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Old 11-13-2019, 05:07 PM   #3021
Westheim
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Raccoons (53-40) vs. Crusaders (47-44) – July 18-20, 2033

The Crusaders themselves still entertained plausible postseason chances given the Titans’ rash of injuries and their failure to activate their usual afterburners and the Raccoons’ alleged general flimsiness and recent reluctance to score anything at all. The season series was however at 6-3 in the Coons’ favor, so they had to come up with a plan quick. Sitting eighth both in runs scored and runs allowed was also no help for their ambitions, and they even had the second-worst rotation all around.

Projected matchups:
Andy Palomares (6-7, 4.82 ERA) vs. Erik David (4-4, 2.19 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (8-6, 3.30 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (8-9, 4.18 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (10-4, 3.37 ERA) vs. Ramiro Benavides (4-7, 5.25 ERA)

David also had 17 saves, but had been pulled from the closer’s job to make a spot start here, something that had happened to him in the past with other teams, too. In fact, the 32-year-old righty had at least four starts and four saves in four previous seasons. Benavides would be the only left-hander drawing up here.

Game 1
NYC: CF Tessmann – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – RF Reardon – SS Schuler – C Leonard – 3B J. Zamora – P David
POR: SS Ramos – CF Reichardt – RF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – LF Jennings – 2B Vickers – C Garcia – 3B Marsingill – P Palomares

Danny Tessmann opened the game with a 360-footer to rightfield on a 2-0 pitch, putting the Coons instantly behind. Mario Hurtado and Jose Balado, recently acquired from San Fran, would hit line drive singles, but Chris Reardon fed one to Rich Vickers to double them up, helping Palomares escape an already ugly first inning. Reichardt, Fernandez, and Zitzner hit straight singles to tie the game in the bottom 1st, and the go-ahead run scored on Jennings’ grounder to Hurtado, who had to hustle in, had no chance for two and barely got one. Vickers singled, but Zitzner had to hold and both were stranded on the corners when Fernando Garcia flew out to Balado. Top 2nd, Randy Schuler and Keith Leonard produced more line drive singles right away, and it looked like a budding bullpen day for Portland. Palomares fooled NOBODY. The fact that the bottom of the order came up and didn’t get the ball to fall in (or bunted) was probably the only thing sparing him early destruction, and stingy defense kept him in one piece in the next innings, which included Ramos racing all the way over to the leftfield line to catch a shallow fair pop by Zamora in the fourth. Portland had a few runners, but no luck in RISP situations until Jennings singled home Reichardt, who had stolen second base after singling himself, with two outs in the bottom 5th, extending the lead to 3-1.

The answer came rather quickly in the top 6th. More line drives, more hits, and no outs logged by Palomares, who was knocked out by Hurtado’s double, Balado’s single, and Reardon’s RBI single. Nick Bates inherited a sticky situation with a 1-run lead, two on, and nobody out, and ****ed the game away completely. Schuler singled on a 2-2 pitch to load the bags, and he walked Leonard to force in the tying run. Zamora hit into a run-scoring double play, and then ****ing Erik David hit a 2-out RBI single to right, leading to Bates’ first earned run since Opening Day, and also to his yanking. Hennessy had to finish the 4-run inning, getting Tessmann to bounce out to Zitzner. Down 5-3, Garcia and Marsingill hit leadoff singles off the resilient David, who then faced Hennessy trying to bunt and doing so badly enough to get the sluggish catcher thrown out at third base, replacing him with an even worse baserunner at first. When Berto rushed an RBI single through the right side, the wicked Coons sent Pinkerton to pinch-run for Hennessy at second base – and that probably tied the game; after Reichardt lined out, Manny Fernandez singled to shallow left-center, Pinkerton was sent around third base and arrived ahead of the throw, which would never have happened with Hennessy “running”. Zitzner flew out to deep center to end the inning, though, and Rick Vickers’s throwing error in the top 7th allowed Firmino Cambra to score after hitting a leadoff double off Ed Blair. That run was unearned but seemed to stick; David lasted seven innings despite getting flicked for five runs, and a procession of relievers held the Coons to a pinch-hit single by Jimmy Wallace in the bottom 8th. They arrived a run short in the bottom 9th against right-hander Mike Hugh – once a Coons rule 5 pick they returned when space on the roster ran out. Fernandez grounded out, but Zitzner walked. Jennings, now the winning run, singled to right, moving the tying run to second base, where Justin Perkins replaced Zitz as pinch-runner. Up at the plate was also Rich Vickers, the unlikely folk hero, so the park was abuzz with excitement, and the kit delivered, hitting the first pitch by Hugh into the gap for an RBI double. Unfortunately Balado cut the ball off very well and Jennings had to hold at third base. New York went for forces all over, walking Garcia with intent to bring up Marsingill, who ended the game on the very next pitch, shoved past Randy Schuler into left for a walkoff single. 7-6 Critters! Reichardt 2-5; M. Fernandez 3-5, RBI; Jennings 2-5, 2 RBI; Vickers 2-5, 2B, RBI; Garcia 2-4, BB; Marsingill 3-5, RBI; Wallace (PH) 1-1;

This plucky little team! They keep biting back! … also, this was the first decision of the year for Chris Wise, who pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning.

We also had 17 hits in this game. All but the crucial Vickers double were singles.

Game 2
NYC: CF Tessmann – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – RF Reardon – SS Schuler – C Leonard – 3B J. Zamora – P E. Cannon
POR: SS Ramos – CF Reichardt – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF M. Fernandez – 2B Vickers – C Thompson – 3B Marsingill – P Sabre

Despite a Balado single in the second, Sabre faced the minimum the first time through thanks to Marsingill’s quick paw on Chris Reardon’s bouncer that turned into a double play. Portland took a 1-0 lead in the bottom 3rd with an unearned run; Thompson had hit a leadoff single, then was to be bunted over by Sabre. Cambra threw the ball over the head of Hurtado however, and both Critters reached scoring position. Ramos grounded out to second base after that, but Thompson was able to score on the play. Reichardt grounded out to Schuler, leaving Sabre at third base. Raffaello had to return to the mound right away and didn’t fare that well… Tessmann ripped a leadoff double to right, scored on a Hurtado single, and Reardon also ripped a base hit with two outs. Ramos reached out and shagged a Schuler line drive to strand Crusaders on the corners in a 1-1 game.

After rapping out 17 hits the previous night, the Coons were faced with a distinct lack of hits in this game. Through five, their only run was unearned, and they had only three base hits in total. Ramos’ leadoff single in the bottom 6th, squeezed through a diving Zamora, was their fourth. Ramos went on the first pitch to Reichardt, and the Crusaders had been alert and threw him out. That cost a run, given Wallace’s 2-out double later on. Zitzner lined out to Hurtado, and the game remained tied. Sabre held out for seven innings on exactly 100 pitches, but had to be content with a no-decision as the bottom 7th only brought more dire sadness. Top 8th, Anaya faced Jorge Zamora and gave up a 2-2 leadoff single. PH Matt Jamieson hit into a force at second base, but the go-ahead run remained on base. The Coons moved to David Fernandez against the top of the order, but the Crusaders sent all-or-nothing ripper Dan Brown to pinch-hit. Brown sat at .172 with one home run all year. He hit his second on a massive blast to centerfield, and because that had been so much fun Cambra hit another one off Fernandez right away. That pair of blasts served as more than enough to bury the Raccoons, who would only cobble five hits together in the entire game and would not pose a threat again. 4-1 Crusaders. Wallace 2-4, 2B; Thompson 2-3; Sabre 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K;

The Raccoons made a roster move after this game, optioning Preston Pinkerton to AAA to bring Noel Ferrero back from his rehab assignments; Manny Fernandez was not even briefly threatened by removal.

Game 3
NYC: CF Tessmann – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – RF Reardon – SS Schuler – C Leonard – 3B J. Zamora – P Benavides
POR: SS Ramos – CF Reichardt – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 2B Vickers – 3B Hawkins – RF Ferrero – C Garcia – P Chavez

Rich Vickers came up with the bags full (Ramos single, Wallace reaching on Hurtado’s error, Zitzner drawing four balls) and one out in the bottom 1st of a scoreless rubber game. He ripped at and missed the first pitch, which I took as a sure sign of doom, and then hit into a double play on the next pitch. I groaned and gurgled badly enough at my desk that Slappy got concerned enough to get Maud to check in on me. When my noises got even worse on Fernando Garcia’s double play bouncer in the second, I reluctantly agreed to a cup of her wicked mindsooth tea, but only half a cup! I still needed room for Capt’n Coma in the concoction…

Sloppy play continued; Chavez threw 43 pitches the first time through, whiffing three and walking two, and then a Vickers error put Tessmann on base. Cambra singled, putting runners on the corners with one out, but the veteran Cambra misread Hurtado’s cracked liner that did decidedly not go over Zitzner’s head, but landed in his glove and had Cambra doubled up when Zitz casually tapped first base with Cambra halfway to second base. Zitzner then added the hurt on the other side of the box score as well, singling home Reichardt with two outs in the bottom 3rd for the first run of the game. Benavides had nicked Reichardt with one out in the inning. Vickers grounded out. Balado doubled off the fence to begin the fourth, and Reardon reached base on a Hawkins fumble, giving New York runners on the corners, at least until Reardon was caught stealing and Schuler lined out to Ramos. Leonard got rung up to end the inning, but Chavez still blew the lead in the fifth when Cambra knocked a 2-out single to plate Benavides, who had hit a 1-out double over the head of Reichardt… Maud, this tea is not soothing my mind one bit. NOT ONE BIT.

Chavez was done after six innings, walking Reardon and Leonard in his final frame, but without incurring more damage. He got no decision, like any other Coons starter in the series. Hennessy sure made a bid for the loss in the seventh, allowing leadoff singles to Benavides – Maud! THIS TEA MAKES ME ANGRY!! – and PH Dan Brown – eh, at least not outta here… - before Cambra hit into a double play. Blair and Perkins entered in a double switch, with the former feeding an easy Hurtado fly to Wallace in left to keep the opposing pitcher from scoring. Balado hit a leadoff single in the eighth, but was thrown out striving to steal second base against Garcia. The Coons took til the eighth inning to get another runner into scoring position, then with a 1-out double Reichardt hit up the line against Benavides on his 105th pitch of the game. Wallace grounded out, but advanced the runner, and then Hurtado missed Zitzner’s fast bouncer that escaped for a 2-out RBI single and Zitz’ 50th RBI. Vickers grounded out, bringing Wise into the ninth, facing the bottom of the order. He walked Leonard, but got a double play bouncer from Zamora. Ex-Coon Matt Jamieson pinch-hit in the #9 hole. The .286 batter hit a hard fly to deep left, but it didn’t quite reach the fence… but the outfielder on watch reached the ball. Jennings had replaced Wallace for D and ended the game with a sure grab on the run. 2-1 Coons. Reichardt 1-2, BB, 2B; Zitzner 2-3, BB, 2 RBI; Ferrero 2-3;

Ed Blair got four outs in relief and earned the win, his seventh of the season, which is more than either Palomares (6) or Rico Gutierrez (3) have at this point.

Interlude: Trade

A starting pitcher would be a logical addition as the deadline approaches, and with our current standing in the North, trading a prospect or two would not be a too stupid move. But here is the problem: very few teams are truly and solidly out of it at this point. The entire FL East is a mess and except for the Rebels everybody still is somehow in the running for a .500 playoff spot, and the Rebels didn’t have anybody we were interested in. The Scorpions were the only team done and through in the West and also didn’t have any SP’s worth trading for. The Loggers’ Josh Long would be an option, but they were not yet believing in the last sermon having been read to them. In the south, three teams were 10+ games out during most of this week. The only starting pitcher there was also one of the most steeply priced in the game.

The Knights’ Mario Rosas had a 12-4 record and 1.84 ERA as well as more than three strikeouts for each walk. The 31-year-old southpaw was making $2.2M but would be a free agent at the end of the year. He was a groundballer and had led the league in homers allowed (24, albeit in 262 innings pitched) in an usual 2032 season. He had only seven dingers surrendered this year, though. Word was that he was dumber than a brittle brick, but as long as he keeps that slider sliding I wouldn’t care. He was apparently also immune to injuries, not having missed a beat since his debut in ’24 (one game) and ’25 (as swingman). A full-time starter since ’26, he had made 33+ starts every year. He was a 2-time All Star (this season and last), but had never led the league in a triple crown category.

The Knights had accepted their fate by now and didn’t see much of a way to extend Rosas past this season either. Whether the Coons could afford the southpaw past the end of his season was as of yet a mystery, but there was enough left in our current budget to accommodate the roughly $900k he was still due this season.

And so, on our off day on Thursday, we acquired 31-year-old SP Mario Rosas (12-4, 1.84 ERA) from the Knights, parting with 19-year-old #34 prospect, Aumsville SS Juan Cerezo.

Scouts were glowing about Cerezo’s keen eye, but nobody really liked his bat. Probably an on-base beast, but he also didn’t have the baserunning instincts required to be a major base stealer. He had some power, but his defense was projected to be average at best. He was a very good prospect – but the time to pounce was now; on Thursday, the Coons were in a virtual tie with the Titans … at least until Adam Potter (11-7, 3.32 ERA) shut out the Loggers on five hits on Thursday afternoon.

Rosas was not right away added to the 25-man roster, because there was an issue with finding a hole in the rotation. Andy Palomares refused an assignment to the minors and had to be dealt with first. This was not a major issue at first; Rosas had pitched on Tuesday and would not be available until Sunday anyway.

Raccoons (55-41) @ Falcons (42-52) – July 22-24, 2033

The Falcons had swept the Critters the first time around this season, which was a stain on our record we hoped to reverse. They had the worst batting average in the league, but would hit for extra bases rather well, plating the eighth-most runs when all was said and done. They also ranked eighth in runs allowed on Friday morning. The rotation was weak and squishy, and a burden on a solid bullpen.

Projected matchups:
Ignacio del Rio (9-6, 3.51 ERA) vs. John Jackson (0-11, 5.29 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-8, 4.22 ERA) vs. Doug Clifford (8-7, 3.58 ERA)
Mario Rosas (12-4, 1.89 ERA) vs. Bryce Sparkes (3-5, 4.72 ERA)

Clifford was the only southpaw to expect; Sunday could also see Mario Bojorques (6-10, 3.93 ERA) instead, but both were righties and both had to pitch on short rest.

Besides SP Aaron Lewis a number of regular position players were on the DL, including Greg Ortiz and Graciano Salto, pulling quite a few teeth from the Falcons’ lineup. They had to fill up the bottom half with Interstate guys.

And if the Coons STILL lost to an 0-11 guy on Friday, everything would have been for the ass.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – CF M. Fernandez – RF Jennings – 1B Zitzner – LF Wallace – 2B Vickers – 3B Hawkins – C Thompson – P del Rio
CHA: CF Adkins – SS J. Green – C Huichapa – RF Trahan – 1B R. Morales – LF J. Lopez – 3B Westmoreland – 2B O. Aguirre – P J. Jackson

Anticipation in me was high as to what the Raccoons would possibly come up with to not win against a guy coming in at 0-11. Well, they put two on in the first inning before Wallace grounded out to short, and three more in the second, but then Fernandez popped out to short. With that, they had used up all their energy and retreated to the snack bar. Wallace hit a 2-out single in the third, Jennings drew a 2-out walk in the fifth, neither came remotely close to scoring, and while del Rio retired the Falcons in order the first time through, and held them to a single in each of the fourth and fifth innings, it was unlikely that he’d hit a homer to do it ALL by himself… or that he wouldn’t **** up at some point down the road. While the Raccoons *did* score a run in the sixth on a Vickers single and Hawkins’ double into the right corner, ****ing John Jackson himself hit a 1-out triple over the head of Manny Fernandez in the bottom of the same inning and was plated on Travis Adkins’ sac fly, so we were right back even. Top 7th, Ramos singled up the middle to get the inning underway, then zipped to third base on Manny Fernandez’ single to right-center. NOW we’re talkin’! Or maybe not. Jennings hit a comebacker for an out, Zitzner whiffed, and Wallace hit another ****ty grounder to a middle infielder. Ramos was left to rot at third base. In response, the Falcons ludicrously loaded the bases against del Rio on two insanely soft singles dropping just out of the reach of retreating infielders, then a 1-out walk to Jorge Lopez. Gavin Westmoreland, .187 menace, chucked a grounder at Ramos for a double play, though.

Rich Vickers’ leadoff single in the eighth knocked out Jackson, but it looked like reliever Marcus Goode could get out of the inning. Hawkins flew out softly, and Thompson struck out. Del Rio was not hit for – but singled! That brought up Ramos with the go-ahead run at second base. Berto whiffed, and I screamed in agony in the middle of people that weren’t used to my antics. It only got worse; bottom 8th, leadoff single by PH Erik Amundson in the #8 hole. Craig Mack bunted into a force, but then stole second base – his first of the year, of course – then scored on a sharp Adkins single. Del Rio was knocked out and Hennessy ended the inning, but the Raccoons indeed entered the final inning of this game trailing by a run. I was out of my mind. Southpaw Danny Burgess’ leadoff walk to Manny Fernandez offered the whiff of a comeback opportunity, but Reichardt, hitting for Jennings, struck out, and Zitzner popped a ball up for the second out. Jimmy Wallace blooped a single on the first pitch, putting runners on the corners and bringing up Rich Vickers with the game on the line, at which point I accepted my fate. I’d live and die by the god-graced paws of Richard Addington Vickers! He struck out. 2-1 Falcons. Ramos 2-5; M. Fernandez 2-4, BB; Wallace 2-5; del Rio 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, L (9-7) and 2-4;

The only thing keeping me from hijacking the team bus and running over a few of the ****ers as they leave the stadium is the fact that Jackson didn’t get the win. AT LEAST, y’know, they lost to the pen.

Cold comfort.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – RF M. Fernandez – CF Reichardt – 1B Zitzner – 3B Marsingill – 2B Hawkins – C Garcia – LF Ferrero – P Gutierrez
CHA: CF Adkins – SS J. Green – C Huichapa – LF Trahan – 1B Mack – RF J. Aguilar – 3B Westmoreland – 2B Vitale – P Clifford

I didn’t exactly blame Rico Gutierrez for not getting Marsingill and Ferrero in with two outs in the second inning, but I did blame him for a lard-assed breaking ball right in the fat part of the zone that allowed Dave Trahan to hit his 10th dinger of the season and extend a hitting streak to 13 games at the beginning of the bottom 2nd. In the top of the third the Coons got Ramos and Fernandez into scoring position with no outs on two singles and a double steal… and the Coons couldn’t do better than tie. Reichardt hit the run-scoring grounder, but Fernandez was stranded on Zitner’s K and Marsingill’s grounder. The Falcons took the lead right back on straight singles by the 1-2-3 hitters in the bottom 3rd. First, Gutierrez fooled no one, and second, the Coons’ offense was a lame duck…

That didn’t change in the middle innings which featured a whole lot of not hitting on the Coons’ side, who had five hits through six innings and still only one run, and also on the Falcons’ side, but they nevertheless scratched out a run in the fifth to extend the lead to 3-1. Trahan singled, stole second, and scored on Craig Mack’s single, all with two outs. At one point Doug Clifford generated six straight ****ty groundouts to Jay Green in a row, keeping the Coons in check into the eighth, which ended with a K to Reichardt. Right-hander Chris Miller opposed them in the ninth inning. Zitzner struck out. Thompson grounded out to Erik Vitale. Wallace grounded out to Erik Vitale. 3-1 Falcons. Ramos 2-4; M. Fernandez 2-4, 2B;

Oh it’s okay. All will be well now.

Now we’ll give the ball to the newest toy we have. He will pitch a shutout and maybe the Falcons can make four error in an inning…

To facilitate the roster addition, Andy Palomares, who refused an assignment to AAA, was waived and DFA’ed.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – CF M. Fernandez – RF Jennings – 1B Zitzner – LF Wallace – 2B Vickers – 3B Perkins – C Thompson – P Rosas
CHA: CF Adkins – SS J. Green – C Huichapa – LF Trahan – 1B Mack – RF J. Aguilar – 3B Westmoreland – 2B O. Aguirre – P Sparkes

Travis Zitzner’s 1-out, 2-run triple cashed Ramos and Jennings in the opening frame and was quite a sizable relief on my burdened heart. The relief was even bigger when Jimmy Wallace turned on a 1-2 pitch and romped it over the fence in right, giving the Coons a 4-0 lead. 4-0! In the first!! A quick and dirty calculation told me that the Falcons would have to hit for 20 innings against Rosas to score enough runs to get even, so that’s a win, right? That’s a win? Right?

Well, there’s a reason they play these games out, but the first time through Rosas was hardly touchable. He struck out three and allowed only one hit, a Westmoreland single, and that dissolved in a double play grounder off the bat of Oscar Aguirre, leaving Rosas to face the minimum through three innings. Come the fourth, though, Ernesto Huichapa hit a solo homer to left, so the Falcons were definitely not dead yet. With the offense returning to their recent ways of making serial outs, I was left to trust in the savvy of guy that had never pitched to a sub-3 ERA, because that was all I had. He maintained the 4-1 lead through six, and needed only 60 pitches despite whiffing seven, which was surely impressive. The seventh saw Bryce Sparkes move out to 9 K however – and on short rest, AND after a 4-run waffling in the first! – while Rosas allowed a leadoff double to Jay Green. Well, an apt leftfielder might have at least made it close or scared him into a single… However, the next three all made outs. Huichapa popped out to Jennings, Trahan whiffed, and Mack rolled over to Ramos. Berto also opened the eighth with a single up the middle, our first base hit in more than an hour, stole second, and reached third on Huichapa’s throwing error. Manny Fernandez socked an RBI triple past Trahan, was singled home by Zitzner, and now I felt much more comfortable. Wallace dropped in a hit, but Vickers and Perkins made outs to Aguilar in right; but the lead now five with only one more out than that to go for Rosas, who had still to break a sweat worth writing about. Westmoreland singled off him again in the bottom 8th, but never got past first base, and through eight Rosas was on only 84 pitches. He had to run the bases in the ninth solely because reliever Andy Cormier threw his bunt away. Elliott Thompson shoveled to second base on that play, and there was nobody out. Ramos hit an RBI double to center before Rosas had to dash home on a wild pitch. Ramos scored on Jennings’ sac fly, adding three runs for a 9-1 tally in the ninth. The Falcons brought up the top of the order. Adkins flew out to right. Green popped out to Perkins in fair ground after Zitzner had bobbled a pop in foul ground on the previous pitch. Huichapa flew out to Jennings in right to end the game. 9-1 Coons. Ramos 3-5, 2B, RBI; Zitzner 2-5, 3B, 3 RBI; Wallace 1-2, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Rosas 9.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, W (13-4);

Complete game in 95 pitches and it looked rather effortless!

In other news

July 20 – CIN CL Andy Hyden (2-2, 1.90 ERA, 29 SV) *literally* walks off the Capitals to give them a 6-5 win, entering the game to start the bottom of the ninth inning and walking Omar Camacho, Kevin Clark, Kelvin Winborn, and INF Rich Falzone (.271, 6 HR, 36 RBI) to plate the winning run.
July 20 – NAS SP Sean Fowler (6-9, 4.01 ERA) and NAS CL Mike Bass (4-3, 3.97 ERA, 10 SV) pitch a combined 1-hitter against the Buffaloes, but the Blue Sox only win the game by walking off on TOP SP Jose Lerma (6-11, 3.68 ERA) on SS/2B Alex Majano’s (.361, 0 HR, 30 RBI) walkoff single.
July 22 – TIJ SP Steve Gowan (3-4, 6.05 ERA) is out for the season, requiring surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.
July 24 – TOP RF/LF Pablo Sanchez (.285, 0 HR, 24 RBI) will miss three weeks with a strained hammy.

Complaints and stuff

The Coons came up winless against a guy that couldn’t win a consolation price in an elementary school raffle to benefit the local shelter for dogs soon to be euthanized, extending their unofficial winless streak in games against “I can’t believe he’s still in the rotation” pitchers to 389 games on Friday. Color me mildly annoyed – especially with the Titans losing on Friday and a win meaning first place. We grabbed first place anyway because the Titans were swept by the Bayhawks (at home!), but we could have maybe added a game… are the Crusaders coming closer?

Anyway, we’re in first, and I’d like us to stay there, please?

Mario Rosas is the first big trade acquisition for this team *during* a season since… uhm… uh… since… - Maud! – Maud! – I need the yearbooks!

There would be room for one more improvement with a left-handed infielder. The Marsingill / Perkins / Hawkins cacophony is deeply unsatisfying to watch. All three of them had a hot streak at some point; none of them are hitting right now. They are all right-handers, too… Hmm, I wonder what Matt Nunley is up to right now…

Next week, Vegas, baby, then the Thunder at home.

This year’s top pick Mike Lang (#4) started his career 1-4 with a 6.68 ERA in Aumsville and is now suspended for ten games for trying to poke an opposing batter in the eye with his claws.

What would baseball be without “characters”?

Fun Fact: Jon Correa arrived in Portland in July 2028 with an .800 OPS compiled in San Francisco, which he came nowhere near maintaining in Portland.

That was it. The most recent big in-season trade. He got a ring with us. That was five years ago, but it feels like 20. Correa is no longer in the majors, and he’s 40 years old. In fact, neither him nor two of the three players he was exchanged for (Matt Triolo, Omar Millan) have been in the majors this year. Reliever Dan McLin is – but he has a 5.72 ERA for the Rebels.
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Last edited by Westheim; 11-13-2019 at 05:11 PM.
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DD Martin (11-13-2019)
Old 11-13-2019, 08:01 PM   #3022
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Very nice all in move for the SP Rosas. Curious to see if you find that left handed bat before the deadline
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:22 PM   #3023
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Very nice all in move for the SP Rosas. Curious to see if you find that left handed bat before the deadline
Let's say I have my red eyes on somebody, but the team is resisting.
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Old 11-15-2019, 02:03 PM   #3024
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Raccoons (56-43) @ Aces (36-61) – July 26-28, 2033

Soundly rotten, the Aces were barely scoring 3.5 runs per game, which was of course not an attitude that lent itself to winning much of anything. It was the worst mark in the CL, just like their 4.9 R/A mark was, and their run differential was a whopping -139. They were crying out to be swept. The Coons would have to answer; so far we were 2-1 against Vegas this year.

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (8-6, 3.20 ERA) vs. Chris Guyett (7-13, 4.69 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (10-4, 3.28 ERA) vs. Josh Weeks (3-13, 5.68 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (9-7, 3.45 ERA) vs. Howard Haws (5-10, 4.05 ERA)

Weeks was their only southpaw, and also the one with the worst ERA. Since both teams entered after an off day on Monday, they could skip him, although it would not get that much better down the road. The next limp arm on deck would be Jamie Klages (0-4, 4.22 ERA).

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – CF M. Fernandez – RF Jennings – 1B Zitzner – LF Wallace – 3B Marsingill – 2B Vickers – C Thompson – P Sabre
LVA: SS Crow – 3B Armfield – CF Stedham – RF E. Martin – LF Montes – 2B Sibley – 1B Carman – C Scheffer – P Guyett

The Coons dared to strand Justin Marsingill on third base after their third-sacker du jour tripled with nobody out in the second inning. At least that move had already plated a pair, Travis Zitzner and Jimmy Wallace having occupied the corners with a pair of preceding base hits. Vickers walked after the Marsingill triple, but Thompson popped out, Sabre whiffed, and Ramos flew out to Andy Montes in left. The 4-5-6 batters all landed hits again with two outs in the top 3rd, but the inning ended with Zitzner being thrown out at home plate by Evan Martin on Marsingill’s single. Sabre did allow any hits the first time through; while he walked Jesse Stedham and Vince Carman, those were either caught stealing or doubled up. Martin landed a leadoff single in shallow right in the bottom 5th, but was doubled up by Montes’ grounder. The lead was 3-0 at that point; the top of the inning had seen Billy Jennings slap a leadoff single, steal second base, advance on Zitzner’s single, and come home on a sac fly by Wallace. The Coons had the sacks full with one out in the sixth then; Thompson had smacked a leadoff double, followed by Sabre flying out to center. Ramos was intentionally walked for the second time in the game; Fernandez had struck out to end the fourth the last time ‘round, but this time singled to left to bring up the thick of the lineup for a slam chance. No slam occurred; Jennings grounded to Ross Sibley, who sniffed two, but so did Manny and took out Andy Crow at second base to break up the play; Thompson scored. Zitzner then grounded out to Guyett, stranding two. The Aces countered with an infield single by Philip Scheffer in the bottom 6th… and then their third double play grounder of the day, Justin Nelson going 6-4-3. Wallace opened the top 7th with a double to center, only to be thrown out at third base in a case of “one bridge too far”, and while I groaned, Sabre seemed to have this one bagged. He retired Vegas in order in the seventh, and in the eighth, and then faced the bottom of the order in the ninth. Carman flew out to Fernandez, now in rightfield, but Scheffer walked in a full count. No drama yet, but Chris Wise started to windmill his front paws in the bullpen. Right-handed batter Danny Beckel pinch-hit in the #9 hole and poked the 1-0 pitch into play. To Ramos, to Vickers, to Zitzner – ballgame! 4-0 Raccoons! M. Fernandez 2-5; Zitzner 3-5, 2B; Wallace 3-3, 2B, RBI; Marsingill 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI; Thompson 2-4, 2B; Sabre 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K, W (9-6);

Second career shutout for Raffaello Sabre! His first – a 5-hitter – had come against the Loggers in May.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – RF M. Fernandez – CF Reichardt – 1B Zitzner – 3B Marsingill – LF Jennings – C Garcia – 2B Vickers – P Chavez
LVA: SS Crow – 3B Armfield – CF Stedham – RF E. Martin – 2B Sibley – 1B LeClerc – LF J. Nelson – C Scheffer – P Weeks

Bernie Chavez channeled Mark Roberts in the worst way in the Wednesday affair, allowing five hits to the first five Aces that came up, and three of those left the yard as Crow singled, Chad Armfield homered to left, Stedham singled (and was picked off by Garcia), and Evan Martin and Ross Sibley both hit bombs to left. That made for a 4-0 hole and a plus-sized headache. The Coons were doing absolutely nothing against Weeks, who allowed two hits in four innings, while Chavez allowed nine in 3.2 innings, with Stedham’s RBI single to score Andy Crow in the bottom 4th the final nail in the coffin. David Fernandez retired Martin in a 5-0 game that looked very much lost, and I have to admit that I spent much of the middle and late innings on the phone and only paid passing attention to the dismal game in progress. Both teams scored a run in the fifth on three singles apiece, with Anaya cocking up the Aces’ run on a 2-out single by the opposing pitcher. Y’know – that sort of game…

We got nominally close in the sixth on Travis Zitzner’s 15th bomb of the year, a 2-run shot to left with two outs, scoring Fernandez, who had forced out Ramos with a poor grounder. But Anaya had one more right-handed bat to face to begin the bottom 6th, allowing a leadoff single to Armfield. Garavito came on, walked Stedham, got a 1-6-3 double play from Evan Martin, but conceded the Anaya run on Sibley’s 2-out double.

But just as I agreed with my fellow GM, handed our scout his phone back and nodded that “it was on”, the Coons tried one more rally in the top 8th from being down 7-3. Perkins had entered the game in a double switch in the bottom 7th and led off with a single. Ramos grounded near the third base line, unplayable – infield single. Weeks whiffed Fernandez, then got Reichardt to ground to Armfield – but he threw the ball past Justin LeClerc for a 2-base error. Now the soup was steaming – it was 7-4, runners in scoring position, and Zitzner at the plate with one out. And he certainly TRIED to hit that 3-run homer … but struck out. Marsingill grounded out to Crow – and that was the end of the rally attempts; Steve Bailey held them remarkably short in the ninth inning. 7-4 Aces. Ramos 3-4; Zitzner 3-4, HR, 2 RBI;

Interlude: Trade

The original lineup for Wednesday’s game didn’t have Jennings in it; instead, leftfield had been assigned to Noel Ferrero, batting eighth. But Ferrero was a late scratch, and not for injury reasons. While the game was underway*, the Raccoons traded Noel Ferrero (.250, 1 HR, 18 RBI) and recently voided SP Andy Palomares (6-7, 4.94 ERA, 1 SV) to the Capitals for SS/3b Bob Zeltser (.294, 4 HR, 31 RBI).

Zeltser [spelling: just like the second part of Alka Seltzer], 28 and a former #39 pick by the Miners, was an elite-level defender on the left side of the infield, for which there might be a range of applications. He was however also left-handed with the stick, and if the Raccoons needed one thing more like any other, it was a left-handed addition to their weird mix of third basemen, all three of which were right-handed (and don’t ignore Tim Stalker, who when healthy could also play there…). He had hit .300 several times in his career, sometimes even while qualifying for the batting title (but it was hard to win even best infielder on your own team when you’re stuck with Danny Santillano as teammate. He been with Washington since the 2031 season.

And no, the Caps wanted no piece of any of our existing third basemen. Another trade might be in the offing because they are making each other increasingly redundant, and only Marsingill has options.

Manny Fernandez agreed to switch to #27 (which was Rich Hereford’s number) to allow Zeltser to keep his #24. Zeltser was activated in time for the Thursday game and Maud in Portland was scurrying for a major press event on Friday morning, but we were now an outfielder short. I was willing to roll with it for a bit because Marsingill could and would readily play in rightfield.

Raccoons (56-43) @ Aces (36-61) – July 26-28, 2033

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF Reichardt – 2B Marsingill – C Thompson – P del Rio
LVA: SS Crow – 3B Armfield – CF Stedham – RF E. Martin – LF Montes – 2B Sibley – 1B LeClerc – C Scheffer – P Haws

Ramos and Zeltser opened the game with singles before the 3-4-5 boys collectively pooped out. Or maybe popped out. My memory is blurred in that regard… Instead Marsingill would open the scoring with a solo homer in the second inning. The 1-0 lead stood through five innings then with del Rio holding the Aces to three hits, while the Coons had seven but kept not hitting in the clutch. Zitzner had two on with one out in the third, but hit into a double play. One run was stranded in the fourth, then two more in the fifth after Ramos had reached on an error, stolen second base, and had reached third on Zeltser’s groundout. Wallace was walked intentionally, forced out on a fielder’s choice, and Jennings popped out. So of course things would all go to **** at once in the bottom 6th. Armfield hit a leadoff single to right, Stedham tied the game with a double to left, and then Evan Martin emptied a 2-run homer, giving all seven Aces fans still awake a 3-1 lead.

The Critters kept plucking the same string into the late innings, putting Zeltser on with a 1-out single in the seventh and stranding him, too. Jennings then hit a leadoff single in the eighth. Adrian Reichardt slapped a 3-1 pitch at the third baseman, but it took a nasty hop off a pebble at the edge between turf and dirt and beat Armfield’s reflexes for a double to left. Finally, a lucky break! Jennings scored in the confusion, and the tying run was at second base with nobody out in a 3-2 game! The situation improved to runners on the corners with a Marsingill single. Manny Fernandez hit for Hennessy and did the bare minimum, getting the tying run home from third with a fielder’s choice to Sibley. He stole second then, Ramos was walked intentionally, and Zeltser grounded out to Justin LeClerc, ending the inning. The Aces put Martin and Sibley on the corners against David Fernandez in the bottom 8th, but Bates arrived in time to whiff LeClerc and get Scheffer to ground out, keeping the game tied.

Wallace made a solid bid for a tie-breaking bomb in the ninth, but the drive was caught at the fence by Martin. The other five outs in the ninth were all sad, sending the game to extras, where Anaya delivered two scoreless frames for Portland while the offense remained meh. Top 12th then, leadoff single for Jennings off Shinsaburo Matsubara, a righty with a 6.28 ERA. Well, will ya, now!? Nope. Reichardt flew out to left, Marsingill got the runner forced out at second, and Thompson grounded out to LeClerc. By the bottom 12th we had to offer up Chris Wise even with no lead on the board. The only other reliever left in the pen was Garavito, who had already logged five outs the previous game. He entered in a double switch with Hawkins, vacating Marsingill and his four hits from the #7 hole, but it was late, and we were running out of strings to pull. Wise had a quick 12th, then a not-so-quick 13th inning. Vince Carman singled out of the #3 hole to begin the latter. Wallace’s catch on Martin in deep left kept the Coons together, and Wise found his way out of the inning. The top 14th was like any other inning, some Coon hit a single (Wallace), then was grievously stranded. They had *16* base hits – and still only three runs. Wise squeezed another inning out of his well-rested arm, but that would be it; his spot was also leading off the 15th, with J.J. Ringland pitching for Vegas after three spiffy innings by the 6+ ERA reliever Matsubara, who now no longer had a 6+ ERA. Perkins walked. Thompson hit into a double play. Hawkins singled. Ramos grounded out. It seemed like they’d be able to do this all night long. The bottom 15th began with Garavito on the mound while Rico Gutierrez jogged out to the pen to get ready. He was the next starter up (although the plan had been to move Rosas ahead of him), but a relief appearance did not come to be. Chad Armfield hit a leadoff triple to right to begin the bottom 15th, and while Garavito struck out Carman, Evan Martin’s single hung the loss on him. 4-3 Aces. Zeltser 3-7; Wallace 3-6, BB; Marsingill 4-6, HR, 2B, RBI; Bates 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K; Anaya 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K; Wise 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Ramos and Thompson went 1-for-7. Zitzner went 0-for-7. The last two both also hit into a gut-tearing double play.

