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Old 03-30-2019, 07:27 PM   #2781
Westheim
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The week began with Dan Delgadillo setting up camp on the DL with a torn biceps, meaning he was in all likelihood done for the season. Same for the rest of the team. The reeling Raccoons did not immediately know how to even respond to those news… Dave Martinez was called up from AAA. The 23-year-old righty had done some starting and some closing for the Alley Cats, going 3-6 with 11 SV and a 4.14 ERA. We needed him as starter now, probably, for about three or four games, until we’d be totally sick of him once more. Martinez made three appearances, two starts, for only seven innings and an 0-2 record and 9.00 ERA in ’28. Martinez had pitched on Sunday, so would not make a start on Tuesday, but might take over Yusneldan’s spot …?

Ah, I just don’t know things anymore…….

Raccoons (54-51) @ Bayhawks (48-57) – July 30-August 1, 2029

The Baybirds were 15 games out in the South, but held a 4-2 edge over the Raccoons this season. If not for major miracles (small ones won’t do), the Critters would lose the season series for the third straight year. San Francisco sat sixth in runs scored, fifth in runs allowed, but so far the mix hadn’t gelled.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (5-7, 4.48 ERA) vs. Jesus Blanco (3-6, 4.13 ERA)
TBD vs. Alex Lopez (8-8, 4.92 ERA)
Mark Roberts (10-8, 3.34 ERA) vs. Matt Huf (12-7, 3.38 ERA)

All righties. All winners, probably.

Tuesday will probably be Sean Rigg for us. Rigg also pitched on Sunday, but it’s not like he has demi-prospect value or we care much about him. Also, it’s not like he would have gone six or seven either…

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – CF Mora – C Tovias – RF Gomez – P Nomura
SFB: LF Hawthorne – C Carpenter – 1B Caraballo – RF Orozco – SS Pulido – CF E. Rendon – 3B D. Cobb – 2B J. Cruz – P Blanco

Stalker’s double and Harenberg’s single helped the Critters scratch out a first-inning run, which was not something Nomura could work with. Quelle surprise! In all fairness, it took the Bayhawks a 1-out triple by Jose Cruz in the bottom 3rd, after which Nomura failed to remove the opposing pitcher on strikes. Blanco hit a sac fly and tied the game at one before Nunley removed George Hawthorne on a nifty play. The Coons were not particularly close to scoring another run despite dropping the odd single at times. The Bayhawks loaded the bases in the bottom 5th; Dan Cobb was hit, Jose Cruz singled, and then disrespect raged as Jesus Blanco was told to swing! He popped out, but Hawthorne reached on a Harenberg error (his second in the game), putting three on with one out. Eric Carpenter flew out to right, Cobb went for home, but Rafael Gomez showed some arm power (if not bat power…) and threw him out at the plate, ending the inning. Bottom 6th, the bases were stashed even faster. Tomas Caraballo singled, and Nomura walked them full. The dismayed Raccoons changed lefty for lefty here, because there was no way the Baybirds were not going to score umpteen runs on Nomura, who belonged in a black plastic bag rather than a brown uniform. Billy Brotman came on, whiffed Edwin Rendon for the first out, then got a grounder from Cobb that he lobbed to Tovias for a force out at the plate. Jose Cruz grounded out to Harenberg, and the game staggeringly remained tied. On to the seventh where seemingly nothing would happen until Dan Cobb threw away a Gomez grounder for a 2-base error. Magallanes batted for Brotman, singled to left, and Gomez dashed for home, scoring the go-ahead run. Ramos and Stalker hit doubles, plating two more runs for a 4-1 lead, which the Critters instantly blew in the bottom of the same inning. Blanco reached on a Nunley error, Stonecipher gave up a double to Hawthorne, and Garavito allowed a 2-run double to Tomas Caraballo and an RBI single to Jose Pulido to get the game tied at four. Good job, boys! Good job!

