 pitch. Two down, Rafael Gomez walked in a full count to load the bases for Spencer, who hit a dying quail to shallow center to flip the score after all, bringing in two runs. Leal then even legged out an infield grounder to reload the bases, but Roberts got rung up to end the inning, then blew the lead right away. Singles by Firmino Cambra and Ferrer sandwiched a clumsy walk to Jim Young, and that was enough to get a run across. Roberts also lost Alexis Rueda, but with the bags full, Jeff Becker hit a grounder into an inning-ending double play, keeping it at 2-2 through four innings.

Roberts would end up with a no-decision, but not without blowing another lead. Rich Hereford, the ABL RBI leader, brought in Omar Millan with a (wild pitch aided) sac fly in the fifth inning, but Roberts again stumbled over the middle of the order in the sixth and Jim Young tied the game with an RBI single. Roberts did not return after the sixth inning, but the Coons kept the game tied when Kearney whiffed Cambra to strand McLin's runners on the corners in the seventh, and Ricky Ohl blazed away a few Loggers in the eighth. Rafael Gomez, much beleaguered, then opened the ninth with a ripped double to left against southpaw Alex Gutierrez – a splendid situation that absolutely demanded them to score the go-ahead run, even more so when Gutierrez uncorked a wild pitch to move Gomez to third. There, he would be stranded. Despite walks to Leal and Millan, Spencer and Danny Morales made absolutely ****ty outs, and Tovias struck out batting for Abel Mora. Never mind that the Loggers also stranded the winning run at third base, which arrived there with one out against Billy Brotman, who allowed a 1-out single to PH Jason Parten, then run for by Jason Rauser, walked Andrew Cooper, then threw a wild pitch. Diaz struck out in a full count, and then PH Tyler Canody grounded out to Brotman, of all people. The Raccoons' RBI leaders then worked to break the tie in the 10th. Hereford coaxed a leadoff walk from southpaw Travis Feider, moved up as Harenberg went to 0-for-5 with a grounder, then was sent for home on Tim Stalker's single to right. Willie Trevino injured himself on a throw he got nothing on, and Rich Hereford scored safely in sad circumstances. Although the Coons loaded the bases when Gomez was walked intentionally and Armando Leal was nicked, they failed to score again, instead leaving Josh Boles to his own devices. Boles got two grounders from Cambra and Francisco Colmanarez, Trevino's replacement, then walked a pair, then was screamed at by the pitching coach, and THEN struck out Alexis Rueda to end the game… 4-3 Coons. Hereford 1-2, 2 BB, RBI;

Game 2
POR: RF Millan – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – SS Stalker – LF Morales – 2B Spencer – P Nomura
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – CF Hollingsworth – 1B Cambra – RF Rueda – C J. Young – SS Ferrer – LF Schorsch – 2B Becker – P D. Soto

The second inning saw the Critters hit six singles of varying softness; Tovias and Stalker started with clean singles to left before Morales and Spencer made outs. Rin Nomura singled up the middle with Jeff Becker diving and touching the ball in such a way that he knocked it away into left center, allowing the Critters to send home Tovias for the first run of the game. Millan loaded them up with an infield single, Mora plated one run with a single that fell between Hollingsworth and Rueda as they shooed another off, and then Hereford plated two more runs with a hard single to left-center. The string, of course, ended with Harenberg, batting .236 with no homers, nor a clue, but at least Nomura had a 4-0 cushion. That could only mean one thing – disaster was to strike soon!

Nothing terrible happened immediately, though. It was still 4-0 after four, with the top 5th seeing Stalker kill a situation with one out and Hereford and Tovias on the corners when he hit into a 6-4-3 double play. In the bottom of the inning, the Coons could have used a double play, but wouldn't get it when Nomura loaded them up with two singles and a walk. Soto himself hit a sac fly to Abel Mora, but at least Diaz struck out to keep the score at 4-1. The Coons would not get another run off Soto, but did score on Philip Rogers in the ninth inning when Tovias singled home Abel Mora, who had led off with a single before Hereford had drawn a walk and Harenberg – inept or outrageously unlucky? – had lined out to Jason Rauser at short. Booker then batted for Stalker, but ended the inning with a double play grounder. Thus the Coons had a 4-run lead, and Nomura was back for the ninth inning after doing away with the Loggers in 90 pitches over eight innings, yielding just five base hits. Hollingsworth popped out to left before Cambra singled. Well, that could happen – Cambra just happened to the opposing team, nothing you could do about it. Another left-handed bat was up in Rueda, who grounded out to first, and then another one in Jim Young, who ended the game with a grounder to short. 5-1 Raccoons! Hereford 2-3, 2 BB, 2 RBI; Tovias 3-5, RBI; Stalker 2-4; Nomura 9.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (2-3) and 1-2, 2 BB, RBI;

At the conclusion of the Tuesday games, all teams in the CL North except for the last-place Indians were only one game apart from the division-leading 15-12 Titans to the fifth-place, 14-13 Crusaders.

The Raccoons would however not get a chance to reach for the top on Wednesday, with steady rain in Milwaukee washing out the conclusion of the series and giving the Raccoons back-to-back off days in the middle of the week.

The damn Elks emerged division leaders with a 3-1 win over the Titans on Wednesday night, but roles reversed on Thursday when the Elks blew a 10-5 lead in the ninth inning, and the Titans were back in the lead on Friday morning.

Raccoons (14-12) @ Stars (11-17) – May 5-7, 2028

The Stars kept feeding at the bottom of the pond where they had been regulated to more or less ever since the Hugo Mendoza trade (which didn't exactly turn the Raccoons into perennial winners, either). They were already six games out in the FL West, sat in the bottom three in terms of runs scored, and were merely mediocre in terms of runs allowed, a weird mix for any team that played in a shoe box like theirs. Stunningly, they were LAST in home runs in the Federal League. Their entire team had amounted to as many homers as Rich Hereford at this point. These teams had most recently met two years ago, when the Stars swept the Critters in three games.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (1-0, 0.75 ERA) vs. Chris Brooks (1-3, 5.23 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (2-1, 4.60 ERA) vs. Eric Davidson (2-3, 2.95 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-2, 3.08 ERA) vs. Brian Simmons (0-3, 5.68 ERA)

The grizzled veteran Brian Simmons, 37, figured to be the only southpaw opposition for this week. Portland would skip the confusing mess that was George James entirely and switched Rico and Yusneldan so as to not have all three southpaws going one after another down the road.

Game 1
POR: LF Millan – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – RF Gomez – SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – P Gutierrez
DAL: 3B B. Rojas – 2B Hendricks – SS S. Green – CF Botzet – 1B Figueroa – RF Collins – C Wool – LF O'Rourke – P Brooks

The Coons scratched out single runs in the second inning (Spencer sac fly) and third (Harenberg RBI double), but already lost a run in the third when Abel Mora got caught stealing before Harenberg ultimately drove in Rich Hereford, and then Rico gave it all away again in the bottom 3rd against the bottom of the order. Josh Wool singled, Dave O'Rourke walked, and then he got outs from Brooks (bunt) and Bob Rojas (K), but still surrendered a 2-out, 2-run single to Eric Hendricks. Back to square one, the Coons started the top 4th with a string of hits; Rafael Gomez doubled up the leftfield line, then came around on the pair of singles chipped in by Stalker and Spencer. A double steal gone awry took away another base runner before both Rico Gutierrez and Omar Millan flew out to 2027 FL Rookie of the Year Aaron Botzet in centerfield…

Brooks opened the fifth with walks to Mora and Hereford, and for now we would try to not run into another CS here. In this park, and even against a Stars team that didn't score a damn lot, it was not wise to throw away runners like that, especially with Kevin Harenberg up, who had hit a home run in recent memory, though not in this season in 95 attempts. Then a wild pitch advanced the runners anyway, and Harenberg? Grounded out to Hendricks to up the score to 4-2, but strikeouts then stranded Hereford at third base. Worse yet, Harenberg struck out with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning… Gutierrez, Mora, and Hereford had all singled for the good cause. Harenberg, batting .229/.269/.261, had none of it. Bottom 6th – more horrors! Hendricks grounded to Spencer, fumble, error. Sam Green grounded to Stalker. Fumble. Error. Botzet hit a soft fly to center, Mora misread it and it dropped for an RBI single, and then Jesus Figueroa's grounder to third… Fumble. Error. Not only Rico Gutierrez gleamed angrily at the infielders surrounding him like hired assassins. And I was realistic about it, this game was always going to end up in the drain anyway… but didn't. Ryan Collins popped out, and Josh Wool hit into a 4-6-3 double play, keeping the Coons ahead at a 4-3 rate. However, there was discontent in the flock. When Jarod Spencer patted Rico on the back as the team vacated the field, Gutierrez knocked off the second baseman's paw and growled at him…

The game went on with Tony Dominguez picking off Rafael Gomez at first base in the seventh, before finally some bloke hit a ball outta here. It was even one in a brown shirt – Abel Mora conquered southpaw Michael Frank for a 2-piece in the eighth, collecting Omar Millan and his 1-out walk for a 6-3 lead! Frank also surrendered the maiden hit of German Sanchez, a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth inning that plated Rafael Gomez for an extra run, on day 14 of Sanchez' major-league career. Sanchez also started the game-ending double play on Josh Wool in the bottom of the ninth, which was pitched in scoreless fashion by Jonathan Fleischer. 7-3 Furballs! Mora 2-3, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Gomez 3-4, BB, 2B; Stalker 3-5; Spencer 2-3, 2 RBI; Sanchez (PH) 1-1, RBI; Leal (PH) 1-1; Gutierrez 8.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (2-0) and 1-4;

We sniffed first place again with this win, moving into a virtual tie with the Elks atop the standings. Rafael Gomez meanwhile sniffed above-.200 air for the first time since the opening week of the season.

Game 2
POR: LF Millan – RF Booker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – C Tovias – 1B Gomez – SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – P Delgadillo
DAL: 3B B. Rojas – 2B Hendricks – CF Botzet – SS S. Green – C Harry – 1B Figueroa – RF Collins – LF J. Thompson – P Davidson

Delgadillo fooled nobody and was torn to shreds in due time. John Thompson hit a 2-piece in the second, collecting Ryan Collins and his 2-out walk. Three hits plated another run in the third, and in the fourth they just kept beating a corpse, a hit, a walk, another hit for their fourth run, and then Hendricks' 1-out, 2-run double to center. That was the end, with Kearney coming in to wipe up after him. The Coons in four innings had produced an Omar Millan double to right at the start of the game, then three sorry flies to Botzet, and then had only seen Jaden Booker reach base in the third, and also Jaden Booker getting picked off that base by Davidson. The team got on the board in the fifth when Spencer scored Gomez after the latter's leadoff double, singling up the middle, but that only cut the gap to 6-1 and they didn't seem likely to make things interesting again. No, it would only get worse and worse from here. Dan McLin offered two scoreless innings, but in the eighth the Raccoons got wrecked for another four runs between Fleischer and Surginer, neither of which could get a batter sat down in an 0-2 count. Davidson pitched a complete-game 6-hitter in a soul-crunching rout. 10-1 Stars. Millan 2-4, 2B; McLin 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

(covers eyes with both hands and moans)

Game 3
POR: RF Booker – SS Stalker – C Leal – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – 1B Gomez – 2B Spencer – CF Magallanes – P Roberts
DAL: 3B B. Rojas – 2B Hendricks – SS S. Green – CF Botzet – 1B Figueroa – RF Collins – C Wool – LF J. Thompson – P Simmons

While the plainly dumb Raccoons struck out five times the first time through the order against a pitcher that would not usually get through three without scattering a couple, Mark Roberts became unglued in the most stupid fashion as well in the bottom 3rd, issuing a 4-pitch walk to the opposing pitcher that would of course blossom into a 3-run inning. Rojas hit into a fielder's choice, then stole second base before scoring on Eric Hendricks' 2-out single. Sam Green then whacked a homer to left and the Stars were off to the races, 3-0.

Or so we thought. Roberts somehow got through the middle innings despite scattering runners left and right. The Stars stranded three in the fifth, two in the sixth, and in a perfect world the Raccoons would have pulled even by now, but … (sigh). Rafael Gomez hit a solo homer in the fifth inning, but when the Coons also put Magallanes and Roberts on the corners with two outs, Booker struck out. In the sixth, Morales singled home Stalker, but then Gomez struck out with the tying run aboard. Roberts got stuck in the seventh and was dug out by Ricky Ohl, securing a pop out from PH Chris Hollar in the #5 hole, so he was bound to go from 3-0 to 3-3 (just like the team as a whole had gone from 11-3 to 12-12 to more and more heartbreak) unless the Critters could somehow pick the tying run from their unkempt fur in the eighth, for which they'd cart up the top of their order against the resilient Simmons, who had entered the game with 14 walks in 38 innings, but had not spilled a single free pass. Booker grounded out, and while Stalker ran a 3-1 count, he then hit the ball high to left. Mind the short fences though – that thing kept moving, moving, and was outta here! Tied ballgame – and definitely not a home run in Portland! Simmons secured two more outs in the inning, Ohl got three in the bottom 8th, and neither starting pitcher figured into the decision in this rubber contest. The ninth saw no offense at all and the Coons found themselves in extra innings once more. Not that this inspired the Raccoons to get the bats out. Much the contrary, Justin Osterloh and Michael Frank shut them down hard in the 10th and 11th. Speaking of Frank… he had to bat in the bottom 11th against Jeff Kearney, who continued to suck with a leadoff walk to Josh Wool. Evan Wilcher's grounder advanced the runner, and then Frank, a left-handed batter also, singled off the lefty specialist on the mound to move the winning run to third base. When Bob Rojas grounded near the mound with one out, Rich Hereford did what he could, but his throw was too late to beat Wool, who walked off the Stars. 4-3 Stars. Stalker 2-5, HR, RBI; Gomez 2-5, HR, RBI; Spencer 2-5; Ohl 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K; Brotman 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

In other news

May 2 – SFW 1B/SS Edgar Gonzalez (.277, 5 HR, 13 RBI) slugs three home runs and drives in all the runs in the Warriors' 5-2 win over the Scorpions. This is the 52nd time an ABL batter hits three or more home runs in a game, and the third time it is done by a Warrior after Raúl Bovane (2009) and still active Jamie Wilson (2014).
May 3 – IND SP Chris Sinkhorn (4-2, 2.44 ERA) carries a no-hitter against the Crusaders into the ninth inning before NYC 1B Jay Elder (.255, 2 HR, 10 RBI) breaks up the bid with a 1-out double. IND CL Myles Mood (0-0, 0.73 ERA, 9 SV) then replaces Sinkhorn to secure the 4-0 Indians victory.
May 3 – While NAS SP Pat Staley (3-1, 3.21 ERA) shuts out the Cyclones hitters on just three base knocks, Cincinnati pitching gets crushed as well in an 18-0 Nashville rout. NAS LF/RF Ruben Orozco (.303, 2 HR, 14 RBI) chips in four base hits, two homers, and 5 RBI.
May 3 – DAL SP Antonio Rodriguez (3-2, 3.68 ERA) shuts out the Gold Sox on two hits in a 2-0 game.
May 3 – The Bayhawks acquire SP Guillermo Regalado (3-2, 2.55 ERA) from the Titans for 1B Bob Lloyd (no ML stats in 2018) and a prospect.
May 3 – The Canadiens are going to be without OF Tony Coca (.255, 6 HR, 20 RBI) for the next six weeks. The 27-year-old outfielder has suffered an elbow sprain.
May 4 – In his first game with the Titans, 1B Bob Lloyd (.333, 1 HR, 4 RBI) hits a walkoff grand slam in a 12-10 victory over the Canadiens, capping a 7-run ninth-inning rally by Boston.
May 5 – WAS RF/LF/1B Tsuneyoshi Tachibana (.227, 1 HR, 15 RBI) might miss the rest of the year with a broken knee cap.
May 5 – BOS OF Willie Vega (.310, 2 HR, 12 RBI) might be gone for two months with a sprained ankle.
May 6 – DEN RF/LF Denny Chavira (.257, 4 HR, 18 RBI) will be out for a month with a strained biceps.

Complaints and stuff

The Loggers lead the North, which remains a sign of things being somewhat upside down (also note the 4-way tie in the South and the Rebels managing to trail by 15 1/2 games at this point). We could have had a virtual 4-way tie in our division on Sunday night if the third game in Milwaukee had been played and the Critters had actually won it. The washed out game will be made up in a double header on July 3; that is in the middle of the usual long string of games with no off days before the All Star Game. Yay, lucky us!

Don't make me explain the Regalado deal. I can't.

Ten days from now the Raccoons have to make a decision on Kyle Anderson and his rehab assignment. In three starts in St. Pete, the 29-year-old righty has been rocked for a 6.00 ERA. He can't strike out anybody, and he walks plenty.

And I don't even want to get started on Kevin Harenberg, who came over from the Wolves in the 2026 season, hit .326 with 14 homers down the stretch to lift the Critters into the playoffs, then batted .281 with 18 homers last year, and currently sits on a .222 clip with not a single bomb this season. This might be the most spectacular case of great hitters going to Portland to die we have seen in a while.

Fun Fact: The Richmond Rebels are 2-10 in their last four interleague meetings with the Raccoons.

That is remarkably close to their current record in the FL East. It will be tempting to see what sort of riot they will make of the Critters when they hit Portland starting on Tuesday.
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Archelirion (01-18-2019)
Old 01-20-2019, 01:01 PM   #2707
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Raccoons (15-14) vs. Rebels (6-24) – May 9-11, 2028

Richmond, April 1865 – it was not quite as bad, but pretty bad. Last in runs scored, last in runs allowed, a crippling -68 run differential in early May. There was nothing going well for them. Not one thing. Nothing at all. They also had not won a season series against Portland since 2018, losing the last four. This had all the ingredients for a colossal upset…

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (2-3, 3.15 ERA) vs. Andy Palomares (1-5, 6.69 ERA)
George James (1-2, 6.51 ERA) vs. Fernando Estrada (0-4, 9.00 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. Rich Guerrero (1-3, 6.49 ERA)

Guerrero and Jaden Baldwin (2-2, 3.52 ERA) had both pitched in a double-header on Saturday, so we could get either one on Thursday. At the end of the day, all their starters were right-handers.

Adding injury to insult, the Rebels had been flogged even harder by broken bones and other maladies than the Raccoons in the early going, losing Dan Dalton (for the season), Joaquin Serrano, Seth Odum, Raimondo Odescalchi, and what they perceived to be their shortstop of the future, Evan Donahue, who had batted .130 before his back had come apart and he had required surgery for a ruptured disc, also putting him out for all of 2028.

Game 1
RIC: CF Olmos – 3B Hansen – LF M. Owen – C Dehne – 2B Hernandes – 1B D. Brown – RF Damron – SS Zamora - Palomares
POR: LF Millan – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Spencer – P Nomura

To nobody's surprise at all, the Rebels would score first thanks to Matt Dehne's leadoff jack in the second inning. Nomura proceeded to yield singles to Marco Hernandes and Dan Brown before a Keith Damron grounder ended up with Rich Hereford for a 5-3 double play that helped the Coons extangle themselves from a sticky inning. Damron made it up to his team the next time around, hitting a 2-out RBI double to plate Dehne to extend the Rebels lead to 2-0 in the fourth. The Raccoons? They were sure physically present; they always were, making sure nobody got too close to the lunchbox with their name on top. That was about it for the early innings before Tim Stalker hit a gapper for a leadoff double in the bottom 4th. Even then they made two dispiriting outs before Rafael Gomez got a ball past Hernandes for a 2-out RBI single – that was also his first RBI that was not himself as the runner … ON THE SEASON.

Nomura was all done after six turbulent innings with over 110 pitches on his ledger; also another run, Hernandes scoring on a Damron groundout in the sixth inning, extending the Rebels lead to 3-1. It almost got worse in the next inning, clueless Jonathan Fleischer stacking the bases with singles by John Hansen and Matt Owen, then walking Matt Dehne. Three on, one out, Ricky Ohl had to come in and strike out a pair to leave the Raccoons any chance at all to come back against the woefully dominant .200 team in the house. Maybe this game was about signs of life – the Rebels sending one for sure, but after Gomez maybe we could also get another "slugger" back on the horse (sort of). Gomez drew a leadoff walk against Palomares in the bottom 7th and in better times I would have hoped for Harenberg to tie the game with a whoopee. Right now, all I hoped for was no double play. We got the whoopee, a blast to right that was Harenberg's first homer this year (…), tied the game, and in quick succession Tovias hit a double on the very next pitch before Spencer got nicked. At this point, the desperate Raccoons sent German Sanchez to pinch-run for Tovias (the go-ahead run) *in the seventh*, while Armando Leal batted for Ricky Ohl – straight into a double play, 4-6-3. Millan flew out to Franklin Olmos, stranding Sanchez at third base. The eighth was uneventful (unless you counted Harenberg grounding out to strand Hereford and Gomez as event, in which case your standards were rather low), but the ninth saw Matt Owen hit a blast off Dan McLin to centerfield to break the 3-3 tie. The Raccoons arrived in the bottom 9th to face Kaleb Babcock, once a paper Coon that had been in the organization for eight weeks a few winters ago. Jaden Booker led off pinch-hitting for McLin in the #7 hole and singled up the middle. Spencer singled to left where Owen overran the ball for an error, allowing the tying run to third base and the winning run to second base … with nobody out! Oh goddamnit, you HAVE to seize on that stupid error!! COME ON LEAL!! Leal struck out, no surprise there, and then Millan grounded out to the mound. There were still two on, and Tim Stalker's grounder near the third base line didn't look likely to change that… but Hansen had trouble handling it, Booker crossed home plate, and the throw to first… LATE! Stalker was safe, and the Coons had staved off deserved defeat! And then Mora grounded out to Hernandes, and we got to play extras…

There were two innings of Josh Boles in which he struck out four and only had to contend with a bunt single by Franklin Olmos, after which Surginer pitched a quick 12th. The Coons had been entirely passive in the 10th and 11th, but Stalker opened the 12th with a fast bouncer through John Hansen for a leadoff double against right-hander Ismael Gutierrez. And if they would not get this run in, I would spit into every single lunchbox for the rest of the week! Abel Mora singled, moving Stalker to third base with nobody out, and up came Rich Hereford, the only guy I still had confidence in, although his torrid early April had long ended. He grounded out, because confidence was for suckers, and Stalker remained at third base. The Rebels wanted no part of Gomez, who was walked intentionally to load the bases and brought up Harenberg, a prime double play chance…. But not this time. Harenberg poked a 1-2 pitch over Marco Hernandes, and the Coons walked off, very, very late. 5-4 Blighters. Stalker 4-6, 2 2B, RBI; Gomez 2-4, 2 BB, RBI; Harenberg 3-6, HR, 3 RBI; Spencer 2-4; Boles 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K;

That was not even the latest win on the day. The Titans beat the Cyclones in *17* after initially falling 3-2 behind in the top 17th, scoring twice in the bottom 17th then. Cincy's Ricardo Rangel (.388, 0 HR, 10 RBI) had five hits, to no avail.

Next up was George James, who would have been the next pitcher in the extra-inning drama to prevent complete bullpen burnout right after an off day.

Game 2
RIC: CF Olmos – 2B Hernandes – C Pizzo – LF M. Owen – 1B Godown – RF Damron – 3B Hansen – SS Zamora – P F. Estrada
POR: LF Millan – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Spencer – P James

These starters had 48.2 innings and 41 earned runs between them for this season, so I braced for another one of what I would generously call "pitching duel". You know, either that, or James getting sucked up in the draft of a particularly peppered home run and being carried over any which fence, leaving us going to the pen early… The former happened; James was messy, but somehow scratched out a 3-hit shutout on 73 pitches through five innings, which was miles of progress even against the worst offense in the Federal League, while the Coons did little, but at least led 2-0 after the second inning, courtesy of an Elias Tovias home run. The Coons would have Millan and Stalker on base to start the bottom 5th thanks to a pair of singles, but the middle of the order amounted to a grounder and two strikeouts against Estrada, who was clearly wavering but not falling. Millan stranded another pair in the sixth when he flew out to Owen on a 3-1 pitch. The Rebels scratched out a run in the seventh that was charged to James thanks to a leadoff walk issued to Keith Damron, although the run actually scored against Ricky Ohl on Dehne's pinch-hit single, erasing half the Critters' 2-0 lead, but they hissed hard enough to get the run back in the bottom 7th, thanks to Abel Mora landing a 1-out triple in the right-center gap. Hereford was walked intentionally by right-hander Kevin DuCharme, but Jorge Zamora failed to reach Rafael Gomez' grounder that escaped for an RBI single, 3-1. And so far in the series, Franklin Olmos had shagged virtually every fly hit even remotely in his direction, but he would miss two in a row as this inning developed. Harenberg got a fly behind him for an RBI double, 4-1, and after the Rebels walked Tovias intentionally and went to new righty Sean Bastone, Jarod Spencer got a liner past Olmos in sideways fashion for a 2-run double. Bastone then secured outs from Booker and Millan to keep the Coons to a 5-run edge, but that edge would not stay at five runs. Bastone got scorched in the eighth, bleeding singles to Mora, Hereford, and Gomez before Tovias hit a blast to left. GRAAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMM!!! 10-1 Raccoons! Stalker 3-5; Mora 2-5, 3B; Gomez 2-5, RBI; Harenberg 2-5, 2B, RBI; Tovias 2-3, 2 BB, 2 HR, 6 RBI; Spencer 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; James 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, W (2-2);

As a special surprise, ownership snowed into the house unannounced for the Thursday tilt where Rico Gutierrez would face an all-right-handed lineup. He couldn't have come a day earlier…??

Game 3
RIC: CF Olmos – 3B Hansen – LF M. Owen – C Dehne – 2B Hernandes – 1B D. Brown – RF Damron – SS Zamora – P Baldwin
POR: LF Millan – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Spencer – P Gutierrez

The Coons at least picked two early runs from their fur when Jaden Baldwin stumbled and allowed four hits and a walk in the opening inning. While Magallanes grounded out to strand a full set, Harenberg and Spencer had at least driven in somebody with RBI singles. Rico Gutierrez held the Rebels hitless the first time through, but allowed a 1-out single to Owen in the fourth inning, then quickly added another runner when he misfielded Dehne's grounder for an error. Dan Brown snuck in a 2-out RBI single sandwiched between pop outs on the infield, giving Richmond an unearned run to cut the gap to 2-1. Standing next to me in my hallowed offices, Nick Valdes dryly remarked that Rico needed a proper glove, to which I had no response.

The Coons didn't get another base hit until Rafael Gomez led off the sixth with a clean single to center, while Valdes made cryptic notes in a small notebook of his. I tried to peak; he gave me the sort of look parents would give to a naughty child trying to reach the cookie jar. To make things worse, Harenberg grounded into a double play, which was also duly noted. Even worse, the Rebels tied the game in the seventh on Dan Brown's leadoff single and Damron's double before Rico put away the bottom of the order, somehow. Rico ended up with a no-decision despite Spencer's leadoff single in the bottom 7th because nobody in a brown shirt could find a clutch hit when it was most urgently needed AGAIN. But Rich Hereford came through – he hit a solo homer off Baldwin in the eighth that broke the 2-2 tie and also kept him in first place for power slugs in the Continental League! Portland went on to amp up the hurt with Gomez (single) Harenberg (RBI double), Tovias (intentional walk), and Magallanes (infield single) before Leal pinch-hit for McLin with one out and struck out. Millan squeezed in an RBI single before Zamora retired Stalker on a sharp yet futile grounder. It would be enough… barely. Josh Boles issued a leadoff walk to Damron in the ninth, then a 2-out single to Olmos and another walk to John Hansen before Matt Owen struck out with the tying runs aboard… 5-2 Critters. Hereford 2-4, HR, RBI; Gomez 2-4; Harenberg 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Tovias 0-1, 3 BB; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K;

A sweep! And I won't be fired! – Yes, Nick. For now.

Raccoons (18-14) vs. Crusaders (16-19) – May 12-14, 2028

Now back to actual baseball teams. The Crusaders were fifth in the North, but only 3 1/2 games behind the leaders … hey, that's us! The Titans lost on Thursday to allow us to squeak through into the prime spot. New York ranked second from the bottom with only 121 runs scored, and they were middling with their pitching, conceding the fifth-fewest runs. In the latter mark they actually tied the Coons coming in, while we sat ninth in runs scored with 132 markers… not exactly a wealth of them… The Raccoons had won two of three from the Crusaders in the first series between the two teams in '28.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (2-2, 5.79 ERA) vs. Jesse Wright (1-2, 4.61 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-2, 3.22 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (2-4, 5.17 ERA)
Rin Nomura (2-3, 3.33 ERA) vs. Carlos Marron (3-2, 3.00 ERA)

Three more right-handed pitchers here; also a bunch of position players on the DL for New York, foremost Jamie Wilson, Ivan Vega, Felipe Delgado, and Nick Hatley.

Maud, why is Nick Valdes still here? – Oh well, at least make sure that they get proper food, not the crap we leave around in the clubhouse. Wait, what do you mean with - … is he even allowed to bring in "business partners" to make deals in the ballpark? – They already have their own food? – Is that why everything smells of oysters in here?

