Sunday, July 31, 2011

First Impression: Dodd not dead

As Saturday morning quickly rolled into afternoon, I was doing my best to knock out some laundry while I had the house to myself. The dryer backed up my plans, so I flipped from one pocket calendar to the next, contemplating a solo voyage to see some baseball.

The PawSox were playing at 6:00pm, and offered up the shortest road trip for me, but I was feeling stubborn after recently being shunned by the organization. New Hampshire was hosting a 6:00pm double header with Henderson Alvarez and Chad Jenkins slated to pitch, but I was contemplating a trip up to NeDDS on Sunday instead (which never materialized thanks to that damn laundry). The Rock Cats were playing at 7:00pm, but as much as I wanted to make my first trip to New Britain Stadium, I was dead set against the two hour drive.

I saw that the Connecticut Tigers were at home and playing at 7:00pm, another place where I had yet to venture. I decided to plug in the stadium's address on Mapquest, which informed me that it was an hour and forty-five minutes from my door to Dodd’s…I knew that was no more than an hour and thirty on my terms, so I ordered myself up an $8 ticket, printed it and was on my way (after folding one last load of laundry).

I’ve heard in the past that Dodd Stadium wasn’t the grandest of venues and that it was oft times barren of souls, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect heading in. The ride was plenty easy enough, a straight shot down 393 South after a brief interlude on the Mass Pike, then a spin through a well kept rural neighborhood, and just past that the stadium lies in the heart of an industrial park.

I instantly felt the Minor League-iness of the facility as I pulled into the gravel lined parking lot and made the walk up to the wrought iron-gated entrance. I surveyed the layout and headed left down the third base concourse, pulling up to the seat I purchased in section 20. The last 10 or so rows of each section are long, backed bleachers, then the next 10 or so rows up are individual red plastic seats, followed by the 5 or so rows closest to the field, which are gray, padded plastic seats with cup holders in front of each. Not one of which is uncomfortable by any means and all close enough to hear the on-field chatter.

The early evening sun shone brightly across the beautifully manicured field as it dipped towards the backside of the first base boxes perched above the small, but ample concourse. The crowd slowly trickled in, kids pounded on wooden projects provided by Lowes, the Batavia Muckdogs players signed autographs and warmed up down the third base line and another perfect summer night was unfolding all around.

A capacity crowd at Dodd Stadium is listed at 6,270, but unfortunately they do seem to have a tough time with filling this place. The announced paid crowd of 2,059 may have even fallen a bit short of that number, but those in attendance were truly diehard, passionate and extremely knowledgeable…the kind of crowd you like to be sitting amongst. The facilities were clean and the employees extremely friendly and helpful. On top of all of that, the game itself turned out to be a good one, ending in the bottom of the 12th inning on the back of Tyler Collins’ second home run of the evening.

I was more than pleasantly surprised with my experience at Dodd Stadium and I’m already pecking up-and-down their schedule to try and fit it another trip before they wrap things up for the season. This would be the perfect little Minor League park when filled to capacity. A little more life in this place would be just the shot in the arm that it needs and would be quite the site to behold. You know it’s a tad bit empty when one kid gets 12 baseballs from players throwing them into the stands AND gets to be the one to race the mascot.

This is a team that is only in its second season after moving from Oneonta. The organization is working diligently to build their identity with a fanbase that recently had the rug pulled out from under them when former Dodd Stadium tenants, the Connecticut Defenders, moved to Virginia. I implore anyone within the region to check out this perfect little slice of baseball so that we can ensure that it stays alive. A few more souls could go a long way in bringing this region back to baseball prominence.

August Promos

Once again I got caught up in the madness of summer, and once again I dropped the monthly promos on you at the very last minute. Here are the best-of-the-best from around the region heading into the last full month of play for Minor League Baseball…so get on out there ASAP and enjoy while you can.

Connecticut Tigers
Monday the 8th
- Al Kaline Night/Social Media Monday – Here we have quite the contradiction. On one hand you have a chance to meet Hall of Famer and Tiger great Al Kaline, who is no doubt on hand in Norwich because his grandson Colin plays for the team. But I dare someone to try to explain the nuances of Twitter to the 76-year-old Kaline.

Lowell Spinners
Wednesday the 31st
Back to School Night with Mr. Belding - Despite the numerous bobble head giveaways at LeLacheur this month (plus the fact that I hate listing bobbleheads promos), we had to shine light on everyone’s favorite princiPAL as we near the start of another school year. Dennis Haskins, aka Saved by the Bell’s Mr. Belding, will be available for photo ops and autographs…and probably some zaaaaaany antics! I assume Screech will also be there hawking dogs and sodas, but not as part of the promotion, more so because he needs work.

New Britain Rock Cats
Saturday the 20th
Football Night/Sammy Saturdays – The strike is over and by late August we’ll all wish the horrors of pre-season football were as well! I’m very intrigued at the notion of the giveaways of free mini-footballs coinciding with great specials on ice-cold Sam Adams. I have a feeling some of the petite pigskins are bound to hit the field.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Friday the 12th
Carl Crawford Bobblehead – Honestly, I don’t normally pick bobbleheads, but the pickings in New Hampshire are slim this month. How slim? Well, I picked a bobblehead promo for a guy who has NEVER played for the Blue Jays organization and is not from New Hampshire. As far as I know, Carl Crawford has never even been to New Hampshire. The dogs days are indeed upon us when stuff like this starts rising to the top of the charts.

Pawtucket Red Sox
Sunday the 21stPawSox Fan Fest – Following the PawSox game against the Syracuse Chiefs, there will be a bit of a fiesta at McCoy, so hopefully the team doesn’t dampen the occasion with a loss. Sampling tables are on the list of activities that will be on hand, and hopefully this is for delicious foods and/or beers, because those are the only two things that should ever appear on a “sampling” table. Also listed is bouncy rides, which could mean many things to many different people.

Portland Sea Dogs
Monday the 22nd
Ryan Kalish Bobblehead – OK, I know what you’re saying, “Another bobblehead?” Indeed it is slim pickings all around this month and it was either this or those damn Zooperstars again! The first 1,000 fans will get the Kalish Bobblehead, yet another in a long line of injury riddled honorees. Augusta, Maine native and Olympic luger Julia Cluckey will also make an appearance, but unfortunately an ice luge for shots will not be available to wash down this day.

Vermont Lake Monsters
Sunday the 7thMini Kiss Appearance– You wanted ‘em? You got ‘em! Well, half of them…well, I mean…yeah, uh, a smaller version of the band Kiss will be on hand rocking Centennial Field…er, half rocking it. This is by far the world’s foremost Kiss tribute band and they’ll be doing the National Anthem and signing autographs as well. I wish I could make it because this one wins my vote for best regional promo of the month! Someone out there PLEASE report back to me on this.

For those who need some pop after their games, here is the listing for FIREWORKS nights:
Connecticut - 18th, 26th
Lowell - NONE
New Britain – 19th
New Hampshire – 11th, 13th, 22nd, 25th, 26th, 27th
Pawtucket – NONE
Portland – 23rd
Vermont - NONE

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…

Lastly, a BIG head's up for Tuesday, August 16th when the Lowell Spinners will play host to the New York Penn All-Star Game at LeLacheur Field. There are tickets still available…get yours today by clicking on the banner and catch tomorrow’s MLB All-Stars in one of the last All-Star games of the year! Lowell always does things up big, so it should be a great spectacle on this night and we're looking forward to covering it as well.