Boys – that was a ****ing **** game! Because you played ****ing ****!!

Raccoons (57-45) vs. Thunder (51-49) – July 29-31, 2033

Arriving home 1 1/2 games up in the North solely because the Titans had managed to get swept in Charlotte, scoring only four runs in the process, the Coons would meet the third-place Thunder to finish July. The Thunder were at 100 home runs, most in the league, but were scoring the fourth-most runs overall because they were not really into hitting for average. Their pitching was pretty much a mess with the second-worst rotation, a dim pen except for last year’s Critter Jared Stone (2-2, 1.55 ERA, 24 SV), and the second-most runs allowed. The season series was even at three.

Projected matchups:
Mario Rosas (13-4, 1.80 ERA) vs. Joe Robinson (8-5, 4.25 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-9, 4.24 ERA) vs. Scott Soviero (4-12, 6.93 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (9-6, 3.00 ERA) vs. Andy Jimenes (5-7, 3.69 ERA)

“Dude” Jimenes was the only right-hander on offer here; the series would start with us facing two southpaws.

Game 1
OCT: RF Celaya – CF Olszewski – 1B D. Cruz – C Burgess – LF Sagredo – SS Serrato – 2B A. Rojas – 3B Becker – P J. Robinson
POR: SS Zeltser – CF Reichardt – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Marsingill – 2B Vickers – C Garcia – 3B Perkins – P Rosas

We were hoping for a gem by Rosas after two lengthy bullpen contributions in the last two days. Things went straight south, however, with Adrian Reichardt hurting himself on a sliding play right on the first ball put in play by Lorenzo Celaya. Manny Fernandez took over. Instead of being thoroughly subdued, the Thunder kept making loud contact. Drew Olszewski singled, Danny Cruz doubled, and Mike Burgess hit a 3-run bomb to stun the living **** out of everybody in attendance. Alex Serrato would hit a line drive single in the inning, but was stranded, and Thierry Becker and Olszewski both hit singles in the second, but were also stranded, bringing the total against Rosas to six hits rather fast. And it only got worse; Burgess and Sagredo hit line drive singles, Alfredo Rojas walked, and Thierry Becker doubled in the third for another two runs. Rosas continued his home debut with a bunt for a double play in the bottom 3rd, and would be excused from further display of inept pitching after five ****ty innings, which was also enough time to give the Coons ample opportunity to scatter four base hits in the most inefficient way possible. Nope, this game was lost, and everybody knew it.

Just when I was ready to consign myself to duty on Capt’n Coma’s mighty sloop, Zitzner teased everybody with a 2-run homer in the bottom 6th. The Coons responded by having Hennessy give up a pair in the seventh, his second inning of work. Danny Cruz hit his 23rd bomb, and singles put Luis Sagredo and Alex Serrato on the corners before Ed Blair took over, but surrendered a 2-out double to Rojas. Sagredo scored, Serrato was thrown out at home, which at least ended the inning and got me one step closer to try and blow my brains out with the blunderbuss. Blair cocked up another run on three base hits in the eighth, and it was an 8-2 game heading into the bottom 9th where the team got everybody’s hopes up at first when Ramos hit for David Fernandez – in his third losing effort in a row – and walked off righty Marcos Ochoa. Vickers singled to left, and Thompson hit for Garcia and hit an RBI double to right, which all occurred with no outs and made the tying run appear as the guy munching a sandwich with a bat over his shoulder on the dugout steps – yes, Bob Zeltser had no issues fitting right in! Perkins slapped a 3-1 pitch past the reach of shortstop Antonio Felicame for an RBI single, 8-4, and that got Jared Stone out in a save chance. He struck out Jennings, but lost Zeltser on balls. Manny Fernandez batted as the tying run, 1-for-4 after technically coming off the bench. He chucked a comebacker at 1-2 that Stone took for the out at home, doubting he’d get two. Manny legged out Burgess’ throw to first. Wallace grounded out to Rojas to complete the team’s third straight defeat. 8-4 Thunder. Wallace 2-5; Thompson (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Perkins 4-4, 2B, RBI;

The Raccoons were now down to a half-game lead again, and also to three functional outfielders, but no satisfying trade could be arranged at short notice and we weren’t into the idea of sending Marsingill (.313, 3 HR, 30 RBI) to AAA to get up something like, well, Ryan Allan?

Preston Pinkerton was not an option – he had hit the DL with a back strain.

Dr. Chung? Dr. Chung!? – Any news on Reichardt? – What do you mean, “it’s hopeless”, and “capitalism has rotted his soul”??

Game 2
OCT: RF Celaya – CF Olszewski – 1B D. Cruz – C Burgess – LF Sagredo – SS Serrato – 2B A. Rojas – 3B Becker – P Soviero
POR: SS Ramos – RF Marsingill – CF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – LF Jennings – 2B Vickers – 3B Perkins – C Garcia – P Gutierrez

Panic gripped Portland as the Coons tried to stop the bleeding with Rico Gutierrez, which hadn’t been a potent plan since we had only two championships. Bad weather joined the nauseous mix and within an inning, an Alex Serrato homer, and a walk to Rojas in the top 2nd we were in a 40-minute rain delay. Everything was running into the gutter – everything. When play resumed, Thierry Becker singled to left, and the Thunder ended up getting a Celaya sac fly eventually to go up 2-0. While the Coons tied the game in the bottom 2nd on a Perkins homer, the second run was unearned; Jennings had reached on an error by Alex Serrato. Gutierrez walked a pair in the third and surrendered the go-ahead run on a Rojas single that glanced off Perkins’ glove before finding leftfield, and it just wasn’t going to get any better, was it…?

Stupid **** would afflict both teams, though; while on the their own the Critters were inept to take the heat to a pitcher with an ERA near seven, they’d get Perkins on base with a narrow double in right-center, meaning Celaya almost made the catch, but overran the dinker and Olszewski had to pick up the slack behind him. That was with two outs; Garcia was put on intentionally, and Gutierrez hit the most terrible bloop to shallow left, and it dropped *right* on the line for an RBI single, tying the score at three. Ramos drew his third walk of the game, filling the bags, but Celaya had no trouble with Marsingill’s ****ty fly ball, stranding all the runners. Top 5th, Gutierrez had his abdomen semi-surgically opened and all the contents removed by the Thunder, who got Cruz on with a soft leadoff single before with one out both Sagredo and Serrato hit RBI triples over Marsingill’s head. Bates replaced Gutierrez, who was booed by the crowd as he left the field, head hanging, with the TV feed clearly catching somebody screaming “**** stain” at him, and maybe it was me. Rojas scored the runner from third with a groundout, extending the lead to 6-3, and Becker doubled to center, clearing the pitcher’s spot, too. Who wrote this ****ing scouting report that they weren’t ****ing hitting?? It’s the fifth inning on Saturday, and they are on TWENTY-SIX ****ING HITS ALREADY!!??

After another run fell out of Bates in the sixth, 7-3, the Coons saw Perkins draw a walk off Soviero in the bottom 6th. Garcia singled, and when Zeltser came out to pinch-hit the Thunder went for a fresh left-hander in Tony Gallardo. Zeltser flew out to left, but Ramos walked with two outs (tying the franchise record in the process). Marsingill AGAIN was up with three on and two outs… and got nailed by Gallardo. Well, that’s one run. You must hit four more to give us the lead! Fernandez flew out to right, stabbing another knife into my soul. All the losing was bad enough to get Chris Wise engaged in the ninth inning. He hit Burgess, walked two, and allowed a run on a Liam Riley sac fly to blend in seamlessly with the other dismal performers. Bottom 9th, down by a slam, Manny Fernandez drew a leadoff walk off Jimmy Jackson, a right-hander. Zitzner hit into a double play. Jennings singled. Wallace pinch-hit and grounded out to Rojas… and if the Thunder had needed two at that point, they would have gotten two, too. 8-4 Thunder. Ramos 0-1, 4 BB; Jennings 2-5; Perkins 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Hawkins 1-1, 2B;

…!

(spins round and round in his office chair, hugging both Honeypaws and a bottle of Capt’n Coma)

Game 3
OCT: RF Celaya – CF Olszewski – 1B D. Cruz – C Burgess – LF Sagredo – SS Serrato – 2B Riffer – 3B Becker – P Jimenes
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – RF Jennings – C Thompson – P Sabre

Celaya hit a soft single, stole two bases, and scored on Cruz’ sac fly to put the Thunder right back on top in the first, and he casually also overtook Ramos in stolen bases for the season. Berto opened the bottom 1st with a single, but was forced out on Zeltser’s grounder before he could even think of getting back even. Jimmy Wallace however walloped a ball over the fence in center, putting the Coons up 2-1 anyway. Sabre didn’t blow the lead immediately, leaving the best, presumably for last, but with Jennings and Thompson on second and first in the bottom of the second inning, and nobody out, bunted into a force at third base. One of those neat tricks to drive the GM nuts, always a classic, too. Ramos grounded out, Zeltser flew out, nobody scored.

It was another wringer game in the sense that everybody watching was put through said wringer, no matter your allegiance. The Thunder got Olszewski on with a 2-out single in the third, and Danny Cruz hit a ball off the fence so hard that the runner couldn’t score on the double. Just when Sabre looked like he’d be toppled now, Burgess miserably popped out, stranding the runners in scoring position. Celaya would almost behead him with a straight shot up the middle for a 2-out single in the fifth, but Sabre held the 2-1 lead together through five, and on only 60 pitches. There was still a chance for a W that would at the same time recover the pen …! …and while insurance runs hadn’t been the Critters’ specialty in a while, maybe Ramos and Zeltser reaching the corners via leadoff singles in the bottom 5th could persuade the middle of the order to get one or both of them home, even if entirely by accident…! Wallace hit an awful roller near the mound that kept Ramos from charging, but Jimenes only got the force on Zeltser and runners remained on the corners. This was true after Zitzner’s pop to second, too. I was banging my fists on the desk in raging fury, and finally willed ****ing Manny Fernandez to snap an RBI single into leftfield, 3-1 …! Slappy had enough of the madness and went to grab a mop and bucket somewhere, and Marsingill struck out to strand another pair.

Top 6th, Sabre rung up Cruz, whiffed Burgess, had Sagredo at 1-2 and nailed him, and then gave up the cushion on a Serrato doubled, also on two strikes. Ben Riffer, an absolute nobody I was now penciling in to drive in the dagger in the ninth, popped out. That inning ruined Sabre’s pitch count, though, and after seven he was at 102. The situation in the pen was really dire and he was sent out for the eighth. Olszewski singled on his first pitch. That should have prompted a reliever to be washed forth from the pen, but didn’t. Cruz singled the runner to third base, and Burgess hit a sac fly to tie the game. A spiritually beaten Sabre was removed for Hennessy, who nailed Sagredo, then was yanked in favor of Ed Blair. Left-handed batter Steve Cutler hit for Serrato, but struck out. Riffer did NOT get a chance to drive in the dagger, with Ruben Orozco batting for him. He, too, fell to 0-2, then mauled a breaking ball in the middle of the plate for a 3-run homer. That was surely going to be the game. While the Coons brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom 8th with Jennings and Thompson on base, Rich Vickers hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3. In the ninth, the tying run was up again, then with two outs (yay, no double play!) with a Zeltser hit and Zitzner getting nicked. Fernandez had been removed in a double switch, so Garavito was pinch-hit for with Justin Perkins against Jared Stone, who missed far outside in a full count, loading the bags for Marsingill. He hit the 0-1 to deep center. But of course he wasn’t going to beat Olszewski… 6-3 Thunder. Ramos 2-5; Zeltser 2-5; Wallace 3-5, HR, 2 RBI; Thompson 2-3, BB;

In other news

July 26 – In the mother of all wicked games, the Knights beat the Crusaders, 8-7, in *20* innings. RF Cesar Martinez (.280, 4 HR, 12 RBI) plates the winning run with a single off NYC MR Matt Holliday (6-2, 5.63 ERA, 1 SV) in the top of the 20th. After ceasing regulation scoring in a 4-4 tie in the fourth, both teams had plated runs in the 13th and 15th innings, but had remained tied throughout.
July 26 – The Scorpions send SP Bryce Neal (6-10, 4.18 ERA) to the Miners for 26-year-old AAA infielder Adam Downs, who has five career homers in the majors in 120 games.
July 27 – One day after his late-late heroics, Atlanta sends 38-yr old RF Cesar Martinez (.280, 4 HR, 12 RBI) and a prospect to the Crusaders for versatile pitcher Erik David (4-4, 2.63 ERA, 18 SV).
July 27 – The Falcons swap CF/LF Travis Adkins (.282, 0 HR, 29 RBI) to the Capitals for INF Omar Camacho (.275, 4 HR, 17 RBI) and a dim prospect.
July 27 – The Loggers send 1B Andy Sears (.281, 9 HR, 44 RBI) to the Stars for OF Nick Baker (.255, 1 HR, 7 RBI).
July 27 – DAL LF/RF Marco Nieves makes his ABL debut in the bottom 10th of the Stars’ 3-2 win over the Capitals as pinch-runner for 1B Daniel Leeder (.386, 2 HR, 17 RBI), and coming from third base gets a frontpage shot immediately when he slides under a diving WAS CL Ruben Vela (2-1, 1.75 ERA, 20 SV) to walk off the Stars after Vela’s wild pitch is returned too late by backstop Nate Evans.
July 28 – The Crusaders pick up SP Jeremy Truett (10-5, 3.27 ERA) from the Canadiens, leaving them with two prospects, including #35 SP Phil Padgett.
July 29 – The Crusaders also acquire SP Francisco Colmenarez (7-10, 3.27 ERA) from the Loggers, parting with three prospects.
July 29 – The Titans split with 1B Justin Uliasz (.234, 8 HR, 45 RBI), who gets sent to San Francisco for MR Alan Mays (2-2, 3.51 ERA, 2 SV) and a prospect.
July 29 – Los Angeles adds SP Alfredo Vargas (6-7, 4.71 ERA) from the Blue Sox, who receive two prospects.
July 29 – The Blue Sox instead grab SP Gabriel Lara (7-9, 3.94 ERA) from the Knights, sending them a prospect in return.
July 29 – In another deal, the Blue Sox snatch veteran LF/RF Doug Stross (.305, 3 HR, 12 RBI) from the Scorpions, parting with four prospects.
July 29 – The Falcons pick up SP John Rucker (8-8, 4.26 ERA) from the Stars in a trade for INF/LF Jay Green (.239, 2 HR, 19 RBI) and a prospect.
July 30 – The Wolves acquire CL Chris Myers (2-4, 3.40 ERA, 32 SV) from the Loggers for a prospect.
July 31 – TIJ RF/LF/1B Willie Ojeda (.306, 7 HR, 46 RBI) enters the record books with a 3-homer game, putting the hurt on the Titans by driving in four runs in the Condors’ 9-1 win.
July 31 – NAS 3B Jim Allen (.367, 7 HR, 77 RBI) slugs two doubles, three singles, and drives in five runs in the Blue Sox’ 15-9 win over the Warriors.

Complaints and stuff

Alright… (is still visibly red in the face) … there were a few losses (is also bleeding from his lower lip) … and we were outscored by a million to one… (has visibly cried) … and maybe if I can get all my ducks in a row I’ll park my car on the freeway on the way home and walk into traffic… (doesn’t know yet that Maud has taken his keys away) … but this was absolutely horrendous…!

Bob Zeltser was *not* the infielder I had my eyes on initially. That would have been Lazaro Hernandez of the damn Elks, but they demanded one of several promising prospects in addition to Palomares, and a promising prospect was not something I was going to leave the damn Elks with so they could torture us with him for the next 15 years… They *did* however try to unload Brian Wojnarowski, who would be an interesting pickup under different circumstances (though filthily expensive), but we really had no use for another lefty outfielder. They would have dealt Wojnarowski for Palomares straight-up.

Zeltser made $1.2M this season; he comes with a contract through ’35 for $1.62M per year. But I hear Valdes would make funds available for a *winning* team so this should not be a problem. Also, Steve from Accounting is currently allocating – dutifully, I must stress – just over $2M to Rico Gutierrez, which will not happen; next season is Rico’s first of two team options.

So that was supposed to be our grand winning move. However, they haven’t done much winning since that deal, have they?? I have invited one of our advance scouts for a little talk about this issue; it’s Thusnelda, our gypsy woman specializing in screening players for curses and other dark inflictions. She is also refusing to take a seat, because her golden earring would otherwise hit the ground. – Thusnelda, I must have answers about Zeltser! – Why does the team suddenly lose to each and everybody? – No-no-no-no-no! Don’t you point your finger at me! – No, don’t talk in Romanian to me either!! – We must fix this immediately, no matter how many kittens it takes!! – Don’t you … don’t you storm out on me!! (storms after Thusnelda, who blends through the door without opening it, both bickering at each other)

(in a corner of the office, Cristiano Carmona sits alone in his wheelchair with a bag of cookies, thoroughly bewildered by what he just saw)

Fun Fact: 21 years ago today, R.J. DeWeese hit for the cycle in the Cyclones’ 8-7 loss to the Warriors.

(opens mouth)

(closes mouth)

*One of my embellishments to liven up the narrative. The trade was actually made before the game.
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Old 11-16-2019, 05:19 AM   #3025
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Local channel WXCP-TV interrupts its tape-delayed coverage of the regional qualifiers in haystack tossing for an important announcement.

“And these news have just reached us out of the headquarters of the Portland Raccoons”, the young announcer of diverse ethnic background (left half brown, right half green) with obnoxiously thick-rimmed glasses declares as the logos of the Raccoons and Condors flash up behind him. “With the Raccoons scheduled to start a 3-game series with the Tijuana Condors in Mexico tomorrow, both teams have also struck a deal just minutes away from the non-waiver trade deadline.”

The desk behind which the announcer sits looks hellishly cheap, too. Just like his pretend-suit.

“According to a report, the Raccoons will take in outfielder Juan Camps, who is batting .260 with two home runs this season, in exchange for last year’s Gold Glove winner Justin Perkins, hitting .250 with four home runs. Both players are 32 years old. The Condors are also said to receive 25-year-old first baseman Ryan St. Pierre out of the Raccoons’ system.”

The announcer looks unsure to the left whether another cue is going to come. Apparently, not so!

“A-and with this we go back to the haystack tossing competition and see whether local hero “Boomstick” Swanson can make the nationals!”

Or we could just call it a night. TV's really gone down the drain since Peach and Goggle brought out their retina-implantent hi-fidelity constant-loop video displays.
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Old 11-16-2019, 08:19 PM   #3026
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Raccoons (57-48) @ Condors (58-47) – August 1-3, 2033

If anything consoled me it was the fact that we were 4-2 against the Condors this season and had won last year’s season series, 6-3, so there was something about our team that gelled well against them. Now we just had to break up their top-ranked rotation once more (or rather thrice more) without getting knocked out by the second-best offense in the league. Easy!

Projected matchups:
Bernie Chavez (10-5, 3.52 ERA) vs. Jeff Little (7-3, 3.77 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (9-7, 3.49 ERA) vs. George Griffin (8-6, 3.09 ERA)
Mario Rosas (13-5, 2.01 ERA) vs. Joe Perry (7-6, 3.99 ERA)

Left, right, left, and hopefully win, win, win. That would make this GM very happy. This GM hasn’t been very happy in four, five years.

Did I mention that we were in a 5-game spill (and 6-10 since the All Star Game) and yet BNN still rated six of our players (Bates, D. Fernandez, Garavito, Rosas, Sabre, Wallace) as “hot”?

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Hawkins – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Vickers – RF Camps – C Garcia – P Chavez
TIJ: CF C. Murphy – SS C. Miller – RF Willie Ojeda – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – C J. Flores – LF Sung – 2B Hughes – P Little

Little lost Berto in a full count to start the game and the runner would come around to score although not one, but two Critters tried to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Andy Hughes lobbed Hawkins’ bouncer past the reach of Chris Miller though, allowing Ramos to reach third base on Wallace’s actual double play grounder. Zitzner doubled him in for the first run of the game. If only Bernie Chavez would find the way back to being good… the Condors tied the game in the bottom 1st on two pitches; Chris Murphy tripled on the first one, and Miller singled him home on the second one. There was also a long Kevin McGrath double to left that bounced hard off the fence and right to Wallace, leading to Miller’s anchor being thrown at third base, sparing the Coons another run; Jose Flores struck out to leave the runners in scoring position. The second began with a Rich Vickers single, then seamlessly proceeded to Camps hitting into a double play. Ramos hit a 1-out single in the third. Hawkins doubled him up. They were – no **** – driving me crazy.

The double play **** stopped in the middle innings when they simply didn’t get on base at all, but the same was not true for Tijuana. Andy Hughes began the bottom 5th with a single, and while Little struck out on a foul bunt at 2-2, Chavez lost Murphy in a full count and Miller to a single. Three on, one out, Willie Ojeda popped out, but that didn’t make anything easier because it brought up disgusting skunk weasel Shane Sanks (.257, 22 HR, 79 RBI). A mound conference reaffirmed Bernie’s suspicion that he was somewhat dangerous and fooling around was not advisable. Then he threw a fastball down the middle that was turned into a bases-clearing double. McGrath singled him home, 5-1, and Yeong-ha Sung hit a leadoff jack in the bottom 6th to send Chavez to bed. The inning proceeded with a Hughes single that didn’t leave the infield against David Fernandez, who then served up a 450-footer to Chris Miller with two outs. Willie Ojeda doubled off Fernandez, and the **** stain Sanks spanked an RBI double off Nick Bates. The rout was thoroughly on after consecutive 4-spots. The Coons also got a 4-spot… if you count four double plays in a game as that. Vickers hit into one in the seventh. Well, that also took a special collection of players to achieve…! 9-1 Condors. Ramos 2-3, BB; Zitzner 2-3, 2B, RBI; Zeltser (PH) 1-1; Marsingill (PH) 1-1;

As the walls were coming down, at least I could find comfort in being in the land of Tequila, and it was really sold on each and every corner.

(hcks!)

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – RF Jennings – C Thompson – P del Rio
TIJ: CF C. Murphy – SS C. Miller – RF Willie Ojeda – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – LF B. Fernandez – C J. Flores – 2B Hughes – P Griffin

Ramos singled, stole second, and was stranded by a lineup that wouldn’t score if the other team would all be passed out drunk (hcks!) in random positions on the field. The day’s first of surely many double plays hit into would be Zeltser’s in the third, getting Ramos in a 4-6-3 inning-ender. At least Berto had already singled home Elliott Thompson from second base; the backstop had opened the inning with a single to Ojeda’s feet and had been bunted over competently by del Rio, which at this point all we could ever hope for. On the mound, del Rio didn’t come apart at first sight, but the same had been true for Chavez on Monday. Chavez had only come apart in the middle innings. Bottom 4th, Sanks, Jose Flores, and Hughes all hit singles to tie the game. HERE WE GO…! Murphy opened the fifth with a double to right, moved up on Miller’s groundout, and scored on Ojeda’s double that Wallace didn’t even get close to. Ojeda stole third base, allowing him to score on the skunk weasel’s groundout, 3-1 Condors after five.

At that point the Coons had three base hits, two of those by Berto. There was NOTHING going for them. This game was a loss, and they’d also lose the next one, and every game thereafter – that much was certain. All was lost. All was forsaken. Hughes knocked out del Rio with an RBI single in the bottom 6th, and Sanks doubled off Anaya and scored on McGrath’s single in the seventh. Their line kept moving; the Coons didn’t even have a line. Griffin lasted seven and a third, and Jose Ornelas and Juan Garcia did the rest to the Coons, who would not get a base hit after Ramos’ RBI single in the third inning. 5-1 Condors. Ramos 2-4, RBI; Thompson 1-2, BB;

After what seemed like forever, Dr. Chung also announced that the weak and corrupted Adrian Reichardt was going to miss another three weeks with a rib cage muscle strain. Off to the DL he was; the Raccoons recalled Sean Catella, the switch-hitting .221 spare part that had not yet appeared for us in ’33.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Marsingill – CF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – LF Camps – 3B Hawkins – C Garcia – P Rosas
TIJ: CF C. Murphy – SS C. Miller – RF Willie Ojeda – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – LF B. Fernandez – C J. Wood – 2B Hansen – P Perry

Rosas walked the leadoff man in each of the first two innings, but conceded neither run, once getting a double play from Ojeda, and once whiffing two and getting a grounder to Ramos. Berto drew walks his first two times up, was caught stealing in the top 1st, and couldn’t even try for the Fernando Garcia-shaped road block ahead of him in the third. In the latter inning, Marsingill’s 1-out single loaded the bases for Manny Fernandez, who struck out before Joe Perry threw a wild pitch to score Garcia for the first run of the game. Zitzner grounded out, stranding two. Up 1-0 and after not allowing a base hit the first time through, Rosas allowed four 2-out hits in the bottom 3rd. Murphy singled, and when Miller hit a high bouncer for a ground-rule double in left-center that was initially relief because Murphy surely would have scored the tying run on a ball staying in the yard off the bounce. But no – no relief for the Raccoons, ever! Ojeda flipped the score with a single to right, and the skunk weasel also singled, putting runners on the corners before McGrath fanned. The fifth was another one of those maddening innings (like I could get any more mad…) with Ramos hitting a 1-out single to put the tying run on base, and Marsingill hitting straight into another double play, actually their second on the day; Tom Hawkins had found one in the top 2nd, oh lucky us! In turn, Rosas cocked up leadoff singles by Perry (…) and Murphy in the bottom 5th, then conceded a run when he couldn’t whiff anybody with two strikes and the Condors got two productive groundouts. As usual!

And yet in the sixth the game was tied. Singles by Zitzner (of the infield variety!) and Camps (both off Perry) as well as Hawkins and Garcia (both off Robbie Ciampa) brought two runs around before Rosas grounded out to short. The Condors didn’t immediately strike back and the score was level at three after six innings, with the Critters maddeningly out-hitting the Condors, 10-6. Additional offense would have been welcome but was not forthcoming. Rosas scrambled into the eighth where he allowed a leadoff single to Miller, then an infield single to Ojeda. Sanks hit into a double play (!!), which brought up McGrath with two outs and the tie-breaking run at third base. McGrath had struck out a million times in this series, so he’d surely - … dink a single into shallow center to give the Condors the lead. That run was the end for Rosas in particular, and the Raccoons in general. Ed Blair somehow failed his way out of the inning before the Coons faced Ray Andrews (1.66 ERA) in the ninth. Zeltser hit for Garcia and singled to right. Jimmy Wallace hit for Blair and flew out to center. Ramos fouled out. Marsingill whiffed. 4-3 Condors. Marsingill 2-5; Hawkins 2-4, RBI; Garcia 2-3, RBI; Zeltser (PH) 1-1;

The Titans – ferociously – swept the Knights, putting the Coons 3 1/2 games out.

That was it.

All our dreams were dead. Especially since…

Raccoons (57-51) vs. Canadiens (49-59) – August 4-7, 2033

The Raccoons were already reeling and now the dastardly despicable damn destitute Elks were coming in… as well as Nick Valdes. Well, those two curses would have to be dealt separately, with the team trying to somehow, anyhow stop a 8-game string of bleeding, bleeding, and more bleeding, while I tasked Maud with distracting the distracting owner so I could focus on the key elements of being a GM. Drinking myself to the precise point where it all no longer hurt.

The damn Elks were fifth in runs scored, tenth in runs allowed, had a 3-game winning streak, and were doubtlessly going to take us under for good. We led the season series 5-2, but there was no reason not to bank on them leaving town ahead in the contest.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (3-10, 4.57 ERA) vs. Fernando Nora (8-7, 3.80 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (9-7, 3.09 ERA) vs. Matt Tillman (1-5, 3.54 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (10-6, 3.78 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (8-8, 3.31 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (9-8, 3.60 ERA) vs. Logan Bessey (8-12, 5.32 ERA)

Southpaw at the end of the series; we’d miss their second one, Steve Corcoran (10-11, 3.45 ERA), and also two familiars they had on the DL, 3B Matt Anton and CL Raul de la Rosa. The first one might affect us; the second one would require reaching the ninth inning at least tied…

Toby Ross, exchanged mainly for Fernando Garcia last winter, was batting .273 with 20 homers. The deals I do…

Game 1
VAN: 2B Morrow – 3B McWhirter – CF LeJeune – 1B Lloyd – C Ross – LF A. Torres – RF Wojnarowski – SS L. Hernandez – P Nora
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – RF Jennings – C Thompson – P Gutierrez

Portland got the early lead, putting their first two batters on the corners with a pair of singles in the bottom 1st. Wallace hit a sac fly, and Zitzner hit into a 5-4-3 double play. Gutierrez was no good, that much was clear right from the start. He walked two in the first, and gave up a double to Alex Torres in the second; Torres, 35 years old, had more at-bats in AAA Drummondville than with the damn Elks due to knee and hand injuries, all requiring rehab stints, AND was batting under .200. Somehow, he was stranded on groundouts. Whatever worked or didn’t with Gutierrez (and few things did), the Critters didn’t expand their early lead, with Zeltser whiffing to waste Berto’s third-inning, 2-out triple, and – of course! – Toby Ross homered the game tied with a blast to left-center in the fourth. At around the same time that Zitzner hit into his second double play of the game to erase Wallace in the bottom 4th, Nick Valdes appeared in my office, having broken free from the tightest headlock Maud had learned during her high school wrestling days. He casually remarked, innocently, that he had *heard* that the Coons had lost a few games here and there. I countered with my most innocent “ho-hum”, then we watched silently at the window for the next inning or two.

Brian Wojnarowski beat Jennings in deep right with two outs in the sixth, doubling home Torres to break the 1-1 tie. Lazaro Hernandez grounded out, and those two runs were all that Gutierrez conceded through seven admittedly muddled innings, but it was also still enough to line him up for his 11th loss. Yeah, he wasn’t pitching like a winner, but he didn’t merit a 3-11 record, either… unfortunately, as Valdes was keen to point out every time a Coon made an out (or two), they still only had three ****ing hits off Nora. It took them until the bottom EIGHTH and the other side of a brief rain delay (baseball gods’ tears of joy, without a damn doubt) to create a vague sense of excitement with Billy Jennings’ 1-out double to left. Thompson grounded out to second; and Tom Hawkins pinch-hit for Bates, but lined out to a leaping Bob Lloyd at first base. The agony was unspeakable, but I didn’t know whether the appalling lack of hitting was worse, or Valdes’ tips and hints that we needed a batter that could get a knock here. At least, following a scoreless ninth by Garavito, we brought the top of the order to bear on righty Ed Miller in the bottom 9th. Ramos grounded out to first. Zeltser grounded out to third. Wallace whiffed. 2-1 Canadiens.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. 9-game losing streak, all was lost.

… and then there was Nick Valdes, having driven home with me and sitting in the chair next to the closet in my bedroom, explaining what I was doing wrong. For hours.

Game 2
VAN: 2B Morrow – SS L. Hernandez – LF LeJeune – 1B B. Lloyd – RF Wojnarowski – C Ross – 3B D.J. Robinson – CF Pohl – P Tillman
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Marsingill – CF M. Fernandez – C Garcia – P Sabre

To remove some of the agony of being oh so close and never getting there from the Friday game, which took place in fitting gray, moist weather, Raffaello Sabre got shunted for five straight hits by the #2 through #6 batters in the first inning. Three runs scored before Wojnarowski and Ross were stranded on the corners. 3-0 Damn Elks, that should do it. You got any plans for dinner, Valdes? Dinner would have to wait, though. There was an 80-minute rain delay in the bottom 2nd, which surely would have ****ed Sabre completely if he hadn’t been already. The delay took place with Jennings and Marsingill on the corners and one out. When play resumed, Fernando Garcia chucked into a 6-4-3 double play. There were no words to describe my pain.

Neither pitcher retired somebody in the fourth on accounts of ill weather, but Sabre DID manage to hit a leadoff double in the bottom 3rd and then be stranded by the top of the order. Holding on to faint, false hopes with one hand and a botte of Capt’n Coma with the other, I tried to find a straw in the fact that our pen was much better than theirs. Bottom 4th, righty Raymond Pearce allowed a leadoff walk to Zitzner, then a single to Jennings. Marsingill popped out, Fernandez flew out to left, Garcia flew out to center. There was no hope. There was only getting humped into oblivion by the devilish, dastardly, devious, damn ****ing ****stain Elks.

Jesse LeJeune’s homer off David Fernandez in the fifth made it 4-0, and I tried to make Valdes stop walking in circles around my desk, bickering, to no avail. Bottom 5th, Camps walked leading off in the #9 hole. Ramos whiffed, but Zeltser singled to cent- WHAT THE **** are you DOING??? Camps didn’t stop at second and ran into a rundown between Hernandez, D.J. Robinson, and Eric Morrow. Wallace drew a 2-out walk, but for consolation purposes the groundout that Zitzner hit into would have been well enough for Morrow to turn a 4-6-3 even without Camps’ stupidity. And when the Coons didn’t do something stupid, and whether Valdes was wearing out the carpet or not, defensive heroics were also up for grabs to save the ****ing Elks. With Camps and Ramos on base in the seventh and one out, Zeltser’s liner to left was caught by LeJeune in a headlong dive, robbing the Coons of extra bases and probably two runs. Rich Vickers hit for Anaya in the #3 hole… and struck out. Nobody scored, ever. Well, except for D.J. Robinson and Pat Pohl in the ninth, on the strength of the latter’s homer off Chris Wise. 6-0 Canadiens. Wallace 1-2, BB; Camps (PH) 1-2, BB; Anaya 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

10 straight losses, 24 runs scored in those ten games. Says Valdes, every two minutes.

I wish I was a bird, and could just fly away from this ****… maybe add some of my droppings to the Northwest’s largest toilet of swirling oblivion on my way out.

Game 3
VAN: SS L. Hernandez – 2B D.J. Robinson – 1B Lloyd – RF Wojnarowski – C Ross – 3B M. Cole – LF A. Torres – CF Pohl – P J. Martin
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – C Thompson – 2B Vickers – CF Catella – P Chavez

Zeltser and Wallace went to the corners with a pair of singles in the bottom 1st, and Travis Zitzner reliably hit into an inning-killing, soul-suffocating double play. Chavez then tried to have a meltdown in the second, which shocked nobody anymore. Toby Ross, the dismal ****er, led off with an infield single, and Chavez walked Mike Cole and nailed Pat Pohl … and the last one on a 3-0 pitch. Three on, one out for the pitcher, at least until the second pitch went way past Thompson and to the backstop. Wild pitch, 1-0 for the other team. What a revelation! Martin wouldn’t get the runner in, which would have been preferable – stick the dagger in early, have it all be over. Lazaro Hernandez flew out to Wallace to strand two. To my great surprise, the Coons tied the game in the bottom 2nd on hits by Thompson and Vickers (remember him?) and Sean Catella’s groundout, but then just let it all be and refused to do any more.

The innings came and went in a triste 1-1 game, while Valdes recited every single good ABL player and his statistics to me that he could find on his foldout pocket computer. The bottom 6th saw a leadoff single by Wallace, bringing Zitzner up in the perfect double play spot. Except, that he hit the ball over the far, far away fence in leftfield, then didn’t know what to do. The home plate umpire pointed him the way to first base and where he had to go from there on his 17th homer, his first in an eternity, and the one that put the Coons up 3-1. Chavez got only one out in the seventh from Martin before Hernandez singled on his 108th pitch, signaling bullpen involvement was coming. Garavito replaced him and rung up both Robinson and Bob Lloyd, as well as Wojnarowski to begin the eighth. Bates got Ross and Cole, and the Coons would maybe get their closer involved WITH A LEAD…! Was this even possible? The bottom 8th was sad, and Wise inherited the 3-1 lead in the ninth, facing the bottom third of the order. Torres struck out. Pohl grounded out to Marsingill on second base. Bill McWhirter singled to center. Pressing our pointy black noses against the big window overlooking the field while embracing each other in a panicked frenzy, me and Valdes saw Hernandez come up, .276 with six homers. He poked a 1-2 pitch to left… and Wallace made the easy catch. IT WAS A WIN…! (breaks into tears) 3-1 Coons …! Wallace 2-4; Zitzner 1-4, HR, 2 RBI;

After receiving congratulations on his wise guidance to this ecliptic victory, for which he alone deemed himself responsible, Nick Valdes bade farewell to fly to San Francisco where he planned to replace the Golden Gate Bridge with a more modern and stylistic structure. I did not point out that the Coons had played .333 ball in his presence, because worst case scenario was that would make him stay…

Game 4
VAN: 2B Morrow – 3B McWhirter – LF LeJeune – 1B Lloyd – RF Wojnarowski – C Ross – SS L. Hernandez – CF D.J. Robinson – P Bessey
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Hawkins – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 3B Zeltser – RF Camps – CF Jennings – C Garcia – P del Rio

The Elks hit three hard singles off del Rio in the first to load the bases before McWhirter, Lloyd, and Wojnarowski were all stranded on Toby Ross’ lineout to Hawkins. The Coons did get a run in the bottom 1st; Ramos singled, Wallace was nicked, and Zeltser landed a 2-out RBI single. Camps grounded out to end the frame. Del Rio made an error and bunted into a double play in the second, and when Ramos drew a leadoff walk in the third, Hawkins forced him out. It was still a team that was horrendous to watch, even on a 1-game winning streak. Wallace singled, Zitzner singled, and the bases were loaded with one out for Zeltser, who hit a sac fly to right; Wojnarowski had for long been a threat with the stick (and hit a 430-footer to begin the fourth), never with the arm, and Hawkins scored easily. Camps grounded out, stranding two more. Fernando Garcia countered the rightfielder’s solo shot in the top 4th with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the same inning, keeping it a 2-run game. Wojnarowski came up in the fifth, unfortunately, with two out and two on; him and del Rio ran the count full before Wojnarowski looked at what he deemed ball four – but the ump disagreed and punched him out to completed five innings of 7-hit ball for a wonky del Rio.