Game 1
NYC: RF Torruellas – 1B Elder – 3B Schmit – C Asay – CF Ugolino – SS M. Fletcher – LF Olszewski – 2B Cameron – P J. Wright
POR: LF Millan – SS Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – C Leal – P Delgadillo

Yusneldan got ripped a new one right at the start of the game as Rafael Torruellas led off with a single, Jay Elder doubled into the leftfield corner, and Andy Schmit rocked a 3-run homer to right-center. Ah, yes, must be a proper baseball team! And not only Dan Delgadillo did not get much of a punch in this game – the rest of the team amounted to no on-base presence whatsoever and two strikeouts against Jesse Wright the first time through. The Crusaders had added a run in the third inning, but at least Tim Stalker's homer in the bottom 4th banished the perfect game that I already began to see materializing. After that, Hereford singled and Harenberg doubled, suddenly bringing up the tying run in Gomez, who ran a full count before he cracked a ball through between Schmit and Mike Fletcher for a 2-run single, 4-3. Mora singled to right, putting runners on the corners, and Spencer hit another ball past Schmit for the game-tying base hit. Drew Olszewski struggled to make the cut-off on the ball in leftfield and played it into an RBI double that moved the go-ahead runs into scoring position for Armando Leal, who didn't get a turn. With one out, Delgadillo batted, hitting a fly to right that Torruellas caught and used to throw out Abel Mora at home plate to end the inning, now in a 4-4 tie.

Harenberg drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom 5th, pressing an RBI through Jay Elder that scored Omar Millan (leadoff single) from second base, while Rich Hereford moved from first to second on the play. The Crusaders pulled the emergency rope on Wright and went for Chris Klein (who remained in the pen for unknown reasons; perhaps there was some sort of punishment, emotional or otherwise, involved), who secured a double play from Rafael Gomez to end the inning. Abel Mora protected the 5-4 lead in the sixth as the Crusaders' bottom of the order hit real rockets off Delgadillo, but couldn't get them to fall into centerfield. Millan was the hero in the seventh, racing to catch a Jason Asay line drive that could have at least tied the game with runners belonging to Kearney and Surginer on base, but ended the inning instead. The Coons also left a pair stranded in the bottom 7th when Harenberg popped out against Jarod Stone, but Stone served up a pinch-hit homer to Elias Tovias in the bottom 8th. Tovias had batted in place of Billy Brotman with two outs and nobody on. Leal made the last out in the eighth, so now we only needed someone to close this one out. Everybody was tired; with right-handers up we went to Ricky Ohl in deference of Josh Boles having thrown 57 pitches in the last three days, not all good. Ohl one-upped him; leadoff single to Joe Cameron, then another single by Rafael Torruellas. Jay Elder tied the score with a double, and then Schmit reached when Ohl dropped Harenberg's feed at first base. After a 4-pitch walk to Asay, Ohl was yanked … for Boles. Perfect disaster – until Boles struck out Fabien Ugolino and Mike Fletcher, stranding three in a 6-6 game. Bottom 9th, Steve Casey allowed a leadoff single to German Sanchez in the #9 hole, which was weird enough, and then Sanchez swiped second base, too! He further advanced on Millan groundout, but now we needed Stalker to come through – but the Crusaders wouldn't let him, extending the intentional walk to him in hopes for a double play grounder from Rich Hereford. But Rich didn't hit it on the ground. He hit it up! Up, up, up, up … AAAAAAND GOOOOOONNNNNNE!!! 9-6 Furballs!! Stalker 2-4, BB, HR, RBI; Hereford 3-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Harenberg 2-4, 2B, RBI; Tovias (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI;

There is a lot of things that doesn't work with this team… but they have a knack for dramatic last-ditch comebacks for sure…!

Oh well, Nick Valdes was happy, so by extension I was happy, too. At least for some 20 hours, because a new game was always around the corner.

Game 2
NYC: LF I. Vega – 1B Elder – 3B Schmit – C Asay – SS M. Fletcher – CF Shaffer – 2B Cameron – RF Olszewski – P E. Cannon
POR: LF Millan – SS Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – P Roberts

Another day, another Raccoons starter that got the living **** beaten out of him early on. Mark Roberts saw the minimum in the first two innings, then saw balls with rapid exit velocity escape screaming over his head by the third. Joe Cameron led off with a double, Olszewski singled, Cannon bunted him over, and the runners scored on a Vega sac fly (fresh off the DL and already annoying!), then an Jay Elder double, and finally Schmit also chipped in an RBI single to put the New Yorkers ahead 3-0. Somehow Asay popped out to end the barrage. The Raccoons didn't even get a base hit through three, and lonely singles by Harenberg in the fourth and Spencer in the fifth also weren't going to get them anywhere. Roberts got deconstructed for good by the sixth inning. Jay Elder had already hit a 2-out solo blast in the fifth, and in the sixth Roberts lost Asay on a leadoff walk, then gave up another hideously long homer to Mike Fletcher. That made it 6-0, and also bedtime for the former ace that couldn't keep balls remotely in the park anymore… Fleischer pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless ball then… at least until he got completely stuck with a pair of 2-out runners in the eighth. Kearney came on against Olszewski, allowed an RBI single, then another single to PH Torruellas, before walking in a run facing Vega. Elder grounded out to strand three more. In short, one of those awful games. Somewhere in the late innings Cannon served up a pity homer to Rafael Gomez, but that one didn't really matter in the final box score. 8-1 Crusaders. Harenberg 2-4; Spencer 2-3;

Game 3
NYC: LF I. Vega – 1B Elder – 3B Schmit – C Asay – SS M. Fletcher – CF Shaffer – 2B Cameron – RF Torruellas – P Marron
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – RF Booker – P Nomura

The Coons made an error before they made anything else, Gomez dropping Vega's fly to begin the game, but at least Nomura wasn't rolled up for a 4-spot right away. The contrary; Stalker and Spencer opened the bottom 1st with singles, and while the middle of the order was disappointing to say the least, Marron plated the first run of the game with a wild pitch. Whatever works…! Top 2nd, Stalker's throwing error put Fletcher on base to begin that inning, but again Nomura wiggled out of the situation and in turn Abel Mora upped to 2-0 with a solo shot to center in the bottom of the inning.

But this was clearly a weird-ass game in the making, and it got weirder promptly. Stalker popped out to begin the third, but Spencer hit a single past Fletcher, then stole second. Hereford flew out to left, and Harenberg grounded to the mound, which would have ended the inning, except that now Marron threw a ball away, all the way into the stands. The 2-base error awarded Spencer home plate, 3-0, and then Nick Shaffer prevented even worse developments with an egregious hustling catch on a Gomez drive in deepest centerfield. The next error in the game was Gomez' again, dropping a line drive by Fletcher with one out in the fourth. Nomura, slightly annoyed, then had one slip into Nick Shaffer who limped to first base with a welt surely developing on his bum. The tying run was up, but Cameron and Torruellas both struck out to end the inning. At this point, both teams had as many errors as hits; one each for New York, and three each for Portland. Weird-ass game.

What was still missing? A passed ball and uncaught third strike! Elias Tovias took care, allowing Marron to fan, yet still chug to first base to begin the top 5th while Tovias went after the escaping strike three and presumably was distracted by a piece of cake on the way to the backstop… And that free runner, too, was stranded by Nomura despite Vega's single. Elder hit into a double play, while Schmit went down on strikes. Tovias hung on this time… This was also the final inning for Marron in the game. The Coons took him apart for five hits and four runs in the bottom 5th, starting with Stalker and Spencer singles, and leading to 2-run base knocks, back-to-back, by Gomez and Tovias. Sadly, Nomura lasted only 6 1/3 innings, owed to all the extra runners as well as eluding control in the seventh inning in which he left with runners on the corners but the 7-0 shutout still intact. McLin surrendered a sac fly against Elder, but that was all fine… the philosophy with a routinely overworked bullpen was always the same: get outs, no matter how. If necessary, catch singed line drives with your crotch.

There was another error to be made in the game, Joe Cameron dropping a Booker pop in the bottom 8th that put two on with nobody out for Portland. Both came around to score; Mora was plated by Danny Morales with a pinch-hit RBI double, while Tim Stalker's groundout brought in Booker. That was before the Raccoons put the crown on this definitely weird-ass game. Morales, who had batted for McLin, went to the mound for the ninth inning. It was a 9-1 game alright, but the Coons were *in the lead*. Torruellas led off with a single before Juan Espinosa hit into a fielder's choice. Vega singled. Elder singled to left, but Gomez murdered Espinosa at home plate for the second out. Why run here in the first pla- never mind, they're helping us out! Morales balked at the 1-0 to Andy Schmit, who would put the 2-1 in play, a fast bouncer to first… and Harenberg made the play…! 9-1 Furballs!! Stalker 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Spencer 3-4, BB, 2B; Mora 2-4, HR, RBI; Morales (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI and 1.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K; McLin 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

In other news

May 8 – The Falcons have to put LF/RF Barend Kok (.342, 6 HR, 16 RBI) on the DL with a knee sprain that will keep him out of games until early June.
May 9 – Scorpions and Knights play 12 scoreless innings before Sacramento breaks through with four runs in the top of the 13th inning. The Knights remain dry and take a 4-0 loss.
May 10 – After three years of toiling in the minor leagues, 30-year-old SP Dave Dyer lands an injury replacement assignment with the ravaged Titans and tosses seven innings of no-hit ball against the Cyclones before C Tony Perez (.268, 2 HR, 11 RBI) hits a leadoff home run in the eighth inning. Dyer (1-0, 1.29 ERA) is removed thereafter, but still picks up his first win since 2024 in the 6-1 Titans triumph.
May 10 – CHA SP Jesus Chavez (1-3, 6.21 ERA) will miss three months with elbow inflammation.
May 12 – The Gold Sox score a 4-3 walkoff win against the Scorpions with two singles off SAC SP Jesse Koerner (1-3, 3.54 ERA), then a throwing error by SAC C David Drews (.242, 6 HR, 16 RBI) as he tried to get a double play on a poor grounder by 43-year-old DEN 1B Jose Gutierrez (.308, 0 HR, 2 RBI).
May 13 – PIT 1B Danny Santillano (.441, 5 HR, 22 RBI) is *almost* literally on fire, batting far over the .400 mark and also having chained together a 20-game hitting streak.
May 13 – SP Andy Palomares (1-5, 6.13 ERA) is traded back to the Thunder by the Rebels, along with cash, for two prospects.
May 14 – The 2028 season of SAL C Elijah Bean (.261, 4 HR, 15 RBI) might have come to an end with a snapped achilles tendon.
May 14 – CIN LF/RF Kelvin Winborn (.347, 3 HR, 24 RBI) sinks the Miners in the ninth inning with a come-from-behind, walkoff grand slam off PIT MR David Gerow (0-1, 8.18 ERA, 1 SV) to give Cincinnati a 6-4 win.

Complaints and stuff

About Sunday and the ninth inning? Yeah, we might be crazy, but admit it – we've always been that way!

We are leading the North right now, but our run differential is zip. 151 runs scored, 151 runs spilled. That's 4.3 per game, respectively, and right around average for the CL right now.

I literally yelled "Dave Dyer?? Where the **** did he come from??" when his name flashed up in the sports news. In case you don't remember him, you'll be forgiven. He was a rookie on the 2021 Coons and went 2-6 with a 4.94 ERA before he was packaged with Ruben Pelles and sent to Oklahoma City for Hector Morales in July of the following season. Yes, that is the Hector Morales that pitched one third of an inning here last season before his arm came apart.

Sweeping the Rebels moves them to .500 against us all time (36-36, not counting playoff games BECAUSE WE ARE NOT COUNTING THOSE), leaving only five teams against whom the Raccoons do not have at least an even all-time record: Gold Sox (.462), Warriors (.470), Cyclones (.483), Titans (.485), and the damn Elks (.499);

Kaleb Babcock was a rule 5 pick from the Titans before he was packaged up in the trade that brought Abel Mora to Portland. The other players going over four years ago were Cory Dew and Joe Moore. Hard to say who got the better end of the stick there; depends on how much value you put on right-handed relievers that are not exactly closer material.

Next week, the homestand continues with games against Indy and Oklahoma. I am not sure about whether we get any more surprise visits. Better not let the liquor stand around unattended.

Fun Fact: On July 2, 2027 the Thunder first traded Andy Palomares to the Rebels, then also along with cash, and for two prospects. In both Palomares trades, #42 prospect SP Kyle Dominy was one of the two minor leaguers exchanged.

The Rebels got outfielder Nick Weeden in this week's trade. They initially traded a different prospect to the Thunder in 2027, C Bettino Broccoli.

Yes. Broccoli.

No way he could be a Raccoon. Kid ain't got the guts.
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Archelirion (01-20-2019)
Old 01-21-2019, 10:13 PM   #2708
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Was rereading some of the earlier stuff again. I love seeing sentences like this (from the 1981 roster overview):

Quote:
SU Grant West (0-0, 0.68 ERA | 0-0, 0.68 ERA) – lefty setup that came up late in 1980. May become closer soon, once he was pitched a few more innings (only 13.1 IP so far), or once Gaston struggles.
and then thinking about who they became. There's that little moment of 'oooooh you had no idea' :3
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Westheim (01-22-2019)
Old 01-22-2019, 01:00 AM   #2709
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Yeah, somebody with no idea thought Wally Gaston could actually be the sort of permanent closer…

There are probably many gems in this thread, and from time to time you can find one like that.
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Old 01-22-2019, 03:57 PM   #2710
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Raccoons (20-15) vs. Indians (16-21) – May 15-18, 2028

Last in runs scored, second in runs conceded, the 2028 Indians looked a lot like the Indians of old in the 80s and 90s. God, I am ancient. Anyway… their offense was so putrid they were barely scored 3.3 runs per game and had a -19 run differential, so even that good a pitching staff could not keep them afloat in the division. They entered the series in last place, five games behind the Raccoons. This was the first series between the two teams this season. The Raccoons had won the season series five years in a row, but never by more than an 11-7 total, and only 10-8 last year.

Projected matchups:
George James (2-2, 5.50 ERA) vs. David Elliott (0-3, 6.39 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-0, 1.33 ERA) vs. Andy Bressner (3-4, 3.78 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (2-2, 5.82 ERA) vs. David Saccoccio (3-3, 2.30 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-3, 3.99 ERA) vs. John McInerney (3-3, 3.69 ERA)

Right-handers in the middle, left-handers at the ends for this series. Meanwhile, George James was pitching for his job in the opener, but he was not the only one. Kyle Anderson had to be activated by Wednesday.

Game 1
IND: SS Pizano – C Dear – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – LF Plunkett – 3B C. Castro – RF Aleman – 2B Boggs – P D. Elliott
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Booker – 3B Hereford – 1B Gomez – LF Morales – C Leal – CF Magallanes – P James

The Raccoons did absolutely nothing with those wooden sticks to begin the week, but at least managed to lose Jarod Spencer to an injury incurred on the base paths right in the first inning. German Sanchez took over, exactly the type of batter you wanted in the #2 hole. Meanwhile the Indians had Jon Gonzalez batting third. .255 and two homers in the middle of May was a far cry from his 2026 postseason heroics, but the same could be said for Kevin Harenberg, really. James held the Indians at bay for four innings before a Rich Hereford error provoked sharp base hits by Alex Aleman (double) and, following Robby Boggs' sac fly, an RBI single by the opposing pitcher in the fifth inning. George James lasted eight innings, but was already pinch-hit for in favor of an Omar Millan strikeout when Tim Stalker's double in the bottom 8th brought at least the TYING run back to the plate… but that was still going to be Sanchez. The Raccoons went against every grain and sent Harenberg to pinch-hit, netting them a sorry pop to short. Jaden Booker walked in a full count, pulling up Hereford with the innocent wish for some 2-out heroics, but Cesar Castro intercepted his bouncer near the third base sack and the Raccoons lost, weakly and meekly. 2-0 Indians. Stalker 2-4; James 8.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, L (2-3);

Meanwhile Jarod Spencer went off to the DL with a sprained wrist, just when he had raised his batting average over .300, because how could anything ever be the other way round for the Raccoons? No cold player ever got hurt… ever. The Druid estimated him to be out for a month.

By then, Ramos would be back, but that still left a black hole of about two weeks that somehow had to be bridged. And Sanchez? Batting .143… the Raccoons would take a flyer on a lottery ticket instead, promoting 22-year-old switch-hitter 2B Sam Cass from AAA, where he was batting .293 in 21 games after starting the season in Ham Lake. Cass had been the ninth-rounder in the 2024 draft, so making it onto the 40-man roster was already a success for the kid.

Game 2
IND: SS Pizano – LF M. Cowan – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – C Kennett – 3B Blades – RF Plunkett – 2B Boggs – P Bressner
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Gomez – C Tovias – RF Booker – 2B Cass – P Gutierrez

Rico and a wholly right-handed lineup went about as well as you'd expect, resulting in a leadoff walk to Mario Pizano and an RBI triple hit by Mike Cowan right at the start of the game, and Cowan was brought in as well before long. When Stalker and Mora opened the Coons' end of the first with singles, Hereford killed the effort with a double play, even though Harenberg hit a 2-out RBI single to stay close this time. Rafael Gomez struck out, but the Critters would get another chance in the bottom 3rd that began with a dying bloop for a leadoff single jabbed off Gutierrez' bat, then a 4-pitch walk rendered to Tim Stalker. Mora popped out, Hereford grounded out, but *Harenberg* came through again with a flyball past Ben Suhay in center for a 2-out, 2-run, score-flipping double. And then Gomez made the final out again in a 3-2 contest.

While the Indians made some meaty contact in those middle innings, they tended to make it right at a defender and didn't get much of a threat together against Gutierrez, who in turn started the bottom 5th with another single, then reached third on Tim Stalker's double to right, and all of that with nobody out. Mora struck out (…!), Hereford hit a sac fly to left, the Indians wanted no piece of a Harenberg on 3 RBI, and – oh look – Gomez made the third out for the third time, this time grounding out somberly to Andy Bressner himself, keeping the score at 4-2. The Indians were not defeated yet, however, and ran Gutierrez from the game in the seventh inning on doubles by Elliott Kennett and Mike Plunkett, the latter with two outs, pulling the score closer to 4-3. The Raccoons walked PH Zachary Ryder intentionally, but that also saw Bressner removed for ex-Coon Matt Jamieson. Ricky Ohl entered in a double switch that also brought on German Sanchez for Sam Cass and his 0-for-3 major league debut, and struck out Jamieson to preserve the lead, narrowly, at stretch time, after which Tim Stalker homered off Mo Robinson to give the Critters an insurance run again. Mora got nailed, and after Hereford grounded out Harenberg was extended another intentional walk, allowing Gomez to make the last out for the fourth time in this game.

The Indians turned Ricky Ohl inside out in the eighth… or did he turn himself inside out? Leadoff single by Mario Pizano, then right away two walks loaded the bases with nobody out. Suhay, an abomination of a cleanup hitter with strikeouts and nothing but strikeouts, struck out, as did Kennett, before Brett Blades laid off the garbage and drew four balls in a row to force home a run. The Raccoons sent Kevin Surginer to face Plunkett – and that strikeout ended the inning, but didn't solve the mystery of the deflating pen at all. Josh Boles began the ninth with no cushion and a K to Matt Dear, but then conceded a single to Alex Aleman and before long walked the bags full with two outs, bringing up Suhay. The King of K kould not resist and struck out once more, letting the giggling Critters escape into the night with a gut-twisting victory. 5-4 Blighters. Stalker 3-3, BB, HR, RBI; Harenberg 2-3, 2 BB, 2B, 3 RBI;

Some numbers about runners left on base in this game, which was such a great advertisement for the sport as a whole. Ben Suhay was 0-for-5 and whiffed three times (in addition to 3 K on Monday), and left six aboard, while the Indians individually totaled 20 LOB (eight as a team). The Coons had 16 individual LOB – ALL of them in the top 5 of the order. To be precise, they all belonged to Mora (4), Hereford (6), and Gomez (6).

Game 3
IND: SS Pizano – C Dear – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – LF Plunkett – RF Ryder – 3B C. Castro – 2B Boggs – P Saccoccio
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – LF Millan – 3B Booker – P Delgadillo

The home crowd clapped politely if half-heartedly when Jon Gonzalez hit a first-inning dinger to put the Indians 1-0 ahead against the hideously unspooled Dan Delgadillo who kept pushing that ERA of SIX. And he was not only horrible at the start of the game, not getting strikes over, not getting strikes past batters, and not getting batters to not hit rockets to the depths of the ballpark. He started a-suck, then ran with it. Calling him garbage would have been an insult to garbage. The Indians strafed him for eight hits in the first four innings, and were held to three runs largely because they hit into a double play and Elias Tovias threw out not one but TWO base stealers. To make everything that much worse, the Coons' only base hit the first time through the order had been … by Delgadillo. The top 5th saw singles by Pizano and Gonzalez, then a 2-out, 2-run double by ****ing Ben Suhay, who was suddenly on a 3-hit day against a turd of a pitcher. Billy Brotman replaced the graceless Delgadillo and got a groundout from Plunkett to end the inning, with Portland down 5-0 and thoroughly and completely beaten.

The dismal Raccoons position players did not manage to land a single base hit until a 2-out single in the bottom 7th chipped by Rafael Gomez. Saccoccio had been silently dominant, whiffing five, until then, but now also served up a 2-run homer to Tovias. That was not all; after going 0-for-2 to start the inning, the Coons would unwrap a cycle with two down as Millan doubled and Booker tripled, but then Magallanes struck out in the #9 hole after having entered in a double switch along with Brotman. Bottom 8th, Armando Leal hit a pinch-hit single for Jonathan Fleischer in the #2 spot, but when Hereford and Harenberg both hit deep flies, they were not nearly deep enough, and both were caught by Ryder and Jamieson, respectively. Indy's Myles Mood then retired the Coons in order in the ninth. 5-3 Indians. Leal (PH) 1-1; Fleischer 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

The Raccoons also sent German Sanchez (.133) back to AAA while activating Kyle Anderson at the end of his rehab stint, during which he had pitched for a 4.20 ERA in six starts. Walks were up, strikeouts were down, and my mood was salty. He had last pitched on Tuesday and could not get into a game right away, though.

Oh, the best news – Nick Valdes hit the joint on Thursday morning in due time to voice lots of displeasure about recent performance and also to take in the fourth and final game in the set.

There were more roster moves that had been done even without the nagging. Juan Magallanes (.167) got the boot to AAA … as did Dan Delgadillo (2-3, 6.23 ERA). The Raccoons called up SS/3B Butch Gerster (.230, 0 HR, 6 RBI in AAA) and OF/1B Ryan Allan (.323, 1 HR, 7 RBI). Prospects listed here: zero. Gerster was 27 and one year older only than Allan, the fourth-round selection in the 2022 draft, that had milled around in Ham Lake as recently as the previous summer.

Game 4
IND: SS Pizano – RF Ryder – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – C Kennett – 3B Blades – LF Aleman – 2B Boggs – P McInerney
POR: 2B Hereford – CF Mora – LF Morales – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 3B Booker – SS Gerster – P Roberts

Butch Gerster didn't make himself immediately useful or even likeable, grounding out his first time up on the year before throwing away a leadoff grounder by Jon Gonzalez in the fourth, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position. Somehow, Roberts eloped on a K to Suhay, a pop, and a grounder to Hereford, who along with Morales had knocked a pair of singles in the bottom 1st, but Harenberg had been rung up and Gomez had flown out gingerly. Roberts threatened to make his mess himself in the fifth, knocking Alex Aleman, who was caught stealing before Robby Boggs doubled. McInerney was told to swing with one down and struck out, allowing Roberts to exit rather comfortably from what could have been a mess. In turn, Roberts drove in the game's first run in the bottom 5th, a sharp 2-out single to right-center that brought in Jaden Booker from second base…

Roberts kept being dangled over the ledge by his team, but held the Indians to three base hits through seven innings, and maybe Rafael Gomez' leadoff double to right in the bottom 7th could at least allow the Coons to eek out an insurance run. Indeed it did, even though Tovias flew out to shallow right afterwards. Jaden Booker's spanked grounder was not contained by Brett Blades at third base and eluded up the line for an RBI double before the bottom of the order was suffocated by McInerney to keep it a 2-0 score. Roberts completed eight on 85 pitches and while it was "only" a 2-run lead, he remained in the game to face the Indians in the ninth, starting with Zachary Ryder, especially in light of the royal mess the crunching bullpen had made on Tuesday. Even Ryder's leadoff single could not scare the Raccoons into their relievers. Roberts struck out Gonzalez, struck out Suhay, then got Kennett to fly out to Mora in center, finishing the ordeal on 101 pitches. 2-0 Critters! Booker 2-3, 2B, RBI; Roberts 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K, W (4-3) and 1-3, RBI;

For Roberts this was his fifth career shutout, four of them with the Raccoons.

Not gonna lie, the shutout also helped gloss over the glaring holes in the lineup a bit and Valdes left without revoking my rights to use the employee canteen.

Raccoons (22-17) vs. Thunder (21-20) – May 19-21, 2028

The Thunder were just at the .500 mark which would have been good enough to win the South in the previous campaign, but now had them sit 2 1/2 games out of first place. They ranked fifth in runs scored and second from the bottom in runs allowed, so maybe seeing some softer pitching might help the Critters rejuvenate at the plate. Their rotation was 10th by ERA, and their pen was the worst outright. We had won eight of nine games against them in 2027.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (3-3, 3.10 ERA) vs. Jose Vazquez (1-4, 5.63 ERA)
George James (2-3, 4.68 ERA) vs. Andy Palomares (2-5, 5.83 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-0, 1.87 ERA) vs. Jeff Dykstra (3-4, 3.34 ERA)

Sunday could also bring Max Nelson (3-2, 6.21 ERA) – both him and Dykstra had been involved in a double header on Wednesday, and nobody was going to be rested fully in all likelihood. In any case, all the options on the table were right-handed. Their sole southpaw in the rotation, "Graveyard" Gill (3-3, 2.44 ERA), had pitched on Thursday.

Game 1
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – C Burgess – RF Sagredo – SS Serrato – 1B J. Elliott – CF Pavel – LF Otero – 2B McWhorter – P J. Vazquez
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Millan – RF Allan – 2B Cass – P Nomura

Nomura conceded an early run on 2-out walks to Luis Sagredo and Alex Serrato, then John Elliott's clean single to left, but at least chipped in to flip the score in the bottom 2nd. Omar Millan had reached base with a 1-out walk, and after Ryan Allan flew out in his first major league at-bat, Sam Cass came through for his maiden base hit, an RBI double up the rightfield line that tied the game. He got his first run scored as well in the inning, scoring when Nomura's looper dropped into centerfield. Portland would up the score to 3-1 in the following inning, though in unearned fashion. A bad throwing error by veteran Tom McWhorter had put Harenberg on second base, from where he scored on Omar Millan's 2-out double, something Luis Sagredo matched in the top 5th, hitting a 2-out RBI double over Allan to score Jose Vazquez, who had opened that inning with a single off Nomura. Ah, some things just never changed…

The Raccoons also couldn't get the bats up in the middle innings at all, landing no base hits from the fourth through the sixth. Much the contrary, the middle of the order struck out as a whole in the fifth inning… Nomura was also done after 98 pitches and seven frames, handing the 3-2 lead to Ricky Ohl, who retired Serrato, John Elliott, and John Pavel in the eighth without much panic. Bottom 8th, Millan led off with a single, then was caught stealing on a run-and-hit call where Ryan Allan missed badly before legging out an infield single for his first major league hit on the very next pitch. Oklahoma reliever held the ball, but couldn't do anything with it before lustlessly tossing it into the Coons' dugout. A wild pitch advanced the runner, but Danny Morales popped out in place of Sam Cass. Rafael Gomez then batted for Ohl with two down and managed to bring in the insurance run with a fly to left that bounced just outside of Leo Otero's range, two feet inside the line, for an RBI double. Stalker flew out, leaving a 2-run lead to Josh Boles, who sawed off the bottom of the order in 11 pitches. 4-2 Coons. Millan 2-3, BB, 2B, RBI; Gomez (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Nomura 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, W (4-3) and 1-3, RBI;

Game 2
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – RF Sagredo – LF de Santiago – SS Serrato – C Burgess – 2B Kane – 1B LeMoine – CF Otero – P Palomares
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – LF Millan – 3B Booker – 2B Cass – P James

George James had just outlasted Dan Delgadillo, then kept teasing his GM with a second inning right from the gutters. Mike Burgess singles, Mike Kane homered, which was bad enough, but James also walked Chris LeMoine and Leo Otero with nobody out, and then Sagredo to load them up for Carlos de Santiago, who was a former Logger knew choking and popped out to Sam Cass to strand a full set and prevented George James from going over 45 pitches in two innings. But wouldn't you worry about the Thunder, who had another 2-spot up their sleeves in the very next inning. Burgess hit a double this time, scored on Mike Kane's single, with Gomez' throw home allowing Kane to move to second, then to third on LeMoine's single. When Cass couldn't complete the double play on Otero's grounder to short, Kane scored an extra run, then burying the Coons 4-1. They had amounted to a run on back-to-back doubles by Leal and Millan in the meantime, but of course the rancid bottom of the order had left Millan on second base where he arrived with nobody out. The rancid bottom of the order also ****ed up Harenberg and Leal hitting a pair of leadoff singles in the bottom 4th.