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/31/11

Altoon Curve (Aaron Pribanic 7-8, 4.03)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Chris Balcom-Miller 2-4, 4.50)

Louisville Bats (Daryl Thompson, 2-1, 3.21)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Tony Pena 7-4, 3.62)

Batavia Muckdogs (Jonathan Cornelius 1-1, 2.81)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Thomas Collier 0-0, 0.00)

Brooklyn Cyclones (Orlando Tovar 2-1, 4.74)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Drew Granier 0-0, 0.00)

Brooklyn Cyclones (Carlos Vazquez 2-2, 3.79)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Kurt Wunderlich 0-4, 8.57)

Bowie Baysox (Richard Zagone 4-6, 4.48)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Deinys Suarez 1-5, 4.86)

Reading Phillies (Joe Esposito 3-3, 5.66)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (B.J. LaMura 5-4, 3.42)

Lowell Spinners (Tyler Wilson 2-2, 3.63)
vs. State College Spikes (Nicholas Kingham 1-2, 3.34)

Game of the DayCyclones vs. Lake Monsters – Brooklyn is 23-18 and are already 7 games out of first place in the McNamara Division; Vermont is 21-19 and has a three game lead in the Stedler. It’s vital for the Lake Monsters to take advantage of their congenial position and start to build on it. The Cyclones meanwhile must already look towards the Wild Card for their playoff chances. Today at Centennial Field in Burlington, these two teams will go out it a doubleheader on the kind of summer day that Ernie Banks was speaking of. Brooklyn has Orlando Tovar and Carlos Vazquez as their starting pitchers. Tovar will be making his first start of the season after 13 relief appearances and Vazquez gets his ninth start and third straight on the road. For the Lake Monsters, Drew Granier looks to build off of a strong first start last Monday when he worked four scoreless innings. Kurt Wunderlich will be looking to notch his first win of the season for the Monsters in his sixth start of the year…The Cyclones have the second lowest team ERA (3.16) and have allowed the fewest walks (116) in the NYPL…The Lake Monsters lead the league with 72 total stolen bases.

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Jesus Montero, Lars Anderson and the Deadline

As the MLB trade deadline looms, players at all levels are on the hot seat. Saturday was a busy day involving several names of note:

Jesus Montero

I witnessed Montero for the 3rd time this season on Saturday night and he has yet to disappoint.His plate approach is full of confidence and comfort. The 6’3”, 235-pound catcher has exceptional hand-eye coordination and bat speed to couple with his high power ceiling. His name has been swirling in trade rumors this summer, most notably for Felix Hernandez (who the Seattle Mariners have since taken off the trading block) and Ubaldo Jimenez (who is all but traded to the Cleveland Indians).

Holding top prospect status with New York has become somewhat of a curse as Brian Cashman consistently moves his youngsters at the deadline to acquire highly touted Major League level talent. With one more day of deadline rumors to go, Montero’s name will surely be attached with almost anyone the Yankees look to acquire.

Lars Anderson

A deal is all but finished at 10:48 PM EDT to send PawSox 1B Lars Anderson and a player to be named to the Oakland Athletics for SP Rich Harden. A perennial favorite of and the Boston Globe’s Jason Mastrodonato, Harden is an interesting acquisition for the Boston Red Sox. When he’s on, Harden’s off speed pitches mix exceptionally well with his fastball to produce utterly dominant performances on the mound. His propensity to rack up high pitch counts by missing the zone, however, has chased him from starts by the 5th far too frequently.

Anderson’s departure isn't enormously surprising. His ability to hit for average has been mitigated by his lackluster power performances in the minors. With Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis both capable of playing 1B, it seems logical that Theo Epstein would want to move the 23 year old while his trade value is still high. Anderson is likely to end up with the Sacramento River Cats (AAA) in the PCL once the deal is finalized.

EDIT: As of a short time ago, the deal has reportedly fallen through per Ian Browne of No one seems to know why. Updates on Sunday when something concrete is released.

Red Sox beat writer Alex Speier tweeted at roughly 2:30 AM, "Uncertainty after review of medicals led to Harden deal coming apart." Sox reporter Gordon Edes perhaps said it best:

"Harden has an injury history as long as a career felon's rap sheet -- he has made 10 trips to the disabled list in his career -- but the Red Sox were well aware of that when they decided to make what appeared to be one of Theo Epstein's patented, low-risk, potentially high-reward deals. Still, once the Sox investigated further Saturday night, they decided that Harden could not be counted upon, and the Athletics were informed the deal was off, according to a major-league source."

Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner, and Matt McBride

A lackadaisical night at the ballpark turned to a mixed bag of emotions as my Colorado Rockies dealt ace Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians for pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz (Akron-AA), Alex White (Columbus-AAA), and Joe Gardner (Akron) as well as 1B/OF Matt McBride (Columbus).

The return for the Rockies is absolutely tremendous. Colorado’s inability to develop quality starting pitching has been an issue since the franchise’s inception. Jimenez is the first Colorado SP prospect to arrive in Denver with true ace potential. GM Dan O'Dowd knew that curbing mediocrity could be accomplished by moving one of Jimenez, Carlos Gonzalez, or Troy Tulowitzki. As questions circled regarding Ubaldo's consistency, O'Dowd's decision to make a splash of this magnitude is met with incredible optimism.

The addition of the three highly touted arms to a list featuring Christian Friedrich, Tyler Matzek, and Peter Tago leaves Rockies fans very excited at what the rotation will look like in 3 years. Pomeranz, taken in the 1st round of the 2010 draft, can’t officially be moved to Colorado until August 15th because he was drafted last June. White was projected by Baseball America as the #2 starter on the board in the 2009 draft after standout Steven Strasburg. Gardner, taken in the 3rd round in 2009, is developing at AA after a strong 2010 season with Kinston in the Carolina League (A+).

Ultimately, the Jimenez deal is what the trade deadline is all about: needs were addressed by both sides but the stories for each player are far from written. This wouldn't be any fun if it was scripted, would it?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pitching Matchups 7/30/11

Altoon Curve (Kyle McPherson 4-3, 3.08)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 5-8, 6.86)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Kevin Millwood 5-0, 4.06)
vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Travis Wood 1-1, 3.31)

Reading Phillies (Tyler Cloyd 3-3, 3.48)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Henderson Alvarez 6-4, 2.84)

Reading Phillies (J.C. Ramirez 8-10, 4.25)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 2-4, 4.42)

Brooklyn Cyclones (Eduardo Aldama 2-1, 3.16)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Tyler Vail 0-2, 3.95)

Bowie Baysox (Zach Clark 5-7, 5.40)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Blake Martin 1-2, 5.67)

Lowell Spinners (Jason Garcia 3-1, 3.52)
vs. State College Spikes (Zack Dodson 0-1, 5.40)

Batavia Muckdogs (Hector Hernandez 0-1, 2.95)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Matt Crouse 1-1, 4.13)

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Bowie Baysox (Oliver Drake 1-2, 8.87) GAME 1
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (David Bromberg 1-1, 3.63)

Bowie Baysox (Chorye Spoone 5-5, 4.07)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Steve Hirschfeld 7-6, 3.66)

