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Old 03-30-2014, 11:54 PM   #781
dynaboyj
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Grant West will be missed. I hope he does well, wherever he goes, in his last few years.
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Old 03-31-2014, 08:20 PM   #782
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynaboyj View Post
Grant West will be missed. I hope he does well, wherever he goes, in his last few years.
Well, from what I am seeing, there is some interest in him. I heard that. I can't tell you no more at this point, no, no-no.

--

Long update up until mid-to-end December. Merry Christmas 1994. Also had some brainlock in the middle of it, because of – ah, just read it yourself.

--

December 5 – The Rebels are bound to get better with the signing of former Falcon LF/RF Jose Madrid (.296, 50 HR, 391 RBI), who is to earn $6.36M over six years.
December 5 – The Warriors add ex-BOS LF/RF/1B Hjalmar Flygt (.320, 65 HR, 757 RBI) for 4-yr, $4.7M.
December 7 – Changing sides (of the border): The Raccoons announce that they have signed former Canadien 1B/2B David Brewer for 6-yr, $9M! The 27-yr old Brewer is .346 with 46 HR and 469 RBI over his career. The signing forfeits the Raccoons’ first round pick for the 1995 draft to the Canadiens.
December 7 – 28-yr old ex-DEN INF Jesus Garcia (.257, 105 HR, 510 RBI) agrees to a 5-yr, $5.65M contract with the Condors.
December 7 – The Miners trade 26-yr old INF Mike Todd (.291, 15 HR, 111 RBI) to the Warriors for 28-yr old MR Brit Osborne (8-10, 3.24 ERA, 9 SV) in a 4-player deal with prospects also switched.
December 8 – The Stars land 2B/1B Pedro Villa (.287, 82 HR, 712 RBI). The 33-yr old ex-Bayhawk will earn $2.42M over three years.
December 9 – Oklahoma tries to defend their title with the addition of 27-yr old SP Jon Robinson (81-73, 3.76 ERA), who pitched for the Thunder before, but spent the last year with the Warriors! Robinson will make $5.64M over six years.
December 21 – The Condors add 35-yr old ex-ATL MR Mike Dye for 1-yr, $364k. Dye is a former closer for the Loggers, Wolves, and Knights, and possesses 381 saves along with a 65-86 record and 3.19 ERA in 1,042 career games.

(shivers) Nine million! It took nine million to get David Brewer! (gasps)

Well, in Brewer we have top defense, a top leadoff man, batting left-handed, and a nice guy for the clubhouse, signed for his career peak. He has a history of injuries, but Daniel Hall was on the roster for parts of 17 years – because of injuries, and despite injuries.

By the way, Hall is still looking for a contract somewhere, but is really unlikely go get one. He’ll be 40 in June.

The Brewer signing pretty much set us up for 1995 as far as position players were concerned. Kinnear, Reece, and Green in the outfield, Vinson behind the plate, and Baldivía, Brewer, Salazar, and O’Morrissey around the diamond. Rodriguez, Higgins, Ingall, Quinn, and Jin as the backups. Well, I am not 100% happy with Jin. But an upgrade would a) come costly, and b) would most likely still have no chance to get into the starting lineup. So, we can play Jin just as well. The main problem is on the defensive side: Reece and Green are the only two guys with acceptable centerfield defense among the group. You CAN stick either Quinn or Jin there, but they lack the range necessary to keep your team from losing. We have no “Steve Walker type” player on the roster anymore, who can reliably play several infield AND outfield positions on the fly. Yeah well, we’ll have an eye on that.

But we are still three pitchers short of the dozen we need.

So far, our rotation has Kisho Saito, Jason Turner, Miguel Lopez, and Scott Wade. A year ago, that would have been a great starting point. But three of them either struggled for extended periods or were hurt outright. We NEED a strong #2, and preferably right-handed.

The pen has Jackie Lagarde, Juan Martinez, Ken Burnett, Gabriel De La Rosa, and Tony Vela – in no particular order. Now, I realize that De La Rosa was awesome as a swing man last season, but his stamina is too low to give consistent deep outings. Sometimes he is tired after five innings. He is a 2-pitch guy like Scott Wade, but with much lower stamina, and last year he appeared in 40 games (10 starts) with a 6-2 record and 1.46 ERA. Looking at the starts, he was actually 4-1 in those with a 1.07 ERA!! Still, that stamina issue is going to put additional strain on our bullpen, and I am not exactly thrilled. Plus, we have a top prospect in AAA in Antonio Donis, who last season was 14-9 with a 3.70 ERA in AAA. He is a left-hander, but we could probably work this out somehow with three southpaws (Saito and Lopez in addition to Donis) in the rotation. If we plan on bringing up Donis mid-season, is it actually a good move to sign a high-prized free agent? Donis whiffed 246 batters in AAA last year. His stuff is murderous. He should be able to make the cut up here.

Now, a different idea: what about De La Rosa CLOSING games? His stuff rating is a sweet 20. His movement is a sweet 20, with enough control to harness the heat. Heck, even starting part-time, he had a 3.1 K/BB ratio last year. He might just kill batters in a closer role. He will be 24 come Opening Day. That’s young. That’s really young.

By the way, Grant West was 24 when he became our regular closer in the middle of the 1981 season, his first full year in the Bigs. Just sayin’.

Well. We have to add three arms somewhere. The problem here is, that we also have to up our scouting budget a tick, since the league average has gone up as well. And we have to keep the draft in mind. And after splurging a fortune on David Brewer, we have only some $300k available. That is not going to get you a lot of strong arms. In fact, it may get you one. And then you’re done. Can we save money somewhere? Roll in our payroll (omitting the minimum players):

1B/2B David Brewer - $1.4M ($9M through 2000)
INF Jorge Salazar - $900k ($1.8M through 1996)
SP Kisho Saito - $900k ($3.8M through 1998)
OF Neil Reece - $750k ($5.8M through 2000)
SP Jason Turner - $525k ($1.075M through 1996)
-
3B/1B Ben O’Morrissey - $500k ($1.05M through 1996)
OF Royce Green - $413k (will be arbitration eligible) *
C David Vinson - $400k ($1.275M through 1997)
LF Vern Kinnear - $360k (will be arbitration eligible) *
MR Jackie Lagarde - $300k (will be free agent) #
-
MR Juan Martinez - $275k ($550k through 1996)
LF/RF Bobby Quinn - $260k (will be free agent) #
MR Ken Burnett - $250k ($500k through 1996)
SP Scott Wade - $240k ($500k through 1996)
INF Matt Higgins - $233k ($700k through 1997)
-
C Jose Rodriguez - $150k (will be arbitration eligible) *
MR Albert Matthews - $149k (will be arbitration eligible) *
MR Daniel Miller - $149k (will be arbitration eligible) *

* Service times (y.d): Matthews (4.012), Green (3.019), Kinnear (3.008), Miller (2.144), Rodriguez (2.142)

Does it look like I oversplurged on Brewer? Ah, maybe. But less money wouldn’t have gotten him. In fact, I first made an $8.4M offer (which already would have been a big league record), which was turned down. Less money really would not have gotten him. I don’t dare to tell you what kind of incentives I threw in, which could well balloon the total worth of the contract over $10M by the time it is fulfilled. -.-

And yes, at month’s end, I am constantly amazed that there is still food in my fridge, with all my overspending. (But that budget cut really messed up my plans… and getting Brewer was imperative because he is a PERFECT FIT in capital letters)

It looks like we have to make a trade somewhere to unload one of the big contracts. Big in this case would mean 500 grand or more. There are not that many contracts on the team amounting to that. Two are SP’s, one is Brewer, one is Neil Reece, who may be franchise poster boy #2, and that brings us to O-Mo and Salazar.

Now: trading either one of these, you have to ask yourself where your replacement is gonna come from. The first answer to both may be Matt Higgins, who plays all positions on the infield. We now, what Higgins brings to the table offensively: a decent average, OBP a bit below average, little power, but blistering speed. How does he fare on the left side of the field? The numbers are not all that conclusive, since he has spent very little time at either position in his career. But you can see trends. No matter what the number of innings played at short in any given year: he never managed a positive zone rating. His 3B defense was much better compared to that, roughly at O-Mo’s level. But Higgins can neither replace Salazar’s .360ish OBP, nor O-Mo’s extra base and home run power.

So, Higgins is not a great permanent replacement for either one of these two. Caution though: Salazar is 34, he may show signs of aging soon, but not yet. He has been fairly consistent the five years he’s been in Portland (time is flying!), with a peak in 1991-92, when he reached almost .800 OPS due to a .380ish OBP. O-Mo has played four years as a full time starter, and exceeded .800 OPS once, in 1993 (.854), before crashing to .711 last year. He does it with extra base power. Salazar is a singles hitter, with at most 20% of his hits for extra bases. For O-Mo, that number is easily north of 30%, approaching 40% in some years. For comparison: Daniel Hall in his most powerful years reached 45% extra base hits. Also, for all his power, Tetsu Osanai f.e. *never* reached 40% extra base hits – while he hit tons of home runs, he hit even more singles.

[You would measure the type of player O-Mo is by his 20/20 seasons in MLB. Home run power is very low in the ABL, so 20/20 ain’t a very good measure. He has one such season (1993 again), but then again, hitting 20 home runs is so hard to do, even in the Raccoons’ shoe box-sized park, that 20/20 is a worthless stat around here. Neither can I come up with a replacement for it. We will just live with this, I guess.]

Now, we used Salazar in leadoff for most of his time in Portland. We won’t need to use him in leadoff this year: we have Brewer! His career OBP is .418, so he knows a thing or two about getting on base. That still doesn’t change that Higgins doesn’t offer quite enough D to start at short every day.

Ah. Decisions to be made. Mentally I find myself drifting from one issue to the next, without any one thing clear. We still don’t have a closer out of our crop of candidates. Also, currently we lack the following:

• Right-handed #2 starting pitcher
• Right-handed reliever
• Left-handed reliever
• Tons of cash

--

After all the time in the brain mill, how about some totally random numbers?

The Loggers had posted a losing record in each of the ABL’s first 17 seasons. They obviously held the longest losing streak among all teams, which brings me to the following: which teams – after the 1994 season – hold the longest current streaks for losing and winning seasons?

Active longest losing seasons streak: New York Crusaders (5) – they also posted only one winning record in the last 14 years (84-78 in 1989)
Active longest non-winning seasons streak: Charlotte Falcons (7) – includes an 81-81 finish in 1993
Active longest non-losing seasons streak: Tijuana Condors (14) – they have been around for some time now!
Active longest winning seasons streak: Tijuana Condors (12) – which should not come as a surprise now

The Condors are in fact now the winningest team in the ABL at 1,557-1,360. They have superseded the Blue Sox, Canadiens, and Indians this year, who were the top teams for a few years. The Capitals have moved into second position. The Coons are 13th by the way, 1,460-1,456, and 13 games behind the Falcons when it comes to breaking into the upper half. Yes, we are the worst team to win multiple titles, but then again there are worse things to complain about.
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:01 PM   #783
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At least for us it was quiet over Christmas. I had one offer out there (since December 7) for a former Raccoon I tried to get back into the fold, but hadn’t heard from him since then. It was also rather quiet in the league.

December 24 – 33-yr old INF Tom Nicks (.273, 73 HR, 679 RBI), who was traded from the Knights to the Stars prior to the 1994 season, signs with the Knights again, for 3-yr, $2.28M. Observers are questioning his deteriorating defense, though.
December 28 – OF Diego Rodriguez (.285, 84 HR, 699 RBI) signs a 4-yr, $3.66M contract with the Dallas Stars. The 33-yr old spent the last three years with the Capitals.

As the calendar hit January 1995, I became active again, exploring trade options for Jorge Salazar. I didn’t get very far. Salazar’s huge contract made trading difficult at a point, where there were quite a few high-prized free agents left on the market. Almost all teams had their budget tied up at this point, except a few, of which the Knights and Condors were the only ones not rebuilding and likely to take on a mid-30s shortstop who was due a bucket full of money.

But the package I thought of in a trade with the Knights (SP Pat Cherry and 1B Carlos Guzman) was not accepted by the Knights, who demanded Antonio Donis in the deal. Do I look like I am THAT retarded? Guzman would have been flipped on in that deal: even the Knights were unable to pay Salazar’s salary in full, and I had to take on another $200k in salary from their roster, which brought us to Guzman. You surely would get a neat right-handed reliever for him. But it was not meant to be.

The Condors were flushing their cash down the toilet because they didn’t know where to put it, but they had zero players on their roster that were attractive to me. Zero. Don’t get me wrong: the Condors have lots of good players. But none of them fit on the Coons.

Should we go with a shortstop with stellar defense in place of Salazar and bats .220? Those are cheap, most of the time. In that case, we had an in-house solution: 28-year old Matt Duncan, who refused to go anywhere, despite him being designated for assignment twice in the last few years. Duncan plays all four infield spots very well. Don’t expect him to hit more than .230 though. (His career average is .236 in fact in 373 AB in seven different seasons with three different teams)

So trading Salazar for a starter was one option. What about O’Morrissey? His contract was not half of Salazar’s. Offering O-Mo to the Knights for Pat Cherry did not evoke excitement form the Knights, either. They still demanded either Donis, or Miguel Lopez, or Gabby De La Rosa.

Yeah, well. Keep that lemon of yours.

That confined us to waiting for a few days until more big free agents would go off the market. Talking about Will Jackson, Edgardo Garza, Raimundo Beato, Forest Hartley, Jim Harrington, and Tadanobu Sakaguchi and so on here.

The bad news here were, that things were going *really* slow on the free agent market. The month breezed past with many of them remaining still unsigned, including “Pooky”. It is almost time that *we* make him an offer to return home. Of course for less salary than he waived. No, I don’t even know where to grab that money from.

Man, that budget cut is hurting us …

January 7 – The Raccoons re-sign MR Grant West (38-33, 2.12 ERA, 520 SV) to a 1-yr, $300k. The soon-to-be-38-year old West has never pitched anywhere but with his hometown team.
January 12 – The Condors grab former Buffalo RF/1B/LF Edgardo Garza (.305, 170 HR, 923 RBI). The 34-year old is going to make $2.3M over two years.
January 15 – Ex-Thunder SP Manuel Garza (106-96, 3.61 ERA) signs a 2-yr, $2.24M contract with the Capitals.
January 16 – Raccoons and Crusaders swap minor league pitchers: 29-yr old SP Carlos De Los Angeles (0-1, 4.05 ERA in 4 G / 1 GS) is sent to the Crusaders for 20-yr old 12th round pick SP Ramon Morales, who pitched a no-hitter at the A level in 1993, but regressed last year.
January 19 – The Canadiens add LF/CF Forest Hartley (.288, 107 HR, 581 RBI) for 5-yr, $4.5M. The 31-yr old Hartley was with the Wolves before, but managed only 357 AB in 1994 due to injuries.
January 21 – The Crusaders send 2B/SS Pete Thompson (.263, 6 HR, 170 RBI) and a prospect to San Francisco for SP Jose Ramos (27-22, 4.38 ERA) and a minor league pitcher.
February 2 – Ex-CIN RF/LF Moromao Hino (.249, 62 HR, 401 RBI) at age 29 signs a 7-yr, $5.73M contract with the Dallas Stars, who keep loading up this winter.

So, Granny West misgambled with me. I had offered as much as $360k in October. He didn’t take it, insisting on a multi-year deal, and then went to test the market. Whoops, the market didn’t want him! So, this story continues. He is a good chunk removed from being a lights out closer, but he can still get people out. (But beware that 3-run homer…)

Well, Granny. You have 838 career games. You’d hit a thousand if I put you into every single game this year.

Meanwhile, Salazar is really hard to move. It is almost like every other team is also smelling that a decline must come around the corner to attack him any minute now, and nobody wants to be stuck with that salary. It is February 2, start of the preseason, and I have yet to get a single meaningful deal done this offseason.
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Old 04-02-2014, 08:54 PM   #784
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You know what? I don’t WANT to trade Ben O’Morrissey! He had a bad year. So what. Most of our hitters slumped for extended periods of time to come in way below their career bests. Even Neil Reece… he was glowing red hot in April, then missed three months, and struggled at the plate after that. Yeah, he came out hitting .329 last season, but he ended up with only three home runs in the last ten weeks of the season.

I don’t want to trade Ben O’Morrissey. He’s one of those Firesale Kids! If you have forgotten that season, or if you are new to this dynasty and haven’t caught up with the past (which I could understand, walls of text everywhere), in 1988 the Raccoons had a team that was supposed to get us back to the postseason for the first time in five years after missing out by a game in ’87. We were below .500 early on, and never got over the hump. The team was disassembled in July and then a bit more in the offseason. Back then I brought in tons of youngsters, some of which didn’t pan out (mostly on the pitching side), but the others fill almost half our current lineup. In order these trades were made:

With Capitals: SP Roberto Gonzalez (for INF Jose Sanchez), who didn’t work out and is already retired
With Stars: INF Matt Higgins (for MR Richard Cunningham)
With Buffaloes: CF/LF Neil Reece (for MR David Jones and minor leaguers), also getting OF Jose Pacheco for budget reasons, and then:
With Stars: SP Toru Fujita (for OF Jose Pacheco), who was later traded on to the Buffaloes and is now with the Stars again as a reliever!
With Cyclones: MR Ken Burnett and 1B/3B Ben O’Morrissey (for MR Ed King and 2B Dani Perez)
With Condors: MR Jackie Lagarde and SP/MR Qi-zhen Geng (for OF Yoshinobu Ishizaki), with Geng of course being one of three pieces sent over to Las Vegas in the Royce Green deal!
With Miners: INF Elmer Hawley and 1B Orlando Alvarado (for INF Juan Ramirez); Alvarado never clicked, and Hawley was a fringe infielder
With Pacifics: OF Jeff Martin (for SP Alejandro Venegas and MR Emerson MacDonald), and while Martin never came together here, he just won a ring with Oklahoma…

There were more trades that didn’t follow the veteran for prospects pattern, and we let Armando Sanchez, a sterling outfielder walk for the draft pick compensation. The Miners picked him up, and whom did we get with that supplemental round pick in 1989, 33rd pick overall?

MR (CL?) Gabriel De La Rosa

Now we’re back at the closer discussion. I’m still not sure about Gabby. I had another idea. Trade Salazar for a proven closer! That solves several issues:

a) We get a closer
b) We shed some payroll
c) We can have De La Rosa as 7th/8th inning guy, or long man, or spot starter
d) We can spare more payroll by adding Matt Duncan as sixth infielder and have him and Higgins kinda share shortstop, and don’t forget Ingall either
e) We free up enough money to grab a starting pitcher off the market (possibly even Pooky)

Yeah, and in case it seems that my plan changes every day, that is because it does change every day. In fact, when I work on a trade with a team, and think it’s perfect, and then wander into the kitchen to get a coffee and a cookie or two, and come back five minutes later, I am shocked by the kind of sellout I put up and get mad. Five minutes later.

I did have a plan for the winter, which was to grab David Brewer. I got that right, but somehow the fact that Pooky elected free agency and tore a hole into the rotation threw me off balance. I don’t know what I’m doing. The budget cut didn’t help either.

Or should I just start the year with our top prospect Antonio Donis in the rotation? Would he? Could he? Should he? I have a hunch he could be impaled here, being a bit prone to home runs. The BABIP hints at defensive challenges in our minors, but his walks were high, too.

(moans) I am a very confused little furball.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:49 PM   #785
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Well, the plan to possibly re-sign “Pooky” went out of the window early in February.

There was a closer on the market, who looked interesting, former Pacific Raúl Vargas. He was only 30, with a killing knuckle curve (use him with David Vinson at your own peril), and was *rumored* to seek 4-yr, $1.8M. He ACTUALLY came out demanding $950k – PER YEAR. Never backed out of a door that quickly before.

I came upon Alex Byrd, 28, a righty in the Bayhawks pen, who saved 40 games for them in 1993, but was used in earlier roles last season. He has very good stuff and a palatable $430k contract through arbitration for this year. Maybe you could swap Salazar for him? But do you know what I always stumble across when dealing with veterans? The 10/5 rule. Salazar executed it, and we didn’t have a deal.

February 6 – Former Coon SP Raimundo Beato (132-118, 3.64 ERA) signs a 3-yr, $2.37M contract with the Thunder. The Raccoons are compensated with a supplemental round pick for the 1995 draft.
February 9 – The Warriors land ex-LAP CL Raúl Vargas (40-46, 2.36 ERA, 240 SV) for 3-yr, $2.58M.
February 9 – Former Logger 2B/SS Jim Stein (.304, 29 HR, 394 RBI) joins the Scorpions. The 28-yr old gets a 3-yr, $2.57M contract.
February 9 – The Wolves load up as well, inking ex-OCT OF Will Jackson (.273, 132 HR, 553 RBI) for 4-yr, $4.48M, plus ex-VAN CL Ricardo Medina (48-47, 2.58 ERA, 203 SV) for 1-yr, $760k.
February 9 – And finally the Bayhawks former closer Lawrence Bentley, who put away 52 games last year, joins the Miners for 3-yr, $2.52M. Bentley is 20-16 with a 2.41 ERA and 60 SV for his career (at age 25).
February 12 – The Bayhawks snatch up ex-TIJ SP Charles Bywaters (65-55, 4.14 ERA) for 4-yr, $3.14M.
February 17 – Another ex-Condor finds a home, as OF Tadanobu Sakaguchi (.282, 64 HR, 372 RBI) joins the Warriors on a 4-yr, $2.528M contract.
February 20 – The Raccoons claim 23-year old right-hander MR Day Grandridge off waivers by the Warriors.
February 24 – Back into the fold: the Raccoons and SP Robert Vázquez (122-80, 3.04 ERA) agree to a 1-yr, $300k contract. The 32-year old southpaw pitched with the Wolves and Cyclones since his stint in Portland, 1991-92.

February 27 – The Capitals buy into veteran pitching by adding 37-yr old SP Bill Smith (193-173, 3.42 ERA), who was last with the Pacifics and signs for 2-yr, $974k.

February is over.

We once traded Vázquez out to Salem to get Mark Allen. Yeah, that one did backfire, huh? Well, we have a hole in the rotation, and we plugged it. This closes the door on Donis for the time being, since the only guy to reasonably remove from the rotation would be Scott Wade, and I don’t want to run Jason Turner as the only right-hander in the rotation. Vázquez was the only above-average starter with reasonable demands left. Our coffers are definitely empty now. I had already raised our scouting money a bit, but will have to take a dollar or two off again.

