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Old 02-23-2016, 05:36 PM   #1721
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A word on bullpen composition for 2010, which hasn’t been mentioned at all in the previous update. We have the following guys under contract: Donald Sims ($1M thru ’11), Law Rockburn ($1.125M thru ’12); plus pitchers under team control: Angel Casas, Luis Beltran, Derrek Fredlund, Ted Reese (all but Casas on the minimum), Pedro Delgado (a bit of an afterthought and probably not worth keeping around); also Matt Cash, who’s not on the 40-man roster.

Also not on the 40-man roster, but going to come on for damn sure, 22-yr old lefty Ron Thrasher. He was a piece in the Huerta/Esquivel trade with the Elks in July. Still raw command, but the stuff is very blistering with a 96mph fastball and an ugly sinker. So IF a batter hits it, it’s most likely gobbled up by Howell or Nomura out there. He’s VERY hard to hit. He gave up three homers in the last two minor league seasons combined, while pitching 142 innings total. Certainly better than Luis Beltran and I haven’t made up my mind as to who of those two starts the season on the major league roster.

There was another scruffy left-handed relief pitching prospect acquired in July, George Youngblood from the Rebels. He posted some of his best AAA numbers with St. Pete late in the season, despite horrendous BABIP numbers against him. Let’s say, he’s passed Tim “Dumpster Boy” Webster on the depth chart for left-handed pitching.

Yes, Dumpster Boy is still a thing … He’s 29, pitched 29.2 innings between AA and AAA, and it wasn’t pretty.

So, we’re gonna have Angel closing, with Sims and Rockburn in front of that, and the rest is bits and pieces right now, with either Beltran or Thrasher on the roster, plus … well, Fredlund and Reese seem to be locks right now? Uh…
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Old 02-24-2016, 02:37 PM   #1722
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I called both Javier Cruz and Daniel Sharp after the season ended and the dust had settled … and the tears had dried somewhat. However, neither was willing to sign a short-term deal. In fact, they were both after 4-year contracts. While that could make some remote sense with Sharp (who asked for a $3.2M value), it didn’t quite with Cruz, who would be 40 years old by the completion of the contract and asked for $4.8M we didn’t quite have available.

It wasn’t just them. Marcos Bruno and Ricardo Huerta were also after millions, and we can’t pay millions (each year!) to relief pitchers that aren’t even named Angel Casas. It hurts especially with Bruno, who’s been here since he was drafted, but … we … just … can’t. (breaks out a blister of some pills or other) Hey, don’t judge! I have a prescription! My doctor saw that Crusaders game, too.

Things get worse and worse. Angel Casas wasn’t interested in a long-term deal (despite me wanting it desperately). The only guy that didn’t go directly against what their poor old GM wanted turned out to be Yoshi Nomura, who could be convinced that a 4-year contract was best for him ultimately (which means we really need to get rid of Jose Diarrhea).

Nothing really worked, including hunting down a new scout. I was after Kevin Hampton for a while, but we dropped out of the race once the asking price shot up to $417k per year, which was outrageous. Even more outrageous was the fact that he eventually signed for $230k per year with the Rebels. What the …!?

WHY DOESN’T ANYBODY WANT TO BE HERE WITH ME?? ISN’T IT WONDERFUL HERE?? (clangs Klingon pain stick against the naked steel wall)

(sparks fly)

WELL, ISN’T IT??

***

October 26 – The Blue Sox deal SP Jim Baker (32-42, 4.98 ERA) to the Bayhawks for second-rate prospect SP Nate Delli Quadri, who’s unranked.
November 3 – The Crusaders acquire 1B B.J. Manfull (.285, 17 HR, 85 RBI) from the Cyclones for 1B/3B Marc Williams (.269, 15 HR, 56 RBI) and a third-rate prospect.
November 4 – The Titans and Falcons close a deal in which the Titans receive MR Jeff Paul (39-27, 2.83 ERA, 61 SV) and a minor league catcher for 1B/SS Jesus Amador (.237, 36 HR, 278 RBI).
November 9 – The Raccoons acquire 32-yr old INF Bradley Heathershaw (.237, 53 HR, 252 RBI) from the Thunder for a package including 35-yr old C Antonio De La Parra (.286, 78 HR, 709 RBI), 27-yr old AAA SP César Lopez, and 20-yr old A 2B Frank Graciano.

***

We got the first funny trade proposal of the winter quite early. On November 4 the Crusaders graciously offered us their backup catcher Jose Flores for Jose Correa AND Hector Santos. It was oh so tempting, but I had to send a polite and regretful declining response. Well, I actually wrote GM Joey Rice that he should stop smoking his pillow and shove off.

But Correa was a popular target early in the offseason, which surprised me somewhat. Given that I was quite eager to get rid of his contract after his absolute worst season ever, I was potentially listening, but the problem was the other dead contract behind the dish, and there were 23 other teams trying to unload their backup catchers on us…

We avoided a number of arbitration cases with 1-year deals for Adrian Quebell ($680k), Matt Pruitt ($333k), Kenichi Watanabe ($250k), and there was also a longer extension with Yoshi Nomura, who inked an escalating 4-yr, $2.4M deal that clears his last year of arbitration eligibility and three years of free agency. And then he’ll still be only 29. Yes, I burned him when he was still a little kit.

The November 9 deal with the Thunder was actually born out of giving up on César Lopez. Before drowning him in a bag in the Willamette I shopped him around and the Thunder actually called. We worked something out for either our new third base starter or a utility guy who could regularly sub everybody on the infield. Heathershaw is a right-handed hitter, making him a good sub for Nomura when we play a left-hander, for example (which assumes we also manage to flip Jose Diarrhea into something remotely useful, perhaps a remote control).

And hey, he has a winner’s name!

No he hasn’t actually won anything in his career.

The other players in the deal… well, Lopez was one missed call short of getting thrown into the Willamette sewn into a bag, and Frank Graciano was an international signing that was probably not going to amount to much of anything. I’ve been wrong before, though.

There was a blot on the picture, however, with Heathershaw, who batted .246/.342/.373 with 11 HR and 53 RBI in 2009, appearing in 137 games, actually being arbitration eligible for a final time, so his 2010 salary was undetermined at the time of the trade with a $550k estimate. He would sign a 1-year deal at $540k eventually (while I wanted 2-yr, $1M). That’s still cheaper than De La Pumpkin and we still do not get any less production from the dish slot even if we made Ximenes Lopes our starter, or for the heck of it, Ximenes’ cross-eyed sister.

Ironic that if Keith Ayers hadn’t been out, De La Pumpkin would now have been the big hero who won game 162 with the team down to the last strike.

There was also the issue with arbitration being offered or not. I ended up offering arbitration to all remaining eligible players, Angel Casas (at $700k), Rob Howell ($360k), as well as Santiago Trevino and Manuel Gutierrez (both at $230k), with the Raccoons carrying all four cases, and also to type B free agents Daniel Sharp and Javier Cruz. AND to type A free agent Luke Black. The greed to get two extra draft picks was too big, I was going to walk on that edge of the volcano.

And sure be damned – we were taken to arbitration ……… by Javier Cruz. He received a $1M contract by the arbitrator, but Sharpie and Count Hack declined and entered the market. That’s actually all swell. Well, I would have loved paying 300 grand less for Cruz, but apart from that, that’s… swell! Phew. PHEW!!!

Right now I have a grand masterplan how to further develop the offseason. Trade Diarrhea to the Blue Sox for Craig Bowen (the money’s almost the same, even though for twice as long), place Yoshi as the sole starter at second base again, throw money at a third baseman, use Heathershaw as regular sub, and use the spare change to sign a top setup/closer type, perhaps one of the three Crusaders’ closers. Yep, all three (Robbie Wills, Iemitsu Rin, Scott Hood) became free agents!

***

2009 AWARD WINNERS

Players of the Year: CIN RF/LF/1B Will Bailey (.389, 27 HR, 108 RBI) and ATL OF Jose Morales (.334, 33 HR, 114 RBI)
Pitchers of the Year: LAP SP Brad Smith (18-4, 2.34 ERA) and POR SP Nick Brown (17-6, 2.39 ERA)
Rookies of the Year: LAP C Errol Spears (.326, 18 HR, 106 RBI) and ATL C Carlos Delgado (.297, 14 HR, 71 RBI)
Relievers of the Year: WAS CL Tommy Wooldridge (8-4, 1.85 ERA, 37 SV) and IND CL Salvadaro Soure (2-3, 1.51 ERA, 47 SV)
Platinum Sticks (FL): P NAS Tim Bailey, C LAP Errol Spears, 1B DAL Dennis Berman, 2B DAL Hector Garcia, 3B LAP Jens Carroll, SS DEN Dave Hutchinson, LF PIT Mohammed Blanc, CF LAP Jimmy Roberts, RF CIN Will Bailey
Platinum Sticks (CL): P VAN David Peterson, C LVA Eduardo Durango, 1B SFB Leborio Catalo, 2B ATL Carlos Martinez, 3B CHA Jose Lopez, SS OCT Marcos Garza, LF NYC Martin Ortíz, CF ATL Jose Morales, RF VAN Josh Thomas
Gold Gloves (FL): P PIT Henry Becker, C TOP Antonio Ramirez, 1B DAL Dennis Berman, 2B DAL Hector Garcia, 3B PIT Wes Ladd, SS DAL Armando Rodriguez, LF TOP Lionnel Perri, CF DAL César Morán, RF RIC Winston Jones
Gold Gloves (CL): P MIL Roy Thomas, C TIJ Foster Leach, 1B OCT Tomas Cardenas, 2B SFB Jose Perez, 3B TIJ Dan Jones, SS LVA Tom Dahlke, LF NYC Martin Ortíz, CF NYC Roberto Pena, RF NYC Stanton Martin

My life is complete. I can now die a happy furball.
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Old 02-25-2016, 01:47 AM   #1723
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November 20 – The Raccoons reacquire their former C Craig Bowen (.236, 78 HR, 290 RBI), 29, from the Blue Sox, along with 28-year old MR Ray Kelley (17-23, 3.42 ERA, 3 SV), for 30-yr old INF Jose Correa (.298, 19 HR, 391 RBI).

This tickles so many itches, BNN called it the best fit of the offseason before it even began. Bowen and the Sox had a pretty bad fallout over whatever and he wanted outta there. The Blue Sox also wanted him outta there for his luxurious contract and their desire to rebuild after a disastrous 2009 campaign. Then there were the Raccoons, who had banked on Jose Correa to do a bit more than a .662 OPS and 84 OPS+, which was such a steep drop from his former production that everybody in town was still numb two months after the end of the regular season. The Raccoons needed a new catcher direly (with or without De La Pumpkin, who, it turned out, had gotten relocated first), and were willing to fall back to good memories of 2006-08. Bowen broke out there, giving the Raccoons powerful, if inconsistent and strikeout-laden, production from behind the plate, and production hadn’t been something the Raccoons had received from behind the plate in … a long time.

Bowen missed most of the last two months of the 2009 season with a broken wrist, batting .249 with 12 dingers for the Sox. Right-hander Ray Kelley is a bit of a bag of wonders, usually throwing a lot of innings in a low-key role in the pen, first for the Rebels, then for the Blue Sox, for whom he had struck out 123 batters in 89 innings in 2008, while also walking 69. Control was his one downside. He had precious little. He is not quite a Marcos Bruno replacement and we gotta keep looking, but he sure mixes up the load of right-handed rookies we could have been forced to field in 2010.

Absorbing Craig Bowen's remaining six years at almost $2M is nothing the Raccoons can take lightly, but with Yoshi Nomura's resurgence at second base and Rob Howell's steady and pleasant appearances on base, we at least get the full value out of that money, whereas Jose Correa's presence on the roster was in no way welcome and he had clearly been relegated to the short end of a platoon with Yoshi at the end of the 2009 season. You shouldn't fork over $1.7M a year for a guy at the short end of a platoon...

CRAIG BOWEN'S BACK, GUYS!! ALL WILL BE WELL!!!

***

Dang, I'm gonna be so late for work after this...!
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1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
1 OSANAI
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 02-25-2016, 03:11 PM   #1724
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This is the still rather small Hall of Fame ballot for this year. I got away with seven votes this time.

How is a GM allowed to vote?

Easy. I've been writing about baseball for 33 years, and I'm a Grandmaster of the BBBGA. What's that, you ask? How do you not know the BumbleBee Breeders' Guild of America??
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Portland Raccoons, 55 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
1 OSANAI
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 02-25-2016, 03:19 PM   #1725
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The Raccoons were in a swell position as they went into the last week of November. They had also gotten back their slugging catcher from 2006-2008, they had found perhaps an equivalent to Daniel Sharp at third base in Bradley Heathershaw (and Ricardo Martinez was still lurking somewhere), and at the same time hadn’t added a substantial amount of salary at all. The only salary addition had been Javier Cruz accepting arbitration and receiving a $1M contract. That one of course came out of our wallet which I earlier had mentioned containing a bit over $2M. Right now, we have $1.4M available.

With Javier Cruz returning, we *kind of* don’t need to worry about starting pitchers. Things go PITCHER OF THE YEAR Nick Brown, then former ROTY Jong-hoo, Baldwin, and Cruz, and then possibly Watanabe, who is keeping a spot warm for Hector Santos. Watanabe has made double-digit starts only twice, and more than 14 only once (31 in ’06) in the majors, for various reasons. There were injuries, but there were also times where he sucked outright. And if he sucks right away, we still have Cássio Boda and Brendan Teasdale around, so there’s no shortage of spot-warmers.

The bullpen, with the loss of Bruno, loses a bit of its teeth right now. We have Angel, Sims, and Law as the three end-of-game guys, but the rest of our guys for the most part debuted in 2009 and is kinda green and not very good: Fredlund and Reese debuted in 2009, and while Beltran debuted back in 2007, he made more than two thirds of his career appearances in 2009. Then there’s Ray Kelley, acquired in the Bowen trade, who has his own issues, so we wouldn’t go overboard in trying to get another nifty 7th/8th inning reliever or better than that.

Which positions are set? Pretty much all. Pretty much seven positions are set right now. Pruitt, Castro, Alston across the outfield, and Howell, Yoshi, and Quebell on the infield, with Bowen behind the dish. All of this is very bad news for right-handed opposing pitchers: Rob Howell is the only right-handed batter in the group. Then there’s Heathershaw and Martinez at third base. I mean, both could be on the roster at the start of the year, but neither may be the actual third base starter. What we could use is a Daniel Sharp type player at less than his 4/3.2 asking price, but with more leather to him.

Bench composition becomes important, though, because we could have serious issues against left-handed pitching. This is a point that works badly against Santiago Trevino as a defensive backup. We need to have primarily right-handed bench players, I’d say not more than one left-hander outside the five starters (Bowen is a switch hitter). That means that Tom McNeela won’t be a backup catcher, and neither will Ximenes Lopes, who sucked. McNeela should get regular at-bats in AAA, as should Pete Schipper, who had his moments, but I’d like to get him regular play time. Ralph Myers will also not stick around, since he’s a lefty, too and IF you need to carry two first basemen, then they should at least swing from opposite sides of the plate.

So, Keith Ayers and Ricardo Martinez (and potentially Heathershaw) might well be backups, or should Martinez start in AAA? But since third base is reasonably the only position where we can easily add a beast player, we might want to go after Sonny Reece, who is 37, but still rocked it for New York in 2009. He might be on the too expensive end of the market, though, but he does NOT cost a draft pick, being a type B free agent.

So, what’s our shopping list like?
• First-rate third baseman, preferably right-handed
• 7th/8th inning reliever, preferably right-handed
• Outfielder with good CF defense, preferably right-handed (to replace Trevino)
• If Heathershaw ends up the starting 3B, a good defensive middle infielder

***

November 22 – The Bayhawks acquire SP Rodrigo Moreno (8-7, 3.94 ERA) from the Warriors. The 26-year old righty costs them two prospects, including promising, but unranked SP Jimmy Boswell.
November 26 – The Crusaders sign ex-VAN C Gabriel Ortíz (.278, 86 HR, 762 RBI) to a 2-yr, $4.48M deal. The 34-yr old won a ring in 1999 with the Bayhawks.
December 1 – Rule 5 draft: 12 players are taken over three rounds. The Raccoons select 24-yr old AAA MR Pat Slayton from the Stars, but themselves lose 27-yr old AAA MR Claudio Salazar (1-1, 4.29 ERA) to the Gold Sox and 26-yr old AAA MR Matt Cash (2-0, 4.48 ERA) to the Warriors.
December 1 – Ex-OCT LF Victorino Sanchez (.358, 152 HR, 946 RBI), age 31, takes his 2,559 career hits elsewhere and signs a 6-yr, $20.16M contract with the Gold Sox.
December 1 – Funnily, the former Gold Sock SP Antonio Donis (129-79, 3.02 ERA) signs a 2-yr, $5.68M contract with the Thunder.
December 3 – The Thunder pick up 26-yr old ex-SAC CL Arturo Lopez (23-25, 2.67 ERA, 87 SV) for 3-yr, $4.02M.
December 3 – The Loggers send 34-yr old 1B Hugues Cambria (.264, 33 HR, 159 RBI) to the Buffaloes along with a non-prospect for 27-yr old C Tony Avila (.209, 2 HR, 22 RBI).
December 4 – One of the biggest free agents of the year goes off the market, as the Cyclones grab ex-TOP SP Tony Hamlyn (200-122, 2.60 ERA). The 34-year old left-hander has whiffed 2,860 batters in his career, while mostly pitching on losing teams, and receives a 2-yr, $6.16M deal. His countless personal silverware includes five Pitcher of the Year awards.
December 6 – The Blue Sox pick up ex-LVA SP Jim Pennington (57-75, 4.47 ERA) at $2.91M for three years.
December 8 – $4.64M over two years win the Crusaders the favor of ex-DEN Kelvin Yates (117-107, 3.45 ERA).
December 8 – The Pacifics’ former closer, Johnny “Skinny” Smith (60-44, 2.27 ERA, 325 SV) travels upstate to sign a 3-yr, $4.2M deal with the Scorpions.
December 9 – The Raccoons acquire OF Pat White (.325, 7 HR, 78 RBI) from the Capitals for SP Cássio Boda (13-11, 4.44 ERA).
December 9 – The Warriors deal 30-yr old LF/RF Dave Graham (.301, 139 HR, 627 RBI) to the Indians for three prospects, including two unremarkable catchers and #71 prospect MR Jeff Lyon.
December 9 – The Wolves send OF Rudy Garrison (.284, 68 HR, 679 RBI) to the Capitals for C Carlos Ramos (.298, 132 HR, 833 RBI). Both players are best described as veterans.
December 9 – Ex-Condor 1B/2B Juan Diaz (.262, 90 HR, 434 RBI) arrives in Topeka. The 30-year old receives a 4-yr, $5.48M contract.
December 9 – The Scorpions add ex-ATL OF/1B Julio Garcia (.289, 72 HR, 573 RBI) for 2-yr, $2.84M. The 35-year old right-hander made his debut with Sacramento in 1999.
December 9 – 35-year old former Titans INF Takahashi Higashi (.267, 168 HR, 882 RBI) ends up in Washington on a 1-yr, $1.04M contract.
December 10 – For two unremarkable semi-prospects, the Pacifics pick up SP Ricky Mendoza (33-29, 4.34 ERA) from the Warriors.
December 12 – The Raccoons sign the 33-year old ex-SAL INF Jon Merritt (.269, 44 HR, 601 RBI) to a 5-yr, $6.25M contract. Before being with the Wolves in 2009, Merritt spent his entire career with the Buffaloes.

***

I don’t know how you are, but whenever I hear Tony Hamlyn, I think of NASCAR…

I’d love to have a top 5 budget to blow millions at uneducated punks and old bones ripe for retirement, but I don’t have one. I don’t have a top 15 budget. As such, right now, Sonny Reece was well out of reach, asking for around $8M over three years. I mean, even the three years are contentious and I would really prefer one, but at most two, yet $2.7M a year is out of the question for us, not only because we don’t even have as much.

Slayton was drafted as a shortstop in the ninth round in 2005, but was converted into a pitcher right after the draft. He was a starter for a while and pitched a number of shutouts in 2006, but was eventually moved into the bullpen due to the lack of any worthwhile third pitch. He is a 90mph groundballer with quite good control and a mean curveball. He also has high stamina, so he cries out long reliever to anybody who listens. I’m not mad at losing Cash and Salazar. Especially Cash had awful control, and them gone frees up the AAA roster for younger guys, like our own batter-to-pitcher convert Josh Gibson, who arrived in AAA for the first time in September of 2008, and spent most of 2009 there, with not too bad results. He was put on the 40-man roster prior to the rule 5 draft, along with left-hander Ron Thrasher and 3B/SS Walt Canning, who could also be a candidate for a backup infield spot.

The Cássio Boda trade was born out of the reasoning that we had three spot-warmers ahead of Hector Santos, and maybe we can get away with two. Watanabe is perhaps still the most qualified of the three, and Teasdale had no suitors at all, while Cássio Boda brought up some interest, especially in trying to find defensive coverage for all three outfield spots while not having Santiago Trevino keep fooling around with a .192 left-handed bat.

In fact, we even got TWO fits, both offers from FL teams. The Capitals put up Pat White, while the Pacifics offered Manny Perez. The latter had been a ROTY a few years back, had a bit more power, and was not as injury-prone. White in turn was a better defender and base stealer. Neither struck out or walked a lot. White was a switch-hitter, while Perez was a righty. And Perez was already in his arbitration years and thus more expensive than White, but was also batting for a bit more power. But on this team, being less expensive (making the minimum this year AND in 2011) is always a winner and thus we dealt for Pat White, which gave us a well pattified roster.

Boda many moons ago had been part in the deal with the Titans that sent over Al Martin and a useless minor leaguer for J.C. Crespo (currently unemployed), Boda, and Ricardo Martinez.

But of course we want to talk about our biggest move of the offseason (well, perhaps after bringing back Craig Bowen?) and that’s the signing of Jon Merritt. He is technically somewhat adept at all infield spots, but his limited range doesn’t exactly recommend him for a middle infield job. But the price tag and his skill set already hint at his future job: he’s our new third baseman! Yep, it’s one step below Sonny Reece (and a clear step at that), but there are some charming things about him. First, there’s the above average glove and a powerful, precise arm that should limit the error escapades at third base to a minimum as long as he’s on two legs. While he doesn’t hit for home runs, he knows where the gaps are for sure, leading the league in triples a few times, although it has to be said that his average has been volatile even in recent seasons, with a .229 and a .283 campaign both within the last three years. He strikes out his fair share, but he walks just as often, approaching or exceeding 90 walks per season. That even recommends him for a top-of-the-order job, and he should be best used in the #2 slot behind Castro and before the big rippers.

It’s the best signing I could do (unless a coffer with two million dollars would have fallen from the sky and struck me in the skull), and I am very happy with it. We’ve about squeezed the most out of our budget to put together the best lineup, but some work needs to be done with the bench. Trevino and Martinez right now really don’t have a spot on the bench. Both have options. No, 2010 is the last year of Ron Alston we have, and we have to use it; I’m happy with the Merritt signing.

Except, there are two things. The contract is flat at $1.25M a year, with the last year (2014) a player option, which I don’t like. The other thing is that Merritt (despite not being as stellar as Sonny Reece, who was a type B free agent) is a type A free agent. We have thus forfeited our 2010 first round pick to the Wolves.
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Portland Raccoons, 55 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
1 OSANAI
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 02-25-2016, 03:45 PM   #1726
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I like the look of this offseason, especially getting rid of De la Pun and getting back Mr. Bowen, whose bat has worked out well in Portland and I like this arm.

Merritt could actually be quite valuable even in his later years with his OBP skills... *fingers crossed*

Any news on the Duke of Draft Picks... err Smack?
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Old 02-25-2016, 03:52 PM   #1727
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Griever20 View Post
Any news on the Duke of Draft Picks... err Smack?
Unsigned and not getting offers.

Same for Sharpie.
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1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
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: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 02-26-2016, 05:20 PM   #1728
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After the Merritt signing, the Coons’ offseason was basically over, at least as far as free agents were concerned. With under half a million in budget space left, there wasn’t much to be done. And so we had to watch as the Crusaders scrambled to reassemble the back end of their badass bullpen, signing at least Scott Hood to a 3-yr deal in mid-December. Hood had been part of all three Crusaders titles since 2007, as well as one with the Gold Sox a few years back. His $1.52M per year rate clearly put the Raccoons out of any race for a top notch reliever.