Altoon Curve (Michael Colle 4-7, 3.88)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (N/A)

Connecticut Tigers (Brennan Smith 1-3, 2.48)
vs. Brooklyn Cyclones (N/A)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Brandon Duckworth 7-6, 3.78)
vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Pawtucket Red Sox (Brian Bass 5-8, 4.03)

Reading Phillies (J.C. Ramirez 8-10, 4.25)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 2-4, 4.42)

Lowell Spinners (Luis Diaz 3-1, 3.63)
vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Joseph Colon 3-2, 3.55)

Vermont Lake Monsters (J.C. Menna 2-2, 4.85)
vs. Williamsport Crosscutters (Adam Morgan 0-2, 2.25)

Game of the DaySpinners vs. Crosscutters – The New York Penn League’s Stedler Division is once again a tight four team race, despite some sub .500 records, with all teams within 4 ½ games of the top. But if anyone in that division is complaining, no one in the Pinckney Division is listening, as three teams are tied for first, including Mahoning Valley, and two more teams are 1 game back of that logjam. The Spinners sit in second place in the Stedler, two games back of first place Vermont. Luis Diaz gets the start for Lowell in the rubber match against the Scrappers. Diaz is 3-0 over his last six starts and has only allowed 7 runs over his last 31 1/3 innings. Diaz allowed his first two home runs of the season in his last outing against the Auburn Doubledays. He will be opposed tonight by Joseph Colon who has picked up his three wins over his last four starts. Colon has allowed only 5 runs over his last 22 innings of work and has yet to allow a long ball this season…The Lowell Spinners have the fewest saves, 5, in the NYPL and their pitchers have allowed the most walks with 173…Mahoning Valley is second in the league with 74 doubles and as a team they have the fewest strikeouts offensively with 244…The Spinners go to State College for three games after tonight; the Scrappers head to Auburn for three.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pitching Matchups 7/28/11

Pawtucket Red Sox (Matt Fox 6-4, 5.03)
vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Scott Mathieson 0-1, 3.05)

Altoon Curve (Jeff Locke 6-8, 4.44)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Michael Lee 1-5, 4.87)

Connecticut Tigers (Wilsen Palacios 2-2, 4.36)
vs. Brooklyn Cyclones (N/A)

Reading Phillies (Austin Hyatt 9-5, 4.09)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Joel Carreno 7-7, 3.28)

Bowie Baysox (N/A)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Schuld 0-2, 10.66)

Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer 1-2, 3.30)
vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Mason Redeke 2-0, 3.90)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Seth Frankoff 2-1, 3.63)
vs. Williamsport Crosscutters (Austin Wright 2-1, 3.64)

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/27/11

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Yohan Pino 2-5, 4.88) GAME 1
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Andrew Albers 2-0, 1.64)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Deck McGuire NR)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 6-7, 4.01)

Portland Sea Dogs (Stephen Fife 10-4, 3.88)
vs. Binghamton Mets (Tobi Stoner 4-4, 5.25)

Connecticut Tigers (N/A)
vs. Brooklyn Cyclones (N/A)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Kyle Weiland 8-6, 3.00)
vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Roy Oswalt NR)

Lowell Spinners (Ray Velette 1-0, 5.34)
vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Rob Nixon 2-3, 4.50)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Brent Powers 0-2, 5.74)
vs. Williamsport Crosscutters (Colin Kleven 2-2, 4.11)

Game of the DaySea Dogs vs. BMets – With all eyes on the tops of the divisional leader boards, we have lost focus of the basement which, per usual, has fallen into disarray. The two Eastern League Eastern Division cellar dwellers are tasked with cleaning things up in tonight’s rubber match between Portland (42-60) and Binghamton (42-62). Sea Dogs starter Stephen Fife will get fourth crack at win number 11. Fife’s last win came against the BMets back on July 5th when he went 6 innings, scattered 7 hits, allowed 3 earned runs and struck out 9. Binghamton’s Tobi Stoner gets his twelfth starts for the BMets in a rematch of that July 5th game. In that outing Stoner did not get a decision after being knocked for 10 hits and 4 earned runs… Portland outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang continues to rake, hitting .437 with 5 home runs, 24 runs and 23 RBI in the month of July. Chiang is also in the midst of a 12 game hitting streak… BMets shortstop Jordany Valdespin is 8-19 in his last four games played against the Sea Dogs…These two teams will meet one more time in a three game series at Portland. August 19th – 21st…Portland will close out the month with a four game series in Altoona; Binghamton heads to Harrisburg for four games after tonight.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/26/11

Portland Sea Dogs (Chris Balcom-Miller 2-4, 4.83)
vs. Binghamton Mets (Collin McHugh 3-2, 4.28)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Tony Pena 7-4, 3.44)
vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Ryan Feierabend 9-5, 5.42)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (B. J. LaMura 4-4, 3.41)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Deinys Suarez 1-4, 4.63)

Game of the DayPawSox vs. IronPigs – Things are about to get real serious in the International League’s North Division starting tonight. We repeat our Game of the Day from last Thursday’s matchup, pitchers and all. Neither Pena nor Feierabend picked up a decision in last week’s game, but both pitched decent enough, with the IronPigs eventually prevailing in their only win of four games at McCoy Stadium. Tonight starts a crucial four game set between first place Leigh Valley and second place Pawtucket, who are now just 2 games back of the top spot. A win by the PawSox tonight will keep this series in our spotlight for the next few days.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Lavarnway, Duckworth, Cecchini all bring home PotW honors

After suffering a few weeks without a regional Player or Pitcher of the Week, a few Red Sox prospects made up for lost time as Pawtucket's Ryan Lavarnway and Brandon Duckworth and Lowell's Garin Cecchini were all honored for the period of July 18th - 24th.

If you haven't heard word of Ryan Lavarnway as of late, then you must be living in a cave. It seems that every night over the past week or two he has launched another ball over the fence, helping the PawSox pull within one game of first place in the International League's North Divison. Lavarnway has been a beast since being called up from Portland earlier in the season. In 36 games with Pawtucket he has a .372 batting average with 13 home runs and 36 RBI. Pre-season he was ranked as the 16th best Red Sox prospect by Baseball America and their best catching prospect, which he is quickly proving. He is batting .441 over his last 10 games and .403 for the month of July. Here are the stats from Ryan's big week:
9-22, .409 BA, 3 2BS, 4 HRs, 11 RBI, 8 R

Brandon Duckworth has been a steady, veteran influence in the PawSox rotation this season, coming on as of late after a string of rough outings. Duckworth has notched three straight victories and during the period of July 18th-24th he picked up big wins over Lehigh Valley and Buffalo. He was named the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher back ion 2001 and has toiled between the minors and majors for six different organizations for the past decade plus. Duckworth is 7-6 with a 3.78 ERA in 18 apperances with the PawSox this year. Here are Duckworth's totals for the week:
2 Ws, 11 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 10 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks

Garin Cecchini was in the midst of a nine game hitting streak before getting drilled by a pitch that fractured his wrist in a game against Auburn on Saturday night, ending his first season with the organization. Cecchini was a 4th round pick by the Red Sox in the 2010 draft and was rated the 7th best prospect in the organization by Baseball America prior to the start of the season. In July Cecchini was batting .342 with 3 HRs, 18 RBI, 16 R and 6 SBs. Here was Cecchini's line for the period of 7/18 - 7/24:
12-21, .571 BA, 4 2Bs, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 9 R, 2 SBs

Pawtucket finally gets into the mix in a big way by picking up their first two PotW's of the season, and Lowell picks up their second honor of the year. Congrats to Ryan, Brandon and Garin and a get well soon to Mr. Cecchini as well.