The Raccoons shyly poked their noses from the ditch, whiskers twitching, to smell the air in the sixth inning. Rafael Gomez hit a leadoff jack, but then stranded the tying run in the seventh inning, popping out woefully after Tim Stalker had driven in Jaden Booker in the inning to get all the way back to 4-3. James remained on a hook that got longer again in the eighth thanks to Billy Brotman haplessly walking Mike Kane on base, and Kevin Surginer giving up the 2-out pinch-hit single to .138 menace Erik Janes, two more runs scoring solely on Surginer's ledger in the ninth, in which he retired none of the first four batters. A depressed home crowd and an even more depressed GM saw him allow singles to Sagredo and de Santiago, nailing Serrato, then failing to throw any sort of strike to Burgess. Kane hit a sac fly to establish slam range when the ****ing Raccoons couldn't even come back from a 1-run deficit. They could sure tease, though. Facing ex-Coon Jonathan Snyder in the bottom 9th and down 7-3, pinch-hitters opened the inning with base hits. Tovias singled to right. Morales doubled to left. The top of the order came up! Stalker struck out before Abel Mora homered to right-center. The fans burst into cheers and cried rally, when I could read the scoreboard and knew that no comeback was possible. The Thunder sent Arturo Arellano, another righty, to restore order. Both Gomez and Harenberg flew out to John Pavel to end the game. 7-6 Thunder. Mora 2-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Leal 2-4, 2B; Tovias (PH) 1-1; Morales (PH) 1-1, 2B;

Tovias in a slump. Harenberg in a slump. Gomez in a slump. Hereford in a slump. The bullpen in a slump. Everybody else on the DL.

Does no baseball god have mercy anymore??

Game 3
OCT: CF Otero – 3B Janes – SS Serrato – 1B J. Elliott – LF Hodgers – C Riley – RF LeMoine – 2B Kane – P Nelson
POR: 2B Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 3B Hereford – C Tovias – LF Allan – SS Gerster – P Gutierrez

Rich Hereford hit a single in the second, but when Tovias flew out to center for the second out in the inning I sighed and regretted getting up in the morning to begin with. Then the bottom of the order proved me wrong. Allan, Gerster, AND Rico ALL hit 2-out singles, with the latter two each driving in a run to give the home team a 2-0 lead on getaway day. And they unleashed another bushel of runners in the next inning, with Tovias and Allan driving in 2-out RBI singles to jump out to a 4-0 edge in support of Rico Gutierrez, who had retired the Thunder in order the first time through the Thunder lineup. Perfection lasted for 14 outs in the game before Liam Riley squeezed out a walk in a full count in the fifth, although LeMoine soon flew out to Gomez to end the inning anyway. The no-hitter went away on the next batter Gutierrez faced, with Tim Stalker's arms not being long enough to contain Mike Kane's low liner to lead off the top of the sixth, yielding a single to begin the inning. Max Nelson was weirdly enough told to swing away and hit into a double play to Hereford and Rico got out of the inning that way. The Coons added a run in the sixth, Mora singling home Gerster, and with a 5-run edge it was really all about whether Rico could possibly get back in the SHO column. The Thunder didn't touch him in the seventh, but his pitch count got up to 90 by the time John Elliott grounded out to Hereford. Victor Hodgers and Liam Riley made outs to begin the eighth inning, but then Chris LeMoine robbed Rico of even the shutout, knelling a solo homer on his 106th pitch of the day. He threw two more, allowing a single to Kane, then was replaced by McLin to face the pinch-hitting McWhorter, who struck out. Kearney would then finish the game with a scoreless ninth, netting the Coons the series and a winning week. 5-1 Raccoons. Hereford 2-3, BB; Allan 3-4, RBI; Gerster 1-2, BB, RBI; Gutierrez 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, W (4-0) and 1-2, RBI;

In other news

May 15 – The Blue Sox end PIT 1B Danny Santillano's (.421, 5 HR, 22 RBI) hitting streak at 21 games, holding him dry despite getting routed by the Miners in a 10-2 final score.
May 15 – DEN SP Jose Menendez (3-3, 3.92 ERA) could be out for the year with a torn back muscle.
May 17 – TOP SS/2B Alex Majano (.324, 0 HR, 16 RBI) would miss three to four weeks with a strained calf muscle.
May 18 – VAN OF/1B Norman Day (.357, 0 HR, 17 RBI) has chained together a 20-game hitting streak with a sixth-inning single in an 8-7 win over the Loggers.
May 19 – CHA C Matt Cooper (.278, 4 HR, 14 RBI) could miss most of the remaining season with a torn abdominal muscle.
May 19 – The Titans trade C Giovanni James (.306, 2 HR, 26 RBI) to the Buffaloes in exchange for a minor league outfielder and a prospect.
May 20 – Indy SP David Elliott (2-3, 4.13 ERA) 2-hits the Bayhawks in a 2-0 shutout.
May 20 – A sprained wrist might cost BOS INF Adam Corder (.234, 0 HR, 11 RBI) up to a month on the DL.
May 21 – The 22-game hitting streak of VAN OF/1B Norman Day (.343, 0 HR, 19 RBI) ends with a dry appearance in the Canadiens' 7-6 loss to the Aces.

Complaints and stuff

On the weekend the Cyclones signed Cookie Carmona to a minor league contract. That is how far he has tumbled down the stairs in baseball… Even Cristiano urged him to retire instead of making a folly of himself around juicy 21-year-olds in the minor leagues.

We are tied for sixth in runs scored, says BNN and the ABL, and even the damn Agitator, but I somehow can't really believe it. Last week there was actual life in the lineup. This week Jarod Spencer lasted one at-bat and then the floodgates for "organizational depth" players opened. Hoping really hard we can get Alberto Ramos back in due time… Rich Hereford has finally been swallowed by a black hole, too, landing only a single RBI this week while batting 4-for-22. Only three strikeouts, so the BABIP was not great, but… I have already checked in with Valdes, and BABIP is also not an excuse.

So toss BABIP on the pile along with injuries and ancient gypsy curses for things I am not supposed to use as an excuse anymore.

I just can't have any fun anymore around here, can I??

We are now off for a 2-week road trip, zig-zagging east from here to, ultimately Boston, stopping in Tijuana, Vegas, and Atlanta on the way.

Fun Fact: Chris LeMoine's shutout-breaking eighth-inning home run off Rico Gutierrez was his 200th career home run.

Chris LeMoine and Victor Hodgers were team mates on the Loggers from 2015 through 2019 when both them and the Loggers were striking fear in our hearts.

Since then, Hodgers, a career .277 batter with 90 homers, has tingled through six different towns to land in Oklahoma, batting .212 in his age 37 season. LeMoine, a .255 batter in the majors across 14 seasons, is just scarcely outhitting him, batting .234 with two homers at age 35.

And, well, Cookie is now in Glenville. Wherever the **** that is. The last blossoms of the 2010s, withering away and dying. I am serious about that.

This week we learned that Jonny Toner, the 4-time Pitcher of the Year, retired from baseball after he could not secure another contract.

Crumbling ruins
Consigned to decay
By indifferent winds of time
Bit by bit carried away
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Old 01-24-2019, 10:15 AM   #2711
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Raccoons (24-18) @ Condors (25-18) – May 22-24, 2028

Here we were, in a strange land where the CL South leader had a (marginally) better record than the CL North leader. No such thing had been seen last year especially when the CL South was won by the 81-81 Aces. Tijuana paced the Continental League in offense, having scored the most runs – 5.2 per game – while their pitching was generally competent, sitting fourth in runs allowed. The Raccoons had four straight season series wins against the Condors, including a 7-2 record last year, but it would probably not be that easy to beat them right now…

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (0-0) vs. George Griffin (1-3, 6.05 ERA)
Mark Roberts (4-3, 3.38 ERA) vs. Joe Perry (4-2, 3.74 ERA)
Rin Nomura (4-3, 3.03 ERA) vs. Jeff Little (5-2, 3.52 ERA)

We would get two southpaws in the final two games of the series, while the right-handed Griffin would oppose Kyle Anderson in his first major league outing of the season after recovering from that UCL thing that had kept him out since the previous summer…

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 3B Hereford – C Tovias – LF Millan – 2B Cass – P Anderson
TIJ: CF Murphy – LF Denzler – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – SS Showalter – C Zarate – RF M. Matias – 2B Bross – P Griffin

Three innings were not enough for the Raccoons to get in a base hit, but the Condors put a 3-spot on Anderson in the bottom 3rd to take a sizable lead. Dave Bross hit a leadoff single, was bunted over by his pitcher, then scored on a clean single by Joel Denzler in to no man's land in shallow right-center. Things could have gone upwards from here, but only kept spiraling out of control with a walk issued to Shane Sanks and then Kevin McGrath's 2-out, 2-run double to deep, deep center before, finally, Andrew Showalter grounded out to Harenberg at first. The Raccoons continued to stink, not getting a base hit until Tovias' leadoff single in the fifth (and nothing became of that), while Anderson was… well… a Raccoon. He was knocked out in the bottom of the fifth, following a 2-run homer by McGrath with two outs, 5-0, after which he still managed to pack another pair of runners on base. More inefficient pitchers cycled in; Dan McLin struck out Mike Matias, but walked Bross on four pitches to begin the sixth. That run also scored, thanks to Billy Brotman lining up seamlessly with the crew and also an error by Sam Cass. That 6-0 lead was well enough for the heretofore battered Griffin to deliver eight scoreless innings on three base hits, after which the Condors sent right-hander Adam Potter into the ninth. Mora singled, Gomez singled. Ah, the usual faux rally, but just in time for Harenberg to hit into a double play. Or… a 2-run triple into the rightfield corner. The fun threatened to stop when Hereford walked, which moved the game into save range and the Condors went on to Pat Selby without Potter logging a single out. Tovias' fielder's choice grounder got the Coons within three, but Selby then got Jaden Booker on a pop to right and Ryan Allan on a grounder to short. 6-3 Condors. Gomez 2-4, 3B; Fleischer 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

Game 2
POR: 2B Stalker – LF Booker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 3B Hereford – C Leal – CF Mora – SS Gerster – P Roberts
TIJ: CF Murphy – 1B McGrath – 3B Sanks – RF M. Matias – SS Showalter – C Zarate – 2B Fitzsimmons – LF Denzler – P Perry

If you ever wanted to see a 27-year-old shortstop cackle with glee for his first major league home run after all his life his coaches, his managers, his GM, and foremost his parents had told him he would never do it, this was the game to watch. Butch Gerster conquered Joe Perry, with Mora on second base, in the fourth inning of this Tuesday event to extend a Coons lead to 4-1, and could hardly contain himself. All the runs in this game up to that point had been scored on the long ball; Shane Sanks had hit a solo piece in the bottom 1st, but Rafael Gomez had flipped the score with a 2-run shot of some 430 feet in the third inning. The Coons jumped further to 5-1 in the fifth inning, courtesy of a Mora triple that only scored Armando Leal from first base because he got an early start with two outs and two strikes on the batter. All the while, Mark Roberts was not actually that awesome. His command was way off, and the Condors could really hardly hit him, but not because he was that great, but because the balls went wherever. Sometimes they went into Tom Fitzsimmons, as happened in the fifth inning. Fitzsimmons stole second, but was stranded with strikeouts to both Joel Denzler and Mike Chaplin, who batted for Perry.

Now add the outlandish to this game's mix. The bottom 6th began with two sharp singles smacked by Chris Murphy and Kevin McGrath before Shane Sanks also hit the ball hard, but on the ground and right into the waiting paws of Butch Gerster, who started a 6-4-3 double play. Murphy was on third with two down, then caught the Coons with the guard down and ****ing stole home plate against the befuddled battery. It only got worse; Zarate and Fitzsimmons reached base in the seventh, pulled off a double steal, and Roberts departed after Denzler's RBI groundout closed the score to 5-3. Ricky Ohl replaced him (in a double switch that removed Rich Hereford) and rung up Pat Sanford and Murphy to end that inning, but only went on to completely **** up the eighth. Well, the disaster started with a throwing error by Jaden Booker, since having moved to third base, that put McGrath on. Ohl then threw a wild pitch, walked two, and after Showalter struck out surrendered an RBI single to Danny Zarate. When left-handed Bobby Marshall pinch-hit for Fitzsimmons, the Coons turned to Billy Brotman again with three on and one out in a 1-run game. It could have gone better. Brotman walked in the tying run before the Condors drank the fat chance away with a pop to Stalker off Denzler's bat, then a flyout to Allan by Dave Bross. Jaden Booker's leadoff single against Selby in the top 9th got the Coons nowhere, as did Murphy's leadoff triple off Kevin Surginer in the bottom 9th. McGrath struck out, but Sanks ended the game with a sac fly to center. 6-5 Condors. Stalker 2-5, 2B; Mora 2-4, 3B, RBI; Gerster 3-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI;

Sometimes I really, actually think that this entire team is too ****ing dumb to stand over a hole in the ground and take something as simple as a dump…

Game 3
POR: 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Morales – CF Mora – SS Gerster – P Nomura
TIJ: CF Murphy – 1B McGrath – 3B Sanks – RF M. Matias – SS Showalter – C Zarate – 2B Fitzsimmons – LF Denzler – P Little

Kevin Harenberg came closer and closer to getting beaten to death by his GM, stranding Stalker in scoring position in the first, AND Stalker and Hereford in scoring position in the third inning, both times striking out dismally, dumping his batting average to .240 with one homer and 27 K. The Condors loaded them up in the bottom 3rd when Nomura drilled Denzler with a 1-2 pitch to begin the inning, then a Murphy single and a walk issued to Sanks with two outs, after which Mike Matias singled up the middle to give them the lead. Mora threw out Murphy at home plate to end the inning, but my mood was rampantly unhappy by this point. Elias Tovias' leadoff double in the top of the fourth, a long fly that ran away from Murphy in center, didn't really change that because the next two Coons made two dumb outs that still left Tovias 180 feet away. Gerster, the hit machine, was walked intentionally, and then it was on Nomura with two down to do anything. When Little fell to 3-1 I hoped for the walk and a shot for Stalker, but Nomura poked that one into play, a bouncer that got through McGrath and up the line for a 2-run double. Yeah, well, whatever the **** works…

Stalker grounded out to end the fourth, but the Condors' corner infielders began the fifth with consecutive errors to put Hereford and Gomez on base. That brought up Harenberg, and had we been in Portland, I would have run for my blunderbuss by now… Harenberg went to 0-2 before the third flail accidentally met the ball and the bases filled up on a sorry blooper into shallow left for a single. Three on, no outs, in other words – doom. Indeed, Tovias, the master of disaster, shot a grounder at Fitzsimmons that the Condors turned somehow into an out at home plate, keeping the bags full, but then unexpectedly Danny Morales worked his black devil magic and shot a 1-2 pitch into the leftfield corner where the ball lodged under the padding to allow the bases to clear and Morales to coast into third base for a triple. The Condors cried foul and pointed out that the ball had become stuck (Denzler never played it, in fact) but when the third base ump jogged out there (which merely took forever), he was able to just pick up the ball and their motion to reduce the 3-run triple to a 2-run double was bluntly denied. Mora's groundout then scored Morales, extending the lead to 6-1, which sure was nothing they couldn't blow, and remember that Rin Nomura has some Game 7 level of history in handling big leads with less than advisable care. Nothing ill happened right away to Portland, as the Coons had Nomura get well through seven while adding another run on a Morales groundout in the top of the seventh inning. Bottom 8th, Denzler led off with a single to center, before Nomura threw a wild pitch and drilled Sanford. Murphy was a left-handed batter and grounded to short, but the Coons couldn't turn two; runners remained on the corners. The pitching coach felt Nomura's pulse, with the southpaw claiming to have things under control on 97 pitches, then proved his word with a K to McGrath, but no amount of words could bail him out after he also drilled Sanks to load the bases. Surginer secured a fly to left from Matias to end the inning and would also finish the game with a quick ninth. In between, Tovias hit a solo homer off Alex Hichez for the final score. 8-1 Raccoons. Harenberg 2-5, 2B; Tovias 2-5, HR, 2B, RBI; Morales 1-5, 3B, 4 RBI; Nomura 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (5-3) and 3-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI;

The Raccoons entered their off day with a 2-game lead in the standings. We spent the day off in Vegas where Sam Cass gambled away all his lunch money while Rin Nomura was kicked out of a casino for successfully counting cards at Blackjack.

Raccoons (25-20) @ Aces (27-20) – May 26-28, 2028

The Raccoons were up 2-1 in the season series with the Aces (Nomura counted 25 of them), who were just half a game behind the Condors for the lead in the South right now. Their strengths were harder to assess than the Condors' though, as they sat only fourth in runs scored and seventh in runs allowed. Their bullpen was a particular issue with an ERA over four.

Projected matchups:
George James (2-4, 4.94 ERA) vs. Chris Guyett (0-3, 3.53 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-0, 1.74 ERA) vs. Joel Trotter (2-1, 4.24 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (0-1, 9.64 ERA) vs. Ed Hague (7-1, 2.28 ERA)

All opponents were right-handed for this weekend set, no southpaw anywhere near; Tom Shumway (5-2, 2.97 ERA) had pitched and won on Thursday, Luis Flores (4-4, 5.16 ERA) was in injury limbo, and their third southpaw, Abramo Archibugi (0-3, 3.52 ERA) was on the DL already with a forearm strain. They had quite a few more injuries, having lost three players from their starting lineup (tell me about it…) in Andres Medina, Matt Hamilton, and Danny Serrano, the latter just this week with a fracture in his knee joint that was probably going to end his season altogether.

As far as injuries were concerned, the Raccoons were however confident to get Alberto Ramos back into the lineup in the coming days, maybe even on the weekend.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – LF Allan – 2B Cass – P James
LVA: 3B J. Navarro – LF Dunlap – 1B D. Fisher – RF Cornejo – CF Allard – 2B Chambers – C J. Gilbert – SS Roundtree – P Guyett

The Aces had a mostly left-handed lineup here so it would be interesting to see how James would fare. In any case he was spotted a lead before he went out, 1-0, thanks to Abel Mora's solo jack in the top of the first. Turns out, not so well – the Aces went down in the first, but ripped out three hard singles in the second inning, tying the game on Steve Roundtree's zinger to center, and even then Guyett hit a 1-out liner right at Cass for the second out, and Mora also had to hustle to contain a Jose Navarro drive to center to end the bottom 2nd with runners left on the corners. The Aces left Gil Cornejo (single) and David Allard (double) in scoring position the following inning when Robert Chambers grounded out to Hereford, and once again the bullpen was put on an early yellow alert. Doubles by Roundtree and Navarro gave Vegas a 2-1 lead in the bottom 4th. James tied the game himself wth a sac fly in the fifth that brought in Tovias (although an earlier Guyett balk had aided the Critters in even getting Tovias as far), but continued to be run over by the same bus over and over again. Two sharp singles, then a well-placed groundout by Chambers in the bottom 5th gave the Aces the lead right back, 3-2.

Guyett went eight without another serious challenge by the Raccoons, who took it lying down before their bullpen unwound even further in the bottom 8th. Kearney, who had pitched the seventh scorelessly, put Chambers on with a leadoff single, after which Dan McLin caused nothing but chaos, two extra-base hits and two runs. Nevertheless, the damn Coons brought up the tying run in the ninth against Franklin Alvarado (5.09 ERA). Mora led off with a single before Hereford and Harenberg both flew out to Tom Dunlap. Gomez singled to right, pulling up Tovias with a chance to get back even again, but a diving Navarro snagged his low 2-0 liner and the game ended in dismay once more. 5-2 Aces. Mora 2-4, HR, RBI;

At this point the Raccoons were 25-21 and far from having a convincing playoff case. However, with the Titans in a downward spiral of 1-7 in their last eight games and 9-15 for the month of May, the Raccoons were actually the only winning team in the North right now.

And they still couldn't get the offense going.

Game 2
POR: 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Leal – LF Booker – SS Gerster – P Gutierrez
LVA: 3B J. Navarro – LF Dunlap – 1B D. Fisher – SS A. Velez – C Motley – RF Beckwith – CF Allard – 2B Chambers – P Trotter

With the Aces having lost one of their right-handed bats (Roundtree) to an undisclosed injury late in Friday's game, Alberto Velez, the former Logger, who had been a sieve at third base for most of his career, was pressed into service at the most important position on the infield, and the few times he had helped out at short before had not inspired much hope for defensive fortitude NOW at age 34. At least Rico would still see a mostly left-handed lineup, and maybe this could – oops, no, David Fisher with a 2-run homer right in the opening inning. And that was *after* a hard Navarro single and a balk…

While Rico's control and fortitude were badly off in this game that would have been nice to win to be honest, the Aces lost Joel Trotter to an apparent injury as early as the third inning, making Trotter the third disabled player on their 25-man roster besides Flores and Roundtree. Andy Wright took over in relief, while the Coons saw some sort of diseased performance from their pitcher as well. Dunlap hit a 1-out single in the bottom 3rd, Fisher walked, and before long Velez floated in an RBI single. Josh Motley fouled out, Myles Beckwith loaded them up with a 2-out infield single, and somehow David Allard didn't put the game away right here and now, grounding out to first in what was still a 3-0 game. By the fifth it was 4-0 on singles by Dunlap, Velez, and Motley, all hard-hit, and Gutierrez wasn't seen again after that, having bled eight hits and two walks in five ****ty innings.

And the offense? The usual misery, with a modicum of raw sewage washing forth from the visitors' dugout. Wright held the Coons to one hit over his first 4.1 innings of long relief before Butch Gerster got in a 2-out double in the seventh inning. Danny Morales batted for Brotman and singled up the middle to get the Coons on the board. Wright departed after walking Tim Stalker, but Mora grounded pathetically against the new pitcher, righty Pat Collins, stranding two in a 4-1 game. The Raccoons would manage to get Josh Boles involved in the game after all, though not until after three walks issued by Jonathan Fleischer with nobody out in the bottom 8th. Boles immediately allowed an RBI single to Lowell Genge in the #9 hole. All of Fleischer's runners scored eventually, with Boles walking in a run and conceding a sac fly in the inning. 7-1 Aces. Gerster 2-4, 2B;

The Raccoons kept losing games, while the Aces kept losing players, putting SP Luis Flores (4-4, 5.16 ERA) on the DL by Sunday with shoulder tendinitis. He would be out for two months.

Well, we have also lost plenty of players.

And I have lost any sort of confidence into this deplorable bunch.

Game 3
POR: 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – RF Booker – LF Allan – SS Gerster – P Anderson
LVA: 2B Chambers – LF Dunlap – 1B D. Fisher – C Motley – CF Allard – 3B E. Moreno – RF Genge – SS A. Velez – P Hague

Ed Hague challenged for the ERA lead in the Continental League, but didn't even get out of the first inning. It was not for injury though – no, it was (and who could have guessed they would harm a GOOD pitcher after not being able to hit against the mediocre ones?) the simple fact that the Raccoons first took his lunch, and then took out his intestines, too. Rich Hereford had two run-scoring base hits in the opening inning that began with a Stalker single, a Mora double to left-center, and then Hereford's RBI single in front of Allard, 1-0. Gomez struck out, but Tovias went yard to right, jumping the tally to 4-0. The inning looked ready to end when Anderson came up with two on and two outs, but he hit a double over the head of Eddie Moreno to score both Booker and Allan, 6-0, after which Stalker and Mora flocked aboard again and Hereford delivered the death knell with a morningstar, a no-doubt homer to centerfield to run the tally to 10-0. GRAAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!

And then, plot twist, Kyle Anderson was almost as bad. The Aces hit him every which way for three hits and a walk and two runs in the bottom 1st, their quick rally short-circuited by David Allard cracking the ball into a double play. This could be a long, long, sad game…! While Rich Hereford was a triple short of the cycle by the third inning, Anderson's best friend was soon the double play because somebody was on base for Vegas almost as soon as he took the mound for another inning. Fisher hit into a double play in the third. Velez spanked into another one in the fourth, but not until after Lowell Genge had chipped off another run with an RBI single. With their consistently bent bullpen and the huge lead, the Raccoons had to commit to Anderson, though, at least until he ran out of steam completely or the Aces got near slam range. He was over 80 pitches after five innings, but managed to scratch out another four outs after that before being replaced with Kearney with one out in the seventh and Lowell Genge on first following a leadoff walk in what was still a 10-3 game after the Raccoons' lineup had essentially quit right after the opening frame. Hereford had a fly to center in the fifth, then hit a 1-out double in the eighth, but there was no chance he'd get the triple on that play, with Genge's throw to second almost right on him as he slid into the base. The Coons stranded him, much like they had stranded Mora after a double in the fifth inning. Meanwhile, the Aces kept chipping away at the lead. Kearney got through the seventh, but then was undone in a lengthy eighth inning that saw him yield two hits and a walk. Granted, Butch Gerster's throwing error on a grounder by Fisher helped nothing at all, but then I would still blame Kearney, who bled three runners in 2-strike counts. It was 10-5 with two on and two out when the plug was pulled on Kearney, and Ricky Ohl took over against Velez, who hit a first-pitch RBI single, 10-6, before Beckwith pinch-hit and grounded out to the mound. When Robert Chambers opened the bottom 9th with a double off Ohl, I closed my weary eyes and braced for an impact that never came. Dunlap's grounder, then two pop outs ended the game. 10-6 Coons. Mora 3-5, 2 2B; Hereford 4-5, HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI; Tovias 2-5, HR, 3 RBI;

Oh boy, they DIDN'T fudge away a 10-0 lead. Man, such good players! Daddy's so proud…!

In other news

May 22 – Last year's CL Player of the Year, VAN OF Brian Wojnarowski (.296, 8 HR, 22 RBI) will be out for a month with an oblique strain.
May 22 – OCT SS/2B Alex Serrato (.267, 3 HR, 27 RBI) would miss six weeks with a strained hamstring.
May 22 – IND SP Andy Bressner (4-5, 3.59 ERA) might be done for the season with a ruptured finger tendon.
May 24 – The Bayhawks score two 6-spots in a 13-7 win over the Titans, with SFB C Jaiden Jackson (.262, 3 HR, 19 RBI) pacing the team with four hits and 3 RBI.
May 25 – LAP OF Justin Fowler (.412, 6 HR, 26 RBI) will miss two or three weeks with a strained hammy.
May 26 – Titans and Knights are tied at two after eight innings before both teams unfurl 4-spots in the ninth inning. Boston scores two in the top 11th, but an array of singles allows the Knights to plate three and walk off, 9-8, in the bottom of the inning.
May 27 – The league awakes to the news that NYC 3B Andy Schmit (.211, 3 HR, 18 RBI) crashed his car in heavy rain on his way home from the ballpark the previous night, but luckily suffered only a mild shoulder injury. The Crusaders would place him on the DL for that, but expect him to be back in action by the middle of June.
May 27 – DEN MR Desi Bowles (1-1, 4.26 ERA, 2 SV) gets two outs in the bottom 11th of the Gold Sox' game against the Miners before conceding a hit batter and three walks in a row to have Denver fall to Pittsburgh, 4-3.
May 28 – SFB RF/LF Cesar Martinez (.231, 5 HR, 26 RBI) leads his team with 5 RBI on three base hits in a 15-1 shellacking of the Canadiens.

Complaints and stuff

The entire team sucks from top to bottom. Nobody is even remotely able to perform. Train wreck after train wreck. Sweep for the Titans looming large next weekend.

Rich Hereford had 23 RBI in April, and 26 by May 2. Between then and Sunday's Ed Hague pinata? Five. I just want to scream. He then had another five off Hague in a single inning, but those fall into the fluke category. Who knows? Maybe Hague ran over a black cat on his way to the ballpark, and black cat ghosts can be quite vengeful…

No, it was not a good week, top to bottom. Few weeks where you cough up 31 runs are good. Yeah, they scored 29, but they only scored 29 because they ran up the score on the unluckiest sod in Nevada…

Fun Fact: The Raccoons are 2-6 in Saturday games this season. Their average number of runs allowed in Saturday games this season is 6.1 markers.

And that is including neat gems by Roberts (against the dumb Elks) and Rico (vs. Boston) in April. They have allowed seven or more runs in every single Saturday loss this year.
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Old 01-25-2019, 01:49 AM   #2712
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This update is brought to you by waking up at four in the morning, brightly alert, and unable to find another position to curl up in. Enjoy, like a raccoon would enjoy a banana.