Coming up with Wallace and Zitzner on the corners and one out in the bottom 5th, Zeltser hit another sac fly, this time to deep left, 4-1. Camps for once was not entirely useless and instead singled. Jennings walked, bringing up Garcia with two outs and a full plate arranged for him. He also ran a full count, then flew out to Wojnarowski. Toby Ross countered with his 22nd homer, a leadoff jack in the sixth, further raising my blood pressure AND alcohol content. Somehow, del Rio lived through six on 97 pitches, but was pinch-hit for as his spot was due up to begin the bottom 6th. This time the Critters countered; Marsingill singled in the #9 hole, moved up on Ramos’ groundout, did not move up on Hawkins’ fly to center, but scored when Wallace – unretired – singled to right, 5-2. Zitzner whiffed.

Anaya maneuvered the Coons through the seventh, but David Fernandez bled singles to Ross and Hernandez in the eighth. Right-hander Tony Hinojosa pinch-hit with two outs in the #9 hole, prompting a double switch that put Ed Blair in the #7 hole and Manny Fernandez in center. Wise had seen that ugly long inning on Friday and had been out two days in a row, and the goal was for Blair to pitch a 4-out save. He allowed an RBI single on the first pitch he threw before Morrow popped out to strand the tying runs in the eighth. While Portland did nothing in the bottom 8th, Blair started the eighth with two groundouts, then faced Lloyd ... and took him apart on three pitches. 5-3 Coons. Wallace 3-3, RBI; Zitzner 2-4; Zeltser 1-2, 3 RBI; Camps 2-4; Garcia 2-4, HR, RBI; Marsingill (PH) 1-1; del Rio 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, W (10-8);

In other news

August 1 – The Buffaloes beat the Stars, 1-0, on a sixth-inning home run by 1B Ruben Santiago (4-for-7, 1 HR, 1 RBI).
August 2 – Pacifics and Rebels poke away at each other futilely for 15 innings before RIC 1B Brent Rempfer (.218, 12 HR, 53 RBI) ends the spectacle with a walkoff single in the 16th, scoring Ben Freeman (.289, 4 HR, 25 RBI) against LAP MR Joe Moore (2-2, 3.60 ERA, 3 SV) for a 1-0 Rebels victory.
August 2 – The Pacifics-Rebels game above is also one of five walkoff victories in the Federal League that day, with Miners, Cyclones, Buffaloes, and the Blue Sox also celebrating walkoff wins; all but the Miners even also do so in extra innings. The only non-walkoff game is the Capitals’ 7-2 win over the Gold Sox.
August 3 – A triceps tear renders LAP SP Jorge Beltran (10-7, 3.26 ERA) out for the season.
August 6 – ATL SP/MR Chris Cooper (3-3, 2.14 ERA) spins a 3-hit shutout of the Falcons, a 6-0 Knights win, in only his third start of the season. He appeared I relief 28 times.

Complaints and stuff

…and yet, we survived. Our season, though, probably hasn’t. Neither offense nor pitching was great the last two weeks, but the former would be the worst offender. I don’t know… sometimes it’s like the entire team is just too engorged to do any sort of hitting. And by the way, Slappy, what’s up with that gnawed-off elephant carcass behind the ballpark and when can I expect you to remove it?

We have the highest batting average as a team in the CL, but nothing much is coming from that. The boys aren’t walking (6th in OBP) and are also only average in runs scored. In fact, except for batting average and hits, the offense is VERY average indeed. I also thought we’d be better than eighth in stolen sacks…

Mark Roberts of the Warriors won another Pitcher of the Month crown in July, going 5-0 with a 1.95 ERA for Sioux Falls. He is 12-4 with a 3.08 ERA overall this year at age 38. The Coons wish him all the best in his pursuit of autumnal glory, as long as he doesn’t beat us in the World Series. (snorts)

One prospect that has not been much written about that we should shed a dripping eye on is Tony Morales. The Dominican catcher, who hits from the left side, was signed in the 2030 IFA period at a cost of $95,000 and was promoted to Aumsville just ahead of his 19th birthday this year. Since then all he’s done is drumming pitchers. He hit .314 with seven homers with the Beagles and was moved to Ham Lake after the draft. There, he’s .270 with three homers, but also 15 doubles in 36 games, good enough for a .460 slugging percentage. I think he should stay at this level for a bit. Behind the dish he is not an exceptionally good catcher, but I hear hurlers like to toss the ball to him and he is agile enough to stop some wayward offerings. His throwing arm is probably about average. We will keep watching him more closely going forward!

Next week: three at home with the Loggers, then a quick weekend trip to Dallas. After that we’ll have a 2-week homestand with some good teams coming in, including the Crusaders and Bayhawks. The Titans aren’t back on the menu until September.

Fun Fact: Ruben Santiago, 34, who hit the sole-score dinger to beat Dallas on Monday, is a former Raccoons farmhand and a former #15 overall pick.

Like all the first basemen we have futilely drafted over the years, Santiago never worked out to our liking after being selected in the first round in 2017. Four years after we traded him, he was shipped out, along with Tadasu Abe, Danny Margolis, and Adam Zuhlke to gear the Coons towards the future. From the Blue Sox we received in this trade Billy Brotman and Tim Stalker!

Santiago made his debut with the Blue Sox in ’22, and remained their starting first baseman for a few years in the late 20s, but slid into a reserve role recently and was AAA backup for Topeka for most of the last two seasons. He posted an .878 OPS (.335, 19 HR, 96 RBI) in ’27, by far his best season. For his career he is .279 with 107 HR and 487 RBI.
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Old 11-19-2019, 05:03 PM   #3027
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Raccoons (59-53) vs. Loggers (50-62) – August 8-10, 2033

Coming off the 10-game losing streak with a few splinters in the snout, the Raccoons had salvaged a split with the Elks and were now staring down the Loggers’ barrels. Not that there was a whole lot to said barrels; they were second from the bottom in the league in runs scored. They had however decent pitching, fourth overall in runs allowed, with a top notch rotation. The pen was horrendous, but the overall package had held the Critters to four runs per game this year, and the trend was for that number to be descending. The season series stood at 7-5 in our favor.

Projected matchups:
Mario Rosas (13-6, 2.12 ERA) vs. John Nelson (9-9, 3.41 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-11, 4.45 ERA) vs. Cody Chamberlin (5-6, 4.00 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (9-8, 3.21 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (3-1, 2.66 ERA)

All right-handers in this pack.

Game 1
MIL: LF Will Ojeda – C Canas – RF Valenzuela – CF Creech – 1B O. Huerta – 3B Lockert – 2B Sessoms – SS R. Rios – P Nelson
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – C Thompson – P Rosas

Rosas allowed two singles (one of which was followed by Matt Lockert being caught stealing) and struck out five in the first three innings, which looked like the game would have some promise. While a Marsingill error in the fourth made things a bit more complicated, Rosas remained unfazed and kept holding the Loggers dry. Unfortunately, the sad-sack home team was just as bad. Both teams amounted to only three base hits in five innings, and neither team managed to put a runner on third base. Another Marsingill error placed Rodrigo Canas on base with one out in the sixth, Danny Valenzuela singled, but the next two Loggers, Gabe Creech and Omar Huerta, made soft outs to keep the scoreboard empty. The end for Rosas came in the bottom 7th with the faintest of chances to score, meaning there was Elliott Thompson on first base and there were two outs. The decision was made easier by the fact that Rosas had tossed just over 100 pitches through seven shutout innings. Juan Camps batted for him and grounded out to Lockert. In the eighth the total offense amounted to a walk issued by Nick Bates, three strikeouts on Milwaukee, and three poor outs by the Coons’ 1-2-3. Ed Blair outlasted three left-handed pinch-hitters without anybody reaching base in the ninth, which at least drained the Loggers’ bench, so maybe we’d have a tactical advantage by the 21st inning of this scoreless tedium of a game. The Loggers didn’t score in the 10th either, leaving Aaron Sessoms at THIRD base against Blair and Garavito. Canas reached on a Zeltser error to begin the 11th (and as soon as a Raccoon reaches base we’ll dutifully notify you…), but was caught stealing (so there was also desperation on that side of the infield). No Furball reached until Zitzner hit a leadoff single to right against Alex Banderas (6.23 ERA) in the bottom 12th. Rich Vickers ran for him, reached second on Jennings’ groundout, which was followed by an intentional walk to slumping Manny Fernandez, setting up two for Marsingill I’d wager. The keystone guard merely grounded out simply, moving the winning run to third base for Thompson, who flew out to Nick Baker to continue this charade for which words were hard to find. Vickers, who had no experience at first base, remained there for the 13th and promptly made an error behind Chris Wise in the closer’s only inning, which nevertheless remained scoreless. Bottom 13th: runners reached the corners when Berto forced out Sean Catella’s leadoff single-transpired winning run, but then dashed for third base on a soft Zeltser single. Wallace was long gone with Wise in the #3 hole, with Fernando Garcia pinch-hitting against Banderas. He fell to 1-2 before poking a ball up the middle. Banderas missed it, but Robbie Rios got to it – but there was no time to turn two anymore, he had to come home against Berto – late! 1-0 Bitter, Bitter Blighters… Wallace 2-3, BB; Rosas 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K; Blair 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; Garavito 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

You know, the Titans lost, and we actually gained ground, but this game robbed me of all the remaining confidence I might have had in this thoroughly dead lineup. What the **** happened??

Game 2
MIL: LF Will Ojeda – C Canas – 2B W. Morris – CF Creech – 1B O. Huerta – 3B Lockert – RF N. Baker – SS R. Rios – P Chamberlin
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF Jennings – 2B Marsingill – RF Camps – C Garcia – P Gutierrez

At least Rico Gutierrez and his 9-game losing streak promised a quickie on Tuesday. Rico hadn’t won since MAY, and he hadn’t escaped the loss in a start for over a month. No serious offense occurred before Will Ojeda came out of the game in the second inning with a strained oblique, contracted when he shagged a Juan Camps fly. In what had to count as success already, Gutierrez didn’t implode on contact despite facing mostly right-handed batters. He held the Loggers not only scoreless through four, but also allowed only one hit. The Coons did even more than that in the early innings, but still couldn’t score. The bottom 4th started with Zitzner whiffing in a full count, but Jennings reached second base on a throwing error by Lockert. Marsingill singled him around, giving the Coons an unearned run. Despite Camps’ fly out after that, it didn’t remain the only one. With two outs, the Critters took Chamberlin apart on a Garcia walk, Rico Gutierrez hitting an RBI double down the leftfield line (!), a 2-run single by Ramos, who reached second base on he throw to home plate, and an RBI single knocked by Zeltser. Wallace grounded out, keeping it at 5-0, all runs unearned on Chamberlin.

The Critters even added an earned run in the sixth, Camps tripling and Garcia landing a sac fly against Alexis Zamora. That ran the tally to 6-0 through six. Rico was still around, with his losing streak probably over at this point, and maybe we could even nurse him to a sweet W. The Loggers didn’t do much in the seventh, and we remembered that in better days, about a decade ago, Gutierrez had displayed a knack for pitching shutouts against the Loggers. That star was dimming though when Matt Lockert buried a 1-0 pitch in the gap to begin the top 8th. Lockert rushed around for third base and a leadoff triple well before Zeltser received the ball and dejectedly tossed it over to Berto. Lockert thumbed up to the dugout, then stepped off the base to get the dirt out of his belt – which was when Zeltser slapped him with the glove still containing the ball, and the ump punched Lockert out. Yup, the old hidden ball trick, still churning in ’33. Not that it saved the shutout. Gutierrez melted down, walked Baker and Steve Wilson, Sessoms reached on an infield single, and with two outs Canas punched a 2-run double to knock Gutierrez from the game. Anaya replaced him and got a groundout from Wayne Morris. The pitcher was inserted into the #6 hole here (Vickers manning second base) to try and finish the game with him. A resolve intensified by a 2-out rally for two runs in the bottom 8th. Vickers, Ramos, and Zeltser all got on and the latter two raked RBI’s. Anaya got the save with four outs… barely. Creech and Huerta reached base on a single and a walk in the top 9th before Lockert hit into a double play. 8-2 Coons. Ramos 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Zeltser 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Garcia 1-2, BB, 2B, RBI; Gutierrez 7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, W (4-11) and 1-3, 2B, RB;

Game 3
MIL: SS Lockert – C J. Young – 2B W. Morris – RF Valenzuela – LF S. Wilson – 1B O. Huerta – 3B R. Rios – CF Creech – P Rogers
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Hawkins – C Thompson – P Sabre

As the Critters tried to lock up the season series against Milwaukee for the first time in three years on getaway day, Jimmy Wallace became the second Critter with double-digit homer hitter in ’33, knocking a solo shot in the bottom 1st. It could have been two after a Ramos walk to begin the frame, but Zeltser had already claimed two on a grounder previously… In a perfect world, that double play wouldn’t have happened, or Sabre wouldn’t have loaded the bags in the second. He actually put four straight on base, but Wilson was caught stealing before Huerta (single), Rios, and Creech (walks) all reached with two down, and Rogers flew out to center, stranding everybody. Bottom 2nd, Manny Fernandez drew a 1-out walk, Hawkins singled to left, and Rogers walked Thompson on four pitches. Three on, one out brought up Sabre, who grounded to right, but Morris had to go back a little and that cost the Loggers the double play. Sabre was out at first, but a run scored, and two more scored when Ramos cracked a single to right-center, 4-0!

It became 5-0 in a messy bottom 3rd, where Jimmy Wallace walked, Jennings reached on an error by Morris, and Wallace eventually scored on a wild pitch. But Sabre didn’t look great, either, and neither did the weather. It started to rain in the fourth, further unravelling an already wonky Sabre. Valenzuela reached base before a 40-minute rain delay, and Rios singled him in with two outs. Sabre walked Lockert in the fifth, but Lockert was thrown out again by Thompson, who had a warm arm at this point and had killed off three wannabe-stealers for the Loggers in the series. Thompson also shone in the bottom 5th, hitting a 2-run double to score Jennings and Hawkins with two gone. Sabre was retained against new pitcher Alexis Zamora, hit an RBI single to put the Coons up 8-1, and we’d see whether he’d be good for a few more outs. He allowed a single to Morris to begin the top 6th, but got Valenzuela to pop out and Wilson to hit into a double play, completing six frames. His day ended with a Huerta single and a Rios walk in the seventh, with nobody out. Bates replaced him, walked the bags full, then cocked up a 2-run double to PH Aaron Sessoms and a 2-run single to Jim Young, which all of a sudden made the tack-on run that Hawkins drove home in the bottom 6th all the more important, keeping the Loggers at slam range rather than closer than that, 9-5. Jimmy Wallace’s 2-out double plated Marsingill in the bottom 7th to move out further again. Ramos and Wallace came out after that half-inning since neither was likely to bat again and there was no point in risking injury (or doubles, in the latter’s case). Danny Fernandez and Victor Anaya didn’t allow any base runners in the last two innings, completing the sweep and taking the season series. 10-5 Critters. Ramos 2-4, BB, 2 RBI; Wallace 2-4, BB, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Hawkins 1-2, 3 BB, RBI;

Winning streak?

This roller coaster keeps rolling and roasting …

Raccoons (62-53) @ Stars (65-50) – August 12-14, 2033

The Stars were three games better than Portland, but only in third place, three games out in the FL West. They were second in offense in the Federal League (not surprising with their shoebox of a park). They were sixth in runs allowed. But they weren’t only hitting homers but were also very good at getting on base in the first place. Two key players in Aaron Botzet and Rafael Padilla were on the DL though. We had last played each other last year, when we lost two of three to Dallas.

Projected matchups:
Bernie Chavez (11-6, 3.68 ERA) vs. Chris Pyles (3-2, 4.95 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (10-8, 3.58 ERA) vs. Nate Ward (7-2, 3.73 ERA)
Mario Rosas (13-6, 2.04 ERA) vs. Eric Weitz (9-8, 2.82 ERA)

Three right-handers again!

Game 1
POR: SS A. Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Hawkins – C Thompson – P Chavez
DAL: SS J. Ramos – LF Beard – CF Murray – RF Chavira – 1B Sears – 2B J. Green – 3B Roesler – C Tovias – P Pyles

In a splendid move, right in the first inning, Chavez walked Kyle Beard and Ryan Murray before giving up a bomb to Vinny Chavira and a pair of doubles to Andy Sears and Jay Green. That was an instant 4-0 hole and none that I expected the Coons to emerge from. Chavez never stopped being utter dog ****, with the Stars hitting relentless rockets around everybody’s heads. They filled the bags on two hits and a walk in the bottom 3rd, and Chavez dared to walk Elias Matias Tovias Diaz with one out on four pitches, forcing home a run. Chris Pyles hit a drive to right that Jennings caught, and with which he threw out Jay Green at home plate to end the dismal inning. It was now 5-1, the sole Coons run unearned in the second inning, and with Tovias already having thrown out Alberto Ramos trying to steal in the third. Jon Ramos on the Stars, who came in with 41 stolen bases, or nine more than Berto, got a base off Thompson, though.

Somehow, and with Chavez long discarded, the tying run came to the plate in the sixth after a bunch of innings of precious little offense on display for Portland. Wallace led off with a double and reached third base on Zitzner’s groundout. Jennings hit an infield single near the third base line, which kept Wallace pinned. Manny Fernandez beat Kyle Beard, a Jimmy Wallace type of defender, for an RBI double, 5-2, and Hawkins was the tying run now, but popped out. Thompson poked the 2-1 pitch in play with two outs, got it through Andy Sears, and two runs scored, 5-4…! Juan Camps hit for David Fernandez, but struck out. Both teams put a pair of runners on base in the eighth; but while the Coons’ Elliott Thompson popped out and the by now thoroughly forgettable Rich Vickers whiffed, the Stars, who had seen a Sears single and Jay Green getting nicked by Garavito, got an RBI single by Mike Roesler past Zitzner, and ultimately a sac fly from PH Daniel Leeder. The top of the order was up against the former New Yorker Casey Moore in the ninth. Ramos walked, but Zeltser punched out, both in a full count. Jimmy Wallace grounded to Green for a fielder’s choice at second base, but Zitzner singled. So with two outs, the tying run was up again in Billy Jennings, like Fernandez behind him in an enduring slump, but with two hits in this game...! He struck out. 7-4 Stars. Jennings 2-5; Thompson 2-4, 3 RBI; Marsingill (PH) 1-1;

Bernie Chavez’ sudden implosions are not a thing I am happy to witness time and again…

Game 2
POR: SS A. Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF Jennings – RF Camps – C Thompson – 2B Vickers – P del Rio
DAL: SS J. Ramos – LF Beard – CF Murray – RF Chavira – 1B Sears – 2B J. Green – 3B Roesler – C Tovias – P Ward

Vickers had landed only three RBI since concussing opposing pitchers for TEN in the first two games of his career, and none since July 27, so when he landed a 2-out, 2-run double to left in the top 2nd, scoring Zitzner and Thompson, it was a bit of a breakthrough. The third inning got even better – after Berto led off with a single, Bob Zeltser slugged a bomb to center, extending the score to 4-0, and Jimmy Wallace would also go deep a bit further to rightfield. There came Zitzner – another homer, this one much to rightfield! Back-to-back-to-back, 6-0! Now we only needed del Rio to pitch like seven in decent fashion and all would be well.

Tovias hit a 1-out double in the bottom 3rd after del Rio had retired the first seven batters. Ward popped out (rather than being hit for altogether in a 6-run romp), but Jon Ramos landed an RBI single. Ryan Murray hit a 2-out double, 6-2, but Vinny Chavira popped out, ending the inning before it could get really bad. It got really bad in the fourth, and without del Rio giving up a run. He got two more outs, then left with an apparent injury. That was double-plus ungood. Anaya would be tapped to take over the 6-2 lead. He got Roesler to pop out to get the fourth over with and pitched a scoreless fifth, too. His spot came up in the sixth inning against Paul Williams, with Thompson (single) and Vickers (another double) in scoring position and no outs. The Coons would like those tack-on runs, but they would also like a few more outs from Anaya after using five relievers on Friday. Anaya batted – and struck out. Berto hit a sac fly, 7-2, but that was it, with Roesler handing Zeltser’s groundout. That run was grabbed back by the Stars with a Beard single and Murray double in the bottom 6th, but Anaya stranded Murray at third base to keep them at slam’s length. And the teams kept going at each other relentlessly: Jennings drew a 2-out walk in the seventh, scooped second on a high throw by Tovias, then scored on Juan Camps’ single to center, 8-3. Camps stole second on a wild swing by Thompson that the Stars claimed interfered with Tovias, but the umps weren’t buying it. That, too, turned into a run on another single up the middle.

Anaya lasted three innings and 49 pitches before being knocked out by Sergio Riquenes’ 2-out, pinch-hit double in the bottom of the seventh inning. With that, the lefty-laden top of the order was back up and the Critters sought out a southpaw, all of which had tossed on Friday. Hennessy came on in a double switch with Marsingill replacing Vickers (the #9 spot would lead off the top 8th), and had Jon Ramos at 1-2 before allowing a drive to Wallace in left. Wallace squealed, threw himself at the missile – and somehow came up with the ball to end the inning. That turned out to be the first of seven straight outs recorded by Hennessy, who needed just over 20 pitches to end the game. 9-3 Coons! Ramos 2-3, BB, RBI; Wallace 2-4, HR, RBI; Zitzner 2-5, HR, RBI; Thompson 2-3, RBI; Vickers 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Anaya 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, W (3-4); Hennessy 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Dr. Chung, any good news on del Rio? – Well, any NEWS on del Rio? – What do you mean, you can only dissect him once he stops curling into a ball, whimpering?

Game 3
POR: SS A. Ramos – 2B Marsingill – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 3B Hawkins – RF Camps – C Garcia – P Rosas
DAL: SS J. Ramos – RF Beard – C Monge – CF Murray – 1B Sears – 3B Roesler – LF Riquenes – 2B J. Green – P Weitz

The Coons got three stolen bases and one run in the first – Berto reached with a single, stole one base, then a pair with Marsingill after the latter walked, but the Critters couldn’t get beyond Jimmy Wallace’s sac fly. The Stars erased the run with much less spectacle on Jon Ramos’ double and two groundouts. Jon Ramos would go on to homer his team in front in the bottom 3rd, which Rosas completed without getting any strikeouts. He’d get the third led of the cycle in the fifth inning with a 2-out single, but then was caught stealing by Garcia. Otherwise, the offense was slow; through five innings, a team of the two Ramoses would have out-hit the rest of both combined outfits, 5-3, and would have scored all the runs, too.

But the Coons had a chance in the sixth. Marsingill grounded out, but Wallace singled and Zitzner doubled, putting the tying run at third base and the go-ahead run in scoring position for the slumping Manny Fernandez, who managed to line a 1-2 pitch to center. Ryan Murray made the running catch against all odds, and both runners were caught off base. Zitzner was doubled up in 8-6 fashion, ending the inning, and I think things went dark around me for a moment there, because I only remember coming back to me with Zeltser pinch-hitting for Rosas in the eighth in what was still a 2-1 game. Weitz struck him out, Ramos singled, but Marsingill whiffed and Wallace grounded out. Bottom 8th, Garavito allowed a leadoff single to Jon Ramos, so the cycle remained incomplete. While Beard struck out, Danny Monge singled and Ryan Murray was nicked, filling the bags with one out. The Coons sent for Ed Blair, the Stars for Vinny Chavira, and the 2-2 sent Garcia back to the netting on a wild pitch. Blair then walked Chavira to refill the bags before Roesler hit into a double play. Casey Moore got the 3-1 lead in the ninth; Zitzner flew out to right in a full count, but Fernandez singled, bringing up Jennings, hitting for Hawkins, as the tying run. After he popped out, Rich Vickers hit for Camps, ran a full count, and singled. Fernandez reached third base and they were on the corners for Garcia. He flew out to right, and the Coons lost. 3-1 Stars. Ramos 3-4; Hawkins 2-3; Vickers (PH) 1-1; Rosas 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, L (13-7);

In other news

August 10 – SFB RF Ben Suhay (.232, 12 HR, 39 RBI) has only one hit but makes it count with a walkoff grand slam off ATL MR Arturo Arellano (1-5, 5.17 ERA, 3 SV) in the Bayhawks’ 11-7 win over the Knights.
August 13 – MIL C Jim Young (.325, 6 HR, 45 RBI) drives in six runs and misses the cycle by the triple in a 17-7 rout of the Gold Sox.
August 13 – PIT 2B/SS Jim McKenzie (.303, 14 HR, 50 RBI) will miss three weeks with a strained oblique.

Complaints and stuff

My pickups at the deadline were so great. Mario Rosas as a Coon? 1-3 with a 3.03 ERA. Camps? Batting .214 here. Zeltser? A fair .262, but without getting on via the walk and without extra base knocks. The team did get better only in name, not in results.

Results might dip anyway if del Rio misses any amount of time. We have yet to find out – Dr. Chung says he can’t diagnose screaming girls, because in Korea even girls can contain themselves when in excruciating pain.

The Titans are 33-39 since May 27. Is that their true color or will they break out of that eventually? And will that happen before or after the 4-way race in the North gets really hot?

Throughout July the Scorpions tried to send Eddie Krumm and his 5+ ERA to Portland. Krumm is now out with bone chips in his elbow. – (takes roll of $50 notes out of the cookie jar and hands it to masked, hooded figure clad entirely in black with an aluminum bat … and in a wheelchair that looks familiar) Nice job, Cris- … Sir.

There is another off day on Monday, so we could skip Rico Gutierrez entirely or just move him behind Sabre. Probably going to toss a few dice over this.

Fun Fact: Rico Gutierrez pitched 193.1 innings for a 12-7 record and league-leading 2.56 ERA in 2028.

That was also the last time he managed to scrabble together enough innings to theoretically qualify for the ERA ribbon. He went 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA in ’29 before taking out by injuries, and has been trash ever since. The 4.32 ERA he has now is by far his best in any season since.

And for as long as he’s been terrible, it’s worth pointing out that he’s still 111-106 for his career with a 3.73 ERA, a vague remnant of his time as an actual asset. Well, he’s made about $14.4M out of the Valdes clan’s coffers so far.

Bless him.
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Old 11-22-2019, 10:28 AM   #3028
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The Coons returned to Portland to grim news that Dr. Chung had diagnosed Ignacio del Rio with an acute case of being a pussy, and also shoulder inflammation. The 23-year-old righty was out for the season and the Raccoons had to turn elsewhere to find a replacement.

…which is where Travis Coffee will become involved. He had pitched to a 5-7 record with a 4.31 ERA last year, and was 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA in relief this season. Well, well – wasn’t that a solid base to build upon? In AAA, he had a 2.85 ERA in a swingman role.

I don’t care, Maud, whether it’s an off day, I need ****ing booze in my system!!

Raccoons (63-55) vs. Cyclones (58-60) – August 16-18, 2033

Just like us, the Cyclones were in second place and could sniff the postseason. Never mind their negative record and run differential (-6). Their rotation was in the bottom three in the Federal League and routinely preventing their very good pen from doing good things for wins. We had not played each other in three years, and the Coons had not won a series against Cincy since we were still a team with only two rings, so it was about time!

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (10-8, 3.26 ERA) vs. Tim Wells (6-8, 4.87 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-11, 4.32 ERA) vs. Emilio DeClerk (10-6, 4.26 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (11-7, 3.87 ERA) vs. Brad Quintero (5-10, 4.93 ERA)

Wells was their sole southpaw.

Game 1
CIN: CF N. Hall – 2B E. Williams – LF Oshiita – SS de la Riva – C Cedillo – RF Metzger – 1B Yi – 3B Lusk – P Wells
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Hawkins – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 3B Zeltser – C Garcia – RF Camps – CF Catella – P Sabre

Sabre didn’t have the best of starts to this Tuesday game, walking Nate Hall on four pitches. Hall stole second base, and the next two batters, Elijah Williams and Dick Oshiita, both slapped singles. On BOTH plays, the Cyclones had their runner thrown out at home plate! Catella axed Hall, and Williams was cut down by Juan Camps! Contrast that with the Coons getting a run on next to nothing they did themselves in the bottom 1st. Ramos and Hawkins made fast outs before Wells walked Wallace and Zitzner before he also failed to dig out Bob Zeltser’s roller and conceded an infield single. With the bags full, he threw a wild pitch before Garcia flew out to strand a pair in scoring position in a 1-0 game. But that was not going to be enough, for Sabre had one of those “no bueno” days. He didn’t fool anybody, and he was quickly knocked for a few. Walking somebody with nobody out in every inning surely didn’t help, either. He issued a leadoff walk to Rey Cedillo in the second, and then a walk to Hall again in the third. That Hall walk came after Wells had already struck a leadoff single, and it just didn’t get any better any time soon. Carlos de la Riva smacked a 2-out, 2-run double over Sean Catella to flip the score, but at least Tom Hawkins found a stray homer in his bat to tie the game again in the bottom of the inning. From there through five, neither team had another base knock in the 2-2 contest.

Zeltser and Garcia landed 2-out singles in the bottom 6th, but Brian Metzger caught up with Juan Camps’ fly to end that inning. As terrible as Sabre had been in the early innings, he turned unhittable in the middle frames, and also retired the 6-7-8 batters in order in the top 7th. Now he just needed a little nudge from his own offense, but that proved hard to come by. Berto hit a 2-out single in the bottom 7th, stole second, but was stranded when Hawkins whiffed. Nate Hall ended the Cyclones’ hitting drought with a 1-out double to center in the eighth. He beat the range of Manny Fernandez, stationed out there after Marsingill had unsuccessfully batted for Catella in the previous inning. Williams flew out, but that drew up left-hander Dick Oshiita, batting .285 with 16 homers. The Coons saw Sabre on 101 pitches and didn’t like the smell of this. Hennessy came in to face the slugger. Oshiita hit a bomb on a first-pitch fastball, and that game was about over… Jimmy Wallace hit a leadoff jack in the bottom 8th, but that only cut the gap to 4-3. Thankfully, Travis Zitzner strung a double into the rightfield corner right after that! Zeltser flew out to Oshiita, but Garcia walked. Camps grounded to short, but at least legged out the return throw to break up the double play and the Coons had runners on the corners for Marsingill, who grounded out to Kyle Lusk, ending the inning. But they did make up that run in the ninth against closer J.D. Hamm! Jennings’ pinch-hit single and Manny Fernandez’ double got the job done! … but they still lost. In between, Hennessy and Anaya had come apart for two runs in the top 9th against the bottom of the order. 6-4 Cyclones. M. Fernandez 1-1, 2B, RBI; Zeltser 2-4; Jennings (PH) 1-1;

DeClerk would be booted from the middle game in favor of unsteady veteran Nick Danieley (10-10, 5.21 ERA).

Game 2
CIN: C Cedillo – 3B Lusk – CF Oshiita – 2B de la Riva – SS E. Williams – LF Kirkland – RF V. Pacheco – 1B T. Caraballo – P Danieley
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – RF Jennings – C Thompson – P Gutierrez

Speaking of unsteady veterans, Rico Gutierrez was perfect with 2 K the first time through, but also didn’t get any run support. The most hitting the Coons did in the early innings was Berto lining a ball into Danieley’s bum, which also resulted in an out. All the Coons did the second time through would be a Manny Fernandez double that led nowhere in the bottom 4th, and Thompson drawing a leadoff walk in the fifth that ended up with him getting forced out on Gutierrez’ bunt. That was the first and only serious mistake made by Rico at that point, even though the Cyclones made three loud outs in the fourth inning, and another one each in the fifth and sixth innings, but still had to get on base in any way, shape, or form. Bottom 6th, Fernandez (who forced out Zitzner) and Marsingill went to the corners but were stranded when Billy Jennings grounded out to de la Riva.

Gutierrez’ first pitch of the seventh inning was taken into left by Rey Cedillo – gone was the perfect game, gone the no-hitter, too, and now **** got real. Lusk flew out to right, Oshiita singled to right, and de la Riva flew out to deep right. The entire sequence also took only five pitches, and Gutierrez was on 63 total, indicating that the Cyclones had no trouble identifying suitable pitches; they were just not hitting the sweet spot. Neither did Elijah Williams; he popped out on a 1-1 pitch, stranding the runners. In turn, Elliott Thompson hit his first goddamn homer of the season, a leadoff jack in the bottom 7th …!

While that was all for offense, the Coons had Gutierrez pitch around a walk to Vincent Pacheco in the eighth. The Cyclones did not bat for Danieley with a man on first and two outs, leading to an easy fly and third out to centerfield. But Gutierrez was not going to face the top of the order without a cushion – the Coons needed to score in the bottom 8th to give him a chance for the shutout. At least one, better two – but they got none. Fernandez and Rich Vickers (yes, he was still stowed away some place or other) hit 2-out singles, but Jennings grounded out to Tomas Caraballo, and no cushion was added, and thus we resorted to Chris Wise in the ninth. PH Tom Frazell led off by legging out a roller for an infield single, and on a 1-2 pitch, to begin the hopefully final frame. Lusk singled up the middle, Frazell went to third, and on Fernandez’ throw to third base Luks moved up to second. There it was – the end of all hope and dreams, again. Oshiita’s groundout tied the game, and Elijah Williams’ bloop single to left dropped out of Juan Camps’ reach to win it. The addition of Camps for defense directly led to the loss because the #3 spot, where he had replaced Jimmy Wallace for defense, came up with Hawkins (single) and Ramos (walk) in scoring position and two outs in the bottom 9th. Camps struck out. 2-1 Cyclones. Vickers (PH) 1-1; Hawkins (PH) 1-1; Gutierrez 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

This ninth inning of this particular nut-squisher would have been handled differently had we been 15 games out at this point.

Maybe then we would have ****ing won it.

Game 3
CIN: 2B N. Hall – SS E. Williams – CF Oshiita – LF Gibbs – C Cedillo – 1B T. Caraballo – RF Metzger – 3B Lusk – P DeClerk
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Hawkins – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – RF Jennings – 2B Vickers – C Thompson – P Chavez

Back-to-back bombs by Williams and Oshiita continued Bernie Chavez’ regress into nothing special at all, right in the first inning. Down 2-0, the Coons responded by pouting and/or rolling up and covering their eyes with their striped tails, pretending nothing was happening. Chavez remained ghastly, benefitting from Jimmy Wallace’s keen eye in the third inning where Nate Hall was on second base with one out. Wallace correctly gauged that his pitcher had NOTHING and that once he fell to a 3-1 count on Oshiita he needed to play at least ten rows deep to have a chance at a swipe. He played extremely deep – and caught livid 3-ball drives by both Oshiita and Ken Gibbs to end the inning and starve the runner at second. There was no catching of Brian Metzger’s fly to right in the fourth inning; that thing was just OUTTA here. It also came with Cedillo (single) and Caraballo (walk) on base, and shot Chavez’ ERA well over four. He was yanked after the inning.

The Critters would then make up three runs in the middle innings, none of them coming across home plate on a base hit. Rich Vickers hit a sac fly in the fourth to bring in Manny Fernandez, and the 5-6 pair led off the sixth inning with a pair of singles. Fernandez took off for third base with Vickers at the plate, Cedillo threw the ball into Fernandez’ legs, from where it caromed away from Lusk and into foul territory. Fernandez scored, Jennings got all the way to third base, and then scored on another Vickers sac fly, crawling all the way back to 5-3. The next two batters made the last two outs, including Nick Bates, who was kept around to get a few more outs pitching, but left the game with an injury in the top of the seventh inning. Oh great, more grief! (breaks the neck off a bottle of Capt’n Coma by hitting it against the edge of the desk and drinks right from the jagged and splintered edges, sending both booze and blood pouring down onto his shirt)

Berto’s leadoff jack in the bottom 7th was measured at 382 feet to right, and was both surprising because he was a light-hitting shortstop and now had three bombs on the year (same as Billy Jennings…), it also cut the gap to a single run against DeClerk. Hawkins singled to left, Wallace was robbed by Metzger in deep right, but Zitzner singled up the middle, moving the tying run to second base with one out for Fernandez, who looped a ball over the head of Williams for another single. Bags full for Jennings! Time to polish up that homer total! … or to fly out to Gibbs in shallow left and not get ANYBODY home. Whatever pleases you, I toast you. Maud, why is my shirt red? (faints off the chair just as Rich Vickers hits a 2-out, 2-run double off J.D. Hamm into the right-center gap)

That was not the last double that Hamm allowed in the game; the Coons got three more off him, and two of those in the same inning. Thompson hit a 2-run double to right, and the same direction was chosen by Bob Zeltser for a pinch-hit RBI double. Ramos was walked intentionally, Hawkins whiffed, but it was a 6-spot all the same, and it won the game for Portland. Hennessy and Blair would finish the game without allowing a run to the Cyclones, who had to be content with two wins out of three. 9-5 Raccoons. Ramos 2-4, BB, HR, RBI; Zitzner 3-5, 2B; M. Fernandez 2-4, BB; Jennings 2-4, BB, 2B; Vickers 2-3, 2 2B, 4 RBI; Zeltser (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI;

Raccoons (64-57) vs. Indians (61-59) – August 19-21, 2033

The Arrowheads were in third place and still had plausible chances to win the division, too, given the Titans’ reluctance to sniff out the competition. Offense was the usual issue for Indy, as they merely tied for ninth in runs scored in the CL while nursing a top 3 pitching staff despite a sometimes wonky rotation. We’d however see some of the best they had to offer. The season series stood at 6-5 in our favor.