2011 New England based Pitchers/Players of the Week
Lowell - 3B Garin Cecchini 7/18 - 7/24 (N.Y.P.L.)
Pawtucket - P Brandon Duckworth 7/18 - 7/24 (I.L.)
Pawtucket - C Ryan Lavarnway 7/18 - 7/24 (I.L.)
Lowell - 3B Travis Shaw 6/27 - 7/3 (N.Y.P.L.)
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 7/25/11

Williamsport Crosscutters (Lino Martinez 3-2, 3.58)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Thomas Collier NR)

Portland Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 5-7, 6.84) Italic
vs. Binghamton Mets (Robert Carson 3-2, 4.98)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Kevin Millwood 5-0, 3.79)
vs. Buffalo Bisons (Miguel Batista 0-0, 8.68)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Henderson Alvarez 6-4, 2.86)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Blake Martin 1-2, 5.83)

Auburn Doubledays (Nathan Karns 0-1, 6.75)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Tyler Wilson 2-1, 2.70)

Jamestown Jammers (Helpi Reyes 0-2, 3.33)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Eric Granier NR)

Game of the DayFisher Cats vs. Rock Cats – Back to the ole’ cat fight once again as both teams find themselves in a place where they may to scratch and claw their way to some victories in order to keep hope alive. The Fisher Cats keep on slipping, as they come off a four game home series where they only took one game versus the (then) last place Portland Sea Dogs (41-59). In the month of July New Hampshire is 9-14 overall and they have lost 5 of 6 series, including two to Portland and one to (now) last place Binghamton (41-61). The Rock Cats have had this golden opportunity to gain some major ground on the Fisher Cats, but they too haven’t done much in the month of July, posting a 10-13 record. New Britain currently sits in fourth place, 3 ½ games behind New Hampshire. Henderson Alvarez gets the start for the Fisher Cats looking for his third straight victory. This will be Alvarez’s 12th start for New Hampshire and his 13th appearance with his only relief work coming back on July 6th against New Britain when he pitched a spotless two innings, striking out two batters and not picking up a decision. Blake Martin will get the nod for New Britain, his fifth start of the season and fourteenth appearance. Martin also came out of the pen in that July 6th game, and was just as brilliant as Alvarez, going four innings, allowing only one hit and striking out three…This four game series will conclude on Wednesday with a day-night doubleheader…Since returning to the Fisher Cats mid-July, starter-turned-reliever Rey Gonzalez has made four appearances, tossing six scoreless innings… The Rock Cats will play five games over three days thanks to doubleheaders on Wednesday and Friday…New Hampshire will host the Eastern Division's second place Reading Phillies for four games following this series; New Britain welcomes the Western Division's second place Bowie Baysox for five games.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pitching Matchups 7/24/11

Pawtucket Red Sox (Felix Doubront 1-3, 3.28)
vs. Buffalo Bisons (Dylan Owen 4-5, 4.35 )

Jamestown Jammers (Jose Urena 2-3, 4.32)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Tyler Vail 0-1, 4.50)

Portland Sea Dogs (Junichi Tazawa 1-2, 7.62)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 2-3, 4.33)

Tri-City ValleyCats (Mike Nesseth 2-2, 204)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (N/A)

Auburn Doubledays (Colin Bates 2-1, 2.38)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Jason Garcia 3-0, 1.86)

New Britain Rock Cats (Steve Hirschfeld 6-6, 3.69)
vs. Altoona Curve (Ross Ohlendorf N/R)

Check out all of the action live on MiLB Gameday Audio by clicking on the banner below:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/23/11

Auburn Doubledays (Manny Rodriguez 1-2, 5.40)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Luis Diaz 3-1, 3.23)

Jamestown Jammers (Josh Hodges 3-0, 4.46)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Kurt Wunderlich 0-4, 10.59)

New Britain Rock Cats (Matt Schuld 0-1, 9.00)
vs. Altoona Curve (Jeff Locke 5-8, 4.62)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Brandon Duckworth 6-6, 4.06)
vs. Buffalo Bisons (Mark Cohoon )

Portland Sea Dogs (Alex Wilson 8-4, 2.87)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Joel Carreno 7-7, 3.39)

Tri-City ValleyCats (Adam Morgan 0-2, 3.27)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Brennan Smith 1-2, 2.51)

Game of the DayRock Cats vs. Curve - New Britain halted a three game losing streak with a 6-1 win over Altoona last night. The Rock Cats are 4 ½ games behind first place New Hampshire in the Eastern Division and making a run at the division title might be their best path to the playoffs as the Wild Card race is a six-team logjam. New Hampshire native, and Eastern League All-Star, Jeff Locke gets the start for Altoona. The left-hander has struck out 95 batters on the season, sixth most in the league. Locke ranks in the wrong end of the Top 10 for both ERA (4.62) and WHIP (1.43). Matt Schuld gets his third start for the Rock Cats since being called up from Fort Myers at the beginning of the month. Schuld allowed 5 runs in each of his prior two starts, but tossed a scoreless inning of relief with three strikeouts between those outings. In 10 innings he has struck out 9 and walked 7…Altoona pitching has allowed only 283 walks on the season, the second lowest total behind Harrisburg’s 257…The Rock Cats' Chris Parmelee is having his best month of the season, batting .299 with 6 home runs and 20 RBI.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/22/11

Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer 0-2, 2.52) GAME 1
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (J.C. Menna 2-2, 4.63)

Lowell Spinners (Nefi Ogando 1-3, 2.52)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Nathaniel Kilcrease 1-0, 0.82)

New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 5-7, 4.11)
vs. Altoona Curve (Phillip Irwin 3-2, 5.18)

Portland Sea Dogs (Stephen Fife 10-3, 3.94)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Zach Stewart 4-5, 4.47)

Tri-City ValleyCats (Euris Quezada 1-3, 7.04)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Wilsen Palacios 2-1, 5.76)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Matt Fox 5-4, 5.17)
vs. Buffalo Bisons (Chris Schwinden 6-4, 3.31)

Game of the DaySea Dogs vs. Fisher Cats – We have a nice pitching matchup at NeDDS tonight as Stephen Fife and Zach Stewart, both Eastern League All-Stars, square off in game two of a four game series between Portland and New Hampshire. Tonight will be the fourth time in his last six starts that Stephen Fife has faced off against the Fisher Cats. In his last two starts in Manchester, Fife is 0-0 with a 5.73 ERA and 11 strikeouts. Fife has not picked up a decision since July 5th when he won against Binghamton and his last loss came back on May 28th against Trenton. Zach Stewart hasn’t picked up a win in three starts since returning to the Fisher Cats after his stint with the big club. Two of those three starts came against the Sea Dogs and Stewart picked up a loss in both of those games, allowing 6 earned runs and 16 hits over 10 innings…Portland is 3-2 in their last five games at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium…The Fisher Cats have been outscored 43 to 28 over their last ten games.

