Friday, August 13, 2010

Farming New England (8/13/10)

The month of August has been not been a pretty one around the region. Our local nines have a little more than half a month to turn things around. Some are playing for a playoff spot, some are simply playing for pride, but as of right now I'm not sure any of them are showing it. Let's take a look around the region.

PawSox fans are in line to root for another Boston Red Sox player on their rehab back to the majors. The Laser Show is set to hit McCoy Stadium this weekend when Dustin Pedroia returns from a broken bone in his foot. Peedy is expected to be in the lineup on Saturday and Sunday with the PawSox and should return to Boston next Tuesday. Pawtucket could certainly use the help as they have lost 5 of their last 6 games, including Wednesday night's 5-1 loss to Lehigh Valley, a team that had dropped 14 of their last 15 games. Josh Reddick remains a bright spot in the Sox lineup. He is hitting .340 for the month of August, continuing his trend upwards after a .210 average in April and a dismal .181 in May. The PawSox return to McCoy on Friday night when they start a six game homestand in which they will play host to Buffalo and Lehigh Valley for three apiece.

They're already eliminated from contention for anything this season, they've lost their best player for the year after he was hit in the face with a pitch and now the New Britain Rock Cats best pitcher is moving up to AAA Rochester. Kyle Gibson got the call after 16 solid starts for New Britain where he posted a 7-5 record (more than 33% of the Rock Cats wins all season), with a 3.68 ERA and 77 strikeouts. Gibson, the Minnesota Twins #1 pick in 2009, is scheduled to make his AAA debut Friday night. The Rock Cats have dropped their 6 of their last 7 games. First baseman Eric Lis made his return to AAA after playing 76 games with New Britain. Outfielder Evan Bigley joined the Rock Cats this week after being called up from Single A Fort Myers and all he did to make his mark was go 5 for 9 in his first two games with a home run and 2 RBI. New Britain finishes up their six game road swing with three in Akron starting Friday night.

When Adeiny Hechavarria drove in Darin Mastroianni with a single in the first inning of a game against Bowie on Sunday night, he helped put his teammate into the franchise record books. Mastroianni scored his 86th run of the year on the play, making him the New Hampshire Fisher Cats all time runs leader for a single season. Catcher Brian Jeroloman (.429) and Mastroianni (.409) are 1-2 in the Eastern League in on-base percentage. Shawn Bowman and Eric Thames are tied for third in the league with 21 home runs each. The Fisher Cats are 4-5 in the month of August and now sit 1 1/2 games back of Trenton in the Eastern Division. New Hampshire is 10 1/2 games up on third place Reading, putting them in a decent position for a playoff spot. New Hampshire hits Altoona for three starting Friday night.

The Portland Sea Dogs have not been able to rely on any consistent pitching all season long and the stats don't lie. They have a team ERA of 4.77, good enough for third highest in the Eastern League and they are one of only two teams without a complete game all season. They have allowed the second most hits (1075) in the league, the second most home runs (105) and they have the second highest WHIP (1.47). On the bright side, catcher Luis Exposito continues his hot hitting ways and now has 30 doubles on the season which is good enough to be tied for eighth in the Eastern League and is only 10 off of the all-time team mark for a season. The Sea Dogs are 5-5 in the month of August and they've won 4 of their last 5 games, including a three game sweep of Bowie. Portland has three games in Richmond against the Flying Squirrels starting Friday night.

The Connecticut Tigers spent all of one day in sole possession of first place last week, then they decided they weren't comfortable there so they proceeded to drop 4 out of 5 to ensure their second place status. They do sit only 1 game back of Vermont still, so they remain within a good night of being back on top. Connecticut is a bit further back in a heated Wild Card race where they site in fourth place, 4 games back of Williamsport. All Star catcher Julio Rodriguez has collected 7 hits over his last four games. As a team, the Tigers have only 19 home runs on the season, second least in the New York-Penn League. Connecticut comes home for three games before the two day All Star break next week. They will host Auburn starting Friday night.

The Lowell Spinners are the hottest team on the block as far we we're concerned in New England. They've won 5 games in the month of August so far after only winning 6 in all of July. Four of their six loses this month have been one-run games. Lowell shortstop Felix Sanchez is tied for first in the New York-Penn League with 25 stolen bases. Starting pitcher Madison Younginer had his best start of the year on Tuesday against State College in which he went 6 scoreless innings allowing only 3 hits and no walks. The Spinners just won their first three game series of the season, taking 2 of 3 versus State College in the only matchup of these two teams all year. The Spinners host Mahoning Valley for three games this weekend, then they hit the All Star break on Monday.

The Vermont Lake Monsters are back in first place after spending August 5th in second place; the only day all season when they weren't in first. But they're not putting up much of a fight for the position. In the month of August they are 4-7. Reliever Neil Holland earned a spot on the All Star squad thanks to his 2-0 record and 1.16 ERA, he has also struck out 26 batters in 22 1/3 innings. DH/catcher David Freitas has had a slow start to his month after hitting .396 in the month of July. Freitas is only hitting .220 in August. For the first time in three weeks the Vermont team ERA dropped, from 4.15 last week down to 4.11. The Lake Monsters head to Jamestown for three games before the break.

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