Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fox only PawSox rep for IL All-Stars

The Pawtucket Red Sox are only sending one representative to the AAA All-Star game this year as pitcher Matt Fox earns the honor of joining the International League in Salt Lake City on July 13th. Last season Bubba Bell and Robert Manuel represented Pawtucket.

Pawtucket Red Sox
P Matt Fox - 4-2, 3.61 ERA, 58 K

This is Fox's second All-Star selection in professional baseball. In 2009 he was an Eastern League All-Star when he pitched for the New Britain Rock Cats.

Other notables on the I.L. roster include pitchers Julio Teheran (Gwinnett), Jeanmar Gomez (Columbus) and Zach McAllister (Columbus), second baseman Jason Kipnis (Columbus), outfielder Desmond Jennings (Durham) and former Boston Red Sox outfielder Jeremy Hermida (Lousiville). Columbus Clippers manager Mark Sarbaugh will be at the helm for the I.L.

The tough thing for PawSox fans is that on June 23rd a listing of All-Star vote getters was released with one day of voting to go and both Lars Anderson and Jose Iglesias were leading all players at their respective positions, yet after one additional day of voting, neither makes the roster. It seems as though the fan "vote" doesn't hold as much weight as maybe once expected. The starting first base position that Anderson topped in votes went to Jorge Vazquez, who wasn't even in the Top 5 in voting. I know that the fan voting only accounts for 1/3 of the total vote, but something does seem off here as whole. Regardless, congrats to Fox on making the squad.

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 6/30/11

Harrisburg Sentators (Erik Arnesen 4-1, 2.22)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Brett Jacobson 3-1, 2.78)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Robert Ray 0-1, 6.48)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Stolmy Pimentel 0-8, 9.20)

Rochester Red Wings (Kyle Gibson 3-7, 3.87)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Matt Fox 4-2, 3.61)

Vermont Lake Monsters (J.C. Menna 1-0, 3.60)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Brennan Smith 1-0, 0.00)

Tri-City ValleyCats (Euris Quezada 0-1, 6.75)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer 0-1, 6.00)

Game of the DayRed Wings vs. Red Sox – In the last four series in which the Rochester Red Wings have played four games against an opponent, they have managed a series split, but after last night’s loss to the PawSox they are going to need to take the next two games in order to at least salvage that much from their trip to McCoy. Four straight losses, plus an 11-18 June, have helped the Wings crash into the worst record in the league (30-47), 15 games back of Lehigh Valley in the North Division. For the second straight season Kyle Gibson has been hemmed up on a bad team, making his stats more inflated than they might regularly be. This is Gibson’s first start in New England since last season when he took up residence with the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats…his next New England start could very well be at Fenway Park. Gibson’s 83 strikeouts ranks fourth in the International League. Pawtucket on the other hand have run off 3 straight and are in the midst of their best month of the season with a 16-11 June record. They are firmly planted for a second half playoff push and their 42-36 record is good enough for second place in the North, 3 ½ back of Lehigh Valley. Matt Fox hits the hill for the home squad tonight in his 11th start of the season. Fox has gone without a decision over his last seven appearances (4 starts, 3 relief stints) and he has pitched no more than four innings in his last two starts. Last Saturday against Indianapolis Fox allowed 4 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks in four innings. The PawSox will be looking to bookend the month of June with four game-win streaks while the Red Wings will simply be looking to halt a four game losing streak tonight. The four game series concludes on Friday night at 6:15pm.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Middlebrooks is ready

Red Sox third base prospect Will Middlebrooks returned to action earlier this week with the Lowell Spinners after hitting the disabled list with a strain in his right tricep earlier this month. He has showed little-to-no signs of rust in four games as the Spinners designated hitter and is primed to get back to the Portland Sea Dogs by week's end.

“Oh my god, he’s been swinging the bat well,” exclaimed Lowell manager Carlos Febles after Tuesday night’s game against Vermont. “This is a guy who has missed three weeks and it’s like he hasn’t missed a day.”

In his four games since returning, Middlebrooks has gone 4-12 for a .333 batting average. His four hits have been a double and three home runs. Added to that are 6 RBI, 4 runs, 2 walks and even a stolen base. His OPS with Lowell is 1.567 and his slugging percentage is 1.167.

“He’s a man amongst boys here,” said Spinners hitting coach Rich Gedman. “He’s a guy that will make you pay if you miss.”

Before going down, Middlebrooks was batting .297 in Portland with 8 home runs, 32 RBI and 27 runs. He has yet to play in the field since returning to action, which is the last step that the organization wants him to take prior to making the jump back up to Portland.

“He’s taking ground balls [in practice], throwing and everything,” said Febles. “He’s ready to play in the field, I believe Thursday.”

The rehab stint marked a return to Lowell for Middlebrooks, where he made his professional debut, playing in 59 games for the Spinners back in 2008. Since then he has moved up one rung on the ladder each season, reaching Portland to start this year after an All-Star campaign in Class-A Salem in 2010.

Middlebrooks is slated to play at third base on Thursday night for the Spinners, then he is set to return to Portland in time for the holiday weekend series against first place New Hampshire at Hadlock Field. From there he will be featured in the MLB Futures Game in Phoenix, Arizona on July 10th and the Eastern League All-Star Game in Manchester, New Hampshire on July 13th.

“He’s supposed to be here with us for the next couple of days, but I don’t think it’s going to be longer than that,” concluded Febles on Tuesday. “He’s ready to go, the elbow is fine.”

Fisher Cats have Eastern League high six All-Star selections, plus staff

The rosters have been released for the 2011 Eastern League All-Star Game, set to be played two weeks from tonight on July 13th at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The host Fisher Cats lead all Eastern League teams with six players on the roster, as well as their full coaching staff that includes manager Sal Fasano, batting coach Pete Walker and pitching coach Justin Mashore.

The Portland Sea Dogs have five selections and the New Britain Rock Cats have three representatives. The following are those players from the New England based teams with their season statistics.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats
C Travis d'Arnaud - .291 BA, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 40 R
SS Adeiny Hechavarria - .237 BA, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 40 R, 16 SB
1B Mike McDade - .300 BA, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 50 R
OF Moises Sierra - .284 BA, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 48 R, 8 SB
P Henderson Alvarez - 4-3, 2.61 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 29 K
P Joel Carreno - 6-5, 3.33 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 105 K

Portland Sea Dogs
3B Will Middlebrooks - .294 BA, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 27 R
OF Chih-Hsien Chiang - .301 BA, .976 OPS, .616 SLG, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 41 R
OF Alex Hassan - .327 BA, .953 OPS, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 40 R
P Stephen Fife - 8-3, 3.28 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 44 K
P Alex Wilson - 6-4, 2.82 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 72 K

New Britain Rock Cats
IF/OF Yangervis Solarte - .330 BA, 27 RBI, 40 R
P - Liam Hendriks - 7-2, 2.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 74 K
P - Brett Jacobson - 3-1, 2.78 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 41 K

You can check out a full report and rosters HERE and you can still purchase tickets HERE, but hurry because now that the teams have been announced, I would expect the remaining seats to get snatched up quickly.