Grandridge does have some potential, according to Vince Guerra, who rates him 12/14/8 (POT: 12/14/11), which makes for a decent 6th/7th inning, or long man. But he never pitched above AA ball and will be assigned to AAA for the start of the season. He does not project to be anything special, but he also has options remaining (which looms over Daniel Miller and Albert Matthews, who could be lost upon being DFA’ed at the start of the season).

There is still one bullpen spot for a right-hander open, and I may keep one of Miller or Matthews.
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: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 04-03-2014, 03:49 PM   #786
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March 12 – The Condors pick up fragile 29-yr old OF Erwin Hooper (.265, 38 HR, 256 RBI) for 2-yr, $880k. Hooper is a former Gold Sock.
March 13 – The Canadiens ink 1B/3B Jesus Galindo (.252, 72 HR, 460 RBI), last with the Blue Sox. Galindo will pocket $1.465M over three years.
March 19 – The last big name free agent goes off the table late this year: the Crusaders take on OF Clement Clark (.311, 47 HR, 641 RBI), who gets a 4-yr, $2.64M contract. Clark was part of those Rebels teams that lost the FL East to the Capitals the last two years.

We didn’t do a lot down the road. Much of the team is the same as it was in 1992-93 (even Vázquez coming back), when we clicked. It worked before, maybe it will work once more.

We will have so many contracts up in the next two years, the roster may be much revamped over this time frame, mainly because we still have so many youngsters under team control that we won’t be able to feed with a below-average budget.

By the way, Mark Allen went unsigned.

---

1995 PORTLAND RACCOONS – Opening Day Roster (first set shows 1994 numbers, second set overall; players with an * are off season acquisitions):

SP Kisho Saito, 34, B:L, T:L (12-7, 3.35 ERA | 185-133, 3.11 ERA) – workhorse and strikeout machine doing his job at the top of the rotation, entering his 11th full season with the Raccoons, and this year he tries to nail down that 200th win. Saito seems to let up a bit, surrendering more hits as a result of losing some momentum.
SP Jason Turner, 29, B:R, T:R (12-12, 4.54 ERA | 75-53, 3.51 ERA) – suffered through a horrendous season, being constantly battered. His walks were way up, his hits were up, and especially in the first half of the season, he was torn open every five days. Little reminds of that shy little boy who no-hit the Thunder six years ago.
SP Miguel Lopez, 26, B:S, T:L (5-5, 3.57 ERA | 27-17, 3.09 ERA) – killer stuff, but that didn’t help his shoulder last season, with inflammation in there limiting him to just 13 starts. If healthy, he knows how to hold his ground on the field.
SP Robert Vázquez *, 32, B:L, T:L (13-11, 3.76 ERA | 122-80, 3.04 ERA) – returns to the Coons as a free agent, after he spent the last year between Salem and Cincy. Vázquez continues to do his thing, which also means occasionally walking more batters than necessary.
SP Scott Wade, 32, B:R, T:R (10-7, 3.53 ERA | 124-76, 3.36 ERA) – for the second year in a row, he was very much struggling in the first few months of the season. He got his stuff together past the All Star Game and in the last game of the year managed to extend his streak of double digit win seasons to nine. Not bad for a 2-pitch guy.

MR Juan Martinez, 28, B:R, T:R (6-4, 3.01 ERA, 4 SV | 33-19, 2.70 ERA, 14 SV) – very good stuff and strong control, who can also close games in emergencies.
MR Daniel Miller, 26, B:S, T:R (3-4, 6.43 ERA | 13-9, 4.05 ERA, 2 SV) – imploded on contact the whole year, bounced back to AAA a couple of times. Didn’t get anything together, but we know he has been better in the past.
MR Tony Vela, 24, B:R, T:R (5-7, 2.56 ERA | 8-7, 2.51 ERA) – had a pretty big year, starting out in a somewhat shaded 6th inning role, but came through to pitch even late innings with consistent good performances.
MR Grant West, 38, B:L, T:L (5-5, 2.85 ERA, 9 SV | 38-33, 2.12 ERA, 520 SV) – Portland’s Own Legend. Lost the closer job last year, though, in a process of losing both stuff and command. Was brought back in on a one year deal as expert left-hander for wherever you need a guy like that.
SU Jackie Lagarde, 31, B:R, T:R (0-6, 3.70 ERA, 29 SV | 24-26, 2.48 ERA, 44 SV) – while Lagarde has been one of the most amazing setup men we have ever had on the roster with killing stuff, he fell apart in the closer’s role last year. Bad command, on-and-off movement got the better of him, and he is back where he is most amazing, setting things up.
SU Ken Burnett, 32, B:L, T:L (4-1, 3.16 ERA | 22-16, 3.33 ERA, 3 SV) – very serviceable left-hander that can do just about everything from closing out games in emergencies to long relief. Mainstay in the bullpen, on the Opening Day roster for the seventh year now.
CL Gabriel De La Rosa, 24, B:R, T:R (6-2, 1.46 ERA, 1 SV | 10-2, 1.36 ERA, 1 SV) – goes from swingman to closer in a move that will not be without controversy (especially if the gamble backfires). His stuff is electric, he is hardly hittable, and only his low stamina prevents him from starting games in the rotation.

C David Vinson, 29, B:S, T:R (.263, 5 HR, 44 RBI | .251, 60 HR, 303 RBI) – remains an above-average batter unable to replicate a shining 1990 season (.912 OPS), and also remains plagued at times by an inability to keep runners from stealing, with a success rate of 77% common for runners.
C Jose Rodriguez, 26, B:R, T:R (.262, 2 HR, 19 RBI | .281, 6 HR, 71 RBI) – will be the backup to Vinson for the fourth consecutive season. It’s a deal that just works. Rodriguez provides superior defense.

1B Esteban Baldivía, 26, B:R, T:R (.289, 7 HR, 56 RBI | .291, 9 HR, 71 RBI) – Baldy delivered a solid, but not exciting season. He also brings lots of walks to the plate, but we really need more power from his position and he will have to deliver now in his second full season.
1B/2B David Brewer *, 27, B:L, T:R (.333, 9 HR, 76 RBI | .346, 46 HR, 469 RBI) – signed the richest contract (6-yr, $9M) in ABL history with the Raccoons after spending his career with the Canadiens so far. He may be one of the best hitters in the league, and the small confines of Raccoons Ballpark may even have him hit double digit dinger in addition to his career .418 OBP and already 1,086 hits. Injuries are a topic for him, so you have to be careful to keep him on the field.
SS/3B/2B/1B Jorge Salazar, 34, B:L, T:R (.291, 1 HR, 53 RBI | .285, 21 HR, 502 RBI) – remains a rock on our infield, although we worry that age may make him less effective down the road. Also remained a productive leadoff hitter, although that spot will be taken over by Brewer for obvious reasons.
1B/3B Ben O’Morrissey, 29, B:R, T:R (.260, 12 HR, 69 RBI | .279, 59 HR, 350 RBI) – defense remains strong despite many errors (regularly approaching or exceeding 20 on the year), while he struggled at the plate last season.
1B/3B/2B/SS Matt Higgins, 30, B:S, T:R (.267, 2 HR, 54 RBI | .259, 30 HR, 319 RBI) – will again start out in an extended utility role, spelling some player or other almost every day. He also is a base stealing thread so he can even be your pick to pinch-run.
1B/2B/3B/SS Marvin Ingall, 26, B:R, T:R (.240, 0 HR, 5 RBI | .256, 0 HR, 7 RBI) – utility infielder with strong defense, but only 121 AB to his name so far between the Coons (1993-94) and Wolves (1990). Also, he always had *some* power in the minors, but not in the Bigs so far.

LF Vern Kinnear, 26, B:L, T:R (.269, 13 HR, 69 RBI | .274, 34 HR, 194 RBI) – limited to 124 games due to injuries and some platoon work late in the year. His defense in left is great, and he took home his first Gold Glove for it in 1994.
CF/LF Neil Reece, 28, B:R, T:R (.329, 9 HR, 37 RBI | .330, 65 HR, 316 RBI) – fantastic defense in center, fantastic at the plate – you can’t help yourself but love him. Sadly, he missed half the season due to breaking his hand in April and was never quite right once he came back. He had a winter to heal, he will be fine.
LF/CF/RF Royce Green, 25, B:R, T:R (.280, 38 HR, 101 RBI | .274, 74 HR, 235 RBI) – was not even a starter beginning last season, but at some point broke through and out of the blew shattered Tetsu Osanai’s franchise record for home runs in a season. That will get you noticed. Now hope he can repeat.
LF/RF/1B Bobby Quinn, 30, B:R, T:R (.290, 6 HR, 47 RBI | .281, 37 HR, 311 RBI) – since being claimed off waivers from the Capitals in 1989, he has more or less always been a backup player (except in 1991), and continues to excel in that capacity.
LF/RF Chih-tui Jin, 25, B:S, T:R (.288, 0 HR, 14 RBI | .268, 0 HR, 16 RBI) – backup for our big cannons, also emergency backup for centerfield. Only 153 career AB.

On disabled list: Nobody.

Otherwise unavailable: Nobody.

Other roster movement: MR Albert Matthews was waived and designated for assignment.
MR Albert Matthews, 25, B:R, T:R (3-1, 3.86 ERA | 11-9, 3.23 ERA, 1 SV) – bounced around between here and there in 1994 and came unglued in September again.

Opening day lineups:
Vs. RHP: 2B Brewer – 1B Baldivía – RF Green – CF Reece – LF Kinnear – 3B O’Morrissey – SS Salazar – C Vinson – P Saito
Vs. LHP: 2B Brewer – 1B Baldivía – RF Green – CF Reece – LF Kinnear – SS Higgins – 3B O’Morrissey – C Vinson – P Saito

We gained 6.3 WAR this offseason, which I like to call the Brewer Factor. 6.0 WAR came from right there.

Top 5: Stars (+10.5), Raccoons (+6.3), Wolves (+5.6), Falcons (+3.4), Crusaders (+3.1)
Bottom 5: Scorpions (-4.3), Thunder (-6.9), Pacifics (-7.0), Bayhawks (-7.4), Canadiens (-9.0)

PREDICTION TIME:

Last year I predicted Neil Reece challenging for Hitter of the Year, we would score five runs per game, have two 20-game winners in the rotation and would win 100 games before three-peating in the World Series.

We did ZERO of that. ZERO.

Coming back from a what I still think basically unlucky 81-81 season should not be that hard. I do believe that this team is much better than that, and our division is about the weakest in the league at this point. This team has to challenge for the playoffs and has a damn good shot at that.

We will tone the hysteria done a bit this time. The Raccoons will win 90 to 92 games, take the division, and Kisho Saito will win at least 15 games to reach 200.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT:

Our youth department has been going downhill for a few years now. I blame winning every year. We had the top system around 1990, and still ranked 4th before last season, with ten players on the Top 200, but it is obvious that by now the farm is barren.

Of our ten players on the list last year, one does not qualify anymore (Gabby De La Rosa), and a few others fell off the list, as our farm ranks 9th in the country.

4th (+5) – AAA SP Antonio Donis, 22 – 1990 third round pick by the Raccoons
45th (+30) – AA LF Stephen Buell, 19 – international discovery by Vicente Guerra
73rd (new) – A LF/RF George Wood, 19 – 1994 first round pick by the Raccoons
79th (+36) – AA SS Conceicao Guerin, 21 – international discovery by Vicente Guerra
88th (+91) – AAA SP Jose Rivera, 22 – international discovery by the Condors, acquired in 1989 for Stephen Hall
90th (+69) – AA SP Alonso Lopez, 20 – international discovery by Vicente Guerra
102nd (-80) – AAA 3B Mike Crowe, 24 – 1992 supplemental round pick by the Raccoons
136th (new) – AAA MR Cesar Salcido 23 – international discovery by Jeffrey Anderson
151st (new) – AA SP Esteban Flores, 21 – international discovery by Jeffrey Anderson

20-year old SP Tony “Ratface” Hamlyn, an international discovery from Canada by the Bayhawks, is ranked #1 in the nation for the second straight year. No, he’s STILL not *that* ugly.

Next: first pitch!
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Orcin (04-03-2014)
Old 04-03-2014, 05:49 PM   #787
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Great summary! I would thank this post twice if I could.

The outfield, starting pitching, and Brewer combine to make me believe 90 wins. I'll take your word for the weak competition and bet on the division title. The bullpen is unproven, and overall depth will be an issue at some point.
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Westheim (04-03-2014)
Old 04-03-2014, 07:04 PM   #788
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orcin View Post
The outfield, starting pitching, and Brewer combine to make me believe 90 wins. I'll take your word for the weak competition and bet on the division title. The bullpen is unproven, and overall depth will be an issue at some point.
As great as the outfielders on the roster are, as dire is the situation on the 40-man roster. We have literally no proper backup both in that respect and very little backup for injured pitchers. Last year has shown that the guys I called up could barely lift their own weight. I have currently one offer out on a little proven SP to park at AAA and continue to scour the market.

---

Raccoons (0-0) vs. Titans (0-0) – April 4-6, 1995

Rejoice! Baseball is back! Kisho Saito facing Doug Morrow, right here, right now!

Saito’s season started out with an infield hit by Alejandro Espinoza, Vinson trying to pick him off first, but throwing past Baldy at first, and then a 2-run homer by Martin Carter, the Titans’ new second baseman. And no outs logged. The Furballs didn’t get anybody on base until the fourth, but Baldy was left on after a 1-out double. In the fifth, we came in down 3-0, but suddenly bats began to meet balls. First, a ball met Kinnear to start the frame, but a double by O-Mo scored him, and with one out, Saito would single home O-Mo. In fact, down 3-2, we had the bags full with one out. Baldivía struck out, and Green rolled into an out at short. Kisho Saito would go seven innings with no offense to back him up, but when Baldivía got on base to lead off the bottom 8th in the 3-2 game, we still had a chance. Up came Royce Green and he almost took Morrow deep, but the ball bounced horizontally off the wall in deep right center for a line drive RBI triple, tying the game. Reece singled home Green for the lead, and would eventually score himself on an error. Thus, Gabby De La Rosa got his first chance to save something in the top 9th, with the score 5-3. In a sputtering start to what hopefully was a prime closer’s career, De La Rosa put on two, but ended the game in style, with a punchout. 5-3 Raccoons. Baldivía 2-4, 2B; Saito 7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K and 1-2, RBI;

The same day not one, not two, but three teams claimed Albert Matthews off waivers. The Buffaloes, Knights, and Canadiens all were hot to get him. Well, so be it. [The Canadiens eventually received him]

Game 2. Jason Turner got the ball, and like Saito the day before was rocked in the early innings, with the Titans up 2-0 after the second with a few hard rips against Turner. The bottom 3rd saw Brewer lead off and hit a single, his first base hit as a Coon. He then swiped a base, and was collected on Royce Green’s home run, as Green again tied the game. The Coons then took a 3-2 lead in the fourth, which Turner actively endangered in the sixth. The Titans had the tying run on third base, another (intentionally walked Julio Madrid) on first, with two out and the pitcher at the plate. Turner got SP Chris O’Keefe to 0-2, then threw three balls that not even pitchers swung at. In a full count, Turner was again off the plate, but this time O’Keefe swung through it to end the inning. Turner had two outs in the top 7th, before Jose Martinez singled to right. Catcher Luis Lopez, a switch hitter, was up. Lopez was equally good from either side, so Turner could well remain in and go after him. But Lopez hit an RBI double to left, and the lead was gone. So was Turner. We expended both our left-handers to get through eight, and that left us with none in the ninth, which was where Tony Vela was rocked for two runs. It were the losing runs. 5-3 Titans. Green 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; O’Morrissey 2-4;

Not much offense going so far.

Rubber game. Miguel Lopez made his comeback start after missing most of last season with shoulder inflammation, facing lefty Jason O’Halloran, who was also under the weather for much of the 1994 season. For a nice change, the Coons scored first, two in the first inning, but Lopez unfortunately was horrible. Through three innings, he allowed seven hits, four walks, yet only two runs. The Coons turned two double plays, the Titans had a runner thrown out trying to steal home, and Neil Reece made a highlights catch with the bags full for the final out in the third. While the Coons pieced together a 3-2 lead in the bottom 3rd, Lopez was yanked when he issued a 1-out walk in the top 4th to Espinoza. We brought in Daniel Miller for some long relief in the top 5th. He loaded the bases in no time, and again we turned a double play to get out of the mess. Still, the 3-2 lead lived, as Miller wobbled through another inning. In the bottom 6th, we got Higgins on base, with Salazar walking in a full count with two out. That brought up Brewer, behind whom Miller was in Baldy’s slot (Salazar had come into the game in a double switch, Higgins starting at short). Brewer’s AB went to a full count as well before he knocked one to deep center. Not only deep, OUTTA HERE!! Brewer’s first homer as a Coon upped the score to 6-2, which was challenged instantly in the top 7th. Juan Martinez came in, and four of five batters he faced, reached base. 6-3, bases loaded, one out, Grant West came in against lefty PH Jack Burbidge. He allowed all runners to score on a double and a sac fly. Back to zero. The Titans brought in reliever Jesus Colón in the bottom 7th, and the Coons loaded the bags with two outs, bringing up Jose Rodriguez. He quickly fell to two strikes, before he managed to make contact. Quite some contact, actually. GRAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAM!!! This game was not shy of excitement for sure! But the excitement toned down a bit once we brought in Jackie Lagarde with one out in the eighth. Lagarde semi-competently put the game away over the last five outs, while the Coons upped the score a bit in the bottom 8th, Lagarde hitting a sac fly (collecting Brewer) and Reece hitting a home run. 12-6 Raccoons! Brewer 3-5, HR, 3 RBI; Baldivía 2-3; Higgins 2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Rodriguez 1-4, HR, 4 RBI; Salazar 1-2, BB; Lagarde 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

Three games, and our starters have zero wins. Oh well. Still got six months to play.

Raccoons (2-1) vs. Aces (3-1) – April 7-9, 1995

The Raccoons looked at sophomore Ben Carlson, 26, in the opener, while it was homecoming for Robert Vázquez. The Aces failed to bring flowers for Vázquez, and instead he was pierced by featherweight SS Robinson Gutierrez for a 2-run homer in the third inning. The Coons never got back into the race in this game, instead enlarging the lead with defensive ineptitudes, errors by Vinson and Brewer, a passed ball, and general clumsiness all around. Vázquez wasn’t beaten out of the game by the Aces until the eighth, but had no hopes for a win. The only meaningful output was a solo shot by Royce Green, and the Coons were 5-hit in the game. 5-1 Aces. Martinez 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Neil Reece was very slow out of the gate, and with Kinnear also struggling early, and a left-hander (Carlos Guillén – the only guy to no-hit the Coons back in ’85 still hangs around) pitching in game 2, we used that chance to put Green in center and have the backups start on the wings.

Backed by a 2-run homer by Ben O’Morrissey in the third inning, Scott Wade started very well into his first start, befuddling the Aces through four innings. Unfortunately, they climbed back into the game in the fifth with a run, and then a solo shot by Taisuke Mashiba tied the game in the sixth. Wade did not get any support, and then managed to blow the game in the seventh, drilling Guillén, then allowing a double to SS Manuel Gomez. The Aces brought those two runners in, and Wade was out of the game, down 4-2. West collected the last out in the seventh, and Miller gave us two scoreless innings. If only the offense would come around! Green led off the bottom 9th against closer Vicente Rubio with a bloop single to left. Next was Higgins. He hit into his second double play of the game. And so it went. 4-2 Aces. O’Morrissey 3-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Green 2-3, BB; Miller 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

That first run through the rotation: ugly. We are 0-2, and no ERA below 3.68 (Vázquez). Gotta get better, boys!

Kisho Saito came out on Sunday for the final game of the Aces series. Brewer had the day off. The Aces’ Jou Hara had been lit up in his first start. We felt good. And then the dwarf Gutierrez opened the game with a homer off Saito. Uh. Well. Antonio Esquivel in the second inning hit another long ball into the same spot. Saito was reeling, and we needed to get the offense going. Reece got on in the bottom 2nd, bringing up Kinnear, who hit a huge fly ball, which glanced of the top of the fence, hopping away from the fielders. Kinnear turned second, Kinnear turned third, Kinnear made it home – an inside-the-park home run! In fact, neither pitcher was very good. The game was 4-4 through four. Saito persevered through six, and got onto the right side of the ledger – at least temporarily – when in the bottom 6th David Vinson right in front of him in the order pounded a 2-run homer off reliever Michael Brown. Then came the eighth. Lagarde, who had pitched the seventh, put the first man on. Burnett came in and surrendered a single to Claudio Garcia, followed by a sac fly. 6-5, runner on first, one out, the Aces sent lefty Michael Sanders to bat in the #9 hole against Burnett. O’Morrissey made a fabulous catch on a first-pitch liner hit by Sanders. Gutierrez came up, the Undersized Undertaker as far as Raccoons pitching was concerned in this series. He was a righty, so we called on De La Rosa here. He struck Gutierrez out, then got an extra run in the bottom 8th with a 2-out walk and then two singles by in order Quinn, Higgins, and Baldivía. Not that he needed it: he sat the side down in order in the ninth. 7-5 Furballs. Higgins 2-4, BB, 2B; Green 2-5, 2B; Vinson 2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; De La Rosa 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, SV (2);

Finally a win for a starter, but still a bad outing for Saito.

In other news

April 3 – SAL CF/LF Xiao-wei Li (.250, 0 HR, 2 RBI) has a sweet Opening Day. As the Wolves trump the Pacifics, 4-2, Li hits his 2,000th big league base hit, a 6th inning 2-out, 2-run double off Bastyao Caixinha.
April 4 – PIT LF Carlos Torres had carried over a 20-game hitting streak from last season, but had it end on opening day, going 0-3 in a 3-1 loss to the Cyclones.
April 5 – DEN C Tom Oliver (.250, 0 HR, 0 RBI) will miss three weeks with a strained abdominal muscle.
April 9 – DAL 1B/2B Pedro Villa (.294, 0 HR, 2 RBI) is out for three weeks with a strained rib cage muscle.

Complaints and stuff

David Brewer is costing us lots of money. I want to keep that money (over $8,000 a game) on the field. This means keeping the nagging injuries that constantly befall him under control. If you remember, there was one year he dueled Tetsu Osanai for the batting title and in the end didn’t qualify due to insufficient at bats – because of injuries. I want to keep Brewer off the field at least one day each week. If we have an off day, that’s fine. But if not (and we start the year with nine straight games), then he will sit a day, and most likely not even pinch-hit. Those injuries: really nothing major! A few strains, a few sprains, a foot contusion, one mild concussion. Not a single broken bone in there! No ligament damages! No herniated disc, dislocated hips, no bones sticking out anywhere. I think with one day of rest each week we can keep him on the field the other six days of the week.

By the way, I am NOT a doctor.

