The IronPigs pounded out 11 hits and received 7 free passes, yet it didn’t translate into a win yesterday afternoon at Coca Cola Park as the Pigs went down 6-5.
The league-best record in 1-run games is taking a hit now. While the good guys won one on this past four-game, two-team set, they’ve now gone down by that count three times in a row. Perhaps regression to the mean. Perhaps just lack of attention to detail for the pitching, fielding and base-running. Add in 12 left on base yesterday and it’s not a formula for winning. However, guys are playing hard, new faces are settling into roles, and I predict a hot streak to come.
Grady Sizemore has been leading off, and had a DH-day yesterday as a break from CF. I’d expect to see him back in CF every day until perhaps another break during the Rochester-then-West massive road trip which starts July 4. I totally get the July 14 opt-out (unofficial) but I wonder if he noticed the amount of minor league travel he was in for. He’s been playing hard, and went 2-4 yesterday but left four on base. He’s hitting .308 with the small sample. I predict that his timing will continue to improve and we’ll see more power numbers shortly.
Tyler Henson has been less sharp of late. While he’s been our most reliable hitter through the 2014 season he left seven on base during a 1-for-5 day hitting second. His average is down to .261. I’m hoping to see a resurgence on the road trip and would consider perhaps another spot in the order temporarily.
Maikel Franco had an 0-for-5 day leaving 5 on base. He didn’t strike out at all; however, some at-bats have looked better than others. Like Leandro Castro, it sometimes feels like he’s trying to hit home runs too much. Franco seems like a happy-go-lucky player, and pretty laid back, but–and remember, no one ever asked me to give psychological advice to baseball players, or anyone else for that matter–I’d tell him to relax and hit the ball hard. Some of them will go out. No need to take crazy swings. Just ask Sebastian Valle, who seems to be really squaring the ball up well, lately. Two strikeouts yesterday notwithstanding. One was on an 0-2 pitch which he chased, but otherwise he seems to be having good at-bats and finding good pitches to hit. It’s good to see, and worlds better than his stint with the ‘Pigs in 2012.
And Leandro Castro had another good day in the stat book. He’s beginning to use his good approach hitting lower in the order, but will occasionally forget everything and swing for the fences. And, he’ll lose concentration on the base-paths and in the field. He’ll need to dial up that part of his game if he wants to make it on the next level. And he should keep in mind that there may be some openings in that Phillies outfield if things keep up.
Nate Spears is playing really well. He held down Shortstop yesterday after having not played there in a game for a couple years. He went 2-for-2 with 2 BB, 2 runs, and 2 RBI. He runs well and should probably be leading off, or at least hitting in the top 3.
Jim Murphy, who was not supposed to play yesterday until Cam Perkins’ paperwork didn’t come through, has been having better at-bats lately. I’d like to see him get a couple dingers up in Scranton these next two days. He’s having better at-bats and striking out less of late. It could be the days off helping him, or a drop in the order taking the pressure off. Despite an 0-for-3 day yesterday, he hit the ball hard and drew 2 BB.
Barry Enright and Chris Bootcheck are two of my favorite players on the team. However, both are starting to give up more hard contact than I’d like. Some of the hits have been weak-contact, lucky grounders. Still, the HR’s are troubling. Both guys are veterans, though, who don’t need me telling them what to do. I’m confident they’ll make some adjustments and put forth their best to keep the ball in the park as much as possible.
Ethan Martin is rounding back into form. He had a nice inning, but when he came out for another found himself in a bit of trouble. Young players need to play–that’s what the minors are for–and I look forward to his continued improvement. Still, it was good to see him look better than the two recent disaster outings.
Phillippe Aumont had been battling some finger tendonitis, but pitched really well over 2.1 Saturday night, in a game the RailRiders were threatening to run away with. The Pigs were able to pull within one late thanks to the shutdown stuff from the Big Canadian. His heater is around 91 right now, but he had reasonable command of it the other night. It must have been moving around a bit, too, as the RailRider hitter had a lot of difficulty getting a bat even near it. His 84MPH breaking pitch is still somewhat of an adventure for the catcher and the fans sitting nearby. However, it was keeping the hitters honest and no one was getting any kind of contact on it, either.
The “Kram” Lineup:
1. Spears SS
2. Sizemore CF
3. Susdorf DH
4. Perkins LF
5. Murphy 1B
6. Valle C
7. Castro RF
8. Franco 3B
9. Canzler 2B
….giving Henson a day off.
Tonight in Moosic, Brad Lincoln takes the mound. Hopefully a good performance if his legs are feeling OK and he’s out to prove that he should have had the opportunity to pitch in Philly Saturday night. More on our trip to Moosic coming up later today.