Projected matchups:
Mario Rosas (13-7, 2.06 ERA) vs. Andy Bressner (15-5, 2.72 ERA)
Travis Coffee (1-0, 6.23 ERA) vs. TBD
Raffaello Sabre (10-9, 3.27 ERA) vs. David Saccoccio (6-10, 4.46 ERA)

The middle game would be Jim Kretzmann’s (4-3, 2.99 ERA) turn, but he was also laboring on a biceps strain and it was unknown whether the Indians would send him out, skip him with a spot starter or by having someone pitch on short rest, or DL him altogether. If they went the short-rest route, Saccoccio would move up to Saturday and Sunday would most likely be their only left-hander, John McInerney (8-11, 3.92 ERA) also going on short rest.

Dr. Chung, what’s with Bates? – So you don’t know. – They’re ALL screaming when in pain! – But this is not North Korea …!!

Game 1
IND: LF Acor – 2B Schneller – RF Plunkett – CF Baron – 1B Barber – C Kuhlmann – 3B de Luna – SS Benito – P Bressner
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – RF Jennings – 2B Vickers – C Garcia – P Rosas

Rosas went to two strikes against the first three batters he faced and allowed three rockets. Jennings caught Dan Schneller’s drive, but Dustin Acor and Mike Plunkett both hit doubles for an early 1-0 lead. Two more 2-strike hits led to another Indians run in the fourth, then with John Baron and Morgan Kuhlmann participating. Both hit singles, and in between Rosas balked Baron into scoring position. So again, not the greatest start for a pitcher, and the offense was even worse. Zitzner and Jennings landed hits to go to the corners with one out in the bottom 2nd, only for Vickers to hit into a double play. That was all for them in the early innings; Wallace hit a double in the bottom 4th, but was left stranded. Top 5th, Rosas had Bressner at 1-2 to begin the inning, and couldn’t get him removed in surgical fashion either. Bressner grounded out to Zeltser instead. He walked Schneller with two outs, allowed a single to Plunkett, and then served up a 3-piece to John Baron. That one, to be fair, was a 1-1 pitch…

The Coons were down 5-0 for the second time in two days. Only this time, they lacked the scramble to get back into it. With Vickers and Garcia on the corners in the bottom 5th and one out, Marsingill struck out in the spot of the arsonist Rosas, and Ramos grounded out to Schneller to strand everybody. In turn Schneller lined out to Ramos to strand three runners against Victor Anaya in the top 6th. He had hit Edwin de Luna, allowed a single to Bressner (classic!) and walked Acor to get into that particular mess, but ended up with two scoreless innings after all. The home team failed to rally, however. Bressner pitched into the ninth inning having shed the shutout bid in the bottom 7th on Fernandez’ leadoff double and Vickers’ RBI single, but other than that was largely unfazed even when Zitzner hit a leadoff single up the middle in the ninth. Fernandez struck out, Jennings flew out to center. Vickers was retired on an 0-2 poker on the infield. 5-1 Indians. Zitzner 2-4, 2B; Vickers 2-4, 2B, RBI; Anaya 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

Both Wallace and Zitzner extended hitting streaks with doubles. Wallace was now at 14 games, while Zitzner had reached 12 games.

The Titans split a double-header with the Crusaders on this Friday, making up the game they had been missing and getting rid of the fraction in distance. We were now three full games behind. The Crusaders, the fourth candidate to rule the North, were 5 1/2 back.

Game 2
IND: 1B Witte – 2B Schneller – CF Baron – C J. Herrera – RF Plunkett – LF Acor – 3B Conner – SS Benito – P Kretzmann
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Vickers – C Thompson – RF Camps – P Coffee

Indy went with Kretzmann and his sore biceps, and the Coons went with Coffee, the lukewarm pumpkin-spiced frappuccino of my nightmares. Neither of them gave up a run by the time Coffee called for Dr. Chung to take a look at his throwing paw in the second inning. The NWSN cameras showed Coffee pointing to a spot on the paw repeatedly, while Dr. Chung had crossed his arms in front of his chest and was shaking his head, but ultimately Coffee just walked past him and straight through the dugout into the tunnel. (claps hands enthusiastically) Bullpen day! Never mind that the bullpen was a ****ing man short because Nick Bates was also ailing for no good reason at all …! With Anaya having tossed two innings the previous night, even with a mostly righty lineup for the Arrowheads our best bet was to pick David Fernandez, who had the best stamina and the most rest among the remaining relievers. And while he got out of the inning, having inherited Plunkett on first and one out, the Coons would shuffle the bags full ahead of him with two outs in the bottom 2nd. Zitzner was nicked, Vickers singled, and Camps walked in a full count. There was no hitting for Fernandez here, but at least he was a career .333 hitter (1-for-3)! He unceremoniously struck out.

Portland took the lead in the fourth; Fernandez and Vickers reached base, then were scored by a long double into depths of rightfield off Elliott Thompson’s bat, all of that coming with no outs, for a 2-0 lead. Thompson was stranded because the bottom of the order couldn’t poke a ball in play, and after Ramos was walked intentionally with two out, Zeltser flew out. Top 5th, leadoff walk for Acor against Fernandez. The runner stole his 18th base, moved up on Josh Conner’s grounder, and then tried to steal HOME with Juan Benito at the plate and two outs. While not completely indefensible given Benito’s light hitting and the pitcher on deck, the move looked worse because Thompson threw himself into the runner and tagged him out, thus getting Fernandez threw another scorelessinning. Benito was rung up to end it. David Fernandez rung up the pitcher to begin the sixth, then lost Oliver Witte on balls, and that was it for the long man. Four innings of (so far) shutout ball on 64 pitches provoked major applause from the grief-accustomed fans in the park. The Coons wanted Ed Blair to finish the inning; now Blair had pitched in both of the last two games, but had thrown only 11 pitches in total. However, he walked Schneller on straight balls, the runners pulled off a double steal, but Baron whiffed for the second out, bringing up Juan Herrera, batting .265 with 20 bombs himself. The count ran full before Herrera ripped at a 3-2 … and popped out to Vickers. Anaya retired the 5-6-7 in order in the seventh, and we resigned to try a 6-out save with Wise after that. The move also ended Wallace’s hitting streak since he struck out to tally an 0-for-4 and end the bottom 7th and Wise was dropped into his spot. Jennings, who had opened the bottom 7th with an infield pop in the #9 hole, remained in leftfield. Wise retired Benito, Kretzmann, and Witte in order in the eighth, needing only nine pitches, but Schneller hit a leadoff single in the ninth, bringing up the middle of the order as the tying runs, and they merely had 56 homers between them. Baron was at least easily fooled and hacked out. Herrera also struck out, but looking. Plunkett swiped at a 1-2 cutter… and missed! 2-0 Furballs!! M. Fernandez 2-4; Vickers 2-4; Thompson 1-3, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; D. Fernandez 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, W (3-1); Wise 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, SV (27);

No hitting streaks of any sort left!

We got news by Sunday morning that Nick Bates was out with a stretched elbow ligament. Dr. Chung said he’d normally say that this would take six months to heal, but because Bates was such a degenerated hunchbacked weakling, it would take him ten months. So that removed a 1.04 ERA arm from the pen for the foreseeable future and the Coons were left scrambling. Both Bates and Coffee (“paw soreness”… I’m with Dr. Chung on this one…) were placed on the DL. Coffee would have been able to pitch sooner, but the Critters right now needed the roster spot. With an off day on Monday, we would not need a fifth starter until next Saturday anyway, so could bring up two relievers instead.

Because times were dire and we could retool one game later, we brought up the only two pitchers from AAA that were on the 40-man roster and rested, Kyle Green (12 BB in 14 IP earlier this year) and Jason Gurney. The latter had spun a 6.29 ERA in almost 162 innings with the ’32 Coons and had tossed to a 4.58 ERA out of the Alley Cats’ pen this season.

Beggars can’t be choosers though. And despite the addition of two relievers, we were still not blessed with options. Anaya, Blair, and Fernandez were all unavailable on Sunday. Wise had only spun 24 pitches after two days of rest, so was ready to go. Both Hennessy and Garavito had not pitched on Saturday and were thus also available.

Game 3
IND: 1B Witte – 2B Schneller – CF Baron – C J. Herrera – RF Plunkett – LF Acor – 3B Conner – SS Benito – P Saccoccio
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Vickers – RF – Jennings – C Thompson – P Sabre

Portland was bludgeoned in the very first inning with Sabre stupidly walking both Schneller and Baron before he started to surrender rockets. Herrera hit an RBI single, Plunkett an RBI double, and Acor singled to left. That scored two runs once Jimmy Wallace got twisted into a knot trying to make a sliding catch. He had to be carried off the field, too, with Juan Camps dropped in. Acor stole third base, Josh Conner popped out, but Benito dropped in a single to make it 5-0 before he was thrown out at second base. Everything was horrendous and I was swiping up the shards of glass that had been lying under my desk all week to see whether I could eat those.

Things looked a high level of bleak even when Saccoccio tried to have his own meltdown in the bottom 2nd. Fernandez, Vickers, Jennings, and Thompson had straight base hits to begin the inning, plating two runs and bringing up the tying run. Sabre bunted the runners into scoring position, but Ramos grounded out to Witte. Zeltser walked, and for the second time this week we found the unwelcome Juan Camps in a spot that belonged to Jimmy Wallace and he made the third out, this time stranding three. Plunkett homered off Sabre, who ended up with six runs allowed in three ****ing **** innings. He was hit for in the bottom 3rd with the tying runs on board AGAIN. Jennings and Thompson were on the corners; the former had tripled in Fernandez and Vickers to make it 6-4, and there was one out. Marsingill flew out to right in the worst way, keeping the runner at third base, and Ramos rolled a ball to the mound, but Saccoccio was falling the other way and took too long to scramble back to the ball to have any way – infield single, Jennings scored, 6-5. Zeltser flew out to left to end the third.

Unfortunately, with Sabre gone we were smack-dab into the new shallow end of the pen. Kyle Green got the ball for the fourth inning, facing the bottom of the order. Conner popped out, Benito walked (…!!!), and PH Joseph McClenon hit into a double play on the first pitch. The very next pitch of the game was offered by lefty Juan Melendrez to Juan Camps, who peppered it over the fence in left, and that tied the game at six. One of those games, huh? For now I was not filling my mouth with shards – I kinda wanted to see where this dismal game would go…!

Indy put Baron and Herrera on the corners against Kyle Green with two outs in the fifth, but Zeltser handled Plunkett’s grounder to end the inning. After two innings from him we turned to Jason Gurney with the utmost reluctance, but had no other choice. This was where things started to south. Acor hit a leadoff single, stole second, and scored on Benito’s single. The shortstop moved to second base on the throw to home plate, and while PH Matt Barber struck out for the second out, Oliver Witte ticked a 1-2 pitch into right for a single. Benito was sent – and thrown out by Jennings at home plate, ending the top 6th. Gurney allowed a 1-out walk to Baron in the seventh, threw a wild pitch, walked Herrera anyway, and then was dumb-lucky enough to have Plunkett hit into an inning-ending 5-4-3 bonanza. The offense couldn’t get going, and instead Garavito took over the 7-6 game in the eighth. He allowed a single to Acor right away, putting the biggest pest of the series back on, threw a wild pitch to move him into scoring position, and then allowed another RBI single to Benito, who AGAIN was thrown out at second base, although this was little consolation for the team that was already behind…

The Coons saw Lance Legleiter, briefly, in the bottom 8th. He was removed after a 1-out walk to Thompson when Garcia hit for Garavito in the #9 hole. Victor Govea came on and allowed a single on the first pitch, presenting Berto with the tying runs. Ramos never got anything to hit and walked on four pitches, bringing up Zeltser with three on and one out. Govea fell to 2-0, then HAD to come inside and was promptly knackered. Zeltser hit a double in the gap, but Acor made a very good play there and the Coons had to throw the anchor on Ramos at third base, even if that meant only tying the game and bringing up the maligned Camps again in a crucial spot. I was nervously walking laps around Cristiano Carmona, who was visibly uncomfortable with that. Camps failed – lining out softly to Benito, but at least the runners were aware and held their positions. Zitzner hit a foul pop in right, which Plunkett raced and lunged for and caught it… until he hit the ground in head-long fashion and lost it out of his glove. The umpire at first base mercilessly shook his head and Zitzner would get another chance, but at 2-2 grounded out to short. Wise was called on to face the good stuff in the top 9th. Schneller hit a ball into centerfield for a single, Baron hit a ball to Vickers for a double play, and the Indians didn’t score, but neither did the Coons in the bottom 9th. The unavoidable Acor hit a 1-out single off Wise in the 10th, and advanced on Conner’s groundout. Benito walked, but Morgan Kuhlmann made the third out to Vickers…! Facing right-hander Mike Burris, Hawkins pinch-hit for Wise in the #9 hole to begin the bottom 10th – he was the last guy off the bench. He also struck out as the Coons made three quick outs. We had nowhere to go but Hennessy for the 11th, but Rico Gutierrez was also sent to the pen to warm up – the second time this had happened in a short period. His services would not be needed. The Indians’ 1-2-3 hitters exploded Hennessy with a sequence of single, double, double, and Plunkett found a 1-out RBI single after Herrera grounded out. Devastation looked like Hennessy, covering his black-and-white face with his cap as he crawled towards the dugout after a 3-run drumming. Bottom 11th, Camps hit a leadoff single, but was doubled up by Zitzner. Fernandez singled to right, and Vickers grounded out to short… 11-8 Indians. Zeltser 2-5, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Camps 3-6, HR, RBI; M. Fernandez 3-6, 2B; Jennings 2-4, BB, 3B, 4 RBI; Catella (PH) 1-1; Garcia (PH) 1-1; Green 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K; Wise 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K;

In other news

August 16 – VAN OF Brian Wojnarowski (.286, 16 HR, 61 RBI) is done with the 2033 season after tearing ankle ligaments.
August 19 – The Miners’ bid for relevancy largely collapses when 1B Danny Santillano (.338, 19 HR, 76 RBI) breaks his finger and figures to miss most of the remaining season.

Complaints and stuff

(still has blood running from one corner of the mouth, a black eye, and patches of fur between the ears missing) Well. At least we have Monday off!

Anyone up for more injury news? In this case, it’s Tim Stalker starting a rehab assignment on Sunday. He should return next week, unless he manages to drown in the Gulf of Mexico in the meantime. I would not put the team above something like that right now! Of course, with Jimmy Wallace now also injured, the season is dead anyway…

Signs of doom: Rico Gutierrez is your best starter the last two times through the rotation. 1-0, 1.15 ERA.

We would have given Antonio Prieto, unranked closer prospect and former #18 draft pick as well as the main loot in the Joe Vanatti deal two years ago, his major league debut on Sunday after the most recent rash of devastating injuries, but he had tossed 43 pitches on the weekend already and was not available.

Fun Fact: Rich Vickers is a streaky bugger.

He started his career batting 9-for-26 with 2 HR and 12 RBI, then immediately fell off a cliff. From July 19 through August 12 he batted 6-for-42 with 1 RBI. He also was in the lineup only three times in the first half of August. Since then? 11-for-22 with 7 RBI.

So now we have a .289/.313/.489 hitter with only one position that is coveted by three other players, average or slightly above average defense, middling speed, and a tendency to freeze mid-romp.

Oh well, you can do worse when you claim someone off the Scorpions…
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Old 11-23-2019, 06:52 PM   #3029
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More injury news – this time Jimmy Wallace, who had come out of the game on Sunday and had been diagnosed with a sore back. This would limit him to pinch-hitting for at least a couple of days, since the last thing he now needed, Dr. Chung advised, was craning his neck after long-gone homers served up by Bernie Chavez. Those last words were mine, not his.

Raccoons (65-59) vs. Crusaders (62-61) – August 23-25, 2033

Somehow, nobody knew quite how, the Crusaders were hanging in there. A -43 run differential, no better than eighth in the CL in either runs scored or allowed, and the second-worst rotation by ERA were all not exactly valid qualifiers for a postseason appearance, and yet they were only six games back at the start of play on Tuesday. The Coons held an 8-4 lead in the season series.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (4-11, 4.05 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenarez (7-11, 3.44 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (11-7, 4.06 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (10-13, 4.49 ERA)
Mario Rosas (13-8, 2.24 ERA) vs. Jeremy Truett (12-7, 3.22 ERA)

That was a vapid guess for a three-man rotation. The Crusaders had played a double-header on Friday, and had been off on Monday. Sunday’s starter Gavin Lee (7-7, 3.98 ERA) was rumored to be moved to the pen. Between the three above and the other available selections Gilberto Rendon (12-8, 3.70 ERA) and Ramiro Benavides (7-10, 4.79 ERA) we could encounter absolutely everybody by Thursday. Colmenarez and Benavides were left-handed; the rest were southpaws.

Game 1
NYC: SS Schuler – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – CF Reardon – 3B J. Zamora – RF Ryder – C Hurley – P Colmenarez
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Hawkins – 3B Zeltser – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF M. Fernandez – C Garcia – LF Camps – P Gutierrez

The Crusaders took the lead in the first on a Mario Hurtado walk and singles smacked by Jose Balado and Chris Reardon. Balado made the third out on the basepaths, though, keeping them to a single run in the inning. They shed Zachary Ryder in the next, removed as a precaution after Gutierrez had smacked him in the arm. Dan Brown, 38 and nominally past doing anything besides pinch-hitting, guessing a spot and giving it his best rip, replaced him in the field. The Coons countered with five hits and three runs in the bottom 2nd. Zitzner’s leadoff single and Jennings’ double to right set them up well, and runs scored on Manny Fernandez’ single, a Fernando Garcia sac fly, and – hear, hear! – a Gutierrez single with one out. The Crusaders, annoyingly, came back right away, their rally jumpstarted by Fernandez, who stupidly dropped Colmenarez’ fly to center to begin the top 3rd. The Crusaders were on that right away; Randy Schuler singled, Hurtado walked, and Balado dropped an RBI single with the bases loaded. With one out, Chris Reardon ran a full count, held a swing at the 3-2 pitch, but was rung up by the home plate umpire, which maybe was the lucky break to salvage the game. Jorge Zamora spanked an 0-2 pitch to the right side, Hawkins collected it, and the play was made to first base, keeping the Coons 3-2 ahead; the run was unearned. Ryan Hurley’s homer to left in the fourth, however, wasn’t quite.

The game didn’t remain tied for long, though; Hurtado’s leadoff triple in the fifth turned into a run on Balado’s grounder, and Gutierrez needed 101 pitches to even finish the inning. That was it for him, with Kyle Green pitching the sixth, and of course he walked Hurley leading off. That runner remained on, but we hoped the two in the bottom of the inning wouldn’t, which was while the hobbled Jimmy Wallace hit for Green with two outs and Jennings on second as well as Camps on first – the latter having reached on catcher’s interference. Wallace struck out, rendering our hopes dashed and smothered. The following inning, on the tail end of Victor Anaya surviving two singles being shaken out of him without surrendering a run, saw a better chance. Colmenarez walked Berto to begin the bottom 7th, and Ramos reached third base on Hawkins’ single to right. That was a great chance …! And they tried really hard to bork it, too. Zeltser grounded out to first, moving Hawkins over, but Ramos didn’t score. Zitzner fanned altogether. At this point, a double switch took out Cambra and Colmenarez, replaced by George Barnett on the mound and Keith Leonard at first base in a double switch. Barnett gave up a sharp bouncer to Billy Jennings, and it went right through the catcher at first base and up the line for a score-flipping 2-run single! Oh, you boys and your silly luck! The Coons stranded Camps and Vickers, who hit singles off Barnett in the eighth, but at least Chris Wise retired the Crusaders in order in the ninth inning to eek out a critical win. 5-4 Raccoons! Jennings 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Camps 2-2, BB; Vickers (PH) 1-1; Anaya 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, W (4-4);

Game 2
NYC: SS Schuler – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – CF Reardon – C Leonard – 3B J. Zamora – RF Ryder – P E. Cannon
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Vickers – C Thompson – CF Catella – P Chavez

Another first inning, another first run, this time for Portland. Their day began with a triple buried in the right-center gap by Berto, who scored on Zeltser’s groundout. Zeltser would also connect for the second Coons run on the day with two outs in the bottom 3rd, hitting the second of two doubles in the inning, the first having come off Sean Catella’s bat! At this point, the recently much-beleaguered Bernie Chavez was unscored upon, but didn’t stitch a clean inning together until the fourth, when he retired the 5-6-7 batters in order. In the fifth he yielded a single to the opposing pitcher (…), but nothing worse came of that. Through five innings, Bernie had a 4-hit shutout, but had also tossed 75 pitches.

The Coons had four hits through five innings as well, all for extra bases except the last one, a fifth-inning single by Sean Catella, who judged he had a double, but Chris Reardon assured him that, no, he didn’t, and threw him out at second base. Balado singled in the sixth, but was caught stealing. Nevertheless, there was something in the air that one team or the other would put up a crooked number soon. It wasn’t the Coons, who couldn’t make anything out of Fernandez’ double and a walk issued to Jennings in the bottom 6th. Vickers grounded out to short for the third out. Chavez held on for another inning, but reached almost 100 pitches through seven and when his spot came up with nobody out and two men aboard in the bottom 7th, here came Wallace again; Thompson had reached on a bloop single, and Catella had made it on base when Schuler had fumbled a double play grounder… He fell to 1-2 before Cannon almost took off his legs with an errant fastball that also got by Leonard, and the runners advanced. That was great on paper, taking off the double play, but in the end didn’t matter, because Jimmy took the following hanging breaking pitch and peppered it 433 feet to straightaway centerfield for a 3-run homer! The Coons added a fourth run in the inning and a sixth in total when Gavin Lee, on three days’ rest, walked Ramos and Zeltser, Fernandez advanced them with a grounder, and Zitz hit a sac fly to center. Jennings whiffed, sending it to the pen. Garavito and Blair combined for the eighth inning, and Kyle Green finished the game without walking a batter. He nailed Keith Leonard instead. 6-0 Coons! Catella 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Wallace (PH) 1-1, HR, 3 RBI; Chavez 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, W (12-7);

Oh well – a win is a win is a win. It was the second for Bernie in August; he had two or more wins in every month this year. Actually, that was two in every month but May, when he had won four straight.

Manny Fernandez had a 12-game hitting streak now.

Things got dicey for Thursday. Not only was Wallace still laboring on that back problem, but Bob Zeltser was quarantined with a runny nose. The team voted on that – they didn’t want his slimes to drip into the barbecue in the dugout.

…on a Matt Nunley-supplied grill of course.

Game 3
NYC: SS Schuler – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – CF Reardon – 3B J. Zamora – RF Ryder – C Hurley – P G. Rendon
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Hawkins – CF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Vickers – C Thompson – LF Camps – P Rosas

For the second time in the series, Zachary Ryder was replaced by Dan Brown in the second inning for reasons of injury. This time he appeared to hit his core or shoulder on dive that robbed Ramos of an RBI and led to the Coons stranding five in the first two innings. Vickers had struck out with the bases loaded to end the bottom 1st, an inning in which Manny Fernandez extended his hitting streak to 13 games and stole his 16th base, all to no avail. Rosas was 0-4 in five starts since his initial complete game win over the Falcons in his first outing with the coonskin cap after the trade with the Knights. Serious time for a turnaround, mister! Rather than that, though, the Crusaders took a 2-0 lead in the top 3rd, courtesy of Schuler and Cambra singles, a groundout, a passed ball, and a balk. – Dr. Chung? – I think my blood pressure has just risen! (has bright red ears)

The bottom 3rd saw a leadoff walk drawn by Fernandez, a Zitzner single, and Vickers undoing the whole ****ing thing with a 5-4-3 double play. One inning later we started out with Thompson and Camps reaching base, and not for the first time. In the second, Rosas had bunted into a force at third base. This time he bunted foul twice before Rendon glitched and balked the runners into scoring position in an 0-2 count. They probably both deserved a public flogging. Rosas struck out on the next actual pitch, but Berto flicked a soft line over Jorge Zamora for an RBI single. At last! Tom Hawkins hit a single to right that somebody other than Dan Brown might have caught. That one tied the game, and Manny Fernandez triple rammed off the fence in centerfield made it 4-2 Coons! The Rendon-xplosion continued with an RBI double by Travis Zitzner, he walked Jennings, and then Vickers hit into his second double play of the game – he had now come up with seven runners aboard and had generated five outs and zero runs.

And Rosas? Loaded the bases with nobody out in the top 5th. Schuler singled. Cambra singled. Hurtado walked. I was gnawing on a sturdy piece of wood in lieu of any player in reach. He remained no help, dead or alive, conceded two runs on grounders, and then had Jennings risk life and paws to spoil a Zamora drive and keep it a 5-4 game… Somehow Rendon and Rosas each dawled through another inning before Mark Holliday faced the Coons in the bottom 6th. He put Ramos on base, got a double play from Hawkins, then allowed a triple to Fernandez. The run scored on a wild pitch, and then Zitzner fired a homer to extend the score to 7-4. The Critters got two more outs from Rosas before he was wrapped in protective foil after 98 pitches. Anaya logged four outs through the middle of the eighth. The bottom of the inning started with Ramos reaching on an error and swiping second base. Hawkins singled. Fernandez grounded to Hurtado, who unleashed a bad throw trying to turn two and turned nobody. Ramos scored, and two remained on for Zitzner, who actually DID hit into that double play… the pitcher was in the #5 hole, so Fernando Garcia pinch-hit for Anaya against southpaw John Fees, who fell to 3-0, then surrendered a bomb to left-center. That made it a 6-run game, and while John Hennessy surrendered a 2-out RBI double to Schuler in the top of the ninth, this series ended in a sweep! 10-5 Raccoons! Hawkins 2-5, RBI; M. Fernandez 3-4, BB, 2 3B, 3 RBI; Zitzner 3-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Garcia (PH) 1-1, HR, 2 RBI; Thompson 3-5;

I know I often say a win is a win is a win, but, seriously, Rosas? Seriously?

Raccoons (68-59) vs. Bayhawks (72-55) – August 26-28, 2033

To cap off a 5-4 homestand so far, the Bayhawks came to town. They had just lost first place in the South and were desperate for any sort of win, no matter how dirty they’d get it. They had lost seven of the last eight games they had played, and would grant no quarter to stumbling starting pitchers. They had the most potent offense in the Continental League, but the pitching was merely average. The rotation was solid, but the pen was an endless tire fire. Furthermore, the Coons had already taken the season series, 5-1 after six games.

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (10-9, 3.53 ERA) vs. Steve Younts (12-6, 3.05 ERA)
Jason Gurney (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Matt Huf (11-7, 3.23 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-11, 4.10 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (10-6, 3.14 ERA)

Only right-handers to expect here!

The Raccoons sent Rich Vickers packing to AAA to activate Tim Stalker from his rehab assignment. The rotten Thursday performance was not the reason – we just had no room on the roster otherwise. Vickers would come back in September.

Game 1
SFB: CF Cassell – 3B D. Myers – RF Levis – 1B Uliasz – 2B J. Cruz – LF Hawthorne – C Umanzor – SS A. Castillo – P Younts
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – CF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Stalker – C E. Thompson – LF Camps – P Sabre

The bottom 1st saw the Coons score a wicked run when Bob Zeltser walked, stole second, reached third on Eduardo Umanzor’s throwing error, and came home on a Fernandez sac fly. The Bayhawks countered with five runs in the second inning off Sabre – all unearned, which was little consolation. Tim Stalker started the meltdown with an error that put Jose Cruz on base. Cruz stole second while Umanzor, Alex Castillo, and Younts all whacked 2-out singles… and Ryan Cassell blasted a 3-run homer. Sabre was yanked after 2.1 innings of absolutely unwatchable baseball. He loaded the bases with a walk and two singles in the top 3rd, allowed a run on George Hawthorne’s grounder to second, and another run on an Umanzor single. Down 7-1, Garavito replaced him, got a double play grounder from Alex Castillo, but that game was more or less over…

Or maybe the tying run would come up in the fifth. That would be Jennings with two on and two out, trying to follow up on Zitzner’s 2-run single. Jennings had already plated a run the previous inning. But here, he struck out to end the fifth in a 7-4 score. Instead George Hawthorne homered on a 1-2 pitch by Kyle Green in the sixth. Justin Uliasz hit a long home run off David Fernandez in the seventh. Where had our pitching gone?? And yet, the team refused to go quietly, which deserved a point or two, even if the pitching and defense deserved minus ten. In the bottom 8th, Stalker, Thompson, and Camps all poked Jesus Blanco for base hits, Camps plating Stalker with his fourth hit of the day, 9-5. Marsingill hit for David Fernandez against new pitcher Matt Peterson, with Berto in the on-deck circle as the tying run. He lost that distinction when Marsingill popped out, then ground out to Dave Myers to strand a pair… Instead the Bayhawks beat four runs out of John Hennessy’s worthless pelt in the ninth inning and the Coons were thoroughly routed. 13-5 Bayhawks. Stalker 2-4; Camps 4-4, 2B, RBI;

Our pitching used to be the best in the CL this year, and somehow we still have the fewest runs allowed, but probably not for very much longer…

We sent Kyle Green, who was just unbearable, back to AAA after this game and called up Antonio Prieto, who would thus make his major league debut. The 23-year-old righty had been taken at #18 by the Thunder in the 2029 draft, and had been acquired in the Joe Vanatti trade in December of ’31. He had a 2.39 ERA in 51 games in St. Pete this season.

Game 2
SFB: 2B C. Cruz – 1B Levis – RF Suhay – SS A. Castillo – LF Hawthorne – 3B D. Myers – C Umanzor – CF Cassell – P Huf
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – CF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Stalker – C Garcia – P Gurney

Gurney allowed a Castillo single… and THREE walks in the first inning, taking over 30 pitches to get even three outs from the Baybirds. Dave Myers forced home a run when he walked; Umanzor struck out to strand three. Ramos drew a walk in the bottom 1st… but was picked off by Huf. I got out the thick red pen and marked a big fat L on my calendar on the 27th, then went to lie face down on the couch, my feet in Slappy’s lap. Ben Suhay homered to make it 2-0 in the top 3rd, but at least Gurney got a hit for the Coons with a 1-out single in the bottom of the inning. Ramos walked again, putting on the tying run. It didn’t help – both Zeltser and Wallace flew out to the damn Suhay. Three singles plated a run for the Baybirds in the fourth, 3-0, but the tying runs were on base with one down in the bottom of THAT inning. Zitzner, Jennings, Stalker all reached, Slappy reported dutifully between sips, even though I didn’t really want to know. Garcia popped up a 2-0 pitch in front of the first base dugout which Doug Levis flubbed for an error, which seemed to be one of those signs that indicated a comeback in the making, but instead he ended up striking out. Oh well, wasn’t it fun while it las- … and then stupid Jason Gurney slapped a 2-out, 2-run single to left…! Ramos flew out to Hawthorne to end the inning, and I have honestly tried to understand baseball for all my life, and yet I know nothing.

Gurney somehow got through six without completely imploding – a.k.a. going full Sabre – and was hit for in the bottom 6th with Zitzner and Garcia on base following walks. Juan Camps batted with two outs, and flew out to right. Portland stranded two more in the bottom 7th, Wallace and Fernandez reaching with two outs for Zitzner to fly out. (groans into pillow) … Instead San Francisco got a run off Ed Blair in the top 8th when both Castillo and Myers slugged doubles… and then another run when Garavito gave up a 2-out RBI single on an 0-2 pitch to lefty batter Ryan Cassell. Doom, doom, doom everywhere. 5-2 Bayhawks. Jennings 1-2, 2 BB;

Matt Huf walked EIGHT batters and the Raccoons couldn’t a) knock him over, and b) keep him from pitching EIGHT innings.

That one was definitely in the race for worst game of the year… and we had a few stinkers…

The hitting streak of Manny Fernandez also ended.

Game 3
SFB: 2B J. Cruz – 1B Levis – RF Suhay – SS A. Castillo – LF Hawthorne – 3B D. Myers – C Umanzor – CF Cassell – P Cervantes
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – CF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Stalker – C E. Thompson – P Gutierrez

It was my dearest wish that we’d salvage this last game, but again that was not a pitching matchup in our favor. The Coons scored first when Ramos hit a soft single and advanced on a wild pitch and two productive groundouts (at least that!), but the Bayhawks were definitely on the fence against Gutierrez. They had runners on the corners in the first two innings, but stranded them, once on Hawthorne’s eager 3-2 swing-and-miss, and then when Cruz fouled out. Bottom 2nd, Myers fumbled Zitzner’s roller to begin the inning. Jennings doubled, but Stalker whiffed and Thompson was walked intentionally to set up a juicy double play and forces all over for Rico Gutierrez, who inexplicably poked at a 3-1 pitch. The bouncer to right eluded Doug Levis, Zitzner scored, Jennings scored, Thompson hyper-enthusiastically “raced” for third base and was thrown out, but the Coons had a 3-0 lead after two innings, the second concluding with Berto’s fly out to center.

San Fran made up a run in the third solely on throwing errors by Thompson and Ramos, which was ONE way to ensure Gutierrez a .250 win percentage after this game. Bottom 3rd, Wallace and Fernandez socked their way on base, and Zitzner hit into a double play… (staggers for the nearest bottle o’ booze) … they were VERY HARD TO WATCH. It didn’t get better in the fourth when Ramos flew out to center to strand Jennings and Thompson, which was soon followed by straight doubles off the Bayhawks’ bats of Suhay, Castillo, and Hawthorne, to tie the game at three in the top of the fifth inning.

Bottom 5th, Zeltser and Wallace made deep fly outs, because nobody can hit one over the fence anymore, before Manny Fernandez doubled to left. Zitzner hit a bouncer to second base, and it was just a tiny bit too fast for Cruz to intercept it and get Zitzner at first for the third out. Instead, the ball went to centerfield for a 2-out RBI single and a new Coons lead. After Jennings legged out an infield single and Cervantes threw a wild pitch, Tim Stalker raked a 2-0 pitch down the line for a 2-run double! FINALLY!! FINALLY OFFENSE!! Yes…!! The Coons had Thompson intentionally walked and Gutierrez made the final out against Matt Peterson, but that was acceptable. As scary as it was, with our burned-out pen we needed a few more outs from Gutierrez, who faced the #8 hitter to begin the sixth. Cassell singled, stole second, but the Bayhawks didn’t hit for Peterson, who popped out, and Cruz grounded out. Five and two thirds for nine hits was enough for Gutierrez, and the Coons tabbed a righty, Anaya. He got Levis – 20 homers heavy after all – to ground out to short, ending the top 6th. Instead he walked Castillo in the seventh. Castillo stole second, scored on a Hawthorne single, Hawthorne was caught stealing, and this game was going like ****ing glue. Umanzor hit a leadoff double in the eighth off Anaya, who was also not nursing any intentions to stop pitching badly so soon… but Umanzor thought he had three bases rather than two, and Manny Fernandez’ laser throw and a swift relay by Berto slammed him out at third base. Whatever the **** works, boys!! David Fernandez then took over and crawled around a pinch-hit single by Mike Thompson to get out of the eighth. We stumbled into the ninth, handing the 6-4 lead to Chris Wise, who immediately served up a leadoff single to Levis. Suhay hacked himself out. Justin Uliasz hit for Castillo to get some more oomph to the plate, and oomph he delivered on the 1-2 pitch. A hard shot … right at Stalker! The six-time Gold Glover picked, lobbed to Ramos, watched the return throw to first, and then threw his fists up in delight when the double play to end the game was completed. 6-4 Critters. M. Fernandez 2-4, 2B; Jennings 3-3, 2 2B; Thompson 0-1, 3 BB;

In other news

August 23 – Richmond’s Ben “Nine Fingers” Freeman (.307, 7 HR, 34 RBI) is out for the season with a broken ankle.
August 27 – The season of LVA SP Chris Guyett (7-16, 4.54 ERA) comes to a merciful lend after the 34-year-old right-hander is placed on the DL with a torn flexor tendon that will cost him nine months.
August 28 – With runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the ninth of a scoreless game, CHA MR Tony Rivas (2-2, 2.40 ERA, 2 SV) tries to pick Indy’s SS Juan Benito (.304, 1 HR, 13 RBI) off first base, but throws the ball over the head of everybody involved, allowing Josh Conner (.196, 3 HR, 8 RBI) to score from third base, walking off the Indians in 1-0 fashion.
August 28 – The Wolves have one of everything, one hit, one run, and one error, in a 2-1 loss to the Rebels. Catcher Francis Chavez (.204, 6 HR, 25 RBI) hits a single for the only base hit against RIC SP Eric Peck (5-2, 4.08 ERA), who goes eight innings for the W.