Catching up with Vermont's newly appointed pitching coach

LOWELL -- After last night’s Spinners-Lake Monsters game I took a walk down to the visitor’s clubhouse looking for pitching coach John Wasdin.

Before I walked in I had this idea in my head about what I wanted to write about regarding the former Red Sox right-hander. I'd spent a good amount of time thinking about it during the game, especially considering that the loudest crowd ovation of the night came during the playing of the "Sponge Bob Square Pants" theme song (it was an ugly game for Lowell).

I wanted to try to insert the words “way back” as often as I could when talking to him, ala Wes Welker's foot-laden presser before a Jets game, without ever directly admitting what I was doing. But once I started talking to him, I just couldn’t do it. He seemed so genuine and careing and truly came across as someone who wants to give back to the game.

Wasdin didn’t come off like the failed first round pick (25th overall in 1993) of the A’s who was played for seven big league teams, two Japanese teams and was traded straight up for the likes of one Jose Canseco. He came off as a guy who had done a lot in his baseball career (39-39 overall record in 17 seasons) and was now looking to use what he knew to help develop young players.

We didn’t talk about anything Earth shattering, yet I left impressed by his attitude. I expected bitterness, instead there was enthusiasm and purpose.

Q: How’s your experience with coaching been?

A: So far so good. It’s my first year doing it, so it’s kind of a new experience, but just getting back out there on the field, getting to put a uniform on, it’s kind of a different life, but it’s good to give back. There were guys that helped me so much as I was coming up. It's nice to return the favor.

Q: Was coaching always a part of your plan?

A: Never, I always said I would never go to Japan, I ended up spending two years in Japan, and I never would be a minor league coach, so here I am. I never really anticipated doing it, but after being out of the game – I retired in ’09 – and spending 2010 at home, I just really wanted to get back into the game. I like the developmental part of it in the lower level where you can just give back and just kind of teach and build that foundation so these kids can hopefully build on that and have a dream, make a future for themselves.

Q: Did someone from the A’s reach out to you?

A: No, I made some phone calls during the offseason, letting guys know – either GMs or coaches that I knew – that I was interested in getting back into the game and I did a couple interviews. I talked with the A’s mostly and they offered me this job here.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a coach?

A: The mental part of the game really is kind of what helped me a lot. But I think it’s the whole, you know watching when the athlete works hard at something and he gets it and he shows what he’s learned into the game and he has success doing it and at that point its just repeating over and over again to the point where he’s consistent and that’s when you see you’re moving up. So really I’m just enjoying everything now, some mechanical stuff, some mental stuff, but just kind of life as a ball player on an off the field. I still kind of feel what its like to be a ball player so I’m kind of in their shoes knowing what their going through, but yet as a coaching point I’ve been there so I can show them the rights and the wrongs and the philosophy of baseball.

Q: Any thoughts of becoming a head coach some day?

A: I have no aspirations of being a manager what so ever. There’s too much that you have to take care of. I don’t know the game that well. Just because you play the game and whatnot, there’s so much more involved to being a manager and generally speaking you don’t see very many pitchers who are managing. I mean there are, but generally you don’t see many.

Extra: “I still watch for [Tek and Wake] and pull for them when I’m watching baseball and they’re on. They were teammates and they’ll always be teammates and friends.”

Way back!

Pitching Matchups 6/29/11

New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 5-5, 3.52)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Chris Balcom-Miller 1-3, 3.80)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 1-1, 4.05)
vs. Trenton Thunder (Phil Hughes 0-0, 2.70)

Rochester Red Wings (Eric Hacker 3-6, 4.80)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Kyle Weiland 6-6, 3.33)

Tri-City Valley Cats (Jonas Dufek 0-0, 8.10)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Raynel Velette 0-0, 4.50)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Argenis Paez 0-1, 4.82)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Wilsen Palacios 0-0, 2.25)

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Live blog from LeLacheur 6/28/11

I can't promise constant updates tonight, but we'll update as much as we can throughout the night here and on Twitter (@BeyondFenway)...the Vermont Lake Monsters take on the Lowell Spinners on a perfect night for baseball...

9th Inning:
Outfielder Moko Moanaroa comes on to pitch the top of the ninth for the Spinners...his first appearance on the hill this season. I guess they are desperate for some lefty arms with only two southpaws listed on the staff. He induces a ground ball to second, then fields a grounder back up the box for out number two, but then Sean Jamieson smokes a double to left-center. Moko is hitting high-60s on the gun and gets Jacob Tanis to flight out to the track in left to get out of the inning unharmed. Logan Chitwood comes on for Vermont to close the night. A strikeout, a walk then a BOMB by Will Middlebrooks who has a home run in each of his three rehab games with the Spinners...make room Portland, Will is coming home! The Boss drives a long out to the track in leftfield and "The Hammer" strikes out to end the night.
Vermont WINS 7-3

8th Inning:
(Baseball if my wife blogged it...)The gray and green team got another run from someone who hit the ball really deep to centerfield over the head of the guy out there, and he almost made the catch running full speed, but he missed it, then it bounced off the walls and all these guys were running around and then they stopped when the ball got to the was exciting. (Translation...) Vermont adds one run to their total then T.J. Walz mows down the Spinners in order.
Vermont leads 7-1

After 7 Innings:
Nothing has moved on the scoreboard, but after a quick visit to the camera pits, I can confirm a Zach Daeges sighting! He is wearing a brace on his right wrist, similar to one I would wear if I got carpal tunnel...ahhh, the hazards of this job...wait, is it a job if you don't get paid? Hmmm...the things one ponders in the waning innings of a game decided long ago.
Vermont leads 6-1

5th Inning:
Another ugly top half for the Spinners...a good one for Vermont I suppose....complete with a walk, some hits, another steal of third base...but only one run for the Monsters. The Spinners first two batters go down quickly, then Keury gets hit by a pitch, but erases any possible rally when he gets caught stealing...hell of a throw, right on target by Diomedes's fun to say!
Vermont leads 6-1

4th Inning:
A leadoff double by Jacob Tanis looked to kick off another rough inning for the Spinners, especially after her stole third with a monster jump...but Huijer held tight and got a couple of balls in the air to the Boss at first before the run could cross. Travis Shaw rips a lined shot over the left-center field wall for a solo home run to get Lowell on the board. The rehabbing Will Middlebrooks flies out to right field, but his swing looks back to par and he should be ready to make the jump back to Portland very soon. No more noise is made, but Lowell gets one back...
Vermont leads 5-1

3rd Inning:
Uneventful all around, although Lowell did have back-to-back singles which were quickly negated when Kuery was picked off of first base ande Turocy failed to score.
Vermont leads 5-0

