Friday, August 6, 2010

Farming New England (8/5/10)

We are now into the last full month of the season and we have a few teams vying for their division and streaking towards a playoff run. Some other teams are dead to rights as far as the playoffs go, but you can bet that these guys will still be playing hard, trying to impress the big club and even some will be making the jump to the 40-man rosters at the beginning of September. There is still plenty of ball to be played around here, so let us take a moment to do a little farming.

The PawSox have been picking up some momentum as of late, winning five of their last seven games, including two wins against the Durham Bulls, the best team in the International League. The current three game win streak is tied for second longest such streak this season. The newest addition in Pawtucket is catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia who came over from Texas at the trade deadline. "Salty" has played two games with the PawSox and picked up his first two hits Thursday night against Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Josh Reddick has been a beast as of late, going 20 for 42 over his last ten games for a .476 average with 9 extra base hits, 8 RBI and 5 runs scored. This past Wednesday was the team's first off day since the All Star break back on June 12th-14th.

The New Britain Rock Cats have seen some major highs and lows over the past week. The highs (at least in my eyes) culminated with Mike McCardell picking up his first "W" on the season after an 0-12 start. McCardell's win came against the Bowie Baysox last Saturday and helped stifle a five game losing streak. The low side of things came Tuesday night when Ben Revere got hit in the face with a pitch in the first inning, ending his season. Since Revere continues to make the jumo to the next level each season, it would be tough to expect him back in a Rock Cats uni in 2011. Tough break for one of the classier guys in the game and everyone is hopeful for a quick recovery on his end. For the first time this season, the Cats took the first two games of a three game series...but alas, they could not pull off their first sweep as the Erie Seawolves took them out by a score of 7-4 on Thursday night. New Britain starts a three game series versus Akron Friday night at New Britain Stadium, followed by a six game road trip.

Eric Thames and Darin Mastroianni seem to be on a personal quest to rewrite the New Hampshire Fisher Cats batting record book. Mastroianni pulled into a three way tie for most runs scored in a season with 85, originally set by Tyrell Godwin in '04 and matched in '07 by David Smith. He is now within 5 stolen bases of Godwin's team record of 42 and Mastroianni has recently raised his average to .314, putting him on pace for the batting average mark of .308 set by Rob Cosby in 2005. Of course Thames has already taken over the RBI record and is now up to 85 on the year. He is only 6 home runs off of the team record of 27 and his 213 total bases will certainly help him contend for the record of 237. We have one month left in the season for these two to make history, and we didn't even talk about Kyle Drabek hunting for pitching records! New Hampshire plays the Bowie Baysox at home for three and then they hit the road to play Richmond and Altoona. The Fisher Cats are currently tied for first place in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League, along with the Trenton Thunder.

The Portland Sea Dogs season is slipping away and they have now dropped to five games under .500 for the first time all season thanks to a 1-6 stretch over the last week. Their only win came Tuesday against the Bowie Baysox in a 14-8 slugfest. The following night, in a 6-3 loss, first baseman Anthony Rizzo popped two home runs and over his last four games he has gone 9 for 20 with 5 doubles, 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 5 runs scored. Catcher Luis Exposito remains hot, batting .333 over his last ten games with 2 homers, 10 RBI and 10 runs scored. Over the last seven games the Sea Dogs have allowed 53 runs, including three games in the double digits. Portland will get their first look at the Richmond Flying Squirrels this season in a three game home series starting Friday night.

The Connecticut Tigers steady, middle-of-the-road play has paid off as they are now in possession of first place in the Stedler Divison of the New York-Penn League. They've gone 6-4 over the last week. They've played 10 games due to two doubleheaders, one they split against Tri-City and the other they swept versus Hudson Valley. The Tigers have allowed only 5 runs and 20 hits over their last four games, they've also only scored 7 runs of their own. Connecticut has won three games in a row, tied for their longest win streak on the season which they've accomplish on three other occasions. Over his last three starts, Rayni Guichardo has allowed 2 earned runs in 16 innings of work. The Tigers finish off a nine game home stand tonight against Hudson Valley before they hit the road for six games.

The Lowell Spinners are 4-4 over their last eight games and although that doesn't sound like much, it's the first time this season that the team has had such a stretch. They picked up only 6 wins in the month of July and half of those came in the last week. The 12-35 overall record for Lowell has already put their elimination number at 16. Starting pitcher Tyler Wilson has allowed only 3 earned runs over 15 innings in his last three starts. Roman Mendez, who started five games for the Spinners and struck out 35 batters in 33 innings, was traded to Texas as part of the Jarrod Saltalamaccia deal. Center fielder Felix Sanchez has hit safely in 9 of his last 10 games and is batting .366 in that span with 10 stolen bases. Sanchez leads the New York-Penn League with 23 stolen bases. The Spinners play one more in Williamsport tonight, then hit up Auburn for three to finish off an eight game road trip.

For the first time all season the Vermont Lake Monsters are not in first place in the Stedler Division. A 14-14 record in the month of July allowed the Connecticut Tigers to take over the lead. The Lake Monsters were 3-9 over their last twelve games in the month of July. August hasn't been any better for them as they are 1-4 to start and they're in the midst of a four game losing streak. Starting pitcher Chad Jenkins is in a four-way tie for the league lead in hit batsmen with 7. Jenkins is also tied for second in the league with 22 base on balls. The team ERA keeps going up as it rose from 4.09 to 4.15 over the past week. Outfielder Wade Moore has 7 stolen bases over his last ten games and is 12 for 12 on steal attempts this season. Vermont look to stop a sweep by Auburn tonight at Centennial Field, then they host Batavia for three.

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