The Titans tried to get rid of a few expensive pieces, foremost ex-Coon Manuel Martinez, a mean right-hander. He would fit our bullpen really well, but the last year on his contract came at $1.28M, so it wasn’t even possible to compensate the Titans with a prospect or two. We had to deal them substance, and it really wasn’t easy. But maybe the Titans could be dumb enough to add cash to the deal? Ah, too bad, their cash reserves were insufficient at this point.

December 16 – The Cyclones come in sweep up 37-yr old 3B/2B Sonny Reece (.313, 209 HR, 1,370 RBI), who will make $4.48M over the next two years. Reece has won four championships in his career, including back-to-back titles with the Crusaders in 2008-09, and numerous other silverware, like back-to-back Player of the Year awards in 1999 and 2000.
December 19 – The Crusaders sign ex-POR MR Ricardo Huerta (38-35, 3.33 ERA, 44 SV) to a 1-yr, $316k deal.
December 24 – Cincy keeps spending, adding ex-NYC CL Iemitsu Rin (35-30, 1.66 ERA, 253 SV) for $3.72M over two years.
December 27 – Career Logger 2B/SS Bartolo Hernandez (.310, 57 HR, 808 RBI) signs with the Bayhawks. The 34-year old will earn $2.48M over two years.
December 27 – New home for CL Risto Mäkelä (29-32, 2.75 ERA, 77 SV), who goes from Topeka to L.A. on a 2-yr, $3.32M contract.
December 27 – Ex-SFB C Miguel Torres (.258, 71 HR, 488 RBI) inks a 2-yr, $3.02M contract with the Wolves.
December 27 – The Condors deal SP/MR Art Cox (20-24, 4.82 ERA, 2 SV) to the Wolves in exchange for RF Will Wall (.236, 11 HR, 61 RBI). Both players are in their late 20s and on the league minimum.
December 31 – The Indians ink ex-POR MR Marcos Bruno (42-29, 2.65 ERA, 68 SV) for two years at a $1.8M price.
January 3 – Former Capitals INF/RF Ramón Garza (.279, 58 HR, 949 RBI) has a new team, signing a $700k deal for one year with the Bayhawks.
January 5 – The Bayhawks are reunited with 36-yr old OF Luke Black (.240, 148 HR, 586 RBI), who signs a 3-yr, $2.73M deal with them. The Raccoons receive a second round pick and a supplemental round pick.
January 6 – Ex-DAL SP Edgar Amador (69-62, 4.01 ERA) signs a 4-yr, $7.96M contract with the Thunder.

2010 HALL OF FAME VOTING RESULTS

ATL SP Carlos Asquabal – 86.2 – 7th – INDUCTED
WAS C Gabriel Rivera – 72.1 – 7th
DEN SS Paul Connolly – 69.4 – 6th
PIT LF Diego Rodriguez – 64.0 – 5th
TOP SP Arnold McCray – 38.7 – 5th
MIL SP Neil Stewart – 33.3 – 3rd
WAS CL Domingo Rivera – 31.3 – 7th
IND CL Jim Durden – 29.6 – 7th
BOS LF Jose Martinez – 22.9 – 3rd
LAP RF Yoshinobu Ishizaki – 8.4 – 7th
BOS SP Doug Morrow – 6.7 – 1st
LAP RF Anibal Rodriguez – 5.1 – 3rd
VAN 1B Salvador Mendez – 4.7 – 1st – DROPPED
SAC RF Sam Green – 3.4 – 1st – DROPPED
LVA SP Carlos Guillen – 2.4 – 1st – DROPPED
NYC C Ruben Melendez – 0.7 – 1st – DROPPED
VAN SP Manny Ramos – 0.0 – 1st – DROPPED

(No players have been on the HOF ballot for more than seven years, because there has only been HOF voting for seven years. Before that, players were inducted by the totally invisible Secret Ninja Committee)

Carlos Asquabal spent his entire career with the Knights and is their second inductee after Michael Root, and the 22nd Hall of Famer overall. He has also been our manager in A-level Aumsville since 2007.

+++

Due to unknown circumstances, the Raccoons have received the 10th pick in the 2010 draft from the Bayhawks, which was not supposed to happen, I guess? We’re not the only team this happened to. The Scorpions also lost a top 12 pick to the Pacifics.

Update Feb 29: changed the main text to reflect that the draft order will be reset before the draft; Coons deserve the second round pick, not the first round pick.
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Old 02-27-2016, 11:10 AM   #1729
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We're officially on hold until I can find out what's wrong with the draft pick compensation or until I reach a point where I must accept that I CAN'T find out what's wrong.
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Old 02-29-2016, 04:32 PM   #1730
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The previous content-bearing post has been adjusted to reflect that the Raccoons receive a second-round pick from the Bayhawks. I will have to manually fiddle that into law and order before the draft. This and other things. For inexplicable reasons, the game wrongly assigned 60% of main round (not: supplemental round) compensation picks, and there are still a few type A guys left over.

***

Not much to do right now. I’ve freed up a little bit of budget space preliminarily by reducing scouting and development, but it’s not a lot, and I will probably put the money back in before the start of the season. Last year, we spent $4.05M in that area, 1.25% above the league average, and skewed in favor of development.

Speaking about development, not everything Whitebread did was all crap. I combed through the kids in our international complex, and found a pair of promising 19-year old Dominican middle infielders, Alex Arias and Ricky Moya. The latter is the better, possessing all tools except power. But there could be a future #1/#2 batting shortstop in development here, and he will start the year in Aumsville.

January 7 – The Titans sign the defensively adept, 33-yr old ex-NAS C Mark Thomas (.256, 19 HR, 155 RBI) to a 1-yr, $462k contract.
January 11 – The Buffaloes pick up ex-BOS/CHA LF/RF Jim Brulhart (.264, 85 HR, 365 RBI). The 31-year old gets a 3-yr, $3.45M contract.
January 13 – The Blue Sox add ex-NYC CL Robbie Wills (51-48, 2.15 ERA, 327 SV) to their roster at a price of $2.13M over three years.
January 16 – Just $2.68M over two years lands the Loggers former Bayhawk 1B Leborio Catalo (.307, 9 HR, 686 RBI), who hit a career-high three homers in 2009. Some DO get better at 33!
January 21 – The Gold Sox sign ex-Raccoons 1B/3B Daniel Sharp (.279, 52 HR, 442 RBI) to a 1-yr, $690k deal. The Raccoons receive a supplemental round pick.
January 22 – The Knights ink former Falcon SP Steve Rogers (173-160, 3.74 ERA), who lost 14 games in 2009, to a 1-yr, $760k contract.
January 24 – Former TOP LF/RF Lionnel Perri (.266, 173 HR, 907 RBI) joins the Gold Sox. The 32-yr, old signs a 4-yr, $5.36M deal.
January 25 – The Raccoons trade for the Gold Sox’ 30-yr old C Travis Owens (.294, 4 HR, 23 RBI), parting with 25-yr old AAA MR Pedro Delgado.
February 3 – 40-year old RF Cristo Ramirez (.324, 69 HR, 1,246 RBI), second in career hits, signs a 1-yr, $316k deal with the Crusaders. Ramirez wrung only eight hits from his old body in 2009, playing for the Warriors. He is 75 hits behind career hits leader Dale Wales.
February 6 – INF Ken Rodgers (.257, 43 HR, 281 RBI) goes from one CL North team to another, signing a $660k deal for one year with the Titans after spending his career so far in Vancouver.
February 7 – The Crusaders pick up ex-SFB CL Manuel Reyes (52-49, 3.40 ERA, 239 SV) in a 3-yr, $2.13M deal.
February 9 – About the last big-name free agent goes off the board, as the Pacifics pick up ex-VAN 1B Dan Morris (.316, 404 HR, 1,526 RBI). The 39-yr old signs a 2-yr, $2.2M deal.

It’s February 15.

The Owens deal gives us a classy backup to Craig Bowen. Lengths better than Ximenes Lopes for sure, and Tom McNeela is only 21 and should start the season in AAA. This also comes at a cheap $166k rate, hardly more than the minimum. He only made his major league debut in 2009, spending the entire season on the Gold Sox’ roster. Owens is an average defender, might bat .250 with a few homers, and while he’s not walking, he’s also not striking out much.

I’ve been trying to get rid of Ximenes Lopes to trim down a minimum contract, but nobody wants him unless they can unload an undesired contract. I was hoping for a scrub pitcher stuck in AA, but Lopes isn’t even worth as much…

We could still use some restructuring of our bench in terms of infielders. Ricardo Martinez is still sitting on that virtual bench and we have sub-par coverage at shortstop. I'd certainly like a more adept defensive backup for that position than Bradley Heathershaw would be. Winner's name or not - we need to look for a defensive shortstop, and Ricardo Martinez might be anything, slugging third baseman or not, and he might know the magic trick to make pigs fly and for eternal life, but he's definitely not a shortstop of any kind.

Ralph Ford lost 19 games for the 2009 Capitals, but they resigned our former southpaw at 4-yr, $5.68M. That’s too bad, because I was hoping for another price drop and to come sweeping in in March. Clyde Brady was reduced to a backup role with the Gold Sox the last two years, and had to sign a small $262k deal with Nashville to fill the fridge.

Edit: fixed the half-missing paragraph. I suck.
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Old 03-01-2016, 01:42 PM   #1731
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I was looking for a shortstop at the end of the offseason, but we really couldn’t find one. It was not about replacing Rob Howell, oh no, but our coverage at that position consisted of Bradley Heathershaw, and then we’re already in AAA with Manuel Gutierrez and Dave Roudabush, none of which was still on the 40-man roster. I wasn’t willing to spend a fortune on a bench job, either. With the way things were shaping up, Ricardo Martinez might very well make the Opening Day roster, if only by sheer lack of a better fit that was also cheap.

Of course Martinez can’t play short. He can’t even play third. He’s basically a bat off the bench, but with that Heathershaw was almost alone with the task of covering both middle infielders. It was not a wonderful spot to be in for sure.

In the outfield it wasn’t much of a battle. Pruitt, Castro, Alston, we were already sure of that five months earlier. Then there was Keith Ayers, who was out at home in the 12th, and then we had signed Pat White as defensive replacement. Santiago Trevino was out. He had batted for well below league average from 2006-2008 already, but raised the offensive futility flag to whole new levels in 2009. White is not as good a defensive centerfielder, but occasionally we need to hand somebody a bat…

By the way, there’s no hope for heroics for this outfielder White. Anyone remember 1983, when we signed Alex White, the bum? It’s been a few days.

There was some push and shove among right-handers in the pen. While the left-handed race was decided in favor of Luis Beltran, but Ron Thrasher breathing down his neck from Florida, the right-handed fraction had a clear top 2 of Angel Casas and Law Rockburn, and then a bit of a mess of Ray Kelley, part of the Bowen/Correa trade, Derrek Fredlund, Ted Reese, and Pat Slayton. Well, Kelley’s blistering curve wasn’t going anywhere, and Slayton was a rule 5 pick and certainly interesting. Fredlund had three options left, Reese had one. Fredlund had a control issue, and Reese had been victimized by a really bad BABIP of .348 in 2009, especially considering the Raccoons were the second-best defensive team in the league. That swung the pendulum against Fredlund, who was also a number of years younger and could use some more AAA innings.
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Old 03-01-2016, 03:28 PM   #1732
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2010 PORTLAND RACCOONS – Opening Day Roster (first set shows 2009 numbers, second set overall; players with an * are off season acquisitions):

SP Nick Brown, 32, B:L, T:L (17-6, 2.39 ERA | 114-75, 2.95 ERA) – PITCHER OF THE YEAR!! Portland’s favorite late-round wonder, blessed with amazing stuff, starts his new 5-year extension on a quest to finally pitch the team into the playoffs, which he hasn’t seen as a major leaguer, bringing joy to all Furball followers in the land, and that run for 3,000 strikeouts and the Hall of Fame also goes on. He has chalked up 1,841 K so far.
SP Jong-hoo Umberger, 32, B:R, T:R (14-6, 3.36 ERA | 32-13, 2.76 ERA) – the 2008 Rookie of the Year quickly found out that it’s not always milk and honey in the ABL, occasionally getting ripped quite a bit by the opposition. Overall, however, he’s a really good starter with some dazzling stuff and very good control.
SP Javier Cruz, 37, B:L, T:R (14-11, 3.19 ERA | 220-141, 3.70 ERA, 1 SV) – Cruz did a very good job despite his age suggesting that it can be over for him any minute now. Rejoined the team after being offered salary arbitration.
SP Colin Baldwin, 27, B:L, T:L (11-10, 3.38 ERA | 21-25, 3.55 ERA) – this pretty average pitcher had a pretty good season until he melted away in September. Does his job more or less well.
SP Kenichi Watanabe, 33, B:R, T:R (2-3, 2.73 ERA | 19-37, 3.70 ERA) – Watanabe hasn’t had major league success at all in his career, which started in 2004, and keeps spending a lot of time in St. Petersburg. Right now he’s holding a spot warm for the likely advent of blue chip Hector Santos in the second half of the season. Watanabe has good control, but completely lacks killer stuff.

MU Pat Slayton *, 24, B:R, T:R (rookie) – rule 5 pick that has a good lively arm and some very good stuff on hand, and his good stamina makes him the perfect long man.
MR Ted Reese, 26, B:R, T:R (1-3, 4.06 ERA, 1 SV | 1-3, 4.06 ERA, 1 SV) – run-of-the-mill right-hander that got victimized by a high BABIP in 2010, and made the team over fellow rookie Derrek Fredlund because of the latter’s command issues and not through his own merits.
MR Ray Kelley *, 28, B:S, T:R (1-7, 3.14 ERA, 2 SV | 17-23, 3.42 ERA, 3 SV) – part of the Craig Bowen trade, Kelley comes with a nasty curve that keeps hitters swinging and missing, but he misses just as often.
MR Luis Beltran, 30, B:L, T:L (0-0, 2.42 ERA, 1 SV | 0-1, 2.90 ERA, 1 SV) – lefty specialist whose job could soon be taken over by prospect Ron Thrasher; throws too many balls, but generates bad contact and doesn’t give up a lot of hits.
SU Lawrence Rockburn, 29, B:R, T:R (9-3, 3.02 ERA, 2 SV | 29-11, 2.59 ERA, 11 SV) – after being trapped in the seventh inning by the dominant Marcos Bruno for years, Bruno’s departure via free agency moves Law into an eighth inning role. He has good strikeout and walk numbers, but occasionally gives up too much contact.
SU Donald Sims, 34, B:L, T:L (6-1, 2.37 ERA, 3 SV | 41-42, 3.79 ERA, 39 SV) – Sims couldn’t replicate his 9.8 K/BB from 2008 at all in 2009, but nobody expected that all that hard. He is still a reliable setup man.
CL Angel Casas, 27, B:S, T:R (2-3, 1.58 ERA, 46 SV | 14-10, 1.68 ERA, 212 SV) – as Angel is maturing, he gets more and more elite, nailing opposing lineups into the ground; he kills batters outright.

C Craig Bowen *, 29, B:S, T:R (.249, 12 HR, 54 RBI | .236, 78 HR, 290 RBI) – the clumsy but powerful Craig Bowen (the first guy to hit four homers in a game!) is back! As the Raccoons cleaned house this winter and dumped last year’s prized acquisitions to other people’s checkbooks, they dealt Jose Correa for Craig Bowen, who was really a revelation for the Coons after struggling to find offense from the dishkeeper’s slot for 15 years before Bowen came on.
C Travis Owens *, 31, B:R, T:R (.294, 4 HR, 23 RBI | .294, 4 HR, 23 RBI) – was a good backup for the Gold Sox in 2009 and we aren’t asking for much more; he should be perfectly capable of getting a start per week over without hurting us too badly, although he only made his major league debut at age 30.

1B Adrian Quebell, 27, B:L, T:L (.294, 19 HR, 92 RBI | .293, 55 HR, 289 RBI) – Quebell goes into his fifth season as the uncontested starter at first base, and while his power broke out a couple of years ago, his swing remains puzzling. Despite hitting 19 dingers in 2009, he managed to go without one for two months at one point. He also gives Gold Glove defense and knows how to get on base without hitting the ball to Nicaragua, too.
2B Ieyoshi Nomura, 26, B:L, T:R (.280, 3 HR, 32 RBI | .269, 9 HR, 177 RBI) – Yoshi started the 2009 season as backup to Jose Correa, but by the end of the season and shoved the $1.7M man aside and took over mostly full time again. Power isn’t his business, but he has a career .349 OBP and that’s worth something. His defense at second has also become much better since his rookie days.
SS/1B Rob Howell, 25, B:R, T:R (.266, 8 HR, 39 RBI | .287, 8 HR, 74 RBI) – Howell was hurt some, but overall played a very good shortstop, defensively, and also was not the feared black hole on offense, and even popped eight homers out of the blue. No reason to worry here right now.
1B/3B/2B Jon Merritt *, 33, B:R, T:R (.283, 5 HR, 50 RBI | .269, 44 HR, 601 RBI) – Merritt was the big free agent signing of the winter, inking him to a 5-yr, $6.25M deal that cost the Coons their first round pick. He is an OBP guy (.383 career!) and doesn’t sport much power. His main contribution should be being on base for Alston, Quebell, and Bowen to go deep, batting second, and we’re also hoping hard for him to keep it under a dozen errors at third base after a decade of Daniel Sharp and recently Ricardo Martinez, the worst defensive third baseman that ever lived.
3B/1B/2B Bradley Heathershaw *, 32, B:R, T:R (.246, 11 HR, 53 RBI | .237, 53 HR, 252 RBI) – this CL South veteran not only has a winner’s name, he also is a competent defender around the diamond, also able to play some short (but better not too much). For his career, he is a below-average batter, but he has recently gotten better with getting on base and he’s always been good for a bomb or two.
3B Ricardo Martinez, 24, B:R, T:R (.223, 4 HR, 17 RBI | .266, 17 HR, 82 RBI) – his defense is horrible, and after a strong first half in 2008 he was meagerly productive in the second half, and was a total bust in 2009, eventually spending much time in AAA during Daniel Sharp’s third stint with the team.

LF/1B Matt Pruitt, 26, B:L, T:R (.288, 8 HR, 44 RBI | .294, 26 HR, 170 RBI) – Luke Black’s death of old age finally wins Matt Pruitt a starter’s job, in leftfield. His defense is not that good, so we are hoping for more homers to compensate.
LF/CF Tomas Castro, 26, B:S, T:R (.321, 7 HR, 50 RBI | .310, 54 HR, 304 RBI) – Castro’s .303/.357/.415 in 2008 was his worst slash line in the last three years, and adding his 20+ steals every year since 2005 (when he was still with Dallas), he’s the perfect leadoff man. Defense and health are concerns, however.
LF/RF Ron Alston, 30, B:L, T:L (.304, 35 HR, 100 RBI | .293, 276 HR, 869 RBI) – He da man, as simply as that. Despite his average suffering in Portland (and whose hasn’t?), one of the best batters of his generation, including two Player of the Year titles is the defining threat in the Raccoons’ lineup. No matter how you shuffle him, Quebell, and Bowen, opposing pitchers are in for some trouble! This is the last year of his contract, so it’s also go time for the Coons.
LF/RF/CF Pat White *, 27, B:S, T:R (.316, 6 HR, 50 RBI | .325, 7 HR, 78 RBI) – our primary defensive backup for all three positions in the outfield, White was acquired from the Capitals. He only debuted in ’08, but got a full season’s worth of at-bats, so that .325 average can’t be all nuts, can it?
RF/LF Keith Ayers, 28, B:R, T:R (.268, 4 HR, 22 RBI | .274, 7 HR, 45 RBI) – average bat with oomph, good corner outfield defense, but in the bottom 12th, he’s gonna be out at home.

On disabled list: Nobody.

Otherwise unavailable: Nobody.

Other roster movement: None.

Opening day lineup:
CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Brown

This is our everyday vs. RHP lineup (and we should see Curtis Tobitt on Opening Day, so we’re good here), and there isn’t really a fixed lineup vs. LHP right now. We might want to rotate right-handed bench bats through pretty much every left-hander as we go and play maybe two of them every day over one of the left-handed starters. Castro and Alston won’t be replaced as often as the others. Keith Ayers might actually get a lot of starts as he can start in right for two days while Alston goes to left (his best position), and Pruitt and Quebell split first base between them.

OFF SEASON CHANGES:

Last year’s offseason was all crap, let’s forget it. This year’s was much better! First, we get Bowen back, we got better at third base, we got rid of the dying Count Hack, and the only real loss we didn’t compensate (and couldn’t) is Marcos Bruno. The Raccoons also put on some weight in terms of WAR, adding 3.5 points, eighth-best in the league.

Top 5: Cyclones (+13.6), Thunder (+8.8), Gold Sox (+8.6), Indians (+6.5), Loggers (+5.8)
Bottom 5: Warriors (-6.3), Condors (-7.1), Wolves (-7.2), Stars (-7.3), Canadiens (-10.3)

PREDICTION TIME:

In 2008 I predicted the Coons to win 98 and they fell short by five. Last year I predicted them to win 93 again, and they added five. They fell short both times, the latter time when Keith Ayers was out at home in the bottom 12th.

This team lost a bit of the bullpen sturdiness that was a key feature the last few years with two closers stacked atop another, but the Crusaders also lost a closer (from three to two). While the Critters patched their painful sores quite well with the additions of Bowen, Merritt, and also Heathershaw, the Crusaders added Kel Yates to the rotation (which was probably necessary) and their only other big signing turned out to be Gabriel Ortíz starting a deadly catchers’ knife fight with Daryl Anderson, probably.

What the Raccoons needed wasn’t more pitching. They still have much of the same pitching as before, and that before-pitching was first in the league by a good margin. They needed offense, and Bowen and Merritt will help their cause greatly. A second-division offense won’t beat the Crusaders for sure, just as it hasn’t the last three years.

Prediction: the Raccoons make the top 4 in runs scored, the pitching remains strong, Hector Santos debuts in August and wins six games down the stretch including the division clincher on Tuesday of the final week AGAINST the Crusaders at home, as the Raccoons win 101 games and go to the playoffs, which with the state of the CL South means “go to the World Series”, just before the team will all fall apart in November.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT:

For a while it seemed like the Raccoons’ system might be ranked higher, but we were again ranked with the ninth-best system heading into the 2010 season. Our number of ranked prospects increases from six to eight despite the disappearance of the list by #21 Pedro Delgado (traded), #148 Brendan Teasdale (exceeded rookie limits), and #138 Mike Cole (got disranked).

3rd (+5) – AAA SP Hector Santos, 21 – international discovery by Vince Guerra
28th (new) – AAA CL Ron Thrasher, 22 – 2006 supplemental round pick by the Warriors, acquired in trade from the Canadiens with Ricardo Huerta and cash for Sergio Esquivel
69th (+36) – AAA 3B/SS Walt Canning, 24 – 2004 supplemental round pick by the Indians, acquired in trade from the Crusaders for Eric Thrift
90th (new) – AA SP Rich Hood, 23 – 2009 first round pick by the Raccoons
117th (new) – ML MR Pat Slayton, 24 – 2005 ninth round pick by the Stars, taken in the 2009 rule 5 draft
146th (-31) – AA SP Kevin Denton, 22 – 2007 first round pick by the Raccoons
168th (new) – A INF Ricky Moya, 19 – international discovery by Whitebread
187th (new) – AAA SS/3B Dave Roudabush, 24 – 2004 eighth round pick by the Condors, signed as minor league free agent

The farm top 10 are completed by unranked A SS/2B Alex Arias and AA 3B Kevin Rex.

After Pittsburgh’s Tom McWhorter was the #1 prospect for three years, he made an uninspired debut for them over 58 games in 2009 and lost eligibility, and the rank is grabbed by Atlanta’s INF/LF/RF Devin Hibbard, 23, the third-overall pick in the 2009 draft.