This first week saw a beleaguered pitching staff and defense here. We gave up eight home runs (Saito gave up four alone!), which is DEAD last in the league. Our park lends itself to it, though, and we also hit eight dingers ourself, including a most-unlikely grand slam from Jose Rodriguez. We were not on base a lot, but slugged a lot, keeping us in games.

Brewer, Reece, Salazar, Kinnear – all very slow out of the gates. But we will see. No hasty decisions this early in the year.

Mark Allen – rated four stars for whatever reason – remains unsigned.

Another former Raccoon went off the free agent market late, actually in the first week of the year, as the Condors took on MR Roberto Carrillo, who had two solid years in Salem after his stint with us, for $370k for the year.
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:17 PM   #789
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Raccoons (3-3) vs. Falcons (4-2) – April 10-12, 1995

We faced Robbie Campbell in the opener, who had pitched 8.1 innings of scoreless ball in his first start. He lived up to expectations in the game, which was also true for our Jason Turner, who walked anybody who was willing to hold still for long enough. Campbell scattered seven hits over eight scoreless innings, while Turner allowed three runs while pitching into the seventh, walking six. Vela and Martinez came apart some more in the top 9th, and that was about the game. 5-0 Falcons. Baldivía 2-3;

Game 2’s first inning was peculiar in its own right. It saw Neil Reece ending the top 1st by throwing out a runner at home, and in the bottom 1st Neil Reece *was* the runner thrown out at home to end the inning. The Coons still took a 1-0 lead on Matt Higgins’ bases-loaded 2-out single off Terry Wilson, who made his first start of the season. Also, the run was unearned. The bottom 2nd saw Wilson getting skinned brutally. With two down and nobody on, he walked Miguel Lopez, which was a shame, but the punishment that followed was outright epic: Brewer singled to left, bringing up Quinn (who started over Kinnear against the lefty Wilson), who grounded back to Wilson, and Wilson threw wildly past first base, scoring Lopez. Green came up, and hit a 2-run triple over Christian Dunphy in center. Reece singled, scoring Green. O-Mo then ALSO hit a ball over Dunphy for an RBI double. And then came Matt Higgins (who started at short) and hit a furry delicious home run to left. 8-0 Raccoons, and all the runs were unearned! Now everybody was waiting for Lopez to blow it. He came pretty close. In the top 4th, he went to 3-ball counts on the first three batters, allowing a single and two walks in the course of the inning. After getting screamed at by the pitching coach, he struck out the next two and Neil Reece collected a lazy flyer by Melvin Kirk for the final out. The screaming helped, by the way. Lopez was a different pitcher after that, surrendering only one more single for the rest of this start. Grant West would load the bases in the ninth, but Reece got him out of there with a great grab to end the game. 9-0 Raccoons. Quinn 2-4, BB; Green 2-5, 3B, 2 RBI; Reece 2-3, 2 BB, RBI; O’Morrissey 2-5, 2B, RBI; Higgins 2-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Ingall 3-4, BB, 2B; Lopez 7.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, W (1-0);

You won’t often see a pitcher with a WHIP higher than his ERA. Miguel Lopez so far: 1.74 ERA, 2.03 WHIP …

Vázquez was in for game 3, having an eventful first inning in that he gave up a run and smacked LF Djordje Nedic in the wrist. Nedic left the game, but it didn’t look like he had the wrist broken. It just turned blue a bit. He would not be the only casualty in the game. But for the moment, Vázquez hung in there, while Jesus Lopez, who had been flushed down the 7.50 ERA toilet in his first start, held the Coons shy of anything. Royce Green got on to lead off the bottom 6th, the score still 1-0 Falcons. Reece grounded to short and Green got entangled in a collision at second base, and HE was the guy that was hurt. Uh-oh. The Coons didn’t score in the inning. While Vázquez went the distance, the Falcons replaced Lopez for the bottom 9th with – you remember him well – Richard Cunningham. Oh, we’re done. I had to go deep into my playbook for this one. Higgins led off and for the heck of it, laid down a bunt – and was safe. O-Mo was supposed to bunt him over, but got Higgins forced out. Vinson came up, who had already swung at air a few times in the game. Well, first pitch, maybe he can – BOAH, LOOK AT THAT SHOT!!! Vinson absolutely CRUSHED Cunningham’s first offering and rocketed it out of right field – the Raccoons walked off!! 2-1 Coons. Vinson 1-4, HR, 2 RBI; Vázquez 9.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, W (1-1);

The injury news were a bruised wrist for Djordje Nedic, but who cared about that. Royce Green came up with a strained hamstring. That’s at least one month on the DL, and now we can test our outfield depth and resistance to break into tears.

Since we needed a centerfield backup to Neil Reece, this led to more roster shuffling. See, if like Vern Kinnear had gone down, I had called up corner outfielder Cristían Ortíz from AAA and hit the market for remnants of winter. But I needed a CF backup, so I called up Luke Newton, who played all outfield positions well. Newton, 23, was our 1992 first round pick, and he was not ready for the big leagues, but I needed him now to start like once a week and not stand in the way on the other days. Newton had not been on the 40-man roster, which was filled by adding him.

Raccoons (5-4) @ Crusaders (4-5) – April 14-16, 1995

This early, the Crusaders ranked 11th in runs scored and starters’ ERA, but the Coons had just lost their biggest gun, so maybe we were even?

The Crusaders fielded lefty David Ramirez (0-1, 9.95 ERA) in the opener against Scott Wade. Ramirez was perfect the first time through the Coons lineup, while Wade gave up a solo homer to C Ruben Melendez in the second inning. The Furballs got their first two men on in the top 4th, killing whatever bid there was, but could not score, while Ramirez ended the bottom 4th like the bottom 2nd at the plate, leaving runners on the corners against Wade. In the top 6th, the Raccoons left the bases loaded, and in the bottom 6th Wade was taken deep again, this time by Pat Jenkins, 2-0. Getting Ramirez out of the game after seven didn’t help, but the Crusaders jumped on Ken Burnett and Jackie Lagarde for three runs in the bottom 8th. 5-0 Crusaders. Reece 2-4;

The middle game had Kisho Saito against Hector Lara, with David Brewer immediately setting things right by way of a leadoff homer in the first. Saito put the first two men he faced on, but pitched through that, and when Lara led off the bottom 3rd and singled, he tried to make it two bases, but even Chih-tui Jin, who started in right, could throw him out there. No team really did much more through six. Saito led off the top 7th with a bloop single, and Brewer walked. Two on, no out, boys, we need some offense. Baldy came up and singled to right to load the bases. O-Mo, batting third, popped Lara’s second pitch up high into shallow right center – but nobody made the play! The ball dinked in, and everybody moved up a base. Reece got Brewer forced out at home with a grounder, and Kinnear flew out gingerly to shallow center. Jin came up and just didn’t swing, drawing a walk from Lara, which pushed in our third run, before Salazar grounded out. The Coons failed to score the last two innings, but Saito was still around. He stood at 108 pitches with a 3-0 lead to hold. De La Rosa was warming up to replace Saito at the slightest provocation by the Crusaders. Like a leadoff single by Victor Martinez. Pitching change, please! Gabby put lefty Alfonso Rojas on with another single, before he collected outs, but surrendered Saito’s run along the way. 3-1 Raccoons. Brewer 2-4, BB, HR, RBI; Baldivía 2-5, 2B; O’Morrissey 2-4, BB, RBI; Saito 8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, W (2-0) and 1-3;

Win one, lose one, win one, lose two, win one … that’s a good way to come up .500; C’MON BOYS!! We want to be better!!

Rubber game, enter Jason Turner, and brace for a walk fest. Luke Newton made his big league debut, starting in left field against Cipriano Miranda (1-1, 4.50 ERA). Miranda blacked out the Coons the first time through the order, while Turner fell 1-0 behind in the bottom 3rd, but Baldivía re-tied the game with a solo home run in the fourth inning. We then took a 2-1 lead in the top 5th when O-Mo drew a bases-loaded walk with two out (Reece flew out softly after that), and then Turner imploded. Having walked none through four innings, he issued a walk, a single, another walk, and then a single to Miranda, without retiring anybody. The Crusaders abused him for two more runs and a base-running blunder prevented them from scoring more. Top 6th with rain falling, and now the Coons loaded them up with nobody out against Miranda. Down 4-2, Newton stepped in at the plate. Please, no double play, no double play, no double – a walk! Newton drew a full count walk from Miranda! Down 4-3, Kinnear hit for Turner, but lobbed out. Brewer looked at strike three from John Hatt, as Miranda was also removed from the game, but Hatt went on to walk Baldy, which tied the game. Still bases loaded. C’mon O-Mo! Full count, everybody in motion – another walk! Reece was next, 2-0 count, a carpet racer up the left foul line – THROUGH MARTIN LIMÓN!! Into the corner! Newton scored! Baldy scored! O-Mo scored!! 3-RUN DOUBLE NEIL REECE!!! That capped a 6-run inning with kind support of the Crusaders’ staff, and we now led 8-4. Now we were able to watch the bullpen struggle to hold on to a 4-run lead. Tony Vela collected five outs before plunking a batter, and from there on out it was rowing upstream. We got to the bottom 9th still up by four, and with Martinez in. He got one out, then surrendered two line drive hits to put runners in scoring position. Gabby to the rescue, please? Martin Limón hit into run-scoring groundout to Brewer, before Gabby gave up an RBi single to Steve Cobb. Tying run to the plate with two down: Alfonso Rojas. He grounded out to Brewer. Phew! 8-6 Raccoons. O’Morrissey 1-1, 4 BB, 2 RBI; Reece 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Vinson 2-5; Vela 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Raccoons (7-5) @ Indians (10-3) – April 18-20, 1995

The Indians had won nine in a row, would throw three left-handers at us, and those left-handers were key in their staff allowing only 41 runs through 13 games. We were in a boat load of trouble, apparently, even more so with our early on most prolific right-handed batter on the shelf for the month.

Neil Stewart (1-1, 4.79 ERA) seemed to be the weakest of the bunch, having exerted no control over his stuff so far this year. But that was nothing that was not true for Miguel Lopez, and Stewart was a 31-yr old veteran with 152 wins under his belt. He knew how to stay afloat. Both teams would utterly fail in RISP situations in this game, and RISP situations there were plenty. The Indians scored first in the bottom 2nd, an unearned run on a Luis Gonzalez bloop single that Bobby Quinn had to pick up twice. They upped that to 2-0 in the fifth against a mostly hapless Lopez. Stewart gave the Coons fits and allowed less runners the deeper the game went. The score still 2-0, Stewart remained in there for the ninth, facing Reece, Quinn, and Higgins. Reece walked, and Quinn pressed a single past 2B Angel Gonzalez. Tying runs on, the Indians made no move to remove Stewart. Higgins came up and grounded into a fielder’s choice at second base. Runners on the corners for Chih-tui Jin. Stewart went to 3-1, then slipped on his fifth pitch and didn’t deliver – but that’s a balk! Reece came home, and the tying run went to second base in Higgins. Jin flew out to right, and now closer Jim Durden came on to face Jose Rod- no, we bring in Kinnear here. I need a left-hander, even if he’s batting a hundred. Kinnear grounded out. 2-1 Indians. Brewer 2-4; Jin 2-4, 2B;

Actually, Kinnear was batting .080 before grounding out. Ouch. Don’t ask how much he’s hitting now. I don’t dare look.

The middle game, with the hope of getting more offense (ha-hah). Vázquez looked at Vernon Robertson (2-1, 2.75 ERA), who had long been with the Canadiens. Kinnear led off the second inning and Robertson went to 3-0 on him. Oh, fine. Draw the – he jabbed at it! But it was fine. Kinnear doubled into the gap in left center after getting a pretty fat 3-0. The team left Kinnear on, and it soon became one of those games. The Indians had a runner on with two out in the third inning. Luis Gonzalez grounded behind first, Baldy to Vázquez, and Vázquez dropped it. That brought up Tomas Maguey, and was there any way he would not hit it outta there? Nope, 3-run shot, 3-0 down. The Coons were nowhere near tying that score as long as Robertson was in the game, but left a few runners at third base whenever they pleased. Down 4-0, Brewer hit a leadoff double in the top 8th that got Robertson out, and with one out we had the bases loaded for Kinnear. Tim Hess got him to foul out on the first pitch. Higgins with two down, 0-3 on the day, doubled into the gap in left center, emptying the bags with a double. That meant we still had to make up a run. Maybe Vinson again? He singled Hess’ first pitch into right, where Luis Gonzalez was too slow to get it back in before Higgins had blown around third and had come home. Tied game. Lagarde was put into that scenario, got an out, then walked Luis Maldonado (who had taken Vázquez deep in the sixth), and then left the game after pulling something in his abdomen. Burnett surrendered the run, and Jim Durden set the Raccoons back to .500 … 5-4 Indians. Brewer 2-4, BB, 2B; Baldivía 2-5, 2B; Kinnear 2-4, 2B; Vinson 2-4, 2B, RBI;

Jackie Lagarde was DTD with a mild abdominal strain for about four days, it seemed, which tied in nicely with the overall state of affairs. Everything that happened, happened in the most inopportune way imaginable.

Brewer got rest on Sunday with me fully expecting a clean sweep.

The Indians started Dan George and his recordless 2.51 ERA. George had a wild day. The only thing lacking to complete wildness would have been pink hair. The Coons scored twice on him in the third inning, and completely dismantled him in a shocking 9-run fifth inning (seven on George). You know their guy has a bad day when your pitcher knocks him out with a 2-out RBI single that makes it 7-0. Wade was pitching well, but also had luck, like in the bottom 5th, where the Indians had runners on the corners with one out, and Luis Maldonado made for home on a flyout to Reece, only to be gunned down at the plate. Up 11-0, Reece and O-Mo were removed after six, and Vinson after seven, while Wade was quietly doing his job. The Indians broke up the shutout (and Wade) in the eighth, so no accolades but a pat on the shoulder and a kind “Good job” for Wade. 12-1 Raccoons. Higgins 2-5, RBI; Baldivía 3-6, 2B, 3 RBI; O’Morrissey 2-4, BB, 2B, 3 RBI; Quinn 2-4, BB, 2 RBI; Wade 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, W (1-2) and 1-3, RBI;

In other news

April 18 – SAL OF Will Jackson (.189, 3 HR, 7 RBI) is out for at least a month with shoulder tendinitis.
April 18 – VAN SP Orlando Blanco (1-1, 3.95 ERA) sparkles in a 3-hit shutout (7-0) against the Titans. Blanco needs the result, he is 22-50 with a 4.98 ERA for his career.
April 19 – The Warriors sophomore CF John Hensley (.200, 1 HR, 8 RBI) looks like he will miss a month with a separated shoulder.
April 20 – CHA SP Robbie Campbell (4-0, 0.86 ERA) joins the 200-wins club with eight innings of 1-run ball in a 3-1 win of the Falcons over the Bayhawks. Campbell, who is 200-137 for his career with a 3.20 ERA, was the 8th overall pick by the Canadiens in the 1977 draft. He pitched for them in the big leagues from 1980-1991, and then joined the Falcons. He has 2,261 strikeouts in 3,076.1 innings and is in the final year of a 4-yr, $3.4M contract with the Falcons.

Complaints and stuff

We picked up 27-yr old SP Israel Gallegos, an experienced AAA starter, on a minor league deal. He was assigned to where he knows best, AAA. He made two appearances for the Wolves in 1991. He has no options, so he would be a long term injury replacement.

As things are at the moment, we have $239k of budget space available and will highly likely blow through that four-fold in the draft. With the 15th place budget we have the fifth-highest payroll in the league…

The offense is spotty, scoring either one or no run(s), or a million in a game. The guys that are struggling are not hard to name. Salazar, Reece, Quinn, Rodriguez, in no particular order.
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Old 04-05-2014, 06:33 PM   #790
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Raccoons (8-7) vs. Knights (5-10) – April 21-23, 1995

The Knights rotation had been stomped to a 5.30 ERA (last in CL) so far this season, and that was where there problems were located. But facing Jim Harrington, Pat Cherry, and Jesse Carver, you couldn’t expect to have an easy walk at the beach. Only Carver had been blown up so far (9.00 ERA), and while he was not the guy anymore that won 21 games with the 1988 Indians, he was still a formidable opponent.

Many things went wrong in the series opener. Jim Harrington drove in the first run off Kisho Saito with a 2-out RBI single in the second inning, a 1-0 deficit that was equalized by a sac fly O-Mo hit in the third inning. O-Mo in turn was taken out in an on base collision with Johnny Johnson, the Knights’ 20-year old catcher, who tried to go first-to-third on ANOTHER 2-out single by Harrington. O-Mo took one to the knee and was out of the game. Saito was not very good in this start and needed help, getting it in the fifth from a) Bobby Quinn, who made a bear catch on a ball that had RBI double written all over it, and b) Esteban Baldivía hitting a 2-run homer in the bottom 5th. Saito labored through seven innings of 2-run ball, helped hugely by the defense at some points. The Raccoons conceded a run in the top 8th, bringing the score to 4-3, while leaving the bags full on either side of that half-inning. That left De La Rosa cushion-less. He needed no cushion! Gabby set the Knights aside in order, saving the win for Saito. 4-3 Coons. Baldivía 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; O’Morrissey 1-1, RBI; Ingall 2-3; Salazar 3-4;

Neil Reece went 0-5 with 6 LOB. It’s not even bad luck. He’s making actual poor outs. This is troubling!

Ben O’Morrissey would be out for a week with a knee contusion. A week is the most stupid time frame for somebody to be hurt. I don’t even want to start on how he is hitting .345 – for the second time in less than two weeks our most productive batter goes down. In the end, he was not disabled. We’d have to play through this, somehow.

The lineup was getting thinner for Jason Turner in game 2, with six of the nine batters in the lineup hitting .216 or (markedly) less. Neil Reece set an early exclamation mark with a 2-run homer in the first inning. Soon enough things went downwards again. Turner gave up a run in the third, and only narrowly held on to the 2-1 lead in the top 4th. In the bottom 4th, Bobby Quinn led off with a double, that was a close call at second base. Close enough that Quinn collided with SS Sosa Tanaka, sliding head first into Tanaka’s knee. This time, the knee held up, and Quinn was taken out. Jin replaced him and scored on two groundouts, but our bench was about deserted with another injury. Turner got some more support with a Higgins home run in the seventh and a small ball run in the eighth. Miller was put in for the ninth inning – and had no issues with the Knights. 5-1 Coons! Baldivía 2-4, 2 2B; Quinn 2-2, 2B; Higgins 2-3, HR, RBI; Turner 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, W (2-1);

Injuries. Bobby Quinn was listed as DTD with a mild concussion, but we already had O-Mo unusable with the knee, and I was not about to play a guy seeing stars. This would limit us to a 3-man bench, and that was not going to happen. Now we had to do it: O-Mo went to the DL. His injury time was estimated longer than Quinn’s by our medical staff. So be it. We called up 27-yr old INF/RF Ben Nash from AAA, who batted .381 early on in the season. He was our fourth round pick from 1986 (so he was around for some time), and would make his major league debut.

David Vinson would bat third in the final game of the series. That’s how far it has come!

The starter for the game was Miguel Lopez, facing the so far horrendously molested Jesse Carver. It was another strange game. Scoreless through two innings, Lopez struck out the side in the top 3rd. Well, except that between strikeouts the Knights hit three singles and scored a run. In the bottom 4th, Vinson got on to lead off, and then Reece and Kinnear both hit into flyball outs. That brought up Higgins, and – holy cow! – another homer! But before anybody could get excited with a 2-1 lead, Lopez allowed two runs in the top 5th on another bushel of singles. And things continued like that, as the Knights knocked him out with three leadoff singles in the top 6th. 5+ innings, 11 hits, four runs against Lopez, who was quickly picked up by the team with a Kinnear home run and Higgins and Salazar piecing together a run in the bottom 6th. So, four runs each through six. While our pen got six outs from there, Carver was still in the game for the Knights, which led to him surrendering a leadoff triple to Matt Higgins in the bottom 8th. Salazar hit a sac fly to bring in Higgins, and we were ahead 5-4 for De La Rosa. Again, he sat down the Knights without fuss. 5-4 Coons! Baldivía 2-4, 2B; Vinson 2-4; Higgins 3-4, HR, 3B, 2 RBI; Salazar 2-2, BB, RBI;

Matt Higgins – while trailing some in stolen bases on this team – now suddenly LEADS the team in home runs with three. Well, he ties for the lead with Vern Kinnear, but got there first. And his AVG is almost thrice that of Kinnear at this point.

Raccoons (11-7) vs. Thunder (8-11) – April 24-26, 1995

Three weeks into the season, the Thunder – the defending champions! – were average in about every category you could think about. 6th in runs scored, 7th in runs allowed, and so on. We would see two roughed up starters in this series, which unfortunately also included the good “Pooky” Beato (1-3, 7.23 ERA), who was scheduled for game 2.

But first came game 1. Vázquez faced Jon Robinson (1-1, 5.11 ERA). This was to become a special day for Chih-tui Jin, who started in right field, and hit his first big league home run, a 2-shot on the bottom 2nd that got the Raccoons ahead. Next, Sonny Reece, the kid that hit two game 7 walkoff home runs last October, took Vázquez deep, setting in motion a 3-run inning in the top 3rd, in which Vázquez looked really old. He would surrender another run en route to pitch six innings. Down 4-2, the Coons had their two leadoff batters on in the eighth, but Reece, Brewer (as pinch hitter on a day off) and Jin all made outs. Then came the bottom 9th against closer Jimmy Morey. Ingall got on, and then Salazar, batting for Nash, singled his way on. Up came Luke Newton, and out of bats he had to go to the plate, and singled to shallow left. Bases loaded, no outs, top of the lineup coming. Higgins coaxed a walk out of Morey, bringing up Baldy, who was known for hitting into the most untimely double plays imaginable. Not this time! Baldy lobbed a single over Sonny Reece at second base to tie the game. STILL no outs! Vinson up and he grounded a perfect double play ball to Reece, only that Reece had to go home to put Newton away, which he did, but that was the only out they got. And now we had Reece, who was struggling so badly, come to the plate. He lined into shallow center, and Jeff Martin --- JUST could NOT get it – the Coons walked off!! 5-4 Coons!! Higgins 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Baldivía 2-5, 2B, RBI; Reece 2-5, RBI; Jin 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Salazar (PH) 1-1; Newton (PH) 2-2;

Grant West pitched the eighth in this game, starting with a punchout to Jeff Martin, the former Raccoon. That was his first K of the year! Eight appearances, 5.1 innings, five walks, but no K’s. West has clearly lost his killer stuff completely by now.