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Ranting Towards the Stretch

Because I haven't been able to give you anything of real substance as of late, I sat back, looked at the numbers, mulled it all over and threw it all up onto the page for you to digest...lord knows I'm still trying to do the same. Here is a look at each team and how things are shaping up as we head towards the most crucial stretch of the baseball season...

Rise of the Planet of the PawSox – Pawtucket is feeling that playoff itch as the PawSox have stormed into the second half of the season winning 5 of 8 since the All-Star break and taking 3 of 4 key games against first place Lehigh Valley to pull within two games of the division leader in the International League's North Division…Lars Anderson has four home runs in the month of July, doubling his season output…Catcher Ryan Lavarnway is the talk of the town as he has been tearing up Triple-A pitching since his call up from Portland a month ago. In 34 games Lavarnway is hitting .377 with 12 home runs and 33 RBI. He has hit 7 home runs over his last 9 games and has knocked 26 out of the park this year between Portland and Pawtucket…In his last seven appearances, reliever Michael Bowden has tossed 9 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering 4 hits, striking out 11 batters and picking up 5 saves…I always thought that the PawSox had a good enough roster to be in contention from the start. If they can continue this momentum and take advantage of the Buffalos and Rochesters of the world, then they should be able to continue to pressure Lehigh Valley. Pawtucket will also get one last shot at the IronPigs when they travel to Lehigh Valley next week for a four-game set.

Ready to Pounce or Catatonic? - The Rock Cats seem to be mired in the Bay of Mediocrity, stuck somewhere between Playoffville and a sub-.500 oblivion. By not taking advantage of the slipping Fisher Cats, New Britain has been surpassed by Reading and are now stuck in fourth place in the E.L.’s Eastern Division, one game back of the RPhils, two back of Trenton and 4 ½ behind New Hampshire…New Britain has lost the services of Liam Hendriks who got promoted to AAA Rochester on Monday where he started against the Durham Bulls and went 6 2/3 innings allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits…Chris Parmelee is the only Rock Cat to play in all 96 games this season. His 59 RBI are tied for fifth most in the league and his 60 runs scored are tied for third most…Pitcher Tyler Robertson was 4-13 last season as a starter for New Britain. This season, in a relief role, Robertson is 6-3 with 10 saves in 37 appearances…The Rock Cats must jump on the ball now with three more games remaining in a four game set against Western Division cellar dwellers Altoona. Then they can really gain some ground when they host front-running New Hampshire for four games next week. However, the Hendriks loss could be a big one for New Britain.

Patching the Holes - The New Hampshire Fisher Cats have stumbled into the second half of the season and are losing their grip on first place in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League, a spot they’ve held on to since June 16th. The Cats are 7-12 in the month of June, and are 3-6 since the All-Star break. In their last 14 games played versus the two worst teams in the Eastern League (Binghamton and Portland), the Cats are an abysmal 5-9…Centerfielder Anthony Gose has 45 stolen bases, one off the single season team record of 46 set just last season by Darrin Mastroianni. On the flip side, Gose has struck out 96 times this year, most on the team and fourth most in the league…First baseman Mike McDade hit his 34th double of the season on Monday versus Reading, pulling him within one of the team’s single season record of 35 set by David Smith in 2007...Manager Sal Fasano has to get the boys back on a consistent winning track, especially when 31 of their remaining 45 games are against opponents who currently have records over .500. The pitching hasn't been as dominant as it was early on in the season, but with Stewart, Alvarez, Carreno, Jenkins and Beck in the mix, they should be able to bear down and win some key games on the strength of their arms.

Shot of Padron? – The Portland Sea Dogs are 19 games under .500 and have pretty much been out of it since the second month of the season. But they do have the league’s highest team slugging percentage (.431) and second best team batting average (.275). Expect manager Kevin Boles to keep his troops inspired and fighting until the finish in an effort to not finish last in the league…The Sea Dogs have the Eastern League’s highest team ERA at 4.82 and the fewest saves with 13…Chih-Hsien Chiang’s 1.036 OPS is downright ridiculous. His closest competition in the Eastern League is Harrisburg’s Bill Rhinehart with a distant .989...In 10 games since his return, third baseman Will Middlebrooks is batting .361 with 24 RBI…I think I’d like to see Jorge Padron back up with Portland. Now I know I’m not an elite judge of talent by any means, and Padron is probably not destined for great things in the upper levels of baseball nor is he the answer to the Sea Dogs woes in any way, shape or form, but the dude has a little life in his bat and I enjoy watching him out there. He is batting .296 in 20 games with Class-A Salem.

Tiger Blood Is Still Sort of In – The Connecticut Tigers have four players on their team with some blood ties to the organization. Second baseman Colin Kaline is the grandson of Hall of Famer and Tiger great Al Kaline, Detroit manager Jim Leyland’s son Patrick is a catcher, outfielder Bo McClendon is the son of Detroit hitting coach and former Major Leaguer Lloyd, and pitcher Nicholas Avila is the cousin of Detroit’s All-Star catcher Alex Avila…Jason King’s 5 home runs are tied for third most in the New York-Penn League…Reliever Daniel Bennett has allowed only 2 earned runs in 11 innings of work with 6 saves and 13 strikeouts…The Tigers have yet-to-be shutout in 32 games this year…I think the key for Connecticut will be their experienced arms and Brennan Smith might be their best option. The offense has been fairly pedestrian thanks to its youth, but with time they could come around, or they could sink this team.

Swiping the Opportunity - The Lowell Spinners lead the New York-Penn with 31 home runs, which is 8 more than second place Hudson Valley. They have scored double digit runs in five games thus far this season. The team’s 298 offensive strikeouts are second most in the league… Seth Schwindenhammer and Travis Shaw are tied for second in the league with 6 home runs apiece…Outfielder Keury De La Cruz is tied for the league lead with 14 stolen bases, Garin Cecchini is third in the league with 12 steals, Jose Garcia is tied for fifth with 10 and Matty Johnson is tied for sixth with 9…Schwindenhammer leads the league with 54 strikeouts, 16 more than anyone else…Will speed kill the Spinners or can they maintain this pace and use it to their advantage? I think they may be alright if all of their pitching starts coming around and with the likes of Madison Younginer and Jason Garcia leading the way, they are already heading in the right direction. The offense is pretty good shape at this point.

Fe-Fi-Ho-Hum - The Vermont Lake Monsters are the only team in the New York-Penn that has not registered a shutout this season. They have been shutout on two occasions. The Lake Monsters 56 total stolen bases are tied with Lowell for most in the NYPL. Their 47 doubles are the lowest total in the league…Reliever T.J. Walz has only allowed 1 earned run in 16 2/3 innings. He has a 10-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio…Outfielder Chad Oberacker is batting .322 in July and is 6 for 7 in stolen base attempts… The Lake Monsters are seemingly a very undescript team. They don’t do anything great and they don’t do anything terrible, like most of the teams in the Stedler Division. Their bullpen has been their strong point thus far, but can they maintain in first place on their relievers alone? They will need a few players to step up and be leaders on the offensive side of the ball.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/21/11

Tri-City ValleyCats (Jonas Dufek 3-0, 2.35) GAME 1
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Luis Angel Sanchez 2-2, 4.31)

Tri-City ValleyCats (Kyle Hallock 2-1, 1.86)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (N/A)

Lowell Spinners (Raynel Velette 0-0, 5.70)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Seth Frankoff 2-0, 3.34)