Complaints and stuff

That Bayhawks series was tedious indeed… any more series like that and my hair will turn gray. (Cristiano Carmona silently presents him with a mirror) … (screams in horror)

We remain just two games out in the division. I’d say the next three series will decide the season, even though we play the Titans again at the end of the year. We have to be ahead of them first to have a chance. The next week sees a road trip to Charlotte, where we better top stumbling over those guys (1-5 this year), then four games in Elk City. The Titans will be in Portland the following week. Those three series are probably the decider.

Rosters also expand on Thursday, just in time for the 4-game weekend set in Elk City.

We matched last year’s win total on August 25, which says something about the size of our turnaround.

Fun Fact: The earliest a Raccoons team has ever eclipsed their previous year’s win total was in 2007, when they beat the Blue Sox on August 15 – the only time they bested last year’s mark in an interleague game.

And because this took Cristiano Carmona forever to compile, mainly because the data is kept in yellowed files in the cellar which isn’t suitable for wheelchair users (the stairs are narrow, winded, and don’t have a guard rail, for starters), here are ALL the dates (as far as they can be compiled with my terrible early-year accounting) on which the Raccoons exceeded their previous year’s win total:

1980 (69-93): won their 56th game on either August 27 or 28 with a 1-0 win over the Indians. Roman Ocasio starts and is horrible. The Coons only score in the ninth and Wally Gaston loads the bags before ringing up Jose Encarnación for the team’s only K on the day.
1982 (75-87): September 17, also the 17th win of the season for “Old Chris” Powell, a 3-2 win over the Bayhawks.
1983 (95-67): August 24 or 25; Charles Young (who??) spins a complete-game 4-hitter to complete a sweep of the Crusaders with a 5-1 win.
1985 (84-78): September 25. Win #80 comes as the third of four wins in a sweep of the Indians. Seven spiffy innings by Scott Wade and a 2-run homer by Ricardo Gonzalez give the team a 2-1 win.
1986 (87-75): October 3. David Jones gets the 5-4 win in relief against the Titans. Gustavo Flores knocks out five hits, Winston Thompson has four, and they still barely stitch a win together. The day after this, “Old Chris” Powell would spin his famous 4-hit shutout in his last ABL appearance.
1987 (91-71): September 29 sees little offense as the Coons squeeze out a 4-3 win over the Indians to break a tied for the division lead. “You Win Again” plays at the ballpark, but the Coons will ultimately lose the crown by a single game.
1989 (95-67): Antonio Cordero collects the 3-2 win in relief of Kisho Saito against the Bayhawks on August 30. Daniel Hall has one hit. Stephen Hall has two.

1991 (96-66): Jason Turner goes to 15-7 on August 31 in a 7-3 win over the Titans for win #87. It is the only win in a 4-game set in a dreadful August, but the Raccoons have a double-digit lead and won’t blow them.
1992 (99-63): Their 97th win on October 1, a 6-3 victory over the Indians, marks the first time they’ve made it that far. Scott Wade pitches seven innings for the win. Bobby Quinn has two hits and drives in three runs.
1995 (95-68): Once more it’s Scotty in a 5-2 win over the Titans on September 4, easily eclipsing last season’s 81-81 season.
1996 (108-54): Less than a year to go until an ugly fallout with him, Ben “O-Mo” O’Morrissey hits a walkoff single to beat the damn Elks 5-4 on September 7. He has 3 RBI in total in the game. At this point the Critters have the division about bagged.
1998 (79-83): The Collapse is eclipsed with win #69 on September 18, a 1-0 squeezer against Atlanta that Neil Reece finalizes with a bases-loaded walkoff walk in the 11th inning. This was also the 1,800th regular-season franchise win… and the first of the year against the even more terrible Knights.

2002 (73-89): Al Martin drives in three in a 5-4 win over New York on September 24 for the 72nd victory of another sad year. Many more will come.
2003 (76-86): Brownie fanned a dozen in 7 2/3 shutout innings to beat the Loggers on October 2. The Critters would win 5-0, again with Al Martin driving in three runs, on two hits with a dinger.
2004 (78-84): Brownie again – he wraps up his 20th win of the year in a 7-2 win over the damn Elks. He whiffs only six in seven innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball. Al Martin and Yoshi Nomura both plate two runs.
2006 (77-85): September 15 sees Ralph Ford go nine innings in San Francisco, allowing only one hit before getting the 2-1 win when the Coons score in the top of the 10th. Ex-Coon Pablo Fernandez lands a pinch-hit, 2-out RBI single for the only H on Ford’s ledger.
2007 (98-64): In the Coons’ first winning season in FOREVER, they sweep the Blue Sox ending August 15, with the third game being a 2-0 win that moves Kel Yates to 16-1. J.C. Crespo contributes half of the win with a pinch-hit homer.
2009 (98-64): The Crusaders have to bow, 3-2, on Ron Alston’s walkoff homer in the 11th off Iemitsu Rin, for the Critters’ 94th win on September 25 as Portland rallied to erase a late-season deficit. Of course this season ended with a makeup game on Monday, October 5, in which Keith Ayers was out at home in the 12th.

2012 (93-69): Keith Ayers’ pinch-hit, 2-run homer helps beat the Knights, 5-3, on September 19 for the 89th W of the year. Of course, THIS season would end at the stained hands of Ray ****ing Gilbert…
2014 (97-65): Ron Thrasher wins in relief in a 10-7 slugfest win over the Loggers on September 13. Mike Bednarski has three hits and three RBI. Danny Margolis has three hits, two walks, and two RBI.
2016 (86-76): Portland moves up to 79-70 on September 19 with a 6-5 scramble win over the Falcons. Tadasu Abe gets the win, John Korb gets the save (!?), and Matt Nunley and R.J. DeWeese both have three hits, a homer, and 2 RBI.
2017 (95-67): Matt Nunley ends a hitting streak of 15 games as Tadasu Abe outduels Brian Furst for a 2-0 win, his 20th W of the year, on September 15. Abe also provides half the offense with a home run.

2023 (73-89): Three hits each by Matt Nunley and Tim Stalker contribute to a 5-2 win over the Titans on September 26 for the 72nd win of the season.
2024 (78-84): Nobody does anything special in a 4-3 win over the Loggers on September 20. Jesus Chavez bids hard for his 16th loss of the season, but is bailed out by a slow, late rally.
2025 (88-74): Spanking Lance Legleiter shuts out the damn Elks on September 12, allowing only six hits in a 9-0 win. Elias Tovias also had a great game, hitting two homers and driving in five runs.
2026 (94-68): Rin Nomura beats the Bayhawks, 4-1, on September 21, going eight innings. Tim Stalker provides the difference with a 3-run homer off starter Allen Reed.
2028 (98-64): Jarod Spencer has three RBI and a homer in a 5-4 win over the Crusaders on September 22. Rin Nomura gets the win again, his 16th of the season as the Coons go to 93-59.

Thanks, Cristiano, that was very informative.

Why are you greasy all over?
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Raccoons (69-61) @ Falcons (63-65) – August 29-31, 2033

The month was to finish in Charlotte, where the Falcons were in fourth place and ten games out in the South. They had won all but one of the six games against the Critters, and maybe we could have a reverse-Bayhawks moment against the seventh-place offense and fourth-place pitching in the league. Well, one can at least hope…

Projected matchups:
Bernie Chavez (12-7, 3.89 ERA) vs. Bryce Sparkes (4-8, 4.38 ERA)
Mario Rosas (14-8, 2.34 ERA) vs. Doug Clifford (12-8, 3.35 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (10-10, 3.58 ERA) vs. Miguel Bojorques (8-11, 4.27 ERA)

Handedness would match for all gams in the series.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – CF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Chavez
CHA: 2B O. Aguirre – RF Trahan – LF Salto – C Huichapa – 1B R. Morales – 3B G. Ortiz – SS O. Camacho – CF J. Aguilar – P Sparkes

Ramos got nicked and Zeltser singled to start the game, but the middle of the order blatantly left them on base, while the second-half jinx of Bernie Chavez continued roaring in fourth gear. Oscar Aguirre dropped a leadoff single that missed a hustling Manny Fernandez’ glove by an inch, Dave Trahan tripled into the gap, and a groundout later it was 2-0 in the bottom 1st… and of course it would only get worse. Aguirre struck out in the bottom 3rd… except that the ball got away from Elliott Thompson, the alleged fail-safe defensive catcher, and the batter reached base on the uncaught third strike. Trahan singled, Graciano Salto hit a fly to center to advance one of the runners, and Aguirre came in to score on ANOTHER passed ball charged to Thompson. That also moved Trahan to second base, from where Ernesto Huichapa singled him home. Roberto Morales struck out, not that it mattered, and it was 4-0 Falcons.

That remained the tally through five, with the Critters managing only two base hits by then. Wallace landed a 1-out single in the top 6th for a third, but Fernandez popped out. Just when I was ready to resign on another sad-sack loss, the 5-6-7 batters railed off an RBI double, RBI triple, and RBI single in order to narrow the gap to a single run before Elliott Thompson grounded out to first base to end the inning. They erased the remaining distance in the seventh with a Ramos single and Zeltser RBI double, at which point Tom Hawkins had already pinch-hit for Chavez. The game was still tied at four in the bottom 8th, when Antonio Prieto got to make his major league debut. He would face PH Jason Carmichael in the #1 hole, the batter got retired on a 3-1 grounder to Hawkins at third base, and the first batter that Prieto actually put on base in his career came when Hawkins fudged up Salto’s 2-out grounder. Huichapa struck out to end the inning, though. Then catcher’s roles reversed – Thompson was finally useful, lining a leadoff double in the ninth, while Huichapa committed an atrocious passed ball offense that moved the go-ahead run into scoring position with nobody out. Hawkins walked, Ramos grounded out, but the runner remained at third base – the Critters sure tried to regurgitate another dog’s dinner here… Juan Camps pinch-hit in the abandoned #2 hole, fell to one-and-two, then met a Chris Miller fastball – gone. That one was just outta here, and it broke the 4-4 tie! Chris Wise then struck out two in a perfect inning to scratch this game into the win column after all. 7-4 Coons. Zeltser 2-4, 2B, RBI; Camps (PH) 1-1, HR, 3 RBI; Zitzner 2-5, 2B, RBI;

Tempted to give Bernie a shoutout here, because two runs were unearned because his damn catcher kicked him from behind in the knees until they buckled… but, eh.

Not “eh”: Antonio Prieto, pitching a scoreless inning with a strikeout to notch the W in his first major league appearance!

Since the next off day was still a mile away, we’d take the wayward lefty on Tuesday to rest just about everybody we could in terms of left-handed batters. No Berto, no Zeltser, no Fernandez, no Wallace. No Thompson either. Billy Jennings was the only left-handed batter in the lineup. Well. Besides the pitcher.

Game 2
POR: 2B Marsingill – SS Stalker – LF Camps – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 3B Hawkins – C Garcia – CF Catella – P Rosas
CHA: 2B O. Aguirre – SS Coughenour – LF Salto – C Huichapa – 3B G. Ortiz – 1B R. Morales – RF J. Aguilar – CF Brennan – P Clifford

The most exciting thing in the first five innings was a very brief rain delay in the third inning. The Coons had three hits and didn’t score. The Falcons had four hits and didn’t score. So when Clifford walked Zitz, threw a wild pitch, and walked Jennings anyway after that, the Coons had two on and nobody out in the top 6th and it was somehow like the game was now beginning for real. Clifford threw a ball to Hawkins, then was encouraged to throw a ****ing strike by someone hollering from the home dugout. Bad idea – Hawkins doubled to left on that one, and the Coons were up 1-0, with two juicy ones in scoring position. Clifford didn’t recover – he got torn a new one. After an intentional walk to Fernando Garcia and Catella’s RBI single he was initially lucky that Roberto Morales shagged Rosas’ liner for the first out. Marsingill’s grounder made it 3-0 on a grounder that resulted in an out at second base. But runners were still on the corners, and a corner was also where Tim Stalker was whipping the next pitch; rightfield corner specifically. The 2-out, 2-run triple knocked out Clifford, made it 5-0, and we looked pretty comfy here. Dave Coughenour got Rosas for a solo homer in the bottom of the inning, but Sean Catella got slighted again by the Falcons in the seventh and took offense once more. Garcia was intentionally walked for the second time ahead of him, and for the second time Catella flicked an RBI single. Rosas struck out and Marsingill grounded out to strand the remaining runners. On the mound, Rosas threw 113 pitches to complete seven innings of 5-hit ball. The Coons tacked on a run with a Zitzner sac fly following Stalker and Camps singles in the top 8th, then two more on Marsingill’s and Camps’ RBI doubles in the ninth inning, which had been kickstarted by Catella’s third single of the day, this one not even coming after being poked annoyingly. In the end the Critters beat the Falcons by two slams, even if it had taken them forever to get going. 9-1 Raccoons. Stalker 3-4, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; Camps 2-6, 2B, RBI; Hawkins 2-5, 2B, RBI; Garcia 1-2, 3 BB; Catella 3-5, 2 RBI; Rosas 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, W (15-8);

Made up a game on Boston here; on Wednesday morning, the Critters were only one game behind in the North.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Camps – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Sabre
CHA: 2B O. Aguirre – SS Coughenour – LF Salto – C Huichapa – 1B R. Morales – 3B G. Ortiz – RF J. Lopez – CF J. Aguilar – P Bojorques

Sabre was 1-4 in his last six games and had gained about 50 points in ERA… and also the same amount of pounds. Maybe a win would let him lay off the ice cream? Unfortunately he walked Coughenour, nailed Salto, and allowed a 2-out RBI single to Morales in the first frame, so the Falcons had the lead right away. Portland didn’t get a hit until the fourth when the Critters went to the corners on a Zeltser double and Wallace single with nobody out. Zitzner hit into a double play, which at least got them even with Bob Zeltser trotting home from third base… The following inning we even got a pair into scoring position with one out – Fernandez and Thompson hit singles, the latter of which was overrun by Jorge Lopez. Unfortunately that brought up Sabre, who struck out, and Ramos, who grounded out. Nobody scored… at least until Lopez hit a 1-out double in the bottom 6th and Aguilar singled him home, putting the home team back in front, 2-1.

Sabre lasted seven, then was narrowly taken off the hook with two outs in the eighth. Ramos and Zeltser went to the corners with singles, and Wallace dropped in another one of those just in front of Jerry Aguilar to tie the score. Zitzner walked to fill the bases, and Garcia hit for Camps against right-hander Brian Bowsman… and grounded out to strand all the runners. Nobody else scored in regulation, with Blair, Fernandez, and Prieto again stitching together two scoreless innings. The top 10th saw Jennings in the #9 hole tick a leadoff single against Chris Miller. He was then caught stealing. Ramos doubled, Zeltser walked; could have been three on, no outs, but with the team’s long-term track record I preferred two on, one out… at least until Wallace grounded out, Zitzner walked, and Marsingill choked on strikes when he hit for Prieto, stranding a full set. In the 11th, Ramos stranded Thompson and Jennings on the corners when he flew out to Erik Amundson in left.

All the way down the road in the 13th, the Coons were on Garavito, their last reliever but for Chris Wise, and Amundson hit a leadoff double off the fence in right. Huichapa struck out, but Garavito’s wild pitch advanced the winning run to third base. Roberto Morales hit a comebacker that didn’t get the deal done, and that brought up reliever Danny Burgess, who had just whiffed four Coons in two innings, with the Falcons’ bench entirely deserted. Burgess had to bat – and struck out. The game continued to the 14th, where the so far unhittable Burgess allowed leadoff singles to Jennings and Ramos. Zeltser hit a fly to right that Lopez shagged deep, with Jennings tagging and making for third base. There was no advance for Berto, though, who was then doubled up when Jimmy Wallace hit away at a ****ING THREE-OH PITCH and hit into a 6-4-3 double play. I was screaming all the way through the day’s second rendition of “Take Me Out to the AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!”

The Falcons got Lopez (leadoff single) and Aguilar (bunt stuffed into his nose by Garavito) on base to begin the bottom of the 14th, but Dave Trahan – replacement third baseman after an injury to Greg Ortiz despite no formal training at the job – bunted badly to force out Lopez at third base. Aguirre whiffed, Coughenour grounded out, and the band played on. Speaking of bunts, Garavito was tasked with laying one down after Zitzner’s leadoff walk in the 15th, preserving our last bench piece, Catella, a while longer. The bunt was bad, but Morales was greedy and tried to turn two … he got nobody. Burgess struck out Fernandez, and Stalker grounding to third, where the lack of experience had Trahan miss the ball on the run and was charged an error. Thompson came up with the bags stacked and one out, ran a full count, poked, I screamed, his fly to right was caught by Lopez, but too deep to keep Zitz from scoring – the tie was broken after 58 innings and 622 hours. Against new pitcher John Jackson – a starter – Jennings hit an RBI single, Ramos hit an infield single, and Zeltser drew a bases-loaded, 2-out walk. Wallace’s RBI single completed the ring before Zitzner grounded out. Wise saw out the bottom of the 15th inning, three batters, two strikeouts, one soft fly, no nonsense. 6-2 Coons. Ramos 3-7, BB, 2B; Zeltser 2-5, 2 BB, 2B, RBI; Wallace 3-7, BB, 2 RBI; Thompson 2-5, BB, RBI; Jennings (PH) 4-5, RBI; Sabre 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K; Hennessy 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K; Garavito 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, W (3-1);

Reinforcements were ordered to Elk City – well, we had obviously already sent some players there for the roster expansion, but two more relievers were ordered up north when it became apparent that this game would churn up just about the entire pen. They were supposed to get to Elk City by whichever means possible – be it Amazin Overnight Delivery or rolling down from a steep hill in a hollowed-out tree trunk. I don’t care! Be there! Be awesome…!

The roster additions were: Adrian Reichardt (returning from a rehab assignment), Preston Pinkerton (batting just .196 in AAA), David Tinnin (token third catcher), Kyle Green (sigh!!), Carlos Contreras (a $16k July IFA period signing *nine* years ago), as well as Carlos de la Cruz (a $66k addition in the same IFA period as Contreras…) and Justin LeDuc (a 27-year-old lefty that had sat out all of ’32 unemployed and somehow had been less than completely awful in St. Pete).

Showtime!

Raccoons (72-61) @ Canadiens (62-71) – September 1-4, 2033

Here were two teams on a 4-game winning streak, and only one could keep theirs… the Elks were average in runs scored, but in the bottom three in the CL in runs allowed. Their pen was meh, their rotation worse, their defense topped them all. Scoring runs was not that hard against them, at least on paper. The Condors sure hadn’t in the last three days… Portland led the season series, 7-4.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Logan Bessey (10-13, 4.98 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (5-11, 4.07 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (11-9, 2.99 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (12-7, 3.86 ERA) vs. Matt Tillman (1-8, 4.85 ERA)
Mario Rosas (15-8, 2.31 ERA) vs. Steve Corcoran (12-14, 3.85 ERA)

Southpaws bookmarking two right-handers, barring any future Pitcher of the Year call-ups sliding in between.

Since the last game in Charlotte took forever, flight plans were scrambled. While the team’s charter waited for them until they arrived and then found an empty slot to start in eventually, I had to go back to Portland for obvious reasons and had to fly commercial. I had long missed my booked flight and Maud couldn’t get me into another flight until the next day, so I flew in the morning. That also meant I missed the start time for the opener, since it was a holiday, and the damn Elks played a day game. While it was obviously Labor Day on the civilized part of the invisible line, they had Tree-Hugging Day or some other thing in Oh, Canada. There was no time to drive home from the airport – I made straight for the ballpark. There were TVs there, too, and there would be nobody in the office to bump int---- Mister Valdes, you here?? – What do you mean “where is everybody else”? It’s a road series! – Well, of course, Slappy’s here…

(Slappy briefly raises his bottle on the trusty old brown couch with the game raging on the big TV)

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Camps – CF Reichardt – 3B Zeltser – C Garcia – P Gurney
VAN: 2B Morrow – 1B Hinojosa – LF LeJeune – C Ross – 3B McWhirter – RF A. Torres – SS L. Hernandez – CF Massey – P Bessey

It was the fourth inning, 2-0 Coons, when I plunged down on the couch next to Slappy, who silently handed me his half-emptied bottle and just grabbed a new one from the basket under the table. Not only was it 2-0 Coons, it was also Gurney at the plate with Zeltser and Garcia on the corners and one out. Gurney flipped a ball to centerfield, Micah Massey had no issues with the catch, but Zeltser scrambled home to give Portland a third run, leading to some joy on the couch, while Valdes stood over at the window and angrily pointed down towards the field, yelling why the Raccoons weren’t playing HERE. Ramos got nicked and barked out at Bessey, threateningly poking with the stick – yup, this was a Coons-Elks game! Slappy filled me in – Berto had homered in the top 3rd… with none other than Gurney on base. What a wicked game it was already! Stalker grounded out to Tony Hinojosa, ending the Coons’ half of the fourth and sending Gurney back out. The damn Elks had only one runner the first time through, a second in the bottom 4th, then two more in the fifth; Torres walked, was forced out by Lazaro Hernandez, Micah Massey singled, and Bessey bunted with one out, but badly, and got Hernandez forced out at third base. Zeltser had to hustle in on Eric Morrow’s grounder and flung it to first just in time to end the inning, keeping it 3-0 through five.

Gurney bunted into a double play in the sixth, and with that, his solid pitching also went down the drain. He nailed Jesse LeJeune with one out in the sixth, walked, Toby Ross, and Bill McWhirter’s fly to left was dropped by Wallace for a 2-base error. One run scored, the tying runs were in scoring position with one down, and Slappy wordlessly handed me a box with rusty nails that I poured into my booze while Valdes roared that we could make so much more money if we only played home games! A disturbingly weak .190 hitting Alex Torres hit a sac fly, 3-2, and Gurney faced Hernandez, too, because even with five lefties in the pen I still was no fan of lefty-for-lefty… Hernandez popped out, ending the inning with McWhirter stranded at third base. Gurney lasted one more out against Massey in the seventh before allowing a single to PH Paz Rivera, who might as well be from Mars, I didn’t know him. Blair replaced Gurney, got countered with lefty pinch-hitter Vince Cuomo, but registered an inning-ending double play grounder. Blair, Hennessy, and Green maneuvered the Critters through the eighth with as much care as they could. Valdes finally sat down, still miffed that nobody wanted to play in his pretty ballpark, and when he finally did so, sat on Honeypaws’ tail, which caused quite the commotion in the room, but eventually I got him some ice for his blackening eye and apologized for Honeypaws. But the Coons couldn’t reignite the offense with Gurney gone (…!) and it would have to be Chris Wise for the fourth time in five days in the bottom 9th. And it was him! … BARELY. Torres hit a leadoff single and was bunted to second before an army of pinch-hitters descended like locusts or maggots or whatever they’re eating in Elkland. Rob Sher walked in a full count. Matt Anton popped out. Antonio Espinal grounded near third base… unplayable – infield single, bases loaded with two outs. The count ran to 2-2 on Hinojosa before he swung and missed, ending the game…! 3-2 Critters! Ramos 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Zitzner 2-4; Zeltser 1-2, 2 BB; Gurney 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, W (1-1) and 1-2, RBI;

That was ****ing tense!! … Wasn’t it, Nick? – Okay, I’ll bite. WHY would it have been better if they had won this game here??

Somehow we were also all back at the park on Friday, this time joined by Maud, who had to have been alerted by Slappy that there were two unsupervised children running around.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF Reichardt – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Gutierrez
VAN: 2B Morrow – 1B Hinojosa – LF LeJeune – 3B McWhirter – RF A. Torres – SS L. Hernandez – C Robertson – CF Pohl – P J. Martin

Ramos singled, Zeltser doubled him home, advanced on a grounder, and scored on a wild pitch – it was 2-0 Coons right in the first inning. Then the Elks got hold of Gutierrez… while Morrow made an out, Hinojosa singled, LeJeune singled, McWhirter walked on four pitches, and Torres dropped an RBI single. He had waited all year for us, hadn’t he?? Serial Gold Glover Tim Stalker turned a Hernandez grounder for two to end the inning, but the most comfort I had from Rico’s first frame was the engorged bullpen… Also, Maud, do you have to sit between me and Valdes? We’re not going to do something! – No, we’re not drinking your soul-soothing tea, either.

While the Coons couldn’t turn Reichardt’s leadoff double in the second into anything that would matter come October, the damn Elks stranded two in the second, and another one in the third before the Critters loaded the bases in unearned fashion in the fourth, but just then, with Zitzner (reached on error), Stalker (single), and Thompson (walk) aboard, there came Rico to bat… and flew out to Pat Pohl, who didn’t really have to hurry either. Top 5th, the Coons were still up, Valdes was still moaning, and I was still not touching that tea that had come out of the package with the many flowers on it. Ramos ripped a leadoff double to right, moved to third on Zeltser’s single, and Wallace… struck out. Zitzner grounded to the left of the second base bag, everybody screamed in panic, besides Maud, who was calmed out of her bun, but Lazaro Hernandez missed the ball and Zitz had an RBI single, 3-1! That was all, though, as Jennings and Reichardt made soft outs.

Gutierrez was to be excused after five innings and 80 rotten pitches, one of which Eric Morrow hit over the fence in the bottom 5th for a leadoff jack to cut the lead back to one run. His spot was up in the top 6th and we weren’t gonna futz around…… except that he came up with nobody out, Stalker (nailed) at second base, and Thompson on first after a single. We’d take a bunt here! The damn Elks paid us back by walking Berto, filling the bases for Zeltser, who faced right-hander Casey Glenn and lashed a ball to center for a 2-run single. Wallace made the second out, but Zitzner plated two more with another single Pohl couldn’t reach, extending the lead to 7-2! Alright – with a 5-run lead, and Hernandez leading off, maybe we could cheat a few more outs with Rico Gutierrez? Hernandez singled, so that was a NOPE. Prieto replaced him at once and got out of the inning. We made it to the eighth with the same score when Carlos Contreras was tapped to make his major league debut – none of the three to-be-debutees in the pen had been in action on Thursday. He allowed two singles (Hernandez, Pohl) against two outs, then was replaced with Anaya against PH Bob Lloyd in the #9 hole. Anaya allowed an RBI single to left, then almost a 3-run homer to Morrow that Jennings caught at the freakin’ fence preventing Valdes from sniping that our fence was further out! Anaya would log the last three outs in the game without further accidents, preventing fights involving Maud and her knitting needles and a purple ball of yarn in the middle of the pile. 7-3 Critters! Ramos 2-4, BB, 2B; Zeltser 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Zitzner 2-5, 3 RBI;

Better yet – the Titans had been idle on Thursday… and lost to the Indians on Friday!

WE WERE NUMBER ONE!!

…and by Saturday we were five because for some reason Cristiano Carmona also showed up to our viewing party. I suspected Maud had brought him on to busy Valdes with facts, like facts were impressing that guy.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – C Thompson – P Chavez
VAN: CF Pohl – 2B D.J. Robinson – LF LeJeune – C Ross – 3B McWhirter – SS L. Hernandez – 1B P. Rivera – RF Sher – P Tillman

Singles by the 3-4-5 batters put the Coons up 1-0 early before Manny Fernandez flew out to centerfielder Pat Pohl to end the 2-out rally, but another one was forthcoming while Valdes was still fighting Cristiano over whether Jennings would have had a double in Raccoons Ballpark and we might have gotten two (we wouldn’t have, Cristiano told him in no uncertain words and with considerably less insults than I would have used). Come the third, Zeltser hit a 1-out double to right, Wallace remained a bit meh, but Zitzner reached base and Jennings slapped another RBI single. Fernandez hit a ball over D.J. Robinson for an RBI single, Zitzner drawing a late throw to home plate that allowed runners to move up and allowed Marsingill to slap home another two runs on another base hit – 5-0 Coons!

First-half Bernie would have run with that. Second-half Bernie was at least perfect at that point and put up another two clean innings before Manny Fernandez hit an RBI single to make it 6-0 in the fifth. Bernie retired 13 in a row before McWhirter hit a single in the bottom 5th. The runner was caught stealing before Hernandez flew out to right. Bernie remained a-cruisin’, not allowing a second hit until LeJeune dropped one out of Wallace’s reach in the seventh, and that was with two outs and Toby Ross popped out. Valdes argued hotly with Cristiano whether that pop would have been more exciting in Raccoons Ballpark, and I could see in the way Cristiano dug his claws into his laptop that he was close enough to channel enough anger to kick Valdes in the knee … WITH HIS FOOT. The Raccoons then tacked on FOUR more runs against an overwhelmed Elks pen in the eighth. Ramos (who was then run for to spare him the last six outs), Zeltser, and Zitzner (two) got the ribbies there, and they now led by double digits as everybody around the table raised their bottles and mugs in exhileration! The 3-4-5 batters were also all subbed out in the middle of the inning. Would Bernie complete the shutout? We’d sure have him try, but he took 105 pitches through eight innings. The #8 spot led off the bottom 9th. Rob Sher singled to right. Matt Anton pinch-hit, but flew out to right on the 110th pitch. The pen was definitely ready. When Bob Lloyd was nailed in the #1 spot, they became engaged. Garavito took over, struck out Robinson, then hung one to LeJeune that was puked over the fence. Bummer. Toby Ross struck out. 10-3 Furballs. Ramos 2-5, RBI; Zeltser 3-5, 2B, RBI; Zitzner 2-3, 2 BB, 2 RBI; Jennings 4-5, 2B, 2 RBI; M. Fernandez 2-5, 2 RBI; Marsingill 2-5, 2 RBI; Chavez 8.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, W (13-7);

Ah! A win is a win is a 7-game winning streak!

…and why was Steve from Accounting in on a Sunday? Apparently Cristiano had called on him to show Valdes that his grandiose plans for a ballpark extension to make it the biggest in all the Americans not only made no financial or gameplay sense, but also weren’t in the budget.

You hear that? The budget!

Oh what gives! With Valdes busy, me and Slappy could do actual science while the Coons would sweep the week and try to find out exactly how much worm and snail you needed to make Capt’n Coma unbearable!

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Camps – CF Reichardt – 3B Hawkins – C Garcia – P Rosas
VAN: 2B Morrow – SS L. Hernandez – C Ross – RF A. Torres – 1B B. Lloyd – LF Massey – 3B D.J. Robinson – CF Pohl – P Corcoran

Again, the Critters scored first, although this time it took them til the second inning and a Corcoran wild pitch to do so. Reichardt came across on that after Hawkins had singled him to third base. Rosas was averaging a hit and a strikeout per inning, but had been in trouble right at the start after Morrow and Hernandez had dipped in singles. Toby Ross (27 HR!) hit into a double play, though, and Alex Torres struck out to keep them from doing damage.

The game breezed by until it didn’t – before long we were in the seventh inning. The Coons were on three hits, the damn Elks on four, and it was still a 1-0 game, but Rosas hadn’t allowed a base hit in a while, and when he did it was a 370-footer smashed by Bob Lloyd, all the way over the fence in leftfield to tie the game. Corcoran was not letting up, either. He allowed a 2-out single to Ramos in the top 8th, but Stalker grounded out, and the Coons weren’t even getting into scoring position. Rosas held the tie in the bottom 8th, and Ed Miller replaced Corcoran for the ninth – a classic use for the closer. He allowed a single to Zitzner, but that was it. Slappy, I think that’s enough worm. (makes a disgusted face) … Rosas wouldn’t let go of the ball until McWhirter slapped a 1-out single in the bottom 9th and Ross drew back up. He had yet to do ANY damage in the series, and the Coons wouldn’t wait for him to face a tired opposite-handed pitcher on 105 offerings with the game on the line. Blair replaced him – and got a double play grounder! …which also meant extra innings and more penny-pinching between Valdes, Cristiano, and Steve from Accounting.

Miller walked Hawkins to begin the top of the 10th, and Garcia’s groundout allowed him into scoring position (yay, success!). At that point, Zeltser hit for Blair and Pinkerton ran for Hawkins. Neither Zeltser nor Ramos could get a ball to fall in, though, and the move was meaningless. David Fernandez retired the damn Elks in order in the bottom half of the inning before we got to see ex-Coon Matt Stonecipher, who was walking a sturdy six batters per nine innings. Have patience, boys! Stalker grounded out, Wallace whiffed, Zitzner grounded out. Stonecipher didn’t even throw a fourth pitch to any of them. Goddamnit!! Instead the Coons threw Prieto at the bottom of the order. Pat Pohl hit a 1-out single, advanced on LeJeune’s grounder, and then a Morrow grounder eluded both Zeltser and Ramos for a walkoff single… 2-1 Canadiens. Rosas 8.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K;

In other news

August 30 – ATL RF/LF Roy Pincus (.278, 20 HR, 74 RBI) is out for the season with a partial tear in his labrum.
September 2 – Trailing 7-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Warriors rally for six runs against DEN MR Jonathan Fleischer (0-2, 6.81 ERA, 1 SV) and DEN CL Adrian McQuinn (2-5, 3.73 ERA, 27 SV) to snatch an 8-7 walkoff win.
September 4 – NAS 1B/3B Chance Bossert (.333, 2 HR, 62 RBI) has a 20-game hitting streak after landing a third-inning single in an 8-2 win over the Capitals.
September 4 – OCT OF/1B Drew Olszewski (.269, 6 HR, 47 RBI) also runs a hitting streak to 20 games thanks to a ninth-inning RBI single in a 10-6 loss to the Condors.

Complaints and stuff

Hey, settle down over there!! – Those three are still bickering over ticket prices for the space level seats…

Well, that was a great week until it wasn’t… I’ll take the 6-1. I would have preferred the 7-0 and first place.

Ousted Andy Palomares also spun a shutout for the Capitals against the Blue Sox this week. He is 4-2 with a 4.25 ERA since joining Washington in the Zeltser trade.

Taking three of four from the damn Elks, we’re now *.501* against them all-time! We’re WINNERS!! And because we’re WINNERS, we can also glimpse at the pennant chase page on BNN for once …!

Team (Record) – Remaining Games – Strength of Schedule – Playoff Chance
BOS (75-61) – POR (6), IND (4), NYC (4), CHA (3), MIL (3), OCT (3), VAN (3) – .504 – 55.0%
POR (75-62) – BOS (6), IND (4), ATL (3), LVA (3), MIL (3), NYC (3), VAN (3) – .485 – 42.8%
IND (69-66) – MIL (7), BOS (4), POR (4), NYC (3), SFB (3), TIJ (3), VAN (3) – .509 – 1.9%
NYC (68-67) – VAN (6), ATL (4), BOS (4), MIL (4), IND (3), LVA (3), POR (3) – .479 – 0.3%

Oh, those Titans? In Portland starting Tuesday. Biggest series we’ve played in five years.

Fun Fact: Two of Mario Rosas’ first three wins as a Raccoon were 9-1 bouncings of the Falcons.

Given that we normally don’t see the same CL South team for at least six weeks, sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
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Old 11-27-2019, 05:29 PM   #3031
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Raccoons (75-62) vs. Titans (75-61) – September 6-8, 2033

Not gonna lie – I never thought we’d get here, and I am continuously stumped as to how we actually made it. But here we were, in September, and fighting the Titans for first place, straight-up. And now it would sure help if we could stop playing .333 (4-8) against the Titans this season, because losing more than you win against top teams makes you not a top team. And only top teams get a piece of the cake. – That’s right, Manny. No cake unless we win the series! … The Titans were third in runs scored, but only seventh in runs conceded. Their bullpen was horrendous, worst by ERA in the CL, and it wasn’t like they had sufficiently addressed the issue either during the season. Their rotation sat fourth in ERA.

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (10-10, 3.54 ERA) vs. Adam Potter (15-10, 3.62 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (6-11, 4.05 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (10-8, 2.84 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (13-7, 3.78 ERA) vs. Jordan Caldwell (7-6, 4.07 ERA)

Potter and Caldwell were the only right-handed starters the Titans had to offer. The Coons opted to skip Gurney due to the off day on Monday (it was either him or Gutierrez), and of course jumped on it. I’d rather have second-half Bernie in the Thursday game than one of the other clowns with … “known track record”.

Game 1
BOS: CF M. Avila – SS Spataro – LF W. Vega – C Lessman – 2B R. West – RF M. Walker – 1B J. Green – 3B Gil – P Potter
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Stalker – CF M. Fernandez – C Thompson – P Sabre

Only the Titans had a base hit the first time through, a Josh Green double leading off the third inning. Antonio Gil and Adam Potter struck out, Moises Avila grounded out to Ramos, and this was how the offense went early on in this game. Berto landed a 2-out single in the bottom 3rd, but was stranded by Bob Zeltser. The Raccoons were the first team to run out of pitching and especially defense. Wallace couldn’t reach a Willie Vega double in the fourth, and when David Lessman singled into shallow left unleashed a terrible throw that chased Elliott Thompson deep into foul territory while Vega scored and Lessman moved to second base. He would be scored on Green’s 2-out single later in the inning; in between Sabre also walked Rhett West. That was by far his worst inning, although the Titans also chewed him up in just six frames. He did strike out nine Titans against six base hits, but also got virtually no support. Manny Fernandez singled home Zitzner – who had reached base by sticking his hairy bum into a pitch – with two outs in the bottom 4th, but struck out when he batted with two outs and Zitzner at third base again in the bottom 6th. In between, the Coons had done NOTHING. We had only three base hits through six innings, so every base runner was a major event for the home crowd, begging and snarling for a rally. Bottom 7th, Adrian Reichardt landed a pinch-hit single against his long-long-time team. Ramos lined out for the second out, but Zeltser found a hole for another single. That brought up fourth inning’s bozo, Jimmy Wallace, who had **** to make up – and did. Jimmy hit a long fly into the gap, and nobody got it, or got even close. Reichardt scored to tie, Zeltser scored to take the lead, and Wallace had a triple, but was stranded when Zitzner flew out to right.