2nd Inning:
Things aren't getting any better for Cervenka here in the second inning. Chris Affinito led things off with a double to the deepest part of the ball park in center, followed by a Diomedes Lopez single, a walk to Aaron Shipman and fielders choice 6 to 4 by Neudy Clime to drive one in and make it 2-0 Vermont. Oh yeah, Lopez also drilled Cervenka with his single back up the yeah, not a great start for Hunter. Another walk at the top of the order loaded the bases back up then Cervenka balked in Lopez, followed by a wild pitch to score Clime and ANOTHER wild pitch to score Jamieson on a ball four pitch to Jordan Tripp. YIKES! That escalted quickly. Cervenka appears to have been shaken up by the lined shot that drilled him earlier in the inning and Lowell brings in 6'9" Swen Huijer to try to stop the bleeding. The Lake Monsters bats around and take a 5-0 lead after 1 1/2. The Spinners have another ho-him set of at-bats with a K-looking by Will Middlebrooks, a walk by Boss Moanaroa, then two bad swings and fly outs by Schwindenhammer and Tim Roberson.
Vermont leads 5-0

1st Inning:
Vermont's Jordan Tripp with a sweet stroke of the bat guided a missle over the left field fence and off of the big board in the top half of the inning. The first two Lake Monster batters got good pieces of the ball as well off of Spinners' starter Hunter Cervenka, but both shots went to Keury De La Cruz in center. The Spinners went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the inning. Vermont leads 1-0

July Promos

After the June debacle, we’re going to step up our game with this one. I’m staying ahead of things here and getting up the July promos with DAYS to spare! You can thank me later, but for now, start making your plans for some great summer baseball action by checking out the best of what the region has to offer:

Connecticut Tigers
Saturday the 2ndRally Towel/Frisbee Dogs – The first 1,000 through the gates will get a Tigers “rally towel” to wave and annoy the people around your with. Also check out some dogs who catch Frisbees as the between innings entertainment. Any unclaimed rally towels will be used in cleaning any “field” Frisbees that the dogs may leave behind.

Lowell Spinners
Tuesday the 19thCowboy Monkey Rodeo Night – I need not say much about this one at all…just watch the video and grab your tix!

New Britain Rock Cats
Tuesday the 19th - Inhalant Abuse Prevention Night with Player Poster Giveaway/Charity Ballpark Beer Tasting – DO NOT abuse inhalants! However, do abuse beer if it’s for charity…and heck, here’s a player poster to make it all go down easier. I swear, sometimes the things they combine together for one night’s worth of promos are astonishing. On the bright side, it is a Kraft Singles Tuesday Night Ticket night (see details below).

New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Friday the 8thHeidi Watney Poster Giveaway – The first 2,500 get a “collectors” edition poster adorned with NESN beauty Heidi Watney. I have a feeling that the first 2,500 people through the gates on this night will be men aged 18-60, wearing Red Sox hats. I think the Cheryl Tiegs poster is about to be replaced.

Pawtucket Red Sox
Thursday the 14thChristmas in July/Snowglobe Giveaway – The first 3,000 fans to McCoy get a snowglobe to remind you, on a warm summer’s day, about how horrific last winter was. I’m pretty sure kids will still be in school from all the snow days still at this point. You want another kick in the ass? How about the added bonus of a friendly reminder that Christmas is a mere four months away and you haven’t started shopping yet! Bah humbug!

Portland Sea Dogs
Saturday the 16thJersey Off Their Backs – It’s pretty easy; buy some raffle tickets for a great cause and have the chance to win the actual jersey worn by one of the Sea Dogs players from the game you just watched. The dirt, sweat and grass stains that come with the jersey are an added bonus, unless of course you win the jers of a reliever who spent the day kicked back in a chair in the bullpen with his cap pulled down over his eyes…although his jersey may come with sunflower seed residue, so it’s a win-win. All proceeds benefit Muscular Dystrophy and additional prizes will be up for grabs, so grab tons of tickets, won’t ya!

Vermont Lake Monsters
Saturday the 23rdSummer of Love Tie-Dye Baseball Giveaway – The first 750 fans to Centennial Field will get a tie-dye baseball thanks to the fine folks at Ben & Jerry’s. This reminds me of the red, white & blue ABA basketball. I mean, are they going to use one of these balls in-game? Because that I’d pay to see. Although like the ABA ball, I don’t think it’ll stick…but maybe it’ll help Josh Hamilton hit in day games. Maybe Ben & Jerry’s should just hand out free ice cream instead.

For those who need some pop after their games, here is the listing for FIREWORKS nights:
Connecticut - 1st, 22nd
Lowell - 4th
New Britain – 1st,
New Hampshire – 4th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 21st, 23rd, 28th, 29th, 30th
Pawtucket – 1st, 2nd, 3rd,
Portland – 3rd
Vermont - 30th

If you love your cheese in single slice packaging, then don’t forget about the best season-long promo out there; the KRAFT Singles Tuesday Night Tickets promo, where you can buy 1 ticket and get a free 1 when you bring a wrapper from any KRAFT singles wrapper to the box office. Click the logo for more details…

Also, on July 13th the New Hampshire Fisher Cats host the Eastern League All-Star Game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium and tickets are still available…get yours today by clicking on the banner and catch tomorrow’s MLB All-Stars in one of the Double-A mid-summer classics!

Pitching Matchups;Game of the Day 6/28/11

New Britain Rock Cats (Liam Hendriks 7-2, 2.81) GAME 1
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Alex Wilson 6-4, 2.92)

New Britain Rock Cats (Blake Martin 1-1, 12.96)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Chris Balcom-Miller 1-3, 3.80)

Connecticut Tigers (Luis Angel Sanz 1-1, 5.79)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Juri Perez 0-1, 4.00)

Rochester Red Wings (Andy Baldwin 4-5, 5.14)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Kevin Millwood 3-0, 2.89)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Jesse Litsch 0-0, 0.00)
vs. Trenton Thunder (Manny Banuelos 3-1, 3.50)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Seth Frankoff 0-1, 2.38)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Michael Lee 0-1, 2.35)

Game of the DayRock Cats vs. Sea Dogs (GAME 1)– As tempted as I was to pick the Vermont/Lowell matchup (because I will be there this evening), I couldn’t ignore the great pitching matchup going down in Portland this evening. Sure, these might be two teams heading in opposite directions this season and sure, last night was an absolute blowout in favor of the Rock Cats, but when you get two quality pitchers going at it, things find a way to balance out. Rock Cats’ starter Liam Hendriks, fresh off of his selection to the Futures Game, comes into the game tied for second in the league in wins (7), sixth in ERA (2.81), seventh in WHIP (1.17) and ninth in strikeouts (70). Hendriks has one start on the season versus Portland back on April 17th where he allowed 5 runs on 5 hits in 5 innings of work, collecting a loss in the process. Portland’s Alex Wilson is tied for third in the league in wins (6), eighth in ERA (2.92), fifth in WHIP (1.15) and tenth in strikeouts (67). Wilson has two starts against New Britain this season, both back in early May when he combined for 11 1/3 innings, allowed only 3 earned runs and 5 hits while striking out 12 batters, but picked up a 0-1 record in the process. The Rock Cats hold a very unbalanced 12-5 edge in the season series against the Sea Dogs.

Side note: We will be live from LeLacheur Park in Lowell tonight where Michael Lee gets his third rehab start with the Spinners against the Lake Monsters' Seth Frankoff, in what is one of many strong pitching matchups (see also New Hampshire v. Trenton) on tonight's slate. Barring any major computer problems we will try to keep a running blog going and you can also follow along @BeyondFenway on Twitter.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Alvarez keeps E.L. Pitcher of the Week in New England

Congratulations to New Hampshire Fisher Cats' starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez for picking up Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors for the period of June 20th - 26th. Alvarez becomes the third straight pitcher from a New England team to get the nod, following New Britain's Brett Jacobson and Portland's Stephen Fife.