Next: first pitch!
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Old 03-02-2016, 03:49 PM   #1733
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Raccoons (0-0) @ Indians (0-0) – April 5-7, 2010

After nine years of futility and going .500 against them at best, the Raccoons beat the Indians the last two years over the course of the season, with a 12-6 record in 2009. We would certainly like a quick start.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (0-0) vs. Curtis Tobitt (0-0)
Jong-hoo Umberger (0-0) vs. Bob King (0-0)
Javier Cruz (0-0) vs. Tom Weise (0-0)

This looks like an all right-handed slate for the opening series, and maybe also for the weekend series in San Francisco, so we get an early look at what our lineup will do to left-handers.

Game 1
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Brown
IND: 1B Tsung – 2B Barrón – C Paraz – LF Graham – RF Pacheco – CF Cavazos – SS R. Miller – 3B C. Aguilar – P Tobitt

After Castro and Merritt struck out, Ron Alston had the Coons’ first single of the season, with the Indians getting to Brownie quicker when Mun-wah Tsung singled. Brown’s first K was Jose Paraz, and altogether neither team scored early. That includes Jon Merritt getting stranded after a 1-out triple into the right center alley in the third inning.

At first, Curtis Tobitt looked much better. His stuff was biting, the Raccoons dropped like windfall, and he struck out seven in four innings, while Brownie had only four whiffs and a hit batter on his ledger. But in the top 5th, somehow Tobitt came unglued completely. Nick Brown hit a 1-out double, Castro grounded out, and then Jon Merritt, Ron Alston, Adrian Quebell, and Craig Bowen ALL hit RBI doubles! Four runs scored on five doubles, and the Raccoons were in some pretty amazing business. Things continued to go wrong for Tobitt in the sixth, and some of that had to do with Mun-wah Tsung’s porous glove. Yoshi Nomura led off the inning (after Pruitt had whiffed to end the fifth) with a double that bounced right through Tsung, and when an unnerved Tobitt walked Howell, Brown’s bunt was misfielded into a hometown-scoring-infield-single. While Castro whiffed, Jon Merritt had a pretty solid first day in the office, with his second triple of the day clearing the bases for a 7-0 advantage. While that signaled the end of the shift for Tobitt – and Leonardo Sosa allowed Merritt to score to give him eight runs allowed, all earned – the Indians continued to showcase scary defense. Juan Barrón dropped Bowen’s pop in the same inning (to no effect, though), but the ex-Coon made a throwing error in the seventh that had Alston safe at first base rather than the third out in a bases-loaded situation, granting the Coons their ninth run of the day.

Brownie wasn’t without fail, though and only lasted six and a third when he had his control slip away in the sixth and seventh. A walk to Ryan Miller put him at almost 110 pitches and it was time to make a switch. Reese and Beltran weren’t touched by the Indians through eight, but Pat Slayton’s debut in the ninth inning cost the shutout, although a bad throw from Rob Howell to Nomura also cost some. However, the Indians’ rally was limited to one run that was barely noticed in the box score. 9-1 Brownies!! Merritt 3-5, BB, 2 3B, 2B, 4 RBI; Alston 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Nomura 2-5, 2B; Brown 6.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K, W (1-0) and 3-4, 2B; Beltran 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

A few notes. Rob Howell was the only Coons starter not to log a hit in this game, and when all games were over, Nick Brown led the Continental League with a .750 clip. So, with the win and no earned runs allowed, he technically led three triple crown categories.

Game 2
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Umberger
IND: 1B Tsung – 2B Barrón – LF Graham – C Paraz – CF Cavazos – RF Pacheco – SS R. Miller – 3B C. Aguilar – P King

There were a few firsts for the Coons’ 2010 season in the middle game of the set. First, they made their first out at home, when Merritt tagged from third on Quebell’s lineout to Roberto Pacheco, but was thrown out to end the first inning. In the bottom 2nd, Umberger put the first two men on base before Bob King bunted into a 1-5-3 double play, which you won’t see every day. The bottom 3rd then saw the Coons trail for the first time, and again this had to do with Umberger throwing down the middle for easy contact. Tsung singled to center, Castro overran it for an error, Barrón singled, and when Dave Graham also singled, the first run was in, but it was all the Indians got when Jose Paraz grounded out, Ramiro Cavazos whiffed, and Roberto Pacheco also grounded out to Quebell.

While the Furballs had runners, but hit into an alarming number of double plays, Umberger would allow five of six leadoff batters he faced on base, all except Cavazos in the bottom 6th, an inning he didn’t finish because we also got our first rain delay of the season, 72 minutes in that bottom 6th, with the Indians still up 1-0. While the Indians’ lives can only be assumed to be getting much better when Mun-wah Tsung pulled something legging out an infield single in the seventh inning, the Raccoons couldn’t get the bats up against the Indians’ pen (including Marcos Bruno in the eighth inning). We faced our former farmhand Salvadaro Soure in the ninth inning, with Quebell leading off. He singled cleanly to right, with Pat White getting into his first game as a Raccoon, pinch-running as the tying run. He was out on a steal attempt, Bowen struck out, and while Pruitt walked, Nomura flew out to left. 1-0 Indians. Alston 2-4, 2B; Quebell 2-4;

(snout twitches in disgust) Oh well, you can’t win them all. I guess.

Game 3
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Cruz
IND: 1B Tsung – CF Cavazos – LF Graham – C Paraz – RF Luxton – 3B C. Aguilar – 2B J. Lopez – SS R. Miller – P Weise

Tsung was going to play through a mild hip strain, reached on an infield single, then was caught stealing. Also, more rain (in the bottom 2nd) and more Castro errors (also in the bottom 2nd), but again no runs early on, but in the third Castro couldn’t get to a Jose Paraz fly on the track, which fell in for an RBI double, as the Indians took a 1-0 lead in the third, which they this time expanded on early. More horrendous defense was involved, as Javier Cruz himself made the throwing error that put Jose Lopez on base in the first place. Ryan Miller then doubled him in, 2-0 in the fourth, and the Coons weren’t getting to Tom Weise – at all.

But the Indians got to Cruz in the most stupid way yet again in the bottom 6th. Nobody on base and two outs, Cruz managed to fabricate something big by allowing a single to Weise, walking Tsung, and drilling Cavazos. Donald Sims came in, but allowed a 2-run single to Dave Graham that buried the Raccoons for good. They did have a chance in the seventh inning with runners on the corners and one out, but a Pruitt fly to right and Nomura bouncing out to first took care of that, and another in the eighth, when Jon Merritt singled in a pair, but nobody could be bothered to hit a homer and tie the game. 4-2 Indians. Castro 3-3;

… and we’re in last place! And no home runs. And already under four runs scored a game.

Raccoons (1-2) @ Bayhawks (1-2) – April 9-11, 2010

We had won the season series against the Bayhawks every year since 2003, except for 2005, and had won at least six from them the last three years. They had started out mostly getting suffocated by the Thunder and both teams sported an unsightly .333 percentage.

Projected matchups:
Colin Baldwin (0-0) vs. Rodrigo Moreno (0-0)
Nick Brown (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Felipe Ramirez (0-0)
Jong-hoo Umberger (0-1, 1.59 ERA) vs. Reynaldo Rendon (1-0, 4.50 ERA)

That’s three right-handers again, so we get another chance to see whether we can get those left-handed bats to swing properly.

Game 1
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – LF Alston – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – C Owens – P Baldwin
SFB: SS R. Garza – 1B Heffer – CF D. Cameron – LF Black – 3B D. Lopez – RF D. Richardson – 2B McCullough – C Diéguez – P R. Moreno

Well, the bats got going early out west. Merritt got on with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and was scored by a Quebell double. Keith Ayers wasn’t out at home, but rather singled to score Quebell for an early 2-0 advantage, and Alston and Quebell also drove in single runs each in the second inning against Rodrigo Moreno, a 27-year old swingman. It didn’t take long for the Raccoons to dig themselves a hole, however. Baldwin had been perfect through two innings, but Brandon McCullough led off the bottom 3rd with a single, and the next two plays resulted in errors by Howell and Merritt, loading the bases with no outs. Ramón Garza singled between the two defensive offenders, plating two, Heffer flew out to Ayers, but Don Cameron grounded out to Nomura to score the third run. Baldwin walked Luke Black, and then David Lopez hit a liner past Ron Alston, easily tying the game. Black was sent around third base, but was thrown out at home to end the inning. Four runs, all unearned…

The Critters continued to do stupid things. Castro was on with a leadoff single in the fifth, the hit-and-run was on, but he never really stopped while Jon Merritt lined out right to Ramón Garza and got doubled off first. Bottom 6th, Baldwin drilled Don Cameron to get started before Duke Smack made a bid to rejuvenate his good nickname with his first dinger of the season, putting the Raccoons 6-4 behind. They also didn’t make a lot of moves to come back from that while Baldwin was still pitching (not that much longer…). Ray Kelley got the remaining outs through eight, before we faced Valentim Innocentes in the ninth, with Castro leading off, but Quebell was no longer in the #4 hole, having been double-switched out. It didn’t really matter all that much: Innocentes struck out the side. 6-4 Bayhawks. Castro 2-5; Quebell 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Nomura 2-3, BB; Kelley 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Four games, six errors. We actually out-hit them 10-5 in this one…

Game 2
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Heathershaw – SS Howell – P Brown
SFB: SS R. Garza – 2B B. Hernandez – CF D. Cameron – LF Black – 3B D. Lopez – RF D. Richardson – 1B Heffer – C Diéguez – P F. Ramirez

Ramirez, 25, made his major league debut in this middle game, and found himself in trouble early on. After Castro made the first out, Merritt and Quebell walked, sandwiching an Alston single, to load the bases. On Bowen, the count ran full as well, and another pitch in the dirt shoved in the first run for the Coons before Pruitt and Heathershaw struck out. There would be more walks, to Howell leading off in the second and Alston also leading off in the third, but the Raccoons didn’t do anything with them. Brownie struck out four the first time through the order against only a single allowed to Ramón Garza at the start of his outing.

Through four, both teams had but a single hit and the Coons remained up 1-0. Alston doubled with one out in the top 5th and when Ramirez walked Quebell that was his sixth and final walk of the day, for said day ended with his replacement by right-hander Damon Barnett. Craig Bowen hit Barnett’s first pitch into an inning-ending double play. With their offense coughing, the Coons got an undeserved chance in the sixth. Heathershaw was on first when Brownie batted with two outs, grounded to second, and Bartolo Hernandez (who was weird to look at out of a Loggers uni) threw that ball past Dave Heffer. Castro came up with runners in scoring position, and grounded out to Heffer. An infield hit by Garza and a bloop single to right by Hernandez gave the Bayhawks runners on the corners in the bottom 6th, but that was with two outs and Don Cameron got sniffed out by Brown. The Coons left two on in the top 7th, and in the bottom 8th, Heffer reached on a first-pitch single to start the frame. Brown removed Fernando Diéguez and Alfredo Ortíz, but Heffer moved to third base. That brought up Garza again, the pitching coach asked Brown about the weather, Brown said it was fine, then got a good play turned by Heathershaw (who had all three out balls come his way in the inning) to end the inning. The Coons stranded Merritt on third base in the ninth, which had Angel Casas make his first appearance without a cushion. Hernandez hit an 0-2 pitch for a single to left, but Cameron struck out. In a strange move, lefty Freddie Jones(!) batted for Luke Black and hit into a game-ending double play. 1-0 Brownies! Merritt 2-4, BB; Alston 2-4, BB, 2B; Brown 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K, W (2-0) and 1-3;

Not that Angel is the last guy to get into a game. Kenichi Watanabe and Law Rockburn are still unused, and at least Watanabe won’t be used at all this week, unless the rubber game goes 18 innings…

Game 3
POR: LF Castro – 2B Nomura – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – 3B R. Martinez – CF White – SS Howell – P Umberger
SFB: 2B R. Garza – 1B Heffer – LF D. Cameron – RF D. Richardson – CF Black – SS McCullough – 3B B. Hernandez – C Diéguez – P Rendon

Reynaldo Rendon had walked five and whiffed one in his Opening Day assignment, but got through the first inning without an eventually fatal bases-loaded walk, or even any walk. Alston singled, that was it. While the Raccoons then rapped him for three runs on four hits, starting with a Bowen single and then Martinez and White grounding hard past either corner infielder for a pair of doubles, White plating two. In the bottom of the inning, the Bayhawks paid Umberger right back, with an RBI double by Luke Black with nobody out, and Black would also be scored to get the Birds back to 3-2. The Coons came right back in the third. Alston singled, Quebell doubled, and Bowen singled to score Alston, and they’d score two in total in the inning. Rendon was getting whacked, but managed to hit a leadoff double off Jong-hoo in the bottom 3rd. Ramón Garza lined to Yoshi’s right, and he made a lunging grab and managed to scramble to second base ahead of Rendon to double him off.

Rendon was gone before too long, for he kept allowing hard contact, and plenty of it. Vaughn Higgins replaced him before the fourth inning was out, and an Alston walk and extra-base hits by Bowen and Martinez ramped our lead to 7-2. That should have been plenty of room for Umberger to go deep in this game, but he didn’t. The Bayhawks got a run off him in the fifth, and in the seventh he was knocked out on a McCullough single and a Hernandez RBI double with one out. An awkward throw by Alston even put Hernandez at third base in a 7-4 game and it was time to get a new horse. Rockburn came in as we hoped for a K on Diéguez, but the catcher grounded out to Martinez far away from his usual spot that the runner scored and it was a rather uncertain 7-5 again.

Both teams were in crumbling mode however, as we had Castro on third base with two outs in the eighth. The Birds had Nathan Harrison walk Quebell intentionally, but he then fell to a grounder up the middle by Bowen, who scored a run for the third time in the game and got us back to 8-5. Rockburn retired Garza and Heffer in the eighth before Sims got the left-handed bats of Cameron and Richardson to digest. One hit, one walk, one Black at the plate and panic setting in. Angel Casas was brought out for a 4-out save, and banished the most immediate scare back to where it came from when he struck out Black. Harrison was still in the game in the ninth and drilled Howell after sitting down Pat White initially. Jon Merritt had entered with Sims in a double switch earlier and was batting ninth, and hit his third triple of the season to the rightfield corner, plating Howell, 9-5, and then scored on Tomas Castro’s groundout. Angel Casas didn’t leave the Baybirds any hope as he struck out two more in the bottom of the inning. 10-5 Raccoons. Alston 2-3, 2 BB; Quebell 2-5, 2 2B; Bowen 4-5, 3 RBI; Martinez 3-4, 3 2B, 2 RBI; White 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Merritt 1-1, 3B, RBI; Rockburn 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K; Casas 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, SV (2);

In other news

April 5 – The 20-game hitting streak that Dallas’ Hector Garcia (.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI) had carried over from 2009 ends on Opening Day in the Stars’ 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Gold Sox.
April 7 – WAS INF Adriano Lulli (0.00, 0 HR, 0 RBI) goes to the DL for six weeks with a bone spur in his elbow.
April 8 – L.A.’s SP Ricky Mendoza (1-0, 0.00 ERA) spins a 3-hit shutout in a 3-0 win against the Wolves.
April 11 – The Stars beat the Capitals, 7-5, with 1B/3B Dennis Berman (.318, 0 HR, 2 RBI) helping his team with a single off Washington’s Chris York in the fifth inning, starting a rally. It is the 34-year old Berman’s 2,000th career base hit. Batting .277 with 201 HR and 947 RBI as well as 112 SB (although his stealing days are over), Berman has appeared in 156 or more games in five straight seasons, and 131 or more games in 11 straight seasons. Most of his career was spent with the Cyclones.

Complaints and stuff

No home runs, six errors, and a million double plays hit into. How they came up 3-3 is a mystery.

NO HOME RUNS!!

It’s probably too early for panic, but last place stinks, and outside of Nick Brown nobody had an awesome week. Okay, Alston, Quebell, Angel, Merritt all had good weeks. Merritt has three triples already, which sounds like more than Daniel Sharp had his entire career.

Not trying to throw dirt on Sharpie, though. Just sayin’.

We better get our act together because we’ll already face the Crusaders next weekend.

Usually I play two weeks to start the season, because a single week’s results can easily lead to depression, but I got home too late and I need sleep lest I’ll go zzzz in the middle of a game…
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Raccoons (3-3) vs. Thunder (3-3) – April 12-14, 2010

The so far pretty toothless Raccoons (meaning both their joysticks and their gloves from hell) got to face the Thunder for their home opener. The Coons would be home for two weeks with 12 games before hitting the road again at the end of the month, and both division leaders (after week 1…) were going to come in. The Thunder had been about average in both runs scored and runs allowed in the first week of the year. We had lost the season series against them in 2009, 4-5, our first loss since 2003.

Projected matchups:
Javier Cruz (0-1, 4.76 ERA) vs. Daniel Dickerson (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Kenichi Watanabe (0-0) vs. Edgar Amador (1-0, 2.57 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (0-1, 2.70 ERA) vs. Takeru Sato (0-0, 7.50 ERA)

Yeah, finally a left-handed starter! Takeru Sato would it be, in the ninth game of the season. We know Dickerson of course as a long-time rival on the Canadiens, and OF COURSE we know the Fat Cat, whose gonna pitch in the middle game after a number of years in Dallas.

Game 1
OCT: LF Britton – RF Tom Reese – C Ledesma – 2B M. Garza – 1B Takizawa – 3B Arreola – CF Covington – SS Vieitas – P Dickerson
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – SS Howell – 2B Heathershaw – P Cruz

… and the home run rut was ended by ….. Matt Pruitt! His fourth inning shot counted for two runs, collecting Ron Alston, unfortunately not until after Craig Bowen had hit into a double play in the preceding at-bat, and also unfortunately not until after an ineffective Javier Cruz had been shaken up for three early runs, including a Tom Reese homer. The shot also livened up Matt Pruitt’s sad 1-for-17 start to the season considerably. It didn’t inspire Javier Cruz to change his game plan, however, which seemed to consist in entirety of exhausting the Thunder by allowing repeated doubles. The Thunder got a fourth run off him in the sixth and he soon retired to the embowelments of Raccoons Ballpark. The Raccoons continued to be not very productive all around, but at least got Castro on with a 1-out single in the bottom 8th. With the tying run at the plate, things weren’t over yet. Except that Merritt flew out to left and Alston grounded out to Marcos Garza. Things were pretty much over then. The Raccoons got the tying run to the plate against closer Arturo Lopez when Pruitt hit a 2-out single. Ricardo Martinez batted for a pretty much lost Rob Howell, and flew out to center. 4-2 Thunder. Castro 2-3, BB; Pruitt 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Beltran 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Game 2
OCT: LF Britton – RF Tom Reese – CF J. Gonzalez – 2B M. Garza – 1B Takizawa – 3B Arreola – C Rucker – SS Vieitas – P E. Amador
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – C Owens – SS Howell – P Watanabe

Another day, another homer, this time by Quebell in the second, a solo job and the first run of the day. Watanabe had put the first two batters on base he had faced but then settled a bit into invincible mode, while the Raccoons made exceptionally poor contact off the Fat Cat. They got a chance charitably donated in the bottom 4th when Amador walked Quebell and Nomura around a Pruitt single to load the bases with one out. Then Travis Owens logged two outs on a single pitch, six to four to three. An uneventful inning later, and with Watanabe quietly pitching six shutout innings, Amador started the bottom 6th with walks to Merritt and Alston. As it started to rain, Quebell got a 2-1 pitch into the gap in right center for an RBI double, Pruitt hit a sac fly, and Nomura singled. That’s where the rain forced a delay of 50 minutes, ending the day for both starters. When we came back, Owens hit a sac fly against Dennis Boland to get the score to 4-0. But even with Watanabe out maybe an inning earlier than what he could have gone without the weather, the Raccoons ended up in good hands with their bullpen. The Thunder would get a single off Ray Kelley in the seventh, but that was indeed all. Kelley, Sims, and Slayton finished the game without any accidents as the Coons pulled back to .500. 4-0 Coons. Quebell 2-3, BB, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Watanabe 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, W (1-0);

Now comes our first left-handed opponent. We will have an off day on Thursday and then another one immediately on Monday, but I will still sit some of the regulars. Pruitt, Castro, and Nomura all were not in the starting lineup against Takeru Sato.

Game 3
OCT: C Ledesma – CF J. Gonzalez – RF Tom Reese – LF Britton – 2B M. Garza – SS J. Lugo – 1B Metting – 3B Arreola – P Sato
POR: 2B Merritt – CF White – LF Alston – C Bowen – RF Ayers – 1B Quebell – 3B R. Martinez – SS Howell – P Baldwin

The Raccoons, after Jon Merritt flew out, hit five straight singles in the bottom of the first inning, which amounted to two runs for them before Martinez hit into a double play to end that first inning. In turn in the top 2nd, Britton and Garza were sent to the corners with leadoff singles off Colin Baldwin, but Jose Lugo and Kurt Metting popped out and Ignacio Arreola grounded right back to Baldwin for an easy third out. Bottom of the inning, the Coons got two more runs on two hits, and one of those hits was Merritt getting clanked by Takeru Sato. After that, Pat White romped a pitch outta here, 4-0 Coons, and that wasn’t the last 2-spot at the start of this game. Rob Howell had runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom 3rd and lined a pitch just a few feet past Tom Reese into the gap for a double. Bowen scored easily, and Ayers was sent around third and was not out at home for once.

The middle innings were uneventful. The Coons got a run off long man William Lloyd in the sixth, before Baldwin got stuck in the top 7th and was removed with a run in and two on with two out. Law Rockburn struck out Jose Gonzalez to not have something develop. The Coons made two quick outs in the bottom 8th before all of a sudden Castro (hitting for Merritt), White, and Alston reached, but Craig Bowen grounded out. Still up by six runs, Ted Reese managed to make a cause for early demotion when he sucked so hard Angel Casas had to come into the game. Two hits, a walk, an error by Reese himself – that was two runs and two men on for Angel, who struck out Tom Reese to end the game. 7-3 Critters. Castro (PH) 1-1; White 3-4, HR, 3 RBI; Alston 2-5; Bowen 2-5, RBI; Ayers 3-4; Baldwin 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, W (1-1);

Funny thing happened. The Crusaders got swept by the Falcons, and now THEY were in last place and one game behind the Coons.

Raccoons (5-4) vs. Crusaders (4-5) – April 16-18, 2010

The Crusaders’ offense had worked really well so far, with 44 runs in nine games, but they had allowed 51 runs in the meantime, and it was almost all on the rotation, where Pancho Trevino and Manuel Hernandez had gotten flatout romped in their first two starts. We would only get one of those, but maybe there was an opening for the Coons’ ninth-place offense.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Kelvin Yates (1-0, 2.57 ERA)
Jong-hoo Umberger (1-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Pancho Trevino (0-2, 12.08 ERA)
Javier Cruz (0-2, 5.11 ERA) vs. Elwood Spurrell (1-1, 3.94 ERA)

That’s three right-handers again. What happened to all the southpaws? (Not that this isn’t in some way good for us…)

Game 1
NYC: CF R. Pena – C G. Ortíz – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – 2B Caraballo – SS J. Hernandez – 3B S. Moore – P Yates
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Brown

Strikeout par-tay as our former co-aces went against another. Through three innings, there were 11 strikeouts and no hits logged on the scorecard. The first hit was a leadoff single by Gabriel Ortíz in the top 4th, but a grounder to second and another one to the pitcher by the Martin Brothers ended the inning quicker than expected by the Crusaders’ middle of the order. The Coons would also get their first hit to start the fourth inning, a leadoff triple by Jon Merritt, and our own ****ty middle of the order left him there… Alston lined out softly to B.J. Manfull, Quebell popped out to shallow left, and Bowen gave it quite the ride, but didn’t get it out of straightaway center. Instead Roberto Pena made the play and the game remained scoreless. Bottom 5th, Pruitt and Nomura hit singles to start the frame. Rob Howell grounded into a fielder’s choice that got Nomura erased before Brown grounded hard to first, but Manfull swept it up, with Howell moving on to second base. Castro sent a liner to center that looked like it would wait for Pena to come on and suck it up but then bounced in and off Pena’s chest, creating that extra second of delay to score not one, but two runs.