And then it all came apart with nobody out in the eighth. Garavito walked Willie Vega, then allowed a double to Lessman. That put two in scoring position with nobody out, and Ed Blair to the mound. I screamed for help, but Maud explained that I was not allowed to shoot the runners with the blunderbuss. Ed Blair had to find his way out of runners on second and third with no outs. He had Rhett West at 0-2, and the batter grounded out to Zeltser in a way that kept the runners pinned. Mark Walker struck out. Green, a September call-up, ran a full count… and walked. The Coons went on to David Fernandez against Antonio Gil, but he was hit for by right-handed batter Roberto Avila. The batter ticked a 1-1 breaking pitch to center for an RBI single, and Fernandez walked Todd Johnson in the #9 hole to force home another run, shoving the lead right back up the Titans fat bum holes. Anaya got Moises Avila to pop out, stranding three, but it was all lost and broken. No Coon reached base in the bottom of the eighth. No Coon reached until Ramos hit a 2-out single off Jermaine Campbell in the bottom 9th. Zeltser grounded out. 4-3 Titans. Ramos 2-5; Reichardt (PH) 1-2;

That was …

That was smothering.

Game 2
BOS: C R. Avila – 2B R. West – LF W. Vega – CF M. Avila – 3B E. Gonzalez – SS Gil – RF T. Johnson – 1B J. Green – P Wingo
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Hawkins – 2B Stalker – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF Reichardt – LF Camps – C Garcia – P Gutierrez

The Raccoons got the first run on Wednesday, scratching out a marker in the bottom 1st in unearned and almost comical fashion, because the Titans fell over not one, but two infield grounders; the former was charged an error on Edgar Gonzalez, putting on Stalker in addition to Tom Hawkins, whom Wingo had nailed with a pitch. Zitzner hit a clean single to right, Jennings struck out, and with the bags full and two outs Reichardt unleashed a pathetic poker that only became an infield RBI single because Wingo and the rookie Green almost smack-dab ran into each other trying to field it. Camps struck out, stranding three. And then there was the mild issue of Rico Gutierrez being on the mound. Nobody expected him to be even remotely useful in a blade-on-the-neck game, and he wholeheartedly delivered three straight 2-out, 2-strike base hits to the 6-7-8 hitters in the top 2nd, with Green doubling home a pair of runs to flip the score. And **** Josh Green by the way, a 25-year-old NOTHING with 12 career base hits as play began. In the bottom 2nd, Gutierrez blatantly failed to bunt Fernando Garcia to second base and instead struck out, probably costing the team another run given Berto’s 1-out single afterwards. Gutierrez walked two and allowed a double to grievous Green the second time through, which somehow didn’t amount to six runs, but we were trailing one way or another.

Four and two thirds was all that Gutierrez covered, allowing six hits and four walks on 100 pitches. He departed with West and Moises Avila in scoring position for Gonzalez. The Coons sent Prieto, who threw one pitch, on which Gonzalez flew out to shallow center, no trouble for Reichardt. The Coons rather brilliantly also left runners in scoring position in the inning. Zitzner hit a leadoff single, was forced out by Jennings, who was forced out by Reichardt. Camps hit a double to left, and Garcia grounded out to short, keeping it 2-1 Titans through five.

Spataro opened the seventh with a double off the absolutely useless Kyle Green, who was replaced by Hennessy before long, but not before Green walked Rhett West with one out. Hennessy gave up a sac fly to Vega for an insurance run, 3-1. And the Critters? They didn’t reach in the sixth. They didn’t reach in the seventh. They didn’t reach in the eighth. The soft underbelly of the Titans’ pen arrived and passed them by, an then it was Campbell starting with the #9 spot and Manny Fernandez in the bottom 9th. Fernandez flew out to left. Berto singled to center, the first runner in half a game, and he brought the tying run to the plate. Zeltser batted for Hawkins and dropped a single into shallow right-center. Berto sped to third base; the tying runs were on the corners for… Jimmy Wallace, batting for Tim Stalker. Jimmy took one strike, then peppered a liner for an RBI single over the head of Gil at shortstop. Despite lefty success, Travis Zitzner was not hit for, because HE was the only power threat that could still bat in the inning. He grounded out poorly, runners advancing. That brought up a hitless Billy Jennings, but he was already a lefty bat, so no reason to hit for him either. Campbell fell to 1-0 before he served a pitch at the bottom of the zone. Jennings dug it out and slapped it over Rhett West – that was so falling in! The runners were going at full speed, Zeltser in to score, Wallace turning at third, Todd Johnson delivering the throw from the outfield was going to be – late! Safe!! IT’S A WALKOFF!!! 4-3 FURBALLS!!!! Ramos 3-5; Zeltser (PH) 1-1; Wallace (PH) 1-1, RBI;

(screams intelligibly with great volume and lots of arm movement while Slappy and Steve from Accounting applaud the mastermind GM in Communist Party of China style and Cristiano Carmona races in circles through the room, tires screeching)

Game 3
BOS: CF M. Avila – SS Spataro – LF W. Vega – C Lessman – 2B R. West – RF M. Walker – 1B E. Gonzalez – 3B Gil – P Caldwell
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF Reichardt – C Thompson – 2B Marsingill – P B. Chavez

Bernie struck out four batters in the first three innings… while putting as many runners on base. This included two singles and an intentional walk to Gil in the top 2nd, with Caldwell K’ing after that. The Raccoons took a 1-0 lead on a Ramos single to right in the bottom 3rd. Mark Walker overran the ball, and the error allowed Marsingill to score from second base, where Ramos would set up his tent. From there, Zeltser plated him. Wallace also singled, but Zitzner and Jennings grounded out to end the inning at 2-0. Marsingill’s double off the fence in left plated Reichardt with another run in the fourth inning, though.

Now, Bernie was on a 4-hit shutout through five innings. That was it for the good news though – it was a laborious outing, and while he whiffed six batters through five innings, the Titans also squeezed him tight for 88 pitches offered in those five innings. He would probably not get past the sixth – and didn’t. He issued another 18 pitches in the inning, losing Rhett West in a full count, and battling Walker to a 7-pitch strikeout. It was a valiant and successful effort, but we still had to find another nine outs before we could take first place. Also, his spot came up in the bottom 6th, with Reichardt, Thompson, and Marsingill aboard and nobody out, courtesy of a walk and two soft singles. Manny Fernandez chucked into an out at home. Ramos popped out. Zeltser flew out to center. Nobody scored. ………. Uh-oh…

All those missed chances started to come back to haunt pretty soon. The seventh went uneventfully by us, but Prieto walked Keith Spataro to begin the eighth and when Garavito replaced him he served up a bomb to Willie Vega. Say, Cristiano, how is it that OUR batters can’t get the damn ball outta here?? And Valdes wants to build this place even bigger?? And they call ME the nutjob here??? … Garavito found a way out of the inning, but the cushion was gone in a 3-2 game and the Critters didn’t knit a new one, either. Chris Wise faced the bottom of the order in the ninth after pitching two outs for the win the previous day. Missteps would not be tolerated…! He struck out Gonzalez. Gil flew out to Juan Camps in left, Wallace dismissed for defense. PH Jamie Richardson was the Titans’ last straw… and hit a first-pitch homer to right. I couldn’t believe it. No. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t. Cristiano. Do something. Do somebody, something. No. No. No. No. No. it can’t. No.

And yet, it was. The lead, specifically, and gone, to be precise. Moises Avila grounded out, the fans still chirped, but it all sounded so far away now. I held on to Honeypaws for dear life. Zitzner got nailed by Tim Zimmerman, who also walked Jennings, with two outs in the bottom 9th, but Reichardt struck out and the game went to extras, where Wise whiffed Spataro before David Fernandez cocked up the whole game with a 4-pitch walk to Vega and a double surrendered to Lessman. Blair came on, struck out West, then had Clay Walberg at 1-2 with two outs. Walberg, 25, looked and sounded like a random audience member tasked by Dan The Man’s uncle Monty with picking between 500 bucks, a red envelope, and whatever was making weird roaring noises behind that glittering curtain. He still hit that 1-2 pitch, into the gap, for a double, two runs scored. It was the final two runs of the game. 5-3 Titans. Zeltser 2-5, RBI; Wallace 2-4; Reichardt 2-5, 2B; Marsingill 3-3, 2B, RBI; Hawkins (PH) 1-1; Chavez 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K;

Everything lost its color. And its sound. I saw Cristiano talking to me. But I couldn’t hear him. His red wheelchair looked gray. The brown couch looked gray. The bottle of Capt’n Coma looked gray.

The second bottle did as well.

Raccoons (76-64) @ Loggers (62-78) – September 9-11, 2033

Smitten, the Raccoons arrived in Milwaukee to face the second-worst offense and the fourth-best pitching once more. They were likely to find a way to pack some more sad-sack losses despite having already taken the season series, 10-5.

Projected matchups:
Mario Rosas (15-8, 2.26 ERA) vs. Cody Chamberlin (7-9, 3.64 ERA)
Jason Gurney (1-1, 2.51 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (5-4, 5.40 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (10-10, 3.53 ERA) vs. John Nelson (10-12, 3.33 ERA)

Only right-handers to appear for Milwaukee in this set.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Stalker – CF M. Fernandez – C Tinnin – P Rosas
MIL: RF Valenzuela – 1B Wheeler – SS W. Morris – C Canas – 3B Meehan – CF Will Ojeda – LF S. Wilson – 2B R. Rios – P Chamberlin

Rosas continued to be utmost pedestrian and conceded two runs in the second inning on rockets by Jamie Meehan for a leadoff single and then right away a Will Ojeda RBI double. Ojeda would come around on a sac fly eventually, while the Coons had yet to swing the sticks in a convincing manner, but then again hadn’t done so in about eight weeks. In fact both teams had an extremely slow day at the plate. The Loggers didn’t threaten again until the sixth, where Rodrigo Canas would hit a 2-out RBI single to left, scoring Danny Valenzuela, who had actually reached base on a Zitzner error. The sole meaningful piece of hitting the Raccoons had done in the meantime had been a solo homer by Tim Stalker in the fifth, proving that it was not technically impossible for the Raccoons to hit a dinger, it just goddamn felt that way. After Manny Fernandez hit a leadoff double in the top of the seventh, Chamberlin struck out the next three batters, dealing with that threat decisively. And after decidedly less than two-and-a-half hours, the game just unceremoniously ended. The Raccoons had just run out of chances to limply poke at tardy baseballs. 3-1 Loggers. Wallace 2-4; M. Fernandez 2-4, 2B;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Stalker – CF M. Fernandez – C Thompson – P Gurney
MIL: RF Valenzuela – CF Will Ojeda – SS W. Morris – C Canas – 1B O. Huerta – LF N. Baker – 3B Sessoms – 2B R. Rios – P Rogers

Lo and behold, the Raccoons scored a 3-spot in the second inning. Tim Stalker hit a homer for the second straight day and this time made it count for two by collecting Zitzner, and Manny Fernandez doubled after that and scored on a 2-out single by Gurney. That was also the only useful thing the bottomless, spineless, worthless scum Gurney did in the game. He had already cocked up a run in the first inning, conceding an 0-2 single to Danny Valenzuela, who advanced on a walk drawn by Ojeda, stole third, and scored on Morris’ sac fly, then came back for more in the bottom 2nd. Nick Baker led off with a single, but was forced out by Aaron Sessoms, while Robbie Rios flew out to center. With two outs, the ****ing opposing pitcher singled. And with two strikes, too! Valenzuela hit an RBI single, 3-2, and Ojeda hit a 3-run homer, 5-3 Milwaukee. Gurney walked Morris, allowed a single to Rodrigo Canas, then was removed to be dissolved in an acid bath, including his stupid Coons cap. Anaya replaced him, walked Omar Huerta to fill the bases, but Nick Baker flew out, keeping it a 5-3 game… for now. Rios hit a 1-out single off Anaya in the bottom 3rd, stole second, and made it to third while Rogers grounded out. Valenzuela hit an RBI single, stole second, was balked to third by Anaya, who walked Ojeda, and when Morris grounded to Zeltser, he threw the ball away to score another run and further extend the inning. After an RBI single that Canas ripped in a 3-1 count, the Coons gave up. Anaya was shoved into the by now bodyless acid bath, his stupid cap, too, and the game was handed to garbage disposal assignee Carlos de la Cruz. Huerta popped out to end the third of three miserable innings so far.

Sadistically, de la Cruz, who was listed in the “pillow filling” category of the organizational scouting report as late as August, pitched ten outs for the cost of one run – back-to-back base hits by Ojeda and Morris in the fifth. But then again, even allowing another 17 runs wouldn’t have mattered, because with the three runs from the second inning, the Raccoons had fulfilled their daily quota and weren’t going to do anything else. It was 9-3 when de la Cruz was done at the end of the sixth. This drought lasted into the eighth when Rafael Zacarias walked Wallace and Zitzner to begin the inning. Jennings fanned. Stalker slammed a 3-run homer. Maybe the entire team should have some of his ****ing Chocolate Chocs with piece of chocolate in it for breakfast…! It was too short a season though; Max Nelson replaced Zacarias and got Marsingill and Thompson non two pitches total… The ninth didn’t go much better than that against Alex Banderas and his 5+ ERA… 9-6 Loggers. Stalker 2-3, BB, 2 HR, 5 RBI;

The Titans, by the way keep winning and winning.

And I keep drinking and drinking. (leans slumped over the counter in a shady bar in Knuckletown, Milwaukee) Keep pouring it, Bill. – Fine, Gus. Keep pouring it anyway. Make me another one of those that you light on fire before I drink it. – Because I want to feel something, anything, inside by broken body.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – CF M. Fernandez – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 2B Stalker – CF Reichardt – C Thompson – 3B Hawkins – P Sabre
MIL: RF Valenzuela – LF Will Ojeda – SS W. Morris – 1B Leftwich – C J. Young – 2B O. Freeman – CF S. Wilson – 3B R. Rios – P J. Nelson

The Raccoons needed Sabre to step up and stop the hemorrhage. He hit Ojeda in the first, allowed a single to Jeremy Leftwich in the second, and two singles, including to Nelson, in the third, but somehow tip-toed around any sort of lasting damage… while Nelson was perfect the first time through the lineup. Fernandez’ 1-out single in the fourth was the first base runner for the melting road team. Wallace forced him out, but Zitzner walked, moving a runner into scoring position… but Stalker grounded out to third base to end the top 4th. Sabre allowed another pair of singles in the bottom 4th, but Leftwich and Steve Wilson were stranded. The Coons’ second hit … was also a Manny Fernandez double, with two outs in the sixth, and Wallace flew out to Valenzuela in deep right. That sort of game. – Pour it, Gus, pour it!

We remained scoreless through six, and through seven, too. John Nelson was out of breath after seven and replaced by Max Nelson, who struck out the bottom of the order. Sabre was sent back out for the eighth inning and retired the 1-2-3 batters in order. Still on score. Alex Banderas handed the Coons more desolation in the ninth inning, and Leftwich knocked out Sabre with a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth. Ramon Rodriguez ran for him, while the Critters turned to John Hennessy. He struck out PH Omar Huerta, then got Mike Wheeler to ground to short… and Ramos threw the ball away. Two on, one out for the next pinch-hitter, Rodrigo Canas. He homered on the first pitch. 3-0 Loggers. M. Fernandez 2-4, 2 2B; Sabre 8.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R; 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, L (10-11);

In other news

September 5 – The 20-game hitting streaks of OCT OF/1B Drew Olszewski (.267, 6 HR, 47 RBI) and NAS 1B/3B Chance Bossert (.330, 2 HR, 62 RBI) die on Monday. Both go 0-for-4 in losses for their teams.
September 5 – SFW 1B Kevin Harenberg (.311, 13 HR, 91 RBI) is out for the season with an oblique strain.
September 6 – The Crusaders literally walk off against the Canadiens, 6-5 in 12 innings, with VAN MR Casey Glenn (1-1, 2.66 ERA, 2 SV) offering a quartet of walks to New York batters in the bottom of the 12th. Jorge Zamora (.241, 3 HR, 50 RBI) draws the final walk to end the game.
September 9 – The Capitals lose INF Rich Falzone (.258, 10 HR, 57 RBI) for the rest of the season. The 26-yearold infielder is out with a broken finger.
September 11 – DEN SP Mike Hodge (4-6, 3.05 ERA) 3-hits the Stars in a 7-0 shutout.

Complaints and stuff

Sic transit gloria mundi. – I don’t care, whether you like it or not, Slappy, I want it on my headstone.

Drowned out in the ecstasy that was Wednesday were the major league debuts of the two afterthoughts in the pen, Carlos de la Cruz and Justin LeDuc, who were sparingly applied to a total of three batters when the Coon were hopelessly behind by two runs.

The Titans series saw every team blow at least one lead in the eighth inning or later. Some teams blew two such leads, but we won’t name names now.

And that was of course before the Loggers series. Oh dear. The Loggers series.

Team (Record) – Remaining Games – Strength of Schedule – Playoff Chance
BOS (79-63) – IND (4), NYC (4), CHA (3), MIL (3), OCT (3), POR (3) – .506 – 85.8% (+30.8%)
POR (76-67) – IND (4), ATL (3), BOS (3), LVA (3), NYC (3), VAN (3) – .480 – 11.9% (-30.9%)
IND (73-69) – BOS (4), POR (4), MIL (3), SFB (3), TIJ (3), VAN (3) – .521 – 1.2% (-0.7%)
NYC (72-69) – ATL (4), BOS (4), MIL (4), LVA (3), POR (3), VAN (3) – .473 – 1.1% (+0.8%)

All the dreams are dead. Next week will start with an off day, then the Elks… there might be room for a death knell there. On the weekend: the Aces.

Fun Fact: Three years ago today, Dave Garcia hit three home runs in the Thunder’s 12-2 trouncing of the Falcons.

He has not played major league ball this year after hitting .238 with 3 homers for the Cyclones in his age 37 season. 2030 was his last strong season indeed. He batted .310 with 29 homers for Oklahoma. Led the CL in slugging, homers, and RBI, and didn’t fall that far short of a triple crown. He won a batting title once, with the Bayhawks, in 2018. Twice he was the Player of the Year (2017, 2018), and an All Star ten times.

For his career he batted .287/.353/.478 with 338 HR and 1,320 RBI. In total he had 2,450 base hits. But if Jonny Toner made the Hall of Fame, then Dave Garcia has a chance – he too had his career derailed entirely by injuries. Just three times he managed to appear in 150+ games. If he had been healthy and durable like, say, a Matt Nunley, he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame.
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Old 11-30-2019, 06:37 PM   #3032
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Raccoons (76-67) vs. Canadiens (65-78) – September 13-15, 2033

Final blows with the stinking Elks this season, who – if we stopped sucking and the Titans won at least two games by Thursday, which was not really in our interest, either – we could eliminate from postseason contention on our field. Given that they had no realistic chance anyway and the Titans had to stop winning, I would begrudgingly accept forfeiture of that token gesture. On the year we were 10-5 against an average offense unable to keep up with bottom three pitching.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (6-11, 4.04 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (11-11, 3.30 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (13-7, 3.66 ERA) vs. Logan Bessey (10-14, 4.82 ERA)
Mario Rosas (15-9, 2.27 ERA) vs. Steve Corcoran (12-14, 3.68 ERA)

Right-hander, then two lefties; we had Monday off, allowing for a skip of Gutierrez, but his slot wasn’t really the most bothersome right now…

Game 1
VAN: 2B Morrow – 1B Hinojosa – LF LeJeune – C Ross – 3B McWhirter – RF A. Torres – SS M. Cole – CF Pohl – P J. Martin
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF M. Fernandez – CF Reichardt – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Gutierrez

Three on, no outs in the top 1st after Eric Morrow singled, Tony Hinojosa walked, and Jesse LeJeune was drilled with a pitch. While I understood the idea behind it – heck, I wanted to hit the goon with a pitch, too! – that created an unpleasant tangle on the bases that was surely going to hurt with Toby Ross up, who had not homered since we had last played and was overdue for #29. He didn’t get it, at least not now, and instead flew out to Reichardt in shallow center. Morrow went from third and was thrown out at home plate, and then Bill McWhirter grounded to the mound… and Gutierrez ate the ball for a run-scoring infield single. Alex Torres, who could only hit the Raccoons this season, shoved an RBI single to right, and it wasn’t until Mike Cole’s grounder to short that the damned inning ended. By contrast, it was three up, three down in the bottom 1st. Not that nobody reached base… Zeltser hit to right for extra bases, thought of a triple, but Alex Torres convinced him that he only had a double… and was also out at third. The Raccoons continued haphazardly, with Thompson singling home Fernandez in the bottom 2nd before Gutierrez struck out to strand two, but himself allowed Joe Martin to go 2-for-2, and coughed up another run in the third inning.

Bottom 4th, Martin walked the tying runs on base against Zitz and Reichardt. Tim Stalker snapped a single to the feet of venerable Alex Torres, filling them up with one out for Elliott Thompson, who popped out on the first pitch. Oh for … - and Gutierrez dropped to 0-2 before poking helplessly and skidding a ball to the right side… and miraculously past Hinojosa into rightfield! Two runs scored, the game was tied, well, at least until Berto untied it with a 2-run double into the corner behind Torres. Zeltser flew out, and Mike Cole re-tied the game in the fifth with a 2-run homer to left off Gutierrez, who had walked Torres, and was yanked at that point.

Bottom 6th, still a 5-5 tie, right-hander Casey Glenn walked Stalker, then allowed an infield single to Thompson, which required extra non-effort to make it work. This was with no outs; the Coons retained reliever-of-the-moment David Fernandez to bunt the runners over and to try and work that Berto Magic again. He walked… and so did Zeltser, in a full count, pushing home the go-ahead run. Jimmy Wallace added a run via sac fly, Zitzner hit an RBI single, and Manny Fernandez flew out to LeJeune, ending the frame at 8-5, but they added two more on right-hander Denny Marsh in the bottom 7th. Reichardt and Stalker went to the corners and scored via wild pitch and a Jennings sac fly, respectively. The Coons tried their luck with Kyle Green once up by five, which directly led to a 4-out save chance for Chris Wise after a Morrow triple, Hinojosa double, and LeJeune single, all with two outs in the eighth. Ross popped out to end the inning, and Wise struck out the damn side in the ninth. 10-7 Furballs. Reichardt 2-3, BB; Stalker 2-3, BB; Thompson 3-4, RBI; Wise 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, SV (32);

Game 2
VAN: 2B Morrow – 1B Hinojosa – LF LeJeune – C Ross – 3B McWhirter – SS L. Hernandez – CF Pohl – RF D.J. Robinson – P Bessey
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 3B Zeltser – CF Reichardt – RF Camps – C Garcia – P Chavez

Toby Ross’ triple off the fence in right led off the second inning, which quickly descended into more depression. McWhirter singled to put the damn Elks up 1-0, and when Lazaro Hernandez also singled to right ran to third base. Juan Camps unleashed a wild throw past third base, McWhirter turned around third base and scored, and Hernandez scurried to second base. Chavez threw a wild pitch to move Hernandez to third, then conceded the run on Pat Pohl’s RBI single, 3-0. While I saw spots, Zitz reached with a leadoff single in the bottom 2nd and Reichardt ripped a homer to left to shorten the gap to a single run. Juan Camps ran a full count – then clocked a fastball over the fence in center to tie us up at three. That helped a bit, but I could do without the constant meltdowns.

Eric Morrow would put the damn Elks back on top with a 2-out RBI single in the top of the fourth. D.J. Robinson scored from second base. That made for seven hits and no strikeouts against Chavez, who just wasn’t up to snuff again. LeJeune in the fifth and Robinson in the sixth were stranded in scoring position by the Elks, and Chavez struck out only two batters through six innings. Bottom 6th, Zitzner hit another leadoff single to provide the tying run to those coming after him. Zeltser popped out, though, and then Reichardt was hit in the ankle by Bessey. Reichardt hobbled off injured once again, with Pinkerton running for him and replacing him in centerfield. The bases filled up with Camps’ single to left, bringing up Garcia with one out. He narrowly got a grounder past Lazaro Hernandez for a game-tying single, and with the bags still full, Chavez was obviously hit for, but Hawkins lined out to Morrow, and Ramos flew out to Pohl…

I gnawed on my desk again while Ed Blair struck out the side in the seventh to keep the game locked at four. A Tim Stalker double in the bottom 7th led nowhere, but in the eighth Camps snuck a 1-out single to knock out Bessey. Garcia flew out, but Billy Jennings hit a pinch-hit RBI single off right-hander Jimmy Shearer. Ramos singled to left to load the bases. Stalker would also face the melting Shearer, who fell to 2-0 before allowing a liner to left that LeJeune closed in on – but couldn’t reach it; it fell in for a go-ahead RBI single! Wallace struck out, bringing back Wise with a skinny 1-run lead. He struck out Vince Cuomo to begin the ninth, but then allowed a real rocket to Morrow that fell for a double. Hinojosa flew out to center, and that was also the vague direction in which Jesse LeJeune hit a 96mph fastball at 1-2. High and deep, it chased Preston Pinkerton back; but it was too high, and not deep enough. Pinkerton made the catch at the edge of the track, and the Coons squeezed out another win…! 5-4 Coons! Ramos 3-5; Stalker 2-5, 2B, RBI; Zitzner 3-4; Reichardt 1-2, HR, 2 RBI; Camps 2-2, 2 BB, HR, RBI; Jennings (PH) 1-1;

That was our second win of the week – the Titans only got their first on Wednesday. They had lost the first two games to the Indians, starting on Monday. The gap was now two games, with Indy five and New York six games back, respectively.

Adrian Reichardt was not seriously hurt, but the ankle was slightly sore on Thursday and he was left out of the starting lineup.

Game 3
VAN: 2B Morrow – 1B Hinojosa – LF LeJeune – C Ross – RF A. Torres – SS L. Hernandez – 3B M. Cole – CF Pohl – P Corcoran
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 3B Hawkins – RF Camps – CF Catella – C Garcia – P Rosas

As was good custom, the damn Elks scored first on Morrow’s single to begin the game, two productive groundouts, and Ross’ RBI single, which gave him 93 RBI on the year, including 258 against the Coons. Rosas, who was 3-5 since coming over from Atlanta, continued to blow out of a hole. The damn Elks hit him for five base knocks in the first three innings, then another four in the fourth, in which he also mixed in a walk. Pohl, Hinojosa, and LeJeune drove in a total of three runs to extend the lead to 4-0 while Corcoran was still facing the minimum, having allowed only a Zitzner single… and seeing Hawkins hit into a double play. Ramos hit a leadoff single in the bottom 4th… and Stalker hit into a double play. One of those games, Maud! – I don’t know, where’s the blunderbuss again?

Bottom 5th, Camps was hit by a pitch with one out, Catella singled, and the Coons maybe finally had something going. Garcia struck out though, making it two outs. Marsingill hit for the abysmal Rosas, singled to left in a full count and Camps scored for an RBI single. Ramos was the tying run with runners on the corners, but lined out to Morrow. Instead, the dismal Kyle Green loaded the bases on a single and two walks in the sixth and David Fernandez couldn’t clean that mess up anymore. The damn Elks plated two runs on a LeJeune sac fly and Ross single with two outs, extending their lead to 6-1, and at that point I emotionally resigned from this particular game and engaged with the Capt’n, especially after the Critters had Wallace and Zitzner on base in the bottom 6th and Hawkins hit into an inning-ending double play. It was Sean Catella (…!) to put the Raccoons on the board again with a solo homer (!!) in the bottom 7th, but at that point the ship had more or less sailed, and in the eighth the damn Elks scored three runs off the shallow end of the pen in de la Cruz and LeDuc. Camps drove in a run in the bottom 8th against Shearer, but we were down 9-3 entering the ninth against ex-Coon Matt Stonecipher, who walked Jennings, walked Zeltser, then allowed a single to Ramos. Three on, no outs! But no – Stalker and Wallace made poor outs, and Zitzner’s bases-loaded walk produced the only run of the inning. Pinkerton made the final out, flying out to Pat Pohl. 9-4 Canadiens. Ramos 2-5; Zitzner 2-3, 2 BB, RBI; Catella 2-4, HR, RBI; Marsingill (PH) 1-1, RBI;

The Titans also lost their last one against Indy, Jesus Dominguez landing a walkoff hit to score Dan Schneller, meaning the top three were now only four games apart with 16 to play for all of them.

Raccoons (78-68) vs. Aces (56-89) – September 16-18, 2033

We were only 3-3 against the dismal Aces, who brought up the rear in the CL South and were the only ABL team under .400 at this late stage of the season. They had the most miniscule offense, plating only about 3.7 runs per game, and were also allowing the most runs, with a yucky -175 run differential.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (1-2, 5.06 ERA) vs. Jamie Klages (2-8, 5.76 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (10-11, 3.43 ERA) vs. Jeremy Wallis (1-0, 2.92 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (6-11, 4.21 ERA) vs. Jeff Horton (2-4, 8.28 ERA)

Having three meaningful pitchers on the DL didn’t help, but pressing an overwhelmed Jeff Horton, a long-time reliever for the Gold Sox with plenty of AAA experience into the rotation was a clear sign they were aiming for 100 losses. Wallis, 23 and right-handed like the other two, was due to make his third ABL start. He had been taken in the supplemental round in ’31, and looked more middling than anything else. He was not a ranked prospect either.

Game 1
LVA: CF J. Nelson – C Scheffer – 3B Armfield – 2B Briones – RF Crow – SS Schlegelmilch – LF Sibley – 1B Stedham – P Klages
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF Reichardt – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Gurney

For a wicked change, the Coons scored *first*, with Ramos doubling and scoring on a Zitzner single in the bottom 1st. No lead was going to live long with Gurney around, though, and he allowed hits to Ted Schlegelmilch, Ross Sibley, and – with two outs to boot! – Jamie Klages in the top 2nd to get the game tied. Speaking of boots, I wanted my boot squarely in Gurney’s bum at the top of a flight of stairs. Justin Nelson hit an RBI single to put Vegas up 2-1, Gurney threw a wild pitch, and Philip Scheffer somehow missed three meatballs to strike out and strand a pair in scoring positions. Maud – the blunderbuss! – We need it!

Gurney loaded the bases with a single and two walks in the third, and while Jesse Stedham flew out to strand them all, we had to come up with a plan for long relief here. The fourth began with a Klages single, which should at this point warrant the death penalty indeed, and the Aces would maneuver that run around as well on Chad Armfield’s 2-out RBI single, making it 3-1. Boys? Boys? Are we - … are we still playing? The offense surely wasn’t, and Gurney wasn’t either. He was yanked after four, and Prieto replaced him, but got only one out before walking Schlegelmilch on four pitches. Hennessy bailed him out, but was hit for in the bottom 5th to no great effect at all. Kyle Green came in for the sixth and immediately tried to drive the dagger into the season, allowing a walk, two hits, and a run on an Armfield groundout, 4-1. Did more runs really matter? Probably not, because the offense was negated completely by Klages after the first inning. Whenever they got somebody on base, they either hit into a double play (Zeltser erasing Ramos in the eighth f.e.) or just struck out until it was all over. After that Zeltser stab in the bottom 8th, Wallace and Zitzner hit soft singles, bringing up the tying run with two outs after all. Jennings had been removed in a double switch and David Fernandez was pinch-hit for by Justin Marsingill, who grounded out tamely on the first pitch he saw… Instead Garavito was ticked for two runs by Jesse Stedham with two outs in the top 9th, and that was that… 6-1 Aces. Ramos 2-2, 2 BB, 2B; Zitzner 2-4, RBI; D. Fernandez 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

Boston won, so we were now three games back. Boyyyyys …!!! (begs)

Game 2
LVA: 1B LeClerc – 3B Armfield – CF Stedham – RF E. Martin – SS Sibley – 2B Hernandes – LF J. Nelson – C Motley – P Wallis
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Sabre

Justins made the first two outs in the game; that was Justin LeClerc getting run out on the base paths after a leadoff single, and Justin Nelson striking out. Overall the top 1st went single, single, homer, Zitzner error, single, Sabre error, the Nelson K, and a groundout by Motley. Three runs scored, two were earned, but I was stark raving mad for six. Portland made up one stupid run in the bottom 1st when Wallace plated Zeltser who had doubled and advanced on a passed ball. Two terrible teams, huh!?

The Coons sure were. Marco Hernandes tropped in a 2-run single to score Stedham and Evan Martin in the third inning, and Sabre was just the next guy in the line that had absolutely NOTHING. The Aces spanked him for seven hits and five runs in the first three innings. Stedham’s leadoff jack in the fifth knocked Sabre out of the game, the umpteenth consecutive Raccoons starter retired early at this point… The rookie Wallis looked like he might go quite deep into this game, especially with a 6-1 lead, but ultimately hung a baseball to Manny Fernandez that ended up a 2-out, 2-run homer over the fence in the bottom 6th. Cutting the gap to three runs created some false hope again. The Aces put Armfield and Stedham on base against Carlos Contreras in the top 7th. This was Contreras’ second inning of work. Evan Martin, who was batting .310 with 20 homers, struck out, and Ross Sibley cracked a hard liner … right at Zitzner, who tagged out Stedham for an inning-ending double play, 3-U.

More false hope arose in the bottom 8th with Travis Zitzner’s homer off Jim Shannon. It was a solo job and his 20th bomb of the season (that took a while…), and it also gut the gap to 6-4 with five outs left. Jennings flew out, Fernandez walked, but new pitcher J.J. Ringland got a pop from Stalker to end the eighth. Prieto held the Aces in check to at least keep the distance at two runs for the appearance of Steve Bailey (4.19 ERA) in the bottom 9th. He walked Thompson with a confusing array of misses right away, bringing up the tying run in PH Tom Hawkins, who singled to left to bring up Berto. He flew out to center. Zeltser whiffed. Wallace grounded out to second base. I fell victim to despair. 6-4 Aces. M. Fernandez 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Thompson 1-2, 2 BB; Hawkins (PH) 1-1; Contreras 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

Boston won again, and the Coons were now four games out. Indy and New York were also losing, so everything turned up Boston Blue again …

Game 3
LVA: CF J. Nelson – SS Schneider – 2B Briones – RF Crow – 3B Carman – LF E. Martin – C Motley – 1B R. Gomez – P Horton
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Gutierrez

There was no doubt in my mind that the Coons wouldn’t touch Jeff Horton and his 8+ ERA, at all. While they *did* go up 1-0 in the bottom 2nd (hey, two scoreless from Gutierrez!), Jennings had gotten a free base on an errant pickoff throw by Horton after hitting a single himself, and so casually scored on Stalker’s 2-out double. It would have been a stretch otherwise. Thompson was walked intentionally and Gutierrez struck out. Berto led off the third with a double and scored on two groundouts, which was better than nothing at all, and extended the lead to 2-0. Both teams then stranded two runners without scoring in the fourth, which was the first real threat the Aces put up. Brian Schneider walked to begin the inning, Vince Carman hit a 2-out single, but Martin grounded out to short to end things.

It got sad by the fifth. September call-up (!!) Rafael Gomez, the former Raccoons Ringbearer, drew a walk, Horton (…) singled, and after Nelson popped out for the second retirement of the inning, Schneider hit an RBI single to right. Mario Briones hit an infield single at 0-2 (screams in agony), and Andy Crow put a 1-2 pitch in play… but flew out to Fernandez, stranding three and preserving the Coons’ brittle 2-1 lead. Maybe the Coons could make something out of two base hits in the bottom of the sixth inn-- nah, Stalker hit into a 6-4-3 to kill that one, too. Gutierrez was removed after six wonky, but not terrible innings when Rafael Gomez was due to lead off the seventh. He singled off Blair instead. Carlos Flores pinch-ran, stole second, and was bunted to third base by Horton, who was somehow still in this game, with Jesse Stedham pinch-hitting for Nelson. Portland countered with Hennessy, and the Aces called a suicide squeeze with the tying run – and Stedham missed the pitch entirely, rendering Flores a dead duck and tagged out far from home plate. Stedham ended up whiffing, ending the inning. Horton lasted seven and two thirds, to my utter dismay, before a Zitzner single saw him removed. Jorge Farinas then rung up Jennings to move the game to Chris Wise, who was likely to face a barrage of pinch-hitters. The first of those, Andy Montes, singled on the first pitch of the inning. Martin grounded out, moving the tying run to second base. Ross Sibley flew out to Jennings. Danny Beckel hit for Flores in the #8 hole, and he wasn’t even a left-handed batter. He struck out. 2-1 Blighters. Zitzner 2-4; Stalker 1-2, 2B, RBI; Thompson 0-1, 2 BB; Gutierrez 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W (7-11);

In other news

September 12 – 39-year-old star of stars, TOP RF/LF Pablo Sanchez (.311, 3 HR, 43 RBI) drops in three base hits in the Buffos’ 3-0 win over the Rebels. His third-inning single off RIC SP David Medina (0-1, 3.00 ERA) marks his 4,000th base knock in his ABL career that began all the way back with the 2013 Scorpions. A three-time Player of the Year and four-time batting champion with piles of other accolades, the .342 hitter Sanchez has amassed 142 homers, 1,510 RBI, and 683 stolen bases in his career. He is only the second player to break though the 4,000 hits mark after Victorino Sanchez, who landed 4,083 hits, and he is under contract for next season.
September 17 – The Titans win over the Falcons, 7-6 in 10 innings, when Charlotte’s Danny Burgess (1-4, 2.68 ERA, 2 SV) balks home Boston’s Edgar Gonzalez (.288, 12 HR, 68 RBI) with the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth.