+++

Raccoons (26-22) @ Knights (25-24) – May 29-31, 2028

The Coons would end the month of May, and hopefully all the sucking, in Atlanta, where the first order of the day was to activate Alberto Ramos at the expense of severely undercooked .133 batter Sam Cass, while also trying to tackle the Knights, who sat sixth in runs scored, but third in runs allowed, which was an odd mix for a Knights team of recent mintage. The Knights had swept the first series of the season in April.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (4-3, 3.46 ERA) vs. Estevan Delgado (2-4, 3.84 ERA)
Rin Nomura (5-3, 2.82 ERA) vs. Mike Cockcroft (3-4, 5.43 ERA)
George James (2-5, 4.89 ERA) vs. Jim Shannon (5-1, 2.08 ERA)

Left, right, right – also note the Knights sitting in dead last in home runs in the league. This was indeed no longer the Ruben Luna-led team of the last decade. Well, and Luna was a Gold Sock now, too…

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – LF Morales – CF Mora – P Roberts
ATL: 3B A. Alvarez – SS Duling – 1B Tadlock – 2B Moroyoqui – LF C. Mendoza – RF G. Ramirez – CF Collado – C Tanzillo – P E. Delgado

Mark Roberts retired the side once on 28 pitches with four strikeouts, which was about the only good thing that happened in the first three innings. It started to rain lightly at first more or less as soon as the game was underway, and in both of his first two at-bats back from the DL, Alberto Ramos fouled out behind home plate. What spark! Then there was a rain delay of over an hour in the top of the fourth inning, which was certainly going to do Roberts so well…

Ramos reached on a Jesus Moroyoqui throwing error his third time around, going to second base leading off the fifth. He advanced to third on Tim Stalker's fly to Ray Collado, after which Hereford coaxed a walk from Delgado… and then was picked off first base. Harenberg, still useless, flew out to Chris Mendoza to strand a guy in scoring position for the third time in the game. Mendoza was also the first Knight to reach base, being nicked by Roberts with an 0-2 pitch in the bottom 5th. I'd say he leaned into it, but of course nobody calls that anymore… Top 6th, Rafael Gomez hit his second leadoff single in the game, then advanced on a groundout. Delgado walked Danny Morales in a full count, which ended his day. He then got to watch as Abel Mora singled up the middle against southpaw Alex Morin. Gomez went for home, drew a weak throw from Collado, and while he scored the first run of the game, the remaining Critters on the bases scurried into scoring position. The Knights came apart immediately and violently. Mark Roberts's fly to center was over Collado's head for a 2-run double, and the Coons' hurler advanced as Ramos grounded out, then scored on a Stalker single before the Knights made consecutive errors on 2-out grounders by Hereford and Harenberg before Gomez popped out, capping a 5-run inning.

Roberts' no-hit bid ended in the seventh on a Ron Tadlock double to left, which also put on the squeeze immediately, since Roberts had already begun the inning with a walk to Mike Duling. Roberts was clearly past his due date now; Moroyoqui singled in a run, and another one scored on Mendoza's sac fly, cutting the edge to 5-2. After a deep fly out by PH Nate Hall, Roberts was hauled in. Surginer got Collado to lift an easy one to Abel Mora to end the inning. But here were the Coons – scoring in retaliation! Ryan Allan had entered with Surginer in a double switch and led off the eighth with a single, then stole second. Ramos drew a walk from Jose Fuentes, who then balked the runners into scoring position. Stalker hit a clean RBI single, but when the Coons hoped for a decider from the middle of the order, they got a whiff from Rich Hereford, and a double play grounder from rampantly useless Kevin Harenberg. Stalker's throwing error put Chris Tanzillo on second base to begin the bottom 8th, but Surginer wiggled out of the unfortunate situation without conceding that runner, which was the last one the Knights got. 6-2 Coons. Stalker 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Gomez 3-4, BB; Roberts 6.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, W (5-3) and 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – CF Mora – LF Millan – P Nomura
ATL: RF M. Walker – SS Duling – 1B Tadlock – 2B Moroyoqui – CF N. Hall – 3B A. Alvarez – LF G. Ramirez – C V. Ayala – P Shannon

Omar Millan's 2-out RBI single in the second inning, which chased home Rafael Gomez for the first tally in the game, was his first useful appearance in quite a while. This was something you could build on, and Tim Stalker did with a 2-run homer to left in the following frame, collecting Alberto Ramos and his leadoff single, his first hit since coming off the DL. Rin Nomura continued to hold the Knights to precious little, even starving Nate Hall's leadoff double in the fifth inning with three groundouts that didn't get the Knights anywhere nice. And the offense sure thought he had that one banked, because they stopped hitting altogether by the middle innings. However, nothing could have been further from reality. While Nomura maintained a 3-hitter through six innings, Tadlock – always the scourge – opened the bottom 7th with a single, and Nomura then filled them up with a walk and another single. Ohl time! Granted, too much confidence in Ricky was unwarranted at this point. Like everybody else, he was struggling. Adrian Alvarez went down on strikes alright, but he then allowed runs to score on an RBI single by Mendoza, then a walk to Victor Ayala. Collado struck out, Walker grounded out, keeping the score a flimsy 3-2 through seven. Top 8th, facing righty Ed Blair the Coons had Ramos ground out before Stalker singled past Duling and Hereford reached on a Tadlock fumble. Here we had to bank on Rafael Gomez, because if he couldn't get through, Mr. Useless was sure to **** it all up. Gomez flew out to center, and Harenberg struck out, of course. Somehow, the Coons managed to give that 3-2 lead to Josh Boles despite all the odds. He started the ninth facing Nate Hall, rung him up, same with Alvarez, but then fell to 3-1 against Mendoza, a dangerous coonskinner if you allowed him to. Boles was unrelenting, with Mendoza putting the next pitch in play, a grounder near second base that Ramos ranged to successfully and threw Mendoza out at first to seal the deal. 3-2 Critters. Stalker 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Gomez 2-4; Millan 2-4, RBI; Nomura 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (6-3) and 1-3;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Allan – P James
ATL: RF M. Walker – 3B A. Alvarez – 2B Moroyoqui – LF C. Mendoza – SS Tadlock – CF N. Hall – 1B Duling – C V. Ayala – P Cockcroft

There were subtle cracks in the ice under George James' hind paws, and while he began the game with a few goose eggs on the scoreboard, the Knights' hitting balls quite hard was also not going unnoticed by anybody. They remained unlucky, like in the third inning, where Jesus Moroyoqui's drive to deep left was caught by Ryan Allan in a wild tumble to end the inning. It also ended Allan's appearance as the rookie came out with an undisclosed injury, replaced by Millan.

No score through four, but the Coons squeezed something out of the fifth. Abel Mora got on to start the inning, stole second on a bad throw by Ayala, then went to third on a wild pitch by Cockcroft, who went on to walk Millan, and Millan went on to also steal second base against no throw by Ayala. James was suffocated in this prime RBI opportunity, but Alberto Ramos clubbed a ball up the middle and past the infielders for a 2-run single before becoming the third guy in the inning to steal a base. Two groundouts left him on base, and the Knights pulled one of the two runs right back in the bottom 5th thanks to a leadoff double by Ayala, who maneuvered around on groundouts.

While the liners were still whizzing past either ear of James, the Coons got a break in the seventh when Mark Walker dropped Mora's fly to begin the inning. The error led to a run when Walker couldn't catch up with Millan's drive to right that fell near the warning track for an RBI double, 3-1, but the top of the order choked with the runner in scoring position. The Coons kept listening for signs that James was about to get rolled over at the same time, and Moroyoqui's 410-footer with one out in the eighth was decided to be that sign. It cut the lead to 3-2, but Jeff Kearney got the second out with a K on Mendoza before McLin got Tadlock to ground out to Harenberg. No insurance run would come about, and Josh Boles came up for the ninth again with Hall up first, but the Knights went to Guadalupe Ramirez to pinch-hit. One pitch, one single, and then Boles fudged Duling's bunt to put the winning run on base as well. Ayala flew out to Gomez in shallow right, keeping the runners where they were, while old foe Trent Herlihy pinch-hit in the #9 hole. His grounder to Harenberg advanced those runners, but at least Boles would now face Mark Walker, who had been a black hole for the entire series AND was batting left-handed. And he struck out! 3-2 Furballs! Millan 1-1, BB, 2B, RBI; James 7.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, W (3-5) and 1-3;

Sweeeeep.

Raccoons (29-22) @ Titans (28-26) – June 2-4, 2028

The Coons came in just 2.5 games ahead of the Titans, so losing was not an option here! (Like, was it ever?) The Titans had recovered somewhat from their weakling offensive start to the season, now sitting seventh in runs scored in the league, while conceding the second-fewest runs with the best rotation hands down. The Critters had a 4-2 lead in the season series, they'd better somehow maintain!

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (4-1, 2.33 ERA) vs. Jeremy Waite (4-3, 2.08 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (1-1, 6.55 ERA) vs. Dave Dyer (1-2, 4.81 ERA)
Mark Roberts (5-3, 3.39 ERA) vs. Armando Gonzales (2-2, 4.33 ERA)

Of course, injuries had been a factor for the Titans, too. They were without five key players right now, including SP Dustin Wingo (0-1, 1.65 ERA) and lineup pieces Keith Leonard, Adam Corder, and Willie Vega. The rotation contained some replacements like Dyer, and all three pitchers we'd see were right-handers.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Millan – P Gutierrez
BOS: CF Reichardt – 3B S. Williams – 1B B. Lloyd – LF Kuramoto – 2B R. West – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – RF Good – P Waite

Gutierrez, who couldn't deal with a lefty lineup the last time around, would face a mostly right-handed offering this time, so confidence was flying not very high right now. In any case, the Raccoons drew first blood with a solo homer to right-center off Abel Mora's bat in the second inning, but the Titans looked eager and able to soon overturn that score. They hit into a double play in the second inning, then got a 1-out triple out of Stephen Williams' gapper in the bottom 3rd. Bob Lloyd struck out in a full count against Rico, who then was dumb/lucky enough to have Yasuhiro Kuramoto line a ball right at Stalker for the final out. Portland would have a chance to add to their lead in the fifth inning, which began with an Omar Millan double and eventually saw the bases fill up with an intentional walk to Ramos and an unintentional walk to Hereford, but Gomez couldn't get his 2-1 drive to center past the everlasting pest Adrian Reichardt, and all runners were stranded…

The Titans had their own version of the bases loaded in the bottom 6th. Lloyd and Rhett West singled up the middle, and then Keith Spataro legged out an infield grounder to fill them up with only one out. Few smart options were available at this point, because Ricky Ohl was nowhere near reliable, and to be fair the writing was lighting up quite noticeably on the wall… or rather the scoreboard, with "RALLY!" flashing on the Titans' board. Gutierrez was left in against the right-handed .156 batter Alex Arias in the hope of getting at least one out and then have him retire Matt Good, the sole left-handed batting position player in there, to at least escape with a tie. He did better than that, getting Arias to chomp into a double play at 2-2, Ramos to Stalker to Harenberg. Portland had an answer in the seventh despite starting with outs by Millan and Gutierrez. Ramos drew a 2-out walk, and then the 2-3-4 batters rapped out straight singles against Jeremy Waite, the last two of those each plating a run to extend the lead to 3-0. Nevertheless, Rico got only one more out, a grounder to Stalker by Good on Gutierrez' 100th pitch of the game. PH Jon Perez singled up the middle, and with that Kevin Surginer replaced the starter and got easy fly outs from Reichardt and Williams to end the inning. The Titans made another five outs before getting somebody – Good – on base in the bottom 9th, a 2-out single off Josh Boles. PH John Jacobs hit another one, and suddenly Reichardt was up as the tying run. Boles got to 0-2, then had the ball put in play, but it was a comfy bouncer to Rich Hereford and was converted into the final out of the game. 3-0 Coons. Stalker 2-5; Mora 2-4, HR, RBI; Gutierrez 6.1 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, W (5-1);

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – CF Mora – C Leal – 1B Harenberg – LF Millan – P Anderson
BOS: CF Reichardt – RF Good – 1B B. Lloyd – 3B S. Williams – 2B R. West – SS Spataro – LF Jacobs – C A. Arias – P Dyer

Kyle Anderson had been mildly terrible in his first two games off the DL and it didn't seem like much was gonna change in this contest, although the Titans' 1-0 lead in the bottom 1st was unearned. Tim Stalker had dropped a ball hit by Matt Good, and Williams doubled him in with two outs. The Coons had seen Ramos with a leadoff single in the first, only to get washed up on Stalker's double play *before* Hereford and Gomez got on base, too, then a leadoff double by Leal in the second that ended with three strikeouts against the bottom of the order. Ramos was on base again with a leadoff walk in the third, then swiped second base, his 10th bag of the season. Stalker's soft single moved him to third base, and he scored to tie the game on Hereford's grounder to Rhett West for a fielder's choice.

While the Titans clearly had Anderson by his baseballs, they also kept hitting into unlucky outs, like Rhett West's scorched line drive out to Millan to begin the fourth, one inning after they had hit into an inning-killing double play. Top 5th, Ramos reached base leading off for the third time in the game, now with a single, then scored to break the tie when Tim Stalker jammed a triple in the rightfield corner. The Titans elected to walk Hereford intentionally, but surrendered the Stalker run anyway on Gomez' sac fly that extended the score to 3-1 before the inning fizzled out. The following inning Kevin Harenberg hit a leadoff single up the middle to end an *0-for-22* stretch (gasp!). He would come around to score on a 2-out single by Ramos, 4-1, while the Titans' Rhett West hit into another rally-killing double play in the bottom of the inning, that had started with a leadoff single to left by Bob Lloyd. The Coons dragged Anderson through seven innings, with his final ledger looking much better than the actual mound work, then turned to the pen. Jeff Kearney seemed(!) to recover from his woeful April, getting PH Johnny Stuckey and Matt Good, the latter on a fielder's choice, while we never expected him to retire Reichardt, who ended up walking and being forced out. McLin replaced Kearney after that – again, right on schedule – and served up a booming homer to Bob Lloyd that got the life back into the home crowd – and that had not been part of the Coons' cunning plan for the late innings. When Williams singled, the Coons yanked McLin for Ohl and hope for four outs from him. West grounded out to Ramos for the most urgently needed out. No insurance came about in the top of the ninth, with the bottom beginning with Spataro's fly to Mora. Jacobs went down in a full count, and Alex Arias flew out to an inrushing Gomez to end the game. 4-3 Furballs! Ramos 3-4, BB, RBI; Stalker 2-4, BB, 3B, RBI; Leal 2-4, 2B; Anderson 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, W (2-1);

Again, Anderson's line looks a hell of a lot better than he actually was. There was a whole lot to be worried about in this game, but sometimes you take the W and shut up in 40 words or less.

Just this: the Elks were losing two in a row to the Crusaders as well, which meant that most of the CL North was now bunched up at the .500 mark again and the Coons had a 4 1/2 game lead going into Sunday!

Also, this: after three days, the Druid divined that Ryan Allan (.333, 0 HR, 1 RBI) had a strained hammy and required DL time. Six weeks is the word. We would try to plug the hole with Juan Magallanes.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – LF Gomez – CF Mora – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – RF Booker – P Roberts
BOS: CF Reichardt – 3B S. Williams – 1B B. Lloyd – LF Kuramoto – 2B R. West – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – RF Good – P A. Gonzales

Worryingly, the first three outs the Titans made were all on or at the edge of the warning track, which was so not a good sign with Mark Roberts… who then drove in the first run of the game with a 2-out single, cashing Elias Tovias and the latter's 1-out double, in the second inning. The following frame saw a 2-out rally after Stalker and Hereford came up with nothing initially. Gomez doubled, scored on Mora's single, and then Tovias hit another double that presented Harenberg with two runners in scoring position. He snorted, again, although this time Reichardt was to blame, because Kevin gave a 3-2 pitch a hell of a ride to left-center, and was still denied. Cursingly, I shook my clenched fist at Reichardt as he playfully tossed the ball over to Kuramoto as the Titans vacated the field.

Soon enough, Mark Roberts vacated the 2-0 lead with a 3-hit, 1-walk bottom 4th that saw the Titans, down 2-1, have them loaded up with one out and Matt Good at the plate, and Good unleashed a mighty drive to deep, deep right. Now Jaden Booker was the spoiler, making an unlikely catch at the warning track, but of course there was no keeping Rhett West on third base. Game tied, Roberts struck out Gonzales to end the inning, but it was a brand new ballgame now. It remained that brand new ballgame for three innings of mostly nothing before the Coons reached an impasse in the eighth. Hereford had led off with a single, but had been forced out by Mora's grounder. Tovias then singled, offering another RBI chance to … Harenberg. The problem was that the Titans were still hanging on to Gonzales, because why would they not? Harenberg sucked the leather off the baseballs, and if they brought a southpaw, they were liable to see Danny Morales pinch-hit. Was there any platoon advantage to be gained with Harenberg at all? He batted. He grounded out to short.

Mark Roberts did his royal best, but could not get a win. He could still get a loss though following Lloyd's 1-out single in the bottom 8th that was followed by Surginer replacing the tired Roberts after 108 pitches, some of them quite dangerous. Kuramoto singled in a full count, after which marvelous plays by first Stalker against West, and then Ramos against Spataro served to keep the tie in one piece. Both shagged quick bouncers that were not exactly near them to strand the Titans' pair of runners in scoring position for which they got fist bumps right away by a Kevin Surginer that looked like he KNEW he had no business with the good outcome. It also started to rain in this inning, and the slippery grass soon led into a Stephen Williams error in the ninth that put Morales on when he pinch-hit against southpaw Ben Marx. Nothing came of that, with Ramos and Stalker making outs, and now it was about delaying the Titans even more than the weather already did as it gave everybody a 45-minute cooldown before the bottom 9th, after which Dan McLin retired the side, including Mike Bednarski's moldy carcass, to extend the game to extras, where Rich Hereford knelt the first pitch by Marx for a leadoff double up the leftfield line. C'mon boys! Tear him up! The Titans walked Gomez intentionally, and when the Coons had Abel Mora bunt, Marx took the ball for a force at third base. Tovias then smacked into a double play. Whee! Nothing major happened until the 12th, with McLin and Fleischer holding the fort for Portland. Ramos opened the 12th with a single off Ryan Corkum, then stole second base when Tim Stalker whiffed on a hit-and-run, but at least got subtly into Arias' way doing so. After Stalker flew out, Hereford was walked intentionally, and Gomez smacked into the obvious double play opportunity. The 13th saw Mike Stank, another southpaw, pitching against Mora, who singled, and Tovias, who singled. That brought up Harenberg, and this time the Coons pulled the trigger. Armando Leal batted, ran a full count, then lobbed a single into right-center. Mora was waved around aggressively against Johnny Stuckey's arm and slid in barely safe, with the trailing runners gaining the extra base. Booker grounded out poorly to keep them there, after which Butch Gerster hit for Fleischer and knocked out Stank with an RBI single into rightfield. Pitching change, righty Rafael Urbano coming in to stop the bleeding, and indeed he retired Ramos (pop) and Stalker (groundout) without any more damage incurred by Boston. Portland sent Boles into the bottom 13th, which began with a 4-pitch walk to Williams. Lloyd popped out before Kuramoto laced a double to left. But the Titans seemed to forget that there was not some weak-armed weasel in leftfield, but Rafael Gomez, and they sent Williams for home plate, only to have him thrown out! Boles rung up West to seal a bitter sweep for the Titans. 4-2 Critters!! Hereford 2-5, BB, 2B; Gomez 2-5, BB, 2B; Mora 2-6, RBI; Tovias 4-6, 2 2B; Leal (PH) 1-1, RBI; Gerster (PH) 1-1, RBI; Roberts 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K and 1-3, RBI; McLin 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K; Fleischer 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, W (1-0);

Another moral victory: Adrian Reichardt went 0-for-6!

In other news

May 30 – The Condors worry they could have lost RF/LF Mike Matias (.233, 5 HR, 27 RBI) for the season with a torn back muscle.
May 31 – SFW LF/CF Jeff Wadley (.274, 5 HR, 41 RBI) has a 20-game hitting streak following the decisive blow, a ninth-inning walkoff homer off WAS SP Johnny Nelson (4-2, 2.17 ERA) in a 1-0 Warriors win.
May 31 – LVA SP Joel Trotter (2-1, 4.05 ERA) is out for the season with shoulder inflammation.
May 31 – WAS C David Lessman (.351, 7 HR, 40 RBI) fails concussion protocols after a knock to the head and is placed on the DL. The Capitals hope to get him back within 15 days.
June 2 – ATL OF Mark Walker (.261, 4 HR, 19 RBI) lands five base hits (all singles) and a bases-loaded walk in a 16-7 trouncing of the Aces at the bats of the Knights.
June 3 – The Stars end SFW LF/CF Jeff Wadley's (.280, 5 HR, 45 RBI) hitting streak in a 7-2 Warriors win.

Complaints and stuff

(toasts with Slappy) Sweep week! Sweep week! (Chad wiggles the antlers of the stuffed toy Elk) Chad, put that thing away, they come in to start our homestand!

Yes, it was a slow motion sweep, but 6-0 is 6-0 and it's hard to talk that all the way down. – Cristiano, stop raining on the parade. – Cristiano, nobody wants to hear that by Pythagorean record we are only half a game ahead of the Titans. – Cristiano, I warn you! – Cristiano, I will have your wheelchair's push rims coated with olive oil again if you don't shut up!

We scored 23 runs this week but allowed only 11, which is what good teams do. They don't overkill on the wins and save runs for the tight games. Or something like that. I am sure you can spin 23 runs in six games into a positive *somehow*. We are still pushing 4.3 runs per game…

Kevin Harenberg is legendarily dismal though. He is on a 2-for-32 / 6-for-64 spell. It is baffling. He's got an appointment at the witch doctor first thing Monday morning. No, the Druid doesn’t do witchcraft, he does nature rituals. Totally different stuff. But I have been looking into the archives, trying to find a player that sucked as bad for 200 at-bats in a season and could not find much. Kevin DeWald had a .545 OPS across three seasons of 238 at-bats. 80s shortstop Victor Castillo came close with a .540 OPS across two seasons of roughly 300 at-bats. At least Castillo was still worth positive WAR. Harenberg ain't (-0.3).

Thank goodness WAR is a useless stat!

After a 20-30 start to the season, the Scorpions canned their manager and GM on Wednesday, which was sure a timely decision to part with the key front office personnel to what could have been a first-rank dynasty if the Scorpions of earlier in the decade hadn't made it an art form to choke in the FLCS against inferior opposition.

Elsewhere in the Federal League, Topeka's Tadasu Abe (7-2, 2.33 ERA) knocked out another Pitcher of the Month ribbon with a 4-0, 1.79 ERA month of May. Abe, 36, is the last piece of the Coons' 1-2-3 punch from about a decade ago that is still active following Jonny Toner's retirement and fading into darkness. Hector Santos had already fallen out of baseball five years ago at age 33.

Fun Fact: On June 3, 1999 the Falcons' Hubert Green hit for the cycle against the Raccoons, who got routed, 10-2.

Hubert Green was a career Falcon, twice an All Star, and also won a Gold Glove. He did in doubles, leading the CL twice (1998, 2004) in that category, as well as once in runs scored. He hit 30+ doubles for ten straight seasons and 520 for his career, along with a .256/.360/.401 slash, 156 HR, and 995 RBI. He also stole 190 bases, but got not much love on the Hall of Fame ballot, dropping off his second year on it.
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Old 01-27-2019, 05:35 AM   #2713
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2028 DRAFT POOL ANALYSIS

The 2028 draft was going to be one of those barren lands again… for position players. I went over the entry lists with our head scout (Lopez? Dominguez? Somethingez?) and there was really hardly any batting prospect that stood out with a certain 'wow!' effect. By contrast the pitching selection was once again quite rich and varied and many teams could get a hurler that they could hope for being a productive member of their rotation a few years down the road.

The Critters would have the #20 pick in every round, so it was not like we could eye somebody on BNN's top 10 list or could bank on getting somebody from our hotlist, which this year contained the following 14 names (*indicates high school player):

SP Adam Brochu (14/13/12) * – BNN #5
SP Matt Hose (13/15/12) * – BNN #4
SP Domingo Murillo (16/13/12)
SP Emilio DeClerk (12/14/14) – BNN #7
SP Chris Miller (13/13/11) – BNN #3
SP Darren Brown (12/11/10) *

CL John Woods (18/14/11)
CL Chris Wise (18/13/10)

C Bryant Raymond (11/10/9)

1B Jakobe Lambeth (14/9/8) *
INF Matt Locke (9/12/11)
INF/RF Justin Marsingill (10/8/9)

OF Kyle Beard (14/7/10) *
OF/2B Chris Russell (12/7/8) *

Even the BNN top 10 contained eight pitchers and only two position players… There were a total of 93 players on the shortlist of generally-interesting-but-not-necessarily-Hall-of-Famers.

There was an interesting quirk still going on; there was still an unsigned type A free agent, former Elks hurler Andrew Gudeman. The 34-year-old 1-time All Star had been through all sorts of problems (injury and otherwise) in the last years, and the type A moniker certainly hadn't helped him one bit. Nobody had taken a flyer on him, and it was unlikely that somebody would take a flyer on him between now and the draft either.

Also, for the first time in a while a team had managed to drink away all of its first four picks. That team was the Pacifics, who had doled out their picks in the first four rounds to the Buffaloes, Scorpions, Bayhawks, and Scorpions again, respectively, and they would not get to make a selection until the #134 pick!

Contrast that with the Titans, who had bled some in the offseason, but had kept their own #24 pick, had gotten the second and third selection in the second round as compensation, as well as no less than four supplemental round picks. This meant that the Titans had their first pick at #24, but would pick a total of seven times inside the top 50. There had been a draft about 30 years ago where the Raccoons had made six selections in the top 60 and had gotten nothing out of it, so this was interesting to follow…
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:08 PM   #2714
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Raccoons (32-22) vs. Canadiens (28-27) – June 5-8, 2028

Two things were in the house that I didn't need around me when the Raccoons returned from their long road trip; one was their new owner Nick Valdes sniffing out the place and looking over my shoulder at every turn; the other were the damn Elks, in for a 4-game series. Now, the good news were, the Raccoons were already 3-0 against them this season, and they were far enough ahead that they couldn't get swept out of first place, which was cold comfort, but something to revel in when 4-game sweeps were not unheard of in Coons-Elks series, one way or another. The damn Elks were second in runs scored, but were also giving up the second-most runs. Their run differential was merely +1 (Coons: +14).

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (6-3, 2.84 ERA) vs. Ernesto Lozano (1-2, 4.15 ERA)
George James (3-5, 4.60 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (6-2, 4.50 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (5-1, 2.05 ERA) vs. Jeremy Truett (7-4, 3.39 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (2-1, 4.00 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (3-4, 4.19 ERA)

These were all right-handers. There were also some good news from the injury front, as the Elks outfield that had picked the Critters apart again and again in recent memory was partially locked away on the DL. Tony Coca and Brian Wojnarowski were missing from a lineup that still held Alex Torres with a .307 clip and 10 homers.

Game 1
VAN: RF Day – SS Byrd – LF A. Torres – 3B Anton – CF Gura – 1B Myles – C M. Sanchez – 2B Read – P Lozano
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – CF Mora – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – LF Millan – P Nomura

Even without some of the big boppers, the Elks still managed to take a 1-0 lead in the first on a 420-foot blast by John Byrd. The Raccoons had a Ramos double to begin the bottom 1st, stranded him at second base, then saw the third begin with singles from Nomura(!) and Ramos. Tim Stalker struck out, and both Rich Hereford and Rafael Gomez popped out to the left side. Dismal. Outright dismal. They had the first two men on base again in the bottom 4th, this time with a Mora single and Adan Myles misfielding Elias Tovias' manageable grounder. Harenberg, in a 2-for-33 quagmire amidst the team's impressive but chewy 7-game winning streak, flew out to center harmlessly, but at least got Mora to third base, which was crucial in tying up the game on Millan's roller into a fielder's choice that erased Tovias for the second out. Nomura struck out to end the inning, teams being level after four innings, 1-1.

Things didn't stay tied for long, with back-to-back 1-out doubles by Byrd and Torres putting the Elks on top of the horse again in the fifth inning. Nomura got a crucial strikeout to escape the inning against deplorable Ted Gura, but his pitch count was exploding, at 85 through five innings. Bottom 5th, Ramos hit a single to center, getting his average back over .400 (though of course not in a qualifying amount of plate appearances), then was moved to third base on a balk and a wild pitch, all with Tim Stalker at the plate. Stalker failed again, grounding out so poorly to keep Ramos at third base, and the tying run only came in on Hereford's sac fly, his 39th RBI of the season, but we'd long for a bit more vigor with the bat. Nomura dragged himself through seven innings with 119 pitches merely to preserve a 2-2 tie for a no-decision. Through seven, the Coons amounted to six base hits off Lozano and Jonathan Shook, four of which were Ramos', and he couldn't will the team to victory all alone, either. Mora added a single in the eighth, but that was all again. Honorable mention to Rafael Gomez, who was absolutely robbed in the gap by Luke Gross, but woulda-coulda-shoulda was not usually the anthem of a playoff team. Gross, Byrd, and Torres would then slap straight singles off Josh Boles in the top of the ninth to break the tie, while the Coons brought up the bottom of the order in the bottom of the ninth inning. Mind-bogglingly, Victor Govea gave up a leadoff double off the fence to Harenberg – not shabby for any sign of life at all in the 2026 stretch drive hero. Millan singled to right, putting runners on the corners for Armando Leal, who batted for Boles, but struck out. Ramos eeked out a full-count walk, loading them up for an 0-for-4 Tim Stalker, but it wasn't like anything good was left on the bench – just Gerster and Magallanes. Stalker struck out. Hereford struck out. Coons stranded three to blow their winning streak. 3-2 Canadiens. Ramos 4-4, BB, 2B; Mora 2-4; Nomura 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K and 1-2;

Exactly like I always imagined it…

Game 2
VAN: CF Tessmann – RF Day – LF A. Torres – 3B Anton – 1B Myles – SS Byrd – C R. Ortíz – 2B Gura – P Cervantes
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – CF Mora – C Leal – 1B Harenberg – LF Magallanes – P James

The Coons did not get a base hit the first time through, but at least George James didn't fall into a wood chipper right away and the game was scoreless when Ramos legged out an infield single with nobody out in the bottom 3rd. Even better, the single moved James to third base after he had reached second base leading off thanks to a ghastly throwing error by Matt Anton. And here came the part of the lineup that had completely cocked up Monday night's game… Tim Stalker grounded to the left side, with John Byrd making a lunging stop on the ball, but he had been carried to the outer edge of the infield dirt and had no play – the Coons took the 1-0 lead on the second consecutive infield single. One pitch later it was 2-0 on a Ricky Ortíz throwing error when Ramos and Stalker took off for a double steal, and Ramos scurried home when the ball went over the head of Anton into leftfield. Hereford walked, Gomez hit a run-scoring groundout, and then Mora grounded to Gura, who butchered the easy grounder for the damn Elks' third error of the inning(!), giving Leal runners on the corners with one out, but he fouled out, followed by Harenberg grounding out to Myles to keep the score at 3-0.

The Elks then had two singles to begin both the fourth and fifth innings. The first time they hit into a double play, the other time Cervantes popped up a bunt for a crucial out before Day's 2-out double put at least one run across… and got Danny Tessman thrown out at home plate trying to score from first base. It also turned out the Critters couldn't put anything together without the aid of three errors by the opposition, and the Elks were creeping into the game. Ted Gura hit a 1-out RBI single in the seventh to plate Ricky Ortíz (double), and also moved into scoring position on the throw to home plate. When the Elks sent right-handed batter Tim Campbell to hit for Cervantes, the Critters sent Ricky Ohl to contain the meltdown. He secured a pop from Campbell for the second out, after which the Elks sent Howard Read to bat for Tessman. Read was a lefty, so Portland sought out a lefty in Jeff Kearney, who lost Read on balls. Right-hander Luke Gross pinch-hit for Norman Day, so the Coons were really in the **** by now. Surginer was thrown to the lions, got a liner to Hereford on the first pitch to end the inning, and only now did I dare to exhale, briefly. Boy, an insurance run would be daft! Tim Stalker laid off the loser cap in the bottom 7th and singled off Jonathan Shook to begin the inning, but the next three were NO help whatsoever. The Coons then had to use Fleischer against the middle of the order in the eighth with the bullpen once more completely overloaded. It went barely well despite a leadoff walk to Torres, who was eventually doubled up by Myles' grounder to end the inning. For the ninth, Boles was unavailable after a terrible outing the previous night, and with only Billy Brotman left as a serious alternative, the Critters stuck to mop-up man Fleischer in the ninth. This could ONLY blow up in our black-and-white faces… Byrd struck out, Ortíz flew out to center, but Gura coaxed a walk and Manny Sanchez pinch-hit in the #9 hole. Not a left-handed bat, though. Fleischer would see this one batter, then we'd go to Brotman against Read. Billy never entered the game – Sanchez popped out to end it. 3-2 Blighters. Stalker 2-4, RBI; Fleischer 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, SV (1);

Whatever the **** works.

Also, Valdes left the team again after this game, so maybe they'd play better now, knowing they'd get some peace of mind. Tuesday morning he had actually inspected random lockers for "distractions". I wonder whether there was a bigger distraction than him around.

Y'know, Carlosito was a prick for every inch of his body, but at least he left us alone most of the time. Well, physically he didn't come to Portland even once for the last 20 years of his ownership of the team…

Since none of the .500 teams in the division could get moving, the Coons were still up by 4 1/2. With the way things were going, I'd be willing to chalk up a series split as a success.

Game 3
VAN: RF Day – SS Byrd – LF A. Torres – 3B Anton – CF Gura – C M. Sanchez – 1B L. Gross – 2B Read – P Truett
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – LF Millan – 3B Gerster – RF Booker – P Gutierrez

Pitching remained the name of the game in this series, which was weird not for the Coons' way to play, but rather for the Elks, who normally so plenty of scoring going both ways. Abel Mora put Portland in the lead with a solo homer in the first inning, and that remained the score for quite a while as Rico 2-hit the Elks through five, while the Coons often made it to first base, but rarely to second. They had a good chance in the bottom 5th, with Rico and Ramos hitting back-to-back 1-out singles to offer a scoring opportunity. Stalker popped out, Abel Mora grounded out, and everything remained paltry. Bottom 6th, Gomez led off with a shy single in front of Day, then moved up on two groundouts before Butch Gerster grounded a ball over to Anton. Inexplicably, Anton didn't field it cleanly, threw to first only after three extra steps, and couldn't beat the quirky Gerster, who got away with an RBI infield single to stretch the lead to a mighty 2-0. Maybe this would at least get Rico Gutierrez to the end of the game? The Elks certainly struggled to put up anything against him. They had three hits through six, then another hit in both the seventh and eighth, but couldn't even reach third base, let alone score. When the ninth rolled around, it was still 2-0, but Rico would face the middle of the order, all right-handed, and he was on 104 pitches. We blinked and sent Ricky Ohl. Of course it all immediately began to go to hell. Torres grounded at Hereford, who had batted for Gerster in the bottom 8th and had stayed in the field, who threw a bouncer to first, but Gomez dug it out to get the first out, but then dropped Anton's pop to bring up the tying run, Myles, who immediately swatted an RBI double to left. Manny Sanchez grounded out to Ramos, keeping the tying run 180 feet away, and bringing Gross into the picture. For once, the Coons prevailed just before things could spiral out of control with the damn Elks in the house when Ohl got strike three past Gross. 2-1 Critters. Millan 2-4, 2B; Gutierrez 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, W (6-1) and 1-3;

Game 4
VAN: SS Byrd – RF Day – LF A. Torres – 3B Anton – 1B Myles – CF T. Campbell – C R. Ortíz – 2B Gura – P J. Martin
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – C Tovias – LF Millan – 1B Harenberg – RF Booker – P Anderson

Norman Day legged out an infield single, Tovias' throw on the stolen base attempt, then Booker's throw to home plate to score on a Torres single to give the Elks a 1-0 lead in the first, but the Raccoons were surely going to pounce in the bottom 2nd, where they started off with Tovias' bloop single, then drew two walks to load them up with nobody out (shivers) for Jaden Booker, who was batting .206 for the season and 2-for-his-last-24. But goddamnit, Booker put the first pitch in play, got it through the infielders, and the Coons flipped the score on a 2-run single! Anderson bunted over the runners, but the Coons would only get one more on a Ramos groundout before Stalker flew out to Campbell to keep it at 3-1.

Anderson did not allow another base hit through five innings and was sure getting better every game right now in just his fourth start after nearly a year on the sidelines. It got dicey in the sixth, with a clean leadoff single by Byrd. There was a stolen base, a wild pitch, and a 2-out walk to Anton, who Anderson lost in a full count, but Ramos reached and shagged Adan Myles' liner to end the inning with the tying runs on the corners. Meanwhile, the Raccoons kept misplacing their hitting boots, too. Hereford hit a 1-out double in the bottom 6th, but Tovias grounded out. Millan walked, bringing up Harenberg and his .218 clip with runners on the corners, and Joe Martin turned him into lunch on three pitches. Of course it all had to come this way… Anderson retired nobody in the seventh, allowing a single to Campbell and a double to Ortíz before being replaced by Surginer, who had the worst job with the tying runs in scoring position and nobody out. Yet he prevailed – Ted Gura hit a sac fly to left, which narrowed the lead to 3-2 but kept Ortíz at second base. Surginer rung up Gross in the pitcher's spot, then got Byrd to ground out to Stalker to end the inning with the tying run starved in scoring position.

Bottom 7th, Jonathan Shook on duty yet again. Booker led off with a walk before Danny Morales pinch-hit and singled to left. Ramos singled up the middle, loading the bases … with nobody out. What a dreadful proposition! But maybe the Elks could melt again to allow the Coons to get a paw up. Shook missed badly to Stalker, walked him on four pitches, and Booker was forced across home plate on the walk, extending the lead to 4-2. He then came inside, yielding singles to Mora, 5-2, and Hereford, 7-2, before being yanked after facing six and retiring none. Not too bad a performance against a former Raccoon, one of the three pitchers in the Mark Roberts trade years back! Antonio Muniz came on for Vancouver, got a double play from Tovias and a groundout from Magallanes, who hit for Millan, to end the stream of runs. The Elks got a run back in the eighth when Norman Day ripped a leadoff triple off Kearney, who retired nobody, while Day retired with an injury and was replaced by Tessmann, who scored against Dan McLin, but the Coons were still up by a slam, and had three on and nobody out in the bottom 8th again, still facing Muniz. That brought up the top of the order and each of the top 3 plated a runner; Ramos with a groundout, Stalker and Mora with singles. Hereford found another RBI single before Tovias killed a rout for the second inning in a row with another double play, but the Coons were in double digits, and the Elks wanted to go home. Fleischer showed them the door in three batters in the ninth. 11-3 Furballs!! Mora 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Hereford 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Millan 0-1, 2 BB; Booker 1-2, 2 BB, 2 RBI; Morales (PH) 2-2; Anderson 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (3-1);

We were still the only winning team in the division – now with a 6-game lead over the 30-30 Indians and Crusaders.

And I know it's baby steps, but Kevin Harenberg has a 3-game hitting streak and is 3-for-11.

Raccoons (35-23) vs. Pacifics (37-23) – June 9-11, 2028

This was another rematch of the 2026 World Series. The Raccoons had defeated L.A. two to one games in 2026, and in 2027, and also in the '26 World Series, then 4-2. Both teams were leading their division right now, and of course the Pacifics had defeated the Titans in the 2027 World Series, so this was also a series between the two most recent title teams. Both were leading their division by a sound margin right now, the Coons by six, and the Pacifics by 4 1/2 over the Wolves, of all teams. While the Coons sat tied for sixth in runs scored and third in runs against in their league, the Pacifics led the Federal League in offense with 4.7 runs per game, but were only eighth in runs allowed with a +26 run differential, just three markers better than the Critters.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (5-3, 3.30 ERA) vs. Jim Bryant (2-1, 5.18 ERA)
Rin Nomura (6-3, 2.81 ERA) vs. Bryan Hanson (3-4, 3.05 ERA)
George James (4-5, 4.43 ERA) vs. Gavin Lee (4-3, 3.07 ERA)

This looked like right-left-right, but we had to be aware that the Pacifics had come in following an off day on Thursday, which would allow them to skip a guy to move southpaw Dave Christiansen (9-2, 3.23 ERA) into the series.

Game 1
LAP: 1B M. Moreno – CF Vanatti – LF McEwen – 2B C. Owen – 3B Jon. Morales – C Allomes – SS Cook – RF Ellis – P Bryant
POR: SS Ramos – CF Mora – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – C Tovias – LF Millan – 1B Harenberg – 3B Booker – P Roberts

The Pacifics came out early with singles by Manny Moreno and Joe Vanatti and would scratch Roberts for a run in the opening inning as he also walked Chris Owen and barely survived a vicious drive to deep left by Dylan Allomes that could have meant plenty more damage if Millan hadn't caught it on the warning track. The Pacifics then were kicked in the knees when Jim Bryant lasted only two batters before leaving with discomfort in his back. Right-hander Kevin Woodworth was thrown into long relief duty, but could not contain Ramos from scoring the tying run. Alberto had walked, stolen second base, had advanced on Mora's groundout, then came home on Hereford's sac fly to center. Hereford again found Ramos at third in the third inning, this time as the go-ahead run after a single, another stolen base (#15 for the year), and Mora's groundout. This time we were on two outs, though, but Hereford still came through, singling into shallow center to put Portland up 2-1.

Unfortunately, Ramos and Hereford were about the only offense the Coons had going once more, and Mark Roberts got bombed twice by Nate Ellis and Joe Vanatti in the fifth to turn a 2-1 edge into a 3-2 deficit. Ramos led off the bottom 5th with a single to leftfield that knocked out Woodworth in favor of left-handed J.J. Rodd, but Abel Mora still snuck in a single that put runners on the corners with nobody out for Rich Hereford. He struck out, but Gomez walked, and then Tovias tied us up again with a fly to Chris McEwen that was deep enough to plate Ramos for the third time in a 3-3 game. Roberts added two more zeroes to the board before heading for the showers after seven innings of 3-run ball on 109 pitches. The honor of giving the game away instead fell to Dan McLin, who entered the eighth and exited it again without getting an out. Bobby Ortega pinch-hit and singled, and both Chris McEwen and Chris Owen walked to load them up with nobody out. All runs scored against Billy Brotman then, who allowed RBI singles to left-handers Jason LaCombe and Dylan Allomes, then conceded another one on Ben Cook's double play bouncer. Ellis flew out, but the Pacifics were up 6-3, and things looked bleak. Bottom 8th, Gomez led off with a single, but got doubled up by Tovias. Then, a Millan single, a Harenberg single, and we had Tim Stalker hit for Booker in hope for a homer, but got a grounder to LaCombe at third base… but LaCombe threw poorly to first, Moreno couldn't hold on to it and the ball rolled back into the infield for an error that loaded the bases for PH Armando Leal – who grounded out on Pete Molina's first pitch. Another former Raccoon would pitch the ninth. Joe Moore allowed a leadoff single to Ramos, who advanced on an errant pickoff throw, and that wasn't the last error of the inning as Ben Cook threw away Hereford's 1-out grounder to bring Ramos across and the tying run to the plate. When Rafael Gomez whacked a single to left, Hereford scored and the winning run came up in Tovias, who had … three, four double play on the week? But Leal had already been used, so the Coons had to stick with their primary catcher here. Tovias or nothing! Or, well, Millan. Tovias chipped an 0-2 into play that resulted in him retired at first, but the tying run got to second base for Omar Millan, who struck out in a full count to put this game into the loss column for good. 6-5 Pacifics. Ramos 3-4; Gomez 2-4, BB, RBI; Millan 2-5, 2B;

Although the team would not amount to anything without Ramos, presumably, the Coons would use the appearance of Bryan Hanson on Saturday to get all the regular left-handed batters the day off, especially with the next off day still quite a bit in the distance.

Game 2
LAP: 1B M. Moreno – CF Vanatti – LF McEwen – 2B C. Owen – 3B Jon. Morales – C Allomes – SS Cook – RF Tugwell – P Hanson
POR: SS Stalker – LF D. Morales – 2B Hereford – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – RF Booker – 3B Gerster – CF Magallanes – P Nomura

Nomura got most wood on the bat the first time through the Coons' order, hitting a third-inning double that only served to see him stranded in scoring position. Instead, L.A. scored first on a Chris Owen homer in the fourth inning, which was at least a solo job… Rafael Gomez got the Critters even again with a leadoff jack in the bottom 4th. Top 5th, Dan Tugwell got nailed leading off, was bunted to second, and reached third on Manny Moreno's single. From here, the Pacifics were unlucky not to score when Vanatti chopped a ball into the ground in front of home plate, which kept Tugwell honest while Tovias threw out Vanatti at first, and then Nomura escaped the inning when he rung up McEwen in a full count. For his efforts, Nomura again would get nothing. He lasted 6.2 innings before being knocked out by Manny Moreno's infield single combined with Bobby Ortega coming out to pinch-hit from the right side. Ricky Ohl struck out the batter to serve Nomura his no-decision. The Raccoons had absolutely nothing going in the bottom of the seventh and eighth, then saw Josh Boles getting his paws stuck in the meat mincer once more in the top of the ninth. 1-out walk to Alfonso Gonzales, a wild pitch, then an RBI single to Ortega and an RBI double to Nate Ellis, that was enough to lose this game despite Omar Millan's gapper for a leadoff triple against Brian Cope in the bottom 9th. He scored on a groundout, but that was not enough to save the miserable Raccoons. 3-2 Pacifics. Morales 2-4; Millan (PH) 1-1, 3B; Nomura 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K and 1-2;

(sigh)

Game 3
LAP: RF M. Moreno – 1B Jon. Morales – 3B LaCombe – 2B C. Owen – LF McEwen – C Allomes – SS Cook – CF Vanatti – P G. Lee
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – CF Mora – C Leal – 1B Harenberg – LF Millan – P James

A 4-pitch walk to Manny Moreno was good enough to get the Pacifics going in the top 1st, with a stolen base and a LaCombe single putting them 1-0 ahead, but the Coons for once chained a few hits together in the bottom of the inning. Ramos walked, Stalker singled, and Hereford missed a 3-piece by precious little, instead tripling off the top of the fence in leftfield to plate them both before scoring on Gomez' grounder to turn it into a 3-1 Coons lead before everything came crashing down in the second inning, and with everything I really mean everything. Another dumb leadoff walk to Dylan Allomes, and then singles by Vanatti and Lee loaded the bases before Moreno grounded to Stalker. The Coons tried to turn two, couldn't and instead had Alberto Ramos clobbered by the pitcher, and I fainted just as the Druid hustled out to see whether there were still all the bones in Ramos' body. He had to leave the 3-2 game, Butch Gerster being the replacement, and the Raccoons just couldn't have any nice thing at all, ever… Jonathan Morales flew out to Gomez to end the inning, but it didn't matter anymore. The Raccoons were once again bereft of their best player.

The consistently unhelpful James went on to bunt into a force that cost the Raccoons a run in the bottom 2nd, and the game turned into attrition as the innings continued. Kevin Harenberg hit a 2-run homer (!!!) in the bottom 3rd, leading the Pacifics to yank Gavin Lee in a 5-2 game, and then they lost Chris Owen on a defensive play, with 31-year-old career quad-A player Josh Ralston, who had been up and down between L.A. and their AAA club so often without being claimed on waivers that he counted as untouchable inventory, coming in to replace him before hitting a 2-out RBI triple in the fifth inning his first time up. At that point it was a 6-3 game, and neither team knew what would happen next. James barely made it through five innings, adding only one more out after an Allomes leadoff single in the sixth. Kearney, who had of course logged the final out in Game 6 two years back after Jonathan Snyder had become unglued, got pops from Vanatti and Ellis to keep the Pacifics three runs away, then ended up pitching another TWO full innings simply because the Pacifics didn't get on base against a struggling lefty specialist that twice this week had not retired his man in a brief outing. The Coons also calmed down until the bottom 8th when Morales and Gerster reached base with two outs to pose a threat that only intensified when lefty Chris Cooper threw a wild pitch to put both of them into scoring position for Tim Stalker, who ended up popping out, keeping it a save opportunity for Boles who was hopefully *in between* disembowelments and would salvage at least the finale here. Cook popped out. Vanatti whiffed. Gonzales grounded out to short. 6-3 Coons. Ramos 0-0, BB; Gerster 3-4, 2B; Stalker 2-5, RBI; Millan 2-3; Morales 0-0, 2 BB; Kearney 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Cold comfort.

In other news

June 6 – DAL SP Antonio Rodriguez (5-5, 3.97 ERA) is done for the season with a partial tear in his UCL. The Stars are still undecided whether they will try to rehab him or will go for Tommy John surgery.
June 6 – A 1-out, first-inning single by INF John Hansen (.269, 1 HR, 16 RBI) is the only base hit the Rebels collect as they are shut out, 7-0, by the Cyclones.
June 7 – The Crusaders undo a looming Loggers shutout with an 8-run eighth inning to claim an 8-3 victory over Milwaukee. NYC 1B Jay Elder (.271, 3 HR, 23 RBI) has three hits and 3 RBI in the effort.
June 8 – WAS SP Eric Williams (7-3, 2.60 ERA) 3-hits the Blue Sox in a 5-0 Capitals win.
June 9 – The Blue Sox transfer LF/RF Ruben Orozco (.279, 9 HR, 34 RBI) to the Bayhawks for SS/3B Omar Camacho (.284, 1 HR, 17 RBI).
June 10 – LVA 1B David Fisher (.338, 9 HR, 28 RBI) beats TOP MR Adam Rosenwald (2-1, 4.50 ERA, 1 SV) for a come-from-behind walkoff grand slam as the Aces prevail, 8-6. It is his second come-from-behind walkoff home run in a row, too, after hitting a 2-piece for a 7-6 win off TOP CL Vince Devereaux (0-2, 5.60 ERA, 16 SV) on Friday.
June 11 – CIN LF/RF Ken Gibbs (.277, 5 HR, 24 RBI) moves to the DL for what the Cyclones hope the minimum duration after suffering an elbow sprain.

Complaints and stuff

The only good thing about that Pacifics series was that it was against a team that we can at best see again in mid-October, and if that occurs again, things will somehow not completely collapsed. The offense remained absolutely dismal, as usual, as every year. But it will be hard to get any reinforcements given that we have NO prospects and little to offer in return. All the teams always want Ramos, but that is a non-starter for ANY deal. You can not make an offer to me that would make me part with Ramos. Over my dead body!

Of course, right now we don't know what is with Ramos and whether the Druid can reattach his head, so this is a thing that is still developing.

So we are basically waiting out the next 7-game losing streak, which for all intents and purposes might just be around the corner. For what it is worth, we will play the other Federal League division leaders starting on Monday, and then Indians on the weekend.

Fun Fact: When starting on the Opening Day roster, Alberto Ramos has made it into only 116.5 games per season.

That's the average of two seasons, 127 games in '26, and then 106 games in '27. This year he has already missed 33 games, and the Druid is nowhere to be found right now. Nor is Ramos. I hope he didn't dump him in the Willamette…
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Old 01-29-2019, 05:30 PM   #2715
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Raccoons (36-25) @ Buffaloes (38-24) – June 12-14, 2028

The Buffaloes were doing it all on pitching, conceding the second-fewest runs in the Federal League, scarcely 4.1 runs per game against them. Their offense was only average (but that the FL level). These teams had last met in 2026, when the Raccoons had swept the 3-game series.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (6-1, 1.78 ERA) vs. Nick Danieley (5-6, 3.87 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (3-1, 3.75 ERA) vs. Joe Jones (5-4, 3.20 ERA)
Mark Roberts (5-3, 3.35 ERA) vs. Joao Joo (4-5, 5.35 ERA)

The Raccoons would see a right-hander followed by two southpaws, but would miss longtime Critter Tadasu Abe (7-3, 2.51 ERA), who had pitched on Sunday.

The Raccoons were going without Alberto Ramos into this series, and were hoping their .404 bat back into the lineup as soon as feasible.

Game 1
POR: 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – SS Gerster – LF Millan – P Gutierrez
TOP: LF Raynor – CF Coleman – SS Majano – 3B P. Green – RF Benson – 1B Wittner – 2B Pelles – C Tarlton – P Danieley

The Raccoons got a triple from Abel Mora in the first inning, then two soft outs by Hereford and Gomez that didn't get the run across. Rich Hereford in particular had a rotten first inning. First the shallow fly to Travis Benson, then he threw away an Alex Majano grounder in the bottom part of the frame to allow Ian Coleman, the old Loggers foe, to score from second base while the ball caromed around in the visitors' dugout, panicked Critters spilling out everywhere. Just to keep everybody alert, Elias Tovias allowed former Raccoon (well, briefly) Ruben Pelles to reach first base on an uncaught third strike the following inning. Neither team managed a third hit through five innings, with the Raccoons looking as crummy as ever in recent times.

The Raccoons were still on two hits and the Buffaloes still on their one run when Rico jammed in the eighth inning. Ron Raynor and Ian Coleman hit back-to-back singles to begin the inning and went to the corners, and with more right-handed bats up, it was time to visit the good ol' pen. Surginer came in, threw two pitches, enough to unravel the game for good. Majano reached on an infield single to load the bases, and then Surginer nailed Devin Hibbard, an injury replacement for Pat Green. That one did finally push in the run. Billy Brotman replaced him, walked in another run against Benson, then conceded a third on a double play grounder hit by Matt Wittner. With that, the Coons were down by a slam when they couldn't even get near four hits. Nick Danieley held them down until the end, conceding only two hits and whiffing nine. 4-0 Buffaloes. Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, L (6-2);

The Raccoons took another blow into the stomach region when the Druid diagnosed Ramos with a sprained ankle that would keep him out until the All Star Game. While I repetitively slammed my forehead against the doorframe in my hotel room, the Coons placed Ramos on the DL (again!) and recalled Jarod Spencer from a short holdover rehab assignment that ultimately did nothing more than that it spared Butch Gerster a roundtrip to St. Pete and back. Spencer had sprained a wrist about a month ago.

Game 2
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Gomez – CF Mora – C Leal – LF Morales – RF Booker – P Anderson
TOP: LF Hess – 1B Wittner – RF Benson – SS Majano – C Gio. James – 3B P. Green – CF Raynor – 2B Pelles – P J. Jones

Good news – the Raccoons had three hits by the third inning! They also made sure to hit a single in every inning and never reaching even third base. At least Kyle Anderson kept holding up while I was secretly expecting a big explosion any second now, but he had a 1-hitter in a scoreless game through three. In the fourth, the Furballs loaded the bases; Rafael Gomez hit a leadoff single up the middle, Mora grounded out, but Leal got nailed to put another runner on, and when Danny Morales singled to left, Jaden Booker had all the chances to do damage. Too bad he was batting .198 … That was not going to get better here and now, and probably also wouldn't down the road, but at least he put Portland on the board with a sac fly to Ron Raynor. Better yet, Anderson beat Pelles' limited range, especially on a sore ankle, for an RBI single into rightfield. Spencer's groundout kept it at 2-0, but at least he turned a double play for Anderson after a leadoff single by Benson the bottom of the inning. On to the fifth, where Hereford doubled to center, and the Buffaloes went on to intentionally walk Gomez, only to run into unexpected 2-out, 3-run homer by Armando Leal that exited over the head of a dejected Ken Hess in leftfield and jumped the score to 5-0. Well, a 5-0 lead was CERTAINLY unexpected with this team…!

The Raccoons added a sixth run in the sixth inning on straight singles by Spencer, Stalker, and Hereford, while Anderson kept motoring. Reliever Jimmy Jackson balked in Jaden Booker to extend the lead to seven in the eighth inning. Anderson lasted seven and a third, but was brought in after a Raynor double when left-handed batter D.J. Fullerton appeared as pinch-hitter. Jeff Kearney came in, balked, walked Fullerton, then somehow got out of the inning with catlike lunges at the grounders of Hibbard and Wittner. Both teams would put a crooked number in the ninth inning; the Raccoons singled Joey Hopkins to death for three runs, while the Buffaloes shredded Jonathan Fleischer for four, princely responsible being a 3-run homer by Giovanni James. 10-4 Raccoons. Stalker 2-4, BB; Hereford 3-5, 2B, RBI; Gomez 2-4, BB; Leal 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; Morales 2-4; Booker 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Millan (PH) 1-1, RBI; Anderson 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, W (4-1) and 2-3, RBI;

What was more remarkable? That the Raccoons plated ten runs? Or that they plated ten runs while their leadoff batter went 0-for-6?

Game 3
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – LF Morales – CF Magallanes – P Roberts
TOP: LF Raynor – CF Coleman – SS Majano – RF Benson – 1B Wittner – 2B Pelles – 3B Hibbard – C Tarlton – P Joo

Spencer came back with a game-opening triple into the corner, then scored on a Hereford grounder, which was the best the princely part of the lineup could do in this situation. Hereford made an error in the bottom 1st that added Benson to the bases in addition to Majano (single), but at least Juan Magallanes caught Matt Wittner's drive to center to end that inning. Roberts lacked edge, nailed Pelles in the bottom 2nd, but stranded another pair without blowing the lead. Mark Roberts kept having an exciting day; he hit a double in the third inning that didn't lead to a run, then found two on and nobody out in the fifth and bunted into a terrible force at third base. That also didn't lead to a run… What did lead to a run in the sixth inning was a Spencer that put Majano on base. Majano stole two bases, then scored on Matt Wittner's sac fly to deep center to tie up the game at one.

Majano then came up with a throwing error under Wittner's glove to begin the seventh inning that put Harenberg on second base with nobody out. The Raccoons hoped for Morales, but he was intentionally walked, and so Millan batted for Magallanes, but lined out to Raynor. Roberts got the bunt down this time, but Spencer fouled out to waste another splendid opportunity. Roberts got through eight innings, but that would be all for him. You couldn't blame the starting pitcher, once more, for Roberts had ultimately held the Buffaloes to three hits and an unearned run. Top 9th, another ex-Coon got involved, as we were reacquainted with Vince D – D for Devereaux – who was immediately greeted by Elias Tovias' gapper for a leadoff double. The bases filled up with an intentional walk to Harenberg, then a soft single by Danny Morales. Three on, no outs for Omar Millan, and please, can we for once not choke this one into another episode of mindless madness? Millan struck out. Mora batted for Roberts … and struck out. Oh for crying out loud! Spencer ran a 3-1 count. I dare you, Jarod – move and you're dead! He didn't move, Vince D missed, and the tie-breaking run was walked across home plate. Stalker grounded out, stranding a full set, and that turned it over to Josh Boles, who continued to increase the spin rate in my head with a leadoff walk to Matt Wittner, who would advance 90 feet on the next two plays to look on from third base when Nate Tarlton swung over strike three to end the game. 2-1 Blighters. Morales 2-2, 2 BB; Roberts 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (6-3) and 1-2;

Raccoons (38-26) @ Indians (34-32) – June 16-18, 2028

The Indians were in second place, five games back, so the Raccoons were sure to hold onto first place until next week in any case. This was one of those traditional Indians teams – all pitching and defense, no hitting whatsoever. They were on the runless end of the rankings in both runs scored and runs allowed in the Continental League. Best rotation. Best bullpen. A team lead of four homers and only one batter remotely close to the .300 mark… and that was Jon Gonzalez. These two teams had already split a 4-game set this season.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (6-3, 2.70 ERA) vs. David Elliott (4-4, 3.45 ERA)
George James (5-5, 4.48 ERA) vs. Mo Robinson (2-2, 3.16 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (6-2, 1.86 ERA) vs. David Saccoccio (5-5, 3.22 ERA)

One left, two right, and hopefully any runs at all for Portland…!