Meanwhile Brownie was logging away the outs with stunning efficiency, finishing the seventh with strikeout #10 to Stanton Martin, still on a one-hitter. It all looked so amazing! Top 8th, B.J. Manfull singled. Caraballo doubled, and then Julio Hernandez took a dubious walk in a full count and the bases were loaded with no outs. Hnngg. The switch-hitter Steve Moore was up, who was weaker against lefties, and Brownie had gas left. Brown went after him, whiff #11. Then the Crusaders sent Cristo Ramirez to bat for Kel Yates, and Ramirez had the second-highest career total in hits in the league, but he was old, slow, and a left-hander, and he struck out. That brought up Roberto Pena, another left-hander, not hit for, and why move out Brown for Sims now? Makes no sense, and Pena grounded out easily to Quebell on the first pitch.

(gets an oxygen mask put on by Maud) Fanks, Maub.

Not that it got much easier from here. The Coons didn’t do anything worth noting in the bottom 8th, and Angel Casas was handed the 2-0 lead in the ninth. Gabriel Ortíz grounded out before he went to full counts on both of the Martin Brothers. Ortíz walked, but Stanton was called out, but we weren’t out of the woods yet, since B.J. Manfull had a good stroke as well and was a left-hander. But Angel was on, Manfull couldn’t keep up, and struck out on a pitch right on the corner. 2-0 Brownies!! Castro 1-4, 2 RBI; Nomura 2-3; Brown 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 K, W (3-0);

BROWNIIIIEEEE!!!

Game 2
NYC: CF R. Pena – C G. Ortíz – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – SS J. Hernandez – 2B Brantley – 3B S. Moore – P Trevino
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Umberger

The Crusaders hadn’t gotten to Nick Brown whatever the circumstances on Friday, but they sure as heck got to Umberger in a hurry on Saturday. Manfull singled in a pair in the first inning, and they got another run in the second, making lots of good contact as Umberger’s hit total skyrocketed. The Raccoons hit into a double play to kill their bottom of the first inning, and scuffled in the early innings against Pancho Trevino and his 12+ ERA. While they made up a run in the fourth, Rob Howell continued to be the death of all offense, coming up with two men on base in both of his first two at-bats, and twice ended the inning with a sorry soft fly for the third out. But slowly Trevino started to not make good pitches again and the Coons didn’t hit the ball on the ground all the time. Castro lined to left center for a 1-out double in the fifth, and while Merritt’s hard grounder to third base was intercepted by Moore, Ron Alston then knotted the score with his first homer of the year, a high shot to far right, 3-3.

Jong-hoo was gone after six very mixed innings, not earning a decision. Luis Beltran retired the 1-2-3 batters on short notice in the top of the seventh, while the Crusaders stayed with Trevino for another inning. Pat White hit for Beltran, grounded out, but Castro got on. Merritt flew out, Alston walked, and still no left-hander to face Quebell, who fired a rocket past Steve Moore into the leftfield corner to score not only Castro, but also Alston and gave the Greycoats a 5-3 lead. Bowen grounded out to end the seventh, with Rockburn taking over in the top 8th, but he failed to retire any of the two batters he faced, as Stanton Martin walked, and Manfull singled. When the Crusaders sent a left-hander to pinch-hit in Matt MacKey, Donald Sims replaced Rockburn and allowed got him, but then Francisco Caraballo singled and Moore walked on four pitches as we just couldn’t hit the zone. Then came Cristo Ramirez, who had batted with the sacks full and one out the previous day in the eighth – to no success. He bounced a ball back to Sims, who threw home, and Bowen zinged to first, beating out the ancient Ramirez by a mile or even two for a most welcome 1-2-3 double play and we maintained a 5-4 lead. And although Angel started the ninth inning a batter earlier, facing Pena, the inning went much the same for him. Nobody on until the Martins came up, then he walked Ortíz, but Stanton struck out. 5-4 Greycoats!!! Castro 3-4, 2B; Quebell 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Pruitt 2-3, BB, RBI; Nomura 2-3, BB;

Maud, this oxygen mask doesn’t do. Order me an oxygen tent, express delivery, they’re gonna be here another day.

Game 3
NYC: CF R. Pena – C G. Ortíz – LF M. Ortíz – RF S. Martin – 1B Manfull – 2B Caraballo – SS Brantley – 3B S. Moore – P Reeves
POR: LF Castro – 2B Nomura – RF Alston – C Bowen – 1B Quebell – CF White – 3B Heathershaw – SS Howell – P Cruz

Veteran Whit Reeves (0-0, 1.20 ERA) made his first start of the season. He had only pitched in relief in one of the losses to the Falcons earlier in the week, and not at all in week one. The Furballs got an early start on him, aided by walks to Castro and Alston in the bottom of the first inning. Bowen singled to load them up, Quebell hit a sac fly, and White also drove in a run, 2-0. Meanwhile Cruz retired the first seven batters he saw, then walked Moore, but converted Reeves’ poor bunt into a double play himself and faced the minimum through three innings, but got turned into pulp in due time. Both Ortízes reached base in the fourth inning and B.J. Manfull hit a ringing 3-run homer to flip the score in the Crusaders’ favor. Like in the previous game, however, we’d have Ron Alston to tie the game at three before long. This time he did it on the third of three consecutive 2-out singles in the bottom 4th, scoring Tomas Castro. Bowen took big cuts, but struck out to keep Yoshi and Alston stranded, but we were tied at three at least.

Reeves lasted into the bottom 6th, leaving after a 1-out walk to Nomura, his fifth walk in the game. Lefty Jayden Maness took over for him, but no way we’re hitting for Ron Alston in any kind of spot, and there were reasons for that. Maness’ third pitch was turned into a pattie as Alston flung it violently out of the park, in about the same direction as the previous day, and the Raccoons held a 5-3 lead (with Reeves accountable for the loss). Cruz would complete seven innings but then drill Moore to start the eighth. With MacKey hitting for the pitcher, Donald Sims was at it again, struck out MacKey and Pena, then yielded for Ray Kelley against the right-hander Gabriel Ortíz, who threw only one pitch that Ortíz catapulted to left center where it was – WOAH, CASTRO!!! Tomas Castro came out of NOWHERE and made a flying catch on that drive just before it could do hurts to the Raccoons!

Once Alston left Yoshi at second base in the eighth inning, we were in a bit of predicament for the ninth. We were up by two. Angel had pitched two days in a row, and the Martins were up AGAIN, this time to start the inning. And Angel Casas had a bit of a history with getting overworked and then hurt in April, and the rule of thumb was to not pitch him three days in a row in April since then. With Manfull, there were two lefties. Sims had been burned already, but I wasn’t trusting Beltran with this. Rockburn had not retired anybody on Saturday. Reese and Slayton? Nah! We pulled out Luis Beltran to pitch to Martin Ortíz only, and then it would be Rockburn from there. Beltran got his man on a grounder to Yoshi, and then came Law, got a pop to Ayers in right from Stanton Martin, and then another one to Yoshi by Manfull. 5-3 Raccoons!!! Nomura 2-3, BB, 2B; Alston 2-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Quebell 1-2, BB; Cruz 7.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, W (1-2);

In other news

April 13 – The Cyclones choke the Wolves in a 2-hitter, with CIN SP Jeremiah Bowman (1-0, 0.00 ERA) going the distance in the 5-0 shutout.
April 13 – Paling in comparison is the 3-hit shutout spun by SFB SP G.G. Williams (1-1, 2.12 ERA) in a 4-0 win over the Indians.
April 16 – More shutouts for the country: RIC SP Johnny Collins (2-1, 2.52 ERA) spins a 3-hitter as the Rebels beat the Blue Sox 4-0.

Complaints and stuff

BROWNIE POWER!!! Life is good. For the most part. After his 12 K day (that almost went haywire, but didn’t, and let’s pretend that never happened) he led the CL in all three triple crown categories, no ties. Vancouver’s Rod Taylor passed him in the strikeout department by Sunday, but there’s nobody else with three wins OR an invisible ERA in the Continental League right now.

Yep. Life’s good.
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Old 03-04-2016, 10:31 AM   #1735
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Raccoons (8-4) vs. Loggers (6-6) – April 20-22, 2010

On average, the Raccoons have taken 13 games from the Loggers in the last three seasons, with a 14-4 trouncing handed to the then last-place Loggers, who right now were more like going “We’re ahead of the Crusaders, wheeee- oh.” But they had scored a few more runs than the Raccoons so far, ranking sixth (POR: t-8th), yet their pitching was still horrendous. Only two weeks in, and their rotation was already getting butchered to a 5.74 ERA (11th).

Projected matchups:
Kenichi Watanabe (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Alfredo Rios (0-2, 5.91 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (1-1, 2.02 ERA) vs. A.J. Bartels (0-0, 10.24 ERA)
Nick Brown (3-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Fernando Cruz (1-2, 5.50 ERA)

Third week, game #15, and Cruz will already be our second left-handed opponent, unless the Loggers move something around until then.

Game 1
MIL: C Baca – 2B Luján – 1B Catalo – LF T. Austin – SS Mateo – CF Brissett – 3B S. Johnson – RF Roberson – P A. Rios
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Watanabe

As a low-scoring contest broke out, the sum of the Raccoons’ offensive attempts could be summed up in the run-scoring double play Rob Howell grounded into in the bottom of the second inning. They didn’t do anything else, although Ron Alston scared the visitors briefly with a drive to left center that ended up in Amari Brissett’s glove on the track. The Loggers were held to an early single by Watanabe, who issued a leadoff walk to Antonio Luján in the seventh inning. Leborio Catalo grounded into a double play immediately. Watanabe appeared for the eighth, where Jaime Mateo disturbed the heavenly silence rather rudely with a leadoff single. Brissett grounded to Nomura, who only got the lead runner, and with right-hander Jose Valenzuela grabbing a bat, we made a move for Law Rockburn. He struck out Valenzuela, then also faced J.R. Richardson batting for long-long-long-ago-Coon Chris Roberson, who sent a drive to deep right that Alston managed to intercept before it could do anyone harm. In the bottom of the inning, Howell made another one of his numerous outs before Ricardo Martinez hit for Law and upset the silence greatly with a triple into the leftfield corner. From here, a string of events unexpectedly caused the game to turn into a rout. First, Pat White hit for Castro and barely scored Martinez with a sac fly. Two down, Merritt singled, but the inning was about over when Ron Alston grounded to Luján, except that Luján threw well over the head of Catalo and two men were in scoring position. Quebell also grounded to Luján, who couldn’t make that play either and Quebell was scored with an RBI infield single. When Craig Bowen uncorked his first homer of the season in the resulting two out, two on state, the game was apparently decisively bagged, despite the inning not ending until Luján made ANOTHER error on Pruitt’s grounder. And the game wasn’t bagged either. Pat Slayton was sent out for the ninth and got crumpled badly. Freddy Rosa and Alonso Baca reached on a single and a walk to start the inning, and it got well worse from there. In a 6-1 game, two outs and the bases loaded, Donald Sims came in to face the lefty Brissett and finally ended the game with a K. 6-1 Raccoons. Bowen 1-3, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Martinez (PH) 1-1, 3B; Watanabe 7.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, W (2-0);

Well, there ARE things about the offense I don’t like. But at least we don’t have to play Antonio Luján ourselves. He also struck out against Slayton in the ninth and I feel compelled to confirm that he is in fact NOT on our payroll. Also, the Crusaders lost their seventh straight game.

The Loggers decided to shake things up and moved Fernando Cruz into the middle game.

Game 2
MIL: CF J.R. Richardson – 2B Luján – 1B Valenzuela – RF T. Austin – 3B Townsley – C Rosa – SS Mateo – LF Delaney – P F. Cruz
POR: 1B Merritt – CF White – LF Alston – C Bowen – RF Ayers – 3B R. Martinez – 2B Heathershaw – SS Howell – P Baldwin

The Loggers also burst out all over Colin Baldwin’s face from the time of the first pitch. Richardson and Luján singled, Valenzuela beat Ayers’ range for a double, and a walk, another single, and wild pitch ensured that three runs scored in a hurry. He never really got his act together in this game, giving up singles and also added a balk in a stupid spot with two on and nobody out in the fourth inning, leading to the Loggers’ fourth run while the Coons were still puzzled as to how to go about that guy out there who threw from the wrong side. When they did figure him out in the bottom of the fourth, they quickly put up three runs, with Colin Baldwin contributing a crucial 2-out single to keep the line moving.

Cruz was constantly behind in the count in both that fourth inning and also in the fifth. There, Alston singled, but Bowen’s liner to left was denied falling in by Chris Delaney. Ayers then walked, and Martinez singled on a 2-0 pitch, loading the bases with one out, but unfortunately this came with Heathershaw and Howell next in line, and those two were batting a *combined* (meaning: addition) .227; Heathershaw popped out to the shortstop, and Howell’s fly to right was easy as pie for Tim Austin. We did get the game tied in the bottom 6th, though, on a Merritt double and White single. With the score knotted at four, Beltran struck out Baca in the #9 hole to start the top 7th. With Roberson hitting for Richardson, Ted Reese replaced Beltran, got Roberson, but then issued three consecutive 2-out walks to right-handers before getting banished. Law Rockburn ran a full count with Bob Townsley at the plate, but struck him out. Rockburn and Kelley would issue leadoff walks in the eighth and ninth respectively, but the Loggers didn’t utilize them, with Howell turning a nice double play in the ninth. In the bottom of the eighth the Coons would almost have taken the lead after a 2-out double by White, but Alston’s drive to left center was caught by Roberson. Bottom 9th, lefty Jason Long pitching. Bowen popped out, but Castro, who had hit for Ayers the last time through, drew a 5-pitch walk and then stole second base, representing the winning run. No move to the pen as the Raccoons had Ricardo Martinez at the plate, who grounded out anyway. Castro was at third with two outs for Heathershaw, who combined with Howell by now batted .212, but we only had left-handers on the bench. Nomura batted for Heathershaw anyway (and Quebell remained on the bench) as we were looking for a solid contact guy. Yoshi made contact with the first pitch, ticketed it to shallow center, and it was game over. 5-4 Furballs! Merritt 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; White 3-5, 2B, RBI; Alston 2-4, BB, 2B; Nomura (PH) 1-1, RBI; Rockburn 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

The Crusaders ended their losing spill with a ninth-inning rally past Salvadaro Soure and beat the Indians 6-3.

Game 3
MIL: CF J.R. Richardson – 2B Luján – 1B Valenzuela – RF T. Austin – 3B Townsley – C Rosa – SS Mateo – LF Roberson – P Bartels
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Brown

After not getting scored upon so far this season, Nick Brown finally got an ERA worth something when Jose Valenzuela took him deep in the first inning, putting the Loggers on top 1-0. They didn’t stay on top for very long after this, as A.J. Bartels was raked for five hits and a walk in the bottom of the first, conceding three runs and then plating a fourth with a wild pitch, as the Coons batted through the order once. The troubles would never cease for Bartels, who survived putting Castro and Merritt on in the second inning mainly because of Roberson stealing doubles from both Alston and Bowen, but then collapsed for good in the third. Out of nobody on with two outs, the Coons got a Howell double, an RBI single by Brownie, and then Castro’s first homer of the year, taking a 7-1 lead and sending Bartels for the showers, where dropped the soap onto his big toe, presumably. With the big lead, the game became a bit about whether Brownie could exploit the Loggers to run up his strikeout total, but he didn’t overwhelm them all too easily and also missed a few pitches here and there to run up his own pitch count early. He spent 100 pitches through six innings. 110 was about the rule of thumb to not push him over, which resulted in three batters faced and two retired. Bob Townsley hit a leadoff single. Pat Slayton replaced Brown with a 7-run lead and struck out Roberson to end the inning. He also turned in the eighth, and Reese pitched the ninth without accident. 8-1 Brownies!! Castro 3-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Merritt 3-4, BB, 2B; Howell 2-2, 2 BB, 2B; Brown 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, W (4-0) and 1-3, RBI; Slayton 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Ron Alston had a bit of a rotten series. In this game, he hit the ball hard three times, and went oh-for, barely notching a sac fly in the sixth inning.

And screw you, Jose Valenzuela! Well, what to you expect. He’s a former Canadien.

Raccoons (11-4) vs. Condors (8-8) – April 23-25, 2010

The Condors had led their division after week 1, but now they were a game back of the Thunder. They had scored the most runs in the CL so far with 87 (POR: 70), and were average in conceding runs, with 75 counters against them (POR: 37). We have taken the season series against them seven times in the last eight years (all except 2004), with two 7-2 turnouts in the last three years.

Projected matchups:
Jong-hoo Umberger (1-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Harry Wentz (2-1, 3.32 ERA)
Javier Cruz (1-2, 4.66 ERA) vs. Zach Boyer (1-0, 3.18 ERA)
Kenichi Watanabe (2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Doug Thompson (1-1, 12.79 ERA)

Three more right-handers, which gets our total season split to 15-3 in favor of right-handers. Still not complaining.

Game 1
TIJ: SS Ybarra – CF Tanner – LF Crum – 1B R. Morris – RF M. Cruz – 3B D. Jones – C Leach – 2B Dougal – P Wentz
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – C Owens – SS Howell – P Umberger

For the third straight day the Raccoons suffered a setback in the top of the first inning. As Jong-hoo Umberger’s H/9 and ERA kept skyrocketing, the Condors hit four consecutive singles off him, plating the first run when Rowan Tanner got on, stole second, and came home on Johnny Crum’s one-baser, and plated three runs total. Umberger would balk in another run in the third, while Harry Wentz smacked Castro to start his day, but then got a double play grounder from Alston and went once through the order with the minimum of batters faced. He potentially opened a terrible door with walks to Castro and Merritt to start the fourth, but the best the Raccoons managed was a Quebell sac fly, and they remained hitless and down 4-1. At least the hitless thing changed when Travis Owens doubled to left with one out in the bottom 5th, and while Howell singled to put runners on the corners, Ricardo Martinez, batting for Umberger, hit into a two-piece, Pancho Ybarra to Stanley Dougal to Rob Morris.

The Raccoons never got their heads out of their arses against Wentz, which meant eight long innings of futility, but with the 4-1 lead the Condors decided to try out their closer Jayden Reed in the ninth inning. Pat White hit for Merritt and struck out before Reed walked both Alston and Quebell and the tying run appeared at the plate in Pruitt. Completely out of whack, Reed didn’t throw anything close to a strike and the bases were loaded for Yoshi, who struck out, which had Craig Bowen bat for Owens. He hit a looper to right that Manny Cruz was never going to get, but he held him to a single and two runs scored, and that meant that we had to rely on Rob Howell to scored Matt Pruitt from second base – somehow. Striking out lowered his average to .189 on the year. 4-3 Condors. Bowen (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI; Kelley 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K;

So much for our 8-game winning streak.

Game 2
TIJ: SS Ybarra – CF Tanner – LF Crum – 1B R. Morris – 3B D. Jones – C Leach – RF Wall – 2B Dougal – P Boyer
POR: LF Castro – CF White – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – 3B R. Martinez – 2B Nomura – SS Heathershaw – P J. Cruz

That rotten first inning streak ended when Pancho Ybarra was thrown out trying to steal third base after his leadoff double off Javier Cruz. While Cruz would plate the first run of the game with a sac fly in the second inning, he would never cease walking the edge. First off, he was all over the place, as three hit batsmen can attest to, and second, he relied on Ron Alston to make critical plays with several men on base all the time. The Condors had three on (including a hit batter…) in the top 2nd when Alston made a difficult play in the gap to end that inning, and with two outs in the fourth he had to move those paws rather quickly to keep a Boyer blooper from falling in with two Condors in motion.

At least a 2-run home run off Yoshi Nomura’s bat created some breathing space, and Cruz wasn’t shy to use it. After two more decent and rather quick innings in the fifth and sixth he allowed another single to Stanley Dougal in the seventh (Dougal’s third on the day), and then the defense reared its ugly head when Ricardo Martinez completely butchered Zach Boyer’s bunt into an error. At least he got the lead runner when Pancho Ybarra grounded straight to him for the second out. With no right-hander in sight in the Condor’s lineup, Donald Sims replaced Cruz with Rowan Tanner approaching as the tying run, but Sims wouldn’t get out of the inning until after Tanner had singled in the Condors’ first run. The Condors knew how to trump Martinez’ defense, however, and Dougal and Ybarra made consecutive errors to put Castro and White on base to start the bottom of the seventh inning. The Coons’ offense however was absent. Alston flew out to center, Quebell flew out to left, and Bowen hopped out to Ybarra, and none of the flies were in any way a threat. The game remained a scary beast when Sims and Rockburn walked a man apiece in the eighth, but somehow Rockburn pulled through and struck out Dougal, who had been unretired so far, to end the frame, and Angel Casas wasn’t immune to panic either now. He was ALMOST through with the game. Two down, nobody on, a bouncer by Rowan Tanner … and nobody had a play. Infield single, and then Cruz sent one through between Merritt and Heathershaw, bringing up Rob Morris, who found right-handers utmost delicious. He ended up with a walk, the bases were loaded, and Angel came back to strike out Dan Jones – finally!! 3-1 Furballs! White 2-4, 2B; Martinez 2-4, 2B; Nomura 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Cruz 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, W (2-2);

Bsssssss, that was a tight one. Heathershaw, in addition to not showing much range, also went 0-4 with 3 K. But – but – but – … but I said he had a winner’s name! Batting .048 ain’t quite within the definition of a winner…

Game 3
TIJ: SS Ybarra – CF Tanner – LF Crum – 1B R. Morris – 3B D. Jones – C Leach – RF Ward – 2B Dougal – P D. Thompson
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Watanabe

Watanabe’s own scoreless innings streak ended at 14-and-some, as the Condors readily made contact off him, and in the second inning plated two runs on three hits. Doug Thompson was allowing 26 hits through 12 2/3 innings on the season, but that didn’t stop the Coons from making six outs to start their batting day. And it had yet to get worse. Watanabe allowed a leadoff single to Ybarra in the third before Howell blew a double play grounder by Tanner into an error. Watanabe would get only one more out. Crum singled, he walked Morris to force in a run, and then Jones doubled. After Leach’s sac fly he allowed another double to Tommy Ward, the game was lost real hard with a 7-0 deficit and Pat Slayton as thrown in to have a go at pitching, resulting in a line drive single to center by Stanley Dougal. Ward turned third but was gunned down by Castro at home – not that it mattered a whole lot by now. The royal junkballer Thompson wasn’t hit until Howell rolled a grounder between their middle infielders in the bottom 3rd and didn’t allow a run until a Pruitt sac fly in the fourth. Merritt’s leadoff triple just barely resulted a run in the bottom 6th when Alston struck out (…) and Quebell grounded hard to Dougal. Merritt was also past giving a damn and was running anyway. Dougal didn’t even attempt to throw him out. Not to confuse this 8-2 score with a rally. Beltran got booked a run in the seventh and they just weren’t getting to Thompson AT ALL. Nope, the guy with a WHIP galloped well past 2 at the start of the game turned in a complete game 5-hitter, and the Raccoons left town in shambles. 9-3 Condors.

In other news

April 20 – Atlanta’s Jose Morales (.339, 4 HR, 10 RBI) homers off the Condors’ Ian Ward in the Knights’ 7-6 win, extending his hitting streak to 20 games despite a 1-for-5 performance.
April 22 – A great player reaches a major milestone: 37-year old CIN 3B Sonny Reece (.288, 1 HR, 11 RBI) connects for his 3,000th major league hit, a first inning single off Dean Merritt in the Cyclones’ 6-5 win over the Capitals. Reece, besides hitting .313/.367/.462 with 211 HR and 1,382 RBI, has won too many accolades to list them easily, including four Gold Gloves, four World Series rings, two Player of the Year awards, and he also holds the distinction as the only player in ABL history to hit Game 7 game-winning home runs TWICE in the same postseason.
April 22 – DEN C Eugene Carter (.417, 2 HR, 16 RBI) also has a 20-game hitting streak pieced together thanks to a single in the Gold Sox’ 4-3 loss to the Wolves.
April 23 – An elbow contusion will keep SFW INF Oliver Torres (.298, 0 HR, 6 RBI) off the field for the next week.
April 24 – Eugene Carter (.415, 2 HR, 16 RBI) has his streak die off after 21 games, being held dry by the Blue Sox in the Gold Sox’ 6-3 loss.
April 25 – Career Falcon Hubert Green (.162, 0 HR, 2 RBI) has been struggling to start the season, but two hits in the Falcons’ 4-2 win over the Loggers on Sunday find him entry into the 2,000 hits club. The career .258, 155 HR, 976 RBI infielder gets the milestone in with a seventh inning double off Andrew Wills. Green’s career highlights are two All Star nominations and the 2005 World Series.