Lowell Spinners (Nefi Ogando 1-3, 2.52)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (N/A)

New Britain Rock Cats (Deinys Suarez 1-3, 4.39)
vs. Altoona Curve (Aaron Pribanic 5-8, 4.38)

Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Ryan Feierabend 9-5, 5.46)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Tony Pena Jr. 7-4, 3.43)

Portland Sea Dogs (Chris Balcom-Miller 1-4, 5.56)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Beck 7-3, 3.41)

Game of the DayIronPigs vs. PawSox – The PawSox have come off of the All-Star break on fire, winning 5 of 7 games and more importantly 3 straight wins over first place Lehigh Valley. Pawtucket is now just one game back of the IronPigs in the I.L. North with one game left against the front runners tonight before heading out on an 8 game road trip. Ryan Feierabend gets his 18th start of the season for Lehigh Valley. He has faced the PawSox twice this season, going 0-2 while allowing 15 earned runs and 18 hits over 7 2/3 innings. Feierabend’s 19 home runs allowed (5 by the PawSox) this year are second most in the International League. Pawtucket’s Tony Pena Jr. gets the call for his sixth start of the year. He has quietly put together a solid season, splitting time between the pen and the rotation, and he has gone 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA over his last ten appearances. Pena has faced the IronPigs one time this season when he picked up a win in a relief appreance back on June 17th…The PawSox are season-high 12 games over .500 and are 8-3 against Lehigh Valley this season…Pawtucket and Lehigh Valley are tied for fourth most home runs in the International League with 92 each.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pitching Matchups 7/20/11

Connecticut Tigers (Tyler Barrett 1-1, 3.50)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (N/A)

Binghamton Mets (Robert Carson 2-8, 4.35)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 5-7, 6.69)

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Nate Bump 2-6, 6.34)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Kevin Millwood 5-0, 4.14)

Reading Phillies (Tyler Cloyd 3-2, 3.42)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Henderson Alvarez 5-4, 3.18)

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Ryan Verdugo 6-4, 3.69)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Blake Martin 1-2, 7.03)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Brent Powers 0-1, 5.40)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Miguel Pena 1-0, 3.00)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vermont falls to Lowell, 10-4 on Cowboy Monkey Night

Final Lowell 10, Vermont 4

WP - Jason Garcia (3-0)
LP - Tyler Vail (0-1)
S - Cervenka (1)

The night belonged to Garin Cecchini, who had his mother in the stands watching him play professional ball for the first time. Cecchini went 4-5 with 3 singles a double and three runs scored. The Spinners tandem of Jason Garcia (5) and Hunter Cevenka combined to strikeout 10 Lake Monsters, as the Spinners rolled 10-4 at LeLacheur in front of just shy of 5,000.

Top 9: Cervenka was back out there for the ninth and retired the Lake Monsters in order. Impressive showing by both Lowell pitchers tonight. Aaron Shipman flew out to left to end the game. Let the monkeys riding dogs herding goats commence!

"They ain't tied on, they ride because they love it." -- Team Ghost Riders Leader addressing rumors that he had attached his monkeys to the dogs without their consent...I can't make this up...

Bot 8: Michael Fabiaschi, who's listed as a second basemen for the Lake Monsters, tossed a perfect inning, including striking out the Hammer...

Top 8: In his third inning of relief the Lake Monsters finally got to Cevenka. Chad Lewis led off with a double and eventually scored on a wild pitch before Cervenka got Diomedes Lopez to pop out to short to end the inning. Through three innings Cervenka has allowed just 1 hit and fanned five in his three innings of work. Lowell 10, Vermont 4.

No one is warming for Lowell so I'd expect him out to finish things off in the ninth.

Bot 7: Jeff Urlaub replaced Bailey and things got very ugly for Vermont. Lowell broke the game open, batting around and scoring five runs to take a 10-3 lead. Garin Cecchini picked up his fourth hit of the game when he lined a double to left. He's currently riding a six-game hitting streak and has risen his average to .268 on the season.

De La Cruz singled in two runs off Urlaub's replacement T.J. Walz. Cecchini mercifully ended the inning with a fly out to center. Vermont made three errors in the inning. Lowell 10, Vermont 3.

Top 7: Cervenka continued to impress in the seventh, sending the Lake Monsters down in order and striking out (a potentially still dazed) Sean Jamieson in the process.

Bot 6: Lowell added an insurance run when Vermont botched an inning ending double-play ball off the bat of De La Cruz, allowing Matty Johnson to score.

De La Cruz was thrown out trying to steal second by Diomedes Lopez, who has impressed with his defense behind the plate tonight. Lowell 5, Vermont 3.

Top 6: Hunter Cervenka is on to replace Garcia, who has to feel encouraged with his outing. Garcia's final line is 5 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 5 Ks. He's inline to pick up his third win of the season (3-0). The three earned runs raise his ERA to 1.87 (33 innings pitched).

Cervenka had an interesting inning, striking out the side, while mixing in a walk to Chris Affinito and a wild pitch. (not exactly pitching to contact)

Bot 5: That's the night for Vail (4 innings, 4 runs, 7 hits, 1 walk, 1K). Old Way Back Wasdin (Vermont's new pitching coach) will have plenty to talk about with Vail, who never seemed comfortable tonight.

Drew Bailey replaced Vail and after getting Jason Thompson on a groundout to his counterpart, surrendered the third hit of the night for Garin Cecchini, who then stole second (11) with Travis Shaw at the plate. Shaw eventually worked the walk, but Bailey retired Moanaroa (K) and Schwindenhammer to escape the inning.

Top 5: The Lake Monsters finally got to Garcia (in a big way), as the first three batters of the inning reached base before Aaron Shipman doubled home two runs. A clearly rattled Garcia then plunked Jamieson in the helmet with something off speed to reload the bases for Oberacker. The Left fielder responded with a sac fly to deep right that Schwindenhammer made a nice over the shoulder play on. Garcia recovered to K Lewis and get Macklin to pop out to the mound (snow coned by Garcia) to avoid further damage. Lowell 4, Vermont 3.

Bot 4: Vail finally has a 1-2-3 inning, retiring the eight, nine, and one hitters in order.

Top 4: The only one slowing Garcia down in the fourth, was himself. For the third straight inning he struck out the leadoff batter (Chad Oberacker). Lewis grounded out to Thompson at second base before Xavier Macklin reached on an infield single that went in and out of the glove of Jason Garcia. The hurler atoned for his miscue retiring Jordan Tripp unassisted to end the inning.

And here's our first Team Ghost Riders sighting. Monkeys riding dogs...herding goats... It just never gets old. (watching it reminds me of the movie Grandma's Boy....not exactly sure why)

Bot 3: Lowell added an insurance run in the third. Garin Cicchini picked up his second hit of the game to lead off the inning. Travis Shaw flew out to center. Boss Moanaroa improved to 2-2 as well with a single to right and the "Hammer" followed with a walk to load the bases for Hernandez, who hit a sacrifice fly to deep right that scored Cicchini (holy crap is that a run on sentence - just imagine me taking a deep breath and saying it all really fast). The Hammer got a bit greedy and was thrown out trying to tag and move into scoring position. Lowell 4, Vermont 0.

- I could be wrong but it appears three of the four children in the Kentucky Derby Race were injured..

