“In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency,
not to worry about the numbers.
If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted,
if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end.”
Darin Ruf went deep to left with an oppo shot in his first Coca Cola Park at-bat of 2016. He added a single, and contributed right away, which was nice.
Nick Williams had two hits, and made a couple outstanding catches in center, which won’t show up in the box score–such as the one seen above.
Mark Appel. Where to begin? First, remember that I wouldn’t be paying such close attention if I didn’t like him. You never saw me breaking down Pat Misch, did you? (disclaimer: I never met Pat Misch. Just the funniest name I could think of right away.)
Appel started the game with a steady diet of 2-seam fastballs down. He was pounding the inside and outside of the plate with reasonable effectiveness, but was also slightly inefficient. I didn’t see any of those 4-seam numbers, 95-97 stuff, as in some previous starts. In the first two innings, just a couple sliders and changes, but maybe a couple more than in the past where he was almost exclusively heaters early.
In the top of the third, he yielded his first baserunner with a lead-off, four pitch, walk. He got a pop up, then the pitcher sac bunted before he struck-out top-prospect Trea Turner for the third out. A clean top of the fourth, and Appel had a no-hitter going.
But it never felt like it. It felt like he was living on the edge a bit. Sometimes that’s what the good ones do, though, so not being critical there. Some adversity in the fifth. Once again, a lead-off walk. At least that gives him the opportunity to work on the stretch, right? Two K’s though and he’s looking good! No hitter through 5? Nope. A bleeder that neither Alonso nor Featherston could get was the first hit of the game. He was able to get the pitcher out and get out of the inning unscathed and fans gave him a nice round of applause for taking a no-no to two outs in the fifth.
Back to the top of the lineup in the top of the sixth. Fastball still 90-92 T93, but command suffering. Secondary pitches now somewhat ineffective because they rarely find the zone. Turner singles. Then, two straight walks. Bases loaded no outs is no way to go through life. A pop up, but then another single and two runs come home. A ground-out with no play at the plate gets the second out, but now the game is tied 3-3. James Russell comes on to walk two and get a fly-out in typical “James Russell Experience” fashion.
Final line for Appel: 5.2/3H/3R-ER/4BB/6K. 85 pitches, 50 strikes. Overall, I think a slight improvement over his last two starts. I think they’re probably working with him on consistency of his delivery both in the windup as well as out of the stretch. I think they’ve ditched the 4-seam for now because, perhaps, it’s messing with the consistency of his other pitches somehow–but I’m only guessing. I’d like to see a more effective breaking pitch, and I’d like to see him use it more often and throw it for strikes. It’s very possible that he will, but that it wasn’t part of the game plan last night. I’m not sure making him a reliever really solves things too much. I think he has the mentality to be a starter and that he needs to keep grinding, working on the details, and refining his game. I think it’s there–maybe not to be dominant–to be a successful starting pitcher at both AAA and in the MLB.
The Pigs fall to 1-5 on Mondays, and 1.5 games back in the division. Syracuse takes over first with the win and Scranton’s loss to Louisville.
Ruf should be playing most every day, either in Left Field like last night, or at first base. Look for Andrew Knapp behind the plate most nights as well, although I thought the defensive Logan Moore was a good choice to handle Appel last night. Michael Mariot, a righty reliever, begins a rehab with the IronPigs tonight. He’s not been tremendously impressive in Clearwater or Reading, but now it’s time for him to open things up. He came over via waiver claim in the off-season, from Kansas City, where he spent most of last season with AAA Omaha (42 g, 4-2, 2.32).
7:05PM first pitch, 5:45PM doors, 5:30PM club.
RHP Alec Asher (3-0, 0.40) goes for the Pigs versus TBD for Syracuse. LHP Aaron Laffey (3-0, 1.55) had been scheduled, setting up quite a pitcher’s duel, but as of WordPress time, has been scratched.
Irish Heritage Night. There will be an Irish band as you enter the ballpark, and other Irish shenanigans. Wear your Irish T-Shirt from a previous season, if you still have it.
I usually make it to about 64 of the scheduled 72 games in a season–at least the last couple seasons. That number may fluctuate with rain dates and such. Tonight is the first game I’ll miss this season. So no game equals no hat and keeps my streak alive (kinda).
Don’t like that we pounded out 14 hits to Syracuse’ 7 and still lost. Walks will do that to you. Still a good showing with Alonso still pretty fresh off the DL (made a nice stab in the field; stole a base), Logan Moore fresh up from AA, and the first game of the latest Ruf era. I went on about Mark Appel above–he’ll start again Saturday which may draw me to Coca Cola Park and away from the SteelHawks’ crucial game versus Harrisburg at the arena. At least one guy told me he’s skipping arena football for baseball on Saturday.
Link of the Day
Our friend Matt Winkleman wrote this mailbag about prospects up and down the Phillies system. It was the best thing I read yesterday.
See you Wednesday morning,