And just like Jacobson and Fife, Alvarez did it with just one start during the period, on the 21st versus the Altoona Curve at home. Here are Alvarez's numbers from that outing:

W, 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K

The Venezuelan native was ranked as the 17th best prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system by Baseball America heading into the season. He made two starts with Class-A Dunedin before jumping up to the Fisher Cats in mid-May. Since arriving he has compiled a 4-2 record with a 2.30 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP in seven starts.

Alvarez became the second Fisher Cats Pitcher of the Week, joining Joel Carreno, and the sixth player from a New England team to garner PotW honors this season, all from the Eastern League.

2011 New England based Pitchers/Players of the Week
New Hampshire - SP Henderson Alvarez 6/20 - 6/26 (E.L.)
New Britain – SP Brett Jacobson 6/13 – 6/19 (E.L.)
Portland – SP Stephen Fife 6/6 - 6/12 (E.L.)
Portland – OF Chih-Hsien Chiang 5/30 – 6/5 (E.L.)
New Hampshire – SP Joel Carreno 5/16 – 5/22 (E.L.)
New Britain – IN/OF Yangervis Solarte 4/25 – 5/1 (E.L.)

Pitching Matchups;Game of the Day 6/27/11

New Britain Rock Cats (Steve Hirschfeld 4-4, 2.70)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Junichi Tazawa NR)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Brandon Duckworth 4-4, 4.03)
vs. Indianapolis Indians (Justin Wilson 9-4, 3.82)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Henderson Alvarez 4-2, 2.30)
vs. Trenton Thunder (Craig Heyer 6-3, 3.45)

Connecticut Tigers (Tyler Barrett 0-0, 4.50)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Nicholas Tropeano 0-0, 0.00)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Brent Powers 0-0, 9.00)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Jason Garcia 0-0, 0.00)

Game of the DayFisher Cats vs. Thunder – The two best teams in E.L.’s Eastern Division kick off a three game series at Waterfront Park in Trenton as the Fisher Cats travel to the home of the Thunder. After ten games played against each other this year, Trenton has the upper-hand with a 6-4 record in the series thanks to a three game sweep in New Hampshire at the beginning of June. But New Hampshire holds the upper-hand where it counts most, in the standings, as they have a four game cushion over the second place Thunder and they come into the game riding a five game win streak. Henderson Alvarez starts for New Hampshire tonight, his eighth start since joining the Fisher Cats. He suffered his worst defeat of the season at the hands of the Thunder back on June 5th when he allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits. However, since then he has had three solid starts where he combined for 20 2/3 innings allowing only 3 earned runs, 11 hits and 3 walks. Alvarez’s opponent in that June 5th loss was Craig Heyer, whom he will face again tonight. Heyer went 6 1/3 in that game, picking up the win after allowing only 2 earned runs. In his last outing he pitched 6 1/3 innings in relief against the Portland Sea Dogs who beat him up for 7 runs on 8 hits. Including tonight’s game, these two teams have 10 games remaining against each other.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pitching Matchups;Game of the Day 6/26/11

Portland Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 4-5, 6.54)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Joel Carreno 5-5, 3.24)

Trenton Thunder (Dellin Betances 3-3, 2.61)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Dennis Suarez 1-1, 2.12)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Felix Doubront 0-1, 2.68)
vs. Indianapolis Indians (Justin Wilson 9-4, 3.82)

Connecticut Tigers (Matt Crouse 0-1, 6.75)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Kyle Hallock 1-0, 3.60)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Jose Macias 1-0, 3.60)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Luis Diaz 0-1, 18.90)

Game of the DaySea Dogs vs. Fisher Cats – It’s a battle of the Eastern League’s best and worst teams today in Manchester as the Fisher Cats look to sweep their three game set against the Sea Dogs. New Hampshire is already 7-2 against Portland this season and today is the 10th of 26 meetings between the two teams. New Hampshire has won four straight games, are 8-2 over their last ten games and have built a four game lead over second place Trenton. Joel Carreno starts his 14th game of the season for the Cats today. Over his last three starts he has allowed only 3 earned runs and struck out 23 batters in 17 2/3 innings of work. Carreno has one start this season against the Portland back on May 6th when he one hit the Dogs over 7 innings. Portland has dropped three in a row to sink to the bottom of the Eastern Division with a league worst 25-46 record, 19 ½ games behind the Fisher Cats. Brock Huntzinger looks to halt the brooms from coming out for the fourth time this season. Huntzinger had a season-high nine strikeouts against a potent Trenton lineup in his last outing on Tuesday and is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA in the month of June. New Hampshire heads to Trenton for three games against the second place Thunder after today. Portland heads back to Hadlock Field for an eight game homestand against New Britain and New Hampshire.

Follow these great writers on Twitter, who will be live at our GotD providing updates (or at least humorous anecdotes from the press box) throughout:
@OMDQ – Bus Leagues Baseball
@JoshuaKummins – Boston Sports U18
@Graymatter11 – Union Leader

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pitching Matchups/Game of the Day 6/25/11

Connecticut Tigers (Brennan Smith 1-0, 0.00)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (J.C. Menna 1-0, 3.60)

Trenton Thunder (Steve Garrison 0-4, 6.75)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Brett Jacobson 3-0, 1.92)

Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer 0-1, 6.00)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Jonas Dufek 0-0, 8.10)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Matt Fox 4-2, 3.27)
vs. Indianapolis Indians (Garrett Olson 1-0, 1.61)

Portland Sea Dogs (Stephen Fife 8-3, 2.92)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Robert Ray 0-1, 5.91)

Game of the DayTigers vs. Lake Monsters – Connecticut and Vermont face off once more to close out the first go-round of games versus teams of the New York Penn League’s Stedler Division. The Lake Monsters have taken the first two games from the Tigers and look for the sweep tonight at Centennial Field. Connecticut currently has a .204 batting average and has only scored 22 runs so far this year in seven games; both numbers are second worst in the NYPL. However they do have the second best team ERA in the league at 2.70, thanks in part to Brennan Smith who pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Lowell in his first start with the Tigers this year. The Lake Monsters have the worst team ERA (5.23) in the league and are tied for the worst team WHIP (1.42), but have somehow managed to plant themselves atop the division with a 5-2 record. J.C. Menna, who notched a win against Tri-City in his first start of the season, gets the nod for Vermont tonight. Jordan Tripp (.346) and Zhi Fang Pan (.333) have led the Lake Monsters offense thus far, both tallying 5 RBI and 5 runs scored. Defensively, the Lake Monsters have only had 5 errors on the season while the Tigers have had 12 fielding blunders.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pitching Matchups/Game of the Day 6/24/11

Trenton Thunder (Phil Hughes NR)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 5-5, 3.77)

Lowell Spinners (Raynell Velette 0-0, 0.00)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Jonas Dufek 0-0, 0.00)

Portland Sea Dogs (Stolmy Pimentel 0-8, 9.42)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 1-1, 3.86)