The eighth and ninth were uneventful, sending a pitching-strapped team to extra innings, where Kevin Surginer, in his second inning of work, walked Dave Bray and Jose Pulido to begin the bottom 10th, then still got around them with two whiffs and groundout. The Critters went on to have Rafael Gomez on base with a single in the 11th, then thrown out at third base on a soft single by Shane Ivey. Fleischer pitched two frames before the Coons got Mora, Tovias, and even Wilson Rodriguez on base in the 13th, but Ramos flew out to center to strand them all. By the bottom 13th, the Coons employed Josh Boles, the last established reliever not named Sean Rigg that was available. Two innings later, a throwing error by Cruz put Mora on second base with one out in the 15th against righty Mike Bass. Tovias flew out to left, Gomez struck out, nobody scored. Boles was squelched dry for a third inning, then saw the Coons do nothing at all in the top of the 16th. Dave Martinez ended up in the game in the bottom of the 16th, with Bass leading off; it was the second time a Bayhawks reliever batted in the game. He grounded out, and Martinez retired the Baybirds in order to get us to the 17th, where another Cobb error put Jamieson on first to get going, and this FINALLY helped end the scoring drought – Kevin Harenberg doubled down the line, Jamieson raced all the way around and scored, and it was no longer 4-4. Harenberg ended up stranded, and there was nobody to relief Martinez, who issued a leadoff walk to Caraballo in the bottom 17th. Bray walked on four pitches, Pulido flew out to left. Then… (gasps for air) Then Martinez drilled Edwin Rendon. That loaded the sacks with one out. They remained loaded when a 1-2 pitch bored into Dan Cobb, but this time a run scored. Baffling. Utmost bafflement. My jaw refused to undrop. I could not even rage. This was too stupid. And then? Then Jose Cruz struck out, and they brought up Bass to bat again… and Bass popped out.

On to the 18th! Dave Martinez got to bat (and got rung up by a tired Bass), before Ramos walked. Stalker grounded to Cobb, who made his third throwing error, putting Coons in scoring position with one out for Jamieson. Jamieson popped out (…!!), and then Harenberg zinged a single into center to plate the runners. Nunley grounded out. The funny thing with a 2-run lead was… we still had to use Martinez for the bottom 18th, or go to Rigg, who was by no means a guaranteed save, and then we would need a starter for Tuesday that we did not have… Hawthorne struck out. Mike Pizzo grounded out to short. Caraballo grounded out to Harenberg. 7-5 Blighters. Stalker 4-9, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Harenberg 4-9, 2B, 4 RBI; Magallanes (PH) 1-1, RBI; Ivey (PH) 1-1; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1; Surginer 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K; Fleischer 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K; Boles 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

(looks very pale)

Matt Nunley went 0-for-9 with a crippling error, which was not the sort of performance I cherished from even my dearest veterans. A few veterans, including him, got the Tuesday game off after playing all 18 innings; this included obviously Elias Tovias, who caught all 18 innings, also Rafael Gomez and Abel Mora.

Sean Rigg (0-1, 4.56 ERA) won the starting assignment for Tuesday by default, and the Coons sent Dave Martinez back to AAA after pitching three innings for the win because we needed a ready arm direly. And thus Steve Costilow was flown up, simply for being ready and rested. He had a 6.47 ERA in 40 appearances across the last three seasons.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – C Ivey – 3B Gerster – CF Magallanes – RF Rodriguez – P Rigg
SFB: LF Hawthorne – C Pizzo – 1B Caraballo – RF Orozco – CF E. Rendon – SS Pulido – 3B J. Cruz – 2B D. Cobb – P A. Lopez

Deep down in the bottom of my heart I wished for rain and any decision after five innings, just to reset the pitching staff. Before we could go there, however, Sean Rigg put the Coons in front with a sac fly with the bags stacked in the second inning. Ivey crossed the plate there after leading off with a single, while Magallanes and Rodriguez had drawn walks and were still on. Magallanes came around on Ramos’ 2-out single, but Stalker popped out to Ruben Orozco to end the inning. Astonishingly, Rigg took that lead and ran with it! He allowed one hit through five innings (!!), which was a double to the opposing pitcher (!?!?), and while he also walked three, the Bayhawks never got anything to mesh. Also kudos to Magallanes, who robbed at least two doubles in the gap. The Raccoons tacked on a run in the sixth, which Harenberg opened with a double to right, Rodriguez plating him with two outs, but the Bayhawks broke through Rigg, and then Brotman, in the same inning. Caraballo hit a leadoff jack, and Rigg put Rendon and Pulido on base. When Brotman replaced him he got a foul pop from Jose Cruz that Rodriguez touched, yet dropped in foul ground. Cruz ended up doubling down the line to shorten the score to 3-2, and the Bayhawks got Pulido in from third base on Cobb’s groundout, knotting the score.