Walkoff single notwithstanding, .217 batting Neil Reece can’t get going. I thought about having him a day off in the middle game against Pooky, then still put him in. And you look at Vern Kinnear, the nicest Australian we Portlanders know, and ask yourself, how can someone who hits .136 slug friggin’ SIX-NINETEEN?? Something is way off here with this offense! Thankfully, our bullpen is lights out at this point, and the starters are very good, so we give up very few runs and what little offense we have is sufficient.

Scott Wade fell 1-0 behind early, but the Coons tied that back in the fourth. Wade first allowed a solo homer to Dan Preston, but Vinson hit a home run in the bottom half, and we got another run for a 2-2 tie, which stood through five. Wade led off the top 6th by allowing singles to Jeff Martin and Vonne Calzado, then faced Sonny Reece. Big strikeout! Great, now we have one out and – oh, crap, Dave Browne doubled to right, and a Haruki Nakayama triple knocked out Wade. Down 5-2, Jin made it home runs on back-to-back days with a solo shot in the seventh. In the bottom 8th, we had one man on with two out for Reece, but he grounded to second and was only safe because of an error. Kinnear behind him had been removed in a double switch, and now Marvin Ingall had to hit for Grant West. Pooky struck him out. Bottom 9th, Higgins led off with a single off Morey, who tried to save at least this game here. Higgins stole second base, but Salazar and Jin flew out harmlessly. Morey walked Newton, bringing up Brewer. He grounded up the middle for a single that was sufficient to score Higgins from second. Now Baldy had to come through, but before he could, Morey tried to come through Baldy with a pitch. That HBP loaded the bases and brought up Vinson. And Vinson took a called strike three. 5-4 Thunder. Vinson 2-5, HR, RBI; Higgins 2-4, RBI; West 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

Daniel Miller struck out the side in the top 9th. For him, that’s now 9.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 10 K. Quite a turnaround from a 6+ ERA season, huh? You may wonder about Albert Matthews, whom we waived to keep Miller on the roster, and who went to the Canadiens. He’s been decent: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, with an 0-1 record.

Reece got that day off – despite an off day after this series! – in game 3.

Kisho would pitch, facing Makoto Kogawa (1-1, 2.55 ERA). In the bottom 3rd of a scoreless game, Newton singled to lead off the inning. He tried to steal second, was thrown out, Saito struck out, and then Brewer hit a triple, that went unused when Baldivía grounded out. So we didn’t score here, but the Thunder lashed out at Saito in the top 4th, with a 2-run, 2-out double by Takeshi Ikeda, the catcher, hurting us. The Coons had Jin and Kinnear in scoring position in the bottom 4th with two down. Kogawa walked Ingall, bringing up Newton with the bases loaded. 1-1 pitch, big swing, clearly audible knock, and a park that jumped to its feet as Newton grand slammed that ball outta here!! Baldy and Higgins got into scoring position with one out in the fifth, and Vinson singled up the middle to score the first baseman. Higgins had to hold, but scored on Jin’s single that knocked out Kogawa. We came out up by five in this inning, and now it was Saito’s task to possibly go eight (63 pitches through five) and not blow a 7-2 advantage. And that’s what I love so much about Saito. You tell him to go three more innings without any excitement, and he does! Usually without excitement noticeable from the outside, but he’s that kinda guy. The Coons got an extra run in the bottom 8th (yet left three men on when Vinson and Jin whiffed for the final two outs), and Burnett and Vela got the game over with. 8-2 Coons! Baldivía 2-5; Higgins 2-5, 2B, RBI; Jin 2-3, 2 BB, RBI; Newton 3-4, HR, 4 RBI; Salazar (PH) 1-1; Saito 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, W (4-0);

Young Luke Newton had himself quite a day here! Bobby Quinn also got rid of the headaches that had plagued him for a few days. Kinnear’s still batting the weight of his left leg. Hummmm…

Raccoons (13-8) @ Titans (13-9) – April 28-30, 1995

Back to those killing fields. The Titans had pummeled us 14-4 over last season, and I never found out exactly why. Their offense was humming, no matter what, having scored 110 runs (2nd in CL) so far. The Coons? 100, which tied for 5th. Their bullpen was a mess, so better make those starters work!

Vern Kinnear started game 1 against the right-hander Philippe Villard (1-2, 8.70 ERA), but was dropped to seventh in the order. Left-hander up tomorrow.

Villard had his feathers ruffled in the second inning of the opener, the Coons scoring three early runs. Key in that inning was a play not made: up 1-0, with one out and Vinson and Kinnear in scoring position, Jason Turner came to bat and shoved the ball into the ground half way between home and the mound, slightly to the third base side. Our runners stayed put and Villard originally wanted to go home, but then had to turn to go to first, and then didn’t get Turner, who was safe to load the bags. A Jin homer upped the score to 5-0 in the third. Villard would not get out of the fourth, saddled with another pair of runs, a 1-out, 2-run single by Reece with the bases loaded. That was about the last thing Reece did in the game. An inning later he showed his elbow to the trainer. There was something wrong and he came out of the game. Oh, we also still had a pitcher in this game. Turner was strong until Jose Ramirez smashed a 2-run home run in the bottom 4th. After that, he caused more traffic on the bags, but the Titans failed to score off him. Even with a 7-2 lead, Turner was pinch-hit for in the top 7th with one out and runners on the corners, mainly because he was almost 100 pitches into his start. Ingall hit for him and singled, Brewer walked to fill the bags, but nothing more came of the inning. And now we lead 8-2, and put in Grant West, hoping for two innings with lots of left-handers in the lineup for the Titans. West registers zero outs, giving up three hits and another runner was on Ben Nash with an error. Nash had just replaced Brewer at second base. Lagarde came in, trying to clean up, but – uh, Luis Lopez cleaned up with a grand slam. And now we led 8-7. What the **** was going on!? Lagarde somehow tumbled through that inning, then put the leadoff batter on in the eighth. Burnett came in. Daniel Silva singled to right, and Jose Martinez hit a 2-run double that blooped into left. In just two innings, the Titans obliterated our bullpen for eight runs, a smothering, stinking, utterly demoralizing humiliation. 10-8 Titans. Brewer 2-4, BB; Reece 2-3, 2 BB, 2B; Jin 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; Salazar 4-5, 2 2B, RBI;

And it keeps happening. What is it with those Titans???

Neil Reece was listed DTD with a sore elbow, which would keep him off the field at least for this weekend series. Also, Kinnear was not playing. And I couldn’t talk to the players before game 2 because my throat was sore from all the screaming during the seventh and eighth innings the day before.

With Reece sore, Kinnear benched, Green hurt, O-Mo hurt, and Vinson getting a day off, recently hot Chih-tui Jin batted cleanup. This could not end well.

Lopez took on Francisco Vidrio (1-1, 4.35 ERA). Lopez was his own offense, hurling a ball over Jack Burbidge, who played second base, for a 2-out RBI single in the second inning. After both teams left a handful of runners on through three, letting the 1-0 lead stand, Lopez was again the center of attention in the top 4th, batting. We had Rodriguez at first with one out, and Lopez laid down a bunt. George Waller’s throw to first was in the dirt and bounced away, putting two men on for the Coons, and helped us to an unearned run. And in the fifth, we had two on with two out. Vidrio threw his 2-0 pitch to Rodriguez into the dirt and past catcher Luis Lopez. Rodriguez was then put on intentionally, and Lopez came to the plate. It would be cool if – no, he flew out. Ten men left on base through five just HAD to backfire, and it did quickly in the bottom 5th, where Lopez gave up the two runs we led with. He was picked up mainly by Matt Higgins in the sixth. After Baldy tripled with one out, Higgins singled him in, then stole second base. Once Chih-tui Jin drew a walk, they BOTH set in motion, and Luis Lopez didn’t get any of them. Higgins then scored on a sac fly to restore a 2-run lead, 4-2. Miguel Lopez was done after six, having been more or less awful, but still clinging onto that 4-2 lead. Burnett was brought in for the seventh, and started to fall behind to every batter. The Titans would not score, but only because Jin threw out a runner at the plate to end the frame. Then we brought in Miller for the eighth. Miller had excelled so far. Daniel Silva singled through Baldivía, and then Miller walked Jose Ramirez. No outs… Martinez replaced him, and got out of the jam more through dumb luck than anything else. Dave Dixon hit a rock hard liner right into Ben Nash’s glove for the first out, and then the Titans bunted their runners over, before Martinez punched out Josh Thomas to end the frame. De La Rosa then entered for the ninth, got an out, then put the tying runs on base. Burbidge came up and grounded into a double play. Oh good god. 4-2 Coons. Baldivía 3-5, 3B, 2B, RBI; Higgins 2-5, RBI; Quinn 2-4, RBI; Salazar 2-5; Rodriguez 2-3, BB; Ingall (PH) 1-1; Martinez 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

In the end, the Titans overtook us in LOB in this game, 14-12. What a messy affair.

Phhhhhh. One more. Can’t wait to get outta Massachusetts.

The matchup for the rubber game read Robert Vázquez opposite of Doug Morrow (3-2, 3.00 ERA). Rain in the forecast. The rain indeed came in quickly, lingered a bit and ultimately forced a delay of more than an hour that knocked Vázquez from the scoreless contest in the fourth inning. It became another messy game. While we expended about our entire bullpen trying to mix and match, and through a few double switches and so on, we ended up having Reece in the game at one point, and he hit a 2-run homer that broke a scoreless tie. The bullpen struggled to keep things together, though. In the bottom 8th, Tony Vela failed to give us a second inning, and instead put two men on. Burnett provided no relief against left-handers, allowing a run to score, and with a walk loaded the bags. 2-1, two out, three on, Martinez came in, and Cipriano León drilled his first pitch to left – WHAT A PLAY BY INGALL!!!! A better play you will never see!! Ingall, playing third by now, hurled himself into a pitch that was three inches off the ground and caught it!! Inning over, yet Martinez came out and was hurt, and no matter what we did in the top 9th, De La Rosa would pitch the bottom 9th. The Coons didn’t do anything, so it was on Gabby to end this prime time showing live from the circus. He got Silva to roll out, struck out Ramirez, and then faced Dixon, who singled up the middle. Alejandro Espinoza, the leadoff man came up. Full count, contact, deep to center. Oh no, that’s deep, that’s … CAUGHT BY NEWTON!!! 2-1 Raccoons!! HOLY SMOKE!! Vázquez 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Martinez had a strained back: another guy to be DTD for a few days…

In other news

April 22 – Late/early trade: the Blue Sox acquire 30-yr old 1B Mauro Granados (.194, 1 HR, 11 RBI), who is a career .260 batter, from the Buffaloes, sending over 37-yr old MR Juan Miranda (0-1, 2.00 ERA) and a prospect. Miranda has 415 career saves, while Granados already played for the Blue Sox from 1991 to 1992.
April 28 – SAC 2B German Roldán (.301, 2 HR, 12 RBI) is out for the season with a broken kneecap.
April 28 – DEN LF Dale Wales (.359, 1 HR, 11 RBI) will have to sit out about three weeks with a tear in an ankle ligament.

Complaints and stuff

Esteban Baldivía was named CL Player of the Week for the week ending with the Knights series. He hit 11-27 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. So, it was pitchers’ week? There certainly was not much offense going in most of the Raccoons’ games! (Although in all fairness, if you can’t survive on 4.58 R/G – 114 runs scored in 25 games – you’re in trouble)

Meanwhile, quirky Matt Higgins led the Continental League in OPS at one point this week! I know how it sounds, but it’s true. After game 2 in Boston, Higgins clocked in at 1.058, 32 points ahead of Atlanta’s Rory Gorden. Those numbers were no challenge to the FL leaders, where Richmond’s Raúl Vázquez came in at 1.356. Yikes. Higgins’ regency ended quickly with an 0-4 day in the final Titans game, though.

List of players that have gotten hurt in the first month of the season: MR Jackie Lagarde, MR Juan Martinez, INF Ben O’Morrissey, OF Royce Green, OF Bobby Quinn, OF Neil Reece; for THAT, we have fared splendidly for sure. I would still like to get Royce Green back and for Vern Kinnear to hit about twice his current average.

Oh, yeah. A month into the season, it is fair to say that I am very disappointed in what Neil Reece and David Brewer have offered so far.
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Old 04-07-2014, 04:16 PM   #791
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Raccoons (15-9) @ Canadiens (8-16) – May 1-3, 1995

The Canadiens so far had come to enjoy(?) the worst pitching in the league, as their starters ranked 11th, and their pen 12th in the league. The offense had failed to compensate. But you know, the Coons come in…

Projected pitching matchups:
Scott Wade (1-3, 4.00 ERA) vs. Manny Ramos (3-1, 4.21 ERA)
Kisho Saito (4-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Orlando Blanco (2-1, 3.20 ERA)
Jason Turner (2-1, 3.48 ERA) vs. Ruben Prado (0-5, 6.61 ERA)

Baldivía was the only right-handed batter in the lineup against Ramos in the opener. Higgins played third base and committed a throwing error in the first inning that contributed to two unearned runs on Scott Wade. Just when the Coons had that tied back, Wade put the two leadoff men on with walks in the bottom 3rd, and then an infield single loaded the bases, but the Canadiens would only score on a sac fly before a double play started by Brewer got Wade out of the inning. Ramos didn’t hold onto that past the fourth, either, as Salazar scored Vern Kinnear, who had hit a leadoff double, with a sac fly. The Coons would take a lead in the fifth when Chih-tui Jin, with Vinson on first, hit a line drive home run out of right field, 5-3. In the top 6th, the bags were full for Vinson with two out. In a full count, he looked at Ramos’ pitch – which was good, and Vinson was punched out, nobody scored. Wade got through six, which was fair enough, and was in line for the win until we brought in Jackie Lagarde in the eighth. He walked one, allowed a single, walked another one, threw a run-scoring wild pitch, walked another batter, and finally gave up a 2-run single to C Alberto Durán. That set the Canadiens ahead, 6-5, and Wade looked like he had murder on his mind. I did, too. Vela got out of the inning, and then we had the bottom part of the lineup due in the top 9th against Joe Roberts, who was not necessarily a blueprint for a closer with a WHIP of almost 2. Accordingly, Luke Newton led off with a double off the wall. Kinnear grounded out, moving Newton to third base. Quinn then pinch-hit for Vela, but grounded out to third, and Brewer grounded out to first. 6-5 Canadiens. Brewer 2-5, BB, 2B; Salazar 2-4, 2B, RBI; Baldivía 2-5, RBI; Vinson 2-4; Newton 2-5, 2B; Kinnear 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI;

Out-hit them 13-7, and the LOB showed 14 left on base, 31 individually. You just want to scream. Mainly at Lagarde.

Leaving runners on left and right continued in the middle game, but Saito got an early push with a 3-run first including a 2-run homer by Baldivía. Saito gave up one run in the second, but was mostly strong, while the Coons frequently left men on. Salazar seemed to come up with two on every time, and at least didn’t kill any effort in these situations, which was not true for some other guys in the lineup. Saito just got one more ounce of support, a 2-run double my Marvin Ingall with two out in the fifth. Saito soldiered through the game with not his best stuff, but sufficient, and was still in there for the ninth with De La Rosa warming up. The Coons led 5-1, and Saito surrendered singles to Salvador Mendez and Forest Hartley, and then plunked the left-hander Luis Arroyo. No outs. Why. Just why. De La Rosa faced only two batters. He walked both. NOOOO!!!! Grant West was thrown in there. 5-3, bases loaded, no outs. West got Marihito Ohayashi to lob out to Reece in shallow center. The runners held. West went to a full count on PH Edgardo Ramos. I couldn’t bare watch, but West struck him out. Uuuaah!! One more! We need one more. Raúl Solís was batting north of .320, and grounded West’s 1-0 to short. Salazar stepped on second – game over. 5-3 Coons. Baldivía 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; Jin 3-4, BB; Salazar 3-4, RBI; Saito 8.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, W (5-0); West 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, SV (1), IR 3-0;

Whoah! Still shaking. Why do things always escalate with sledgehammer intensity …!!?? That West re-signing has already paid off (just ask Saito). By the way, that was Saito’s 190th big league win. Start that countdown.

Can we please have a comfy day without meltdowns in the rubber game?

Jason Turner no-hit the Canadiens into the fourth in the rubber game, while both offenses were slow early on. The Coons scratched out the first run of the game in the top 4th when with two down Kinnear singled in Chih-tui Jin, who raced home from second base and was barely safe. Top 5th, Brewer walked to lead off, and Higgins got on with a single, sending Brewer to third base. Baldy came up and we called a squeeze play. Baldy grounded to the right of Ruben Prado, who first wanted to go to first with it, and noticed Brewer barreling down the third base line a tad too late, and Brewer was safe. In fact, everybody was safe, but we didn’t score any more for Neil Reece kindly removing two runners at once with a grounder to second. Jason Turner then had a rare 3-pitch inning in the fifth as Ruben Prado, Raúl Solís, and Salvador Mendez all made first-pitch outs. Turner continued to not fool people in the sixth, when seven pitches were enough to load the bags with no outs with a walk and two singles. SS Michael McFarland grounded into a double play, third and short, holding Luis Arroyo on third, and so Turner still had a chance to get out unscathed, if he could get Roland Moore. He struck him out. We lost a run in the top 8th, when Reece drew a leadoff walk, but was then quickly picked off at first base. In turn, Vinson got on, and then Jin hit an RBI triple, that would have been a 2-run triple. While Turner surrendered only four hits, his wildness he had shown from the start of the season, got the better of him and he was done by the eighth. Miller collected the final out in that inning, then started the ninth up 4-0. And he walked the first two batters. Just … just … just why … BRING WEST!!!! Grant West came in, got a double play from Edgardo Ramos, then struck out Tony Balderas to end the game. 4-0 Coons. Higgins 2-5; Vinson 2-4; Kinnear 3-3, 2 RBI; Turner 7.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K, W (3-1); West 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, SV (2), IR 2-0;

These kids. (pats West on the shoulder) SHOW’EM, GRANDPA!!

Raccoons (17-10) @ Wolves (13-15) – May 5-7, 1995

We will get O-Mo back for the middle game of this series, so Ben Nash will not need to unpack his suitcase in Salem.

The Wolves were below average in every important category, and 10th in both runs scored and runs allowed in the FL. Yet, their 121 runs might have ranked only 10th in the FL, but the Raccoons’ 128 runs were not that much more, and also ranked only 6th in the CL. In their lineup hid an outfielder, Benny Carver, with six homers and a 1.140 OPS so far this year. We were scheduled all right-handers.

Projected matchups:
Miguel Lopez (2-1, 2.63 ERA) vs. Alfonso Velasco (2-2, 5.45 ERA)
Robert Vázquez (1-1, 2.51 ERA) vs. Rafael Serrano (1-0, 2.79 ERA)
Scott Wade (1-3, 3.55 ERA) vs. Ramón Sotelo (3-3, 3.98 ERA)

Amazingly, it was a pitchers’ duel in the series opener. Lopez had a bad first inning, allowing four runners and a run, but then settled in and went seven frames of occasional wildness, but did not allow any more runs. But the Raccoons were OBLITERATED by Velasco during seven innings. They had a single hit and eight strikeouts and hadn’t even been close to scoring. A shy single by Brewer was all we managed in the top 8th, and a Salazar error put a runner on third in the bottom 8th, but Martinez got out of the inning in his first outing back from injury. Top 9th, the Wolves replaced Velasco, who had thrown more than 110 pitches, with Ricardo Medina. Baldy, Reece, and Vinson were up. Medina’s third pitch to Baldy was into the seats and tied the game, flushing Velasco’s stunning outing down the toilet. The next three batters went down, though, and a Higgins error put the leadoff man on against Tony Vela in the bottom 9th. Ken Burnett came in with the Wolves sending lefty Jeff MacGruder to pinch-hit, and managed to get the game to extra innings. We then had Lagarde pitch the 10th against a string of right-handers, and by now he was completely useless, walking another pair. The defense got that inning over with. Ironically, Lagarde would strike out two lefties in the 11th! There was no scoring until the top 13th, when Brewer got on to start the frame and was collected on a 2-run homer by Neil Reece. De La Rosa came in for the bottom 13th (and only West was left in the pen). Gabby collected two outs, then walked veteran Eddy Bailey. Les Harper doubled him in, and now Carver was up, but was walked intentionally. I preferred to go after the right-hander Fred Rodgers at this point. And HE struck out. PHEW!!! 3-2 Furballs! Brewer 2-5, BB; Reece 1-5, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Vinson 2-6; Quinn 2-4; Lopez 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K;

Middle game. The Coons were again still hitless when Salem’s Paul Connolly struck Vázquez with a 3-run homer in the bottom 3rd. We scratched out a run in the top 4th against Serrano, but overall, the Coons looked lost at the plate yet again. Vázquez was done after six with some ill control and many 3-ball counts, and the Coons got Serrano out of the game in the top 7th when, 3-1 behind, they put the tying runs on in Rodriguez and Baldivía – the latter of which walked. Munemori Suzuki replaced Serrano and walked Chih-tui Jin. Bases loaded with two out for Neil Reece. Single to right, scored one run! Now Kinnear came up, and the Wolves did not bring a left-hander. And Suzuki walked him, and that tied the game. And against O-Mo stepping in, Suzuki’s 1-0 pitch was in the dirt, and off the catcher, and the Coons took the lead. O-Mo then doubled on a 3-1 pitch, and the Raccoons struck back with fantastic 2-out terror, scoring six runs on the Wolves, and taking a 7-3 lead. Now wait for that bullpen implosion, which HAD to be coming, and WAS coming. Vela got two outs in the seventh (Burnett getting the first), but then issued two leadoff walks in the eighth. West came in, got a double play, and then a flyer to Jin to end the inning. Miller pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, so: 7-3 Raccoons! Reece 2-5, 2B, RBI; Kinnear 2-2, 2 BB, RBI; Salazar 1-2, 2 BB, RBI;

The Indians had lost the first two games of their series in Pittsburgh – and that put the Raccoons on top of the CL North with a 19-10 record over their 20-11 effort.

Baldy and Salazar both were not in the lineup in game 3. Not because of them struggling, but just so we could get Higgins and Ingall into the lineup again.