Top 3: Garcia seems to be settling in nicely. He retired the side in order, striking out Sam Roberts before getting Aaron Shipman to roll over on a change up and Sean Jamieson to fly out weakly to left field.

The line for Garcia - 3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 3Ks

Bot 2: Vail retired Garcia (6-3) and De La Cruz (line out to left) before Jason Thompson singled and was promptly thrown out (by a lot) trying to steal second to end the inning.

FYI: Luigi won the mascot dash in a tighter race than usual (it was equally as dirty as always).

Top 2: A quick inning for Garcia, as he retired the Lake Monsters in order. Hernandez highlighted the inning with an impressive grab, as he lunged over the Vermont dug out's railing to end Diomedes Lopez's at bat prematurely (ESPN would likely rank the catch in the 6-9 range on an average night's top ten).

Garcia has now allowed just one earned run in his past 12 innings.

Bot 1: The Spinners wasted no time getting on the board, Keury De La Cruz led off the game with a double and scored after Vermont's Tyler Vail misplayed Jason Thompson's bunt. Garlin Cicchini singled to left before the Boss cleared the bases with an opposite field double to the gap. After a fly out and a strikeout Jayson Hernandez laced a single to right, Boss was held at third, in what was in all likelihood a good decision. It took a nice play in the hole from Lake Monster SS Sean Jamieson to retire Matty Johnson and the Spinners. After one - Lowell 3, Vermont 0.

Top 1: Vermont looked to be on to something after Jamieson led off the game with a sharp single up the middle and Oberacker drew a free pass, but Garcia battled back to strike out Chad Lewis and induce Macklin to hit into a 5-3 double-play to end the inning.

Starting Lineups..

SS - Jamieson
LF - Oberacker
3B - Lewis
DH - Macklin
RF - Tripp
C - Lopez
1B - Affinito
2B - Roberts
CF - Shipman

P - Vail (0-0, 2.25)

CF - De La Cruz
2B - Thompson
3B - Cecchini
DH - Shaw
1B - Moanaroa
RF - "The Hammer"
C - Hernandez
LF - Johnson
SS - Garcia

P - Jason Garcia (2-0, 1.13)

Pitching Matchups 7/19/11

Binghamton Mets (Brandon Moore 6-7, 4.14)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Michael Lee 1-4, 5.33)

Connecticut Tigers (Matt Crouse 1-1, 2.92)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Nicholas Tropeano 0-2, 3.43)

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Brian Bass 4-7, 4.09)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Felix Doubront 1-3, 3.38)

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Henry Sosa 5-2, 2.68)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Steve Hirschfeld 6-5, 3.56)

Reading Phillies (J.C. Ramirez 7-9, 4.22)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 2-2, 4.02)

Verrmont Lake Monsters (Tyler Vail 0-0, 2.25)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Jason Garcia 2-0, 1.13)

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/18/11

Connecticut Tigers (Brennan Smith 1-2, 2.77)
vs. Hudson Valley Renegades (Andrew Bellatti 0-3, 2.77)

Lowell Spinners (Luis Diaz 2-1, 3.24)
vs. Brooklyn Cyclones (Marcos Camarena 1-2, 2.66)

Binghamton Mets (Matt Harvey 0-2, 9.24)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Alex Wilson 8-4, 2.85)

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (N/A)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Felix Doubront 1-3, 3.38)

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eric Surkamp 7-3, 1.78)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Liam Hendriks 8-2, 2.70)

Reading Phillies (Austin Hyatt 7-5, 4.44)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Joel Carreno 7-6, 3.32)

Aberdeen IronBirds (Parker Bridwell 2-3, 4.39)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Kurt Wunderluch 0-3, 9.69)

Game of the DayFlying Squirrels vs. Rock Cats – It’s a battle of two third place teams with identical 48-44 records, as the Richmond Flying Squirrels pull into New Britain for a three game set. Of course this series will be vital to both team’s hopes of getting full immersed in any playoff activity and to kick things off in the proper fashion tonight’s game will showcase two of the best pitchers in the and Eastern League. Richmond starts Eric Surkamp, whose lead leading 1.78 ERA is third best in all of Minor League Baseball. Surkamp also has the second best WHIP (1.11) in the Eastern League and his 114 strikeouts are third best in the league. He picked up his first win of the season against the Rock Cats back on May 2nd when he struck out 10 batters. New Britain counters with Liam Hendriks, who has the league's fourth best ERA (2.70) and third best WHIP (1.14). In 90 innings of work this season Hendriks has only allowed 18 walks and his two complete games are tied for most in the E.L. Surkamp's last loss came on June 3rd against Reading; Hendrik's last loss was back on May 19th versus Harrisburg…Richmond has a 16-27 record on the road this year, good enough for second worst in the E.L.; New Britain is 23-23 at home…Richmond has a league worst .236 team batting average and they have scored the fewest runs in the league with 363…New Britain’s Yangervis Solarte has hit safely in 9 of his last 10 games and is batting .441 in that stretch.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/16/11

New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 5-7, 3.96)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Stephen Fife 10-3, 3.59)

Durham Bulls (Brian Baker 6-6, 5.94)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Matt Fox 5-3, 4.82)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Zach Stewart 4-5, 4.52)
vs. Binghamton Mets (Tobi Stoner 4-3, 5.73)

Aberdeen IronBirds (Mike Wright 0-0, 3.00)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (J.C. Menna 2-1, 4.26)

Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer 0-2, 3.15)
vs. Brooklyn Cyclones (Randy Fontanez 0-0, 4.76)

Connecticut Tigers (Wilsen Palacios 1-1, 4.11)
vs. Hudson Valley Renegades (N/A)

Game of the DayRock Cats vs. Sea Dogs - Last season the Portland Sea Dogs owned the New Britain Rock Cats, posting up a 19-8 record in their season series. This season however, the lowly Sea Dogs will be happy to finish up their season series against the Rock Cats today as they are 8-15 against New Britain this time around. Eastern League wins leader Stephen Fife gets tasked with trying to eke out one more versus New Britain at Hadlock Field today. Fife, fresh off of his E.L. All-Star appearance, has notched five wins over his last seven starts, with two no decisions coming in games versus New Hampshire. He will be opposed by New Britain’s Bobby Lanigan, whose 100 innings pitched is third most in the E.L. this year. Lanigan boasts a solid 65-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season and he is 3-1 against the Sea Dogs this season… Portland’s Chih-Hsien Chiang has 8 multi-hit games over his last 10 and has a batting average of .500 with 10 extra base hits, 12 RBI and 12 runs scored over that span…The Rock Cats have already won three more games this season (47) than they did during their last-place campaign in 2010 when they finished with their worst record in franchise history at 44-98.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pitching Matchups 7/16/11

New Britain Rock Cats (Deinys Suarez 1-3, 4.19)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Chris Balcom-Miller 5-7, 6.49)

Lowell Spinners (Raynel Velette 0-0, 4.95)
vs. Brooklyn Cyclones (Jeffrey Walters 1-2, 3.04)

Durham Bulls (Matt Torra 0-0, 5.40)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Tony Pena Jr. 7-4, 2.74)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Beck 7-2, 3.36)
vs. Binghamton Mets (Collin McHugh 1-2, 5.06)

Aberdeen IronBirds (Matthew Hobgood NR)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Seth Frankoff 2-0, 3.80)