Game 1
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Morales – RF Booker – P Nomura
IND: SS Pizano – 3B Roesler – CF Suhay – C Kennett – RF Ryder – 1B Aleman – LF Jamieson – 2B M. Mendoza – P D. Elliott

Sometimes I wondered whether we could get more of our pitchers into the lineup – when Elliott issued 2-out walks to Morales and Booker, Nomura came through with an RBI single for the first run of the game, after which Jarod Spencer made a petty 6-3 out to end the inning. Elliott also walked a pair in the third inning, right before an Elias Tovias special, a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. In between, Jaden Booker had caught a mighty Matt Jamieson drive at the fence, making me even more frustrated that we hadn't gotten him back during the winter. Thanks to that bit of defense Rin Nomura didn't allow a base hit until the fourth inning when Elliott Kennett singled to right with two down, but nothing came of that for Indy once Zachary Ryder flew out to Booker. Even an Alex Aleman double off the leftfield wall to begin the bottom 5th didn't get the Indians onto the scoreboard, even when Nomura hit Jamieson with a 1-2 pitch to put two on with nobody out. Manny Mendoza popped out, Elliott bunted, and one shortstop grounded out to the next.

There was another hit batter in the sixth inning, this one Rafael Gomez being struck in the knee by the consistently missing Elliott. Well, this time he missed all the way into Gomez' knee cap, forcing one of the last sort-of batters the Coons had out of the game, to be replaced by Harenberg, which wasn't going to help the Raccoons in the short or long run. At least Nomura kept holding up, spilling only four base hits on 92 pitches through eight innings. Still, the offensive situation was dire; after Omar Millan pinch-hit for Booker to begin the ninth inning and made a soft out, Leal batted for Nomura and doubled to right. From second base, Butch Gerster would take over for him as we hoped for anything from the top of the order. David Galmore got Spencer to poke a terrible comebacker for the second out, but Tim Stalker hit a ball to center, and that one finally fell the **** in. Stalker had a single, Gerster was quick enough to score, and we had an insurance run. Hereford struck out (and if he hadn't, Harenberg would have…). And then Josh Boles created a mess AGAIN. Ben Suhay hit a leadoff jack in the bottom 9th, followed by a 2-out walk issued to Aleman, who was the tying run and pinch-run for by Alex Zanches, then surrendered a single to Jamieson. Mike Plunkett pinch-hit for Mendoza, grounded to left, Hereford lunged, knocked it down, somehow grabbed it while staggering back on his hindpaws, and fired a throw to first just in time to retire Plunkett and end the game. 2-1 Coons. Stalker 2-4, BB, RBI; Leal (PH) 1-1, 2B; Nomura 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, W (7-3) and 1-3, RBI;

Oh boy. That was once more too close for comfort.

I liked the 2027 Josh Boles much better…

Also, Rafael Gomez went onto the DL with a knee contusion. Maybe he'd be fine in two weeks. Maybe he'd have an amputation. For now, the Raccoons had some Wilson Rodriguez, a versatile outfielder and right-handed batter with a .240 clip and seven homers in St. Petersburg. He was already 26 years old and in the organization for nine years and 11 months without popping up on a radar once. Welcome to the ****ing big leagues, I guess.

Saturday brought rain, more rain, and ever more rain, and no game took place. Instead, we had a double header scheduled for Sunday.

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – RF Millan – P James
IND: CF Zanches – C Dear – SS Pizano – 1B Jon Gonzalez – LF Plunkett – 3B Roesler – RF Ryder – 2B M. Mendoza – P Saccoccio

Lo and behold, the Raccoons reached two whole runs in the first leg of the double header without bending over backwards thrice and a profuse apology when Armando Leal socked a 2-piece in the second inning against Saccoccio. At the same time, James allowed no hits the first time through the Indians order, same as Nomura on Friday, before an error by Kevin Harenberg – who couldn't be more useless if his cut-off head on pike would be put up at first base – allowed Matt Dear on base to begin the bottom 4th. Pizano singled to center, but Jon Gonzalez (what is it with Raccoons first basemen?) spanked into a double play, 4-6-3, and the Raccoons got out of the inning unscored upon. On the other hand, James absolutely couldn't get a bunt down, something that had been developing for a while as well, but was something like item #37 on our list of issues.

It was still 2-0 through six, with the Raccoons' best whiff at another run coming in the seventh with Millan's 1-out triple to right, then another choke with James grounding out poorly to the left side, Stalker getting four wide ones, and Spencer rolling over to Mike Roesler to sink them all. James' run would last eight shutout innings on one hit and six strikeouts, but by then his pitch count had blossomed to 113 and we weren't going to risk it. Instead, ever more Josh Boles trying to change a bulb in the light fixture while balancing on a chair with a missing leg! And oh look, they have Suhay pinch-hit in the #9 hole to begin the ninth! Suhay grounded to left, Rich Hereford was busy trying to hold back a fart and missed the ball because he couldn't bend down, and the error brought up the tying run in Elliott Kennett, who struck out. As did Matt Dear, but Pizano singled to left, and now runners were on the corners for Jon Gonzalez, and we knew what he was theoretically capable of… grounding out to third base to end the game. 2-0 Coons. Millan 2-3, BB, 3B; James 8.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, W (6-5);

And an economical pitching performance to open a double header to boot!

Boy, things are going to be so horrible with Rico around…

Game 3
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Gerster – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – RF Rodriguez – P Gutierrez
IND: SS Pizano – 3B Roesler – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – C Kennett – RF Ryder – LF Plunkett – 2B M. Mendoza – P Mo Robinson

Not a left-handed bat in sight for Rico to breathe against – how true was that sub-2 ERA after all? The answer was probably tough to find out because it also didn't exist past the first inning, in which Jon Gonzalez already ripped an absolute moonshot homer to right, collecting Mike Roesler for a quick 2-0 Indians lead. Meanwhile Wilson Rodriguez took part in the game by the second inning, popped out batting and then mishandled his first chance for an error that put Rico in a crimp with runners on second and third and two outs against leadoff man Pizano, who thankfully flew out to Mora.

The Coons would put them in scoring position with one out in the top 3rd, owing it to Gerster drawing four walks and Mora finding the gap for a double. Rich Hereford hadn't hit a homer in weeks and weeks, but maybe a 2-run single was something we could politely ask for? Instead, Robinson walked him, bringing up Danny Morales with the bases loaded. Circumstances had propelled Morales from "pinch-hitter against southpaws" to "best #5 hitter we could find", but he flew out to Zachary Ryder for the second out. Gerster tagged and scored, but Tovias grounded out harmlessly to keep Portland 2-1 behind. That remained true until the following inning when .210 enigma Kevin Harenberg hit a leadoff jack to right on an 0-2 pitch. It barely coughed itself over the fence and was nowhere near Gonzalez' in terms of WOW, but it got the game tied alright…

The tie didn't even last the inning. Zachary Ryder hit a double in the bottom of the inning, and with two outs and first base open the Coons put on Mendoza intentionally to get to the pitcher, who predictably hit a 2-out RBI single off Rico to send Ryder scampering home. Rich Hereford shrugged, went deep to right in the top 5th, and since Gerster was on after another walk, that one flipped the score in the Critters' favor, 4-3……… at least until Elliott Kennett knocked out Rico with a 3-run shot to dead center in the bottom 5th. That seemed to do the deal; the Coons did nothing in the sixth, wasted a Gerster double in the seventh, and then put Morales and Harenberg on in the eighth, but then came up with Rodriguez and one out. The debutee was replaced at this point (and at 0-3), with Tim Stalker coming off the bench to try and work some eighth-inning magic against new pitcher, right-hander Brandon Smith. He flew out to Alex Aleman in rightfield, bringing up Leal batting for Fleischer. He singled to left, which allowed Morales to score, 6-5, and put the sluggish Harenberg even at third base as the tying run, but it also brought up Jarod Spencer, who was 4-for-33 since coming off the DL (and still a viable leadoff man!!). The remaining bench options were Booker and Magallanes. So, Spencer batted. And grounded out to short. Ricky Ohl made short work of the Indians in the bottom 8th, offering one last gasp at a comeback in the ninth, starting with Gerster, who had been retired only once in the game and now faced David Galmore and his 2.60 ERA as well as, disturbingly, more walks than strikeouts. Caution, Coons! Something's up! Use double-think! Too late. Gerster grounded out to Mendoza. Mora dishearteningly had a liner to left shagged by Jamieson. And Hereford simply struck out. 6-5 Indians. Mora 2-5, 2B; Hereford 2-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Leal (PH) 1-1, RBI; Fleischer 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K;

In other news

June 12 – OCT LF/RF Luis Sagredo (.330, 7 HR, 28 RBI) will be out for a month with a broken foot.
June 14 – The Gold Sox prepare to be without SP Ian Prevost (5-4, 3.23 ERA) for the next year. The 32-year-old right-hander has torn the flexor tendon in his elbow and will be on the shelf for at least 12 months.
June 14 – LAP 1B/2B Chris Owen (.301, 4 HR, 29 RBI) could be out for a significant amount of time with a pretty serious concussion.
June 14 – CHA OF Juan Camps (.218, 3 HR, 17 RBI) will be out for a month with a strained medial collateral ligament.
June 14 – Knights and Warriors play 14 innings before the Warriors walk off on a run-scoring double by utility player Hiroaki Ryu (.286, 5 HR, 22 RBI) for the only run in the 1-0 affair.
June 16 – SAL INF Dan Cobb (.289, 4 HR, 31 RBI) shines with a 7-RBI game on three hits in a 17-6 drubbing of the Scorpions.
June 16 – CHA SP Alex Lopez (3-5, 3.91 ERA) 2-hits the Aces in an 8-0 Falcons win.
June 17 – SFB 1B Tomas Caraballo (.230, 5 HR, 26 RBI) chips in four base hits and 7 RBI in the Bayhawks' 12-9 bonanza over the Thunder, for whom OCT C Mike Burgess (.302, 7 HR, 35 RBI) goes unretired with four hits and two walks, but only one RBI while batting cleanup.
June 17 – TOP SP Nick Danieley (7-6, 3.22 ERA) hurls a 2-hit shutout in a 7-0 win over the Rebels.
June 18 – The Condors amount to only three base hits in their 1-0 win over the Knights, one of them a walkoff home run by OF Joel Denzler (.249, 1 HR, 30 RBI) off ATL MR Jose Fuentes (1-3, 5.68 ERA, 2 SV).
June 18 – WAS INF Dave Menth (.297, 12 HR, 48 RBI) is going to miss three weeks with a bruised wrist.

Complaints and stuff

All those sprains! And contusions! And broken legs! They don't make male bodies like they used to anymore!

How is it that we consistently seem to have three guys from the starting lineup on the DL, and that since April, and we are STILL hovering at the .600 mark with an absolutely crummy offense? 4.1 runs per game, and sinking…!

Next week, Crusaders in a brief home visit, then another series in Charlotte on the weekend. Who makes these schedules?

The Cyclones promoted Cookie to the big show this week, and so far he has one hit in three PH appearances. What a career trajectory. What is it with these words or word parts that they all indicate something is going to crash really, really hard in the next few seconds? "traject". "eject". "deject".

Fun Fact: Excluding this season and his rookie season, Cookie Carmona appeared in 129 games per season.

And he was the definition of "brittle" in the dictionary from about 2020 on… I hesitate to compare that to Ramos yet again…
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Old 01-29-2019, 05:31 PM   #2716
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2028 AMATEUR DRAFT

While the team flew from Topeka to Indy on Thursday morning, me and our head scout, who had ID in some form, and I had probably seen it at some point, instead took the detour to New York for draft night on the Coons' off day. Again, it was highly unlikely that we would haul a Hall of Famer… but we had thought the same in 1995.

The Critters would have the #20 pick in every round, and here was that annual hotlist again of the young wannabe major league baseball players we were salivating over in varying degrees (*indicates high school player):

SP Adam Brochu (14/13/12) * – BNN #5
SP Matt Hose (13/15/12) * – BNN #4
SP Domingo Murillo (16/13/12)
SP Emilio DeClerk (12/14/14) – BNN #7
SP Chris Miller (13/13/11) – BNN #3
SP Darren Brown (12/11/10) *

CL John Woods (18/14/11)
CL Chris Wise (18/13/10)

C Bryant Raymond (11/10/9)

1B Jakobe Lambeth (14/9/8) *
INF Matt Locke (9/12/11)
INF/RF Justin Marsingill (10/8/9)

OF Kyle Beard (14/7/10) *
OF/2B Chris Russell (12/7/8) *

Normally we'd pray for a batter, but I hinted before at the fact that I was entirely not thrilled by the very most hitting prospects in here. If we could get one of the starting pitchers to fall into our lap, that would be daft, but still unlikely. However, there was more depth to be found in the category of starting pitchers.

I also mentioned that the Elks had still been hoping for a compensation pick for type A free agent Andrew Gudeman, but they would be disappointed (snickers), as Gudeman remained unsigned through draft day.

First poke with the 360-strong draft pool rested with the Blue Sox, who took SP Matt Hose with the #1 selection in the draft. Things went on with the Cyclones selecting Emilio DeClerk at #2, then the Loggers picking Adam Brochu at #3. Just like that, half of our hotlist starting pitchers were gone with the wind, and before long Chris Miller went #4 to the Falcons before the Stars selected another pitcher in Paul Williams that was not on the hotlist at #5.

And teams kept picking pitchers! The first *11* selections turned out to be starting pitchers, something I had *never* seen before! It wasn't until the Wolves picking at #12 that a position player was selected, then INF Elijah Williams. At that point, two of our six starting pitchers were still around, but Domingo Murillo vanished #14 to the Gold Sox, right after CL John Woods went at #13 to the Aces. Chris Wise fell to the Crusaders at #16, and the best catcher in the bunch, Bryant Raymond, to the Miners at #17. One hotlist starting pitcher remained, and since we hadn't come up with a smarter idea in the meantime, we selected Darren Brown as our top pick at #20.

While we were blowing steam out of our ears and saw the Titans GM launch a hammer at the Loggers GM, who shook his axe threatening to pick out of turn, Justin Marsingill went #23 to the Buffaloes, Chris Russell fell to the Miners at #31, Jakobe Lambeth was swept up by the Scorpions at #36, while Matt Locke fell all the way to #46 and the Knights. That was just two picks ahead of Kyle Beard being scooped by the Indians with the #48 pick, and with that the hotlist was dealt with.

By the fourth round we were already trying to find players that had the least amount of weaknesses. There was 1B/C Rich Zuza, who would maybe show power later in life, but was definitely obese and a defensive liability and a catcher in his dreams at best. There was defensive outfield whiz Manny Lopez, who would probably never meet a baseball with the wooden toothpick he was using for a bat. There was another outfielder in Chad Reinhardt that was not as great defensively, and still didn't show All Star potential with the stick. In the end, we settled on a third baseman with an all-around acceptable profile in Mike Sigler. The fourth round was a good round to draft a hot corner guy; Matt Nunley had been taken in the fourth round, many moons past. Of the four other guys in fourth round considerations, only Reinhardt was not around anymore by the fifth round. At that point we too the flyer on Manny Lopez. Zuza was still around for the sixth round, but our scout recommended we should get an *actual* catcher rather than a spherical bloat encamped at first base.

We never picked that bloat that fell to the ninth round, the Cyclones, and the #209 pick. The last guy taken from the shortlist was CL Bill Bell, taken by the Condors at #217. With that, it was into the weeds.

+++

2028 PORTLAND RACCOONS DRAFT CLASS

Round 1 (#20) – SP Darren Brown, 19, from Glen Rose, TX – right-handed groundballer with very finely moving stuff. The slider might be especially devastating to humanity. He also has the mean look for a villain to terrorize innocent batters. We would wish for a bit more velocity, but roughly 93mph isn't a problem, either.
Round 2 (#59) – LF/RF Steve Florence, 18, from Houston, TX – looks like a prototypical outfielder with decent contact and power potential and ordinary range, but he has a quick first step and is quite the terror on the base paths.
Round 3 (#83) – SP Travis Coffee, 21, from Collings Lakes, NJ – balanced 4-pitch mix for this right-hander that offers a 92mph heater with a cutter, slider, and splitter; very similar to Brown's arsenal, just not first-round worthy.
Round 4 (#107) – 3B Mike Sigler, 19, from Bessemer, AL – appreciable defense with a soft contact bat, but actually has some speed that could also be useful;
Round 5 (#131) – OF/3B Manny Lopez, 21, from San Juan, Puerto Rico – defensive outfield whiz that can get to any ball, now matter where you hit it. Himself, he challenges fielders considerably less. A steady-gloved second baseman that can turn two is all you're gonna need on him.
Round 6 (#155) – C Elliott Thompson, 18, from Pine Beach, NJ – good defensive catcher with a defensive catcher's bat, but maybe a wee bit of pop to spice up the .230 average?
Round 7 (#179) – SP/MR Joe Rudd, 18, from Weymouth, MA – this right-hander has an 88mph fastball and really only two pitches, but the second pitch is a spiffy curve that could come in useful.
Round 8 (#203) – 2B/SS Roy Werden, 18, from Lake Arbor, MD – reasonably quirky for a middle infielder, but his arm does not really scream left side of the infield; not much contact, little power, but a bit of speed for sure.
Round 9 (#227) – 1B Danny Vera, 18, from Livermore, CA – our experts on body and soul maintain that he generates enormous force when he goes full-swing and could be a real power force. Unfortunately he also seems to be blind as a bat with according holes in his swing. Definitely a flyer pick even in the ninth round.
Round 10 (#251) – 2B Matt Trull, 19, from Nether Providence Township, PA – softly poking switch-hitter with now power, little speed, but he doesn't seem too shabby on D…
Round 11 (#275) – SP Danny Sanders, 18, from Mandan, ND – this year's Nick Brown Memorial Pick throws four pitches, badly, and for loud contact. Doesn't sound remotely as indifferent as what we wrote about Nick Brown in this spot 33 years ago.
Round 12 (#299) – 1B Ed Sloma, 19, from Fountainbleu, FL – some contact, not a whole lot power… when defense is a first baseman's foremost attribute…
Round 13 (#323) – SP Alejandro Segura, 18, from Levittown, Puerto Rico – left-hander with what we assume is a curveball, language issues, attitude issues, and a weird mole with a long black hair growing out of it on the side of his neck. Lots to tackle here.

+++

With this influx of talent, it was time for an outflow of talent. "Talent".

Among the players canned at this point was 2022 seventh-rounder, right-hander Michael White, stuck with a 7+ ERA in Ham Lake; 2026 tenth-rounder Mike Joy, a right-hander stuck in Aumsville; 2024 12th-rounder Bill O'Toole, another right-hander struggling with everything; 2026 eighth-rounder C Ryan Clark, who was also still in Aumsville at age 24; 2027 12th-rounder OF Josh Cleveland, who seemed to have no bat at all… and a few more that fell out of one bus' wheelhouse or another.
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Old 02-02-2019, 08:51 AM   #2717
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This update comes to you from the hospital, where I was recommended to admit myself to have some weird growth removed. RIGHT NOW. Well, it is removed now, and if the damn thing stopped oozing, I could probably go home...

Meanwhile, since I am obviously well enough to play games right now, you can deduce it is not all that bad. No need for excessive well-wishing. I think the Coons have bigger medical issues than me…..

The next few updates might be a bit shorter with lots of room for extra typos, but it is sorta hard to type with six things sticking outta your arm…


+++

Raccoons (40-27) vs. Crusaders (36-33) – June 19-21, 2028

The Raccoons held a 5-game lead over the Crusaders that mashed up for second place entering the new week. They ranked seventh in runs scored, fifth in runs allowed, and were 2-4 against Portland this season.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (4-1, 2.87 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (5-5, 3.05 ERA)
Mark Roberts (6-3, 3.06 ERA) vs. Jesse Wright (2-5, 5.48 ERA)
Rin Nomura (7-3, 2.47 ERA) vs. Carlos Marron (6-5, 3.50 ERA)

All right-handers. Meanwhile, the Raccoons would have Thursday off, so no arrangements had to be made to compensate for the Sunday double header.

Game 1
NYC: 1B Elder – 3B Schmit – CF Hatley – RF J. Richardson – LF I. Vega – 2B Jam. Wilson – C Asay – SS Cameron – P E. Cannon
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – RF Booker – P K. Anderson

The Coons found four base hits but no runs in the first two innings. Stalker was caught stealing in the first; Harenberg and Booker both made unhelpful fly outs after Morales and Tovias hit singles to begin the second. It didn’t get much better in the following innings. Morales flew out to Ivan Vega with Stalker and Hereford in scoring position to end the third (although Rich Hereford had admittedly already only reached on a Jamie Wilson throwing error), and Stalker hit into a double play in the fifth. At least Kyle Anderson was the usual excellence for Raccoons starting pitching at this point, allowing one base hit through five innings, plus two walks. Jay Elder’s leadoff double into the leftfield corner to begin the sixth was the biggest New York threat yet, but they could not move him around amid three pops / shallow flies.

Bottom 6th, the scorelessness ceased be. Rich Hereford hit a long homer to right-center, and then Morales hit a long drive to left-center that didn’t quite make it 2-0, but made for a neat 1-out double regardless. Then Morales hobbled off the field with a bum knee, because Coons. Obviously. Millan replaced him while even the Druid could only shrug at this point. But for two minutes here, the Raccoons had figured out Eddie Cannon. Elias Tovias hit a sharp RBI double up the rightfield line, and then the Crusaders were scared even of Kevin Harenberg, batting all of .211, but getting four very, very wide ones to set up a double play for Jaden Booker, who struck out instead, but Anderson also only managed a slow roller and the inning ended at 2-0. Anderson would strike out Cannon to end the seventh, but that was after Jason Asay and Joe Cameron had hit two line drives for a double and an RBI single, cutting the gap in half, only for Abel Mora to triple it with a 2-run homer to dead center in the bottom of the inning. Anderson got stuck in the eighth, walking Andy Schmit in a full count with one down, but Jeff Kearney got a double play grounder from Nick Hatley to clean up behind his starter. Ricky Ohl got the ninth with Boles having tossed 32 pitches on Sunday, and retired the Crusaders … not exactly in order, but without conceding a run after a 1-out double by Vega. 4-1 Coons! Spencer 3-5; Mora 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Morales 2-3, 2B; Tovias 2-4, 2B, RBI; Anderson 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, W (5-1);

The Druid came back with decent news – Danny Morales had not suffered any structural damage on his double. We might want to sit him out for Tuesday, but he was ultimately no worse for wear.

Game 2
NYC: RF I. Vega – 1B Elder – 3B Schmit – C Asay – CF Hatley – SS J. Cameron – 2B B. Torres – LF Olszewski – P J. Wright
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – C Leal – 1B Harenberg – LF Millan – RF Rodriguez – P Roberts

Mark Roberts was rather awesome right out of the gate and would allow only a scant three hits through six innings, AND got early offense to boot with a 2-run homer by Hereford in the opening inning. Well, that was the offense, really, through five innings, but Spencer and Stalker went to the corners with nobody out in the bottom 6th against a rather toothless Jesse Wright. When Mora grounded out, it advanced only the trailing runner, and then Hereford got four wide ones to bring up the double play candidate Leal with three on and one out. The count ran full, Leal hit a drive into the left-center gap, then was bloody robbed by Drew Olszweski out there. It was still a sac fly and a 3-0 game, but that one looked like it would clear all runners on a double or more. Ah fear not, two on, two out, and Kevin Harenberg coming up. We could only be pleasantly surprised, like when he pushed a bouncer through Elder for a 2-run double. When had THAT last happened?? Anyway, it was now a 5-0 game. Roberts’s shutout seemed in danger in the eighth, and then not of the Crusaders’ doing. Tim Stalker threw away Joe Cameron’s grounder for two bases at the start of the inning, but Roberts maintained grip on a grounder to third, a pop, and finally a disemboweling K to PH Jamie Richardson. Roberts didn’t finish the shutout; Vega and Elder hit singles to begin the ninth, and while Roberts battled down Schmit for a strikeout, that was his 108th pitch and he signaled with a shake of the head that that was really all he had. The Coons went to Surginer, who got out of the game with a double play…. Against Hatley. Before that, Asay had singeld in a run on a 3-1 pitch. 5-1 Raccoons! Stalker 2-4; Hereford 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Harenberg 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Roberts 8.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, W (7-3);

The Raccoons are now 13-5 in June, coincidentally also the number, respectively, of players injured and deceased since the season began…

Game 3
NYC: RF I. Vega – 1B Elder – 3B Schmit – CF Hatley – SS J. Cameron – 2B Jam. Wilson – C R. Anderson – LF Olszewski – P Marron
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – RF Millan – P Nomura

Portland again took the lead on a 2-run homer, but this time on Tim Stalker’s and in the third inning. Hereford had come up with Stalker and Mora on base in the first, but had hit into an inning-ending double play. While Nomura was pitching a 2-hti shutout against a Crusaders team that still wasn’t sure which bus had hit them and how hard, he was also the lead runner in the fifth inning, Stalker and Mora in tow, when Hereford came up with two outs. He hit the first pitch over the head of a sad-looking Andy Schmit for a 2-run single, a walk to Morales filled the bags again, and then Tovias dumped a blooper into shallow left for another run to score. Yet another runner, Hereford, was able to come home when Olszewski overran the ball for an error, running the tally to 6-0. And only now did Kevin Harenberg turn up to strike more fear into shaken New York hearts – he singled cleanly to left, and both Morales and Tovias scored on the play, 8-0.

Nomura needed 93 pitches through six, but with the healthy lead he was allowed to bat once more in the bottom of that inning. He walked, then got doubled up by Spencer, and then Tim Stalker hit a triple for his fourth hit of the game, now a double shy of the cycle. Mora hit that double for now, giving New York righty Isaiah Pooser (in his first game this year, and the second of his career) the earned run he deserved. Hereford gave him another one, doubling sternly off the rightfield fence, 10-0. A third Pooser run would score against lefty Chris Wickham in the same inning. The Coons’ own lefty, Nomura, was done after seven innings of not very economic 2-hit shutout ball, but that was a tall one to cry over. Stalker got a shot at the cycle in the bottom 7th, facing Wickham with Butch Gerster and Jarod Spencer on base and one out, but flew out to Vega in shallow right. Jonathan Fleischer maintained the shutout almost to the end, before falling to a 2-out RBI double by Joe Cameron in the ninth. Brotman replaced him, but allowed Cameron to score on a Jamie Wilson single. That was all to the Crusaders’ rally, though. They expired on Ryan Anderson’s pop. 11-2 Coons! Spencer 2-5; Stalker 4-5, HR, 3B, 2 RBI; Mora 3-5, 2B, RBI; Hereford 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Tovias 2-5, 3 RBI; Harenberg 2-3, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Gerster (PH) 1-1; Nomura 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, W (8-3) and 1-2, BB;

This sweep was valuable, knocking the Crusaders back to .500 and leaving only one pursuer over the .500 mark, the 38-34 Elks that were now six games behind. There is another 4-game set with them combing up by the end of the month… can’t ever have too much of a lead gobbled up with them…!

Raccoons (43-27) @ Falcons (31-42) – June 23-25, 2028

The Falcons were already almost 15 games out in the South and lingered in fifth place. Their offense was putrid, scoring them only 3.9 runs per game, second-worst in the league, while their pitching was easily ablaze, with the most runs surrendered in the Continental League, and just over five runs per game. But mind those lying on the ground and grabbing your ankles… the Falcons were 2-1 against the Raccoons this season.

Projected matchups:
George James (6-5, 4.03 ERA) vs. Joel O’Brien (0-2, 6.95 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (6-3, 2.50 ERA) vs. Chris Rountree (3-7, 4.45 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (5-1, 2.56 ERA) vs. Jesse Schiebout (3-5, 4.34 ERA)

Rountree would the be lone lefty on offer this week, but the Falcons had also been off on Thursday. Other than the Raccoons, who needed the day off to recover from a Sunday double header, the Falcons could make adjustments to their rotation.

Game 1
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – RF Millan – P James
CHA: LF Banfi – SS S. Bowman – RF Kok – 1B Fowlkes – CF N. Nelson – 3B Rolland – C Carmichael – 2B Casillas – P O’Brien

Right out of the gate, George James either missed or hung them. The Falcons were keenly aware of this. Luigi Banfi and Barend Kok went to the corners on early hits. Pat Fowlkes hit an RBI single, and then Nate Nelson hit an escaper into the leftfield corner, where it stopped dead, for a 3-run, inside-the-park home run. His next time up, Nelson hit a “standard” home run that counted for two (lame) and that knocked out James in a 6-0 game with two outs in the bottom 3rd. Dan McLin came in, walked Jaylen Rolland and Jason Carmicahel, allowed a bases-stacking single to Tony Casillas, and then barely managed to get O’Brien to fly out to right. One o’ them games, huh?