Brotman got the Coons through the seventh, after which they were stuck with Steve Costilow unless they took a lead, which was unlikely while employing… Steve Costilow. Eric Carpenter pinch-hit and led off with a single. Rendon walked. Ivan Pena singled. Three on, no outs, and this was getting sticky in the eighth. Jose Cruz grounded to the mound, and Costilow fired home to kill the lead runner. Cobb popped out. PH Dave Bray got rung up by ****ing Steve Costilow …! Three went on, three went stranded. But the Coons would not score in the ninth; and thus Costilow remained in the game. He walked George Hawthorne on four pitches to begin the bottom 9th, then hung one to Mike Pizzo that was never seen again. 5-3 Bayhawks. Ramos 3-5, RBI; Jamieson 2-4; Brotman 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Interlude: Trade

Just before midnight on July 31, the Raccoons struck a deal with the Gold Sox that involved five players.

The Coons sent SP Rin Nomura (5-7, 4.32 ERA) and AA SS Miguel Ortíz to the Gold Sox and would receive two veteran swingman pitchers in southpaw Allen Reed (3-2, 5.03 ERA) and righty Kyle Anderson (3-3, 2.23 ERA), as well as AA SP Bernie Chavez.

This deal gets rid of an irritating, infuriating pitcher, adds two pitchers to eat innings and more innings, but also gives us a prospect upgrade. Neither of the two guys – both 20 years old – were ranked, but Chavez had some toxic stuff and seemed more or less done with AA level batters.

And of course Kyle Anderson was with the Coons from 2026 through 2028!

By Wednesday morning, Steve Costilow (0-1, 18.00 ERA) was sent back to AAA, while the Coons added both Reed and Anderson to the roster and rotation. Tom Shumway was moved to the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster.

Raccoons (54-51) @ Bayhawks (48-57) – July 30-August 1, 2029

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Magallanes – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – RF Gomez – 2B Baldwin – P Roberts
SFB: LF Hawthorne – 3B M. Martin – 1B Caraballo – RF Orozco – SS Pulido – CF E. Rendon – C Carpenter – 2B J. Cruz – P Huf

Huf walked three in the opening inning, but allowed only one run on Nunley’s sac fly, while Roberts opened his day with a 4-pitch walk to Hawthorne, who was removed on a Mike Martin double play grounder, and then Roberts ended up facing the minimum through three. All was well with Roberts through four, but the fifth began with an Orozco jack to tie a slow offensive game (two hits for Portland through five innings…), and then it went in quick order: Pulido double, Rendon triple, Carpenter double. All of a sudden, Roberts was serving nothing but tee balls. Two grounders and a pop ended the inning from there, but now the Bayhawks were up 3-1. It was Roberts’ last inning, too, as the Coons forced their own paw in the most stupid fashion in the sixth, in which Harenberg led off with a single, then was doubled off by Nunley. And THEN Tovias and Gomez hit singles, Rendon committed an error fielding the latter, and Baldwin was walked intentionally onto the open base. Three on, two outs, and Matt Jamieson batted for Roberts, and … got a grounder through Pulido!! Tovias scored, Gomez was sent around and scored, and Roberts was off the hook! Then Ramos struck out to strand a pair. *Ramos*.

After a scoreless sixth from Garavito, Magallanes led off the seventh with a walk, Huf’s sixth and final one. Alex Cordova replaced him. Mora grounded out, Harenberg was walked onto the open base, and Nunley flew out to left before Tovias walked with two down in a full count. That brought up Gomez with three aboard, Cordova ran another full count… and lost Gomez, too! Magallanes came across with the go-ahead run, Ivey batted for Baldwin and struck out, but one run just wasn’t going to be enough, wasn’t it? Up 4-3, Surginer held the bottom of the order at bay in the seventh, but the Bay consumed Ricky Ohl in the eighth as he nailed Ivan Pena, then got taken deep with two down and at 1-2 by Orozco. That one flipped the score, and was also the final mark on the scoreboard. The Coons had precious little against Dan McLin in the ninth… 5-4 Bayhawks. Magallanes 1-2, 3 BB; Tovias 2-4, BB; Jamieson (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI;