Connecticut Tigers (Luis Angel Sanchez 2-2, 4.44)
vs. Hudson Valley Renegades (N/A)

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/15/11

New Britain Rock Cats (Brett Jacobson 3-4, 4.18)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 5-7, 6.49)

Durham Bulls (Alexander Torres 6-6, 3.30 ERA)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Kevin Millwood 4-0, 4.50 ERA)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Henderson Alvarez 4-4, 3.25)
vs. Binghamton Mets (Robert Carson 2-7, 4.40)

Williamsport Crosscutters (Lino Martinez 2-2, 3.58)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Miguel Pena 1-0, 3.38)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Brent Powers 0-1, 3.71)
vs. Aberdeen IronBirds (David Baker 1-2, 2.45)

Connecticut Tigers (Tyler Barrett 1-1, 3.46)
vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (N/A)

Game of the DayBulls vs. PawSox – Now that the second half has officially kicked off, teams will be kicking, punching and clawing their way towards the postseason and both the Durham Bulls and the PawSox find themselves in the thick of things in the International League. Both teams are in second place in their respective divisions and should be players in the the wild card chase. Currently the Bulls(50-41) sit a ½ game out of first place in the South and the PawSox (51-41) 3 games out in the North. Alex Torres gets his 18th start of the season for Durham tonight. His 3.30 ERA is 14th best in the league, but his 1.54 WHIP is the highest among eligible hurlers. Kevin Millwood gets his ninth start for the PawSox tonight in search of his 5th victory since joining the team. Millwood did pick up a win against Durham back on June 6th when he went 6 2/3 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 5 hits…The PawSox lineup will get a boost tonight and tomorrow when Boston outfielder Carl Crawford begins his rehab from a hamstring injury…The PawSox current win streak is the fourth time they have strung together four or more consecutive wins this season.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

All Star thoughts from Section 102

Where I just kind of ramble about the Eastern League All-Star Game and my experiences from Northeast Delta Dental Stadium some 24+ hours after the fact...

- Although it would have been nice to have been up in the press box watching the game from some of the best seats in the house, I was happy with my decision to take things in from the front row of Section 102. It showed that there are so many dynamic angles in which to watch the game unfold and sitting two feet from the visiting bullpen was certainly a different view of things.

- The Fisher Cats bat retrieving dog, and crowd fave Ollie, may not have been the most popular dog on the field last night. That honor went to the two Team Ghost Riders dogs that trampled across the field with monkey jockeys on their backs, herding goats into a pen. This troupe seems to be making their way across all Minor League parks in the country and it’s a MUST see…easily the biggest crowd pleaser of the evening.

- The rain threatened things early on, but as the player’s were being announced and the anthem sung, the rain stopped and a perfect rainbow (not a double) popped up off beyond the center field wall. A nice touch by the city of Manchester!

- Surprised, and psyched, to see George Bell throw out the first pitch…not so surprised by New Hampshire Governor John Lynch throwing out a first pitch. I swear he throws one out every single time I’m at NeDDS.

- The Hilton Garden Inn that overlooks the park had a few large Harrisburg Senators signs in the windows, on separate floors. It was nice to see that kind of enthusiasm and support for one of the other teams in the fray. Also saw a lot of Trenton Thunder, Portland Sea Dogs and Altoona Curve gear being worn around the park…nice to see all of the other fans in the mix.

- However it was a bit disappointing to see empty seats in the house, including pretty much all of Section 117 in right field. I assume the weather may have scared off some walk-ups around game time, but they still should have banged that place out. Can’t blame the Fisher Cats organization, they promoted the crap out of it and they put on a top notch show.

- It was impressive to watch some of the Western pitchers warm up, most especially Erie’s Jacob Turner. The one major surprise from the Western pen was when 5’11” pitcher Austin Adams of the Akron Zips, came into the game and consistently put the stadium scoreboard gun at readings of 98, 99, 00 and even 01! For those that don’t know, the 00 and 01 are actually speeds of 100 and 101 miles per hour, as the scoreboard readout only has two place markers on it. He didn't look that fast warming up.

- As many of the amazing scribes who were at the game have already reported…and as I have swooned about forever…Trenton Thunder pitcher Manny Banuelos is the real deal. He was VERY impressive last night. There is something about the speed in which he snaps his arm through his delivery that is special, especially given his smaller size.

- Speaking of size and Trenton pitchers, Dellin Betances is HUGE and he was introduced between what had to be two of his shorter teammates so that when they were standing along the first base line it looked almost like a little league team and how there is always that one kid who is just that much bigger than everyone else and needs to bring his birth certificate everywhere to prove he is really only twelve but just freakishly huge for his age…but we’ll get back to Betances in a second.

- It was great to see North Conway, New Hampshire native Jeff Locke get such a warm reception in his homecoming. However things got kind of weird when he was warming up. Some kid came down to the railing right next to where we were sitting and crouched down as Locke loosened up. Since other old friends were popping there head in, we assumed it was another crony from Locke’s past, until the dude started saying stuff towards Locke such as “Yah, ya still pitch like ya did in high school,” and “I see ya still throw the same junk.” Yet he was saying these things in a more under his breathe manner, than jokingly at him and we waited for the proverbial, “I could still hit ya,” from the clown, but it never came. We determined that he was a Jeff Locke stalker from his high school days. He departed without ever really trying to get Locke’s attention…very awkward all around.

- Caleb Joseph, the Western Division’s starting catcher from Bowie, seemed to truly "get it" when it came down to having fun with it all and enjoying the moment. He almost got thrown out by Moises Sierra on a single to right field earlier in the came and was good-natured about that, staring out at Sierra as if in shock the play was that close. When he returned to the bullpen to warm up the pitchers after he was removed from the action, he was snapping jokes with nearby fans and willingly signing everything for the kids that came up to him.

- After West closer Cory Burns (Akron) trotted from the pen in the middle of the 9th inning, we decided to hit the Sam Adams Bar and Grill, which couldn’t have been more perfect on the timing as the rains started to come down once again. The cooler part of this was that they had a reception of sorts for all involved with the game (front office types, stadium workers, the players and the one and only Kevin Gray from the Union Leader). A lot of the players took full advantage of their open bar (we were still forced to pay) and a few saddled right up next to us to slug down some Jack Daniels shots…they all had games tonight…I'm guessing it may have been a long ride home (or wayward destination), a long morning and a even longer night at the park tonight...but I won't go naming any names...

- ...With one exception...recalling one Dellin Betances, who joined in on the after-game festivities at the bar…that dude is HUGE…confirmed!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 7/13/11

Manchester, NH
Western Division (Casey Crosby 5-3, 3.73)
vs. Eastern Division (Zach Stewart 4-5, 4.52)

Williamsport Crosscutters (Adam Morgan 1-0, 0.00)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Luis Diaz 2-1, 3.79)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Kurt Wunderlich 0-2, 11.00)
vs. Aberdeen IronBirds (Parker Bridwell 1-3, 4.29)

Connecticut Tigers (Brennan Smith 1-2, 3.32)
vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (N/A)

Salt Lake City, UT (can be seen on MLB Network)
International League (Zach McAllister 8-3, 2.97)
vs. Pacific Coast League (Brad Mills 7-7, 3.97)

Check out all of the action live on MiLB Gameday Audio by clicking on the banner below: