Thursday, July 22, 2010

Farming New England (7/22/10)

This week we will see a growing trend in the field of losing streaks, unless you're the Portland Sea Dogs. So goes the dog days of Summer. Let's take a look around at the farm teams of New England.

The PawSox have seemingly been a revolving door of rehabilitation over the past week or two, so it's tough to watch them drop five straight. Gone are Buchholz, Beckett and Lowrie, with Hermida packing his bags to head to Boston. Back is Felix Doubront, with a side of rehab in Mike Lowell. Also look for the Daniel Nava Expeience to return to Pawtucket in the coming days. Currently the PawSox have four players in the top 10 lowest batting averages in the International League (Tug Hullett .188; Josh Reddick .218; Aaron Bates .222; Jorge Jimenez .223). Once Toledo clears out of Pawtucket, the Sox hit the road for eight games.

The next contestant on the "How Long is Your Losing Streak" game is the New Britain Rock Cats who match the PawSox at five. Much like the PawSox, the Rock Cats lineup has been stagnant, putting up only eight runs over the losing streak, including back-to-back 2-0 losses to Harrisburg. Of course our lovable loser Mike McCardell picked up a loss during this stretch, putting him at 0-11 on the season. Yet over his last three starts, he's had opportunities for wins, and sometimes isn't that good enough? No? Well, we still got his back...then again, it's kind of fun to watch an 0fer go down like this, in a train wreck kinda way. It also isn't helping things that Ben Revere is 6 for 38 over his last ten games, since the lineup usually goes as he does. New Britain welcomes New Hampshire to town for four games starting Thursday.

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are another slumping team who just got swept in a three game series at home versus the Portland Sea Dogs and have compiled a 2-5 record since they entered the All-Star break in first place. The good news is that they are only a half game behind first place Trenton and they head to New Britain to face the Rock Cats who they are 10-6 against this year. Jo-Jo Reyes made a big splash in his first game with the club last Friday, but his second time out on Wednesday night was a different story, allowing 4 earned runs, 6 hits and 2 walks over six innings. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is batting .310 over his last ten games and has hit safely in six straight.

The Portland Sea Dogs are the only team with some momentum around here lately. Their three game sweep of the Fisher Cats and their five game win streak has allowed them a one game buffer zone to a .500 record. Starting pitcher Casey Kelly has looked sharp in his last three outings, collecting two wins, tossing 17 2/3 innings, allowing only 5 earned runs and striking out 15. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway has been a beast since his call up from Single-A Salem. In six games he is batting .409 with 11 RBI and he has hit safely in all six games. The Sea Dogs head home for four games against the Harrisburg Senators starting Thursday night.

The Connecticut Tigers continue to maintain in the New York Penn League. I think the last time we looked in they were a game over .500, which is where we find them this week. They are one of these teams that you feel alternates a win with a loss every other game. They are also a team that gets rained out a lot, with two PPDs over their last three games. The one game they did get in, just so happened to be a hard fought 2-1 win over first place Vermont. If they can take advantage of their Thursday doubleheader against the Lake Monsters, they have a chance to pull within three games of first place. Tri-City hits Dodd Stadium up for two games Friday and Saturday, then the Tigers head to Lowell for a couple.

And the WINNER of the "Losing Streak" contest is the Lowell Spinners...more like the Whoa-ell Spinners, huh, huh! As bad as that line is, they've been much worse. For nine straight games they have found a way to lose. Blowouts, blown leads, lack of hitting, lack of name it, they've done it. This team is 3-17 in the month of July. Let me repeat...3-17 in the month of July! They are already 15 games behind first place and they are only 31 games into the season. They own the worst team batting average (.231) and the worst team ERA (5.16) in the New York Penn League, which pretty much sums it all up.

Even the Vermont Lake Monsters have been riding the losing wave lately. Granted it's only been a two game losing streak, but they've dropped three of their last four and are 5-5 over their last ten games. Yet they've lost no ground in the North Division and still maintain the second best ERA (3.06) and WHIP (1.23 ) in the New York Penn League. The hitting is heating up as well for Vermont, led by DH David Freitas who is in the midst of a 16 game hitting streak. First basemen Ronnie Labrie has also swung a hot stick lately, throwing up a .379 average over his last ten game and reaching base safely in seven straight. Vermont welcomes the Lowell Spinners (with open arms) to Centennial Field for a two game series on Friday, followed by Tri-City for two starting Sunday.

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