Raccoons (55-53) vs. Crusaders (52-54) – August 2-5, 2029

Wounded and bloodied, the Raccoons crawled home, where they would have to face the Crusaders for four games without rest, and it was just the perfect chance to drop into last place. New York wasn’t going anywhere themselves despite being only 5 1/2 games out in early August. Their offense was the worst in the league, netting not even four runs per game (but our pitching might give them a boost!), while their pitchers had conceded the fourth-fewest runs. The Coons had a 6-1 edge in the season series, which was about to change. During the week, the Crusaders had traded CL Brent Beene (0-1, 2.56 ERA, 38 SV) and a prospect to the Pacifics for C Jaiden Jackson (.297, 4 HR, 21 RBI), who had only been a backup with Los Angeles.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (3-3, 2.23 ERA) vs. Robby Gonzalez (5-9, 5.55 ERA)
Jamie O’Leary (1-4, 4.36 ERA) vs. Doug Moffatt (8-9, 3.15 ERA)
Allen Reed (3-2, 4.99 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (7-6, 4.09 ERA)
Sean Rigg (0-1, 4.35 ERA) vs. Mel Lira (6-12, 3.94 ERA)

All right-handers; so we would have to work in some off days for Ramos and Harenberg against righties. Ramos would make the start, right in the opener, despite an active 11-game hitting streak.

Meanwhile, the Critters’ four starters for this series had SEVEN starts between them on the season, and six of those were the rookie O’Leary’s… He also had the only win as a starter for the four this year…

Game 1
NYC: 3B Schmit – LF M. Owen – C Jai. Jackson – CF Coca – RF Ugolino – 2B T. Fuentes – 1B Espinosa – SS Laughery – P R. Gonzalez
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – C Ivey – RF Rodriguez – 2B Baldwin – P Anderson

Neither team did much of anything against the beleaguered pitcher at hand in the early innings, and Kevin Harenberg’s leadoff jack in the fourth was the only marker on the board in the first five frames. Anderson was 1-hitting the Crusaders at that point, but allowed a 1-out single to Andy Schmit in the sixth inning and then allowed a double down the leftfield line to Jaiden Jackson that tied up the contest at one. Fabien Ugolino drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, was bunted over, then scored on Juan Espinosa’s single. J.D. Laughery popped out, but with two outs Anderson managed to walk Robby Gonzalez on nine pitches, ending his day. Ricky Ohl got Schmit to ground out, but the Raccoons could not do any sort of lick against Gonzalez, who lasted eight innings. Had there ever been an opposing pitcher with a 5+ ERA that did NOT last eight innings against this team?? Stonecipher walked two, but somehow made it through the top of the eighth, and Garavito held the Crusaders short in the ninth, bringing up the 4-5-6 batters in a 2-1 game against righty Travis Giordano in the bottom of the ninth. Giordano was done with them in ten pitches. 2-1 Crusaders.

Game 2
NYC: 3B Schmit – LF M. Owen – CF Coca – C F. Delgado – RF Reardon – 1B Tadlock – 2B T. Fuentes – SS Cameron – P Moffatt
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – 1B Gomez – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – P O’Leary

O’Leary did what he could, allowing a third-inning jack to Joe Cameron while not getting raided for his pearls outright. The Crusaders hit three straight singles to lead off the fifth, but Tony Fuentes whiffed, Cameron hit only a sac fly, and Moffatt was eaten up on strikes to allow them only another run, which then was pulled back in the bottom 4th on a Rafael Gomez homer. That made it 2-1, tantalizingly close indeed. And yet… nothing happened. They just couldn’t get on base …!

O’Leary lasted seven in a fine outing, and nevertheless was on the 2-1 hook. Fleischer held the Crusaders tight in the eighth, but the Coons could not get past a 2-out walk by Jamieson in the bottom 8th before Nunley flew out to center. Ron Tadlock hit a leadoff single off Surginer in the ninth, but got picked off before the Crusaders could start to manufacture something. The Coons sent the 6-7-8 batters into the ninth inning against Carlos Marron, who had been removed from the rotation after the Crusaders had picked up Mel Lira. Gomez flew out to Ugolino in right, Harenberg hit for Rodriguez and singled, and the tying run was on base. Tovias flew out to left. Magallanes flew out to right. 2-1 Crusaders. Stalker 2-4, 2 2B; Gomez 2-4, HR, RBI; Harenberg (PH) 1-1; O’Leary 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, L (1-5);

I know, I know, they suck. But I am out of ideas what to do anymore…

Also… (shakes small transparent orange container) … also out of pills for the second time this week.