Complaints and stuff

It was a 3-3 week in which Preston Pinkerton pitched, so calling it a “mixed bag” was probably giving them too much credit. They drunk away what little chance they had with three straight losses to the abominable Elks and the lowlife Aces. That was unnecessary, and the final dagger. I don’t see them rallying to a point where they could beat Boston fair and square on the final weekend of the season.

Team (Record) – Remaining Games – Strength of Schedule – Playoff Chance
BOS (83-66) – NYC (4), MIL (3), OCT (3), POR (3) – .510 – 94.4% (+8.6%)
POR (79-70) – IND (4), ATL (3), BOS (3), NYC (3) – .512 – 4.0% (-7.9%)
IND (78-71) – POR (4), MIL (3), TIJ (3), VAN (3) – .499 – 1.5% (+0.3%)
NYC (75-74) – BOS (4), LVA (3), POR (3), VAN (3) – .488 – 0.1% (-1.0%)

Gurney won’t take another start, that much is sure, although by that standard we also shouldn’t send out Rosas or Chavez anymore. Or Sabre. Or anybody.

All our minor league teams finished the year with horrendous losing records, some 20 games under .500, which makes me slightly uneasy about the actual quality of our farm.

Fun Fact: The Raccoons ended the season series against the Canadiens 12-6, their best result against the vile stinking Elks since 2011!

That is … that is sad. We won 10 or 11 quite a few times, but the truth is that we haven’t been able to get away from .500 by a meaningful measure against them in … forever. All-time we’re now 515-511 against them, a .502 clip.
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Old 12-01-2019, 12:55 PM   #3033
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Raccoons (79-70) vs. Knights (68-80) – September 19-21, 2033

The Knights had finished with this season and had done so a long time ago. They were seventh in runs scored, eighth in runs allowed, with a sizable -46 run differential. The season series was even at three.

Projected matchups:
Bernie Chavez (13-7, 3.73 ERA) vs. Justin Osterloh (8-15, 5.49 ERA)
Mario Rosas (15-10, 2.37 ERA) vs. Chris Inderrieden (10-10, 3.88 ERA)
Darren Brown (0-0) vs. Drew Johnson (3-6, 5.23 ERA)

Due to a few injuries and make-up games, the Knights would have guys going on short rest on Monday and Tuesday. Inderrieden and Johnson could be switched; both had pitched on Friday. No southpaw to be expected here.

Brown went 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in two starts last season. He missed most of this year to injury and when he pitched was rather bad, posting a 1-3 record with 5.18 ERA in St. Petersburg.

Game 1
ATL: LF Inoa – C S. Garcia – 1B Avakian – 2B J. Johnson – 3B Maneke – SS Thomson – RF R. Parker – CF Seago – P Osterloh
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – C F. Garcia – P Chavez

Bernie Chavez remained complete and utter dog ****. While the Knights hit a few deep flies in the first two innings without getting any to fall in, they took him apart by other means in the third inning. Justin Osterloh, the ****ing pitcher, hit a 1-out double on a 1-2 pitch, and more 2-strike offerings resulted in more base hits. Luis Inoa singled, Steve Garcia walked, and Adam Avakian hit a 2-run single. Another run scored on a wild pitch, and with two outs Keith Thomson would knock in two more runs with a single to right, another 5-spot in another goddamn meltdown. The Raccoons’ rotation in the second half was the gift that kept on giving… just like the Capt’n! (hits himself over the head with a bottle of Capt’n Coma)

Osterloh would not get a W, though. By the time my head stopped spinning, the Raccoons had made up four runs and had knocked him out in the bottom of the fifth. Jennings had singled home Zelts and Zitz in the third, and Ramos had plated Marsingill, had swiped second base, and had been scored on a Zeltser single in the fourth – all runs coming with two outs. Portland got three men on base in the bottom 5th, but when Adrian Reichardt batted for Chavez with one out, he rapped the ball right into a double play to throw the chance away. Something moved in the seventh – Steve Garcia singled home an insurance run off the useless Kyle Green, while the Coons had Zitzner being waved around third base on a Marsingill single… and thrown out by Luis Inoa to end the inning. Bottom 8th, Stalker hit a pinch-hit single with one out… and was doubled up by Ramos. One of those games… In the bottom 9th, the Coons faced left-handed Ronald Warner and his 2.76 ERA. Zeltser lined out to begin the inning, but Jimmy Wallace tripled to center, bringing up Zitzner as the tying run. Once Zitz singled to right to make it 6-5, he was run for Pinkerton while Juan Camps batted for Jennings. Both Camps and Fernandez grounded out sadly… 6-5 Knights. Ramos 2-5, 2B, RBI; Zeltser 2-5, RBI; Wallace 2-5, 3B; Zitzner 3-5, 2B, RBI; Marsingill 3-4; Stalker (PH) 1-1; Hennessy 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

We had FIFTEEN hits to their seven, and yet we still lost because Chavez just bent over and took it in the third inning… Good job, boys. Good job!

Game 2
ATL: LF Inoa – CF Jad. Smith – C S. Garcia – 1B Avakian – 2B J. Johnson – 3B Maneke – RF Eppler – SS Thomson – P Inderrieden
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Stalker – CF Reichardt – C Thompson – P Rosas

I decided to drink in the morning so I wouldn’t be so saddened by the next pitching meltdown. I can smarten up, too! The Coons very much didn’t. The first “ARGH!!” moment of the game came in the bottom 2nd when Ramos grounded out to Adam Avakian after Stalker’s leadoff double and a 2-out infield single by Rosas(!) had presented him with Critters on the corners. Nothing came of that, while Ramos allowed 2-strike singles to Inderrieden (!!!!) and Inoa in the third, but somehow didn’t explode right away. Jaden Smith grounded out, Steve Garcia did the same, and the Knights had yet to put up a cruel crooked number.

As on Monday, Jennings drove in the first Critters run, and in the same inning. Zeltser singled, stole second, reached third on Zitzner’s single, and then Jennings rushed a grounder by John Johnson for an RBI single. Stalker grounded out to Chris Maneke, Reichardt flew out to Smith, and two Coons were stranded. And as on Monday, Zeltser then landed a 2-out RBI hit, a double, in the fourth. He cashed Thompson, who had reached on an uncaught third strike to begin the inning. Whatever works! Wallace singled home Zeltser, 3-0, Zitz also singled, but Jennings struck out to end the fourth. After hits by Reichardt and Thompson, Rosas’ grounder to second scored a fourth run from third base. On the mound, Rosas allowed only three hits and two walks against no runs and six strikeouts through five, but also threw 91 pitches, so was not likely to finish a shutout… He would get four more outs from the 3-through-6 batters, then was brought in after 109 pitches. Gurney replaced him, stupidly put Keith Thomson and PH Stephen Williams on base, and when Garavito replaced him he served up a 2-out, 3-run homer to Inoa, axing a 6-0 lead in half; the Coons had scored two in the bottom 6th with the bottom of the order. And it got worse. After Portland stranded a pair in the bottom 7th, the Coons saw Prieto put on Avaikan (double) and Johnson (walk) in the eighth before being relieved by David Fernandez, who walked Maneke with one out to stuff the bags. Brian Eppler popped out, and when Eric Martins pinch-hit for Thompson, the Coons went to Wise, whose first pitch was hit to deep center… and into Reichardt’s glove, barely. Wise allowed a double to Rich Parker in the ninth, but got around that and finished the game without conceding a run… 6-3 Coons. Zeltser 3-5, 2B, RBI; Wallace 2-5; Zitzner 2-4, RBI; Jennings 2-4, BB, RBI; Stalker 2-5, 2 2B, RBI; Reichardt 2-5, RBI; Rosas 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, W (16-10) and 1-2, RBI;

Game 3
ATL: LF Inoa – RF R. Parker – 1B Avakian – 2B J. Johnson – 3B Maneke – SS Thomson – C Kuehn – CF Seago – P D. Johnson
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF M. Fernandez – 2B Stalker – CF Reichardt – C Thompson – P Brown

Four hits, two walks, two wild pitches, and three runs – that was the first inning against Darren Brown before Drew Johnson spanked a 1-2 pitch at Zitzner for the third out with three Knights stranded. No matter which guy you sent out now – it was going to be a ****show. This particular disaster lasted three and a third innings, when Brown was yanked after five hits, five walks, three wild pitches, and with Nate Seago and Luis Inoa on base after a pair of 4-pitch walks. Garavito replaced him, nailed Rich Parker and things cascaded from there… After Avakian struck out, Johnson hit a 2-run single, Maneke clipped an RBI single, and it was 6-0 by the time Thomson flew out to Manny Fernandez. Meanwhile the Critters had one of those games where their first two base hits were landed by the same player (Wallace). The second of Jimmy’s hits, a 1-out double in the fourth, at least sparked some semblance of a rally. The Coons landed three straight singles afterwards, Reichardt whiffed, but Thompson singled and Jennings walked in the #9 hole, putting the tying runs on base in a 6-3 game. And then Berto grounded out to John Johnson…

Nate Seago’s 2-run homer off Justin LeDuc put the game away in the seventh. The Coons had seen the tying run at the plate with two outs in the bottom 6th, but Camps popped out in the #9 hole to strand them. Come the eighth, Inoa hit a leadoff jack off LeDuc, who then hit Rich Parker, who objected, and went out to the mound to shove LeDuc’s face into his own arse. A pile formed, because once the division has slipped away you can just as well tear up a shoulder in a brawl. LeDuc got some scratches, Stalker had a sleeve of his uniform torn off, but at least they made one of the Knights’ bench players bleed from a knock above the eyebrow. Parker and LeDuc were ejected. Pinch-runner Preston Reed scored on two singles off Anaya, which put the Knights into double digits. 10-3 Knights. Wallace 3-5, 2 2B; Zitzner 2-4; M. Fernandez 2-4, 2B, RBI; Contreras 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

All pitching, all gone…

Dear goodness…

At this point we were five games behind, tied with Indy, while the Titans’ magic number had crumbled to six. They could tie up the division this week…

Raccoons (80-72) @ Crusaders (78-74) – September 23-25, 2033

Both teams probably engaged in creative number play to conjure up a scenario where they could still make the postseason, but both new that in reality they were toast. The Titans’ magic number relating to the Crusaders was four, and they hadn’t played well in September either… They combined a bottom three offense with average pitching and were somehow miraculously over .500 despite a -54 run differential. We had already taken the season series, 11-4.

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (10-12, 3.58 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (11-15, 4.55 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (7-11, 4.11 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenarez (9-13, 3.44 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (13-8, 3.86 ERA) vs. Gilberto Rendon (14-11, 3.82 ERA)

Southpaw on Saturday, although due to the off day, changes were possible.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Stalker – RF Jennings – C Thompson – P Sabre
NYC: CF Malo – 3B J. Zamora – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – RF Reardon – SS Schuler – 1B Payne – C Leonard – P E. Cannon

The offense came out on Friday, putting ten hits on Cannon in four innings and scoring five times. Thompson’s single and Sabre’s double-play grounder scored two runs in the second inning, while in the fourth – and after allowing a solo homer to Keith Leonard – Sabre led off with a single, scored on Ramos’ triple that got wedged in the corner, Zeltser plated Berto with a groundout, and then Wallace and Zitz hit back-to-back doubles to make it 5-1. A Jennings double, Thompson triple, and Ramos single produced another two runs in the fifth against the New York pen.

Sabre pitched sort of a gem, even though the Crusaders got back to him in the sixth. Jorge Zamora’s single up the middle with two outs was only their third base hit, but he stole second and was singled home by Mario Hurtado. Both balls narrowly eluded infielders… Jose Balado grounded out to end the sixth, with Sabre on 80 pitches in a 7-2 game. The seventh went by on just seven pitches, and first-pitch outs by Leonard and Hirofumi Saito allowed Sabre to also clip the eighth on just seven pitches. The complete game was surely possible now, and he batted with two outs and nobody out in the ninth, grounding out to Hurtado against John Fees. Bottom 9th, Zamora bounced out to Zitzner, but Hurtado doubled to left in a full count, and the pen got stirring in earnest after they had just stretched and soft-tossed before. Balado grounded out to Hawkins at third base, with the runner remaining on second. Chris Reardon for the final blow – a 2-1 pitch lifted to left-center, Manny Fernandez over, coming, coming, coming – and he made the catch …! 7-2 Coons. Ramos 2-4, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; Zeltser 2-5, RBI; Zitzner 2-5, 2B, RBI; Stalker 2-4, BB; Jennings 2-4, 2B; Thompson 2-3, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; Sabre 9.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, W (11-12) and 1-5;

Boston *routed* the Loggers, 14-1, lowering their magic number to five against the Critters (so The Clinch was deferred to the last week of the season now), while Indy lost and dropped to a magic number of four. New York was down to two.

The Crusaders moved Gilberto Rendon into the Saturday slot.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF M. Fernandez – CF Reichardt – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Gutierrez
NYC: CF Malo – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – SS Schuler – 3B J. Zamora – RF Bobo – C Hurley – P G. Rendon

After defense, and defense alone, stalled leadoff singles for Caleb Malo and Firmino Cambra in the bottom 1st, Fernandez and Stalker went to the corners for Thompson to put the Critters up 1-0 with a sac fly. The following inning Zitz doubled home Zelts to make it 2-0. Gilberto Rendon had a leadoff single off Gutierrez (and it was too late for me to get much worked up about that anymore…) in the bottom 3rd, Cambra singled again, but Mario Hurtado wrapped himself into a 4-6-3 double play to end that inning. It was a chewy game, given Gutierrez’ brand of “pitching to defense” which assumed all outfielders could reach a ball hit 200 feet from their starting spot with medium effort, and how the Coons landed four hits, all singles, in the top 5th and scored only one run. Ramos scored, while Zeltser, Fernandez, and Reichardt were all stranded when Stalker flew out to Malo.

Bottom 5th, everything began to come apart again. Rob Bobo – awesome name, I’ll for now leave it at that – hit a leadoff single up the middle, advanced on Ryan Hurley’s groundout, then was scored by Rendon’s second single off Gutierrez, which ticked me off, really… Malo walked, putting the tying runs on base. Cambra popped out before Hurtado, probably the most dangerous bat in the lineup, and a right-hander to boot, popped out on a 2-2 pitch for a rather anti-climactic ending of what I assumed would blossom into a 6-spot. The following half-inning, the Coons loaded the bags with the top of the order and two outs. Rendon fell to 3-1 against Zitzner, who hit a fly to right… but couldn’t beat Bobo, who made the catch to strand all the precious runners. It was still 3-1 in the bottom 7th when Hurley’s 1-out double to left knocked out Gutierrez in favor of Ed Blair to face the switch-hitting Jose Pulido in the #9 hole. One pitch, one single, runners on the corners, and left-hander Hirofumi Saito hit for Malo. Portland scrambled for David Fernandez, who saw out a sizzling liner into a squeaking, blindly swiping, and catching Travis Zitzner, then got Cambra on a bouncer to second base to end the tense inning. With Blair burned, we turned to Anaya in the bottom 8th, resulting in quick outs against the 3-4-5 batters. The next inning was Wise’s since Manny Fernandez singled in the ninth, but also ended it by being caught stealing. Zamora lined out to Stalker. Bobo grounded out to Marsingill at third base. Hurley grounded out to Zeltser at short. Ramos 3-5; Zeltser 2-5; Wallace 2-3, BB, RBI; M. Fernandez 3-5, 2B; Reichardt 3-4; Gutierrez 6.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, W (8-11);

No, nothing undue happened to Berto; he was double-switched out after the top 8th because unless we’d have blown the lead he would not likely have come up again and the Marsingill shuffle to third base was tangentially better defensively, claimed all my advisors that would know about such things.

Foremost Honeypaws, that is.

The Titans lost, 9-3, keeping the magic number at five, with the gap down to four games. Indy lost, dropping to a magic number of three, and the Crusaders were down to one and faced elimination even if they won on Sunday.

Game 3
POR: 3B Hawkins – SS Stalker – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF Reichardt – RF Camps – 2B Marsingill – C Garcia – P Chavez
NYC: CF Malo – 3B J. Zamora – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – SS Schuler – 1B Pulido – RF Ryder – C Leonard – P Colmenarez

Colmenarez was up on Sunday, the Coons shuffled in all the right-handers they could, and then loaded the bags in the top 1st with a Stalker single, Wallace walk, and Zitzner single. Reichardt whiffed, Camps grounded out, and nobody scored. The Crusaders instead put Malo and Zamora on, scored two with a Balado groundout and a Schuler single, and the Raccoons were still wondering what had happened to their 1-2-3 punch. Up 2-0, Colmenarez left the game with an injury in the second inning and was replaced by another lefty in Andy Wright, who had an ERA over ten. But maybe Bernie could still get there – he walked Leonard and Malo in the second and only bailed out on a strong Stalker swipe on Zamora’s sharp grounder.

It got better before it could get worse. Camps reached base via the walk in the fourth, stole second, then jogged home when Justin Marsingill hit a homer to right to tie the game. Fernando Garcia made it back-to-back off Wright on the very next pitch, making it a 3-2 Critters game. Unfortunately, Bernie remained the King of Crummy, and with two outs and two strikes in the bottom half of the inning allowed a tie-breaking blast to Keith Leonard… Portland couldn’t do anything with a Stalker double leading off the fifth and in fact didn’t get another man on base until Stalker singled with two outs in the seventh. Wallace then grounded out to let that runner slip away, too.

Neither pitcher got a decision, as Chavez didn’t get through seven innings. Hennessy got a grounder from Joe Payne to end that inning with the score still knotted at three. Ed Blair pitched a quick eighth to keep the game tied after the Coons couldn’t get past a pinch-hit single by Jennings in the top half of the frame, and in the ninth they’d face paper Critter Mike Hugh, who had once been a rule 5 selection that we handed back before the season started. Ramos hit for Garcia to begin the ninth and shot a ball into the gap for a leadoff double, which was a good start! Manny Fernandez was already batting in the #9 hole and was intentionally walked. Zeltser hit for Hawkins in the #1 slot, struck out, Stalker popped out, and Wallace whiffed in a full count…

Blair and Garavito moved the game to extra innings, where Prieto pitched two scoreless frames while the offense did precisely nothing. Zeltser then dropped in a single to begin the 12th against Gavin Lee. We had ended up with David Tinnin batting second. The Crusaders sensed a bunt and played for the double play, so the Coons called off the bunt and called a ballsy hit-and-run instead. Zeltser ran, Tinnin swung and missed, Zeltser was going to be dead at second, but Hurley’s throw was short, bounced off Randy Schuler’s knee, and the ball went into centerfield, while Zeltser dashed for third base. Tinnin ended up flying out to ex-Coon Matt Jamieson, but Jimmy Wallace rushed a spiked bouncer through the right side for an RBI single! Zitzner singled, Lee threw a wild pitch, and Reichardt popped out for a cringy 0-for-6. Elliott Thompson batted for Prieto, ran a 3-1 count, then cracked a 2-run single over Schuler to break the score wide open! Marsingill flew out, bringing Chris Wise into the 6-3 game. Hurley, Jamieson, and Cesar Martinez made straight outs. 6-3 Coons. Stalker 3-5, 2B; Zitzner 2-6; Thompson (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI; Ramos (PH) 1-2, 2B; Prieto 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, W (2-1);

In other news

September 19 – An oblique strain ends the season of Indy’s CF/LF John Baron (.233, 27 HR, 85 RBI).
September 23 – Season over for OCT SP Andy Jimenes (10-9, 3.35 ERA), who has come down with shoulder soreness.
September 23 – ATL 1B Adam Avakian (.313, 18 HR, 92 RBI), who would end up CL Player of the Week, lands four hits and plates as many runners in a 13-6 win over the Aces.
September 24 – As they try to hold off Oklahoma City and Tijuana, the Bayhawks get bad news that 2B/SS Jose Cruz (.287, 6 HR, 82 RBI) has suffered an oblique strain and is out for the season.
September 24 – The Loggers trade OF Gabe Creech (.190, 6 HR, 29 RBI) to the Canadiens for 2B Bill McWhirter (.282, 3 HR, 38 RBI) and a meager prospect.

Complaints and stuff

And after a big knell, it was all over. Pitching completely went away in September, and the offense… well, it had been like that all year. Good batting averages, terrible run conversion rates. Monday’s loss was a prime example of that, dropping a 1-run game where they out-hit Atlanta by more than 2-to-1.

… at least that was the situation before we swept the Crusaders. The Titans lost again on Sunday, so the Critters moved back into the crucial distance of three games, where via a sweep on the final weekend it was still THEORETICALLY entirely possible to get level with the Bostonians. The Crusaders were officially eliminated when Gavin Lee unraveled in the 12th on Sunday, and the Indians are six games back and have only academical chances.

But truth be told – we have to beat BOTH the Indians and Titans to make this work, and it will not be easy… or remotely likely. BNN agrees:

Team (Record) – Remaining Games – Strength of Schedule – Playoff Chance
BOS (86-69) – NYC (4), POR (3) – .517 – 94.8% (+0.4%)
POR (83-72) – IND (4), BOS (3) – .533 – 5.2% (+1.2%)

I really do not recall the last time we swept the Titans. Has it EVER happened? Cristiano, investigate! – Yes, in the archives!

Fun Fact: Our 14-4 season series against the Crusaders was our best effort against them since we took 15 games from them in 2012.

They were between three-peats at that point, and nobody quite knows how that could happen.

Also, the 14-4 is the second-best tally against a CL North team since then. In 2014 we took 16 of 18 from the Loggers.
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Old 12-02-2019, 09:03 AM   #3034
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Bless recurring illness for spare time to complete the season before it gets dark again. What is the worst that can happ- (coughs violently, splattering grim green slime everywhere) No, no, I’m fine. I don’t need help getting up, either… I think… (closes eyes)

Raccoons (83-72) @ Indians (80-75) – September 26-29, 2033

The Raccoons’ mantra had to be that winning out from here would get them to the postseason. No more missteps! They were 7-7 against the Indians, who were theoretically alive, but had a magic number of two compared to the Titans and were not likely to make it out of the series alive, one way or another. They had lost four in a row to get to this unhappy place. While Portland was near the top of the league in batting average and at least upper half in runs scored, the Indians were doing it with the second-lowest average in the CL and were still scoring the eighth-most runs. Their pitchers allowed the fourth-fewest runs.

Projected matchups:
Mario Rosas (16-10, 2.31 ERA) vs. David Saccoccio (7-13, 4.38 ERA)
Carlos Contreras (0-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Victor Govea (7-7, 4.12 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (11-12, 3.52 ERA) vs. Jim Kretzmann (6-8, 3.48 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (8-11, 4.01 ERA) vs. John McInerney (10-13, 4.16 ERA)

McInerney was the only southpaw on offer. We’d bypass 20-game winner Andy Bressner and his 2.81 ERA, but then again the Coons would need two starts out of the plague spot on Tuesday and Sunday. Maybe Contreras would be the magic!? In reality, should Sunday count for anything it would likely be Sabre on short rest, but Contreras was free to try and impress… The Indians were missing two starting outfielders in Dustin Acor and John Baron, both being out for the season. This conveniently removed a more than a quarter of their homers from the lineup.

Despite playing 12 innings on Sunday, the bullpen (enlarged of course) was somewhat in shape. Blair and Wise had thrown two days in a row, though, and LeDuc was still suspended for one more game after his bru-ha-hah last week. It wasn’t like our playoff fortunes were hinging on the availability of our 14.73 ERA-laden fifth-string lefty, though… This ain’t 2020!

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF M. Fernandez – CF Reichardt – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Rosas
IND: CF Reyna – 2B Schneller – LF Plunkett – 3B J. Conner – 1B Barber – RF Witte – C Kuhlmann – SS Benito – P Saccoccio

…because in 2020 the Coons at least made it to extra innings in a tie-breaker, and the way Rosas was pitching to begin this Monday game they probably wouldn’t. Right away, Dan Schneller singled and Mike Plunkett hit a massive #22 homer to left to erase and turn-around a Ramos Special run from the top 1st, where Berto had walked, stolen second, and advanced twice to score on two deep fly outs to center. Reichardt’s single, stolen base, and swift move home on Elliott Thompson’s knock up the rightfield line tied the game in the second at least… but he wasn’t the only catcher finding a hole for an RBI base hit; Morgan Kuhlmann hit a 2-out RBI single in the bottom 4th, plating Matt Barber to give Indy a 3-2 lead. Once more, Rosas pitched without inspiring and whiffed only two batters through four innings while bleeding six base hits.

Much to my disgruntlement the Raccoons failed to rally swiftly this time. Thompson drew a leadoff walk in the fifth, was bunted to second by Rosas, but then stranded on groundouts. In the sixth, Manny Fernandez singled and stole his 19th base, but that was with two outs and Reichardt couldn’t beat Oliver Witte in left. Instead, Kuhlmann hit a leadoff jack off Rosas in the bottom 7th, putting the Indians up 4-2. The sad-sack Coons had only four base hits against as many fannings against Saccoccio through seven and the Indians saw no reason to remove the guy. Berto’s sharp leadoff single to begin the eighth brought the tying run to the plate, though. Zeltser grounded out to Edwin de Luna at third base, and Wallace grounded over to Barber for - … a fumble and error. Now the tying runs were on the corners for Zitzner, which was likely the key at-bat of the game. Saccoccio prevailed with a strikeout, then got Fernandez to pop out, with the home crowd cheering, which intensified when the Arrowheads put Schneller and Ron Raynor on the corners against Carlos de la Cruz in the bottom 8th. The right-hander retired nobody before being replaced with Hennessy to face PH Joseph McClenon, who hit into a run-scoring double play, tacking on another run. Barber whiffed, but the damage was done, and Tim Thweatt retired the Coons in order in the ninth inning. 5-2 Indians. Ramos 2-4;

New York beat Boston, 4-3, so the distance remained three games. We begrudgingly accepted that result as compensation for our own failures, then braced for impact on Tuesday.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – RF Jennings – P Contreras
IND: CF Reyna – 2B Schneller – C J. Herrera – LF Plunkett – 3B J. Conner – 1B Barber – RF Witte – SS Benito – P Govea

Both pitchers got whooped in the second inning. The Coons put three runs on Govea and could have gotten more if Manny Fernandez had not been thrown out at home plate by Plunkett, trying to score from second on a Stalker single. That was the second out in a scoreless game, but the bottom of the order all reached base, including Contreras with a single, with Billy Jennings singling home the first run of the game. Ramos then singled in two before Zeltser flew out, giving a 3-0 lead to Contreras, in whose paws it shattered to pieces, and then the pieces shattered to dust. Josh Conner, Matt Barber, and Oliver Witte all reached base in the bottom 2nd, scoring one run against one out, and Govea’s grounder to short got home Barber to cut the gap to 3-2. Contreras then walked Jonathan Reyna, also Dan Schneller, and then was taken deep with a 450-footer by Juan Herrera on the first pitch, exploding the Indians into a 6-3 lead. Dejected Raccoons went to Kyle Green, which was as good as game over.

Top 3rd, Wallace singled, Zitzner doubled, Fernandez walked. The bases were loaded with no outs, and now we just needed a lucky blast. And while Tim Stalker didn’t get the ball over the fence, he at least got it over Jonathan Reyna in deep center for extra bases. Wallace scored, Zitzner scored, Fernandez scored, and all of a sudden we were even at six. Indy stuck with Govea until the Coons unstuck the game from a tie, which entailed Thompson and Jennings making poor outs before Kyle Green singled (!) to move Stalker to third. Ramos’ grounder eluded Juan Benito up the middle for a single, and it was 7-6 Coons. Exit Govea, enter Arnie Terwilliger, southpaw by trade. Zeltser grounded out on the first pitch, ending the inning, and somehow the baboonish Green didn’t blow the lead despite 4-pitch walks to Witte and Benito in the bottom 3rd.

Still up 7-6, the Coons reloaded the bases in the fifth inning against Juan Melendrez on an uncaught third strike, a Barber error, and a pitch into Berto’s thigh, bringing up Zeltser with one out. Whatever works! Zeltser poking at the first pitch noticeably didn’t – he hit into a double play. Fernandez did the same in the top of the sixth, and the bottom of the sixth saw the end approaching. Prieto put Benito on base with a drag bunt single. Garavito replaced him for the pinch-hitter Jesus Dominguez, but issued a walk and then came apart with a wild pitch, a game-tying Schneller single, and a go-ahead, 2-run double smoked by Herrera, who had six RBI in the game. de la Cruz would get out of the inning, but was it too late? The Critters trailed by two, but once they encountered Sal Bedoya and his 4.55 ERA in the seventh got Stalker on base with a leadoff single, then added Thompson via a gap shot double. The tying runs were in scoring position with no outs, Jennings popped out, but Reichardt and Ramos cracked sharp RBI singles to get us even at nine! Yes!! COME ON, BOYS!! C’MON!! Here came Zeltser again, 0-for-4 with plenty of runners dismantled, but he faced a new righty in Matt Beckstrom and there was no way to sensibly pinch-hit here. He hit into a fielder’s choice, Ramos out at second, and Wallace grounded out to Schneller, ending the inning…

Wallace was then removed with Reichardt staying in the game, not for defense, but because we faced a mostly righty lineup here and besides Wise we had only one productive right-handed pitcher left. Victor Anaya was tasked with adding multiple innings to the 70-and-change he had already delivered this year, and retired the 6-7-8 batters in order in the bottom 7th. Both teams had a single and a double play to kill it in the eighth, with Stalker failing the Furballs. The tie was not broken in regulation – and the Coons only reached base with one out in the 10th when Zeltser walked against Thweatt. Marsingill pinch-hit for David Fernandez, right into a fielder’s choice, but sped for third base on Zitzner’s single to right. Runners were on the corners for Manny Fernandez… at least until Thweatt’s 22nd pitch eluded Herrera and Marsingill scored alertly on the wild pitch. Fernandez ended up walking, Stalker smacked an RBI single to center, but Lance Legleiter to the rescue, struck out Thompson to end the inning. Chris Wise was called on for the bottom of the inning, walked Barber, but got a double play from Witte and held on. 11-9 Furballs! Ramos 3-5, 4 RBI; Zitzner 4-5, BB, 2B; Stalker 4-6, 2B, 4 RBI; Reichardt (PH) 1-2; Green 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K; Anaya 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Boston won, rendering Indy mathematically eliminated and keeping the Coons at three games’ distance. The magic number was now also down to three.

And here comes game three!

Game Three
POR: SS Ramos – CF Reichardt – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 3B Hawkins – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – P Sabre
IND: RF Witte – 2B Schneller – C J. Herrera – LF Plunkett – 1B Barber – 3B J. Conner – CF Reyna – SS DiGiacomo – P Kretzmann

Sabre threw six pitches in the first inning, which was enough for the Indians to get Oliver Witte on with a double, in with a Herrera single, and out of the inning on Plunkett’s 1-6-3 bouncer. That could have gone better, but at least he stopped the bleeding there and didn’t take a big inning straight in the kisser like every other starter we had enjoyed to do. While Jim Kretzmann doubled in the third inning, he was also caught in a rundown, then, still somewhat winded, served up a leadoff jack to Jimmy Wallace in the fourth inning. Wallace’s 14th tied the game, and his fifth outfield assist of the year ended the bottom 4th, killing Matt Barber at home plate. Unfortunately, by then Indy was up 2-1 on a leadoff double by Schneller that Wallace hadn’t reached, and – after a K to Herrera and foul popout by Plunkett – a throwing error by Sabre himself that went over Zitzner and allowed Schneller to score.

Wallace and Zitzner both hit flies to deep right in the sixth inning, but neither could get it over the fence to tie up a 2-1 game, or even past Witte, who instead led off the bottom 6th with a single to center. Two groundouts and a Plunkett pop stranded him at third base, but what was the plan now? Who’d start the rally to keep us in the race? Kretzmann nailed Jennings to begin the seventh and walked Stalker with one out, but Thompson flew out easily and the Coons needed the offense, so Sabre was pinch-hit for with two on and two out (although that played well in keeping him less gassed for a theoretical Sunday tilt). Manny Fernandez pinch-hit… and popped out in a full count. Kretzmann retired the 1-2-3 batters in that order in the eighth, and this ship be sinkin’ …! After Jennings caught McClenon’s drive in deep right that stranded various runners accumulated by David Fernandez, Prieto, and Garavito, none of which scored, the 4-5-6 batters were called upon in the ninth, facing Lance Legleiter. Zitzner grounded out, but Jennings walked on four pitches. Zeltser batted for a listless Hawkins and singled to center! C’MON, BOYS!! Stalker singled to left, but McClenon was on that ball and Jennings had to be held. Thompson batted with three aboard and one out – and struck out. That made Juan Camps a pinch-hitter with the season on the ****ing line. He poked the first pitch … and grounded out to Barber. 2-1 Indians. Zeltser (PH) 1-1; Sabre 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, L (11-13);

(crickets chirping)

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Reichardt – 1B Zitzner – RF M. Fernandez – LF Camps – 3B Marsingill – C Garcia – P Gutierrez
IND: CF Reyna – 2B Schneller – LF Plunkett – 3B J. Conner – 1B Barber – RF Witte – C Kuhlmann – SS Benito – P McInerney

Rico had won five straight decisions and hadn’t lost since August 4 against the damn Elks. That was all the hope we clung to, because the last four years of his 12-year Coons career had been “rough” and it was better to expect nothing. This would be his 320th start in the majors, all with Portland, and if he (or another Coons pitcher) didn’t win another one would also definitely be his last with Portland.

Stalker, Zitzner, and Fernandez hit singles in the first inning. Manny’s hit to right scored the game’s maiden run, and Kuhlmann allowed another runner across with a passed ball while Camps was at the plate. Camps eventually struck out. And Rico? Jonathan Reyna opened the bottom 1st with a deep fly out before it went in rapid succession: single, walk, wild pitch, walk, Barber sac fly, Witte RBI single to right, and a Kuhlmann RBI double where Witte was thrown out at home plate. You know, what, Rico? **** you. Just **** you. We’ll sign the lowest scrub – besides you of course! – this winter and give #49 to HIM!!

The ****stain didn’t make it out of the second inning. Benito reached on an infield single, scored on a Reyna double, and Plunkett dropped an RBI single to left. That made it 5-2. Someone was cutting onions, somewhere, because I could feel my eyes water up. No …! It couldn’t ****ing end like this …!!

…and it wasn’t quite over yet. Ramos reached in the top 3rd and McInerney hung a baseball to Adrian Reichardt that was demolished over the fence, cutting the gap to 5-4. Unfortunately, looking for length, the Coons’ gaze fell upon Kyle Green which backfired in the instant. He walked Barber to begin the bottom of the inning, Witte tripled, then scored on a Kuhlmann groundout, and the two runs produced by Reichardt were already wiped out. McInerney wouldn’t make it out of the fourth inning, though, being demolished by his own defense, which committed not one, but two errors behind him. A Camps walk and a Benito error put runners on the corners for the #9 spot, where Tom Hawkins hit a sac fly. With two outs, Ramos walked, and when Stalker grounded to Schneller, he threw the ball away for a 2-base error. The score was 7-6, the tying and go-ahead runs were in scoring position, Arnie Terwilliger came in to see Reichardt, and got a piss-poor grounder to end the inning.

Finally getting a ****ing zero on the board helped tremendously; Carlos de la Cruz got us four outs, and even Jason Gurney got two to keep the Indians close through five, and struck out Terwilliger to begin the bottom 6th. Looking for a ready righty for the top of the order the Coons turned to Darren Brown, who had been flogged for five runs in 3.1 innings in his only major league appearance of the season. He got Reyna on fly to right and Schneller on a grounder to Zeltser at third base. And that was all dandy, but we still needed to erase that deficit… Reichardt hit a leadoff single to begin the seventh against Terwilliger, who then hit Zitzner really hard, but Zitz shook it off and crawled to first base. He was then out on a comebacker hit by Fernandez, but Manny legged out the return throw and runners were on the corners for Camps, who grounded out, but brought in the tying run before the inning could fizzle out. In turn, Brown walked Plunkett, Barber singled, and when Hennessy tried to save the last shreds of our ball dress, he walked PH Ryan Czachor to fill the bases for Kuhlmann. Exit Hennessy, enter Anaya, dismiss Kuhlmann on strikes, and with two outs Anaya walked in the go-ahead run with McClenon pinch-hitting in the #8 hole. Dominguez struck out, stranding three. The Arrowheads tasked Sal Bedoya with maintaining an 8-7 lead, which worked for two outs, but then Juan Melendrez came in and allowed a single to Ramos. In a swift move, Matt Beckstrom became the third pitcher of the inning and struck out Stalker to end it. Anaya instead put the leadoff batters aboard in the bottom 8th. Reyna singled, Schneller walked, Juan Herrera hit into a fielder’s choice. As players became more obscure, Garavito was called on and struck out PH Israel Guerrero. He got Matt Barber to 1-2, then allowed a 2-run double into the corner. Czachor singled, Kuhlmann popped out. Top of the ninth. Tim Thweatt was back and would face the meat of the order. Reichardt grounded out. Zitzner grounded out on a 3-1 pitch. Manny Fernandez struck out to end their season. 10-7 Indians. Reichardt 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; M. Fernandez 2-5, RBI;

The only thing that kept me from murdering every single pitcher on the team, right then and there, was the Titans’ 3-2 comeback win over the Crusaders. Even a win wouldn’t have saved us.