Scott Wade got one run of support in the first, but exerted ill control from the start. In a genuinely bad start, he allowed ten runners and three runs in five innings, being bailed out by the defense, which left two Wolves on in three of Wade’s five innings. An O’Morrissey homer cut the gap to 3-2 in the top 6th, and then Ingall led off the seventh with a triple. Quinn grounded out poorly, forcing Ingall to hold. Baldivía batted in the #9 hole and struck out. Brewer fell to 2-2, and then blooped a single just behind 2B Eddy Bailey, and only then was Ingall able to score the tying run. Then the bottom fell out of our bullpen yet again. Lagarde came in for the bottom 7th, gave up a walk, a homer (MacGruder’s second on the day), and another walk, and when Vela came in, he didn’t improve our chances, and neither did a throwing error by O’Morrissey. That ship was sinking hard. 7-3 Wolves. Brewer 2-5, 2B, RBI; Higgins 3-5, 2B; O’Morrissey 2-5, HR, RBI; Reece 2-4, RBI;

Gotta start looking after that bullpen. The ineptitude is getting worse again.

In other news

May 3 – WAS INF/RF Yoshihito Ito (.408, 5 HR, 16 RBI) extends his hitting streak to 20 games despite going 1-5 as the Capitals beat the Rebels, 7-5.
May 5 – Ito’s streak ends at 21 games, as the Loggers hold him 0-3 while also defeating the Capitals, 5-2.

Complaints and stuff

That bullpen. I don’t even know what is going on in there. What’s wrong with Lagarde??

Hadn’t they blown up that first game in Vancouver so spectacularly, we would have had an amazing week. This way, it was merely nice to win two series. We lost the lead again.

Batting in RISP situations has been a pain lately. I am watching Brewer. He doesn’t have 6 RBI for no reason. He is batting .227 in these situations, but that even pales to Jin’s and Quinn’s .067 and Kinnear’s .150. According to RISP analysis, we would have to put Higgins and O-Mo in the #4 and #5 slots, excelling close to .400 in RISP AB’s.
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Old 04-07-2014, 04:36 PM   #792
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Isn't it a good thing if ineptitude gets worse?....

Love to see Grant West coming through.....us old guys gotta stick together....though, admittedly, he would be offended to be lumped in the same age bracket as me.....
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Old 04-07-2014, 05:12 PM   #793
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Questdog View Post
Love to see Grant West coming through.....us old guys gotta stick together....though, admittedly, he would be offended to be lumped in the same age bracket as me.....
I called him "Grandpa" this week, how much worse can it be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Questdog View Post
Isn't it a good thing if ineptitude gets worse?....
Now, that's gotta be some kind of "glass half full" attitude which I have no business with.
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Old 04-09-2014, 05:48 PM   #794
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Raccoons (19-11) vs. Cyclones (16-14) – May 9-11, 1995

The Cyclones were just half a game out of the lead in the FL East as they came into town, despite a pitching staff that was struggling, ranking below average in all important categories. They were 6th in runs scored offensively, but with the FL scoring a few more runs than the CL this season, they outscored the Raccoons by ten runs so far – the Coons were also 6th in runs scored in the CL. Outfielder Dan Morris came in with nine home runs on his bank account – most in the majors.

Projected matchups:
Kisho Saito (5-0, 3.07 ERA) vs. Mark Burt (2-2, 5.88 ERA)
Jason Turner (3-1, 2.79 ERA) vs. Antonio Lopez (2-5, 7.40 ERA)
Miguel Lopez (2-1, 2.36 ERA) vs. Chet Jones (3-1, 4.55 ERA)

The Furballs took a quick 3-0 lead in the opener, getting six straight runners on base after an initial out by David Brewer. With the bags full, Vinson was hit by a pitch, Baldy walked, and Kinnear singled. Have you ever heard that history repeats itself? Well, it didn’t exactly repeat itself, but in the bottom 2nd, we had the bases full with two out when Baldy came up. He walked again, and then Kinnear singled again. This time Bobby Quinn came up to hit a 2-run single. That signaled the end of the work day for Mark Burt, who was lit up for seven earned runs while collecting five outs. The Coons would reach double digits in the fifth, when David Vinson with two out belted a 3-run homer to right. That made it 10-1, the lone Cincy run scoring on a Bobby Quinn error. Of course, ten runs were more than plenty of support for a Kisho Saito, even without his best stuff on hand, and some occasional control issues. Two outs into the seventh, with the top of the lineup and pitch 110 approaching, I took him out. The Coons had stormed away with this one! 13-2 Furballs! Brewer 2-4, 2 BB; Salazar 3-5, RBI; O’Morrissey 2-6, 2B, RBI; Reece 2-4, 2 BB, RBI; Vinson 3-3, HR, 4 RBI; Kinnear 2-4, 2 BB, 2 RBI; Ingall 1-1; Saito 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (6-0);

Vinson was plunked twice in the game, and Master Kisho is the first guy to six wins this year. Vinson was sore, but Kisho was the king of the hill. But it should not go unmentioned that Bobby Quinn spared Saito two runs with a fantastic inning-ending play in right field early on in the game. So, not a great start for Saito, but it still got the deal done with some help.

Game 2. Brewer got a day off against the left-hander, and O-Mo also would warm the bench against “Woody” Lopez, who had been with us the latter half of 1990. Again, we scored a few early, with Neil Reece knocking a 3-run home run in the bottom 1st. With Jason Turner dealing early on, that was the score for a while. But Turner turned wild in the fifth, issuing two four-pitch walks with one out. Here, the Cyclones ran themselves out of the inning, as 2B Francesco Marino tried to take third base on Vinson – but was thrown out by a good margin. Turner would never collect an out in the sixth. He walked Dan Morris, then allowed a double to Michael Root. That was his day. Martinez relieved him, but conceded his runs and didn’t actually get out of the inning, which eventually was accomplished by Burnett, and now led only by one run. Burnett was left in to bat with one out and two on in the bottom 6th, but managed to bunt into a force out at third base. After Higgins walked, Baldivía made himself useful with a 2-run single – and these runs would come big. Burnett would collect six outs over three frames here, and Lagarde got us to the ninth, still up 5-2. De La Rosa gave up a leadoff walk, and then a single, where Jin dropped the ball to cost an extra base. Gabby failed to hold the runners in scoring position. With one out, they were in, 5-4 the score, and the tying run was on second base … AND the lefty bombers Morris and Root were up next. Mound conference, and when that was over, Gabby punched out Morris. Root would ground out to end the game. 5-4 Raccoons. Baldivía 2-3, 2 RBI; Reece 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; O’Morrissey (PH) 1-1; Burnett 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

The runs in the ninth were unearned after Jin’s error, so despite a shivering outing, De La Rosa got his ERA below 1 again. Also, with the Indians losing the rubber game against the Pacifics in a series that had started on Monday, when the Coons had been off, we took back the division lead with this win, by half a game.

Game 3. After retiring the Cyclones’ first two batters, Miguel Lopez surrendered a single on a 2-0 pitch to Root, and then threw eight straight balls. The Cyclones would score two in the inning, and the Raccoons got only one back, so we went trailing. Lopez would have a bad day, oscillating between overpowering and unhittable stuff and waving them right on base almost every one or two batters. He was done after surrendering five runs in five innings, when the Coons came up down by two with the bags full and one out in the bottom 5th. But Higgins, who pinch-hit, and Brewer didn’t get anybody in, and while the Raccoons did score a run, that came on a balk by Chet Jones. Still, Lopez did not wind up with a loss. In the bottom 6th Kinnear and Baldy would hit back-to-back 2-out RBI doubles to turn the score around! That 6-5 lead lived into the ninth. De La Rosa had tossed 30 pitches the day before, and the Cyclones sent left-handed Robert Harris to pinch-hit leading off the inning, so I sent in the other guy that had warmed up: Ken Burnett. He got Harris, and Gonzalo Aguilar, but then Jose Nava singled his way on base, which brought up the #3 spot. But the Cyclones had removed Root earlier in the game, and utility man Juan Munoz was now occupying this lot. He flew out softly to Reece in center. Win! 6-5 Coons! Salazar 2-5, RBI; O’Morrissey 2-5, 2B, RBI; Reece 2-5; Kinnear 2-3, BB, RBI; Rodriguez 1-2, BB; Miller 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, W (2-0);

Raccoons (22-11) vs. Indians (22-13) – May 12-14, 1995

First vs. second – having just caught the Indians we now had to watch out to not be re-caught on our own field. As long as we are not swept, we can at least hold a virtual tie with them for first place. The Indians were 3rd in offense and 6th in defense in the Continental League, while a burst of offense in the mid-week series against Cincy had propelled the Coons into 1st in both categories! Things will get interesting in this series for sure, the pitching matchups looking incredibly close already:

Robert Vázquez (2-1, 2.82 ERA) vs. Larry Davis (4-2, 2.82 ERA)
Scott Wade (1-3, 3.79 ERA) vs. Neil Stewart (5-2, 3.72 ERA)
Kisho Saito (6-0, 2.66 ERA) vs. Vernon Robertson (3-2, 2.75 ERA)

Vázquez surrendered a run in the first inning of the opener, but the Coons soon struck back, in the bottom 2nd. With two out, we had two on and Vázquez batting. But Davis failed to throw strikes and walked Vázquez on four pitches, loading them up for David Brewer, who singled JUST past SS Jose Martinez. Two runs scored. Higgins walked to reload the bags, and Ben O’Morrissey came up. Davis continued to make mistakes, throwing right into O-Mo’s wheelhouse, which ended with a long fly ball to left. High, deep, GONE!! GRAAAAAND SLAAAAAM!!! Yet, while a 5-run lead often feels secure, it wasn’t here. Vázquez was not very good, and Mamoru Sato, the Indians’ catcher, got the Indians back into the game with a 2-run homer in the third. The offense rebounded right away in the bottom 3rd, getting to an 8-3 score. And it still was bound to blow up. The first five batters in the top 4th all reached, including an error by Brewer. That was enough to get Vázquez thrown out of the game. Eight runs of support, and he couldn’t even get through five innings. Grant West failed to stall the storm, and the Indians scored four in the inning. If you fail to keep up with the score, it was 8-7 Coons in this mid-4th. Even worse was the fact that our pen had already had to pitch four innings each of the last two days and now had to go six. We needed a good, long outing from Tony Vela, who came into a 9-7 (yes, we scored another run) game in the top 5th. Gimme three, Tony! He got six outs, then came to bat still in a 9-7 game with the bags full and two down. With the way this game was going, I wanted Baldy to have a go at this, who had not been in the starting lineup. But Baldivía unhelpfully grounded out, and there were still three innings left. Miller was sent in, but the Indians got going after an O’Morrissey error put Sato on, and then Miller walked two to load the bags. With two out, the Indians batted Joe Estes for reliever Fernando Pena, and Estes shot Miller’s first pitch up the middle. SALAZAR MAKES THE PLAY!! Hurled himself at that liner, and caught it four inches over the dirt!! BOY!! What a play! Two out in the top 8th, Burnett put Matt Brown on with a double to right, and Gabby De La Rosa was brought out to get four outs or bust. De La Rosa got out of the eighth, but then was instantly back with the tying run at the plate in the ninth after a leadoff single by the inevitable Mamoru Sato. Gabby struck out Luis Maldonado, before Angelo Duarte grounded to Higgins at first. Higgins went to second with the ball, but Salazar was a tad late and we didn’t turn the double play. That brought up backup outfielder Enrique Martinez. He took three big rips – and never made contact. 9-7 Coons!!! Brewer 5-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Higgins 2-5, RBI; O’Morrissey 3-5, HR, 2B, 4 RBI; Kinnear 2-3, BB; Quinn 3-4, BB, RBI; Vela 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2K; Miller 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K; De La Rosa 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, SV (11);

That was some game, huh!? Brewer going five for five went almost completely unnoticed (at least by me), since I was rocking back and forth writhing in agony and in excitement at the same time. Fans loved it, too!

But we really, really, really need a long outing from Scott Wade in the middle game. The pen has tossed 14 innings the last three days, it needs some rest! Martinez and Lagarde had been the only guys not used in the series opener, and both had pitched twice in the Cyclones series. With an off day after this series, I would have skipped Wade to have him as reserve and start Saito and Turner on short rest in this series, but we would not have an off day until after another 12 games, so that was not an option. Scotty, we need quite an outing here!

CF Claudio Ayala hit a leadoff homer off Wade, and things were sliding already. Sliding escalated out of control in no time: Wade surrendered a run together with Vinson, who was charged with a passed ball, in the second inning. Reece led off the bottom 2nd and struck out, but disagreed. He was ejected. While Neil Stewart dominated the Raccoons with ease, Wade was torn apart and was eaten up by the fifth inning, which he didn’t even get out of. He was booked with six runs (five earned) in 4.1 innings. And there in the pen sat seven relievers with blue arms. Lagarde was thrown into the butcher shop to go as far as possible. Lagarde collected ten outs on 50 pitches, before the 51st pitch left the park for a 2-piece. Stewart tossed a 6-hit shutout. It was a black day in Portland. 8-0 Indians. Brewer 2-4; Ingall (PH) 1-1;

Ouch. That was quite the whacking. I sat down late at night evaluating our position for game 3. Kisho Saito had been less than great in his last start, but had gotten the job done. We had used three relievers in this middle game, so four were well and ready to go in the Sunday bonanza. That should do for Kisho! In less favorable circumstances, I would have sent Luke Newton back to AAA for an extra reliever with high stamina. Royce Green was ready to come off the DL any day anyway, and that might have helped us for a few days. But I trusted Kisho to go seven or more. Bring it on, Kisho, let’s see what Sunday brings!

Baldivía figured prominently in the first two runs scored in the game, after which the score was 1-1. A throwing error to Saito covering first ended up costing an unearned run in the top 3rd, but Baldy made up for it with a leadoff jack in the bottom 3rd. As far as leadoff jacks were concerned, such a thing set Saito behind again in the fifth. It came off the bat of that backup, Enrique Martinez. That pesky Martinez hit a 1-out double in the seventh that put two men in scoring position for the Indians in that 2-1 game. Saito came back to strike out PH Angel Gonzalez and leadoff man Jose Martinez, but then the Indians sent Arthur Young in relief. Young was that junkballer that had given the Coons nothing but bad headlines for the last few years. But Young pitched only one – brief – inning, then yielded for Tim Hess, who had been shelled in game 1. Saito also pitched a quick inning in the top 8th. Still a chance to get him into the lead, boys! O’Morrissey drew a 1-out walk from Hess in the bottom 8th, and then Reece singled, sending O-Mo to third. Kinnear came up, and Hess remained in. Kinnear was hit, loading them up, but then Vinson popped out. Salazar had to come through. 1-1 pitch, grounder to left, INTO LEFT!! O-Mo scored, Reece came around third and scored!! The Indians pen now fell apart. Quinn hit an RBI double to left, and Brewer then hit for Saito for a 2-run single up the middle. While scoring five put us up by four, I still sent out De La Rosa. Seal that deal! 1-2-3, out with them! 6-2 Coons!! Higgins 2-5; Reece 2-3, BB; Quinn 3-3, 2B, RBI; Brewer (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI; Saito 8.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, W (7-0);

Kishooooo!! =) Of course, he is now first to seven wins! That’s also half way to 200, almost, from the 185 he stood at at the start of the season.

Raccoons (24-12) vs. Loggers (21-16) – May 15-18, 1995

We got Royce Green back in time for that 4-game set with the Loggers, sending Luke Newton back to St. Pete.

The Loggers had so far struggled a bit offensively, ranking 7th in runs scored, and while their rotation was faring well, 3rd in the CL, their bullpen ERA of 4.42 was dead last in the league. So, get those pitchers out early, boys! Those pitchers were their young southpaw ace Garcia up first, and then three right-handers of lesser fame.

Projected matchups:
Jason Turner (4-1, 2.89 ERA) vs. Martin Garcia (4-4, 1.73 ERA)
Miguel Lopez (2-1, 3.20 ERA) vs. Rafael Garcia (2-4, 5.47 ERA)
Robert Vázquez (2-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. Jorge Casas (2-2, 3.51 ERA)
Scott Wade (1-4, 4.46 ERA) vs. Tim Butler (3-1, 4.04 ERA)

Turner and Martin Garcia in game 1 traded zeroes for four innings, although in quality those innings were wildly different. Turner basically pitched with a man on base at all times. Garcia was dominant. Turner finally conceded a run in the fifth, but Kinnear led off the bottom 5th with a double and Turner actually singled to put runners on the corners with no outs. Brewer doubled to right for the tying run, Turner scored on Baldy’s sac fly, and with two down, Reece hit an infield single that send Brewer home. Having Turner settle in and get through seven would have been great, but with one out in the seventh, Turner loaded the bags with three straight singles. Juan Martinez came into the game. He threw five pitches that tied the game, four wide ones to 3B Jose Perez, and one right through LF Jessie McGuire that hurt the batter even more than me. Lagarde came in to mob up spilled milk by getting two outs with one pitch. Then Lagarde started the eighth and surrendered a run, but the Coons were not yet defeated. A 2-out, pinch-hit RBI single by Bobby Quinn tied back the game in the bottom 8th once Garcia was out of the game. Miller came in for the ninth, loaded the bags with one out, struck out Izumo Suzuki, and leadoff batter Jerry Fletcher then looped out to Green in right. And then Baldy led off the bottom 9th with a double off John Bennett. Ingall ran for him. Green struck out, completing a horrid 0-5 comeback day, Reece grounded out, sending Ingall to third, and then O-Mo came up. O-Mo blooped into shallow left center, right where nobody could get to it, and the Coons walked off!! 5-4 Coons!! Brewer 2-5, 2B, RBI; Baldivía 2-4, 2 2B, RBI; Quinn (PH) 1-1, RBI;

Turner put 15 men on in 6.1 innings. That’s no pace one can sustain for long. And Lopez is just the same! And Lopez is up next, too!

But what a thriller! O-Mo ended it before I could bite a piece out of my desk. By the way, at this point, despite missing two weeks on the DL, O-Mo leads the CL in batter WAR with a 1.9 mark. He also ties for the lead in RBI on the team, and his .963 OPS is best. Quite some rebound from last year so far!

Game 2. Semi-effective pitching continued in Coon City, as Miguel Lopez expended 98 pitches to get through five innings. On the way, he surrendered a pair of solo homers to Jose Perez. The Coons were up 3-2, one run unearned. But at 98, you can get your pen warming up. That’s the guys with the blue arms. Pitch #99 was a leadoff single to the only left-hander in the lineup, Cristo Ramirez, and that was it for Lopez. Four more innings from the pen, please! Tony Vela came in, and Ramirez was thrown out stealing by Vinson during Vela’s first AB. Now, Vela worked like that: walk, walk, triple, straight to the hip. Then he balked in the third run. Then he was dragged out to be quartered. The Loggers scored a total of five 2-out runs, all on Vela, as rape continued against Lagarde, and later in the eighth on an ineffective Martinez. The game had been thrown away thoroughly. Loading the bags with no outs and not scoring like in the bottom 8th didn’t help either. 9-4 Loggers. O’Morrissey 3-4, BB, HR, 2B, RBI; Baldivía 2-4, 2B;

The pitching staff minus Saito, Miller, Burnett, and De La Rosa are starting to annoy me GREATLY. Few have annoyed me GREATLY, and survived.

O-Mo was hot enough to move into the cleanup spot, Reece up to third, and Green, who had gone 0-9 since coming off the DL, in fifth.

The Loggers hit Vázquez at will in game 3, battering him for three runs in the first inning, and didn’t score in the second inning mainly because of Neil Reece in center field. Reece and his wingmen Green and Kinnear held Vázquez in the game anyway, as the Loggers had lots of solid contact on Vázquez. Solid contact was also made by O-Mo in the bottom 4th with a 2-run home run off Jorge Casas, that cut the gap to 3-2. For the most part, the Raccoons were puzzled by Casas, who allowed only four hits through five innings. The bottom 6th was then led off with a Salazar single and Reece drawing a walk, putting up two for O-Mo’s huge bat. He singled into center this time, bases loaded. Royce Green hit a sac fly, tying the game, before Kinnear and Baldivía made two outs to leave two on. Vázquez was still in the game. Giving up hard contact for outs will actually have you go deep into the game, it seems. Yet, the second the game was tied, Vázquez gave up another run to the Loggers, and was pulled outta there with the big hook. West got the final out in the seventh. Brewer hit a 2-out single in the bottom 7th, then stole second. Salazar’s bloop hit to shallow center was enough to have Brewer come around third and score. Tied again, which was inviting to blow up, it seemed. Miller came in, again loaded the bases, this time with two outs, and then had Neil Reece do the dirty work in launching after Augusto Garza’s blooper into center. Reece got it, inning over. De La Rosa gave us a scoreless top 9th and then a scoreless top 10th when that was not enough. Our big boys were coming to the plate in the bottom 10th after Salazar led off with a single. Reece got him forced out, and O-Mo made another out. Green singled, bringing up Kinnear, who walked. Now someone had to bat for De La Rosa, and with the bags full I went to Jin, who could draw a walk. He struck out against a sweating John Bennett. That had us go to the 11th and we had to use Ken Burnett, our last available reliever against a heavily right-handed lineup. Serafim Laborinhos’ pinch-hit single to lead off was countered by Burnett with a pair of K’s and a friendly grounder to short. Bottom 11th: Rodriguez rolled out. Ingall walked, but was forced by Brewer’s grounder. Brewer was quick, he gotta move! With Salazar awaiting Mario Chaves’ 1-0 pitch, Brewer set in motion. Salazar lined to the gap in left, Cristo Ramirez did NOT get it, it hopped to the wall, and by the time Ramirez had it, Brewer already crossed the plate. Walkoff! 5-4 Coons!! Brewer 2-6; Salazar 4-6, 2B, 2 RBI; O’Morrissey 3-5, HR, 2 RBI; Green 2-4, RBI; De La Rosa 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

The Indians had bled a few more games by now, and at this point, we led them and the Titans by four games.

We had one more, but with a recently shoddy Scott Wade pitching, our bullpen, which was howling for mercy with their black arms, might not find peace yet. And we STILL would not have an off day for another week.