Game 3
NYC: 3B Schmit – LF M. Owen – CF Coca – C F. Delgado – RF Reardon – 1B Tadlock – 2B T. Fuentes – SS Cameron – P Lira
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – RF Gomez – C Tovias – P A. Reed

Kevin Harenberg homered to lead off the bottom 2nd, making up a run the Crusaders had cobbled together from a Matt Owen walk, Tony Coca hitting into a fielder’s choice, but stealing second, and then Felipe Delgado’s RBI single to left. The Crusaders continued to crowd Reed, though, stranding a pair in the third and a full set in the fourth when Cameron was walked intentionally onto first base with runners in scoring position and two outs, and Lira was rung up. In turn, Kevin Harenberg hit ANOTHER leadoff jack in the bottom 4th! That was TWO in ONE game! Homers! What!!??

Reed retired the Crusaders in order in the fifth, his final inning. Rain would take care of him, with a sudden shower and some lightning bursting over Raccoons Ballpark. The game went into an hour-long delay from which Reed would not emerge again, but the game did. Ramos and Stalker drew walks off Lira before he was hauled in as well, but the middle of the order summarily failed and stranded them on the corners. Top 6th, Stonecipher walked a pair but escaped on strikeouts, and Brotman retired the Crusaders on six pitches in the top 7th before Magallanes batted for him and singled to begin the bottom of the inning. “Rambam” Magallanes moved up on a Ramos grounder, then scored on Stalker’s double to left, the first of two consecutive 1-out doubles, with Jamieson also chipping in. This extended the score to 4-1 for Ohl and presumably Boles. Ohl allowed a leadoff jack to Tony Coca in the eighth; Boles allowed a leadoff jack to Tony Fuentes in the ninth. That did away with any cushion, and Boles also put on Schmit with a 2-out walk, and Owen with a single. Tony Coca drew up, ready to tear down this town… but struck out. 4-3 Coons. Harenberg 2-3, BB, 2 HR, 2 RBI; Gomez 2-4; Magallanes (PH) 1-2; Reed 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W (4-2);

Game 4
NYC: 3B Schmit – LF M. Owen – C Jai. Jackson – CF Coca – RF Ugolino – 2B T. Fuentes – 1B Espinosa – SS Laughery – P E. Cannon
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – RF Gomez – C Tovias – P Rigg

Sean Rigg lasted 2.2 innings, allowed no base hits … but walked seven and whacked a guy. Two walks came in the first before Coca hit into an inning-ending double play, and then the third was just a major explosion. Leadoff walk to J.D. Laughery, and while Cannon popped out on a bunt attempt, Rigg walked Schmit, whiffed Owen, walked Jackson, and the carousel was in motion at that point. Stonecipher replaced him with three runs across, and three runners still on base with Juan Espinosa at the plate. Stonecipher got the K, but that damage was definitely done. Stonecipher got his first career at-bat in the bottom of the inning after a Gomez single and Tovias double to begin the frame. Stonecipher stunned Cannon with a line drive RBI single to right, and the Coons could have rallied now if they had any clutch in them, and at least Alberto Ramos did, tying the score with a triple over the head of Tony Coca. Tim Stalker’s sac fly got him across, giving the Coons a 4-3 lead on yet another bullpen day.

Stonecipher got the Critters through five without allowing a base hit; the Crusaders’ first hit was actually Tony Fuentes’ leadoff jack off Garavito in the sixth inning. That one also knotted the score at four. With two outs, Ron Tadlock batted for Cannon, reached on an error by Nunley that was good for two bases, and the porous Garavito allowed an RBI single to Schmit to put the Crusaders ahead, 5-4, and even a 1-out walk to Harenberg and subsequent Mora double could not make the Critters pull back even in the bottom of the inning. Nunley fouled out, and Gomez simply fanned. The pen held up and kept the deficit at one run, but again the Coons were just not able to scratch anything at all together, right into the ninth inning, where Giordano faced the 5-6-7 batters. Mora struck out. Nunley flew out to center. Gomez did the same. 5-4 Crusaders. Mora 2-4, 2B; Stonecipher 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K and 1-1, RBI;

In other news

July 30 – The Miners get SP Jonas Mejia (7-10, 5.71 ERA) from the Rebels in exchange for catcher J.J. Henley (.237, 15 HR, 55 RBI).
July 30 – VAN C Ricky Ortíz (.333, 1 HR, 11 RBI) goes deep for the only run in the Canadiens’ 1-0 win over the Thunder.
August 1 – The Aces walk off on the Titans in regulation, 7-3, with a walkoff grand slam by LVA OF Tom Dunlap (.264, 7 HR, 43 RBI) off Boston’s Rafael Urbano (5-1, 3.86 ERA).
August 3 – A sixth-inning single by RF/LF Oscar Mendoza (.292, 10 HR, 54 RBI) is the Pacifics’ only base knock in a 6-0 loss to the Wolves’ SP Lance Legleiter (8-8, 4.67 ERA) and two relievers.
August 4 – The Indians squeeze out a 2-1 win against the Canadiens on only two base hits, both solo dingers by LF/RF Jake Williams (.248, 2 HR, 16 RBI) and INF Mario Pizano (.305, 11 HR, 52 RBI).