Indeed. McLin shoveled the bases full in the fourth with nobody out, then got a pop from Pat Fowlkes before walking Nelson to force home the seventh Falcon run, and the sixth credited to Nelson. That was enough from McLin, and the Critters sent Surginer to clean up, please. Two more runs scored on a grounder and then Carmichael’s single, running the tally to 9-0. The Coons would have three on and nobody out in the fifth against O’Brien who finally remembered he was supposed to pitch like a guy with an ERA near seven. Harenberg singled, Millan walked, and Wilson Rodriguez, who had entered in a double switch with Surginer (exiting Danny Morales), landed a single for his first career base knock. What a time to do it…! All three runners would score; Spencer walked in a run, and then Stalker hit into a fielder’s choice and Mora for a sac fly in non-helpful ways to add runs. Butch Gerster hit for Surginer in the sixth and went yard, which was more helpful, but also a bit too late to make much of a difference in what was now a 9-4 drubbing. And that was before Brotman and Ohl got flogged for three more runs in the eighth inning… 12-4 Falcons. Gerster (PH) 1-2, HR, RBI; Harenberg 2-4;

Barend Kok had five base hits for Charlotte, only two less than all Coons managed to pool in this massacre.

Game 2
POR: 2B Stalker – SS Gerster – LF Morales – 3B Hereford – CF Mora – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – RF Booker – P Gutierrez
CHA: LF Banfi – SS S. Bowman – 1B Fowlkes – CF N. Nelson – C Sigala – 3B Rolland – RF Salto – 2B Casillas – P Rountree

For a while Rico Gutierrez coped with a right-handed lineup by allowing exactly one double per inning, which held the Falcons off the scoreboard until a Nate Nelson homer in the fourth inning. This cut the Coons’ somewhat-unearned 2-0 lead from the top 1st in half. Hereford had singled in Gerster, the first of two consecutive walks, while a Tony Casillas grounder had plated Danny Morales, too. That would not be the only Hereford-supplied run against Rountree, who would allow a total of four of those in the game, and seven in total. Rich powered a 2-run double with two down in the fifth, that one up the rightfield line, then a 2-out RBI single to left in the sixth, the latter following a Butch Gerster double that already plated Harenberg and Stalker. The Coons led 7-1 in the middle of the sixth, and now even Rico should not be able to blow up against righties anymore. Before he allowed a run following Jairo Sigala’s leadoff double in the bottom 7th, he already drove one in for the Coons in their 2-spot in the top 7th. Rico lasted eight, and Kevin Surginer did not allow the Falcons to bring up more than their mandatory allotment in the ninth before ending the game. 9-2 Coons. Hereford 4-5, 2B, 4 RBI; Harenberg 3-5; Gutierrez 8.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, W (7-3) and 2-4, RBI;

Payback!

Game 3
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – RF Millan – P Anderson
CHA: 3B Rolland – SS S. Bowman – RF Kok – 1B Fowlkes – CF N. Nelson – C Sigala – LF Salto – 2B Casillas – P Schiebout

So who’d get the creaming in the rubber game? The Falcons were near scoring in the bottom 1st after a Sean Bowman double and Pat Fowlkes’ single, but Morales threw out Bowman at home to end the inning. Instead, Portland drew first blood with a long, long, long gone homer by Rich Hereford to lead off the second inning. The Coons then loaded them up without making an out, bringing up Omar Millan, who started a string of RBI appearances with a dying quail into shallow left-center to make it 2-0. Anderson hit a clothesline single to plate Harenberg, 3-0, and Spencer (groundout) and Stalker (sac fly) also brought in runs via productive outs before Abel Mora hit an RBI single to cash Anderson, 6-0. Hereford theng rounded out to the flogged Schiebout to end the inning. While Schiebout was not seen again, Mora and Hereford would land further 2-out RBIs in the fourth inning against Nate Ziemke. In between Anderson allowed single runs in the second and fourth innings for an 8-2 tally, but it could actually have been worse, the Falcons getting eight base hits off Anderson in four frames.

Anderson eventually lasted 6.1 innings worth of 10 hits, but no more runs. The Falcons couldn’t score against Kearney and Fleischer in the eighth, either, despite two runners to start the inning. Jaden Booker, entering in a double switch, threw out Barend Kok at home in this inning. 8-2 Coons. Mora 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Hereford 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Leal 1-2, 2 BB;

Where are these guys and why are they scoring runs so rapidly?

In other news

June 19 – SFB SP Alejandro “Ant“ Mendez (3-7, 4.18 ERA) no-hits the Falcons through seven innings before giving up three straight 1-out singles in the eighth. Reliever Alex Cordova can’t stem the tide and the Falcons scored four runs on four hits to win the game, 4-3, over the Bayhawks, who totaled 12 hits all game long.
June 22 – The Cyclones offload the contract of outfielder Adam Braun (.206, 6 HR, 35 RBI) and a prospect to the Condors for C Pat Sanford (.175, 2 HR, 8 RBI). Braun had signed a 7-yr, $23M contract with Cincy prior only to this season.
June 22 – In another deal, the Cyclones send C Tony Perez (.240, 3 HR, 19 RBI) to the Knights for SP Jim Shannon (8-3, 2.51 ERA). The Knights also receive a prospect in the agreement.
June 22 – The Canadiens send MR Ernesto Lozano (1-4, 4.59 ERA, 5 SV) to the Aces for 1B David Fisher (.326, 10 HR, 29 RBI) and a prospect.
June 22 – Capitals and Rebels share 12 scoreless innings before they both score in the 13th. Washington’s three runs in the top half hold up compared to Richmond’s single marker in the bottom half and leaves the Capitals with a 3-1 victory.
June 25 – PIT SP Ramiro Benavides (6-6, 3.87 ERA) should be lost for the season with a torn rotator cuff.

Complaints and stuff

Rich Hereford was CL Player of the Week with a torrid .476, 3 HR, 12 RBI performance. He leads the CL in the latter two categories. He also walked four times for a .560 OBP.

Huh, offense? Yeah, I heard it too! We even lead the power rankings now, which normally never happens. Maud, check for weird stellar constellations. Mena, check your tea leaves. The Critters scored *41* times this week in only six games to zoom to fifth in runs scored in the CL and to maintain their edge over the damn Elks, who are a handful of games back and will befall us with their vile stench before the next week is out. Woe Portland for having to endure them!

On the plus side, we might get Rafael Gomez back before the end of the week, too. No Ramos until after the All Star Game, though…

Our next victory will be #4,300 in the regular season all-time…

Fun Fact: This coming Monday will mark the 11th anniversary of Cookie Carmona churning out six base hits in an 18-6 drubbing of the Aces.

Ah. Cookie….. he currently has all of two base hits with the Cyclones in six games, all off the bench.
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:27 AM   #2718
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Raccoons (45-28) vs. Thunder (34-41) – June 26-28, 2028

While the Coons were moving up, the Thunder were moving down. Portland was 16-6 in June, while the Thunder had won only eight games on the month and none of their last three games. They were seventh in runs scored, but second from the bottom in runs conceded. The Raccoons led the season series, 2-1.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (7-3, 2.90 ERA) vs. Andy Palomares (5-6, 4.99 ERA)
Rin Nomura (8-3, 2.30 ERA) vs. Peter Gill (5-5, 2.52 ERA)
George James (6-6, 4.55 ERA) vs. Max Nelson (5-6, 6.00 ERA)

Those ERAs were some indicator that baseball wasn’t fair, and probably never would be. “Graveyard” Gill not only got no run support, maybe where the moniker came from, he was also the sole southpaw they had to offer.

With a crucial 4-game set against the vile Elks dawning on the weekend, we would arrange for off days for the regulars in this series.

Game 1
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – SS Janes – RF Hodgers – CF D. Garcia – LF Pagel – 1B McWhorter – C L. Riley – 2B Kane – P Palomares
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – RF Millan – P Roberts

While Palomares retired the Critters in order the first time through, Roberts was not nearly as lucky. Victor Hodgers (!) homered in the first inning to put the Thunder ahead, and they would score a second run right away on three straight singles by Dave Garcia, Kyle Pagel, and Tom McWhorter, then added another run in the second inning. The Raccoons first reached base with a Stalker single in the fourth, then made the board in the fifth, with Harenberg and Millan reaching base, Roberts bunting them into scoring position, and Spencer landing the 2-out, 2-run single to centerfield, cutting the gap to 3-2 before Stalker struck out.

The sixth saw the Thunder with an unearned comeback run. Harenberg figured big in this one (hey, at least one way to make it into the box score…) when he fumbled Liam Riley’s leadoff grounder for an error. Mike Kane reached on an infield single (but then was removed with an injury), and Roberts lacked stuff to dig his way out of there. A Lorenzo Rivera single plated Riley, but Janes and Hodgers made poor outs to keep it 4-2, but Roberts’ day was over. He had to hope for a comeback from his team; three weeks ago – impossible. Now – maybe? Harenberg hit a leadoff jack in the bottom 7th to get Portland back to within a run. Hey, who would have thought – another way to get into the box score! Ricky Ohl retired the Thunder mostly on strikes in the eighth, and then Tim Stalker indeed rescued Mark Roberts with a leadoff jack for the second consecutive inning, this one tying the game right off Palomares on his 106th pitch. That wasn’t the last one - #110 was also an exit pitch, found by Abel Mora, and this put Portland in front, 5-4. Hey, finally a reason to remove the protective foil off this Josh Boles we have…! Dave Garcia’s 2-out single was the most the Thunder got out of him. Kyle Pagel went down on three pitches to end the game. 5-4 Critters! Stalker 2-4, HR, RBI; Mora 2-4, HR, RBI; Millan 2-3;

Whoah! Some spirit in this team!

Game 2
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – C Burgess – RF Hodgers – CF D. Garcia – LF Pagel – 1B McWhorter – SS Janes – 2B Kane – P Gill
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Gerster – LF Morales – C Tovias – 1B Harenberg – RF Rodriguez – 3B Booker – CF Magallanes – P Nomura

Rin Nomura was unconvinced by this lineup, and slightly miffed even after I explained to him very patiently (…) that all he had to do was hold the Thunder shut out and then he had a real chance at … something. For starters, he didn’t hold them shut out. The irritating Victor Hodgers homered again, this time in the third inning, to put them up 1-0. Hodgers, the 37-year-old long-ago Logger, now had five homers on the season, four of them in his last six games. Erik Janes homered for a 2-0 lead in the fourth, while the Coons didn’t get their first base hit (again) until their 11th attempt, this time a Gerster single, and Tovias’ double play bouncer took care of that one, too.

Again, power would help out long-erring Coons late. “Graveyard” Gill maintained a 3-hit shutout through six (with the potential All Stars Rodriguez and Magallanes featuring in the Coons’ hitter list), but then lost Danny Morales to a leadoff walk in the bottom 7th, then immediately surrendered a blast to center to Elias Tovias to tie up the tally at two. If only the relief would have been permament. Nomura allowed a leadoff single to Mike Burgess in the eighth and could not extricate himself, and Surginer and Brotman each chipped in anoher single to let the Thunder take a 3-2 lead on PH Carlos de Santiago’s soft liner into center that Magallanes couldn’t reach. All those ex-Loggers…? Brotman pitched a quick ninth, setting up ex-Coon Jonathan Snyder against the 2-3-4 batters, or whatever we would find on the bench, in the bottom 9th. Gerster struck out. Stalker batted for Morales and grounded out to short. Hereford batted for Tovias … and grounded out to Kane. 3-2 Thunder. Rodriguez 2-3;

I probably provoked this one.

Game 3
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – CF D. Garcia – LF de Santiago – C Burgess – 2B Kane – RF Hodgers – SS Janes – 1B LeMoine – P M. Nelson
POR: SS Gerster – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – C Leal – 1B Millan – RF Booker – P James

George James kept coming apart, yielding five hits, including a homer (Janes) and three doubles, in the first two innings, along for three runs in total. In the fourth he issued three walks before somehow ringing up Dave Garcia to end the inning, but there was no working with this kid… James went on to concede another four runs (three unearned after a Hereford error, but c’mon…!) in the fifth inning, the last of which came around to score on Jonathan Fleischer’s long watch on a Lorenzo Rivera RBI double. Down 7-0, the Raccoons had seen Stalker hit a double and be left stranded in the opening inning, and nothing since. Booker walked and scored on a Gerster double in the bottom 5th, but too little, too late, and well too big a margin to make up now. Especially as they only seemed to reach base with two outs then, doing so in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. To shake things up, they went down silently against Brian Gilbert in the ninth. 7-1 Thunder. Stalker 2-2, 2 BB, 2B;

This team and its knack to hit a downward gradient just before a big series…

Raccoons (46-30) vs. Canadiens (43-35) – June 29-July 2, 2028

Well, as usual, good news and bad news. The Elks were in the house. Nick Valdes was in the house. Alberto Ramos and others were … in the house but not of much use (not that the others were). And we were 6-1 against the second-best offense (most homers, most stolen bases) in the CL, but this was a 4-game set with a 4-game lead and there was ample precedent to not take this lightly. The Elks had a +27 run differential and the eighth-placed pitching in the CL. Other than last time, they would also arrive nearly in full force, Norman Day being the only notable absentee.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (7-3, 2.48 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (5-5, 4.17 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (6-1, 2.60 ERA) vs. Leon Hernandez (7-5, 2.99 ERA)
Mark Roberts (7-3, 2.99 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (8-4, 4.57 ERA)
Rin Nomura (8-4, 2.39 ERA) vs. Victor Govea (2-4, 4.74 ERA)

All right-handed pitching for the long weekend…!

This was of course already the long stretch without an off day before the All Star Game. Worse yet, The Monday following this series we would have a double header to open a 5-game set in Milwaukee. I had yet to come up with a smart move for that one.

Game 1
VAN: CF Wojnarowski – 3B Anton – RF Coca – LF A. Torres – 1B D. Fisher – C M. Sanchez – SS Byrd – 2B Gura – P J. Martin
POR: LF Morales – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – RF Millan – P Gutierrez

Rico got around a Brian Wojnarowski double to open the game, and the Coons stranded a pair in the bottom 1st before Harenberg and Tovias ripped back-to-back doubles around Tony Coca’s head in the second for a no-out run. Rico came through for an RBI single to shallow right, too, staking himself to a 2-0 lead. Half of that he gave away again in an excruciatingly long third inning in which Tony Coca hit an RBI single and David Fisher eventually fouled out to leave the bases loaded (and in a 3-2 count…), and while he didn’t blow the lead completely at any point, the innings didn’t exactly get any shorter for him and he done after 110 pitches and only six frames. Butch Gerster batted for him with two outs in the bottom 6th following up an Omar Millan line-hugger for a double and pushed a ball past John Byrd to extend the score to 3-1. Brotman and Surginer tended to that lead responsibly, and the Coons got Spencer and Tovias on base in the bottom 8th. The Coons sent Booker rather than Millan to bat against left-hander Justin Hess, but he still hit into a double play that sent the 3-1 game to Josh Boles’ care. The Elks’ bottom of the order hadn’t much of a chance against him. 3-1 Coons! Mora 2-4; Tovias 2-4, 2B, RBI; Gutierrez 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (8-3) and 1-2, RBI; Gerster (PH) 1-1, RBI;

Good news – I am happy, Valdes is happy. Bad news – he’s staying for another day.

Game 2
VAN: LF A. Torres – 3B Anton – CF Wojnarowski – RF Coca – 1B D. Fisher – SS Byrd – C R. Ortíz – 2B Gura – P L. Hernandez
POR: LF Morales – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – RF Millan – P Anderson

Command was not there for Anderson, who was constantly in 3-ball counts right from the start and surrendered two first-inning runs on a walk and two long base hits by Wojnarowski and Coca. And it would not soon change who missed; it was all Anderson missing, while the damn Elks missed precious little. Least David Fisher missed a hanging breaking ball and tore it asunder for a 3-run shot in the third inning, putting the Elks up 5-0. And that under the watchful eyes of the GM …!

It didn’t get much better. Matt Anton broke Anderson for good in the fourth with a 2-out, 2-run shot, and while the Coons made up those two runs in the bottom 4th, they came mostly on a Tony Coca blunder that played a 2-out single for Harenberg into an RBI triple, with Tovias following up with an RBI single. The runs were unearned; Rich Hereford had reached on an error to begin with. Tony Coca upped the Elks’ lead to 8-2 with a homer off Jeff Kearney, who managed to retire two left-handed hitters just fine, but got burned by the right-hander in between. Fleischer replaced him, drilled and crippled John Byrd (probably for life), and the Coons were as a whole not very wholesome on this Tuesday. Meanwhile, Nick Valdes keenly took notice, as well as notes.

There was not much to note about the Critters between the fifth inning (Hereford flew out to strand two) and eighth (Rodriguez flew out to strand two), except for the 2-out rally in the bottom 8th in which Spencer and Leal brought in runs, but that came after another shoddy outing by Dan McLin in the top 8th in which he allowed yet another run to the Elks – it would be his last as a Critter for now. Abel Mora hit a solo homer off Troy Charters in the ninth, but that merely made up for a run Ricky Ohl conceded after a leadoff walk and a misfielded bunt in the top of the same inning. The Coons got their bums whipped in this one. 10-5 Canadiens. Morales 2-5; Mora 2-5, HR, 2B, RBI; Harenberg 2-4, 3B, RBI; Leal (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Fleischer 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K;

The Coons made a necessary roster move overnight, sending Dan McLin (5.40 ERA) packing and to St. Petersburg. The Crittes would have liked to call up a sparkling, shiny prospect, but in the end landed once more with Nick Derks, the dull righty with a 4.72 ERA in 45 career big league appearances all the way back to 2024.

In a second move, Rafael Gomez was activated at the expense of Wilson Rodriguez (.200 in 15 AB).

Game 3
VAN: CF Wojnarowski – 3B Anton – RF Coca – LF A. Torres – 1B D: Fisher – C M. Sanchez – SS Byrd – 2B Gura – P Cervantes
POR: LF Morales – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – SS Gerster – P Roberts

Lots of contact off Mark Roberts, and homers were looming right from the start, but for the early going Mora and Gomez were able to at least shag a few doubles to keep the Elks short. Instead, Gomez reached leading off the bottom 2nd and Kevin Harenberg hit a blast to right, his fifth homer of the season, and maybe he could still turn it around from “raw turds” to “merely meh” with a good second half… The Coons were up 2-0, put Leal and Gerster on base, too, but Roberts bunted badly to get his catcher erased in a tight play at the hot corner. It didn’t matter in the end – Danny Morales dinged Cervantes for some 400 feet to up the total to 5-0. Stalker also got on with a single, but was caught stealing, and now it was Mark Roberts’ game to lose.

…which to say was sure tempting fate, with David Fisher coming in reasonable 2-out, 3-run homer territory in the third, but since he hit the drive to center and was denied by Mora, was left empty-handed. Instead the Coons added three more in the their half of the inning, knocking Cervantes from the game for good. Harenberg hit a sac fly, maintaining a .240 clip and reaching 34 RBI in the Coons’ halfway point game. Roberts got a bit less uneasy in the middle innings, and the Coons kept pummeling the Elks, with Armando Leal homering off Antonio “Furball”(?) Muniz to make it 9-0 in the fifth, and they reached 10-0 in the inning on a Gerster single, Roberts being jst barely graced by an 0-2 pitch to push Gerster to second, and finally a 2-out double by Abel Mora.

It was still 10-0 through seven, but Roberts was on a too high pitch count to finish a blowout even before the eighth unraveled on the Critters’ battery. Wojnarowski was put on to begin the eighth on catcher’s interference when he first appeared to be the seventh strikeout for Roberts, and then Matt Anton singled to center. Roberts, on 103 pitches, was replaced by Surginer. Kevin got a deep F8 from Coca, then rung up Alex Torres before Kearney was sent for David Fisher, but surrendered a sharp RBI single. At this point the Coons went to Nick Derks, who fanned Manny Sanchez, then retired the bottom of the order in the ninth, too. 10-1 Coons! Morales 2-5, HR, 4 RBI; Mora 2-5, 2B, RBI; Gomez 3-3, BB; Leal 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Gerster 2-2, BB; Roberts 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (8-3);

Typical! Whenever they break out, nobody of value (like our GM) is here to take notice …!

Game 4
VAN: CF Wojnarowski – SS Byrd – RF Coca – LF A. Torres – 1B D. Fisher – 3B Farias – C R. Ortíz – 2B Read – P Govea
POR: LF Morales – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Spencer – P Nomura

Next guy to retire nobody at all? Rin Nomura. The Elks bashed him for eight runs in the first inning on Sunday, starting innocently enough with John Byrd’s 1-out walk. The next bushel of batters all hit singles, and with a 4-0 score and two down Govea got a catcher’s interference call to load the bases, at which point Wojnarowski went all slam to right and ran up the 8-0 tally. The terrible thing was – a double header was coming right up on Monday… and the Coons had to leave Nomura out there to throw a hundred pitches, or at least until he gave up another slam…

The Coons tickled Govea for a run in the bottom 1st, driven in by Gomez with a 2-out single, but didn’t look likely to roar all the way back. We scored nothing in the second, but at least got Wojnarowski removed after a wild tumbling catch on a Morales drive. Danny Tessmann replaced him for injury reasons. On the scoreboard, Portland would not come closer despite getting plenty of runners against Govea, but the Elks turned double plays in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings to quell any sort of rally out of the home crowd, and while Nomura lasted – admirably – into the sixth, too, there he got taken deep by Ricky Ortíz for another two runs and eventually went home on the short end of a 10-1 tally. The Elks had enough for this game and remained harmless against the pen in the final innings, while the Coons only scratched out a 2-out run in the eighth, Hereford driving in Stalker against Jonathan Shook. 10-2 Canadiens. Stalker 1-2, 2 BB; Hereford 2-4, RBI; Gomez 2-4, RBI; Tovias 2-4;

In other news

June 26 – Cincy catcher Pat Sanford (.190, 2 HR, 9 RBI) will miss a month with knee tendinitis after appearing in only one game for the Cyclones following his inclusion in the Adam Braun deal with the Condors.
June 27 – The Knights out-hit the Loggers, 14-4, but still need 10 innings and four straight singles to beat them in overtime, 3-2.
June 30 – OCT SP Jose Vazquez (2-9, 4.88 ERA) sees the light of day, 3-hitting the Condors in a 5-0 Thunder whitewash.
July 1 – NYC SP Carlos Marron (8-6, 3.79 ERA) 2-hits the Loggers in a 7-0 brush-away.
July 2 – The Crusaders try to gear up for a playoff spot and add SP Robby Gonzalez (8-5, 3.29 ERA) from the Gold Sox, parting with two prospects.

Complaints and stuff

Okay, that Elks series wasn’t pretty, but I am an adherent of practicality. They came in four games back, they left four games back. We didn’t give up any ground (although the Crusaders gained a bit of ground on the weekend) to our most bitter enemies, and we have five games with the foundering Loggers coming up. Things could be a hell of a lot worse.

There is one more week to the All Star Game – neither Nunley nor Ramos will make it back by then. Technically Ryan Allan is also on the major league DL and will also come back some time after the Showcase, but we are not really holding our breath for him.

The July IFA period has begun and we are probably going to actually spend this season after completely passing in ’27 (not because we would have been under cap restrictions).

There were two highly-touted middle infielders around, 17-year-old Panamanian Mario Briones and 16-year-old Dominican Jon Ramos. Both individually would be enough to blow us into the maximum penalty for 2029, and we were not going to be able to afford both. The scouting department was looking at every bit of Twatbook info they could gobble up about those two.

Fun Fact: The Raccoons have had good luck with Dominican middle infielders named Ramos in the July IFA period, signing Alberto Ramos for $362k in July of 2022.

That was also reason enough to blow us past the cap that year, but despite a spotty health record I think it was worth it so far…
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:51 AM   #2719
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Raccoons (48-32) @ Loggers (30-49) – July 3-6, 2028

The Loggers were playing quite badly at this point, having run up a 10-game losing streak and foreclosure was on the very horizon for yet another season for them. They ranked second from the bottom in both runs scored and runs allowed, had the worst batting average, and even the worst defense. There was little, if anything to like about their team, and right now even .310 batter Firmino Cambra was in injury limbo and unavailable to begin this 5-game set in which the Coons would hope to pounce and pounce big. The season series was merely 2-0 in Portland’s favor right now, with the opener on Monday being a double header to account for an earlier rainout.

Projected matchups:
George James (6-7, 4.72 ERA) vs. Alex Contreras (2-8, 4.83 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (2-3, 6.23 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (5-6, 4.00 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (8-3, 2.41 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (4-2, 2.64 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (6-2, 3.70 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (3-9, 5.02 ERA)
Mark Roberts (8-3, 2.89 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenarez (6-6, 4.27 ERA)

The Raccoons would feed their two worst starters into the double header, but timing allowed for nothing else. Delgadillo was not on the roster to begin the double-header; he would be activated after the conclusion of the opener. In whose place was largely up to George James… Delgadillo had a 2.02 ERA in seven AAA starts.

Of course there was uncertainty as to how the Loggers would handle the double header. Rogers had made a few relief appearances recently, but could slot in for Tuesday, or make the second leg of the double header.

Game 1
POR: LF Morales – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – SS Gerster – P James
MIL: RF Schorsch – 2B Becker – CF W. Trevino – LF Rueda – 1B S. Garcia – 3B Holder – C Canody – SS Ferrer – P Contreras

Contreras retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced, wasting only a Tim Stalker homer in the fourth inning, which was the first run in a game in which James shuffled the bags full twice, and then twice made an exit by popping up the opposite pitcher, in the second and fourth innings. No such anchor was available in the fifth, and the Loggers tied the game on three singles by Tom Schorsch, Alexis Rueda, and Steve Garcia. James would not go through six following a leadoff walk to Tyler Canody, who was still at second with two outs when Kearney replaced James to face Tom Schorsch and got a tie-preserving groundout.

For Portland, Gerster and Millan would reach base in the seventh, but wouldn’t score; Tim Stalker however hit a leadoff double to left in the eighth and that looked neat to break a tie. Contreras loaded them up with a walk to Mora, then a single hit by Hereford. Three on, no outs, the horror. Righty Zach Weaver replaced Contreras against Rafael Gomez, struck him out, and held Portland to a single run, a Harenberg sac fly. Ricky Ohl, in his second inning of work, made the 2-1 stand up in the bottom 8th, and then Tim Stalker blasted Greg Becker for an insurance run in the ninth. Josh Boles shed a leadoff walk to Jason Parten in the bottom 9th, then struck out three to extend the Loggers’ losing streak to 11 games. 3-1 Coons. Stalker 4-5, 2 HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Gerster 2-4; Millan (PH) 1-1; Ohl 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, W (3-0);

With that, George James remained on the roster. The Raccoons instead deleted Jaden Booker (.181, 1 HR, 9 RBI) in favor of Delgadillo and would try to adapt from there on Tuesday.

Game 2
POR: SS Gerster – RF Millan – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – C Leal – 1B Harenberg – LF Spencer – CF Magallanes – P Delgadillo
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – 2B Becker – CF W. Trevino – LF Rueda – 1B S. Garcia – RF Schorsch – C Canody – SS Ferrer – P Rogers

There were two home runs for all the scoring in the first five innings, and neither was hit by the Raccoons. Vinny Diaz hit a solo piece in the third, and Alexis Rueda went yard for three in the bottom 5th. Delgadillo wasn’t bad per se, but surely was not excelling, either. And the Raccoons would not get any paw up against Rogers down the road either. He had a 3-hitter through five, a 4-hitter through seven, and all Delgadillo did was surrender another run in the seventh; leadoff double by Diaz, then two productive outs, and the Loggers’ streak was coming to an end sooner rather than later. Rogers shed another single in the eighth, Spencer hitting a soft liner with one out, and then nothing the rest of the way for a spot-start shutout with five strikeouts, as the Coons went down listlessly. 5-0 Loggers. Leal 2-4;

The Loggers won that game, but lost Firmino Cambra (.310, 4 HR, 30 RBI) until late August with a badly sprained ankle. Meanwhile, there were a few trade rumors swirling around Portland, but nothing of substance to report so far.

For now, the only roster change was to send Dan Delgadillo (2-4, 6.30 ERA) back to where he came from while whining for all the millions, and bringing up German Sanchez. Why not give that kid another whiff for the rest of the week?

Game 3
POR: SS Gerster – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Spencer – P Gutierrez
MIL: CF V. Diaz – 3B Parten – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – 1B S. Garcia – SS Ferrer – RF Rueda – 2B Rauser – P Shepherd

A Tovias sac fly put Portland up 1-0 in the second, but was precious little for having Hereford and Gomez in scoring position with nobody out. Yet that was all the scoring through five, with five strikeouts for either pitcher and three (POR) or two (MIL) hits per side. Morgan Shepherd and Jason Parten hit singles in the sixth, but Jim Young was retired on a strong play by Harenberg for the second out, and then Gutierrez managed to overpower consistent doombringer Willie Trevino on strikes to end the inning. The top 8th saw the Coons load the bases after Spencer and Rico Gutierrez made outs, Shepherd allowing Gerster on base on balls, then a single to Stalker, finally another walk to Abel Mora, then took his final bows. Zach Weaver inherited three on, two outs, and Rich Hereford hungry for food. He grounded out on an 0-2 pitch, sharply to Garcia, but it was still the third out… Rico retired nobody in the eighth, suffering straight doubles by Jason Rauser, Tom Schorsch, and Vinny Diaz, before Jason Parten singled in the third run of the inning and brought the curtain down for Rico. Jonathan Fleischer would get a double play and ultimately out of the inning, but the so far 4-hit Raccoons looked unlikely to make up a 3-1 deficit, at least until Parten’s throwing error put Gomez on second base with nobody out and the tying run at the plate against Greg Becker. Gomez advanced on Harenberg’s groundout, scored on a Tovias single, but Spencer flew out unhelpfully. Danny Morales pinch-hit, with Becker throwing a wild pitch to advance the tying run to scoring position. At that point, Magallanes ran for Tovias, but Becker recovered from a 3-0 count to strike out Morales and hand the Coons their second straight loss against the last-place Loggers. 3-2 Loggers.