Wade started with three no-hit innings against the Loggers, watching his team take a 2-0 lead on RBI hits by Reece in the first and Green in the third. The Loggers struck back in the top 4th with a pair of leadoff doubles. With the tying run on third base and two down, Wade had Jose Perez 0-2, and then threw a game-tying wild pitch, and THEN struck out Perez two pitches later. Oh, oh … oh. Perez would also hit the go-ahead, 2-out RBI infield single in the top 6th. In the bottom 7th, Higgins hit a 1-out double and advanced on a wild pitch. Prime chance for Neil Reece to tie the game! Reece took the next pitch by Tim Butler into right, and it DID tie the game, RBI single. Reece went to third on O-Mo’s single. Green came up, grounded to short, and beat out the throw from second to first by mere inches to break up the double play and to score Reece. Butler was gone after walking Jin, but his replacement, Pedro Cruz, threw eight straight balls to Baldivía – loading the bags – and Vinson, pushing in another run. That brought up Wade, but I felt brave and brought Salazar as pinch-hitter for him. Unsatisfyingly, Salazar struck out. West and Vela combined for the eighth, and when we were still up 5-3 after that inning, I had a problem? Whom to pitch in the ninth? De La Rosa and Burnett were gassed from yesterday. That left me with Lagarde, Miller, and Martinez. Lagarde and Martinez had been whacked hard all year. Miller had yet to surrender a run all year. He was due to be blown up. Miller got the ball. Jose Perez led off, having killed Coons pitchers the whole series. He took a 2-1 pitch into the gap in right center and there – WHOAH, where did Reece come from?? That was one out in the inning, and one OUT that had to be yelled with excitement! Miller then walked C Miguel Vela. LF Augusto Garza grounded to the third base side of the mound, where O-Mo made a wonderful play to first to nab him. 2B Jamal Chevalier remained to retire. Miller walked him, too, prompting the Loggers to run for Vela with Gates Golunski and for Jessie McGuire to pinch-hit against Miller. McGuire fell behind 1-2, then made contact, up the middle, HIGGINS TO IT, got it, to the bag, it’s over! 5-3 Coons. Higgins 2-4, BB, 2B; Reece 2-4, BB, 2 RBI;

In other news

May 9 – IND OF Tomas Maguey (.297, 1 HR, 16 RBI) breaks his thumb and will miss a month of play.
May 10 – The Warriors suffer a blow with INF Esteban Areizaga (.337, 3 HR, 26 RBI) going down to a herniated disc suffered in a collision on base. He will miss at least three weeks.
May 13 – Vancouver’s Salvador Mendez (.309, 0 HR, 16 RBI) goes 5-5 with a double and a pair of triples in a 9-6 loss of the Canadiens to the Titans, lacking only a homer for the cycle. Mendez has 2,326 career plate appearances – and four home runs.

Complaints and stuff

Whew! We went 8-2 here, which is of course fantastic – from the batting side of things. The pitching has been… well, to sum up our pitching these one and a half weeks, as far as starters are concerned:
Saito – 6.2 IP, 1 R, 0 ER
Turner – 5 IP, 2 ER
Lopez – 5 IP, 5 ER
Vázquez – 3 IP, 7 R, 3 ER
Wade – 4.1 IP, 6 R, 5 ER
Saito – 8 IP, 2 R, 1 ER
Turner – 6.1 IP, 3 ER
Lopez – 5 IP, 2 ER
Vázquez – 6.2 IP, 4 ER
Wade – 7 IP, 3 ER

No wonder the pen has been falling apart. Once you get two or three of those games where your pen has to go 4+ innings, you get into trouble. And the latter half of the second run through the rotation here, there was no more mixing and matching, despite a great outing from Saito to start the round. Just throw in whichever live arms there are still available. Extra innings of course do NOT help.

But kudos to the buzzing offense! In all games they won, the offense scored 5+ runs, and four in the ninth game. They were only shot out by Neil Stewart, the Indians screaming chainsaw hurler, and that is – while unfortunate – not a huge shame. 5.8 R/G will get you a long way if your pitching staff gives up 4.6 R/G … by the way, the mean ERA of all *starters* combined these ten games? They pitched to a 4.42 ERA, which is not good at all. Now, if you take out Saito, that number becomes 6.38. Uaaaah. Don’t wanna go there again, boys!

But Reece and Brewer had great weeks, and O-Mo was AWESOME, and overall the offense was a pleasure to watch. More of that, pa-lea-ease! (squeals like a 3-year old girl begging for ice cream)

Service announcement: I will be in Nuremberg on a course on how to deal with wage tax auditors tomorrow. We’ll see whether they can offer any useful advice to replace my proven method, which includes locking them into a dark room with no food for six weeks. Anyway, that’s a fair drive from here and I won’t be home until very late tomorrow, and with the draft pool also published I may look at that over the weekend, so probably no update for a few days.
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Raccoons (27-13) vs. Condors (14-27) – May 19-21, 1995

If you give up a lot of runs, and don’t score a lot, you tend to end up with the worst record in the league. The 70s Raccoons could sing a song of that. The 1995 Condors fit right into the same mold, ranking last in runs allowed and in batting average in the Continental League, and accordingly, had bled some losses through the first one and a half months of the season. The Raccoons had the highest average in the league and had conceded the second-least runs.

This one’s got all the necessary ingredients for embarrassment in it.

Projected matchups:
Kisho Saito (7-0, 2.45 ERA) vs. Woody Roberts (1-7, 7.84 ERA)
Jason Turner (4-1, 3.06 ERA) vs. Kevin Williams (3-4, 5.48 ERA)
Miguel Lopez (2-1, 3.25 ERA) vs. Robbie Dadswell (4-5, 3.96 ERA)

Woody Roberts was scratched an hour before the series opener started, and Kevin Williams was moved up to face Saito. The Coons got up 1-0 in the first, but the Condors hit four singles – all weak – off Saito in the top 2nd, which was enough to plate two runs. Then we started to run after that, and by run I really mean a really slow tumble. Williams silenced the Coons for three more innings, before two walks sandwiching an infield single loaded the bases for us with no outs in the bottom 5th. Gotta score some here. Vinson popped out. Bobby Quinn, who had driven in the first run of the game, came up and blooped into center for what seemed at first to be the second out, but CF Paul Theobald just couldn’t get there after an awkward first step. The blooper fell in, and two runs scored. We would score another run on a groundout, and were up 4-2, giving the ball back to Saito. Our Japanese sword master sat down six more batters in a row before yielding to relief. We were up 6-2 after seven. Lagarde came in, and the first two Condors reached base. Lagarde managed to collect two outs, but by then the tying run came to the plate, and we called on De La Rosa to give us four outs, and the first of these pronto please! De La Rosa surrendered three straight singles and Saito’s lead was gone. The Condors continued their ways against Tony Vela in the ninth inning and scored another run, and now led the game. Bottom 9th, closer Mike Dye in. Vinson walked to lead off and Salazar came out to run for him. Quinn grounded to short to force Salazar. Reece came into the game, hitting for Tony Vela in the #7 hole. He walked, and Brewer on his off day came out to bat for Ingall, but grounded out. Chih-tui Jin was hit by a pitch, loading the bags with two out. Higgins came up, and flew out to center. 7-6 Condors. Green 2-5, 2B, RBI; Quinn 3-4, BB, 3 RBI; Saito 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K;

Lesson learned: pitch Saito until his arms comes off. This is the first Saito start this year that we managed to lose. I am really, really annoyed by that bullpen, which manages to botch every game it gets their filthy fingers on!!

Game 2. Preparing for more agony with Jason Turner pitching, and a game in which the Coons faced a two-time Pitcher of the Year – and that as late as 1993 – who appeared due to be wound up. Woody Roberts – moved back a day – had been nothing but torn open all year and was bleeding heavily. That’s where the Coons’ offense came into play, because Turner started the game with a leadoff walk to Theobald, who was brought in to score. One on, two out in the top 2nd, Turner was singled against by Roberts, and then Theobald homered. 4-0 Condors in no time. Never mind that Turner ended up going seven innings, striking out NINE, he had BLOWN it, and he had blown it EARLY. The least thing he could do was to go seven so I would not have to stand the sight of even more suckers on the mound. Of course – OF COURSE – Roberts went six innings of 4-hit ball, whiffing four and walking none, keeping the Raccoons shut out. Bottom 8th, Matt Rankin pitching in his second inning. Vinson hit a leadoff double. Quinn pinch-hit, making an out. Vinson went to third, and Brewer was walked intentionally. Salazar was in a prime spot to score, as ex-Coon Roberto Carrillo appeared. Salazar grounded to first, and only the fact that Brewer bowled into SS Kevin Lewis at second broke up the double play, and Vinson – held. Neil Reece to the plate. Carrillo fell 2-0 behind, and then made a bad pitch, that was bad enough for three runs. Far out of center field, Reece’s homer brought us to 4-3. But we were still on the receiving end of this, and O-Mo doubled in the eighth, but was left on by Green, and Higgins ran for Baldy when the latter hit a 1-out single off Dye in the ninth. Higgins went to third on a wild pitch, and Vinson walked, but was forced out on Quinn’s grounder. Brewer with two down, Dye came to regret seeing him, as Brewer singled to right and tied the game at high noon. Salazar walked to load the bags, but Reece struck out, and we went to extra innings. Martinez and West managed to give up two runs in an instant. Down by two into the bottom 10th, we got runners on the corners with one out due to no achievement of our own with a throwing error into the seats, a wild pitch, and a walk by the Condors. Higgins took care of that with a double play grounder to second. 6-4 Condors. Brewer 3-4, BB, RBI; O’Morrissey 2-5, 2B;

‘nother game at the old ballpark. Lopez pitching was not promising an easy night. The Coons went up 1-0 in the first, a lead that Vinson cost us in the second, throwing away a grounder that put the tying run on, which the Condors got in against Lopez when I did not walk the #8 batter intentionally with two down. Jose Morales singled to left, and we were tied. Lopez then surrendered two runs that were actually on him in the third, because he was sucking all year long. In the bottom 4th, O-Mo and Green went into scoring position with no outs after a walk and a double. Kinnear grounded out, scoring O-Mo, which put the tying run (Green) at third with one out. Baldivía managed to line into a double play. He just does that. It’s his deal. Bottom 6th, still down 3-2: Reece led off with an infield single, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on O-Mo’s single. Green was grazed by a pitch. Bases loaded, no outs. Kinnear grounded to second to get Reece thrown out at home. And that – with one out – brought up Baldy. Uh, that’s gonna be trouble. For the Condors, that was, since Baldy hit a 2-run double to left, turning that game around for the moment. We came out ahead 5-3, but Miller surrendered his first run of the year in the top 7th after putting the first two men on. This bullpen. We got that run back in the bottom 7th, putting Lagarde into the game in the eighth. Nobody on, he was one strike away from having a clean inning, and then plunked Henry Givens. To add insult to injury, he walked the next guy, and we were drowning again. Lefty Preston O’Day was sent to pinch-hit for the Condors, so Lagarde was yanked for Burnett. O’Day went deep. Down 7-6, the offense came back in the bottom 8th, scored two, and now we put in De La Rosa with an 8-7 lead in the ninth, and Royce Green got the save in my book, intercepting a seemingly surefire 2-run double by Jose Morales for the final out. 8-7 Coons. Salazar 2-5, 2 2B, RBI; Reece 3-5; O’Morrissey 2-3, BB, 2 RBI; Baldivía 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI;

This bullpen has to be dealt with, and QUICK!!

Meanwhile, we got our embarrassment here. The most pathetic offense pounced on the team with the best record in the league. Needless to say that the Portland Agitator had a field day this weekend, denouncing us up and down every issue of being incompetent, impotent, indifferent, and also communists. Yeah, that one too.

Thankfully we were going out of down, although this meant some good excuses had to be found at the check-in at the airport for me and my diverse assortment of prescription pain and anger medications, plus three boxes of “Good Morning Sunshine” tea.

Non of that junk helped any, by the way.

Raccoons (28-15) @ Bayhawks (26-17) – May 22-24, 1995

Now were actually facing a respectable opponent, after what the less-respectable Condors had inflicted on us, which was a scary thought. The Bayhawks led the defending champions from Oklahoma by two games, as we came to town, while we still led by four (over the Titans) in our division. The Bayhawks absolutely lived on pitching, scoring an average number of runs, but their pitching staff was top notch, and their bullpen came in below an ERA of 2 and wasn’t even half that of the Coons’ relievers (1.76 vs. the Coons’ 3.75).

Projected matchups:
Robert Vázquez (2-1, 3.56 ERA) vs. Gary Nixon (4-4, 3.61 ERA)
Scott Wade (2-4, 4.38 ERA) vs. Jorge Chapa (2-0, 3.41 ERA)
Kisho Saito (7-0, 2.47 ERA) vs. Min-tae Kim (4-2, 3.88 ERA)

In the opener, Royce Green got the Coons ahead with an RBI triple in the top 2nd, before he was left on third base for three successive outs. We would tack on a run in the third, but for the first half of the game, Vázquez and Nixon battled along quite well, but what was special about Vázquez was how extraordinarily efficient he was in this outing. Through six, the Bayhawks only managed to extort 60 pitches from Vázquez. Nixon would come apart in the seventh, where the Coons upped to 6-0 on him. Vázquez breezed into the bottom 8th, where a leadoff single, a balk, and another single got the better of his shutout bid. Regardless, Vázquez would have enough in him to finish up the Bayhawks in under 100 pitches. Higgins 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Reece 2-5, HR, RBI; Vinson 2-5, RBI; Vázquez 9.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, W (3-1) and 2-4, 2 2B;

Really, in keeping the bullpen out of this, Robert Vázquez may have done the team as a whole more of a service than even to himself. He got through the game in 98 pitches, with only an 18-pitch eighth with that pesky run spoiling the party. More than that, his two doubles were the second-most total bases for any player in this game, behind only Neil Reece, who homered in the ninth.

Wade was up in game 2 against 20-year old rookie Jorge Chapa. Much like the day before, one team was never even close to winning this game, and this time that team was the visiting one. Chapa only went 5.2 innings, but annihilated everything that dared to step into the batters box, whiffing eight Raccoons in shutout fashion. Wade gave up a 2-run shot to 1B Bill Dean in the first inning, and two unearned runs were added to the ledger in the fourth after O-Mo misfielded a Chapa grounder with a runner on and two out. 3B Roberto Rodriguez then drove both runners in. Things turned ugly for Wade in the bottom 6th, where he was charged with three more runs, the last two of which conceded by Grant West, who could not even retire left-handers at this point. The bullpen waved in a total of five runs in 2.1 innings pitched. 10-0 Bayhawks.

We had eight runners and struck out 12 times. They had 15 runners and struck out three times. Go wonder about this blowout.

Rubber game time, with Kisho not coming out until that arm would turn black. Min-tae Kim had that kind of possessed grin that would freak you out colossally. The Coons socked four runs on Kim in the first three innings, while Saito was flawless, but somehow you knew that something demonic was about to happen. It happened in the bottom 5th. Up 4-0, Saito had a runner on second and two out after Kim had bunted to be out at first. Suddenly, Roberto Guevara, Jim Thompson, and Roberto Rodriguez hurled liners into the outfield off Saito, and three runs scored. Saito hit the wall for good in the seventh, walking Kim with one out, and then plunked Thompson with two out. That was it, and Lagarde got the call, and there was a potential loss for Saito in this, if Lagarde gave up those two runs to the next batters, starting with Rodriguez. First pitch, audible knock, fast grounder to Brewer, who made the play and Saito remained on the swell side of the ledger for the moment. The offense was no help in keeping him there. Ever since the fourth inning, Kim had put some devil jinx on them. That 4-3 lead had to hold up by arm power rather than bat power. We got through the eighth, putting in De La Rosa for the ninth, who got a K, then walked Pedro Perez, and then was blown up with two doubles and a sac fly. 5-4 Bayhawks. Brewer 2-4, BB; Reece 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Vinson 2-4, 3B; Kinnear 3-4, RBI;

Now, also looking for a closer.

Raccoons (29-17) @ Falcons (25-22) – May 26-28, 1995

The Falcons produced lots of low-scoring games with both the second-fewest in runs scored and allowed in the CL. So far, it had them close to the lead in the division. How such a team would fare against the Raccoons with the massive output of runs on either side of the line score, especially recently …?

Jason Turner (4-1, 3.32 ERA) vs. Robbie Campbell (6-3, 3.28 ERA)
Miguel Lopez (2-1, 3.22 ERA) vs. Terry Wilson (2-2, 4.06 ERA)
Robert Vázquez (3-1, 3.16 ERA) vs. Jesus Lopez (2-5, 3.29 ERA)

Maybe low scores would prevail. The first guy to reach base by any means in the opener between Turner and Campbell was David Brewer with a leadoff walk … in the fourth! Both had been perfect through three. Unsurprisingly, it was big bang time instantly, and four runs scored in the combined halves of the fourth, but fortunately so far, most of them came on a 3-run homer by Royce Green. While Green had been in somewhat of a slump since leaving the DL and Campbell was fanning Coons left and right (and Neil Reece thrice) in the game, he kept running into Green’s rotating sharpened stick of pain. After the 3-piece in the fourth, Green made it a pair in the sixth, and again it was a 3-piece, making it a 6-1 game for Turner. While Turner was dealing, I tried to keep the bullpen out of this one, but it didn’t work. He put two on with one out in the ninth, and somebody had to come in for help. The choice of the day was Tony Vela, which was a good choice, since he punched out Bernard Combes and got Hubert Green to ground out to O-Mo. 6-1 Raccoons. Salazar 2-4; Green 2-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI; Turner 8.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (5-1);

We made six runs out of six hits, which can be described as efficient. Neil Reece was not efficient, whiffing in each of his four AB’s. Still, our team LOB was *one* in this game. The unlucky guy was Kinnear, who had blooped his way on base in the fifth and with Turner at the plate actually stole second base on a botched hit and run. He still ended up starved at third base.

At this point, every game is more or less a crap shot with this team. You have no clue what either half of the pitching staff is gonna give you, and the offense, while overall productive, sometimes has total blackouts.

Offense was low key to start the middle game as well, with no score through three innings. Miguel Lopez by then had six strikeouts (more than Neil Reece…) among the first nine outs recorded, and the seventh was on Vinson retiring somebody on the far side of the diamond. Then, the Coons loaded the bags with no outs in the top 4th, bringing up the bottom half of the lineup. Higgins did not have to do much against Wilson, who walked him on four straight, putting the first run of the night on the board. Before you could properly put that down on your scorecard, Bobby Quinn singled to left, 2-0, and then Vinson emptied the bags with a double into the deep right corner, and went to third on the throw home. While Lopez made the first out, Brewer singled in Vinson, and Baldivía also singled his way on, Brewer going to third, against reliever Ed Davis. Reece singled, 7-0, before O-Mo and Green made the final outs. O-Mo almost hit it out to deep center, but Christian Dunphy got to a ball about two feet short of the 430’ wall. Regardless, a fantastic outing by Miguel Lopez saw the Falcons nailed firmly to the ground. That was true until the ninth. With two outs to be collected, the little pest that was Djordje Nedic homered off Lopez. That had not been in the script! Grant West entered, gave up a homer to Felix Velez, and then semi-collected the final two outs as foul pop outs. 7-2 Coons. Brewer 2-5, RBI; Reece 2-4, RBI; Green 2-4, 2B; Lopez 8.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, W (3-1);

Struck out ten and then some pest has to hit a home run. Grrrrr. Well, we will take those two great outings (back to back) as what they are: wonderful changes from our routine which has been going on for most of May.

Game 3. Royce Green had a day off as Vázquez had to fight uphill if he didn’t want to be branded as the guy with the worst outing in this series. He didn’t cut it. While no-hitting the Falcons in the fourth, he had none but himself to blame for not making a play on Adam Kent’s 2-out grounder, which became an infield single. Christian Dunphy then socked a home run and that was that. However, the Raccoons offense in some way had hit the ground running, and the again not really. They ended each of the first three innings with double plays, yet still managed to score four runs for Vázquez. Mark Hall hit a leadoff triple in the bottom 5th. While Vázquez got two outs without Hall moving a dot, he then fell to Hubert Green’s 2-out single, and the score became a rather uncomfy 4-3, which held through six, and since Vázquez was to lead off the top 7th, he was removed for a pinch-hitter right there (to no effect). The top 8th however saw Jorge Salazar plate two fellow Furballs with a 1-out triple, and in the ninth we got even more relief when ex-Coon Chris Nelson failed to throw strikes. The Coons tore him up like a pack of baseball cards, scoring five runs in the inning. That helped Juan Martinez to an unforeseeable 2-inning save, too. 11-3 Raccoons! Reece 2-4, BB, RBI; O’Morrissey 4-5; Salazar 3-4, BB, 3B, 3 RBI; Vinson 2-4, BB, 2 2B, 3 RBI; Martinez 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, SV (1);

The Falcons may want to look at improving their offense.

In other news

May 19 – NYC OF Clement Clark (.278, 1 HR, 14 RBI) has his moment of glory in a 4-3 win of the Crusaders over the Falcons. Clark goes 2-5, hitting his 2,000th big league hit off reliever Ray Hoskins. It *is* a big hit: Clark walks off his team with an RBI single scoring Martin Limón in the bottom of the 12th inning.
May 20 – PIT LF Carlos Torres (.341, 7 HR, 31 RBI) will miss five weeks with an oblique strain.
May 23 – 35-year old IND CL Jim Durden (1-1, 2.04 ERA, 11 SV), who has been saving games for the Indians since 1987, signs a 3-yr, $3.12M extension with the team, setting a whole new prize point on closers. Durden has 445 SV to his credit, 6th all time.
May 26 – Everybody awakes to the surprising news of a huge trade between the Aces and Miners. Pittsburgh receives SP Manuel Movonda (7-1, 4.98 ERA) and sends OF Lucio Hernandez (.323, 2 HR, 25 RBI) to Las Vegas.
May 26 – TIJ SP Woody Roberts (2-7, 6.08 ERA) seems to have found his mojo, 1-hitting the Canadiens in a 6-0 win for Tijuana. CF Jorge Ledesma has the offending hit against Roberts.

Complaints and stuff

I had about the most horrible week I can remember for quite some time, and was looking forward to dealing with my little furry sunshines today, and then those first two series happened. Bah, that can kill your mood. If you had a mood beforehand, I was grumpy enough anyway.

You can not win all the time (this ain’t soccer and the German top level league; that league table makes me cry), but you can at least expect some decency from your bullpen, which you’re pouring the princely total of $1,472,000 into for the year. There are teams out there that spend less on their rotation!! (Wild claim I have not checked at all, but I am sure, there are some)

After the Condors series, Ben O’Morrissey again qualified for the batting title and immediately slotted into second place trailing Oklahoma’s Vonne Calzado by 30 points (.395 to .365). Interestingly, he shoved a Coon out of that second spot: Jorge Salazar was then third with a .339 mark.

O-Mo is still second, while leading the CL in OPS, and Reece’s 33 RBI ties for the lead with Las Vegas’ Javier Vargas. And we continue to have lots of .300 hitters, and in fact we rank 1st or 2nd in ALL offensive categories, except stolen bases, where we are t-7th. That’s a change to back then, when usually our pitching was way better than our hitting. And our pitching is not bad in itself: certain areas are bad. T-11th in home runs allowed (which is a consequence of our shoe box ball park), t-10th in strikeouts and 8th in bullpen ERA are the most glaring deficits, and 7th in walks allowed ain’t great either.