…thanks to plenty of ****ty pitching before…

Raccoons (84-75) @ Titans (89-70) – September 30-October 2, 2033

As it was all over, and I was hurting all over, the Titans came around once more to expand on their 10-5 lead in the season series. Second in offense, sixth in pitching in the CL. They used to be much better! (hollers already intoxicated)

Projected matchups:
Bernie Chavez (13-8, 3.87 ERA) vs. Mario Gonzalez (15-10, 3.41 ERA)
Mario Rosas (16-11, 2.39 ERA) vs. Tony Chavez (13-11, 4.19 ERA)
TBD vs. Jeremy Walsh (1-2, 4.69 REA)

Left, left, right, and then it will finally be over. No idea who starts on Sunday. Maybe Dr. Chung. If he’s so tough.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF Reichardt – 3B Zeltser – RF Camps – C Garcia – P B. Chavez
BOS: RF M. Avila – 2B R. West – LF W. Vega – C Lessman – SS Spataro – 3B Gil – 1B J. Green – CF Walberg – P M. Gonzalez

Stalker doubled and scored on a Zitzner single in the top of the first, and Camps singled, stole second, and scored on a Garcia single in the second inning for a 2-0 lead. The Titans didn’t rally immediately, either because they were resting the odd regular, or because they didn’t really have to care. Moises Avila hit a leadoff double in the bottom 1st, but was stranded, and Keith Spataro opened the bottom 2nd with a single, but was picked off by Bernie. But that leadoff man kept reaching on him; he walked Clay Walberg to begin the bottom 3rd, the runner was bunted over by Gonzalez, then waved around on Avila’s single to left, but Wallace threw out another runner at home plate and the Titans remained off the board. Willie Vega hit a leadoff single in the fourth (…), was forced out by David Lessman, Spataro singled, but both Antonio Gil and Josh Green struck out.

I would have bet both of Berto’s legs that Bernie would catch a few splinters in the snout before the end of the game, but it just never happened. In fact, no Titan reached base again until Green singled with two outs in the bottom 7th, then still in a 2-0 game, and Walberg grounded out to Stalker to complete the inning. That was the end for Bernie, who had expended 108 pitches in a 6-hitter, whiffing nine. Zitzner hit a homer off Wyatt Hamill in the eighth, while Blair and Hennessy put four Titans aboard to concede one run in the bottom 8th. Wise faced four and struck out three to end the game without an abundance of drama in the ninth. 3-1 Coons. Stalker 2-4, 2 2B; Zitzner 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Chavez 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, W (14-8);

While this win was nice and I would totally cherish it forever, it was depressing to see that our division was the ONLY one in the ABL decided even at this point. In the FL East the Miners led the Capitals by two. They were playing each other, so the Caps still had a chance. In the West, the Warriors were up one on the Wolves after winning Game 1 of THEIR crucial final weekend set.

And in the South the Condors had rallied to tie the Bayhawks, with the Thunder one game behind. The latter were playing the Knights while the top two were playing each other. A three-way tie was possible (as well as a two-way tie in the East)!

Unless he allowed about two dozen runs, Mario Rosas would clinch the ERA title in the middle game.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – CF Reichardt – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 2B Marsingill – 3B Hawkins – RF Pinkerton – C Tinnin – P Rosas
BOS: SS Spataro – 2B R. West – CF M. Avila – LF W. Vega – 1B J. Green – 3B E. Gonzalez – C R. Avila – RF Walberg – P T. Chavez

He sure loaded the bases with nobody out in the second inning, then allowed an RBI single to Roberto Avila and walked Clay Walberg. Tony Chavez hit a sac fly to make it 3-0 and the pen got stirring before Spataro struck out and Rhett West grounded out to Ramos. The top of the third saw David Tinnin single to right to get the inning underway, making him a 1-for-14 hitter in the major leagues. Eh, at least one guy got a souvenir out of this trip… Tinnin even ripped an RBI double his next time up, getting the Coons closer to the music by plating Hawkins to make it 3-2. Zitzner and Hawkins had landed base hits; the former had scored on Pinkerton’s groundout. The Coons would see the inning end with Rosas, but Berto drew a leadoff walk in the fifth, stole second for his 43rd base as he tried to chase down Lorenzo Celaya, who had begun the day with 44, and eventually scored to tie the game… on a West error. Ah, whatever works… We ended up grabbing the lead on a Rosas single with two outs in the sixth inning. He scored Pinkerton from second base.

Green walked to begin the bottom 6th. Edgar Gonzalez popped out on Rosas’ 111th pitch, not all of them good, and that was the last one he threw this season, having pitched exactly 250 innings after being ridden pretty hard by the Knights in the first half. Prieto replaced him and got a double play grounder from Avila on one pitch. The lead went away in the bottom 7th. Walberg singled off Prieto, who was replaced by Fernandez, and the lefty would have gotten out of the inning if Hawkins hadn’t committed a gruesome throwing error with two outs. But Walberg scored on the errant throw, tying the game at four. Neither team scored in the eighth, but Jermaine Campbell, the closer, served up a tie-breaking homer to pinch-hitting Bob Zeltser to begin the ninth. Berto singled, but was caught stealing, leaving Wise without a cushion. Three up, three down, this game was wrapped up. 5-4 Coons. Ramos 2-3, 2 BB; Zitzner 2-4, 2B; Tinnin 2-4, 2B, RBI; Zeltser (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI;

That was Wise’s 40th save of the season. Celaya stole three bases on Saturday, and led Ramos by four with one game to spare, so that was a goner…

Two races were settled [see below] on Saturday, and the Thunder lost to the Knights and were also eliminated. San Fran beat the Condors on Saturday and now had to win one out of two games, either the finale or the tie-breaker, to meet the Titans.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Stalker – C Thompson – CF Catella – P Brown
BOS: RF M. Avila – 1B J. Green – LF W. Vega – C Lessman – SS Spataro – 3B Gil – 2B T. Johnson – CF Walberg – P J. Walsh

Berto *tried*, singled to start the game, then was caught stealing, because the Titans could read the stats page, too. And maybe there’d been another subtle tell or two like him yelling “come on! 44!” on the way to first base, and “BANZAAAI!!” when Walsh started his motion. The Coons started Darren Brown and his 12.46 ERA not because he deserved it but to get another glimpse at that kid, who at one point had been supposed to be the fourth piece to the Chavez-Sabre-del Rio trifecta. The flames licked him mercilessly right in the first, where Josh Green singled and Brown then walked three batters, giving him nine walks and no strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He FINALLY whiffed somebody, even if it was only the pitcher, in the bottom 2nd. One inning later Willie Vega ripped a 1-out triple. Brown, cleverly I assume, walked the bases full to create forces at every base, but then also walked Todd Johnson with two outs to force in another run. Clay Walberg grounded out to strand three more in a 2-0 game. Despite the ghastly early-inning performance, Brown lived to see the middle innings – well, we didn’t *care*… - and in the fifth actually struck out both of Vega and Lessman for a stunner…

Berto landed a leadoff single in the sixth, his 200th base hit of the year. Zeltser unceremoniously doubled him up. Brown finished six innings, but not without walking Antonio Gil and conceding the run on a bunt, a stolen third base, and a groundout, getting 3-0 behind on two hits and seven walks… it didn’t get that much better down the road. Gurney got the seventh and walked two while the defense made a few crazy catches. Careful, boys! Don’t break your little necks on the last day of the year! No meaningful offense occurred, while in the bottom 8th LeDuc got the assignment, whiffed Gil, and then loaded the bags with two singles and a walk. Anaya had to be bothered once more, but allowed a 2-run single to Moises Avila, then an RBI double to Josh Green. Hennessy replaced him, right away allowed a 2-run double to left to Willie Vega, then an RBI double to Lessman. Spataro and Gil made the last two outs after the Titans had rapped off six runs without being retired even once… 9-0 Titans. Ramos 2-4; Catella 2-3;

In other news

September 27 – SFW SP Tony Galligher (13-7, 3.47 ERA) 3-hits the Pacifics in a 5-0 whitewash that also crucially wins Sioux Falls sole possession of first place in the FL West.
October 1 – The FLCS is all set on Saturday, with the Warriors (who would finish with the best record in baseball) erasing a 4-0 deficit to beat the Wolves, 7-4, and the Miners beating the Capitals, 5-4, in walkoff fashion.
October 2 – The Bayhawks hold off the Condors, 6-4, to clinch the CL South.

Complaints and stuff

The stale taste remains. If we hadn’t lost so badly to the Indians… and to the Aces… and to the Loggers… oh, god, the Loggers…

In the end, Portland had to settle for a winning season and being narrowly beaten (well, four games; coulda been two had we really tried on Sunday…) by the Titans in a marked off year for the juggernaut with nine playoff participations in the last 12 seasons. We squeezed through twice (and won two rings), the Indians won the division once (and no ring).

We ended up tying the Pacifics for the seventh-best record in the league, so we will have either the #17 or #18 pick next season.

…and then there was a surprise right at the end. Jimmy Wallace had challenged for the batting title early in the season but had faded in the second half, but Berto Ramos, who had started the season with his head stuck in a storm drain cover, and who had batted in the .210s as late as the second half of May, and didn’t reach .250 until well into June, reached the .300 vicinity by the end of July. And there he hovered for the next two months before going on a late tear. After an 0-for-4 that ended the sweep in Milwaukee on the 11th he posted only one more oh-fer on the 21st. He hit safely in 17 of the last 18 games, including 10 multi-hit games. And that pushed his average up. .310 on Monday, .312/313 for most of the week, and then a pair of 2-hit games to end the season to launch him to .315 – and past Adam Avakian, who faded in the final week, put up zeroes five times, and dropped a whopping seven points while Berto rose six points – and passed him.

So here he is, 2033 CL batting title winner Alberto Ramos!

Fun Fact: The most recent Raccoons batting champ was Cookie Carmona, swatting .344 with two homers and 52 RBI in the 2017 season.

Cookie won the title by 15 points over Adrian Quebell, then with the Condors. Matt Nunley finished third. Cookie was a year younger when he notched his crown, and did so just narrowly after missing 46 games. Berto has qualified for the batting title four years in a row now, so maybe we can hope for a lot of value out of that 8-year deal.

One can dream.
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Old 12-02-2019, 07:24 PM   #3035
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Nice bounce back season that was a bit of a surprise. The future looks bright (fingers crossed)
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:02 PM   #3036
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Okay, I am finally caught up from my hiatus. It took me longer to read through '32 than anticipated. My plan was to read a few posts every night in bed, but the horrors of that season were making it difficult to fall asleep..... So I had to find time during daylight hours to face the scary stuff....

'33 was more pleasant and I could go back to my original bedtime reading schedule!

Hooray to Alberto on the Batting Title. It looked like his career was going to be eaten up by injuries there for a while.

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Old 12-03-2019, 07:16 PM   #3037
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2033 PLAYOFFS

The 2033 playoffs turned out to contain a colorful field, including the record-winning team in the league, one team that had never won, and two teams that had yet to take home a trophy in this millennium.

The record-holders for title winners were of course the Boston Titans, who won 90 games to take the CL North by four games. They scored the second-most runs in the Continental League, but didn’t have fool-proof pitching. Their rotation was decent, but their bullpen had been a bottomless pit from day one and had never been fixed. Their bullpen ERA was the worst in the league. Their offense was built around getting on base, their .350 team OBP second in the CL, but they were in the bottom half in both home runs and stolen bases. They did have five hitters with double-digit home runs, but none with more than Willie Vega’s 15, and one of those five, Mark Walker, was on the DL for the CLCS. Nobody batted .290 or drove in 90 runs on a dense team that lacked standout superstar hitting. They were counting on their rotation, led with 18-game winner Adam Potter, and that they could get the game to the tough end of the pen, where Jermaine Campbell had 37 saves and a 2.71 ERA.

The 91-71 Bayhawks had won the South on the last day of the season and were in a somewhat similar situation; they had scored the most runs, but had allowed the sixth-most as well. Their rotation had a better ERA than their bullpen, and they had led the league in OBP with a .355 mark. They were however also in the top three in homers and stolen bases, so their attack was by no means one-dimensional. The lineup was anchored by sophomore Doug Levis, who had hit .266 with 27 HR and 91 RBI, but who was also a problem because since acquiring Justin Uliasz (.246, 11 HR, 61 RBI) from the *Titans* they were forced to play the defensively inept Levis in a corner outfield spot. Their defense was better than the Titans’, and their pen was not quite as horrendous. They were however without quirky, pesky second baseman Jose Cruz, who would miss the postseason with an oblique strain.

Over in the Federal League, the Miners were the bottom seed for the playoffs, beating the Capitals by two games and clinching the FL East with only 83 wins. They were a rarity in that they made the postseason with a negative run differential (-3). They were sixth in runs scored, ninth in runs allowed. Their offense was one-dimensional to the max, hitting the absolute most homers in the ABL, but unable to steal bases at all. They were hitting for the third-highest average, too. Their pitching was crummy throughout, and the defense was mediocre, too. What was remarkable about the offense was that serial triple crown threat Danny Santillano didn’t even lead his own team in home runs and hit only 20 throughout the season (albeit missing 39 games to injury). They had five bats with 16+ HR, not counting Jake Trawick (17), who was injured and unavailable at least at the start of the CLCS. They were hoping on the rotation to get it together, led by Jonas Mejia, who won 17 games despite a 4.28 ERA. They had not found a closer all year and were unlikely to find one in the playoffs. They were considered to be in trouble…

Opposite them were the top-seated 93-69 Warriors, who had led all of the ABL in offense, hitting the second-most homers and stealing the third-fewest bases in the FL, so in that the two FLCS teams were similar. However, the Warriors also sported the best rotation (but a bad pen) in the FL, and had a top-rated defense. They were looking for steady production by Mario Colon (.274, 21 HR, 97 RBI) and Ethan McCullar (.288, 20 HR, 86 RBI), and for their #1 rotation to keep their bullpen out of games. However, they were not without issues. Injuries had ravaged their roster, especially the offense. With Kevin Harenberg (.311, 13 HR, 91 RBI), Jon Gonzalez (.235, 9 HR, 28 RBI), and Luis Ortegon (.277, 9 HR, 51 RBI) they were down three potential impact bats, so the bottom of the order was going to be thinned out.

This was the 10th playoff appearance for the Miners, who were one of three ABL teams to never win a championship. The Warriors made their 11th appearance. They had won the championship all the way back in 1978 – the older folks among us will remember. These teams had met in the FLCS twice, in 2014 and 2015, with each team winning once. Both had then fallen to the Crusaders in the World Series.

Serial winners Titans made their 17th playoff appearance, the third in a row, and were bidding for their 10th championship. They had most recently won in 2030 after four-peating from 2022 through 2025. The Bayhawks had won the championship in 1999, which was the only time they met (and thus eliminated) the Titans in the CLCS, but had not made the postseason since 2017, and had won the CL South for only the seventh time.

The smart money was on a Bayhawks-Warriors World Series, although neither the Titans nor the Miners were entirely chanceless, even if only the pile of injuries to the Warriors opened the door for Pittsburgh. Bayhawks and Warriors in six games, each.

+++

2033 LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Miners @ Warriors … 5-6 … (Warriors lead 1-0) … PIT Danny Santillano 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI;

Mike Chaplin hits a walkoff double off Robbie Peel, scoring Dan Dalton to put Sioux Falls up 1-0 after the Miners had rallied to erase an early deficit.

Miners @ Warriors … 1-6 … (Warriors lead 2-0) … SFW Jesus Matos 3-4, BB, 2B; SFW Mario Colon 3-4, BB, HR, 2 2B, RBI; SFW Melvin Hernandez 3-4, HR, 4 RBI; SFW Mark Roberts 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, W (1-0);
Titans @ Bayhawks … 3-0 … (Titans lead 1-0) … BOS Mario Gonzalez 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, W (1-0);

Matt Huf pitches only one inning for San Fran before leaving with an injury. He has a mild calf strain and will not be available for a week.

Titans @ Bayhawks … 4-2 … (Titans lead 2-0) … BOS Rhett West 3-4, BB;

Warriors @ Miners … 4-8 … (Warriors lead 2-1) … SFW Jesus Matos 2-4, BB; PIT Jim McKenzie 2-5, HR, 3B, 2 RBI; PIT Danny Santillano 3-4, 2B; PIT Omar Lastrade 2-4, BB, 2B, 2 RBI;

Warriors @ Miners … 0-2 … (series tied 2-2) … PIT Jonas Mejia 8.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 K, W (1-0);
Bayhawks @ Titans … 3-2 … (Titans lead 2-1) … SFB George Hawthorne 2-4, HR, 3 RBI;

Hawthorne’s eighth-inning, 3-run homer off Adam Potter keeps the Titans from kicking the door to the World Series wide open.

Warriors @ Miners … 7-4 … (Warriors lead 3-2) … SFW Jesus Matos 3-5; SFW Travis Sheaffer 2-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; PIT Vicente Palacios 2-4, 2B, RBI;
Bayhawks @ Titans … 11-1 … (series tied 2-2) … SFB Ryan Cassell 3-4, BB, 3B, 3 RBI; SFB Ben Suhay 2-4, BB, 2B, 3 RBI; SFB Isaiah Russell 1-3, 2 BB, 2 RBI;

Bayhawks @ Titans … 7-1 … (Bayhawks lead 3-2) … SFB Eduardo Umanzor 3-4, HR, 3 RBI; SFB Eric Fox 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K;

Middle reliever Eric Fox pitches three shutout innings after a rain delay eliminates Bayhawks starter Ben Lipsky (W, 1-1, 4.35 ERA) after five innings and holds on while the team zooms out to beat Mario Gonzalez in a rematch of Game 1. The home team has yet to win a game in the CLCS.

Miners @ Warriors … 0-13 … (Warriors win 4-2) … SFW Jesus Matos 4-4, BB, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI; SFW Mario Colon 2-3, 2 BB, 2 RBI; SFW Ethan McCullar 3-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI; SFW Mark Roberts 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K, W (2-0) and 2-3;

Titans @ Bayhawks … 6-5 (14) … (series tied 3-3) … BOS Keith Spataro 2-5, 2 BB, 2 RBI; BOS Jamie Richardson 2-2, 4 BB, 2 2B, RBI;

After about five hours, an unretired Jamie Richardson, batting eighth, reaches base with a 1-out double off Jay Schimek and is scored on Andy Walker’s 2-out single to break a 5-5 tie. The Bayhawks had originally trailed 5-2 after seven and had rallied over the Titans’ tough end of the pen to force extra innings.

Titans @ Bayhawks … 4-2 … (Titans win 4-3) …

The Titans overcome an elbow injury to Adam Potter in the first inning and use 22 players to cobble together the seventh road team win in the series to squeak through the Bayhawks, as both teams land only five base hits apiece in a slow-moving crawl of a game. Keith Spataro hits a game-winning RBI single in the top of the ninth off David Gerow to break a 2-2 tie. Rhett West drives in an insurance run.

+++

2033 WORLD SERIES

In a never-seen-before World Series matchup, the Warriors would have homefield advantage on the strength of their 93 wins to the Titans’ 90. The Warriors, who had lost their last four World Series appearances, looked to end a 55-year title drought, while the Titans won their third straight pennant. They had beaten the Pacifics in ’31, but has lost to them the year after.

Boston came in with the worse numbers both offensively and pitching-wise, and also took another blow to the knees in Game 7 in San Francisco, which Adam Potter had left with an elbow injury. Since their previous maladies had recovered, he was now their only injured player… but the blow was significant. Their rotation was now anchored by Mario Gonzalez (15-11, 3.39 ERA), and behind him things thinned out quickly. The pen remained terrible and had blown several leads.

The Warriors had gotten Harenberg and Gonzalez back, their pair of first basemen, who had previously partaken together in the Raccoons’ 2026 championship and were hoping to get another ring with this long-shot of a team. Mark Roberts, who was 2-0 with an 0.60 ERA in the FLCS, had also been part of that team.

Both teams had balanced pitching staffs. The Warriors’ lineup leaned a bit more to the left than the Titans’, but it was not exactly sure whether that was an advantage or not. But the pundits agreed that it would be *extremely* hard for the Titans to cover for the loss of Adam Potter, and many proclaimed a Warriors win in as few as five games!

+++

Titans @ Warriors … 1-4 … (Warriors lead 1-0)

In a pitching-heavy game, Jimmy Souders and three relievers outlast Mario Gonzalez and Tim Zimmerman. The Titans had only three base hits, but committed two errors (both by Antonio Gil) for two unearned runs.

Titans @ Warriors … 3-4 … (Warriors lead 2-0) … BOS Keith Spataro 2-4, 2 2B; BOS Edgar Gonzalez 2-3, HR, 3 RBI; SFW Mario Colon 2-4, BB, HR, 2B, RBI; SFW Ethan McCullar 3-4, RBI; SFW Pedro Cisneros 1-2, 2 BB;

The Warriors walk off with Mario Colon’s 2-out homer off Jermaine Campbell in the bottom of the ninth.

Warriors @ Titans … 7-5 … (Warriors lead 3-0) … SFW Travis Sheaffer 4-5, 3B; SFW Ethan McCullar 2-4, 2B, RBI; SFW Pedro Cisneros 2-4, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; SFW Jeff Wadley 2-3, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; BOS Ivan Vega 2-4, 2 RBI;

Ironically, both starters get battered while the bullpens allow nary a dent in the box score. The Warriors have three matchballs to end 55 years of agony.

Warriors @ Titans … 8-1 … (Warriors win 4-0) … SFW Nick Rozenboom 2-5, 2B, RBI; SFW Pedro Cisneros 3-3, BB; SFW Mike Ibarra 8.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, W (1-1);

Replacement starting pitcher Rich Willett is hammered for seven runs (six earned) in 3.1 innings as the Warriors establish their case early and in force. They score two in the second, four in the third, and one run each in the following two innings. The Titans amount to only four hits, and don’t score until the last inning, in which they draw two runs each off Ibarra and Warriors ace-in-name Pat Okrasinski, who missed most of the season to injury and could only pitch in relief – but hammers home the win and makes the Warriors champions for the first time since the President Carter administration. (The first one, not the former MMA fighter)

+++

2033 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS
Sioux Falls Warriors

(2nd title)
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Last edited by Westheim; 12-03-2019 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 12-03-2019, 07:20 PM   #3038
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Questdog View Post
Okay, I am finally caught up from my hiatus. It took me longer to read through '32 than anticipated. My plan was to read a few posts every night in bed, but the horrors of that season were making it difficult to fall asleep..... So I had to find time during daylight hours to face the scary stuff....

'33 was more pleasant and I could go back to my original bedtime reading schedule!

Hooray to Alberto on the Batting Title. It looked like his career was going to be eaten up by injuries there for a while.
Being live in the center of the swirling tornado of awfulness was no better than the scary dreams, I guess.

Things are indeed pointing upwards - I expect us to have money available to plug holes (some obvious, some not so much) in the offseason, since a) we have finally arrived at the team options for Rico Gutierrez, and b) Nick Valdes likes a winner, and technically we did win a few games this year.

...and I am merely 12 pages behind on the Beavers.
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Old 12-04-2019, 05:21 PM   #3039
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A few days after Game 4 of the Warriors’ romp over the Titans, I got a glowing message from Nick Valdes. Steve from Accounting had filed the final financials for the season and the Raccoons had turned just over $10m in profits for the Valdes Empire of Cruelty to Small Animals and Everything Else. This was a noted difference to the previous four years where the Critters usually dealt with high salaries and low win totals. This year had been the other way round. Me personally, I don’t care how we win a lot of games, as long as we win eight in October…

Of course we were also due a budget adjustment. Last year the Critters had ranked a sad 20th in the league with a $27.2M budget. As expected, we were given a slightly bigger allowance… but I had hoped for more. Ownership added $2.2M to the budget, for a total of $29.4M, which still had us mired way down in 19th place in the league with a significant gap to the midfield teams.

The top 5 teams in terms of budget were the Pacifics ($59M), Titans ($48M), Condors ($45M), Warriors ($43M), and Buffaloes ($40.5M). The bottom 5 would contain the Knights ($28.8M9, Loggers ($26.6M), Rebels ($25.8M), Aces ($25.6M), and Falcons ($22.4M).

The remaining CL North teams clocked in 6th (NYC, $39.5M), 10th (IND, $38M), and 17th (VAN, $31M).

The average budget was $35.9M, up $1.59M from the previous season. The median budget was $36.75M, up $3M from last season.

Looks like baseball smarts will be required to sort any of this out! … Maud? – Maud? – Can you come in and look at a few of these numbers?

+++

Initially, the team was not exactly flush with money given that a few of the kits, Wallace and Wise for example, were growing up to become adolescents and were going to rub their anal glands on my stash of money now. However, there were two option cases that could have a big effect on the budget going forwards.

The first of those was Tim Stalker. Acquired from the Blue Sox in a dismantling deadline deal in 2021, he had made his debut in ’22 and had been on the roster ever since, although he had for a few years taken a backseat on the bench when the Raccoons had deferred to playing Jarod Spencer instead, which in hindsight had turned out to have been a folly. Stalker had signed a 6-yr, $17M contract after the 2028 title campaign, with the final year – 2034 – a player option worth $2.6M, which if executed would make him the biggest earner on the roster, just ahead of Adrian Reichardt (who by the way had a vesting option worth $2.24M for next season, requiring appearance in 135 games). I didn’t see any immediate reason why Stalker would want out of the contract. On one hand he had delivered his best offensive season in a long time in addition to the usual stingy defense, but on the other hand there were also two huge red flags in that he had missed almost 50 games with injury and that he would turn 36 in July. He was unlikely to get another huge deal – he was a middle infielder after all. His best bet was to pick the $2.6M right in front of his nose… and he did exactly that rather than electing free agency. He would thus put in a 13th season as Critter.

Because it should be mentioned at some point – the Raccoons continued to have very few guaranteed contracts as a consequence of stripping the entire thing down to the bare bones in the 2030-32 period. Besides Stalker and Reichardt the only “big” contracts on the roster were those of Berto ($2.5M per year through 2038), Zeltser (two servings of $1.62M each), and Juan Camps (two years at $930k each). The only other guaranteed contracts were one more year each to Garavito and Hawkins, totaling $1M. That was it; everybody else was either headed for arbitration or made the minimum anyway.

The other case was Rico Gutierrez, who had signed an 8-yr, $16.96M contract after the 2026 title campaign (and no, we don’t go on title runs every year…) and before long the worms and maggots had crawled all over that contract… and Gutierrez. He pitched a full and meager season in ’27, then won the ERA title in the 2028 season. He started 2029 with a 1.98 ERA from 11 games… then tore his labrum. That all but ****ed him up for good. He was a mess ever after, posting ERA’s of 5.32, 5.69, 4.97, and 4.24 leading us up to the present day. He had another two years of $2.09M each on his contract… but the Coons elected out. We needed value out of the #5 slot and Gutierrez wasn’t going to deliver it.

So we instead opted to pay him $550k to void the contract, which made us pay more to a pitcher to NOT pitch for us as we’d pay to any two of the group including Sabre, del Rio, and Chavez combined while indeed hoping they *would* pitch for us.

Kicking out Gutierrez immediately created $2.2M of budget space, not including a swift million in cash, and that was before we could tinker with the salary arbitration table [which shall be printed in full below, unaltered].

Gutierrez would become the ninth player eligible for arbitration or free agency, but would not receive an offer, which could not be said right away about any of the eight other candidates. Our other two free agents were Mario Rosas, who had gone 4-7 with a 3.46 ERA as a Raccoon, which could be blamed on any number of things. He was going to be a type A free agent, but that sounded better than it probably was, since there was hardly a team with excess dough picking in the second half of the draft, so we were highly unlikely to receive a first-round pick. On the other hand, Rosas had only made $2.2M so far and was probably worth more, but then again our entire budget was hardly that much.

The other free agent would be Ed Blair, who pitched to a 1.87 ERA and was an interesting candidate to extend. His fate however probably hinged on what would happen to Rosas, because money was not infinite around here.

Then there was the arbitration table, which contained a few INTERESTING choices. First-time eligible players Chris Wise, Jimmy Wallace, and John Hennessy were no-brainers to keep around. Wise was the best thing to happen to us in terms of closers in a while, Hennessy was solid and cheap, and Wallace had a strong bat that was nice to have in the #3 slot, even though his defense continued to draw the sort of reviews normally reserved for B movies shot with handheld cameras. We were working on that… (lobs Jimmy Wallace a ball, very gently; Wallace swipes at it with both paws, misses, and is hit in the nose before falling over) … we are working on that!

There were three more arbitration eligible players. First was Travis Zitzner, who was doing a solid job, although I always loved players that hit 30 homers more than those that hit 20 homers. Just sayin’. He was due a hefty raise and it was probably worth exploring the possibility of a long-term deal here that would give us a discount this year. – This was all part of the plan to raise funds for a Rosas extension.

The other players were Billy Jennings and Fernando Garcia. Neither had exactly torn out any trees in his first season in Portland. Jennings had hit 12 homers for Cincy a year ago and only three as a Critter. His playing time had diminished at the end of the season with both Manny Fernandez and Adrian Reichardt on the roster at the same time. His arbitration estimate wasn’t exactly hysterical. The question was though whether we wanted to keep him at all. Between Wallace, Reichardt, Fernandez, and Camps we had four solid-to-plus outfielders, and we wouldn’t give a long-term deal to Jennings anyway (but Reichardt was also not expected to hang around for 2035). Technically there were also Catella, Pinkerton, Hooge, and Bobby Houston (who had yet to appear in the majors) on the extended or 40-man roster, none of whom was per se better than Jennings, but all would be cheaper.

The last case was Fernando Garcia, who was probably the most pronounced disappointment to have been added during 2033 that had seen the fewest words written about him. He had hit around .270 with up to 18 homers with the damn Elks, but managed only a .241, 7 HR, 30 RBI season in just over 300 plate-appearance. He was briefly on the DL, but the main reason for the low output was that Elliott Thompson played him into the short end of a platoon by May and he never managed to out-hit the himself only modestly successful Thompson (.257, 1 HR, 40 RBI). Both put up an OPS+ of 95. Thompson ultimately saw about 20% more plate appearances. Thompson played better defense, but caught fewer base runners.

Garcia’s arbitration estimate was $1.4M, an outrageous sum for a good defensive, but meh hitting catcher that didn’t figure to get more than another 300 plate appearances.

Outrageous, outrageous…!
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Old 12-06-2019, 03:25 AM   #3040
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Then the offseason started in earnest. With the Stalker and Gutierrez matters settled, the Raccoons went to look at their roster, and there were some holes. Assuming we would not resign Mario Rosas, which was more than likely, we had to fill two spots in the rotation behind Bernie Chavez, Raffaello Sabre, and Ignacio del Rio (who was expected to be ready for Opening Day, unlike Nick Bates). And the spots were *behind* them; if we couldn’t keep Rosas, we couldn’t hope to get somebody in free agency, either. The personnel at hand had proven time and again that they weren’t up to snuff. We were talking about the Coffees and Gurney of the world here… Darren Brown’s future was uncertain, but would certainly be in St. Pete to start the new season.

In fact, to reduce clutter, the Raccoons offloaded several roster fillers back to the AAA roster right away. This included Brown, Carlos Contreras, Justin LeDuc, and the unbearable Kyle Green, who was walking 6.5 batters per nine frames and that as a 25-year-old righty. Big red flag. Biggest red flag we’d seen flown in a while. That left only 15 pitchers on the extended roster in late October, including the outgoing Rico Gutierrez, the up-in-the-air Mario Rosas, the injured Nick Bates, who was expected back until June with torn elbow ligaments, and potential roster fillers at the back end of the pen in Gurney and de la Cruz. Also around hung Antonio Prieto, who had silently had a decent call-up, appearing in 15 games and pitching to a 2.13 ERA with 11 K in 12.2 innings. Also seven walks, but at least he was only 23.

If the Raccoons couldn’t retain Ed Blair, Prieto was pretty much guaranteed a roster spot over de la Cruz. Jason Gurney only figured to end up in the bullpen if we traded one of the other three southpaws in there.

What about AAA starters? There was an entire handful that merited at least casual consideration, including Brown and Contreras, although only one of them had pitched to an ERA better than 4.18 in AAA in 2033, and Brown had even been above 5. There was Travis Coffee, who had not been called up again after being injured in a spot start in August. He had compiled a 2.82 ERA in 115 innings in AAA, making 16 starts and a handful of relief appearances. He had only featured in five Coons games, and had only pitched 5.2 innings. Last year he had made 19 appearances for Portland (16 starts) and had done *okay*, 5-7 with a 4.31 ERA. We had surely seen worse!

There was also a pair of 23-year-old right-handers, 2030 second-rounder Jason Lucas (12-16, 4.18 ERA in AAA) and 2031 first-rounder Jonathan Dykstra (8-13, 4.42 ERA). Both had control issues that needed ironing out. Neither had high strikeout totals. They were not ready for primetime, but at least on the radar. Lucas also had to go on the 40-man roster before December 1 to protect him from the rule 5 draft where he would likely be taken.

Moving along to catching, we were willing to go forward with Elliott Thompson, but were looking for a different platoon partner, because our budget didn’t allow to blow $1.3M or so on Fernando Garcia, who had been mostly a disappointment.

There was no suitable replacement for Garcia in AAA (or on the extended roster in David Tinnin). Peeking at AA Ham Lake we saw 19-year-old Tony Morales, a $95k expense in the July 2030 IFA period. He had made his debut in Aumsville just before his 19th birthday in April and had clocked opposing pitching for an .888 OPS in 50 games, meriting fast-tracking him to Ham Lake, where he’d swatted .251/.308/.440 the rest of the way. Between the two levels he had hit 15 dingers and 59 extra-base hits in 121 games. There might be a pure hitter here! His defense was *decent* but not extraordinary. He was also a lefty batter. He was no threat to Thompson right now, because jumping him to the majors right now seemed ill-advised. He might start the season in Ham Lake, but we fully expected him to be in St. Pete by the summer.

Next up, the infield – where the starting positions seem all but taken. Zitzner, Stalker, Ramos, Zeltser around the diamond – what else would we do? Zelts had only batted .273 and for a .685 OPS after his trade from the Caps, but I declared that a sample size issue. The guy had done nothing but hitting in the Federal League and was a 6-year veteran; he had batted .300 in qualifying fashion three times (and four times in total) for Pittsburgh and Washington; I was not going to be distracted by 209 at-bats slightly out of shape.

Tom Hawkins and Justin Marsingill figured to be solid backup options, but both were right-handed, leaving us with little options to put the finger on the scale by f.e. occasionally sitting Stalker against a right-handed pitcher. (Rich Vickers, left to his devices in AAA in September, was also a right-handed batter) That was not a HUGE problem – while Stalker had a higher average against lefties, the difference was only 16 points. Moreover, ALL of his homers in ’33 had been off right-handed pitchers, so he had a higher OPS against righties (30 points). This was mostly in line with his career splits, too, which were actually more pronounced (although he did have 26 career homers vs. left-handed hurling). It would be a nice option to have, but not something worth sleepless nights.

The outfield was a bit of work, though.

Taking stock, the Critters had finished the season with seven outfielders on the extended roster. Jimmy Wallace had slumped in September, but had posted the highest OPS of all (.769). His defense remained atrocious. In center we had Adrian Reichardt, whenever he felt like not hurting all over, and as options Manny Fernandez – nice debut with a 108 OPS+ and 19 stolen bases in almost 400 PA – as well as Billy Jennings, Juan Camps, and Preston Pinkerton. Sean Catella was also around, but let’s remain serious here. Yes, he had hit .393 this year. That was in 28 at-bats, and he remained a .235/.278/.296 for his disappointing 5-year career. The biggest impact about him was probably that we resorted to recalling him every single year…

Catella and Pinkerton were likely the odd guys out given that we could either platoon both Fernandez and Reichardt in center as well as Jennings and Camps in right, or try to trade one of them and get a switch-hitter or super utility.

The biggest issue to a Wallace-Reichardt-Fernandez-Camps-Jennings outfield was egos. All five considered themselves to be starters, and we could only reasonably start three on any given day.

The only reasonable option in AAA was Ed Hooge, who had featured less this year than last, and who did many things reasonably well, but didn’t excel in any. He hit for a decent average. Had decent power. Decent defense. Decent speed. This meant that he would not get any attention as long as those five outfielders were still around.

+++

October 21 – The Buffaloes acquire C Jeremiah Brooks (.300, 71 HR, 419 RBI) from the Rebels for LF/RF/1B Danny Figueroa (.317, 10 HR, 61 RBI) and a prospect.

+++

The Raccoons during late October signed 1-year extensions with Chris Wise ($650k), Jimmy Wallace ($525k), and John Hennessy ($330k), avoiding arbitration with all three of them.

And this is where I am currently stuck on a deal, or actually two, but I can only do one, and I might not do any of them, and I need to break my skull over the options a bit more. Yes, this involves Fernando Garcia, but him alone is not enough to get a strong addition I am looking for in any case…
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: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 39 TONER : 46 SAITO

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