Complaints and stuff

When Jose Valenzuela homered off Nick Brown on Thursday, a streak of 40 1/3 scoreless innings ended (38 innings if you only allow complete innings), dating back to September 22, 2009 and Logan Taylor’s seventh inning homer.

To anybody wondering where the heck Bakile Hiwalani was, the last remaining piece of the Loggers’ once formidable lineup from the first half of the decade, well, the Loggers waived the wreck of an old man, and the upstate Wolves were dumb enough to claim him and his $2.32M salary for 2010, getting a .572 OPS out of him so far.

But the Coons lead the North, Nick Brown leads all Triple Crown stats, and the CL batting race is led by … Indy’s Ryan Miller, batting .453/.493/.656.

Always knew it…
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Old 03-04-2016, 05:16 PM   #1736
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Raccoons (12-6) @ Aces (8-11) – April 27-29, 2010

The Aces had the best batting average in the Continental League and had scored the third-most runs after three weeks. By a sharp contrast, their pitching was a complete mess, with the most runs allowed and a -17 run differential. Their rotation was 10th with a 5.23 ERA, their pen was even worse, with a 5.55 ERA (11th). The Coons had gone 6-3 against Las Vegas last season.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (4-0, 0.31 ERA) vs. Juan Valdevez (2-1, 2.79 ERA)
Jong-hoo Umberger (1-2, 5.09 ERA) vs. Jimmy Young (1-3, 7.89 ERA)
Javier Cruz (2-2, 3.46 ERA) vs. Jaquan Wagoner (1-1, 5.01 ERA)

Three more right-handers! And the quality is not all sugar. We could use some runs. We could especially use some home runs. It doesn’t befit this team to be 10th in home runs. We’re even last in stolen bases, despite the Mexican Prick’s insistence to improve our ninth rank from last season.

Game 1
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Brown
LVA: 2B H. Jones – CF Melendez – RF R. Garcia – SS Dahlke – C Durango – 3B F. Soto – LF L. Taylor – 1B McDermott – P Valdevez

It was home run galore early on, and not all of it was welcome. Tomas Castro and Howard Jones both led off the first inning with a home run, and Eduardo Durango hit another leadoff jack in the bottom 2nd. Valdevez struck out four in a row at one point, but Pruitt reached on an infield hit in the fourth inning and then scored on Nomura’s triple to tie the score. Brown was not quite as sharp as in his previous starts and allowed quite a bit of contact (as if two homers in the first two innings weren’t already evidence of that…), but the Raccoons would knock out Valdevez in the top of the fifth. Castro got on first and was doubled in by Ron Alston, who then scored on Bowen’s 2-out single up the middle and just barely past Tom Dahlke. When Pruitt also hit a single, a little looper, the Aces pulled their starter and sent lefty Arnaud Vautrin, who allowed a single to Yoshi, but it wasn’t enough to get Bowen to score, and Rob Howell ended the inning with a groundout, the Coons up 4-2. It was a lead that was in no way secure. Tom Dahlke hit a leadoff single in the bottom 6th, advanced on a wild pitch, Brown walked Durango and when Soto grounded out, the Aces had the tying runs in scoring position with one out. They, however, also had two left-handers coming up in Logan Taylor and Sean McDermott, and they both struck out.

Vautrin was still pitching for the Aces in the seventh, who thought it was a good idea with the heavily lefty-laden lineup the Coons offered. Quebell walked, Pruitt singled, and Yoshi hit a double to deep right to add a run. There was one out and two in scoring position when Rob Howell continued his bid for banishment with another strikeout. Brownie batted for himself and launched a bouncer up the middle that escaped Howard Jones and scored both runners! On the mound Brown pitched into the bottom 8th, where Dahlke hit another leadoff single. Durango flew out to Castro in fairly deep center, and with Brown just over 100 pitches now it was probably better to relieve him. Ray Kelley struck out Soto, and Beltran allowed a single to Taylor, but then whiffed McDermott to keep the Aces down. 8-2 Brownies!! Castro 2-6, HR, RBI; Pruitt 5-5; Nomura 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Martinez (PH) 1-1, RBI; Brown 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, W (5-0) and 2-4, 2 RBI;

Rob Howell already has four errors this season after another (inconsequential one) in this game. He made nine errors in 126 games in all of 2009!

Game 2
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Umberger
LVA: 1B McDermott – CF Melendez – RF R. Garcia – LF L. Taylor – SS Dahlke – C Durango – 3B F. Soto – 2B H. Jones – P Young

Jimmy Young’s WHIP coming sat at slightly more than 2, and he allowed four hits and a walk for two runs in the first inning. Just when we had him on the throat, Rob Howell came to bat and grounded out to Francisco Soto, leaving three men on base. In the following innings, the Coons didn’t achieve all too much, while Umberger acted clumsily on defense and received partial blame for two infield singles in the early innings, but the Aces didn’t do anything with either chance. The Raccoons were still up 2-0 in the bottom 5th, when Soto hit a leadoff single to center. Soto stole second; with one out Jimmy Young grounded to short, and Howell bobbled another one. Runners on the corners, Umberger struck out McDermott, then lost it completely once again, walked Melendez and Garcia and gave a 2-run single to Logan Taylor that gave the Aces a 3-2 lead.

After four hits in the first inning, the Raccoons only had two more in the next six against Young before Greg Sampson came into the game in the eighth, retired Quebell, and the Aces would send a new pitcher for every batter in the inning, to great effect. In the ninth, Yoshi led off against righty Dave Hughes, but grounded out to short. Ayers batted for the useless Howell and grounded out to Soto at third. Pat White singled batting for Tom Reese, bringing up Castro, who rolled another one over to Jones. 3-2 Aces. Alston 2-4; White (PH) 1-1;

Well, that was one big **** game. And Rob Howell is playing with his career here… Walt Canning was doing well in AAA and a move was becoming more and more likely…

Game 3
POR: LF Castro – 3B R. Martinez – RF Alston – 1B Pruitt – CF P. White – 2B Nomura – C Owens – SS Heathershaw – P Cruz
LVA: 1B McDermott – 3B F. Soto – RF R. Garcia – LF L. Taylor – SS Dahlke – C Durango – CF Sambrano – 2B H. Jones – P S. White

The Coons flashed some stick in the third inning, when Castro and Martinez hit hard singles before Pruitt and Pat White went deep back-to-back for a 4-0 lead. The Coons would knock 11 hits off Shawn White in six and a third, but not score anything else. The last of those hits was a double to center by Pruitt, who grabbed his thigh half the way to second base and tumbled into the base in a way that was not aesthetically pleasing, nor comforting. Quebell replaced him for obvious reasons, while the Aces went to the pen and Nehemiah Jones. Cruz also went 6 1/3 innings, without much glory, pitching to a lot of contact, but he was in a dangerous spot only once in the fifth inning when the Aces drew two walks. Beltran and Rockburn ended the seventh inning, but Rockburn got hit hard by two hits and a walk in the eighth as the Aces scored a run on him. With two out we went to Angel Casas, who struck out Howard Jones to end the frame, and also ended the game without too much issues. 4-1 Coons. Castro 3-5; Pruitt 3-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; Cruz 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K, W (3-2) and 1-3; Casas 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, SV (7);

Typical! Just as Matt Pruitt got hot, he also got hurt. He might be Daniel Hall’s offspring after all, black skin or not. He had a really bad hamstring and could barely walk even the next day, and while he was not diagnosed with a strain, the trainer put his recovery time at one week at least. With that, we placed him (just when he had gone to .316/.349/.456 with that powerstick) on the disabled list, and called up Walt Canning to give an audition to a proper shortstop, hopefully.

Canning, a 24-year old right-hander, plays excellent defense on the left side of the infield, and has some speed at least. His bat is a bit that of a typical shortstop, with a bit of gap power, but he won’t ever be a home run king. He draws a few walks. With Howell struggling abysmally, Canning should get a number of starts the next two weeks. We got him from the Crusaders for the failed Eric Thrift in January 2009.

Raccoons (14-7) @ Indians (12-10) – April 30-May 2, 2010

The Indians had the worst offense in the league right now, having scored only 77 runs, but they also had allowed only 79 (t-3rd). They somehow had an utterly horrendous bullpen with a 5.29 ERA, the second-worst in the CL. We had dropped two of three games to them at the start of the season.

Projected matchups:
Kenichi Watanabe (2-1, 2.87 ERA) vs. Curtis Tobitt (2-1, 4.32 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (1-1, 3.26 ERA) vs. Bob King (1-2, 2.43 ERA)
Nick Brown (5-0, 0.74 ERA) vs. Tom Weise (4-1, 2.29 ERA)

And that’s another three right-handers.

Game 1
POR: LF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – CF White – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Watanabe
IND: 1B Tsung – SS Barrón – LF Graham – C Paraz – RF Pacheco – 2B J. Lopez – CF Luxton – 3B C. Aguilar – P Tobitt

Watanabe continued to get raped in the worst way imaginable, walking four in the first three innings, in which the Indians also scored four runs. The lone run the Coons had wrestled from Curtis Tobitt in the first inning was dwarved entirely. As was to be expected, a 3-run deficit against Tobitt was about as good as a loss, no matter how many innings were left over in the game. Pat White would plate Bowen with a double in the sixth inning, but that still left the Coons down 4-2, but Tobitt didn’t return for the eighth inning. Alston doubled off Marcos Bruno, but merely scored on two groundouts against two other relievers, and that lone run was rendered moot when Pat Slayton gave the Indians that extra base with a wild pitch in the bottom 8th that allowed Roberto Pacheco to score another run with a productive groundout. We trailed by two in the top 9th against Salvadaro Soure, and Yoshi led off with a single. Ayers and Owens struck out, and Castro popped out to Jose Lopez to end the game in a rather uninspiring manner. 5-3 Indians. Alston 2-4, 2B; Bowen 3-4, RBI;

Ugh, that offense. Granted, facing Curtis Tobitt doesn’t help. And what’s wrong with Watanabe suddenly? He can’t suck now. Brendan Teasdale has an ERA of almost 10 in AAA.

Game 2
POR: LF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – CF White – 2B Nomura – SS Canning – P Baldwin
IND: 1B Tsung – SS Barrón – C Paraz – LF Graham – RF Pacheco – CF Cavazos – 2B J. Lopez – 3B C. Aguilar – P B. King

Castro singled and was caught stealing (by Paraz…!), and Bob King faced the minimum through three innings, much like Baldwin, who walked Mun-wah Tsung in the bottom 1st before Canning started a double play in his major league debut. But Baldwin forked up in the bottom of the fourth, walking Paraz, Pacheco hit a blooper, and Baldwin then drilled Ramiro Cavazos. Jose Lopez emptied the sacks with a double over Castro’s glove, and the dam broke in record time, washing away Baldwin in a 4-run fourth. Baldwin went six, allowed only two hits outside that fourth inning that shall be damned, but the Raccoons did literally nothing. In the top 6th they had at least two men on base with one out and both Merritt and Alston failed completely to at least get a single. Bob King issued his first walk in the top 7th to Quebell, and then Bowen doubled. The tying run was in the on-deck circle with no outs and it was really go time now! White whiffed, Yoshi hit a sac fly, but then Canning came up with his first major league hit, an RBI single, and the Indians’ lead was halved. Ricardo Martinez hit for Baldwin … and struck out. Sims put the first two batters on in the bottom 7th, which the Indians left on. So it wasn’t quite over yet. King was still pitching in the eighth, which Castro led off with another strikeout. Merritt tripled (his favorite pastime, apparently) and scored on Ron Alston’s single. Quebell hit a drive to deep left that … ended up with Robbie Luxton. Bowen batted, another drive, now to left center, and Cavazos DIDN’T get it. Alston was in full forward motion and scored on the double, and we were in fact tied!

We weren’t tied for long. Pat White flew out to center before Rockburn took over the bottom 8th, but gave up a single to Cavazos right away. The Indians moved their guy around to put him at third base with two outs for left-handed PH Angel Solís to come out to bat. Luis Beltran came in, allowed three 2-out singles, and the Indians took this one as well. 6-4 Indians. Castro 2-4; Merritt 2-4, 3B; Bowen 2-4, 2 2B, RBI;

And I have a bad feeling that Brownie will be turned into mush by the worst offense in the league as well. Maybe they have the worst offense, but the Raccoons clearly have the worst everything…

Game 3
POR: LF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – CF White – 2B Nomura – SS Canning – P Brown
IND: 1B Tsung – SS Barrón – C Paraz – LF Graham – RF Pacheco – CF Cavazos – 2B J. Lopez – 3B C. Aguilar – P Weise

The Coons scored first on a Ron Alston solo homer in the first inning. Brown’s control seemed off at the start with a poor walk to Juan Barrón, but Paraz hit one hard to Merritt for a double play. Barrón was the only Indian to reach the first time through as Brownie turned it around quickly to strike out four in those three innings. In the fourth, Tsung tried to reach on a bunt (…?), but was thrown out by Brown, who then walked Barrón again, and Paraz hit into a double play to Merritt again, but the Indians got their first hit in the bottom 5th, a game-tying solo shot by Dave Graham. The Coons just couldn’t do anything right with the sticks, had five hits through five innings, but of those two were by Brownie himself.

Top 6th, maybe something was moving: Alston hit a 1-out double, Quebell walked, and Bowen got brushed by Weise to load the sacks for Pat White. White lined out to right, Pacheco caught it, but Alston tagged and scored. A wild pitch by Weise moved up the remaining runners into scoring position, but Yoshi flew out to left to end the inning. Top 7th, Canning made an out before Brownie (still unretired on the day!) doubled(!), and can we finally get something done here? Weise and Castro ran a full count before Castro tattooed a pitch to right that was curving towards the pole and was … fair! Home run!!

Things got wicked by the bottom of the inning. Brown walked Barrón again, and Paraz hit into a double play – again! That was the third time in the game. Brown walked another one, Lopez, in the bottom 8th, but got around that as well, but didn’t return in the ninth after being hit for – to no great result – by Bradley Heathershaw in the top 9th. Angel Casas took over and the Indians never got another chance. 4-1 Brownies! Alston 3-4, HR, 2B, RBI; Bowen 2-3, 2B; Brown 8.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, W (6-0) and 3-3, 2B;

Screw Dave Graham!! If not for that homer, Brownie would of course have continued…

In other news

April 26 – ATL OF Jose Morales (.361, 4 HR, 10 RBI) has hit in 25 consecutive games with two hits in the Knights’ 3-2 win over the Indians.
April 27 – And just like that, it’s over: ATL Jose Morales (.345, 4 HR, 10 RBI) goes 0-for-4 in the Knights’ 4-1 loss to the Indians on Tuesday, thus ending his 25-game hitting streak.
April 29 – The leader of the Continental League batting race, IND SS Ryan Miller (.440, 3 HR, 10 RBI) goes down with an intercostal strain. He should miss about two weeks.
April 30 – OCT SP Edgar Amador (3-1, 2.55 ERA) throws a 3-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over the Bayhawks.
May 2 – The Bayhawks beat Thunder, 2-1, with both Bayhawks runs driven in by 3B David Lopez (.211, 4 HR, 12 RBI), who hits his 300th home run in the course of beating the Thunder. He becomes the eighth player to reach the 300 HR plateau. Lopez has batted .253/.310/.460 with 1,066 RBI in a career that started with the Indians in 1997.
May 2 – SAC OF/1B Julio Garcia (.316, 0 HR, 11 RBI) retires from baseball at age 35 after tearing his labrum. The Cuban right-hander had only signed with the Scorpions prior to this season.

Complaints and stuff

Ron Alston hit his 279th homer this week, taking sole possession of 10th place on the all time list, passing Mac Woods. He has to get going now if he wants to improve further this year.

Unsurprisingly, Nick Brown was named CL Pitcher of the Month, going 5-0 with a 0.74 ERA and 42 strikeouts. He also won POTM honors in April of 2008.

Apart from that… it isn’t even worth the try. This team will never have a working offense. This must be some kind of curse. They are built all around power, and they aren’t hitting any ****ing home runs at all. They hit their ****ty singles and leave all the runners on base, if they even hit the ****ty singles.

Matt Pruitt snagged Player of the Week honors despite being dragged off with a rope around his ankle on Thursday after going 9-for-13 with 1 HR and 4 RBI. Wicked world.

Life sucks.
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Raccoons (15-9) @ Titans (12-13) – May 3-6, 2010

We continued our grand tour of the nation with two more stops on this 2-week road trip, continuing to the east coast to face the Titans, whom we had beaten 12 times in 2009. The Titans had the worst rotation so far, and allowed the fourth-most runs overall with a decent bullpen doing what was humanly possible. Their run differential was -4 with the third-most potent offense.

Projected matchups:
Jong-hoo Umberger (1-3, 4.18 ERA) vs. Jesus Cabrera (2-1, 4.91 ERA)
Javier Cruz (3-2, 2.78 ERA) vs. Mauro Castro (0-3, 5.09 ERA)
Kenichi Watanabe (2-2, 3.74 ERA) vs. Brian Patrick (1-3, 5.64 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (1-1, 3.91 ERA) vs. Jesus Elmore (2-2, 7.52 ERA)

And we continue to only face right-handers. Here come another four of them. And yet our hitting isn’t overly exciting.

Game 1
POR: LF T. Castro – 2B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – 3B R. Martinez – C Bowen – CF White – SS Canning – P Umberger
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – C M. Thomas – 1B T. Ramos – LF G. Rios – CF J. Gusmán – 3B M. Austin – SS Rodgers – RF Baez – P Cabrera

Cabrera issued three walks in the top of the first, which the Coons exploited just as well as Mark Austin’s transfer error on White’s grounder. Martinez drove in two with a double off the wall, and Canning scored two more with a single over the second base bag. The Titans meanwhile fielded a lineup that only had one right-hander in it with Mark Thomas, and immediately the Coons put on a display of a 4-0 lead that was in no way safe. Martinez made an error on Thomas’ grounder and Umberger walked a pair before the spook ended with Austin flying out softly to Tomas Castro to leave three on.

In a completely bonkers performance, Jesus Cabrera lasted four and two thirds, in which he walked eight batters, and also found time to strike out eight others. With a pitch count approaching 120 he was removed in the top 5th with Canning on base. Ramiro Román replaced him and walked Merritt and Alston with two outs before Quebell struck out to end the inning. Umberger had definitely cut down on the easy hittability between starts, and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning (Austin single), and appeared good to go far which was that much more surprising given the lefty-laden lineup of the Titans. But of course, whatever confidence you may have, it shall be punished. Austin and Rodgers hit singles to start the bottom 7th and when Umberger walked Baez, the tying run came to the plate and there were no outs whatsoever. Donald Sims, who came in, provided no relief either, allowing a 2-run double to Bill Walters before he drilled Jesus Ramirez. Thomas hit into a double play to help the Coons, but the Titans scored three runs to make this one uncomfortably tight again. Yoshi hit a leadoff double in the top 8th that didn’t help any when Manuel Martinez struck out two in the inning. Punishment came swiftly when Beltran allowed a leadoff single to Gerardo Rios and then walked Gusmán in the bottom 8th. Ray Kelley failed to bail him out and the Titans scored two to take the lead just in time for Charlie Deacon to sniff out the Coons. 5-4 Titans. Nomura (PH) 1-1, 2B;

That team drew ELEVEN walks, and struck out THIRTEEN TIMES. They also left 11 on base.

Yeah well, okay. Just go ahead, just go ahead and **** it all up. It’s okay. I’m going to restore the liquor cabinet in the meantime.

Game 2
POR: LF T. Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – 2B Nomura – CF White – SS Howell – P Cruz
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – SS Rodgers – 1B T. Ramos – LF G. Rios – CF J. Gusmán – 3B M. Austin – C Lemberger – RF Thurman – P M. Castro

Like Umberger on Monday, Cruz didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning. Mauro Castro had put on Tomas Castro (single) and Merritt (walk) in the top 1st, then struck out Alston and Quebell en route to retire ten straight. Quebell then hit a double in the fourth, but raced on to third, where he was tagged out. Yeah, boys. Add rank stupidity to your general ineptness.

After four scoreless innings, power was provided for both teams in the fifth. Pat White hit a 2-piece while Zach Thurman hit a solo shot for the home team. While the Raccoons’ philosophy had always been that two runs gotta be enough, the Titans weren’t done, and Cruz ran into more trouble immediately. After getting two outs in the bottom 6th, Cruz was doubled off by Tony Ramos, then walked Rios. Javier Guzmán sent a ball to left center that Castro tried to make a lunging grab on, missed it, and it was only played by White. Ramos was in to score, but Gerardo Rios was thrown out at home to keep the game tied and move on to the seventh, where Yoshi got on in front of White again, but was rolled up with him in a double play. Bottom 8th, Beltran replaced Cruz and allowed a single to Samy Michel right away. Jesus Ramirez lined hard to first, but right into Quebell’s glove, who doubled off Michel. Top 9th, Merritt hit a leadoff single before Alston actually managed a strange beast, an extra base hit with a double to left. Two in scoring position for the Coons with nobody out, and not even them found a way to balk out of this chance without scoring. Quebell procured a lead with a sac fly to center, Bowen doubled in Alston, and a few batters later Ayers batted with one out and bases loaded and sent a ball to deep left, but was caught by Rios, who held Ayers to another sac fly. Angel Casas did his job well to tie the series. 5-2 Coons. Nomura 2-3, BB; White 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Cruz 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K;

The startling lack of left-handed opposition has made it hard to give our left-handers rest in this string of games. There probably won’t be a perfect opportunity, so we start resting them one by one now. Alston makes the start. He isn’t hitting the ball well anyway.

Game 3
POR: LF T. Castro – CF White – 3B R. Martinez – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – C Owens – P Watanabe
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – C M. Thomas – 1B T. Ramos – LF G. Rios – CF J. Gusmán – 3B M. Austin – SS Rodgers – RF Thurman – P Patrick

Miracles happened occasionally and so Rob Howell drove in the go-ahead run for the Raccoons batting with the sacks full and no outs in the top 2nd. He hit the sorriest looper over Jesus Ramirez for an RBI single before Owens grounded poorly to third base and enabled Mark Austin to throw home, where Keith Ayers was – as usual – out, and Watanabe hit into a 6-4-3, then allowed a run in the bottom 2nd to make the entire effort moot. But there would be more offense for the Coons, and Watanabe would be in the middle of it then. He led off the fifth – still in a 1-1 game – with a pop to right, almost on top of the foul line and in medium depth, and nobody got it, AND it bounced fair for a single. The Coons laboriously shoved him around the bases to score on a Quebell single to take a 2-1 lead, and Yoshi would hit a leadoff jack in the sixth to get to 3-1. Owens singled with one out and Watanabe’s bunt was airmailed over the dugout by Patrick, putting two Coons in scoring position. Gerardo Rios face-printed the wall in leftfield catching Tomas Castro’s drive, but at least that meant another run scoring on the sac fly, 4-1. There would not be much more to see of Kenichi, however, as the Titans pushed him off the mound with three hits and a run in the bottom of the same inning. Law Rockburn came in with two outs and two on to face Rodgers, who lined hard to right, but also right to Ayers for the third out.