Connecticut Tigers (Wilsen Palacios 0-0, 0.00)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Argenis Paez 0-1, 5.79)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Kyle Weiland 5-6, 3.31)
vs. Indianapolis Indians (Brad Lincoln 6-6, 3.82)

Game of the DayThunder vs. Rock Cats – The Trenton Thunder pull into New Britain with a one game lead over the Rock Cats for second place in the E.L.’s Eastern Division. New York Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes will be making his second rehab start since a “dead arm” sidelined him back in mid-April. He is expected to throw 75 pitches or 5-6 innings depending on how things go. Hughes made his first rehab start with the short season Class-A Staten Island Yankees this past Sunday and threw in the mid-90s, showing renewed strength in an arm that won 18 games with the big club last season. New Britain will have Bobby Lanigan on the bump. Thus far this season, Lanigan has been an innings eater for the Cats, logging at least 6+ frames in 8 of his 13 starts. But despite the fact that he has only walked 17 batters over 76 1/3 total innings of work, he has allowed 67 hits, 6 home runs and opponents are hitting .288 against him. He has also plunked 6 batters, which is tied for third most in the league. The Rock Cats have endured back-to-back rain outs, but are still in the midst of a four game win streak. Trenton has gone 2-6 over last eight and recently dropped 2 of 3 to Portland (the second worst team in the league) before moving on to Connecticut. Tonight is the first of eleven meetings between these two teams in 2011.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Local prospects set to shine in Futures Game

The rosters have been announced for the MLB Futures Game, the showcase of top-rated prospects held during Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities, which will be played this year in Phoenix, Arizona at Chase Field. Both the US and World teams have a bevy of premier talent, including four players from New England based squads.

Portland’s Will Middlebrooks is the only local representation for the U.S. Team. The third baseman from Texas has been consistent in his first season with the Double-A Sea Dogs, putting up a .294 batting average with 8 home runs, 20 extra base hits, 32 RBI and 27 runs scored.

New Hampshire’s Henderson Alvarez and New Britain’s Liam Hendriks join a stacked pitching staff on the World team. Alvarez, a native of Venezuela, has been phenominal since joining the Fisher Cats after he was promoted from Class-A back in May. Overall this season, between New Hampshire and Dunedin, Alvarez has a 4-3 record, with a 2.98 ERA and has only walked 10 batters over 51 1/3 innings.

Hendriks, a native of Australia, is a Futures Games selection for the second straight season, but was forced out of last year’s outing because of an appendectomy. This season Hendriks has been one of the best pitchers in the Eastern League with a 7-2 record, 2.81 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and he has struck out 70 and only walked 16 in 77 innings of work.

Portland outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang joins Alvarez and Hendriks on the World squad. He has put up some solid numbers in his second season with the Sea Dogs, including a .307 batting average with 11 home runs and 41 RBI. Chiang, from Taiwan, was Eastern League Player of the Week for the period of June 6th – 12th.

Other notables for the U.S. include Rochester pitcher Kyle Gibson (who pitched in New Britain last season and is a favorite of our own Thomas Saucke), Harrisburg pitcher Brad Peacock, Indianapolis shortstop Chase d’Arnaud (brother of New Hampshire catcher Travis) and last year’s overall #1 draft pick, Hagerstown outfielder Bryce Harper.

On the World side, some names to note include Gwinnett pitcher Julio Teheran, Altoona outfielder Sterling Marte and former Boston Red Sox prospect Reymond Fuentes an outfielder for Lake Elsinore.

The Futures Game will be played on July 10th and you can check out the full rosters below, with comments on each player, courtesy of Baseball America.

United States Roster

World Roster

Pitching Matchups/Game of the Day 6/23/11

Bowie Baysox (Chorye Spoone 1-4, 5.40)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Brett Jacobson 3-0, 1.92)

Trenton Thunder (Manny Banuelos 2-1, 3.49)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Chris Balcom-Miller 1-2, 3.31)

Altoona Curve (Kyle McPherson 1-1, 3.09) GAME 1
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Jesse Litsch NR)

Altoona Curve (N/A) GAME 2
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 1-1, 3.86)

Lowell Spinners (Raynell Velette 0-0, 0.00)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Jonas Dufek 0-0, 0.00)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Kevin Millwood 3-0, 2.86)
vs. Louisville Bats (Scott Carroll 6-2, 4.29)

Connecticut Tigers (Wilsen Palacios 0-0, 0.00)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Seth Frankoff 0-0, 4.15)

Game of the DayBaysox vs. Rock Cats – The New Britain Rock Cats are the hottest team in the Eastern League…that is, if you count a four game win streak as being hot. I’m sure they do, and they will look to build on that this afternoon as they close their three game series against the Bowie Baysox. Bowie has Chorye Spoone on the hill for the mid-day start time. Spoone has been riding the shuttle between Triple-A Tidewater and Bowie this season and the results have been far from pretty. In six Double-A starts he has allowed 19 earned runs, 33 hits and 17 walks in 31 2/3 innings. He did face New Britain back on June 3rd when he walked a season-high 6 batters while picking up a loss. Rock Cats’ starter Brett Jacobson looks to build off of last week’s Eastern League Pitcher of the Week acclaim in his eighth start of the season. Over his last five starts Jacobson has allowed only four runs in 28 innings of work. Yangervis Solarte continues to be the best bat in the Cats lineup with three straight multi-hit games. Despite Solarte being the only regular player on the team batting over .300, New Britain has the third best BA (.269) in the Eastern League. The Rock Cats are 9-9 in June and 3 1/2 games out of first in the Eastern Division and their 20-14 home is fourth best in the league. Bowie is also 9-9 in June and they are 3 games out of first place in the Western Division with an 18-19 road record this year. After today the Rock Cats will welcome second place Trenton to New Britain for a three game series which will include the first rehab appearance by New York Yankees starter Phil Hughes, who is set to pitch for the Thunder on Friday night.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 21st - Charlotte @ Rochester: Prospect and Rehab Notes

Dayan Viciedo

The 22 year old Cuban dynamo DH’d last night in Rochester as the Charlotte Knights came to town and did not disappoint. Considered to be the top power bat in the White Sox system, Viciedo displayed exceptional bat speed in his 5 plate appearances. What was most impressive, however, was his patience. Viciedo’s approach was to drive the ball up the middle rather than to take it out of the park. In the 1st, he was able to golf a pitch out of the zone into center field. After taking a first pitch called strike in his next at bat, Viciedo showed patience by laying off a breaking ball to wait on a fat 86 MPH fastball which he drove up the middle. He ended the night 2-5 but the bat speed and patience at the plate showed that his approach is well beyond his years. Hitting .392 in June, Viciedo’s call-up to the south side has been rumored for over a week. Where the White Sox choose to play him appears to be the major question mark. Despite a strong arm suitable for 3rd, Viciedo's defensive range is lacking. I fully expect him to split ABs between DH and a corner outfield spot as neither Juan Pierre nor Brent Lillibridge are everyday players and Adam Dunn is blowing more air with his bat than Muhammad Ali before a title fight.