Where might be our offense at…?

Game 4
POR: 2B Stalker – SS Gerster – CF Mora – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – LF Spencer – RF Millan – P Anderson
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – SS Ferrer – C J. Young – CF W. Trevino – RF Schorsch – LF Rueda – 2B Holder – 1B R. Amador – P D. Soto

The Loggers kept digging, hitting Anderson for three runs in the second inning on a leadoff single by Schorsch, then a Rueda triple, and ultimately two more hits by Roberto Amador and Vinny Diaz, while the Coons kept glaring and wondering what to do with those very unwieldy and not quite up-to-the-task pizza paddles they were handed. They would not get a single base hit against Danny Soto while Anderson was in the game, which in turn again was not very long. Schorsch hit a solo shot in the third, and he walked a pair and surrendered those runs on a 2-out double by again Schorsch in the bottom 5th to burrow in a 6-0 hole. Anderson was hit for with German Sanchez to begin the sixth inning, which still yielded no base knock for Portland. It was only with this game long consigned to the loss column that Rich Hereford hit a looper over Manny Ferrer for a 1-out single in the seventh. Harenberg immediately chopped into a double play. Leal hit a leadoff single in the eighth, and Omar Millan hit into a double play… although by then Nick Derks had been bled for a pair of runs in the bottom 7th and it was not exactly like it mattered anymore. Danny Soto and Joe West combined for a 3-hit shutout, stranding Tim Stalker at third base to end the game. 8-0 Loggers.

Offense? Anyone?

Interlude: Panic Trade

Portland Raccoons management snapped overnight and arranged for a lineup-reinforcing trade with the Bayhawks. The Raccoons picked up 35-year-old LF/RF/1B Jon Correa (.270, 13 HR, 49 RBI) from the Bayhawks in exchange for three players, OF/1B Omar Millan (.264, 1 HR, 14 RBI), AAA CL Dan McLin (2-3, 5.40 ERA), and “prospect” Matt Triolo. The last one was a trash heap pickup earlier in the year.

Correa figures to take over the starting duties in leftfield with Jarod Spencer in a wild slump and no help at all; same for Millan ever since May. Correa was a right-handed batter, which did not mesh too well with Danny Morales, but nothing was meshing well with Kevin Harenberg and we were running out of patience.

Raccoons (48-32) @ Loggers (30-49) – July 3-6, 2028

Game 5
POR: 2B Stalker – SS Gerster – 3B Hereford – RF Correa – LF Morales – C Tovias – 1B Gomez – CF Magallanes – P Roberts
MIL: CF V. Diaz – 3B Parten – C Canody – RF Schorsch – 1B S. Garcia – SS Ferrer – LF Rueda – 2B Becker – P Colmenarez

First time Jon Correa came to the plate as a Raccoon, he knocked in Butch Gerster with a single to put the Critters up 1-0. It was the third base hit in a row for the team, starting with a Gerster double and then progressing with straight singles through Hereford, Correa, and Morales until Elias Tovias came up with the bases loaded and one out, hit a roller up the middle that could have been two, but Ferrer didn’t quite reach it and it escaped for an RBI single. Rafael Gomez, dropped to #7, doubled over Vinny Diaz’ head to make it 4-0, and it was 5-0 after a Magallanes groundout, his second RBI on the season (…?!). What looked like a counter-rout became a close game by the middle innings. Roberts spilled two runs on three hits in the bottom 2nd, then another one in the fifth, which Colmenarez led off with a triple and eventually came around on a sac fly, half an inning after the Coons had Schorsch throw out Rich Hereford at home on a wannabe sac fly for Danny Morales, which really only ended up a 9-2 double play to end the inning, and it was 5-3 through five innings.

Portland stirred with two outs in the sixth; Magallanes innocently enough drew a walk, but Roberts got a single to drop in and that brought up Tim Stalker, who hit a liner to left that was nowhere near Rueda and fell for an RBI double. This knocked out the left-hander Colmenarez in favor of righty Mike Tandy, which provoked the Coons to bat Abel Mora for Gerster in an attempt to brute-force things. Tandy lost Mora on balls, bringing up Rich Hereford with three on and two outs. Tandy threw one outside, then one inside, and Rich liked that one a lot, briefly, before hitting it 425 feet to right – GRAAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMM!!!!

Roberts whiffed nine in 6.2 innings before bumping up against 110 pitches and that was enough in a 10-3 game. Fleischer replaced him and got a grounder from Vinny Diaz to German Sanchez at short to end the inning and strand Roberts’ final runner, Roberto Amador, at first base. Kevin Harenberg entered with Fleischer in a double switch and hit a solo jack off Cory Dew, ex-Coon, in the eighth inning. Alexis Rueda would hit a 2-piece off Billy Brotman (half the runs charged Fleischer) in the ninth, but the Coons salvaged a second game in the 5-game set rather convincingly in the end. 11-5 Coons. Gerster 2-3, 2B; Hereford 4-5, HR, 4 RBI; Harenberg (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI;

Raccoons (50-35) @ Titans (42-45) – July 7-9, 2028

The Titans were still wondering what had happened, as they sat in fifth place, nine games out, and ranked only seventh in runs scored and sixth in runs allowed. Their run differential was merely +9 (Coons: +36). Also, the Coons had owned them so far in 2028; they had won seven of nine games from Boston. With a sweep in this set right before the All Star Game, the Coons could seal their first season series win against the Titans since 2021! But there would still be plenty of time in the last two series of the season…

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (8-5, 3.05 ERA) vs. Lorenzo Viamontes (3-8, 4.11 ERA)
George James (6-7, 4.53 ERA) vs. Dustin Cory (3-2, 4.75 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (8-4, 2.52 ERA) vs. Jeremy Waite (4-8, 2.91 ERA)

Waite had probably run over a family of black cats during the offseason. All three starters were right-handed.

There was no contingency plan should Rico Gutierrez make the All Star Game, except sending the wonky Anderson on short rest and patching it up with the long men, Fleischer (who was already on 49.1 innings!) and Derks.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – LF Correa – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – 2B Sanchez – P Nomura
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS S. Williams – 1B B. Lloyd – RF Kuramoto – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – CF Jacobs – C A. Arias – P Viamontes

Stalker singled and Hereford tripled in the opening inning to put Nomura in the lead right away, and it could have been more than 1-0 if Stephen Williams hadn’t leapt like a cat to shag a low liner by Rafael Gomez to end the first inning. Nomura, fresh off a 10-run spanking, didn’t fare well once more and fell behind right in the bottom 1st; Willie Vega singled, stole second, scored on Williams’ double, and the Titans brought Williams around on two productive outs, Yasuhiro Kuramoto getting the RBI on the sac fly to center. Portland rallied in the fourth, taking the lead again on a messy 2-out play. Hereford and Gomez had hit 1-out singles, after which Harenberg flew out to John Jacobs in center. A wild pitch advanced the runners, after which Leal dropped a ball into shallow right-center, with Hereford in to tie and Gomez sent to move ahead. Kuramoto had a play, but at the same time Leal went for second base. Cutoff man Rhett West looked home, then decided against it and started chasing down Leal, who stayed alive juuuust long enough to allow Rafael Gomez across home plate for a 3-2 lead, then was tagged out to end the inning.

But Nomura would not hold on. Kuramoto opened the sixth with a triple to right, easily tied the score on Adam Corder’s single up the middle, and Nomura himself would plate the go-ahead run with a throwing error on John Jacobs’ roller. He finished the inning, but left annoyed after six innings, trailing 4-3 and having struck out but a single batter. For the Coons, the leadoff batter would be on base in the seventh, when Harenberg walked and got doubled up by Leal, and the eighth, when Spencer singled in place of Kevin Surginer. The runner advanced on the next two batters making outs, which was not yet productive, but Jon Correa’s clean-as-a-whistle single to left was. That one tied the game with two down, but Hereford grounded out, and the Titans untied it against Ricky Ohl, who walked Rhett West with one out, and conceded the run on Alex Arias’ 2-out single. The Coons would have nothing aginst Ben Marx in the ninth… 5-4 Titans. Hereford 3-4, 3B, RBI; Spencer (PH) 1-1;

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – LF Correa – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – 2B Spencer – P James
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – 1B B. Lloyd – RF Good – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – C Skinner – P Waite

George James remained crummy and at the mercy of the opposition, who moved ahead 1-0 on Keith Spataro’s 2-out single in the second after Adam Corder seemed to have defused leadoff singles by Matt Good and Rhett West with a double play, and then after Tim Stalker’s game-tying homer in the top 3rd could not compensate for a throwing error by Armando Leal, and conceded the go-ahead run on a single by West. He did flash some bat in the fifth, though, hitting a double to center after Spencer’s shy leadoff single. That put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with nobody out. Tim Stalker fell behind 1-2 against Waite, but then came through with a clean single to left, knotting the game at two, Mora also came through with an important sac fly, and then Jon Correa came through more than anybody yet, hitting a 2-run homer to left that left Willie Vega looking very sad, while the scoreboard showed 5-2 Coons at this point.

Harldy enough for James… Mike Stank, the reliever, hit a single, Adrian Reichardt, the omnipresent pest, hit a double, and the Titans inched up on a run-scoring groundout by Vega and a Bob Lloyd single. Matt Good doubled into the rigthfield corner with two outs, Lloyd was sent, but thrown out at home by “Murder Arm” Gomez, just barely preserving a 5-4 lead. Jarod Spencer also remained unhelpful; he hit into a double play when Harenberg and Leal led off the sixth with singles, but at least that forced our paw to can James and send up Danny Morales with the runner on third and two down. Morales doubled out of Reichardt’s reach, no lean feat, and the Coons gained a run again, 6-4. Mike Stank hit back-to-back Critters, leaving Abel Mora with a broken foot and replaced by Magallanes (…!), and then Lloyd shagged Correa’s grounder to end the inning with three on base.

Fleischer got five outs from Boston, whiffing four, then allowed a 2-out single to Reichardt in the seventh. Brotman came on in a double switch and quadruple shuffle that removed Harenberg for Gerster, but failed, allowing a stolen base, a walk to Vega, then an RBI single to Lloyd, 6-5. Kuramoto batted for Good, with Ohl coming out for Portland in a most crucial at-bat … and got the K! … and then it was still all for naught, the pen collapsing for good in the eighth inning. Brotman put Corder on base, and the Titans then unwrapped serial doubles. Spataro to tie off Ohl, Johnny Stuckey to go ahead off Kearney, and then another run scored on Reichardt’s single. That put Ryan Corkum in charge of an 8-6 lead in the ninth inning. Tim Stalker doubled off the fence, but that brought up .160 menace Juan Magallanes for no good reason other than the Mora injury. There was no other centerfielder left and he had to bat, ticking a 3-2 pitch into right for a single. Tying runs on the corners, no outs! And they choked again. Correa struck out. Hereford only hit a sac fly. And Gomez popped out to shallow left. 8-7 Titans. Stalker 3-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 1-2, RBI; Magallanes 1-1; Morales (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI;

Abel Mora went to the DL with a broken foot, which was so not helpful… He would miss about a month. New centerfielders weren’t growing on trees, and we had to make do with Wilson Rodriguez for at least this next game.

Kyle Anderson (6-3, 4.36 ERA) would also have to make do for the Sunday game. Rico was sent to the All Star Game and thus scratched from this start.

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – LF Correa – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – CF Rodriguez – P Anderson
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – 1B B. Lloyd – RF Good – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – P Dyer

Another ex-Coon to undo the Coons? Dave Dyer (3-7, 4.43 ERA) was sent into the Sunday game, but that one first saw Elias Tovias send in a reminder that he was still alive, hitting a 2-run homer in the second inning for the first damage on the scoreboard. Rafael Gomez topped that off with a 2-run double in the third, plating Spencer and Hereford to make it 4-0. Now only Anderson had to hold up through at least five innings, and then we’d patch it from there. If nothing else, Anderson outlived Dave Dyer, who retired Rodriguez and Anderson to begin the fourth, then shed singles to Stalker and Spencer, walked Correa, and then fell to Hereford’s 2-run single into shallow left that ran the tally to 6-0. Brent Beene came in, threw a wild pitch, then conceded the last two of Dyer’s runners on a soft 2-run single by Rafael Gomez. Anderson would barely amount to qualifying for the win, crawling through the last two innings at snail’s pace and surrendering a run in each, but at least got through five with an 8-2 lead.

The Critters hoped for two innings from Nick Derks, but got nothing but three on and nobody out thanks to straight walks to Adam Corder, Keith Spataro, and Alex Arias. Billy Brotman got a run-scoring double play from Johnny Stuckey, then surrendered another run on a Reichardt single, which was almost expected because it was Adrian Reichardt. Vega struck out, leaving Portland still up by four. They had the tying run at the plate by the eighth, then courtesy of Fleischer retiring nobody against the bottom of the order. Surginer came on, struck out Reichardt, then got a Vega grounder to Spencer, who’s feed to second base was dropped by Stalker for an error. One run scored, another run scored on Bob Lloyd’s single, and suddenly it was 8-6. Good hit a groundout to plate the third run, and then the next collapse was complete when Rhett West hit a 2-out, 2-run double over the head of Wilson Rodriguez. The Titans scored six in the inning and swept the useless Raccoons under the rug and right out of the park. 10-8 Titans. Spencer 2-4, BB; Hereford 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Gomez 2-5, 4 RBI; Harenberg 2-4;

Oh god.

In other news

July 3 – SAC C David Drews (.291, 8 HR, 49 RBI) will miss two weeks with a posterior cruciate ligament strain.
July 4 – PIT SP Mel Lira (5-9, 3.29 ERA) 1-hits the Rebels in a 2-0 shutout. The Rebels’ only base hit was a single by Franklin Olmos (.208, 4 HR, 16 RBI) at the very start of the game.
July 4 – The Canadiens lose OF Brian Wojnarowski (.287, 9 HR, 26 RBI) for the season after the 2027 Player of the Year has torn his labrum.
July 6 – The Indians trade SP David Elliott (4-5, 3.31 ERA) to the Buffaloes for two prospects. The package includes #69 prospect SP Natanael Abrao.
July 6 – A mild oblique strain will keep CIN OF Ken Gibbs (.277, 7 HR, 30 RBI) out of games for two weeks.
July 7 – The Knights send OF Mark Walker (.280, 9 HR, 36 RBI) to the Warriors for two prospects.
July 7 – MIL C Jim Young (.252, 6 HR, 41 RBI) could be out of the year with a bone spur having to be removed from his elbow.
July 8 – The Wolves have to swallow two devastating injuries. SAL SP John Fees (7-6, 3.90 ERA) is done for the year with bone chips in his elbow. Worse yet, the career of LF/CF Nick Cobb (.259, 2 HR, 37 RBI) is over after the 28-year-old outfielder collided head-first with the outfield wall and fractured his skull. He is alive and rather well, but he will never play baseball again.
July 8 – LVA LF/RF Tom Dunlap (.273, 5 HR, 23 RBI) will be out for six weeks with a torn meniscus.
July 8 – The Pacifics will be without LF/CF Chris McEwen (.237, 6 HR, 41 RBI) for a month or more owing to plantar fasciitis.
July 8 – The Scorpions get mauled, 19-2, by the Pacifics, with LAP 2B/SS Josh Ralston (.264, 1 HR, 18 RBI) leading the way with four base hits and six RBI.
July 9 – After his first outing with the Bayhawks, recently acquired SFB CL Dan McLin (2-3, 5.23 ERA, 1 SV) is headed for Tommy John surgery with a torn UCL.
July 9 – The Wolves beat the Gold Sox 7-5 on the strength of a 7-run eighth inning, and despite only netting seven base hits to the Gold Sox’ dozen.

Complaints and stuff

End times. Nothing but bottomless wells. Collapse. Desolation. Loneliness.

For no good reason at all, the miserable Raccoons had a whopping SEVEN All Stars… although this included import Jon Correa. Six more players were also going to the showcase that had been on the team for longer, including Rico Gutierrez, who had his start on Sunday wiped out for it. Mark Roberts, Ricky Ohl, Kevin Surginer, Rich Hereford, and Tim Stalker also got nods. It was the 5th All Star nomination for Rich Hereford, the fourth for Roberts, the third for Ohl, the second for Correa, and the first for the other players.

Jon Correa is in the last year of a flat 4-yr, $8.32M contract, so the Coons did not take on any long-term commitments with the Bayhawks trade. With Ramos coming back after the All Star Game (maybe to stay for once, who knows…), the Coons should have a very dense and dangerous lineup again. Nunley will probably come off the bench once he returns (but will go for rehab in the minors first). Yeah, it is a “win now” move, but we had already been annoyed by Millan and McLin, so it is not like we bled ourselves dry with the deal.

Never mind the surprise UCL tear for McLin in his first outing for San Fran. No – no exchanges!

The extra commitment for 2028 however meant that we dropped out of the bidding for the most pricey international players. We have signed three international players so far anyway, most interesting perhaps being Jonathan Galvan, a 16-year-old righty from the Dominican that has the makes of a groundballer.

Fun Fact: On June 27, 2007 the Raccoons led the division by 10 1/2 games.

The Crusaders won the World Series that year.
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Old 02-05-2019, 10:16 AM   #2720
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All Star Game

Raccoons position players drove in all the runs in the Continental League’s 4-3 victory over the Federal League in Oklahoma City. Rich Hereford started at second base and went 1-for-4, but that hit was a 2-run homer off ex-Coon Tadasu Abe, while Jon Correa entered as pinch-hitter and replacement for the Elks’ Tony Coca and went 1-for-1 with a 2-run double and a walk, an effort for which he was named MVP of the contest.

Abe hung with the loss, while the Condors’ Jonas Mejia took the win.

The other Raccoons in the game had a bit of a mixed bag. Rico Gutierrez pitched a scoreless inning, but Mark Roberts allowed a run in his outing. Kevin Surginer faced two batters and retired both. Tim Stalker went 0-1 as pinch-hitter, while Ricky Ohl did the same – the reliever was sent to pinch-hit (!!) and struck out.

Raccoons (50-38) vs. Loggers (35-52) – July 13-16, 2028

The season series was now merely 4-3 in Portland’s favor after a mild disaster in Milwaukee last week. The Loggers were still 11th in runs scored, but now 9th in runs allowed after a solid pitching performance in that forgettable 5-game set.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (8-5, 3.12 ERA) vs. Alex Contreras (2-9, 4.59 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (8-4, 2.52 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (4-9, 4.67 ERA)
George James (6-7, 4.58 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (5-7, 4.20 ERA)
Mark Roberts (9-3, 2.95 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenarez (6-7, 4.73 ERA)

The Coons’ rotation was a bit dictated by All Star Game events. Nomura didn’t pitch, so would start the back half of the season. Rico threw only eight pitches and would go out on three days’ rest. James would slide in next, since I didn’t want our three southpaws all go in a row, so Roberts slid into Sunday. But next week offered a day off on Thursday, so we could skip James at that point.

The Loggers had no All Stars whatsoever; they could do whatever they pleased with their rotation and assorted personnel.

Coming into the series, the Raccoons activated Ryan Allan from the DL and sent Wilson Rodriguez back to St. Petersburg.

Game 1
MIL: CF V. Diaz – 3B Parten – LF W. Trevino – 1B W. Aquino – C S. Garcia – SS Ferrer – RF Rueda – 2B Rauser – P Contreras
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – LF Correa – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Allan – P Nomura

Offense was slow to start this 4-game set. The Loggers had a first inning double (Vinny Diaz), a sixth inning double (Steve Garcia), precious little in between, but the Coons also only pooled five singles in five innings, but for once managed to hit three in a row between Correa, Hereford, and Gomez in the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead. Nomura remained around through seven, shedding a 1-out single to Jason Rauser, who was bunted to second, but then stranded there upon Diaz’ groundout to Spencer. But when Nomura walked Jason Parten to begin the eighth, that was a problem. It put him on 100 pitches, no left-handed batters anywhere near, and the Coons went to Ricky Ohl. Weirdly dysfunctional Ricky walked Willie Trevino, threw a wild pitch, then gave up a disturbingly long blast to Wilson Aquino that sunk the Coons once more. Rauser homered off Kearney in the ninth to establish a 3-run gap, but the Coons brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom 9th. Unfortunately, that was Harenberg facing the lefty Greg Becker with runners on the corners and one out. A ball sharply hit to the shortstop, that Manny Ferrer inexplicably missed, and up came the winning run in Tovias following that “RBI single”. He hit into that double play the Coons always deserved and always got… 4-2 Loggers. Stalker 2-4; Correa 2-4, 2B; Gomez 2-4, RBI; Nomura 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K and 1-2;

Alberto Ramos returned for the Friday game. Hopefully that was The Spark, because I could not think of any other way to make a goddamn fire here anymore…

…and then there was no Friday game on account of another rainout. A double header was scheduled for Saturday, which was not going to help Portland any one bit. In the meantime, the Crusaders inched to within a single game in the standings…

Game 2
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – C S. Garcia – LF W. Trevino – RF Schorsch – CF Hollingsworth – 1B W. Aquino – SS Ferrer – 2B Parten – P Shepherd
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Correa – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Allan – P Gutierrez

Rico allowed nobody on base through five innings except for Jason Parten, twice. Parten hit an infield single in the third, got nailed in the fifth, but never got around to score. The Coons took a tender 1-0 lead again on a Hereford homer in the bottom 2nd, and that was all for the early innings. Rico nailed Willie Trevino in the thigh in the sixth, with the Loggers having to replace him with Roberto Amador, but a Tom Schorsch grounder to short solved that problem, too.

The bottom 6th would see **** get real, potentially. Ramos led off with a walk, stole second base, his 16th this year in 29 games, Stalker walked, and Jon Correa fooled them all for an infield single between Shepherd and Vinny Diaz. Three on, no outs, Hereford up, but Steve Hollingsworth held him to a sac fly in center. That made it 2-0, and a Rafael Gomez single restocked the bags for Harenberg. Shepherd did him a favor and nailed him, 3-0, and then Tovias’ lineout to short and Allan’s grounder to Parten ended the inning. Rico in turn shed a run on two singles and a walk in the seventh, also reached 98 pitches through seven and led off the bottom of the inning. Nothing good happened there, while the eighth saw Brotman give up a 2-out single to Alexis Rueda, but struck out Hollingsworth… except that Tovias lost the ball, couldn’t recover it, and Hollingsworth reached on the uncaught third strike. Brotman followed up with an angry K to Aquino to keep the 3-1 score in place for Josh Boles, who hadn’t gotten into a meaningful game in a while. With one out the bags were full thanks to a Ferrer single, a walk dawn by Tyler Canody, and a Diaz single. Of course it blew up – Steve Garcia lashed a liner to left, out of reach for Danny Morales, and the Loggers emptied the bags on the triple. Roberto Amador hit a sac fly, and the Coons were spiraling into complete annihilation. Bottom 9th, Gerster batted for Allen, walked, and Spencer singled. The winning run was up once more. Ramos hit a little looper into left to load the bases. Armando Leal batted for the battered Boles, Becker lost Leal on balls, and was now near getting battered, too. Spencer to tie, Ramos to win – Correa batting with nobody out. Another liner to left, and Amador didn’t get that one, either. Another single, Spencer scored, but Ramos had to hold, all the speed be damned. Tied ballgame, Hereford up to bat, and Becker came apart for good, surrendering a single to right-center. 6-5 Blighters. Ramos 1-2, 3 BB; Correa 2-5, RBI; Hereford 2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K;

We would not put Ramos in both ends of the double header just after the injury. Maybe as pinch-hitter, but he would not make two starts on Saturday.

Game 3
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – C Canody – LF W. Trevino – RF Schorsch – 1B W. Aquino – SS Ferrer – CF Cooper – 2B Rauser – P D. Soto
POR: 2B Stalker – SS Gerster – RF Gomez – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – 1B Harenberg – C Leal – CF Magallanes – P James

George James got flogged, to put things in short form. The Loggers tagged him for eight hits and six runs in the first three innings; one in the first, one in the second, and an Andrew Cooper slam in the third. The Coons couldn’t be choosers, shrugged, and let him continue to do whatever his idea of pitching was. Cooper had runners on the corners and one out in the fifth, hit into a run-scoring double play, but at this point it was the outs that mattered rather than the runs. In terms of runs, the Loggers led 7-0 and Danny Soto had a 3-hitter cooking. Harenberg led off the bottom 5th with a double and went on to score on a Diaz error as the direness continued. In the bottom 7th the Coons put two on, but Jon Correa struck out when he pinch-hit for Kearney with two outs. The following inning, Stalker, Gerster, and Gomez all reached to begin the inning. Three on, no outs for Hereford, with the tying run still some distance away. Hereford struck out, Morales hit into a double play, and darkness was going to consume us all. 7-1 Loggers. Gomez 1-2, 2 BB; Harenberg 2-4, 2 2B; Derks 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

Game 4
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – C S. Garcia – LF W. Trevino – RF Schorsch – 1B W. Aquino – SS Ferrer – CF Cooper – 2B Rauser – P Colmenarez
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Correa – 3B Hereford – LF Morales – 1B Gomez – C Leal – CF Magallanes – P Roberts

The Raccoons bitterly needed to at least come up with a tie in the 4-game set with their lead down to 1.5 games, and Mark Roberts seemed like the guy who could deliver; he 1-hit the Loggers through three, then surrendered a Trevino triple in the fourth. That came with one out, but Roberts blasted both Schorsch and Aquino away on strikes to maintain a 2-0 shutout, which the Coons had scratched out on run-scoring groundouts by Morales (plating Hereford in the second) and Ramos (scoring Magallanes in the third). But the Raccoons could not tack on despite good chances in the middle innings, f.e. Gomez and Leal stranding Hereford and Morales in scoring position with one out, and Roberts wandered into a tight spot in the seventh. He hit Aquino, then allowed singles to Ferrer and Cooper. The Loggers, with one out, forced the issue, sending right-hander Jason Parten to pinch-hit for Rauser, Parten, however, popped out on the first pitch, and Roberts claimed Colmenarez’ guts for his tenth K in the contest, stranding a full set. But the Coons fudged up a Gomez double in the bottom 7th – Leal got walked intentionally, and Magallanes hit into a 6-4-3 – and Roberts filled the bags again in the eighth in the same manner. 1-out hit batter, two singles, three on, one out, and this time he was on 108 pitches and yanked. This time the Critters sought refuge in the arms of Kevin Surginer against Wilson Aquino, who had murdered them on Thursday. This time he struck out … but Surginer walked Ferrer to force home a 2-out run, then ran another full count against Andrew Cooper… but Cooper struck out, and the Coons wiggled out with a lead, but went on to strand Ramos and Correa in the bottom 8th anyway. Shaky Josh Boles would face the 8-9-1 batters in the ninth. He would strain our nerves to the max. After Harenberg, a defensive replacement, shagged an Alexis Rueda line for the first out, Boles got Amador on a strikeout, but then bled a single to Diaz. Steve Garcia ran a full count with Boles missing generously time and again, and he did miss again on the 3-2… but so did Garcia. The whiff secured the series split. 2-1 Critters. Roberts 7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, W (10-3);

In other news

July 10 – The Rebels send SP Jaden Baldwin (4-9, 5.58 ERA) to the Cyclones in exchange for two prospects including #55 prospect INF Jose Madrid.
July 11 – It could be season over for TIJ SP Jorge Villalobos (7-4, 3.48 ERA) after the 31-year-old starter has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus.
July 13 – The Blue Sox trade SS/3B Mike Martin (.277, 5 HR, 24 RBI) to the Bayhawks for veteran lefty Danny Munos (1-2, 5.20 ERA, 1 SV) and a third-rate prospect.
July 13 – SAC RF/LF Pablo Sanchez (.335, 4 HR, 46 RBI) will miss the rest of the month with a herniated disc.
July 13 – Nashville’s third-string catcher Craig Lundy (.179, 0 HR, 8 RBI) goes 5-for-5 and misses the cycle by the long ball in the Blue Sox’ wild 15-11 loss to the Cyclones.
July 16 – The Buffaloes pick up 1B Jay Elder (.263, 6 HR, 35 RBI) from the Crusaders in exchange for 25-year-old AAA OF Chris Reardon (no stats).

Complaints and stuff

The third-rate prospect in the Mike Martin deal was Matt Triolo, who the Bayhawks had received in the Jon Correa deal. Whenever a guy has this sort of turnover, he is either the greatest blender of the decade, or saw teams see something that others don’t. Oh I am sure we will find out before long…

And, oh, to have a bevvy of prospects. The Raccoons had none, also no depth, and found it near impossible to make more moves. I was after a few players this week, mostly pitchers to plug some holes in a swingman role, but could not get anything done. Same issue as always – Ramos or Vamos.

Truth be told, a lot of issues could be fixed (like Derks/Fleischer conspiring to blow an 8-run lead last Sunday) if we could trust Dan Delgadillo again…

Next week, Crusaders (shivers) and Baybirds, both on the road. Not like series in San Fran have ever been good to us…

Fun Fact: The damn Elks have not made the playoffs since the 2012 season.

(cues everybody’s least favorite tune, “Ray Gilbert and the Darkness”)
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Portland Raccoons, 55 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

Resident Mets Cynic



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