The struggles didn’t end there, not for Rockburn, and not for anybody else. He got Thurman out to start the bottom 7th before Patrick singled (…), Ramirez walked, and Thomas also singled to center. Three on, one out, five left-handers up, and Sims and Beltran had already blown the series opener. Sims promptly blew this one, too, allowing a 2-run single to Tony Ramos. Brian Patrick remained in the game in the top 8th, even as the Raccoons build another case to get an undeserved win. Yoshi and Howell singled before Owens drew a full count walk, and then Ron Alston hit for Sims in the tied game. Patrick was not removed with Alston batting, and Alston promptly continued to hit like a well-overpaid third-rate dork and grounded to short, where Ken Rodgers threw home to nab Nomura. Tomas Castro provided relief with a single to center, scoring two, White also brought in a run off reliever Jeff Paul with a sac fly, and it was a 7-4 lead in the middle of the eighth. Ray Kelley took over on the mound, and while he faced only three and whiffed two, Angel pitched with the tying run at the plate in the ninth after another Michel single and him nicking Thomas (so, two ex-Coons on base), but the Titans didn’t break through with Gerardo Rios ultimately ending the game with a fly out to Castro. 7-4 Furballs. Quebell 2-3, 2 BB, RBI; Nomura 3-5, HR, RBI; Howell 2-5, RBI;

In the category of things that just won’t work, even if I’m begging, the Raccoons tried to steal a base three times in this game, and were thrown out three times by Thomas. Martinez was nabbed twice, and White was also hammered out. We’re about last in stolen sacks… just like in homers…

Game 4
POR: LF Castro – 3B Merritt – CF White – RF Alston – C Bowen – 2B Nomura – SS Canning – 1B Heathershaw – P Baldwin
BOS: 2B J. Ramirez – C M. Thomas – CF J. Gusmán – RF G. Rios – 1B T. Ramos – 3B M. Austin – SS Rodgers – LF Baez – P Elmore

The Titans stuck to their left-handed lineup against Baldwin even. Listen Colin, they’re not thinking the least lick of you. Show ‘em!

At the very least, Baldwin showed up for the third inning, something that Elmore didn’t. Ron Alston opened the scoring with an RBI double in the first and also came in on a Bowen single, but Baldwin would give the 2-0 lead right back in the bottom of the first inning. However, the Coons sent ten batters to the plate in the top 2nd and scored five runs on a flurry of singles and walks, and Elmore was batted for in the bottom 2nd after allowing seven runs, and they were all earned. The Titans turned to Jorge Chapa, the ancient veteran, who had turned into a pumpkin over the winter. They tried to use him in long relief, but he gave up seven runs even quicker than Elmore had done. Pat White tripled with the bases loaded in the third to get to 10-2, and when the bases were loaded in the top 4th with one out, Chapa first threw a wild pitch and then was taken deep by Keith Ayers for a 3-run homer and a 14-2 score. While the game was long a blowout, it shouldn’t go unmentioned that Baldwin was hardly any good, allowed a homer to Marcos Baez in the fourth and left after a leadoff walk to Ramirez in the bottom 7th. Pat Slayton conceded the run after a bit of further scuffling, and the squishy part of our bullpen would allow another run on Slayton in the eighth, and Rios bombed Reese for two runs in the ninth. The Raccoons added a lone tally in the top 9th on some 2-out hitting by Quebell, Castro, and Martinez. 15-7 Raccoons! Castro 2-5, 2 BB; Merritt 4-5, BB, 2B, RBI; Martinez 1-1; Alston 2-3, 3 BB, 2B, RBI; Bowen 2-5, BB, 2 RBI; Canning 2-6; Heathershaw 3-6; Quebell (PH) 1-1;

Because nothing can ever go well with this team, Pat White left the game after his 3-run triple and had to be evaluated. Looks like he was in some pain. He was diagnosed with a groin strain the following day and headed to the DL, where he will reside for the rest of the month.

Raccoons (18-10) @ Blue Sox (13-14) – May 7-9, 2010

The Blue Sox had scuffled in April, but had gotten their act together now and had won five straight games. Their 114 runs scored ranked ninth in the FL, and their 117 runs allowed had them in sixth place. They actually had a better rotation compared to a horrible bullpen with a 5+ ERA.

The last three series between these teams ended in sweeps. The Blue Sox were triumphant in 2006, but the Coons swept them in 2007 and 2008. Overall, we’re 33-30 against them.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (6-0, 0.81 ERA) vs. Tim Bailey (1-0, 1.13 ERA)
Jong-hoo Umberger (1-3, 4.24 ERA) vs. Toshiro Uenohara (1-1, 2.21 ERA)
Javier Cruz (3-2, 2.75 ERA) vs. Jorge Silva (2-2, 5.74 ERA)

… and three right-handers! The Coons will have played over 90% of their games against right-handers by Sunday.

We also called up Santiago Trevino as replacement for Pat White. He wasn’t batting all that much in AAA, but our other 40-man reserves, Jerry Saenz and Pete Schipper, were even worse. Jason Seeley was not on the 40-man roster, and wasn’t batting .200 either.

Game 1
POR: 3B Merritt – 2B Nomura – LF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – RF Ayers – CF Trevino – SS Howell – P Brown
NAS: SS Sato – LF J. Gomez – 3B A. Esquivel – RF J. Ortíz – CF Burke – C Valadez – 1B Griffin – 2B Correa – P Bailey

Brown lacked bite, control, and anything else you would desire in your starting pitcher in his seventh start of the season, which early on was obviously not going to be his seventh win. The Coons had their first two men on base against Tim Bailey in his second start of the season before Alston hit into a double play and let the air out of the entire lineup. Brown walked Jose Gomez in the bottom 1st, who was then scored by Juan Ortíz, and in the bottom of the third inning the Blue Sox, starting with Gomez, would hit four straight singles, three of those on 1-0 counts, off Brown to take a 3-0 lead.

The fourth inning saw the Coons storm the board in slo-mo fashion then. Bowen led off with a double and Ayers managed to reach on an infield single that Jose Correa didn’t play in time. Santiago Trevino followed Bowen’s liner to deep right with another double, scoring the catcher and putting the tying runs in scoring position with no outs and Rob Howell at the plate, meaning this was a lost cause. Except that the Blue Sox walked him intentionally to bring up Brown, who batted .500, but grounded one straight to Correa, who picked it, dropped it, missed it, and everybody was safe! Merritt tied the game taking a close call for ball four in a full count, and there was still nobody out. The final toot in the inning belonged to Yoshi, who hit the third double to right to score a pair, but when Alston flew out to center, Merritt went and was thrown out at home, although Ayers’ number was logged in the scorebook. The struggling Bailey would walk six men in total in the game, but the Raccoons, when having runners on the corners in the top 5th with one out, let him off the hook with a Howell pop and a groundout to Correa by Brownie.

And Brown never found his groove in this game, not even a tiny bit. Him working seven innings on nine hits and three walks, with six whiffs, looked a lot like a python trying to swallow a pig and getting stuck halfway through, but he did end his outing with a strikeout to Jake Burke and thus on a mildly high note, still in a 5-3 game. The rest of the team still tried to give birth to a win here, despite Law walking Ricardo Valadez at the start of the bottom 8th. He then got the next two batters and Luis Beltran got the third out from Bartolo Román. And in the bottom 9th, Angel again put the leadoff man on base, Kuni Sato reaching on a single. He rebounded with a strikeout to Jose Gomez before Antonio Esquivel hit one sharply to Yoshi, who started a game-ending 4-6-3. 5-3 Brownies. Merritt 2-4, BB, RBI; Ayers 3-4;

If we win our next game, we’ll be the first team in the majors to 20 victories, perhaps tied with the Miners, who are also at 19 wins so far.

Game 2
POR: LF Castro – 1B Merritt – RF Alston – C Bowen – 3B R. Martinez – 2B Nomura – CF Trevino – SS Canning – P Umberger
NAS: SS Sato – LF J. Gomez – 3B A. Esquivel – RF J. Ortíz – C Walston – 1B Brady – CF Burke – 2B Correa – P Uenohara

While the Coons got a run in the first, Umberger was a total mess and allowed three walks and two hits in the bottom of the first inning. The Blue Sox scored two runs, and Ron Alston threw out Kuni Sato at home before that. Martinez singled to start the top 2nd, then was caught stealing for the third time this week, but in the next inning Castro got on, stole second base and then scored on Jon Merritt’s SECOND triple of the day. He had already tripled in the first inning and then scored on Alston’s groundout. With this second triple, the game was tied, and Alston gave the Furballs the lead for the second time on the day, now with a clean single to left, 3-2. Bowen hit into a double play before the team came back with two outs. Martinez and Nomura reached before Trevino tripled them in, and when Clyde Brady missed Canning’s grounder to right, the Raccoons were up 6-2.

Enter Umberger and a swift scoreboard destruction. He faced six batters in the third inning. Gomez, Esquivel, Ortíz, and Walston all singled, then he walked Brady and Burke, leading to his forceful removal from the game. Ray Kelley replaced him, Correa hit into a double play, but the tying run scored, and we were starting anew in the fourth inning with a 6-6 score. And after that flurry of runs in the first three innings, the middle three innings were scoreless. Kelley, Beltran, and Reese threw the fourth, fifth, and sixth in order. In the top 7th, Rick Nicholls walked the first two Coons, Merritt and Alston, bringing up Bowen. The two would battle with a lot of close pitches before Bowen drew the third walk of the inning. Bases loaded, no outs, in a tied game. Quebell hit for Martinez against the righty Nicholls, the Blue Sox didn’t budge, and Quebell grounded to Correa, who threw out Merritt at home. But we got the lead again when Yoshi singled up the middle, scoring Alston, and Bowen would come home on Trevino’s sac fly, 8-6.

Reese threw a scoreless seventh and then even was sent batting in the top 8th, leading off. Angel had pitched three of four days, and we had to roll the dice a little bit and stay away from him if at all possible. Of course, this wouldn’t work out as planned. The Coons went down in order in the top 8th, and Burke singled to start the bottom of the eighth. Correa and Jim Phillips made outs before Sato grounded back to Reese, who made the worst throw in the season yet, far past Quebell at first base, allowing Burke to score and putting the tying run into scoring position. Rockburn took over against Jose Gomez, who grounded a 3-1 pitch to first base. No hit by any opponent could be as much of a challenge for Quebell as Reese’s throw had been, and the inning ended with an 8-7 lead. The Coons got two on in the top 9th, left them on, and we went to Angel after all. He struck out Esquivel before Ortíz bounced a 1-2 pitch barely halfway between home and third. Jon Merritt’s bare-handed play and throw went almost as far past first base as Ted Reese’s throw, and the tying run was in scoring position yet again. Pat Walston bounced out to first, with left-handed Daron Griffin batting in the #6 hole. He lined a 1-0 pitch really hard to left. Tomas Castro had to shake those paws as he raced out to the line and … made the grab! 8-7 Greycoats. Merritt 2-4, BB, 2 3B, RBI; Alston 3-4, BB, 2 RBI; Martinez 2-3; Nomura 3-5, RBI; Canning 2-4, RBI; Kelley 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

The Miners lost, and we are indeed the first and sole team to 20 wins. In no way was it a pretty game, though. Brrr. We have won five straight now, though, and we could have seven straight if not for that entirely dumb loss on Monday.

Game 3
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – LF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – 2B Nomura – RF Ayers – SS Howell – P Cruz
NAS: SS Sato – LF J. Gomez – 3B A. Esquivel – RF J. Ortíz – C Walston – 1B Brady – CF Burke – 2B Correa – P J. Silva

Another game, another Raccoons starter getting shoved a lit dynamite stick beneath the tail. After Clyde Brady grounded out to start the bottom 2nd, Burke, Correa, Silva, and Sato all hit singles against Cruz, plating the first two runs. Gomez popped out to Nomura, but then Esquivel doubled in a pair, and scored on the next double by Ortíz. Cruz then walked Walston on four pitches, and we really didn’t have enough pen to take him out, but Brady hit a 2-run double, and Burke came up with another double. Correa flew out to right, but that was an 8-run inning, and the end of our most recent mini-streak. Yoshi Nomura hit a 3-run double in the top 3rd, but come on… Cruz pitched the bottom 3rd, almost handed a 2-run homer to Esquivel, and it was more than enough. Pat Slayton came into the game to have at it, which amounted to four innings of 2-run ball and a lot of mess in those, including a wild pitch that cost a run eventually, and a balk that didn’t. There were no offensive heroics whatsoever from the Raccoons, who got romped to end this nerve-wrecking week. 10-3 Blue Sox. Nomura 2-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI; Heathershaw (PH) 1-1;

Did we have a single game this week that wasn’t nerve-wrecking? Ummm. Nope!

In other news

May 3 – SFB 2B/SS Bartolo Hernandez (.404, 0 HR, 6 RBI) racks up his 2,500th career hit in the Bayhawks’ 7-6 win over the Aces on Monday. The milestone hit is a third-inning single off Jimmy Young. Hernandez spent the first 15 years of his career from 1995 to 2009 with the Loggers, leading the league in hits three times and in stolen bases once, and also won five Gold Gloves.
May 4 – Chronic shoulder soreness lets the Scorpions shut down SAC SP Kevin Beaver (2-1, 2.57 ERA), presumably for the rest of the year.
May 7 – Big day for LVA RF/LF Ricardo Garcia (.328, 8 HR, 19 RBI): the 27-year old slugger has four hits in a 10-4 smashing of the Gold Sox, hitting for the cycle in the process! The feeling is nothing new for Garcia, who already hit for the cycle on September 3 of last season against the Falcons. He is the second batter to hit for back-to-back cycles in the ABL after Salem’s Carlos León, who hit for two cycles in 1982, and there is only one other batter with two cycles, Bruce Boyle, who also hit his two cycles for the same team, the Condors, but 11 years apart.
May 9 – DAL CF/LF César Morán (.286, 1 HR, 6 RBI) will miss a month with an oblique strain.
May 9 – SFW INF Oliver Torres (.308, 0 HR, 8 RBI) is back on the DL with an oblique strain. He should be out for a month.

Complaints and stuff

Why does always the entire rotation go to **** at the same time? This week: 36.2 IP, 47 H, 28 ER, 19 BB, 26 K. That ain’t even replacement level.

Keith Ayers’ homer off Jorge Chapa on Thursday was our first homer by a right-hander all year. Nick Brown struggled in his start, but should click off another “100” in strikeouts in his next start which will take place at home against the Stars either on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on whether we want to skip Watanabe or even Baldwin. Brownie has 1,897 K right now.

Matt Pruitt will return to the team right off the DL by the next weekend. He is more or less good right now, but his 15 days aren’t up yet.

Because things aren’t bad enough with the starting pitchers that are around in Portland, there’s also bad news in Ham Lake, where 2007 first rounder Kevin Denton’s season ends with a torn elbow ligament. He had been 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 34 innings. How’s that other hot AA SP prospect doing? Rich Hood is 1-2 with a 2.38 ERA with 28 K in 26 innings, less BB/9 and a higher BABIP than Denton. Hood looks like a hot promotion candidate later in the season.
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Raccoons (20-11) vs. Stars (16-14) – May 11-13, 2010

Dallas was fourth in runs scored and ninth in runs allowed in the Federal League, with a +1 run differential. Their rotation had a 4.38 ERA to them, 7th in the FL, but that was still soundly better than what the Coons had put up in the last week…

We had played the Stars both of the last two years, taking five of six games in total. Overall, we were 26-25 against them over the course of ABL history (plus a clean, yet still sour defeat in the 1983 World Series).

Projected matchups:
Kenichi Watanabe (2-2, 3.62 ERA) vs. Paul Miller (2-3, 4.53 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (2-1, 4.31 ERA) vs. Ramiro Gonzalez (3-1, 4.93 ERA)
Nick Brown (7-0, 1.23 ERA) vs. Victor Scott (3-1, 2.89 ERA)

Whoah, boys! Settle down! We’re gonna get not only one, but TWO left-handed opposing pitchers in this series! Both Gonzalez and Scott throw from the left side, and … whoah!

We won’t skip anybody in the rotation despite a convenient opportunity, mainly for reasons stated before.

Game 1
DAL: CF Cowan – LF Al. Rodriguez – 3B Berman – RF Bonneau – 2B H. Garcia – C R. Garza – 1B C. Parker – SS Ar. Rodriguez – P P. Miller
POR: LF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – 2B Nomura – CF Trevino – SS Howell – P Watanabe

Rob Howell kept sabotaging his employment status in this game, making another headache-inducing error in the second inning by completely shafting a fast grounder by Chris Parker, a long-ago Coon that was still surviving in the league. While Watanabe survived that scare and got Armando Rodriguez, the top 3rd was led off by Paul Miller with a double. Watanabe threw a wild pitch to really, really make sure that the Stars would get him in, while the Coons were completely silent the first time through the order. Watanabe was not great, but survived thanks to a timely double play turned in the sixth and held the Stars to that single run through six and two thirds, but that still had him on the short end. In six innings, the Critters managed only two hits and two walks off Miller. When Bowen drew a leadoff walk in the bottom 7th it was time to roll the dice and Martinez ran for him. He finally stole that first base of the season and scored on two fly outs by Nomura and Trevino – all that effort just to tie the game. Miller continued to be a tough customer, but allowed a 2-out blooper to Merritt in the bottom 8th, then threw a wild pitch and made a 3-2 mistake to Ron Alston, who grounded a pitch past the reach of Armando Rodriguez into center and Merritt scored the go-ahead run. Angel Casas was in for the ninth, who was in trouble again after a leadoff double by Hector Garcia, with two lefties next. Casas wouldn’t strike out any of those, but Rafael Garza popped out to Alston in shallow right, and Chris Parker grounded out to Merritt, who was on first base by now. Armando Rodriguez came up with Garcia on third base, and he went down in three pitches. 2-1 Critters. Alston 2-3, BB, RBI; Bowen 1-2, BB, 2B; Watanabe 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K; Beltran 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, W (3-1);

Both teams scratched out only four hits in this game, and things could really have gone either way. We gotta watch our back. While the Crusaders are still dingling around in fifth place, the smelling Elks are right on our heels, being one game down at this point.

Game 2
DAL: CF Cowan – C P. Fernandez – 3B Berman – RF Bonneau – 2B H. Garcia – 1B J. Gutierrez – LF Keshishian – SS Ar. Rodriguez – P R. Gonzalez
POR: CF Castro – 1B Merritt – C Bowen – LF Alston – 3B R. Martinez – RF Ayers – SS Canning – 2B Heathershaw – P Baldwin

The Stars got their four hits in early in the middle game and scored two runs in the second inning with two doubles by Gutierrez and Keshishian. The Raccoons went down in order in the first, but in the bottom 2nd Alston singled and Martinez doubled to have the tying runs in scoring position with no outs, but were held to one run on Ayers’ groundout before Canning struck out and Heathershaw rolled out to short. While that was about the output for the Critters early on, Baldwin never started allowing hits, but the Stars didn’t score more runs through five. The start of the sixth inning however saw Garcia hit a double past Alston, and Baldwin then walked Juan Gutierrez. Two on, no outs, Ray Kelley replaced him, got Tirgen Keshishian to ground out to third base, was lucky with a soft line by Rodriguez right to Canning, and then struck out Ramiro Gonzalez. Reese held on in the seventh, but Yohan Bonneau homered (quite impressively) off Donald Sims in the eighth to run the score to 3-1. The Stars now had more runs than the Critters had hits, and they just didn’t get going… The Stars hit three 1-out singles off Pat Slayton in the top 9th, but with the bases loaded Hector Garcia hit hard to Yoshi at second base, who started the double play. Down by two runs and 11 hits, the Coons faced Kevin Wanless in the bottom 9th and had the theoretical chance for a ridiculous comeback, but nope, just nope. Merritt singled, Bowen hit into a double play, then Alston singled, yet if there would have been less than two outs, Martinez’ grounder to short would have been another double play. 3-1 Stars. Alston 2-3, BB;

So, lemme see. Last week was ****ty Pitching Week. This week is ****ty Hitting Week then? At least the Elks were romped for 15 runs by the Scorpions and we remain a game ahead and they have tomorrow off.

Game 3
DAL: CF Cowan – LF Al. Rodriguez – 3B Berman – 2B H. Garcia – 1B J. Gutierrez – C P. Fernandez – RF Keshishian – SS Ar. Rodriguez – P Scott
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – LF Alston – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – 2B Nomura – SS Canning – C Owens – P Brown

In the most stunningly depressing top 1st in some time (which says something), Nick Brown struck out Joe Cowan before hitting consecutive batters. Hector Garcia struck out on a 3-2 pitch with the runners off, Owens threw wildly to third base, Merritt didn’t come up with the ball, and Alejandro Rodriguez scored. Gutierrez struck out, giving Brown three strikeouts in the inning, no addition to his WHIP, but still a 1-0 deficit. No Star would make an out in the field until Scott grounded out to Yoshi to start the top 3rd, with Brownie having struck out the side in the second. Owens tried to make up for his earlier mistake and hit a double to get the bottom 3rd going. Brown, still batting more than should be remotely possible, raised his average to .478 with a single to center, giving the Critters runners on the corners with no outs. While Castro flew out to Joe Cowan, and Owens was safe at home with the tying run for a sac fly, Merritt hit a single, and then the Coons outrageously got a batter to hit a fourth homer on the year when Ron Alston pumped an 0-1 pitch to right, clearly uncatchable for anybody, and this gave Brownie a 4-1 lead. Quebell then was thrown out at third base on a double for the second time in not-a-long-time, before Ayers hit an infield single, but the Coons didn’t get any more.

While Brown had struck out seven of the first ten batters, he wouldn’t strike out anybody else for a while and the Stars started to hit singles, but couldn’t score again through five. In the bottom 5th, we had Merritt on first with one out. Alston fouled out before Quebell doubled to right center. Merritt was sent around third, but out at home, despite not being Keith Ayers. In the bottom 6th we had two on with two out and Brown batting on 98 pitches. That was a toughie, but he had snipped one already, so perhaps he could … He poked at the first pitch, a soft line to shallow center, and that was just IN, and Walt Canning scored from second on the single, 5-1. Brown pitched a clean seventh, but didn’t strike out a batter past the third inning. Beltran and Kelley took care of the top 8th, with Kelley’s turn coming up with two out and two on in the bottom 8th. This time we obviously hit for the pitcher, but Martinez grounded out. Then we had Law Rockburn in, who faced three batters, and all three reached. Garcia doubled, Gutierrez singled, and then Merritt bungled a soft grounder, and the tying run was at the plate in Chris Parker, while Angel Casas entered the fray. Parker removed the tying run from the plate on a single pitch, grounding to Rob Howell at short for a double play. Angel then struck out Armando Rodriguez to lock down Brownie’s eighth win. 5-2 Brownies! Merritt 2-4; Quebell 2-4, 2 2B; Owens 2-3, BB, 2B; Brown 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, W (8-0) and 2-3, RBI; Casas 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, SV (14);

Raccoons (22-12) @ Loggers (12-22) – May 14-16, 2010

By now, the Loggers had found their way into the dark pits of last place in the CL North, which was not something that came very surprisingly. They weren’t scoring runs, and they were allowing lots, ranking in the bottom 3 in both categories. The only thing they did semi-competently was a decently composed bullpen, which ranked sixth in ERA in the CL. That was the ONLY stat among the 22 main batting and pitching rankings in which they held a first division rank, except home runs allowed, where they *tied* for sixth. For comparison, the only stats of those 22 in which the Coons were in the second division were home runs (the ****!!) and stolen bases, holding the entirety or a share of tenth place (…!!??) as this series started. The Coons had swept the Loggers in the first 3-game set this season.

Projected matchups:
Jong-hoo Umberger (1-3, 5.50 ERA) vs. A.J. Bartels (1-2, 5.06 ERA)
Javier Cruz (3-3, 4.25 ERA) vs. Roy Thomas (3-3, 3.80 ERA)
Kenichi Watanabe (2-2, 3.18 ERA) vs. Alfredo Rios (0-7, 6.35 ERA)

Matt Pruitt returned off the DL for this series. Walt Canning had batted .250, but hadn’t set the world on fire exactly, and since Rob Howell had no options left, we stuck with him and Canning was sent back to St. Petersburg.