Lastings Milledge

Milledge shot through the Mets system as an alleged 5 tool player with large impact potential. Although a noticeable skill set is certainly there, Milledge is prone to blunders which leave spectators scratching their head. Last night was no different. Milledge was 3-5 at the plate and showed exceptional speed with a bunt single in the 6th and stolen base in the 10th. He was picked off in the 6th, however, with Jordan Danks at the plate after getting caught leaning. Milledge was also the guilty party in the 10th on Aaron Bates’ game winning RBI double as he attempted to make a diving catch in right instead of knocking the ball down to hold Brian Dinkleman at 3rd. It’s very difficult to walk away last night too high on Milledge simply because of the gaffes and I wonder if he will be out of options sometime soon. At 26 and hitting a passable .275, the time is now for Milledge to get his head on straight and perform at the level he was expected to by former Mets GM Steve Phillips.

Dallas McPherson

What happened to you? Drafted in the 2nd round in 2001 by the Angels, McPherson was 0-5 and didn’t have a solid at bat all night. Expected to hit for power and average whilst utilizing a strong throwing arm, McPherson appears to be stuck in Triple A with Mark Teahen and Brent Morel in his path. McPherson has struck out 71 times in 190 ABs in 2011 while only clubbing 7 HR. Last season with AAA Sacramento, McPherson "only" struck out 101 times in 354 AB and hit 22 bombs. Seems like someone is pressing to me.

Trevor Plouffe

Why the Minnesota Twins have Alexi Casilla getting regular playing time over Plouffe is beyond me. Aside from a pretty dreadful error last night as a result of pulling his head up, Plouffe was tremendous. A 4-5 night was highlighted by a game tying solo HR in the 8th. He showed patience in the 2nd on a 6 pitch at bat resulting in a double to left but wasn’t afraid to go after the first pitch as he did in the 1st. His approach at the plate has been fantastic to watch. If I’m a Twins fan, I’d hope that Nishioka and Plouffe are anchoring the MIF at Target Field by the end of the year. Casilla may need to stick around, however, as Nishioka has a history of injury problems.

Joe Nathan

Nathan made his second rehab appearance last night and was able to wiggle around a lead off single to Jordan Danks to retire the 8-9-1 hitters 3-4, 4-3, and L7. The radar gun didn’t register last night for over half of Nathan’s 11 pitches but the fastball appeared to have good life. Nathan’s ability to work out of trouble is the next step in landing him back in Minnesota. Rumors placing him back with the Twins on Friday are circling and it wouldn’t shock me to see Rochester try to throw him tomorrow (weather permitting) before sending him back.

Pitching Matchups/Game of the Day 6/22/11

Pawtucket Red Sox (Brandon Duckworth 4-3, 3.82)
vs. Louisville Bats (Daryl Thompson 0-0, 2.40)

Bowie Baysox (Zach Clark 5-5, 4.66)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 5-5, 3.77)

Trenton Thunder (Craig Heyer 6-3, 2.84)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Alex Wilson 5-4, 3.16)

Altoona Curve (Kyle McPherson 1-1, 3.09)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 1-1, 3.86)

Lowell Spinners (Seth Frankoff 0-0, 4.15)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Michael Lee 0-1, 6.75)

Tri-City ValleyCats (Juri Perez 0-1, 9.00)
Connecticut Tigers (Luis Angel Sanz 1-0, 1.80)

Game of the DayCurve vs. Fisher Cats – After a 1-6 start to the month of June, New Hampshire has rebounded nicely, going 7-4 over their last eleven and building a 2 1/2 game cushion over second place Trenton. Tonight Altoona tries to throw a wrench into that momentum with Kyle McPherson getting the starting nod. McPherson is getting his third AA start after his promotion from Class-A Bradenton. In his prior two starts for the Curve he has allowed four earned runs in 11 2/3 innings of work, walking only one and striking out eight. Big Chad Jenkins, whose season mirrors McPherson’s in many ways, hits the hill tonight for the Fisher Cats. In both of his starts since being called up from Class-A Dunedin, Jenkins has worked 7 full innings. In his last outing versus Akron, he let up two home runs, four earned runs and five hits, but still managed to pick up the win. On the offensive end of the spectrum, Fisher Cats’ DH Ricardo Nanita has had seven multi-hit games over his last ten for a .432 batting average and has gone 4-4 on stolen base attempts over that span.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pitching Matchups/Game of the Day 6/21/11

Bowie Baysox (Richard Zagone 2-5, 4.56)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Liam Hendriks 6-2, 2.96)

Trenton Thunder (Dellin Betances 3-2, 1.76)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 3-5, 6.85)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Felix Doubront 0-1, 2.53)
vs. Louisville Bats (Homer Bailey 2-1, 2.63)

Altoona Curve (Michael Colla 4-2, 3.45)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Henderson Alvarez 3-2, 2.75)

Lowell Spinners (Jason Garcia NR)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (N/A)

Tri-City ValleyCats (Nicholas Tropeano NR)
Connecticut Tigers (Tyler Barrett NR)

Game of the DayThunder vs. Sea Dogs – The second best team in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division pulls into the home of the second worst team in said division when the Trenton Thunder make their way to Hadlock Field on Tuesday night to kick off a three game set. The good news for the Sea Dogs is that Trenton is 15-18 in road games this year. The bad news is that they have to face off against stud pitcher Dellin Betances who is 3-2 on the season and leads the Eastern League with a minuscule 1.76 ERA. Betances has struck out 66 batters over 56 1/3 innings and two of his three Ws have come at the expense of the Sea Dogs. But Betances hasn’t actually picked up a W since May 20th (versus Portland) and in his last start at Hadlock back on May 30th he allowed a season high 3 earned runs and 5 hits over 5 innings. Brock Huntzinger will get his 12th start for Portland and his third crack at the Thunder lineup. In his two prior outings against Trenton, Huntzinger has gone 0-1, thrown 7 2/3 innings and allowed 15 hits despite only giving up 4 earned runs. In Huntzinger’s last outing, on June 15th against Erie, he got roughed up to the tune of 5 earned run on 8 hits. The Thunder are 1-4 over their last five games, but they did take 4 of 5 games from the Sea Dogs in their last visit to Portland. The Sea Dogs are 2-3 over their last five games, but have a 9-7 record in the month of June, despite being 20 games under .500 and 17 games back of first place New Hampshire.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jacobson nabs Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors

Congratulations are once again in order for a local player, as New Britain Rock Cats’ pitcher Brett Jacobson picked up Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors for the period of June 13th to the 19th. It is the second straight week that a player a New England based Minor League team won the honors. Portland’s Stephen Fife picked up the nod last week, and just like Fife, Jacobson did it with just one dazzling start on the week (versus the Reading Phillies on 6/17).

Jacobson’s line for the week:

W, CG, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K

For the season, the 6'6" righty from Phoenix is 3-0 with a 1.92 ERA. He started the season in the bullpen, made a couple of nice spot starts, then was recently thrust into the rotation where he has made five straight starts. In his seven starts on the season, Jacobson has only allowed 6 earned runs in 35 innings pitched.

Jacobson joins teammate Yangervis Solarte as PotW winners in the 2011 season and is the fifth New England based player to take the honors this season in the Eastern League.