To be honest, the last three may be related. We have allowed 175 walks and punched out 274 batters in 440.2 innings pitched.
Rotation: 314.1 IP, 100 BB, 192 K
Bullpen: 126.1 IP, 75 BB, 82 K

Bullpen K/BB rates season / career:
De La Rosa: 1.70 / 2.52
Lagarde: 1.15 / 2.45
Burnett: 2.05 / 1.91
Martinez: 1.12 / 2.96
Vela: 0.92 / 2.50
Miller: 1.07 / 2.22
West: 0.31 / 2.40
That can’t possibly last all season, right? Except for Grant West, non of them are in washed-up age. But they can’t get their act together.

But again, if you look at our rotation, the top 4 between them have lost only three games combined, and it is almost June. The offense has done their share to pick them up when necessary, but the bullpen has made it a primary task to blow leads whenever given the chance.

As far as the bullpen goes, my first move was to claim MR Daniel Perez, 25, off waivers by the Stars, but the Loggers also claimed him, and their claim was superior, so we were left out here. We have very little money to make moves, but the right-handers in the pen NEED some help, urgently.

I have an offer out to a veteran reliever, who is the only sensible guy left on the free agent market despite the fact that he hardly ever pitched a full season in the major leagues without being demoted, traded, waived, or outright released. Of the 636 innings he has pitched as a pro, a bit less than half came in the majors. But well, there is nobody else left, and there are no relievers on the trading block, so we start off with him. Plus, use up that budget room before the draft shoots you over budget anyway!

Our AAA team will be no help in getting along here, since all the right-handers there are either struggling, or have proven they don’t belong in the majors. For better news from the prospect front, infielder Samy Michel got the A level Player of the Week award after batting 11-22 with 2 HR and 7 RBI this week.
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Old 04-13-2014, 04:44 PM   #797
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Raccoons (32-17) @ Knights (20-29) – May 29-31, 1995

The Knights were 10th in runs scored in the Continental League, and 6th in runs allowed, with a decent bullpen behind a rotation that nominally consisted of very good pitchers, but those were struggling mightily this year.

Projected matchups:
Scott Wade (2-5, 4.75 ERA) vs. Carlos Asquabal (3-5, 4.46 ERA)
Kisho Saito (7-0, 2.61 ERA) vs. Pat Cherry (4-6, 2.85 ERA)
Jason Turner (5-1, 3.03 ERA) vs. Jim Harrington (4-5, 4.31 ERA)

We gave Ben O’Morrissey a day off in the opener between Wade and Asquabal. The Knights scored two on Wade in the first inning, but the Coons tied that back in the third. Still 2-2, Baldivía reached on an error to start the top 5th, and then Reece doubled, which prompted the Knights to walk Royce Green intentionally. Bases loaded, no outs. Salazar and Kinnear would drive in those three runners in their at-bats for a 5-2 lead. Wade, after his early mishaps, settled in nicely and began to put up zeroes – all the way through the eighth. For the ninth, it was necessary to go to the bullpen, unfortunately. A 4-run lead, 6-2, was entrusted to Daniel Miller. Tom Nicks singled off Miller. Rory Gorden doubled to the wall in deep right, Nicks was sent home, but Royce Green gunned him down. Thanks, that is enough. Grant West came in to face lefty Sosa Tanaka. He struck Tanaka out, then walked the fearsome .120 batter Jose Rojas. Young Robbie Gardner then shot a racing grounder up the first base line – Ingall had been inserted here for defense in this inning, and made the play. 6-2 Raccoons. Reece 4-5, 2B; Kinnear 2-3, 2B, RBI; Wade 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, W (3-5) and 1-4;

Vern Kinnear got himself hurt while running the bases in this game, most likely pulling something. We did not yet get a diagnosis on him. Primitive Atlantean health institutions!

Middle game, and Kisho Saito did not have a good start. While the offense spotted him a 4-0 lead rather quickly, Saito had at least two runners on base in every inning but the first, and conceded single runs in the fourth and fifth, bringing the Knights back to 3-2. Control was not quite there for Saito, and he pitched in many 3-ball counts, and issued three walks. Saito was gone from the game after a 1-out HBP to RF Mark Smith, that brought the tying run to the plate. Tony Vela came in and got a double play from C Johnny Johnson. Burnett and Martinez managed damage-free innings after that, before the Coons loaded the bags in the top 9th, but didn’t score. That left Saito’s 4-2 lead with De La Rosa, who was to face Tanaka, Smith, and Johnson. Only Johnson got on with a single, and after that pinch hitter Francisco Rodriguez grounded out to Brewer. 4-2 Coons. Brewer 2-5; Reece 2-5, HR, RBI; O’Morrissey 3-5, 2B, RBI; Green 3-5, 2B, RBI;

So, Kisho is now 8-0, and officially half way (plus half a game) to 200 from where he started this season, despite this being a start more on the meh side of things.

More good news: Vern Kinnear had a sore hamstring only, and would be DTD for another day or two. With an off day coming after this series, we would rest him in the season finale, and we should be fine with him.

Game 3. Quinn spelled the ailing Kinnear after Jin had done so the day before (and had homered). Quinn made himself useful by knocking in two runs in the top 2nd, the first runs in the game, as Turner took on Harrington. Harrington left the game with an apparent injury in the third inning, and the not-so-shabby bullpen of the Knights took over, but immediately threw four 2-out runs on the board in the fourth inning. Jason Turner thus had six runs of support early on. He 1-hit the Knights through five, and while he put runners on the corners in the bottom 6th, the Coons turned an amazing double play, Rodriguez to Salazar to Higgins (at first), to get out of the jam. Even the Knights fans applauded Rodriguez’ launching grab-and-throw-in-one on Tom Nicks’ grounder in front and just left of the plate. Turner pitched into the ninth, but there was some kind of 1-out curse on the Coons as far as shutouts were concerned this year. With two outs to go, Carlos Guzman homered off Turner and sent him showering. Vela got the final two outs. 7-1 Coons. Brewer 2-5; Green 3-5, HR, RBI; Higgins 2-4, BB; Quinn 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Turner 8.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, W (6-1) and 2-4, RBI;

We have now won six in a row!

Raccoons (35-17) @ Titans (32-22) – June 2-4, 1995

While the Coons would not be able to drop out of first place on this weekend, it was still a battle between the top 2 teams in the CL North. And we had outright sucked against the Titans last year, so we were warned to not take our 4-game lead all too lightly. So, win one: control the damage. Win two: that’d be swell. Win three: now you’re kiddin’. The Titans ranked 3rd in offense in the CL, but their rotation was struggling to a 4.36 ERA, fifth-worst in the league. Maybe some more early oomph could set things right and we can extend our 6-game winning streak a bit?

Projected matchups:
Miguel Lopez (3-1, 2.91 ERA) vs. Jason O’Halloran (7-2, 3.12 ERA)
Robert Vázquez (4-1, 3.29 ERA) vs. Philippe Villard (2-5, 8.05 ERA)
Scott Wade (3-5, 4.43 ERA) vs. Doug Morrow (7-3, 3.19 ERA)

Vern Kinnear was healthy again, but against the lefty O’Halloran was not in the lineup. Bobby Quinn instead played right and batted eighth in the opener. The weather was iffy, and so was Miguel Lopez. While O’Halloran put the first four Raccoons he faced on base in the top 1st and allowed two runs, Lopez wobbled back and forth and fell 4-2 behind by the time rain knocked the starters out after five. While the Coons tied the game and took him off the hook in the top 6th, they had the bags full with no outs in the 4-4 game, and then made three miserable outs. As we were on the topic of misery: the bottom 6th saw Grant West come in for left-handers coming to bat. Daniel Silva hit a grounder to short that hopped over Salazar’s glove into left field. Then Jack Burbidge singled to center and Reece missed it for an extra base. Then West walked Josh Thompson. No outs. How often do the Titan score? Once, on a Matt Smith sac fly off Juan Martinez. That still set us 5-4 down. The Raccoons proceeded to have two runners thrown out somewhere between bases in the top 7th (Reece being caught stealing second, and O-Mo thrown out at home). Lagarde cocked up another run in the eighth, and we fell short by that run when O-Mo hit a 2-out solo bomb and Green did not follow up. 6-5 Titans. Baldivía 2-5; Reece 2-5; O’Morrissey 2-3, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Salazar 2-3, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Martinez 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Gone the win streak. This was Destiny saying “No! Just – no! Ah! Will you stop begging!? No!” all over. Not that this is new. Which part of “No” did I not understand after all? The N or the O?

Gah.

Middle game. We stole – successfully – four bases in the first three innings, and didn’t score against Villard and his ERA north of 8. And after that, the Titans would strip Vázquez naked in the fourth, when Luis Lopez and Matt Smith went deep back-to-back for a 4-0 lead for the Titans. All the while, the Raccoons were leaving runners on base and Villard was shaving his ERA down a full run by the sixth. Vázquez matched Lopez in surrendering four runs in five innings in this game, while NOT A SINGLE THING went the Raccoons’ way. Down 4-0, the bullpen surrendered more runs. We entered the top 9th down by six. Suddenly the rally started. Three pitchers and 15 minutes into the inning, Royce Green hit a 2-out, 2-run homer that cut the deficit to one. And then Higgins grounded out. 7-6 Titans. Brewer 3-4, BB; Salazar 2-4, BB, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI; Green 2-5, HR, 3B, 2 RBI; Kinnear 2-4, 2B;

How could anyone doubt beforehand that they would sweep us? How could anyone doubt that!?

And the final game wasn’t even played and I KNEW that they would incinerate Wade and move to within a single game. I KNEW it. There was no way the Raccoons could win the final game of their road trip. There was no point in skipping Wade and bringing Saito, who would pitch on regular rest after the off day. They would lose anyway, and be it on five consecutive errors and six homers to break up a 13-0 lead in the ninth. I know that’s only eleven runs, but they would still lose, even if they’d win 13-11. Trust me, it is possible.

The Raccoons did not get a hard hit against Doug Morrow until a leadoff double by Green in the fifth. And then, the next two men made poor outs, Kinnear was walked intentionally, and Wade struck out. Wade was down 2-0 at that point, and the team showed no intentions of catching up. Not that Wade was all that bad. The offense was. Morrow walked two in the top 7th and when Kinnear singled to left, the bags were full with one out, and for Wade it was time to say goodbye. Higgins came out to hit for him. In a 3-2 count, Morrow threw a breaking ball low and Higgins hit the brakes on his swing. No motion from the home plate umpire. Luis Lopez asked for a word from the third base ump, who took his time, and then slowly spread his arms. RBI walk for Higgins. Morrow then struck out Brewer, and then Salazar also found himself in a full count, and walked. Tied game, Reece to bat with the bags full, and the Titans didn’t remove Morrow. Another full count later, Reece swung through a breaking pitch. And the Titans didn’t even care about the blown lead. Against Burnett in the bottom 7th they hit two singles to right and scored the go-ahead run again on a double play not turned between Higgins and Brewer. The Raccoons left the tying run on base in the eighth, and in the ninth too. 3-2 Titans. Green 2-3, BB, 2 2B;

Words fail to describe this.

In other news

May 29 – The Rebels lose C Arturo Aguilar (.289, 6 HR, 33 RBI) for the year. “The Sheriff” is out with a broken kneecap.
May 30 – LAP INF Carlos Cook (.246, 2 HR, 15 RBI) is one of those guys that just can’t stay healthy. He will miss at least a month with an ankle sprain.
May 31 – Los Angeles’ Angel Romero (8-3, 2.20 ERA) 1-hits the Capitals in a 5-0 win. Jeffery Brown singles and breaks up Romero’s bid for the first perfect game in ABL history with two outs in the top 7th. Romero faces just 28 batters in the game, issuing a walk, but getting a double play in the eighth.
June 4 – MIL SP Davis Sims (6-2, 3.23 ERA) will head to the DL for a month with a strained hamstring.
June 4 – The Warriors lose SP Juan Sanchez (5-2, 3.95 ERA) for at least this season due to a torn rotator cuff. Sanchez hopes to be ready for opening day 1996, but that will have to be seen.

Complaints and stuff

Good grief.

Words really fail to describe what I am feeling.

These mid-90s Titans are giving the mid-80s Canadiens a real run for their money when it comes to screwing me over and over and over and over.

I ended up screwing those Canadiens with the Saito and Osanai trades back then. Do the Titans have any Japanese players I could extort?

Anyway. Grief continues, as somehow the bullpen manages to make my life a living hell DESPITE the team having the best record in the league. They are really that bad.

Neil Reece batted .367 with 6 HR and 21 RBI in the month of May and was rightfully so crowned Hitter of the Month for the Continental League! BEST trade I EVER made!

In Aumsville, Samy Michel, who was mentioned in the last update, was named Hitter of the Month, going .400 with 5 HR and 18 RBI. He was dug out of some rabbit hole in New Brunswick by Vince Guerra two years ago and had been signed at age 16. He was born 1/1/1977 – which makes him the first player born in the ABL’s year of inauguration to play in our system. We will see what will become of him. He has no defense to speak of, moving like a dead horse despite a rather slender body. But he sure has extra base power. We’ll see. He has a few years to develop.

Now be sure to up your season ticket packages as we come home, to experience our free fall first hand. On the plane back from Boston, while I was cuddling and crying into my plushy pink pillow, I could already see the Agitator getting a running start for the Monday paper.
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:34 PM   #798
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Raccoons (35-20) vs. Crusaders (24-31) – June 5-8, 1995

The Crusaders had the two leading home run hitters in the Continental League on their roster, with Ruben Melendez and Pat Jenkins having hit 11 each after two months. Yet, that was about all they had, scoring in the bottom half of the league, and their rotation was an utter mess, ranking last in the CL with a 5.10 ERA.

Projected matchups:
Kisho Saito (8-0, 2.67 ERA) vs. Danny Ramirez (2-5, 5.18 ERA)
Jason Turner (6-1, 2.81 ERA) vs. Jose Ramos (2-4, 6.00 ERA)
Miguel Lopez (3-1, 3.25 ERA) vs. Hector Lara (5-6, 5.05 ERA)
Robert Vázquez (4-2, 3.57 ERA) vs. Cipriano Miranda (4-5, 5.09 ERA)

So, you may think about a sweep, but just how things are always going… our starters were best advised to go eight and don’t allow a lot of runs. Don’t give the pen chances to blow up.

Saito was up 1-0 in the top 4th of the opener, with one out and a runner on second base. On a single to left, the Crusaders sent their runner, and Royce Green’s through home was goddamn awful and went past Rodriguez. Another single scored another unearned run, setting Saito 2-1 behind, but then Saito was in the middle of a string of five consecutive batters who reached base safely with two out in the bottom 4th: Rodriguez, Quinn, Saito, Brewer, and Higgins all got on in succession, getting the two runs back in, before Reece flew out to deep left. While Green tried to get even with a 2-run homer in the bottom 5th, Saito was taken deep by CF Armando Diéguez in the sixth. Still up 5-3, we had two out and a runner on first in the top 7th against Alfonso Rojas, who was to be – hopefully – Saito’s last batter. Rojas grounded to Saito, and Saito couldn’t convert it in time. Two on, two out, and Jenkins up next. Saito was over 110 pitches, but the tying runs were on. Do you want to get in your well-shaken bullpen into this? Jenkins was a left-hander, and so was Saito. And Saito was the ace ‘round here. Jenkins took Saito's first pitch into left, for an RBI single, and on Green throwing home, the runners advanced into scoring position. Uh-oh. Next was Victor Martinez, a right-hander, and Saito was definitely done. Tony Vela was thrown in. Martinez drilled his first pitch into deep right. Quinn after it, launched – GOT THAT THING!! Vela remained in the game after an uneventful bottom 7th (uh-oh) to protect a 5-4 lead. Diéguez was up next, and went into the right center gap, and Quinn made the play AGAIN. However, this time he came up lame and had to leave for Kinnear, who had not started against the lefty Ramirez. We got a much needed insurance run in the bottom 8th driven in by Matt Higgins – who was then picked off first by John Hatt to end the inning. Uh, well. De La Rosa to the rescue! Didn’t help much. He hit a batter and then walked two. With one out, Jenkins was up. Okay, we lose. Jenkins hit a run-scoring infield single, and that killed the game. Martinez’ sac fly tied us up, and Saito would leave empty-handed. For him it was little consolation that Royce Green walked off the Coons in the bottom 11th, scoring Neil Reece with a 2-out single. The run was unearned, by the way. 7-6 Raccoons. Brewer 2-5, BB, RBI; Higgins 2-5, BB, 2 RBI; Green 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Kinnear 2-2, 2B;

Okay, De La Rosa is done closing, and it was a ****ty idea to start with. And who’s closing now? Ha.

This is NOT, where our new reliever comes in. We welcomed Ramón Campoy to the fold for game 2. And we didn’t remove a pitcher from the roster, either. Marvin Ingall was sent down. With this much sucking, I wanted an extra arm, and Ingall wasn’t even playing a lot. More about Campoy in the last section.

Also, Bobby Quinn went down to an intercostal strain and there was a good chance he would not play again this week, so we were now on a very short bench, but the bullpen is wrecking everything …

Down to a closer-by-committee, the best hope I had was for Jason Turner to go nine, successfully. Against Ramos, the Coons broke out quickly, putting up 3-spots in the first and third innings for a 6-1 lead for Turner. But Turner was crumbling, surrendering line drive doubles, and gave up single runs the next two innings, and only a great grab by Brewer that ended the sixth spared him at least one, maybe two runs in that inning, and with his pitch count over 100 by then, we were looking at the pen early again. A Steve Cobb homer off Grant West made it 6-4 in the seventh. Cobb, Rojas, and Jenkins were up in the top 9th, all left-handers, so attempting to close this one fell to Ken Burnett by default. Burnett sat them down in order! 6-4 Coons. Salazar 2-3, 2B; O’Morrissey 2-4, HR, 2 RBI;

We were actually out-hit 11-7 in this game.

Royce Green got a day off for game 3, and Neil Reece was scheduled for game 4, with O-Mo looking at the bench in Friday’s game against Sacramento, potentially. Unless someone breaks a leg in the meantime.

David Vinson got the scoring going in the game – with a passed ball that plated a run for New York in the second inning. But the Raccoons got back-to-back homers from O-Mo and Vinson in a 4-run third inning, and upped to 6-1 in the fourth, knocking out the Crusaders’ starter early again. But Miguel Lopez was merely human. In the fifth, a 3-run homer by Ruben Melendez with two out made it an open game again, 6-4 Coons. While Lopez got through seven, the Raccoons left eight men on between the fourth and seventh innings. They were begging for it. But Vela got us through the eighth and we tagged on two runs in the bottom of that inning to lead 8-4. Bring in that new kid, that one that is 35. Ramón Campoy thus made his first appearance as a Coon, trying to sit down Benjamin Butler (Mr. Obnoxious), Steve Cobb, and Ramón Diaz. He got the first two, and then the Crusaders hit two singles, and these were very soft. Melendez was due next, leading the league in homers with 12 (including one in this series), and we made another move here to Juan Martinez, who duly walked Melendez to load the bags and bring up the tying run in soft-hitting SS Raúl Rodriguez. Well, he probably won’t homer. Martinez pitched to him. Martinez walked him. BRING ME BURNETT!!! Jenkins was next in line, who had made the final out against Burnett in the last game. Not this time, he singled to left. OH COME ON!! Still up by two, I was to stick with Burnett now, even though the righty Victor Martinez came up. He hurled a 2-2 pitch to right, but more or less right to Chih-tui Jin. Game over. 8-6 Raccoons. Brewer 2-3, 2 BB; Salazar 4-5; O’Morrissey 2-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Vinson 2-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Baldivía 2-5;

The night after this game, the Crusaders traded Alfonso Rojas to Pittsburgh for basically nothing in return to my amazement.

Jorge Salazar topped the CL batting title race after this game with a .353 clip, one point up over the competition.

Another game left to play against New York, with Vázquez getting the call against Cipriano Miranda. Neither starter was any good. After the Coons took a 1-0 lead through two innings, Vázquez was shredded for three runs in the top 3rd, and surrendered nine hits in the first three innings. To the bottom of the inning, Miranda failed to retire men, too, and a 3-run homer by Matt Higgins turned the game around again. Miranda was done after three, giving up five runs, which stunningly made Danny Ramirez in the series opener the longest-lasting Crusaders starter in this series, as he actually got through five innings. This time, the Furball was also shaven clean, as Vázquez was battered for 11 hits and four runs in just five innings of work. We led by one then, and the Crusaders were on the verge of tying it in the sixth, where Miller struck out Jenkins, starving two men on, and when Lagarde walked two in the seventh, we brought in Grant West, who lucked himself into a double play to end that inning. Green and O-Mo got us an extra run in the seventh. Getting to the ninth, we had used up a lot of our 8-man pen already, and De La Rosa was brought in to get back onto the darling list I was keeping. Ge got two out (including Jenkins) before Victor Martinez doubled. Not again. The Crusaders brought in their just acquired new outfielder Jean-Claude Monnier as pinch-hitter, and Monnier doubled in Martinez. 6-5, new lefty pinch-hitter Ramón Corona to the plate. No, I had no trust in De La Rosa anymore. I dug out Burnett again. He threw only one pitch, which Corona grounded to Higgins at first for the final out. 6-5 Coons. O’Morrissey 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Higgins 2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; West 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

Out-hit 14-10 in this one. The staff is crumbling from whatever side you approach it, with terribly few exceptions.

You know, for a 4-game sweep this was one miserable series. One stat is enough: we out-scored the Crusaders, 27-21.

Raccoons (39-20) vs. Scorpions (36-24) – June 9-11, 1995

I doubt that we will be able to sweep the Scorpions with a pitching performance like against the Crusaders. They have scored 288 runs so far, 21 less than the Coons, but they have a top 3 rotation in the FL and a good bullpen. In fact, the only areas this team was really weak in, were home run power (9th in FL with 25), and drawing walks (second-worst).

Projected matchups:
Scott Wade (3-5, 4.30 ERA) vs. Steve Rogers (8-1, 1.58 ERA)
Kisho Saito (8-0, 2.67 ERA) vs. Randy Travis (1-7, 4.61 ERA)
Jason Turner (7-1, 2.94 ERA) vs. Joe Mann (4-7, 4.72 ERA)

Scott Wade was reportedly accepting a 3-6 fate. Rogers was 22, the second overall pick from the 1990 draft, and 21-15 in his young career, which was the sophomore season stadium at this point. He went 13-14 last year with a decent 3.33 ERA. Bad command is an issue for him. About his only issue. Oh, right. For good measure, his nickname was “Hercules”.

I wanted O-Mo in this game to even the odds a bit, so he would sit in the middle game.