Game 1
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Umberger
MIL: 2B Moultrie – SS Luján – 1B Catalo – LF T. Austin – C Baca – 3B Mateo – CF Brissett – RF Campbell – P Bartels

That particular lineup the Loggers sent had exactly two batters with better than a .660 OPS, and they were batting 1-2. They promptly singled off Umberger, who had been mauled badly recently, and that wasn’t something that was over. Alonso Baca homered with two outs and the Loggers held a 3-0 lead. While Bartels would strike out Raccoons in droves in this start, Umberger never stopped sucking and was charged with 11 hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings. The Raccoons had three hits through six, scoring a run in the second on a Howell sac fly, and another one in the sixth on a solo shot by Quebell and trailed by three against … against friggin’ A.J. Bartels. In the seventh, Pruitt drew a walk as the first man up, only for Yoshi to ground to first for a nifty 3-6-3 that nobody would have thought Leborio Catalo could turn. Howell then doubled for nought. Top 8th, Castro didn’t get on, but Merritt did, and when Alston yanked another shot (getting hot? Oh please, get hot!) the Coons were suddenly one run down. Loggers closer Micah Steele had no cushion in the ninth, which started with Yoshi batting and a single to shallow left center. Heathershaw ran for Yoshi while we preferred the nominally faster Martinez to bat for Howell, but he flew out. Trevino batted for Slayton and hit a line to right that fell to Earl Campbell’s right, but he got a good enough grab on it that we couldn’t send Heathershaw all the way around. Still, one out, runners on second and third, and Tomas Castro batting – you can to worse when 5-4 behind. Except that Castro struck out and Merritt bounced out to Antonio Luján. 5-4 Loggers. Alston 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Trevino (PH) 1-1, 2B; Slayton 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K;

In case you’re worried, while Jong-hoo Umberger would be under team control in 2011 (and thru ’13), his guaranteed contract ends this season, which MIGHT be a blessing, although I can’t figure out what in the living hell is wrong with him in the first place. Ah, the Elks lost, too, and come on, how often can we lose to those ****ty Loggers?

Game 2
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Cruz
MIL: CF J.R. Richardson – SS Luján – 1B Catalo – LF T. Austin – C Baca – 3B Mateo – 2B Moultrie – RF Campbell – P R. Thomas

While Cruz walked a pair in the bottom 1st, the middle infield dug him out of that mess, and the Raccoons looked like they were in business in the top 2nd. Bowen singled, Pruitt doubled, and between Roy Thomas, Jaime Mateo, and Alonso Baca, nobody could play Yoshi’s bouncer that became a bases-loading infield single (In the confusion of three Loggers falling on top of that grounder, Baca seemed like he had managed to get a firm grip on that ball at first, but in slo-mo you could see that he had merely grabbed Mateo’s groin). Howell’s continued suckage continued with a strikeout, but Cruz(!) singled in a pair of runs for an early lead that he gave back immediately and with passion. He walked Mateo to start the bottom 2nd (the poor boy wouldn’t have legged out a homer after getting his netherregions squelched), then continued to inflict pain by drilling Todd Moultrie on the arm, but the second-baser wasn’t seriously hurt (or killed). The Coons’ efforts and my patience were, though, after two run-scoring singles in the inning, and we were back to two and two.

While the Greycoats went on to strand at least one runner an inning, the Loggers waited with their fatality move as well, but would score the go-ahead run in the bottom 5th on a sac fly hit by Baca, who had already driven in four runners in the opener. While Roy Thomas left the game with an injury after six innings, the Raccoons completely lost their touch against the bullpen and went down fast in the seventh and eighth. Steele and Yoshi were at it again in the ninth inning, and this time Yoshi didn’t reach, but Martinez, batting for Howell again, got on with an infield single. Travis Owens had already been inserted in the #9 hole earlier and could not be hit for, making everybody wish for Sergio Esquivel to return when he hit into a game-ending double play. 3-2 Loggers. Alston 2-3, BB; Pruitt 2-4, 2 2B; Martinez (PH) 1-1;

Way to go, guys, way to go. I fear the worst with the anti-Brown Alfredo Rios coming in the Sunday game. He has lost every game, walked 23 and whiffed 16 in 39.2 innings.

Game 3
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – LF Alston – 1B Pruitt – RF Ayers – 2B Nomura – C Owens – SS Heathershaw – P Watanabe
MIL: CF J.R. Richardson – SS Luján – 1B Catalo – LF T. Austin – C Baca – 3B Mateo – 2B Moultrie – RF Campbell – P A. Rios

Losing this one would be hard for Rios, who got four runs of support in the bottom 2nd, of which three were unearned. Mateo led off with a single before Moultrie tripled. On the following grounder, Heathershaw’s throw was capitally bad and well past Pruitt at first base, plating Moultrie, and eventually J.R. Richardson homered. When Keith Ayers hit a 2-piece in the top 4th, the Loggers were not fazed, nor worried. Rios batted with two outs in the bottom 4th and had Mateo on second base. He doubled on a 1-2 pitch to plate Mateo and the Loggers hit three more singles in crushing Watanabe in a 7-2 game. Rios hit another RBI double off Ray Kelley, and again with two outs in the bottom 5th as the Raccoons disintegrated completely.

But it wouldn’t be actual torture without a fake rally. Top 7th, the Raccoons got three singles by Heathershaw (probably by accident), Quebell, and Castro that stocked the bags and had them equal with the Loggers at 12 hits apiece, but down 8-3. Merritt flew out to Earl Campbell, but Alston plated a pair with a double. Pruitt walked, so the tying runs were on with one out for Ayers, who grounded to Jaime Mateo, whose only play was at first base, and another run scored, knocking out Rios. Yoshi Nomura hit a single past Catalo and off Andrew Wills, with both runs coming in to tie the score at eight. Okay, maybe they do put up an actual rally. That probably means the pen is going to give back seven runs in a matter of minutes. But that didn’t happen either.

Instead, in the top 9th, Merritt got a single to start the inning. While Alston and Bowen made outs, Ayers and Nomura singled, the latter plating Merritt for the go-ahead run. Dave Walk struck out Owens to end the inning, but we held a skinny 9-8 advantage, that Angel Casas failed to – despite a 1-out double by the troublesome Baca – turn into his first blown save of the year, striking out Austin, Mateo, and Keith Scott in the inning. 9-8 Coons. Castro 2-5; Merritt 2-5; Alston 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Pruitt 2-3, BB, HR, RBI; Ayers 3-5, HR, 3 RBI; Nomura 3-5, 3 RBI; Quebell (PH) 1-2; Rockburn 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, W (1-1);

In other news

May 10 – IND SP Bob King (4-2, 2.32 ERA) stymies the Pacifics in a 4-0 shutout, holding them to two hits.
May 14 – TIJ SP Zach Boyer (2-2, 3.09 ERA) might miss most of the remainder of the season with shoulder inflammation.
May 14 – TOP OF Justin Foster (.304, 0 HR, 5 RBI) has suffered a partially torn labrum and figures to be out for about four months.
May 16 – SAC SP Carlos Castro (4-2, 3.43 ERA) is considered out for the season with shoulder inflammation.

Complaints and stuff

What a stinker of a week. Once you get this close to being swept by THOSE Loggers, you can safely stop bothering about playoff participation. I don’t know where those ****ing Canadiens come from, but if the Crusaders aren’t biting, the division might as well be theirs. Or the Indians. Or **** it, the Titans. All I know is that this team has so many holes that every Swiss cheese is wholly (holey? … holy?) jealous.

So! Milestones this week: Nick Brown reached 1,900 strikeouts by ringing up Juan Gutierrez, and when Angel Casas managed to clean up Law Rockburn’s ****, Brown was also credited with the 2,700th regular season victory in Raccoons history.

The rotation isn’t the only sore right now. The hitting is situational, to call it mildly, but there are two sore spots in the bullpen, and the fact that those are our setup men is especially troubling. Law Rockburn has been ineffective since the season started, and Donald Sims’ ERA looks really good, but his inherited runners score is appalling rather than appealing: 17 runners inherited, nine of those scored.

Prospect watch, with obvious candidates: AAA SP Hector Santos, who turns 22 on June 5, is 4-2 with a 2.74 ERA in St. Pete. He has whiffed 47 in 46 innings, with 21 walks being the only bother. But if the rotation as a whole continued to falter like it does right now, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a spot for him in Portland well before August. But Brendan Teasdale (stretching the prospect label a bit now) also turned his season around that started with two horrible shellings. Since then he’s come down to a 3.77 ERA, but is lacking in stuff, striking out only 30 in 45 1/3 innings. He’s 26 in June. Outfielder Jason Seeley, who did so-so overall in AAA in 2009, is batting .179 with no homers in 30 games in St. Pete and is sent back to Ham Lake.

We also released three players from the Ham Lake roster, all batters, including 2006 fifth-rounder Santiago Celis and even 2007 supplemental round pick C.J. Vanderwall for just being outrageously bad. The third guy dumped is outfielder Josh Hare, who was a scrap heap pickup two years ago. They were all already 23 or 24 years old and stinking up the joint at 11-21 Ham Lake. They’re gone now. Nobody will miss them. (2015 CL Player of the Year pick right now: C.J. Vanderwall, batting .330/.412/.588 for the Elks as he leads them to their third straight championship)

Dark is the world, and full of terrors.
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Old 03-07-2016, 03:12 PM   #1739
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Raccoons (23-14) vs. Canadiens (21-15) – May 18-20, 2010

The Canadiens had lived on their pitching so far, ranking third in runs scored, with an offense that was only sixth, but with only a handful of runs scored less than the Coons. And our own pitching had been crumbly lately, so… And while we were 11th in stolen bases, they led the league in that (with Russ Holland alone having more steals than the entire Coons roster), and also had more home runs hit than the Critters. Yeah, that was not very good.

This is the first series between these two teams in 2010, and over the last two years, we have been even (with a crushing 4-14 handling that cost us the playoffs in 2007 for a good part before that), but overall we are eight under .500 against the Elks all time. Time to make some of that up!

Projected matchups:
Colin Baldwin (2-2, 4.21 ERA) vs. Dave Crawford (4-2, 4.18 ERA)
Nick Brown (8-0, 1.08 ERA) vs. David Peterson (3-2, 3.78 ERA)
Jong-hoo Umberger (1-4, 5.83 ERA) vs. Juichi Fujita (5-2, 1.92 ERA)

That’s three more right-handers. We are assuming that they will utilize their off day on Monday to give Simon Pegler (1-3, 5.95 ERA) a skip. The Coons don’t skip anybody, because if we skip all suckers, Nick Brown would have to start every game.

Game 1
VAN: CF Holland – LF Theobald – 3B Suzuki – RF J. Thomas – C Mata – 1B H. Ramirez – 2B T. Johnson – SS A. Gomez – P Crawford
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Baldwin

Maybe, just maybe, Ron Alston was warming to the 2010 campaign, finally, hitting home run No. 6 in the first inning of this game. Tom Johnson’s own solo shot knotted the score again in the top 2nd, but the Raccoons got a clutch 2-out, 2-run single from Castro in the bottom of the inning for a new lead. Before that, Crawford had been 3-2 to Baldwin and thrown a pitch in the dirt to even bring Castro up to the plate. The Elks left them loaded in the top 3rd, and then Josh Thomas’ throwing error in the bottom 4th helped to score Pruitt from first base on a Rob Howell single, who then scored on Baldwin’s single to left center for a 5-1 lead, which looked pretty convincing, but, oh, very wasn’t. Holland reached base with a leadoff single in the top 5th, but Theobald washed him up in a double play. The Elks had already dissolved their fourth inning in a double play before that. Mitsuhide Suzuki then homered, sparing the Coons a run in the now 5-2 game.

But the ball was flying for sure this rather cold Tuesday night. Tomas Castro jacked a solo job off right-hander Bill King in the bottom 6th, 6-2. It was also a messy game. Castro had made an error early, the Elks did commit three, there was also a passed ball on Julio Mata (ex-Coon, of course), and Baldwin drilled Hector Ramirez with a 1-2 pitch at one point. Baldwin went six and a third innings, mostly not too bad, and Reese logged the last two outs in the seventh without accident. Luis Beltran almost had an accident in the eighth, though, walking Mata and allowing a single to Hector Ramirez, before Gary Rice, who had replaced an injured Tom Johnson in the meantime, grounded hard to short for the third double play turned by the Critters on the night, but the Coons also rolled into one in the bottom 8th, Quebell being the offender. The Coons still led 6-2 in the top 9th when Pat Slayton was assigned the job, which was a mistake. He got one out, then put two on. Angel Casas entered for veteran Paul Theobald, whom we struck out, and Suzuki popped out then. 6-2 Coons. Castro 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Alston 2-5, HR, RBI; Pruitt 2-4; Baldwin 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, W (3-2) and 1-2, BB, RBI;

And nope, here comes Pegler:

Game 2
VAN: CF Holland – LF Theobald – 3B Suzuki – RF J. Thomas – 2B Dobson – C Mata – 1B H. Ramirez – SS A. Gomez – P Pegler
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – SS Howell – P Brown

The pitching matchup looked like an easy W for Brownie, but before each W the baseball gods will put the task of not stinking up the joint, and well, the Elks scored first. Top 2nd, Dobson lined a single over Howell, Mata lined a single over Nomura, Hector Ramirez walked, and then Aurelio Gomez singled in a pair with a line drive to center. That looked a lot like Jong-hoo Umberger in disguise, but at least Brown got out of the inning on two runs only. And well, Pegler had either more skill or more luck (and it would really befit the baseball gods to hand Brownie his first loss of the season in an Elks game against a pushover dork, who can’t tell his head from his ***hole…), but he retired the first ten Coons in order before Jon Merritt drew a walk in the fourth to pose something remotely resembling a threat. But with Pegler being left-handed and Alston, Quebell, Bowen, Pruitt, and Nomura coming … SOMEBODY doubtlessly would hit into a double play, and it was – again – Quebell, after Alston had walked. Pruitt actually hit a rousing single in the bottom 5th, but nothing happened. Brown was pretty gassed after seven innings, striking out 11, but still trailed 2-0.

Bottom 7th: Alston started with a full count walk, and Quebell was sent to the plate … without a bat. Since he couldn’t do something stupid, he also walked. Tying runs on, no outs for Bowen, who flew to right, but into an out. The Coons got only one run on a Pruitt groundout and Nick Brown’s winning streak was definitely over. Howell was on with a leadoff single in the eighth, was starved on third base, and in the ninth we faced Pedro Alvarado, who was pretty mean and had always been. He faced Ron Alston first, who saw an 11-game hitting streak swimming away, but then singled to center. Oh ****, Quebell’s next. Well, he can’t bunt for I fear he will break his nose. But he walked, bringing up Bowen, an easy strike out, but so was everybody left on the bench. And so he struck out, as did Pruitt, and Nomura rolled out to Ramirez. 2-1 Canadiens. Brown 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, L (8-1);

****!! ****!!! ****!!!!

A few lessons taken from this game. It doesn’t matter if you’re 35 and have only appeared in 79 major league games in your lousy life, you can always beat the Raccoons. Pegler allowed two hits in eight innings. He has a career 1.54 WHIP.

Second lesson: Nick Brown will probably hire some lawyers soon. If he ever wants to pitch in the playoffs, he has to get out of his newly minted 5-yr, $11M contract.

Third lesson: Maud had to scream at the team postgame, because I had already cried out my lungs during the game. And Brown himself also looked thoroughly unhappy. And the whole things was pointless, too, since Maud was really bad at yelling at people.

Game 3
VAN: CF Holland – 1B H. Ramirez – RF J. Thomas – 2B Dobson – SS T. Johnson – LF Theobald – 3B A. Gomez – C Mata – P D. Peterson
POR: CF Castro – 2B Merritt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – 3B R. Martinez – LF Pruitt – C Owens – SS Howell – P Umberger

Oh look, the offense lived at all. Bottom 2nd, Quebell singled, Pruitt tripled, and Owens went deep for a 3-0 lead, just like that. Where had that been yesterday!? Umberger allowed one hit the first time through the order, but Dobson hit a triple in the fourth to put him in a hole. He wouldn’t get out. Tom Johnson hit a fly to right, Alston caught it and tried to get the racing Dobson at home, but couldn’t, and also didn’t come back out in the next inning, having been replaced by Keith Ayers for an injury to somewhere in his body. This could only be horrible, and I broke into the liquor cabinet.

The Elks had taken their time, but encroached on Umberger eventually. They got two on in the top 6th, Howell couldn’t turn a potential double play grounder by Jerry Dobson (but Ramirez clanked against Merritt and left with an injury, too), and Tom Johnson singled in their second run before Paul Theobald lined hard to first, where Quebell made a leaping grab to end the inning and safe Umberger’s line. The Coons could really use some insurance runs, but … meh. Bottom 7th: Nomura hit for Umberger and singled, Castro rolled into a double play. Merritt singled, Ayers singled, Quebell grounded out, three hits, no runs. Top 8th, Sims pitching. He whiffed Ross Holland, and Julio Silva grounded to short, where Howell airmailed his throw to first and Quebell couldn’t come up with it. Then Sims balked the runner to third. How exactly the Coons got out of this I will never know because I hid my wet face in a pillow. Or… they did get out of this inning. Pruitt and Owens hit doubles in the eighth for an extra run before Nomura had runners on the corners and hit into an inning-ending double play. Top 9th, and Angel Casas AGAIN put the tying runs on base. Of course, at some point it had to go wrong, and of course it would against the ****ING ELKS. With two outs, Clint Southcott (that ****head) hit a 2-2 pitch for a 3-run homer, the Elks had the lead, Pedro Alvarado appeared for the bottom 9th, and struck out two in a perfect inning. 5-4 Canadiens. Merritt 2-4; Pruitt 4-4, 3B, 2 2B, RBI; Owens 3-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; Umberger 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K;

Ron Alston would miss a week with an abdominal strain. So we’re probably going to lose our next seven games, but don’t worry, even when we out-hit the opposition 12-6, we can’t hold onto a ****ing win.

Yeah well … yeah well … ah just **** it.

Raccoons (24-16) vs. Falcons (19-22) – May 21-23, 2010

The Falcons were quite average in runs scored, and scored the fifth-most runs despite the third-lowest team batting average. Their run differential was +17 despite being three games under .500, but don’t you worry, dear Falcons, you’ve come to the right place.

Projected matchups:
Javier Cruz (3-4, 4.20 ERA) vs. Manuel Ortíz (3-5, 4.94 ERA)
Kenichi Watanabe (2-2, 3.79 ERA) vs. Pedro Vargas (2-2, 4.31 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (3-2, 4.01 ERA) vs. Larry Cutts (3-3, 5.10 ERA)

Right-right-left, but it doesn’t matter. They **** up everything anyway. They even **** up the Crusaders playing .500 in the latter half of May.

Game 1
CHA: CF DeBoer – RF J. Flores – C F. Chavez – 3B J. Lopez – 1B Reya – LF Jimenez – SS J. Amador – 2B H. Green – P M. Ortíz
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – RF Ayers – C Bowen – 2B Nomura – SS Heathershaw – P Cruz

The Falcons scored first in the top 1st, one run on a leadoff walk drawn by Jimmy DeBoer, a single by Jesus Flores, a Nomura error, and a wild pitch. How they didn’t score six remains a mystery. The Falcons would have their own spill in the bottom of the inning, though, allowing two runs to the Raccoons by aiding them with a free runner when Jon Merritt was hit by a pitch, and also contributed an error. With Javier Cruz, on lead was going to last forever, and indeed Jose Lopez tied the game with a home run in the fourth. That came after the bottom 3rd, where Pruitt and Ayers drove the ball hard. Pruitt had his caught at the wall by Flores, while Ayers’ fell in for a triple with two outs, only for Bowen to strike out. Cruz only lasted six innings, with the sixth being another particular story. Two outs, nobody on, Quebell made an error picking up a Luis Reya grounder. Cruz responded to that with consecutive walks to the next two batters before Hubert Green, who should be old enough to see enough ****ty Raccoons pitching, impatiently grounded out to Quebell. The game remained tied at two.

But name the most useless guy on the roster right now, Mr. 25 on the roster. Heathershaw of course. He led off the bottom 7th against Ortíz, and we were a man short and had to hit for Beltran after that anyway, so well, swing away. Whoosh, Heathershaw homered to straightaway center, and the Coons were on top, 3-2. That wasn’t all in the inning. Martinez flew out to left, but Castro and Merritt hit singles and appeared on the corners when Ortíz then threw a wild pitch to bring in Castro. Quebell was now intentionally walked to get to Pruitt (with the count so far being 2-1), who grounded to Green, who chose to get Quebell at second base, but they didn’t turn the double play. Keith Ayers floated a soft ball to shallow right, Flores didn’t get it, and the Coons tacked on another run. It was enough to survive a few hard balls given up by Donald Sims in the eighth, and Angel Casas again not having a clean inning in the ninth that did dissolve in a double play, however. 5-2 Critters. Ayers 3-4, 3B, RBI; Cruz 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K;

To be precise, of Angel’s last 12 outings of a full inning, eight have been with traffic on base. That’s a bit much for a closer, and his WHIP is rising after he started the season with four clean outings out of five.

Game 2
CHA: CF DeBoer – SS J. Amador – C F. Chavez – 3B J. Lopez – 1B Reya – LF Jimenez – RF Nieves – 2B H. Green – P P. Vargas
POR: RF Castro – 3B Merritt – 1B Quebell – LF Pruitt – 2B Nomura – C Owens – CF Trevino – SS Howell – P Watanabe

Jesus Amador was Watanabe’s main problem. He got them started in both the first and third innings, and the Falcons scored three runs total in those two frames on Watanabe, who was missing a lot and if he didn’t have his command, he was second-class fish fodder out there. In the bottom of the second, the Coons left two on, but they got the bases loaded with no outs, thus having the tying runs aboard, in the next frame after a Castro double, an Amador error, and Quebell walking. Pruitt kept the line moving with a hard single to center that scored one run, Yoshi hit a sac fly, and then Owens walked on four pitches to refill the bags. Vargas twitched and drilled Santiago Trevino to force in the tying run, but then we had Howell and Watanabe coming with one out, same as in the bottom 2nd. Howell struck out on three pitches AGAIN, and Watanabe sailed out to Jimenez in left. Howell was again at the plate with two on base, Yoshi on third and Trevino on first, and one out in the bottom 5th. This time he hit into a double play.

All this had to cost eventually, and of course it had to hurt. Watanabe got stuck once more in the sixth. With runners on the corners, Rockburn entered to somehow minimize the damage with one out on the board. When Jimenez was caught stealing second by Owens we looked like we were out of the woods, except that Rockburn went on to allow back-to-back triples and the Falcons took a 5-3 lead. When the Coons had two men on with two outs in the bottom 7th and Howell’s turn was up again, he didn’t get the turn. Enough was enough. The game was lost anyway, no matter what, and we already had Slayton pitching anyway, and Heathershaw hit for Howell to then take over at short. Heathershaw drove a ball to center, but of course it wasn’t going to beat Jimmy DeBoer. Against right-hander Robert Parsons, the Coons had the tying runs on AGAIN in the bottom 8th after Castro doubled and Bowen walked in the #2 hole, batting for Slayton. Parsons, the right-hander, faced Quebell with one out, and Quebell grounded the first pitch he saw to the second baseman, except that ex-Coon Melvin Pollack, in for defense, didn’t get it and it escaped into rightfield for an RBI single and brought up a hot Matt Pruitt. His single to right loaded the sacks, the snail-paced Bowen held at third base with Nomura batting, grounding hard to short, and somehow the Coons stayed out of the double play when Pruitt tried to take Amador’s head clean off with a slide that wasn’t much of a slide at all. When Owens grounded out, the game remained tied at five as we went to the ninth inning. Beltran held the Falcons short in the top 9th, bringing out closer Luis Hernandez to face the bottom of the order in Trevino, Heathershaw, and Martinez, but we got into business with Trevino’s leadoff single. Heathershaw bunted him to second base, but Hernandez struck out Martinez and Castro: extra innings.

Ray Kelley walked Juan Jimenez in the top 10th. When Domingo Nieves hit a 2-out single to center, Jimenez tried to reach third base, but was thrown out by Trevino, ending the inning. Two outs in the 11th, more trouble as DeBoer tripled, and Kelley walked Amador and Chavez, getting stuck completely. Ted Reese was the last rested arm in the pen, but if you bring in Ted Reese to face a home run king in Jose Lopez with the bases loaded, you have resigned yourself to fate already. The count on Lopez ran full, then he struck out, and three Falcons trudged back into the dugout. Reese even had to bat in the bottom 11th despite Ayers on the bench, but with no rested pitchers left, we had to use Reese for more than one out. Of course it would be Pollack to drive in a run with two outs in the 12th off Reese, because why not. Ron Sakellaris was in his second inning of work in the bottom 12th, starting with Martinez in the #9 hole. Both Martinez and Castro popped out on 0-2 counts, and Bowen bounced out to first. 6-5 Falcons. Quebell 2-5, BB, RBI; Pruitt 3-6, RBI; Nomura 2-5, 2 RBI; Trevino 3-4, BB, RBI; Slayton 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K;

15 men left on base. I mean, the Falcons also stranded a dozen, but come on, fifteen! FIFTEEN!!