2011 New England based Pitchers/Players of the Week
New Britain – SP Brett Jacobson 6/13 – 6/19 (E.L.)
Portland – SP Stephen Fife 6/6 - 6/12 (E.L.)
Portland – OF Chih-Hsien Chiang 5/30 – 6/5 (E.L.)
New Hampshire – SP Joel Carreno 5/16 – 5/22 (E.L.)
New Britain – IN/OF Yangervis Solarte 4/25 – 5/1 (E.L.)

Pitching Matchups/Game of the Day 6/20/11

Pawtucket Red Sox (Matt Fox 4-2, 2.88 ERA)
vs. Louisville Bats (Tom Cochran 6-1, 3.64 ERA)

Lowell Spinners (Luis Diaz NR)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Jose Macias NR)

Tri-City ValleyCats (Kyle Hallock NR)

vs. Connecticut Tigers (Matt Crouse NR)

Game of the DayValleyCats vs. Tigers – It’s an all-out feline frenzy in Norwich, Connecticut tonight as the Tigers open up Dodd Stadium for the season against the defending NYPL Champion Tri-City ValleyCats. Connecticut finished a half game behind Tri-City last season in the Stedler Division thanks to two losses to close their season. Tigers outfielder Samir Rijo has come out of the gate swinging, racking up three doubles and five RBI in the team’s first three games. The Tigers have also been unafraid to go stealing, swiping five bases on seven attempts, with both Javier Azcona and Chad Wright picking up two steals apiece. Lanky lefty Matt Crouse will get his first start of the season for Connecticut after being selected in the 24th round of this year’s draft by the Tigers. Crouse posted a 5-1 record with a 3.74 ERA in his junior season at Ole Miss before joining the pro ranks. Kyle Hallock, a tenth round selection by the Houston Astros in this year’s draft, gets his first taste of professional baseball tonight as Tri-City’s starting pitcher. Hallock, a lefty out of Kent State, was named the MAC Pitcher of the Year this past season after posting a 10-4 record. The Tigers took two of three over the weekend in Lowell to start their season, while the ValleyCats were only able to muster one win in three games against Vermont in their home opening series. The sun is shining and the weather should be right around a perfect 75 degrees for the first pitch of this three game cat fight.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beyond the Minors

After kicking back and catching some College World Series action on Saturday, I decided that for Father’s Day I wanted to take in some Cape Cod League double header action…unfortunately my 8-month old son wasn’t in the mood for two games, but he was a trooper in sticking it out for all seven innings of game 1!

On the recommendation of Boston Sports U18’s Joshua Kummins (@JoshuaKummins on Twitter) we chose Harwich as our destination on this perfect day of 75 degrees with barely a cloud in the sky.

Whitehouse Field is neatly tucked behind Harwich High School, surrounded by a fair thatch of forest that provides a pristine setting for some late Sunday afternoon baseball. The field itself was perfectly manicured and the facilities, from all accounts around the park, are as good as it gets in the league.

The Harwich Mariners took on the Falmouth Commodores in the twin-bill and game 1 was turning out to be quite the pitcher’s duel as Virginia Tech’s Joe Mantiply (Harwich) took on Babson’s Andrew Aizenstadt (Falmouth). Both were throwing their fastball with solid command in the high-80s from the get-go, and although neither seemed to mix in a ton of alternate pitches, they were able to get by with what they had.

The Mariners struck first in the second inning when Georgetown’s Mike Garza followed up Florida International’s Jabari Henry’s gap shot triple, with an RBI single up the box.

From there, things went scoreless until the 6th inning. Mantiply was taken out after five solid innings of work and when the hook came he had only allowed two hits and his team had a 1-0 lead, but he had walked a batter and given up a single to start the frame, which was enough for manager Steve Englert to look to the pen.

Reliever, and Virginia Tech teammate, Devin Burke could not stop the two inherited runners from scoring thanks to some A-plus small ball by the Commodores, who may have attempted more bunts in one game than I had ever seen. When you only have one win on the season, and are desperate, you resort to getting your runs the hard way if you have to. For Falmouth it worked.

After taking a 2-1 lead into the final frame, the Commodores kicked in the door and put up a 6 spot on the Mariners to insure their lead, which Harwich could not overcome in their final at-bats thanks to Aizenstadt who went the distance and only allowed 3 hits and 1 earned run.

The Commodores won their second game of the season 8-2, I won a poster in the 50/50 raffle and the decent sized crowd on hand won a great day of baseball.

A special shoutout to Joshua for the recommendation, as it was the perfect setting for my first Father’s Day with my son. Last year I spent Father’s Day in New Hampshire (another great setting) with my dad, watching the Fisher Cats on a scorching hot day (my son was there too, but he was resting comfortably inside his mom)…I could get used to days like this each year! And yes, I do owe my dad a trip to the ballpark once I return from the Cape…but not before I try to sneak in another game in Yarmouth-Dennis later this week.

There is so much more to the baseball of New England than just the Boston Red Sox, or the affiliated Minor League teams around the region. The Cape League is widely considered to be the best amateur summer league in the whole country, bringing in top notch college talent from all over the nation. Check out the Cape Cod Baseball League website for more information and try to fit in a game this summer, you won’t regret it.

And if you can’t make it to the Cape, here are some other options for great baseball in and around New England:

New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL)
Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL)
Can-Am League (independent league)
Atlantic League (independent league)

Here are some pics from the day's action (click on image for full size):

Falmouth shortstop Eric Garcia readies for the pitch.

Harwich second baseman Jacoby Jones at the plate.

Harwich starter Joe Mantiply delivers.

Falmouth's Andrew Aizenstadt going the distance.

Good looking crowd on hand...but I'm a bit biased with these two!

Pitching Matchups/Game of the Day 6/19/11

Portland Sea Dogs (Stephen Fife 7-3, 3.10)
vs. Akron Aeros (Kelvin De La Cruz 4-4. 4.14)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Joel Carreno 5-4, 3.22)
vs. Erie Seawolves (Casey Crosby 4-2, 3.32)

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Scott Mathieson 4-2, 2.62)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Kyle Weiland 5-5, 3.29)

New Britain Rock Cats (Steve Hirschfeld 4-4, 2.54)
vs. Reading Phillies (Austin Hyatt 6-4, 4.35)

Vermont Lake Monsters (J.C. Menna NR)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Euris Quezada NR)

Connecticut Tigers (N/A)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer NR)

Game of the DayIron Pigs vs. Paw Sox – Pawtucket has rattled off three straight games against first place Lehigh Valley, allowing them a three game cushion over the .500 mark, while also pulling them to 5 ½ games back of the Iron Pigs. Kyle Weiland hits the hill for the Paw Sox on Father’s Day, looking to avenge a loss his last time out against Charlotte on Monday. He leads the team in innings pitched (66 1/3) and has had four quality starts over his last ten outings. The Paw Sox pitching staff currently leads the International League in WHIP (1.22) and is second in ERA (3.23). Scott Mathieson goes for the Iron Pigs, who are trying to leave Pawtucket without being roasted for four straight games. This will be Mathieson’s first start of the season after 18 relief outings that netted him a 2.93 ERA over 27 2/3 innings. He has struck out 28 batters on the year, but has also allowed 13 free passes. Mathieson did spend some time with the Phillies at the beginning of May and saw the mound twice in relief and allowed no runs. A loss for the Iron Pigs today would tie their longest losing streak of the season. A win for the Paw Sox would give them their second longest win streak of the year. Pawtucket hits the road for eight games after today, starting with four in Louisville, followed by four in Indy.