Boy, was “Hercules” wild in the game. After blazing away the Coons in the first, a wild pitch by him helped Baldivía to hit a sac fly for the first run of the game in the bottom 2nd. He added up walks quickly, while O-Mo rocked a 2-run homer into the second-to-last row of the left field bleachers. By the fifth, O-Mo was a triple shy of the cycle, and Rogers’ seventh walk loaded the bags with one out for Vern Kinnear, who batted ahead of Wade. Rogers refused to go down, however, punched out Kinnear, and punched out Wade, too. We would leave the bases loaded in the sixth, too, but added a run on a 2-out RBI single by Vinson. The score was 5-0. Wade had 1-hit the opposition through six. But the Scorpions began to figure him out. They put two on in the seventh, bringing up former Indian R.J. Stinton, who batted .401(!!), with two out. Stinton drilled a shot to deep left, but Kinnear made the play to end the frame. The eighth also ended with a great defensive play, a leaping grab by Brewer, again with two out. The shutout was still alive, now up 7-0 after a Higgins homer in the seventh. But Wade would face the all-lefty heart of the lineup for a fourth time in the ninth. Scotty, if you can do that, you’re the hero of the week! A leadoff homer by Joey Humphrey denied him those honors. Wade ran out of tricks, walked Jared O’Molony with one out and was removed for West, who walked Stinton, which evoked Miller from the pen. Miller walked Art Garrett, and a 2-run single by Sidney Aycock brought the house of cards down once again, as the tying run appeared in the on-deck circle. Alejandro Roldán took Miller deep to center, which brought the tying run to the plate. Tony Vela entered. Martin Horn doubled, Jim Stein singled. Winning runs are on for Sacramento, and Humphrey was back up. In a full count (Vela without a doubt would have walked him, given enough time) Humphrey grounded to second, forcing out Stein, but Humphrey was safe. That was the first out after seven batters had reached base safely. Up came Sam Green, the only guy Wade had retired in the inning. The game could not have ended less anticlimactic: Green fouled out to O-Mo on the first pitch from Vela. 7-6 Coons. Brewer 2-4, BB; O’Morrissey 3-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Green 2-3, BB, 2B, RBI; Vinson 2-4, BB, RBI; Wade 8.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, W (4-5);

This bullpen. THIS BULLPEN!! GAAAH!! (tears scorecard into pieces)

We obviously need help outside of Ramón Campoy, whose ERA after a few days was 18.

Middle game, Saito up again. By now, everybody came to the park just to witness a blowup of epic proportions, something to tell their grandchildren about. O-Mo played again, but Brewer was rested against the lefty Travis. Of course, everything went wrong from the get go. CF Marcos Rodriguez got his first AB of the year against Saito. It became a 3-run homer in the second inning. In the fourth, a Bill Mosley home run made it 4-0 Scorpions. Those four runs represented all runners Saito allowed through four. Meanwhile, the Raccoons hit into three double plays in the first four innings, scoring only one run. Bottom 5th: Higgins walked to start the frame, and Salazar hit a bloop double that eluded LF Martin Horn’s grab. Two in scoring position, no out, Reece lined out hard to Horn and Higgins held. Higgins scored on a wild pitch then, 4-2, and that was all we got in the inning with two groundouts following. That was it. The Raccoons failed to ever put another man on base. Saito was left with a 7.2 IP, 5 ER outing in the end, and took his first loss of the year. Of course, Jackie Lagarde managed to give up another run. 6-2 Scorpions. Green 2-4; Jin 2-4, RBI;

Saito allowed seven runners, five of which scored. It was only the second of ten games this month where the offense failed to put up five or more runs, which would have picked him up. Of course, they blew his lead against the Crusaders. There are higher forces messing with him, obviously.

Oh, yeah. When Lagarde cocked up another run in the ninth, a flower pot came crashing through a window in the office building next to the park. I swear I did not have my hands in this one. (picks potting soil from beneath his finger nails)

One more game at home. O-Mo DID sit this time with us having three more games in Richmond before an off day. Turner pitched, and suddenly he with his laughable K/BB of 1.15 could match Saito in wins. Tells you something.

Turner sucked a ton, allowing nine hits and four walks in five plus innings, and miraculously gave up just five runs, although he had begged for more, while the offense failed to score against a knocked up pitcher for the second time in as many days. When we brought in Campoy to generate some length from his spot, he proceeded to walk Scorpions until they scored another run. Joe Mann easily went eight innings against the Raccoons. In a 6-2 game in the bottom 8th, we had two on with one out. Baldivía was up – double play. Shawn Reed appeared in relief in the bottom 9th in a 4-run game. Vinson and Jin went down in silence as pinch-hitters before Brewer blooped into left. Salazar singled into center, which got closer Joaquin Bastos to pop up on the mound. He struck out Neil Reece. 6-2 Scorpions. Brewer 3-5; Salazar 3-5, RBI; Green 2-3, BB; Martinez 2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

In other news

June 8 – The Titans trade 26-yr old SS/3B George Waller (.270, 1 HR, 16 RBI) to the Aces for 26-yr old LF/RF Ramón Reyes (.391, 3 HR, 12 RBI in only 64 AB) and a third rate prospect.
June 8 – The Crusaders also deal, sending 25-yr old OF Alfonso Rojas (.274, 2 HR, 22 RBI) to Pittsburgh for 31-yr old LF/RF Jean-Claude Monnier (.336, 4 HR, 25 RBI) and a non-prospect.
June 9 – The Condors acquire 26-yr old SP Sergio Gonzalez (5-6, 3.98 ERA) from the Wolves for 25-yr old SS/2B Kuang Liu (.181, 2 HR, 7 RBI).
June 11 – NAS LF/RF Tommy Norton (.312, 2 HR, 24 RBI) may miss more than a month with a fractured thumb.

Complaints and stuff

Vomit-inducing week. Never mind five wins, but the pitching sucks outright. Plus when you go 5-2 a week, and concede more runs than your team scores (38-39), something is wrong. Wrong is that we have conceded four or more runs in every game this month. The last week of May was entirely fine as far as allowing runs went. And then we go to June and a bomb goes off.

I do NOT blame the offense. The offense, although a few guys are struggling in June (see further down), is scoring over 5.1 R/G for the year and 4.55 R/G in June. It is the pitching. If I had ANY replacements, I would have demoted or fired half the bullpen already. But the AAA bullpen gets lit up just as well and that Campoy signing has done ZERO to improve the situation.

Ramón Campoy is a 35-year old right-hander, who signed for $150k for the year. He was a 3rd-round pick by the Crusaders in the 1981 draft, and pitched a no-hitter in his first start in A ball. He was, however, converted to a reliever still as a minor leaguer, and has never made a major league start. After making his debut for the Crusaders in 1984, he would bounce to a new team about every other year and in some years pitched mainly in AAA. We like his makeup, and he was the last guy alive on the free agent market that fit the description “usable right-handed reliever”. He spent last season with the Condors.

Positive notes: O-Mo is in the top 5 in all major offensive categories, including leading the batting title race ahead of Salazar. He also leads in OPS (1.035), although Royce Green’s OPS is higher, but he doesn’t qualify yet. O-Mo also leads all CL players with 3.6 WAR.

That’s it for positives. Baldivía, Reece, and Vinson are struggling at this point. Time for Rodriguez is running out now. As is it for Martinez, Vela, West, … and Jackie Lagarde.
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edtheguy (04-17-2014)
Old 04-20-2014, 06:05 PM   #799
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Here comes Draft week. The Draft may have delayed this update, since I didn’t feel like spending three hours on that the last few days.

Raccoons (40-22) @ Rebels (33-29) – June 12-14, 1995

The Rebels’ record was kind of camouflaging how good their team really was. They were 2nd in runs scored in the FL, and 1st in runs allowed. This would be a tough cookie to chew for the Furballs. The Rebels had maybe the most dangerous hitter in baseball at this point in their lineup, RF Raúl Vázquez, who stood at 16 homers already.

Projected matchups:
Miguel Lopez (4-1, 3.31 ERA) vs. Henry Selph (5-4, 3.23 ERA)
Robert Vázquez (5-2, 3.82 ERA) vs. Edgar Rey (5-4, 3.75 ERA)
Scott Wade (4-5, 4.07 ERA) vs. Harry Griggs (7-6, 3.50 ERA)

Miguel Lopez was perhaps the worst-hitting pitcher in our rotation, just barely getting over .110 lifetime at the plate, but he set an exclamation mark in the series opener with a 2-out, 3-run homer off Selph that put up the first three runs in the game. Royce Green oomphed a massive 2-run shot in the third, but Lopez was merely human, too, and in the bottom 4th Raúl Vázquez (told you!) and Antonio Diaz hit back-to-back solo home runs off Lopez, cutting our lead to 5-2. All runs had been scored with the long ball so far. Lopez went only six after ill control early on, but kept the Rebels from further scoring shenanigans. We scratched out an extra run in the top 9th, eliminating the need to have a “closer”. So we brought Lagarde, who promptly walked two batters. Salazar would bail out the team by starting a game-ending double play eventually. 6-2 Raccoons. Salazar 2-4, BB, RBI; Kinnear 3-4; Quinn (PH) 1-1; Lopez 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (5-1) and 1-2, HR, 3 RBI; West 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Home runs remained a topic in the middle game, despite the Rebels resting Raúl Vázquez against his former team mate at the Indians, Robert Vázquez. A 2-out solo home run by Robert Carney put the Rebels ahead in the bottom 4th. The Coons had left five men on in the first three frames, four of them in scoring position. We also had the bags full with no outs in the top 5th and the meat of the lineup coming up. This time they cashed in: Neil Reece floated a shy fly into shallow right, where it dinked in for a 2-run single, and Royce Green added a run. Rain set in in Richmond when the Coons added two in the top 5th, and the game was shortly interrupted in the bottom 6th, but it was enough to throw Vázquez out of sync and he conceded a run before being removed from the game. We were up 6-2 in the bottom 7th when I sent in Campoy, who gave up a homer and a double and retired nobody. With the #9 spot due to lead off the eighth for us, Vela and Rodriguez entered in a double switch here. Vela conceded Campoy’s run, but got out of the frame still up 6-4. Yet, we were already knee deep in the bullpen misery again. Martinez got two out in the bottom 8th, then loaded the bases. With switch-hitter Dana McDaniel pinch-hitting for the Rebels in this spot, we still wanted a right-hander to pitch to him, but not Martinez, yet that meant going to De La Rosa. McDaniel shot a grounder up the first base line, but Higgins made the play for the final out of the eighth. Hoping for Gabby to finish it quickly in the ninth, we were left disappointed. The Rebels put two on with one out. Antonio Gutierrez grounded out to O-Mo, but the only play was to first base, putting the tying runs in scoring position and Carney in the batter’s box. On a 1-2 pitch, Carney knocked in the tying runs, and the game went to extra innings. In the top 10th, O-Mo made an 0-5 day less miserable with a 2-out RBI single, which again posed the question who would close with a 1-run lead in the bottom 10th. Burnett came in. With two out and nobody on, Raúl Vázquez was brought out to pinch-hit and walked against Burnett, and then Brad Brown singled to left. Vázquez went to third. Lefty Gabriel Cruz was up for Burnett to retire. Cruz singled to left, tying run comes home, and we play on. Jackie Lagarde again was thrown into a game. He would walk three batters in 1.1 innings before Cruz walked off the Rebels with a 2-run homer in the 12th. 9-7 Rebels. Brewer 5-7; Higgins 2-4, 2 BB; Reece 5-6, 2B, 3 RBI; Green 2-5, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Vázquez 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K;

We all need our scapegoats. I found mine. Lagarde, De La Rosa, West, and our new addition, Campoy, they are ruining game after game after game.

I went after them with the axe after this game. Lagarde was to be demoted first, but he had the balls to refuse demotion. The axe then hit De La Rosa, who had no protective rights. Demoted alongside him was Jose Rodriguez, and we added Marvin Ingall again, plus a new catcher in Ron McDonald.

Game 3. Scott Wade better be good. He wasn’t. The Rebels put four runs on him in the first inning, in which he expended 41 pitches, so this game was out of the window in an instant. Or was it? The Coons put three runs on Harry Griggs in the third, and Wade dragged himself through six innings on 115 pitches, allowing only one more run. Down 5-3 after six, a wonderful thing happened in that our designated wrecking balls for this game, Campoy and Miller, did not allow a runner past first base. At the same time, Griggs threw 140 pitches going eight, and the Coons didn’t progress past first base, either. 5-3 Rebels. Brewer 2-4, 2 2B, RBI; Kinnear 2-4;

Oh well.

The draft took place on our off day on Thursday. See the results in a separate post, thanks.

Raccoons (41-24) @ Loggers (36-30) – June 16-18, 1995

The Loggers were continuing to be about average, with their rotation in the top 3 of the league, and we had ailing bullpens in common. Theirs ailed a little bit less, though.

Projected matchups:
Kisho Saito (8-1, 2.93 ERA) vs. Martin Garcia (7-5, 2.27 ERA)
Jason Turner (7-2, 3.30 ERA) vs. Rafael Garcia (5-6, 5.32 ERA)
Miguel Lopez (5-1, 3.29 ERA) vs. Jorge Casas (3-5, 3.81 ERA)

Left-handed aces up in the opener, and from the beginning it was a duel with very unequal halves. The Loggers were up by a run for most of the game, first 1-0, then 2-1, against Saito, who gave up lots of singles and struck out only three batters. By contrast, Garcia mowed down Raccoons like a maniac, finishing with nine strikeouts in eight innings, and hardly ever stumbled after loading the bags in the first (but the Raccoons didn’t score). Saito went into the seventh, where Cristo Ramirez, the only lefty in the Loggers’ lineup, put him to rest with a home run that bloomed the score to 5-1. We were done right there. Of course we got stellar relief in this game. 5-1 Loggers. Brewer 4-5, 3 2B; Reece 3-4, RBI; Martinez 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K;

Saito gave up 12 hits in 7.1 innings, which is a lot, but of these nine were singles, some of which sneaked through the holes in the infield, and one bunt base hit he couldn’t dig out on which MIL Jerry Fletcher reached first. Fletcher tried the stunt thrice, and Saito made the two other plays. Still, Saito is hitting a valley here. Getting no support from a 2-man lineup doesn’t help either. And OF COURSE Martinez struck out the final four Loggers in the game.

Royce Green got a day off in game 2. His hacking was getting more and more wild at this point.

David Brewer led off game 2 with a double, then left the game with back stiffness. Ingall replaced him and scored on a Reece single to get Jason Turner a quick 1-0 lead. Two frames later, Neil Reece powered an offering from Rafael Garcia out of left for a 2-run homer and became the Coons’ first batter to double digit dingers on the season. Turner no-hit the Loggers through five, before it was pitcher Rafael Garcia who led off the bottom 6th with a single to left. Still, Turner was 2-hitting the Loggers through seven? Complete game shutout maybe? Way to go. Izumo Sasaki doubled off the wall to lead off the bottom 8th, and then Augusto Garza hit a pinch-hit home run to soil Turner’s day and knock him from the game. In a 5-2 game, the closer of the day was supposed to be Daniel Miller after a string of solid games. Struck out Bob Grant, struck out Jose Perez, and got Drake Evans in a 1-2 count to ground out to Ingall. 5-2 Coons. Brewer 1-1, 2B; Salazar 3-5, 2B; Reece 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; O’Morrissey 2-4, 2B, RBI; Jin 2-3, BB; Turner 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, W (8-2);

David Brewer is listed as DTD with his back stiffness. He will be kept out of the Sunday game here, and we will see to what happens after that. We do not have an off day on Monday, instead going straight home to play the Indians.

Game 3. Royce Green was very upset to having watched the last game from outside, where Reece had gone double digit deep, and used his first chance to tie him with a 2-run homer that gave us a 2-0 lead in the top 2nd. Miguel Lopez didn’t hold on to that lead, loaded the bags in the bottom 2nd, and Jerry Fletcher tied the game with a 2-out, 2-run double. He managed to get more horrible in the third, surrendering a double, a triple, a walk, and a wild pitch for three runs. The opposing pitcher Jorge Casas would hit an RBI double off Lopez to knock him out in the fifth. Casas was not too good on the mound himself, but everybody seemed to be able to walk over our staff with ease. We were down 6-4 after six, and got our leadoff batters, Quinn and Higgins, on in the seventh. Casas was still in there, which might be a mistake by the Loggers. Salazar popped out, but Reece singled to right to load the bags. Still, no reliever for Milwaukee against O-Mo. He hit a sac fly. Casas went on to walk Green, and now they relieved him, bringing in Pedro Cruz to face Baldivía. Baldy flew out to center… Campoy gave the run right back in the bottom 7th. We got another chance in the top 9th, when a 1-out single by Salazar brought the tying run up in Neil Reece against John Bennett. But Bennett put a K on Reece and O-Mo grounded out to end the day. 7-5 Loggers. Reece 2-5, 2B; O’Morrissey 2-4, 2B, RBI; Green 3-3, BB, 2 HR, 2B, 4 RBI;

In other news

June 14 – The Scorpions’ 22-year old SP Steve Rogers (8-2, 2.12 ERA) will have to miss a start or two with a tender elbow.
June 16 – CIN LF/RF Michael Root (.298, 4 HR, 31 RBI) smokes his 2,000th career base hit in a 10-9 over the Rebels. Root, 33, the first overall pick in the 1982 draft by the Knights, and 4-time Hitter of the Year (1984-85, 1989-90), hits a 7th-inning single off Randy Rakes for the milestone.
June 16 – WAS OF Dale Cleveland (.261, 6 HR, 25 RBI) is out for the season with a torn posterior cruciate ligament.
June 17 – NAS RF/CF Orlando Mendoza (.286, 1 HR, 14 RBI) is also out for this season, having suffered a torn labrum.
June 17 – 39-year old veteran SS/2B Eddy Bailey (.250, 1 HR, 21 RBI) and a minor leaguer are sent to Cincinnati by the Wolves to acquire MR Gilberto Salazar (1-0, 0.92 ERA, 1 SV in 29.1 IP)

Complaints and stuff

Scored 27, allowed 30 runs. Another dreadful week for Raccoons pitching. The rotation was no exception this time around. But our rotation is still 1st in the league, the bullpen is close to becoming last (11th now), although we still hold an .4 ERA advantage over the miserable Condors pen there.

Lagarde will have to be dealt with. He is unbelievably terrible, that ERA ain’t even telling it all. His contract will be up after this season, so no huge money involved. Still, no team wants a piece of him, unless for AAA scrubs. Yes, I posted him for offers, right after that game in Richmond he lost, where he ended up in hitter counts in all but one AB, where he got to 2-2 and couldn’t seal the deal.

Struggles elsewhere on the roster notwithstanding, after game 2 in Milwaukee the Raccoons stuffed the top 3 of the CL batting race entirely with their own. O-Mo (.355) led Salazar (.353) and the ailing Brewer (.346)! They held their iron grip on the top 3 on Sunday, too, despite Brewer being idle.

Neil Reece batted .500 this week (though only 12-28 for the weekly honors week), but the guy who was really hot this week plays for San Francisco. 35-year old Roberto Rodriguez batted .682!! That’s 15-22 and that’s totally awesome.
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1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
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: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 04-20-2014, 06:07 PM   #800
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1995 AMATEUR DRAFT

The Raccoons will have the 13th pick in every round, but the first. We forfeited that pick by signing David Brewer. In addition to that we will the 11th pick in the supplemental first round, so we will first pick 35th overall. Whatever will remain at that point…

But at least the pitching side of the draft has been scouted as utterly unthrilling. Vicente Guerra has not identified a single surefire starting pitcher, and only few reliever types. The batting half of the player pool has some much better talent available, the biggest of which might be these boys:

LF Jose Ramirez (20/18/15)
1B/2B Bob Butler (20/19/13)
RF/LF Ricco Ghiberti (20/12/11)
1B Henry Harmon (17/11/12)
LF Manuel Villa (15/9/13)
OF Luke Black (10/16/11)

But, like I said, we forfeited our first round pick, and won’t pick until #35. Funny side note: although our pick went to the Canadiens, it ended up with the Blue Sox in the end, when the Canadiens signed one of their players (and somehow I can’t find out whom).

The Blue Sox also had the first overall pick and selected SP George Richardson, 21, who hailed from West Hempstead, NY. Of our top 6 up there, Ramirez went 2nd overall to the Falcons, Butler 7th overall to the Canadiens, Ghiberti 12th overall to the Aces, Black 23rd overall to the Bayhawks, Harmon 27th overall to the Gold Sox, and Villa fell to us. This was a no-brainer. In our evaluation chart, he was up and ahead of every other player left in the pool, minus a reliever from New York, Pat Clark, who had the typical high school relief pitcher stats. It was obvious that Clark had stuff, but we saved consideration for him for the second round of the draft. (This didn’t come to be, the Condors taking him eight picks later at #43) The pool was picked thin by the time we got our second pick, when only one player with more than three stars potential remained, and we took that boy and then went from there.

1995 RACCOONS DRAFT CLASS

Supp. Round (#35) – LF Manuel Villa, 20, from Santo Domingo, Dom. Rep. – rated well above average in every offensive category but power (average), Villa also has great defense. His stock could go up if he can learn to play right field competently.
Round 2 (#77) – RF Cory Stanford, 18, from Coral Hills, MD – also above average, including power, however he has a nasty habit of hacking at everything, which will have to be beaten out of him
Round 3 (#101) – MR Bill Coles, 21, from Montreal, Canada – brutal changeup from the righty, but his fastball his dead straight
Round 4 (#125) – SP Julio Romero, 20, from Villalba, Puerto Rico – also a righty with a changeup, but not too much stuff overall
Round 5 (#149) – 1B/2B George Morris, 22, from Mesquite, TX – better D at first, but no home run power to speak of, also little speed and a weak arm
Round 6 (#173) – MR Tristan DeWinter, 18, from Moneka, IL – circle change to kill, but his fastball is really weak and he gives up lots of fly balls
Round 7 (#197) – INF Zach Muller, 18, from Montrose-Ghent, OH – more of a versatile infielder type with decent hitting, could once become a utility guy
Round 8 (#221) – OF Jason Kent, 21, from Sparks, NV – plays all positions in the outfield, but hacks like a maniac and still has no power
Round 9 (#245) – LF/RF Pacio Neira, 21, from Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela – here we enter the depths of no upsides
Round 10 (#269) – C Alan Scott, 23, from Mililani Town, HI – nice work behind the plate, but no hitting
Round 11 (#293) – MR Nick Brown, 17, from Halawa, HI – lefty with a slider
Round 12 (#317) – MR Ramiro Manuel, 18, from Meridian, ID – another righty with a changeup

Not a particularly rich harvest for us. Our top 2 picks are … what is the opposite of versatility? All our picks were assigned to the A level.
__________________
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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