It was time to make incisions into this huge mass of failure. And it started with Rob Howell. He had been such a steady, small pleasure in 2009. He batted for a .487 OPS and had seven errors in 2010. In some way he was doing worse than Heathershaw. He was waived and designated for assignment and we recalled Walt Canning to take over as the starter at short right away.

Game 3
CHA: 2B H. Green – SS J. Amador – 3B J. Lopez – RF J. Flores – LF Nieves – C F. Gonzalez – CF Reya – 1B Heart – P Cutts
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – RF Ayers – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – 2B Nomura – SS Canning – P Baldwin

Baldwin was hittable and got double plays turned to save his butt in both of the first two innings. The Coons had runners on the corners in the bottom 2nd when Canning hit into a 7-5-2 double play with Quebell getting nipped at home. By a country mile, too. When the Coons did score two in the bottom 3rd on four singles off Larry Cutts, Baldwin gave them right back in the top 4th by just getting continuously whacked. Same inning, bottom half, Matt Pruitt came to bat with the bags full and two outs, the runners courtesy of a single, a walk, and an error by Flores. So, Matt, a .981 OPS is all daft and well, but occasionally you gotta show something. Can you give us an extra-base hit? And so he grounded out to Amador, ending the inning. Top 6th, Baldwin continued to suck, Amador singled, Flores doubled, and Baldwin got yanked. Ray Kelley replaced him and gave up a fly to medium-depth left to Nieves. Pruitt caught it, Amador ran, and Pruitt threw him out at home, ending the inning with a 2-2 score. The Coons didn’t get anybody on in the bottom of the inning, and when Rockburn started the top 7th, he allowed a double to Felix Gonzalez, then threw a wild pitch.

That wasn’t the last extra-base hit off Rockburn, who also walked Luis Reya, a double to DeBoer, and a triple to Hubert Green. Three runs scored. There was really nothing about this team that wasn’t just simply ****. In tune with that statement, Slayton and Sims stumbled their way through an inning each, but didn’t allow a run. Yet, the Raccoons lineup never got a hit after the fourth inning. 5-2 Falcons. Quebell 3-4, 2B, RBI; Nomura 2-4;

In other news

May 18 – History day for LAP 3B/2B Jens Carroll (.280, 0 HR, 13 RBI): the 28-year old lands six base hits as the Pacifics down the Stars, 15-7, including two doubles and four singles, driving in two. It is the 45th 6-hit day in ABL history, and the second time the feat has been achieved by a Pacific after Juan Martinez in 2004.
May 18 – SAC 3B Stan Whitley (.288, 3 HR, 28 RBI) knocks five hits in the Scorpions’ 14-6 drubbing of the Wolves, including a home run and three doubles for 6 RBI.
May 18 – The scuffling Crusaders lose CF Roberto Pena (.233, 0 HR, 8 RBI) for three to four weeks. The 25-year old has strained a rib cage muscle.
May 21 – SAC INF Michael Palmer (.346, 4 HR, 26 RBI) might miss a month with a thumb sprain.

Complaints and stuff

Ron Alston will also miss the series against the Knights midweek, but he should be back by the time we get to Oklahoma on the weekend.

Not that any of it matters. The team keeps failing in every spot you might want to imagine. It’s not going to happen. They’re not gonna win 101 games. They won’t even win 81 if they go on like that. Can’t wait to tear this **** down at the end of the season.

I have the worst job on Earth…
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Old 03-09-2016, 03:08 PM   #1740
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Raccoons (25-18) @ Knights (19-24) – May 25-27, 2010

The Knights hit all the homers the Coons didn’t, uncorking the second-most long balls in the Continental League, but overall they were only scoring the ninth-most runs, and thus significantly less than the Critters. Their pitching was also quite sub-standard with an 8th-ranked rotation and the second-worst pen.

The Raccoons hadn’t played the Knights so far this season, but had taken the season series every year since 2006, with a 5-4 advantage in 2009. All-time we were one game below .500 against them.

Projected matchups:
Nick Brown (8-1, 1.24 ERA) vs. Steve Rogers (3-4, 4.05 ERA)
Jong-hoo Umberger (1-4, 5.36 ERA) vs. Johnny Krom (2-2, 4.62 ERA)
Javier Cruz (3-4, 3.90 ERA) vs. Domingo Cruz (4-5, 5.71 ERA)

Good news. I found the left-handed starters that have gone missing from all the other teams. The Knights have four of them in their rotation, with Cruz the only right-hander and also the guy with the worst ERA.

Game 1
POR: CF Castro – 1B Merritt – LF Pruitt – RF Ayers – C Bowen – 3B R. Martinez – 2B Nomura – SS Canning – P Brown
ATL: SS Hibbard – 1B Bond – LF J. Morales – 3B C. Martinez – CF Kelsey – C Delgado – RF J. Garcia – 2B Hilderbrand – P Rogers

Steve Rogers, a long time ago one of the best hurlers in the Federal League, was not quite as good anymore in the latter half of his 30s and bled singles early. The Coons strung up enough of them to allow Ayers and Martinez to plate single runs in the top 1st before Ricardo Martinez’ glove reared its ugly head in the bottom of the inning. The Knights’ first runner was on a flubber by Martinez, putting Kevin Bond on base, but after a walk to Morales, Bond thrown out at home by Keith Ayers on Carlos Martinez’ single, and Brown got out of the inning unharmed. He struck out pairs in each of the first three innings before getting none in the fourth, which started with him drilling John Kelsey. Delgado grounded right to Canning to get two before Jorge Garcia singled and T.J. Hildebrand grounded to Canning again, only for the young shortstop to miss the ball this time. However, Rogers popped up and out, leaving two men stranded. Two men stranded was also the battle cry for Yoshi Nomura on this dark Tuesday, as he batted with two on and two out in the first inning, in the third, and in the fifth, and his loot was rather small: squid. The Knights would also leave two on in the bottom of the inning, another runner being put on base by being hit by the pitch. Then it was Brown in the top 6th to start a rally himself with his second single on the day (and how does he do that??), which was followed up on by Castro with a walk, and then Jon Merritt tripled them in before scoring himself on a Pruitt single, opening the score to 5-0. Brownie pitched only one more inning, getting over 100 pitches already with two outs in the sixth, but he wasn’t scored upon and struck out ten Knights. Quebell hit for him in the seventh with the middle infielders on the corners and hit an RBI single to right and well in Kevin Bond’s reach, the first dip in another 3-spot. Despite the off day on Monday the pen was still not quite rested after the disasters of the previous week, so with Reese and Slayton lined up for the last three innings, technically the 8-0 lead wasn’t safe. However, Reese pitched two innings rather efficiently, and the Knights never got even close to threatening again. 8-0 Brownies! Merritt 2-4, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; Pruitt 3-5, RBI; Martinez 2-4, BB, RBI; Quebell (PH) 1-2, RBI; Brown 6.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K, W (9-1) and 2-3; Reese 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Merritt’s ABL-leading 10th triple (nobody else has more than six, and only two players have more than four) was the only one of our 15 hits that went for extra bases. Something’s awkward about this team…

We also stole an outrageous amount of three bases in this game (Castro, Martinez, Ayers). Look out, leaderboard, we’re comin’!

Game 2
POR: CF Castro – 2B Merritt – LF Pruitt – RF Ayers – 1B Quebell – 3B R. Martinez – C Bowen – SS Canning – P Umberger
ATL: CF Kelsey – 3B Bond – LF J. Morales – RF G. Munoz – 2B C. Martinez – 1B J. Garcia – SS Hibbard – C Tizzard – P Krom

While extra-base hits remained hard to impossible to come by for the Fuzzballs, the Knights used a Jose Morales double to plate Kelsey in the bottom 1st for a 1-0 lead that would stand for a good long while. Umberger went six and allowed eight hits, continuing an unfortunate H/9 history, and while the Coons also hit safely six times in six innings, they only got six bases out of those hits and remained far away from home plate. The only two players to even send hard drives where Ayers and Bowen, both to right, and both were caught by ex-Titan Gonzalo Munoz. Both starting pitchers after six innings, the Coons instantly got a big chance in the top 7th when Bradley Heathershaw, batting for Umberger to start the inning against lefty Carlos Camacho, was safe on a roller that died halfway to third base, then moved to third base himself on Castro’s single to center. Merritt merrily kept the line moving with the game-tying single between Bond and the rookie Devin Hibbard, and then Pruitt’s drive to left was finally not caught by Munoz and instead clanked off the wall in an inconvenient manner, just enough for Pruitt to stretch those paws on the way across second base, sliding in safely with a 2-run triple. The inning would be one of those mind-crumbling ones for the Knights’ fan base. New pitcher Kurt Doyle couldn’t retire anybody, either, and the Raccoons scored seven runs before Bowen’s groundout brought up the first light in the “OUT” box. The Critters kept batting, however, with Greg Grams eventually replacing Doyle. Grams was cleaning up for the Knights now and allowing more than a run an inning, and all in all the Coons sent 13 men to the plate and scored eight runs until Munoz hustled in to snag a soft line off Pruitt’s bat to finally get the third out. The Coons reached double digits on a 2-run double by Walt Canning in the eighth, completing back-to-back routs of the Knights with Pruitt hitting into a run-scoring double play in the ninth. 11-2 Coons! Castro 2-5, BB, RBI; Merritt 3-5, BB, RBI; Pruitt 3-5, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; Quebell 3-5, RBI; Martinez 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI; Bowen 2-5, RBI;

Game 3
POR: 3B Merritt – 2B Nomura – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – RF Ayers – C Bowen – CF Trevino – SS Canning – P J. Cruz
ATL: CF Kelsey – 3B Bond – LF J. Morales – RF G. Munoz – 2B C. Martinez – 1B J. Garcia – SS Hibbard – C Tizzard – P D. Cruz

While Yoshi’s double in the first didn’t lead to a run, Ayers’ to start the second inning did when Trevino plated him with a sac fly. While that gave Portland a 1-0 lead, the Knights were quick to whack our Cruz, landing three base hits to start the bottom of the same inning and ultimately taking a 2-1 lead. The Coons had Pruitt lead off the fourth, when things went something like single, single, double play and no runs scored once Ayers got hold of a stick. In the sixth, it was Ayers at the plate again, still in a 2-1 deficit and with the bases loaded after Nomura singled and Domingo Cruz walked Pruitt and Quebell. The count ran full before Ayers popped out, and then Bowen fell to 1-2, still made contact, but grounded out to Carlos Martinez. Welp.

While our starter had gone six innings only the last two days, Cruz got stuck before that. Garcia singled to start the bottom 6th, and then Cruz misplayed a Hibbard grounder, trying to get the lead runner at second base and ending up getting nobody. Tizzard’s strikeout and Domingo Cruz’ bunt gave him two more outs, but when the lefty-laden top of the order came to the plate, Donald Sims (he with the miserable %IR) replaced Cruz, but got John Kelsey to ground out. Top 7th, Trevino got on. Canning grounded out, Castro whiffed, but then Merritt took Cruz off the hook with his 11th(!!) triple, but was left on when Yoshi grounded out. After that hard bit of work, Beltran started the bottom 7th with walks to Kevin Bond and Jose Morales, and Law Rockburn just barely found a way out of this mess, but kept the game tied. The same couldn’t be said for Angel Casas. The Raccoons kept scuffling and didn’t get anything mounted at all, but when Angel was put into a non-save situation for the first time this season, he immediately was eaten. Kevin Bond doubled, Jose Morales singled, and things were over as quickly as that. 3-2 Knights. Nomura 2-4, 2B; Ayers 2-4, 2B; Rockburn 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

Well, there were good news still. Not only was Ron Alston ready to go in the weekend series after this sad loss, but we also were able to activate Pat White off the disabled list. Santiago Trevino, not faring too shabbily, was handed back to AAA.

As we leave town, Matt Pruitt has an 11-game hitting streak going.

Raccoons (27-19) @ Thunder (31-17) – May 28-30, 2010

The Thunder were playing some obscene ball right now, having lost only three of their last 16 games. They came off a sweep of the Titans in which they had allowed four runs total and that was the main motive of this team: pitching, pitching, pitching, allowing a sliver over three runs per game, the best mark in the Continental League, with the Raccoons a not too distant second. They were fourth in runs scored and we had won two of three from them in April.

Projected matchups:
Kenichi Watanabe (2-2, 4.15 ERA) vs. Daniel Dickerson (5-2, 1.64 ERA)
Colin Baldwin (3-2, 3.75 ERA) vs. Edgar Amador (4-4, 3.84 ERA)
Nick Brown (9-1, 1.14 ERA) vs. Takeru Sato (3-2, 4.14 ERA)

The two best pitchers by ERA will pitch in this series, though not against another. Let’s hang a few on Dickerson, a right-hander. Of course we know the Fat Cat is right-handed as well, but Brownie will be in another southpaw match on Sunday. We’re still half a game off the Elks (matching them every day while we were in Atlanta), with the Crusaders slowly starting to creep into the picture after moving up to third place, three back of the Coons.

Game 1
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – 2B Nomura – SS Canning – P Watanabe
OCT: LF Britton – 1B T. Cardenas – RF Tom Reese – 2B M. Garza – CF J. Gonzalez – 3B Arreola – C Rucker – SS Vieitas – P Dickerson

Watanabe simply was no good and issued walks. With his limited stuff, walks were pretty bad, and then the Thunder also exploited Castro’s limited range in center to shove a few hits in there in the second inning, which opened with a walk, too, and scored two runs in that bottom 2nd. The Coons had Nomura and Canning on with nobody out in the top 3rd when Watanabe bunted into a force at third, and Castro and Merritt struck out. The Thunder plated four runs off Watanabe in five innings, while the Raccoons didn’t get to Dickerson for more than two singles in the same time. When Castro hit a leadoff single in the sixth he got caught stealing, and that game was pretty much lost by now. So throw in Slayton. He had two clean innings, during which the Coons with the greatest effort threw up one run onto the scoreboard, but a horrendous bottom 8th gave the Thunder two runs in compensation off Ray Kelley, one of those unearned after a Quebell error. The Coons’ biggest triumph on the day was to poke lefty Steven Anderson long enough in the top 9th to bring in the Thunder’s closer despite entering the frame five runs down. Then there were two out and two on in a 6-2 game for Walt Canning, who snipped a single to load the bases and bring up Pat White as the tying run. White walked, shoving in a run, but now Travis Owens hit for Kelley in Castro’s vacated spot. Owens lunged at the first pitch and knocked it softly to first base, a low line that went just over Tomas Cardenas, fell fair behind the bag, and bounced into the corner. Ayers, Canning, and White on the bags were scurrying like they were on the way to a buffet, Owens was scrambling around the bases, Ayers was home, Canning was home easily, and White was sent around third base, and – he – was – safe!! Tied game!!! Merritt grounded out, but the game was extended! And then came Donald Sims in the bottom 9th. Apasyu Britton singled. Tomas Cardenas singled. Jose Lugo walked. No outs. Well, he remained in for switch-hitter Marcos Garza, whom he struck out, before Law was thrown in, who got a bouncer back from Jose Gonzalez and nailed out Britton at home before Ignacio Arreola struck out to send the game – somehow! – to extras, where Ron Alston’s homer off Sergio Alvarez decided the contest in the 10th inning. Owens (PH) 1-1, 3B, 3 RBI; Pruitt 2-5; Quebell 2-4, BB, 2B; Ayers (PH) 1-1, RBI; Slayton 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

(eagerly tries to erase something from the loss column) Yes, I admit, I am a chronic quitter, and I quit on this one. It looked too borked up to come out a win. Twice.

Game 2
POR: CF Castro – 3B Merritt – LF Pruitt – RF Alston – 1B Quebell – 2B Nomura – C Owens – SS Canning – P Baldwin
OCT: SS Vieitas – CF J. Gonzalez – RF Tom Reese – LF Britton – 2B M. Garza – C Ledesma – 1B J. Lugo – 3B Arreola – P Amador

Baldwin’s control was pretty poor as well, and he pitched in a lot of high-ball counts and walked three early. The Thunder also got a run in the first, but that came on two singles and a passed ball charged to Owens. The Raccoons hit the ball hard a couple of times against the Fat Cat, but just couldn’t get those friggin’ balls to fall in. Quebell and Nomura then were on to start the top 5th, but Owens wiped out the inning with a double play. In the top 6th, Castro and Merritt drove balls to deep center, and Pruitt unleashed a liner to the right side, and they were all caught. Top 7th, Alston singled, Quebell singled, both softly to right. Maybe that was the key. Don’t mash the ball. Make tender love to it with your stick. Something like that…

Yoshi grounded back to the mound in a 3-1 count, but Amador had the ball bounce off his left foot at first and in the end couldn’t make any play. Bases loaded, nobody out in a 2-0 Thunder score. Owens hit a ball hard and high to left, but he obviously hadn’t paid attention earlier. It fell down into Britton’s glove for a sac fly, while Canning’s single up the middle restocked the bases. Pat White hit for Baldwin, rolled another grounder up the middle, the middle infielders didn’t get it, Quebell scored, and Nomura was sent and scored as well, as the Critters took the lead at 3-2. That lead wasn’t added to, leaving Ted Reese little room in the bottom 7th, where Arreola hit a leadoff single but got stranded.

The Coons had the sacks full again in the eighth, with the Cat still dealin’. Alston walked before Quebell doubled. With the open base, Yoshi was walked intentionally(!?) to get to the right-hander Owens, who had hit a bases-clearing triple in the same series. Owens hit the Cat’s 115th pitch quite hard to right, it fell in fair again, and while Tom Reese was to it before it reached the extreme reaches of Oklahoma and held Owens to a double, the bases were still emptied and the score ballooned to 6-2! While we were grinning for a moment, late-inning meltdowns had boomerang characteristics sometimes. Luis Beltran faced three in the bottom 8th, retired nobody, and left with Garza on second base, no outs, and a 6-4 score. Law Rockburn, in for the third straight day, at first seemed to make everything that much worse with a walk to Pablo Ledesma, but then the Thunder made three outs on easy bouncers and pops. And the meltdowns weren’t over quite yet. Top 9th, Luis Martinez got Merritt before Pruitt hit a soft bloop for a single. Alston walked, and once Quebell lined out to Tom Reese. With Martinez being a lefty, Bowen hit for Nomura and walked on four pitches. That brought up the Thunder’s nightmare, Travis Owens, who wrestled a 2-out, bases-loaded walk from Martinez’ left arm. With Angel having been out two days in a row, him having had a hard time, and a 3-run lead, Ray Kelley was assigned the bottom of the ninth and did a swell job, facing the minimum and striking out a pair. 7-4 Coons! Pruitt 2-5; Quebell 2-4, BB, 2B; Nomura 2-3, BB; Owens 1-3, BB, 2B, 5 RBI; Canning 2-4, BB; White (PH) 1-2, 2 RBI; Baldwin 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, W (4-2);

On this day, it happened: the Elks bungled a lead against the Condors, lost 5-4, and the Raccoons took back the lead in the North by half a game over them and four over the Crusaders.

Game 3
POR: 1B Merritt – LF Pruitt – CF White – RF Alston – 3B R. Martinez – C Bowen – 2B Nomura – SS Canning – P Brown
OCT: SS Vieitas – CF J. Gonzalez – RF Tom Reese – 1B Clarke – 2B M. Garza – LF M. Perez – C Rucker – 3B Arreola – P Sato

Top of the first inning, Merritt walked, and Pruitt singled. White grounded to short, and close to the base, with Vieitas getting entangled with a sliding Pruitt and fell onto Matt with Vieitas entire weight coming down on Pruitt’s shoulder in knee form. Matt Pruitt, who had just extended a hitting streak to 14 games, was clearly hurting and had to leave the game in favor of Tomas Castro. Alston would walk to load the bases, with the Coons ending up with one run on a Martinez groundout. Vieitas would then also ruin Brown’s day early with an infield single, and Brown walked Tom Reese to make it worse. When Marcos Garza singled to left, Vieitas scored, and Reese was sent, but thrown out by Castro to at least maintain a 1-1 tie. And Brown was struggling: after a Robert Rucker single to center he would walk Takeru Sato(!!) and the pesky veteran Vieitas before Jose Gonzalez romped a 1-2 pitch to deep left – but Castro caught it to end the inning. Things would probably not get any better with a 30-minute rain delay in the third inning, either…

No, Brownie didn’t get better. David Clarke homered off him in the bottom 5th to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead, while the Coons were not seeing Sato all too well since the second inning. Bottom 6th, Perez led off with a looping single, before Rucker hit a grounder off Yoshi’s glove that was scored a hit as the Thunder tried to get Daniel Dickerson the ERA lead. Brown retired Arreola before he drilled Sato, and that was clearly enough for him. Ted Reese replaced him and surrendered two more runs on a Vieitas single. Slayton pitched two clean innings, but the offense was still not helping. They scratched out one run in the eighth, but trailed 4-2 in the ninth with a full inning of closer Arturo Lopez coming up. The Furballs brought up the tying run when Bowen hit a 1-out single to right, and that tying run was on when Yoshi walked in a full count. In a desperate attempt, Travis Owens hit for Canning, hopping a grounder to third base slow enough for Arreola to not have a play and the bases were loaded with Keith Ayers batting for Slayton. Lopez got ahead, but Ayers hit a 1-2 pitch to right center, and Reese wasn’t getting it! That ball was in! Bowen scored, Nomura scored – tied ballgame!! That was all they got. Once the Thunder gave up on their non-closing closer and went to Sergio Alvarez, they got out of the inning on Merritt’s pop and Castro’s liner to left being shagged by Arreola. The Coons were now without a shortstop (Heathershaw trying to fill in) and without much relief pitching at all. We tried to get the game to extras with Kelley, who struck out two batters in the bottom 9th before allowing singles to Tom Reese, Britton, and the walkoff to Marcos Garza. 5-4 Thunder. Pruitt 1-1; Bowen 2-4; Owens (PH) 1-1; Ayers (PH) 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI; Slayton 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

Hnnggh! Well, at least Johnny Crum romped five hits as the Condors shellacked the Elks and we retain the lead.

This was the first weather-disturbed start for Nick Brown this year. By this time last season he had like five or six?

In other news

May 25 – VAN CL Pedro Alvarado (1-1, 1.57 ERA, 12 SV) saves his 300th career game in a 5-2 win over the Aces.
May 30 – MIL 2B Todd Moultrie (.333, 0 HR, 15 RBI) knocks six hits in the Loggers 17-2 demolition of the Aces, all but one double being singles. The Loggers already had the most 6-hitters of all teams in the ABL, and now extend their lead with the sixth such occurrence (Francois Dédé, 1978; Ethan Michael, 1978; Cristo Ramirez, 1998; Bartolo Hernandez, 1999 and 2005). This 46th 6-hit day comes only 12 days after LAP Jens Carroll achieved the feat.

Complaints and stuff

Well, we had some rally in us this week, didn’t we? Ultimately it only came out to a 4-2 week, but the Elks went 3-3 and that single game makes a lot of difference right now. The big downer this week was certainly the way the bullpen had all air squeezed out of it. Nick Brown pitched only six innings on Tuesday, and nobody would surpass that mark the entire week, and that leaves marks on the bullpen after six days. We have three more games before an off day, but after that we will have 20 straight games without a breather in between, and the starting pitching needs to get up to the task.

Matt Pruitt had his shoulder squeezed pretty good, but no structural damage could be found. But it looks like he will not be able to play for about a week. The way he’s going (or was before getting knee-slammed by Herberto Vieitas), you probably don’t want him to rot on the DL for longer than absolutely necessary, so like with Ron Alston, he’s not going on the DL.

Rob Howell cleared waivers on Tuesday, which admittedly surprised me somewhat since I had assumed him gone. Fine by me, though, because now we can see what a few weeks in AAA do to his broken bat. He batted .400 in his first four games, but I’m not getting the hype up yet.

Minor league SP watch: Rich Hood was promoted to AAA, where he got pummeled in his first start. Hector Santos keeps doing well, but the K/BB is only just over 2.1 and I don’t know whether he won’t have bad issues in the majors if promoted now. Then again, most of our rotation has pretty mad K/BB numbers, so how much worse can things get?
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