To listen to any of the above games live, click here:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Indianapolis @ Rochester: Recap

Star Wars night at Frontier Field in Rochester, NY produced quite the atmosphere in the 2nd leg of a day-night doubleheader. Wearing jerseys that I initially considered to be one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen, Rochester pulled out a 12-7 win over the Indianapolis Indians in front of a season high crowd of 12,552 (paid) after both managers were ejected and both benches cleared with 2 outs in the 9th.

Rochester SP Jake Stevens made a spot start for the Red Wings, tossing 2.2 innings before exiting with a 6-3 lead. Rochester, buoyed by another strong game at the plate from Trevor Plouffe (3/5, HR, 3R, 3RBI), jumped out to a 1-0 on a solo HR to left. The Red Wings blew the game open in the 2nd off of Indianapolis Indians starter Justin Wilson. RBI singles for 2B Steve Singleton and C Steve Holm preceded a Trevor Plouffe ground rule double to right center. Former Paw Sox 1B/LF Aaron Bates delivered a 2 run single, capping a 5 run frame.

The night was defined by the inability for Indianapolis' pitching staff to locate on the mound. Michael Dubee threw just 21 of his 45 pitches for strikes in relief of Wilson who was suffering similar issues, tossing only 31 of 62 in the zone. Rochester peppered Wilson for a number of line drives, whose velocity sat in the low 80s for much of the night.

Jake Stevens, despite initially pounding the strike zone, got himself into trouble in the 3rd after throwing the ball away on a pickoff attempt at first base. Rochester's eventual call to the bullpen, Cole DeVries, scattered 5 hits in 3.1 innings to earn the win.

Indianapolis LF Alex Presley, 3B Matt Hague, and CF Gorkys Hernandez all had impressive at bats on the night although the Indianapolis offense only seemed to really click when aided by Red Wing errors. Former Atlanta/Boston/Cleveland prospect Andy Marte looked rather pedestrian in the heart of the order by striking out twice and having rather uninspiring at bats.

The real highlight of the night was having the opportunity to see Joe Nathan get an inning of work. Throwing just 12 pitches, Nathan induced a flyout to centerfield before striking out 2B Brian Friday and Presley to end the inning without and trouble. Nathan mixed his fastball and changeup well while also dropping in a breaking ball at the knees. His fastball topped out at 93MPH and he seemed very comfortable dealing to AAA bats.

As the outcome appeared all but decided, the Indians scored 3 runs off Carlos Gutierrez to cut the deficit to 5 in the 8th. Brian Friday took out Trevor Plouffe very hard in the top of the 9th leading Red Wings manager Tom Nieto and Indians manager Dean Traenor to go nose to nose, the benches to clear, and each skipper to be ejected.

The miniature disagreement was pale in comparison to the constant light saber fight going on two rows in front of me tonight. $5.50 for a light up toy was all the rage on this Star Wars themed night, providing great fun for the family atmosphere at Frontier Field on Fathers Day weekend.

I simply wonder how long it is until we see Ron Gardenhire transmitting the following message to Rochester: "Help me Kyle Gibson, you're my only hope."

Rochester Red Wings (AAA): News and Notes

-Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan begins a rehab assignment with Rochester in today’s double header. Nathan is expected to pitch 2-3 times, barring setbacks, before he returns to Minnesota. It is unknown what Nathan’s role will be upon his return to the Twin Cities, but all signs currently point to a role in the 7th or 8th. Current closer Matt Capps has been serviceable and I’d assume Ron Gardenhire wants Nathan to regain his confidence at the Major League level before considering him in the 9th inning.

-Ben Revere continues to be productive enough in Minnesota as Denard Span remains on the new 7-day DL with concussion symptoms. Revere plays to contact at the plate, however, which is something he may need to alter if he wants to hit in the leadoff spot at the major league level. Four walks in 97 PAs in Minnesota simply won’t cut it. For what it’s worth, he had six walks in 141 PAs in AAA Rochester before his promotion. An OBP sitting in the .320 range is limiting his opportunities on the base paths. As someone whose career will likely rely on his ability to get on, get over, and get in, Revere must develop the ability to draw more walks.

-Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins were all activated by Minnesota, prompting Brian Dinkelman and Dusty Hughes to be sent back to AAA Rochester. Gardenhire has said that he wouldn’t be afraid to use Perkins in the 8th and did just that last night against the Padres.

-Kyle Gibson continues to be effective on the mound for Rochester . It has been widely rumored amongst the Twins brass that a call up for Gibson would signal that he is ready to stick in the majors for good. The organization doesn’t want him to have to get pounded (similar to Kyle Drabek in Toronto) and force them to send the youngster back down. His command has improved as the season has worn on which should be a welcomed sign for Twins fans.

I will be at the 7:05pm start tonight and will provide postgame thoughts and may tweet from time to time @Thomas_Saucke

Pitching Matchups/Game of the Day 6/18/11

Connecticut Tigers (Wilsen Palacios NR)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Raynel Velette NR)

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Ryan Feierabend 5-3, 5.79)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Kevin Millwood 2-0, 3.77)

New Britain Rock Cats (Dennis Suarez 0-1, 3.27)
vs. Reading Phillies (Tyler Cloyd 0-0, 2.45)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Argenis Paez NR)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (N/A)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Beck 5-2, 4.08)
vs. Erie Seawolves (Mark Sorensen 6-3, 4.58)

Portland Sea Dogs (Stolmy Pimentel 0-8, 9.66)
vs. Akron Aeros (T.J. McFarland 2-4, 5.03)

Game of the DaySea Dogs vs. Aeros – Oh poor, poor Stolmy Pimentel is two plus months deep into the season and has yet to back any of the hype that came along with him following a nice season in Salem last year that included an appearance in the MLB Futures Game. Stolmy creeped into the Red Sox top pitching prospect listings, but has steadily creeped down the depth charts since arriving in Portland. He has yet to win a game (his 8 losses are most in the Eastern League) and his ERA is as inflated as Tim Thomas’ tires. In three of his last four starts Stolmy has only lasted 1 1/3 innings and allowed six or more earned runs in each of those games. He has yet to face Akron, so hopefully that helps him finally turn things around and figure out this whole “Double-A” thing. T.J. McFarland is scheduled to throw for the Aeros, his eleventh start of the season since his call up from Class-A Kinston. McFarland has had a mixed bag of starts since arriving in Akron, but has tossed two complete games, tied for most in the Eastern League. Aeros outfielder Tim Fedroff leads the Eastern League with a .345 batting average and Matt McBride powers the Akron offense and is tied for fifth in the Eastern League in home runs (12) and sixth in RBI (40). Temps in Akron are in the high-70s with chances of thunderstorms and the first pitch set for 7:05pm.

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