Complaints and stuff

While the season is dissolving like cotton candy in water, I am completely calm. I have accepted our fate. It is inevitable. Hey, we might get a nice draft pick out of his living hell. And we will have earned it, given that the last nine weeks will be raw torture.

(looks at this paper and that note)

There is really nothing else to say at this point, I fear.

Fun Fact: 19 years ago today, the Elks’ Juichi Fujita no-hit the Raccoons in Portland for the Elks’ first ever no-hitter.

Great!!
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:11 PM   #2782
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Raccoons (56-56) vs. Canadiens (60-53) – August, 6-8, 2029

I would like to claim that the damn Elks could do nothing more to hurt us, but that would probably be constitute begging for it. The season series stood 8-4 in the damn Elks’ favor, and the damn Elks were second in runs scored and fifth in runs allowed, in both categories now handily outpacing the Critters.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (10-8, 3.41 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (9-8, 3.34 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (3-4, 2.30 ERA) vs. Estevan Delgado (9-6, 4.79 ERA)
Jamie O’Leary (1-5, 4.05 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (1-3, 2.14 ERA)

Right, left, then right again, any of two righties involved in a Saturday double header for the damn Elks. The other was Victor Govea (6-4, 3.19 ERA).

Game 1
VAN: RF Tessmann – 2B Al. Medina – CF Wojnarowski – 3B Anton – C F. Garcia – SS Byrd – 1B N. Day – LF L. Gross – P J. Martin
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – RF Gomez – C Ivey – P Roberts

Right in the first inning, the damn Elks took the lead with an absolutely stupid run. Roberts opened the game with a K to Danny Tessmann, Alarico Medina popped out, but Brian Wojnarowski worked a walk. Roberts gave up a bloop single to Matt Anton at 3-1, the runner went to third, and Rafael Gomez was eager to nail him, but only threw the ball away for a run-scoring error. The Coons would get their chance in the bottom 2nd with singles by Mora and Nunley to go to the corners, then a walk drawn by Gomez – three on, nobody out for Shane Ivey, and let us make this brief, the Coons would not get a base hit anymore in this inning; they did take the lead, but not with a clutch hit. Ivey tied the score, grounding up the middle; Medina intercepted the ball behind the bag, but his only play was to first base as a run scored. Roberts whiffed, Ramos walked, and Stalker got nailed with a 2-out, 1-2 pitch to push home Nunley before Jamieson grounded out to John Byrd. From there, things actually got worse for the damn Elks. Harenberg opened the bottom 3rd with a single before Abel Mora drove a ball all the way to the fence in centerfield. Wojnarowski made the catch, but could not stop anymore before smashing face first into the boards out there, which were padded, but pads here, pads there, Wojnarowski collapsed into a heap at once and had to be carted off the field. The word was soon enough a pretty bad concussion and that the .274 batter with 15 homers was done for the year; Tim Campbell replaced him.

Through the middle innings, the Coons had a few scoring opportunities against a crumbling Joe Martin, but got only one add-on run on a Nunley sac fly in the fifth, an inning that started with Stalker and Jamieson on the corners and saw Abel Mora walked intentionally in hopes of a double play from Nunley, but the veteran hit one over to Tessmann to get Stalker home. Roberts held off the Elks for the most part. Fernando Garcia doubled off him at some point, but that was largely it after the rocky first inning. He got through seven on exactly 100 pitches and only five knocks, then got some more cushion when Tim Stalker got on base to begin the bottom 7th, stole second – his 10th, making him the second player with double digits in stolen bases on this team – but would have scored from any position but the dugout on Matt Jamieson’s ninth homer, a real shot to leftfield that made it 5-1 off right-hander Andy Purdy, who went on to surrender a gap double to Harenberg, had to walk Mora intentionally, and by now Matt Nunley was really miffed and fired a double down the line to plate both runners in a 4-run seventh, and there was still nobody out. Roberts might have come back out to face at least the lefty Tessmann to begin the eighth inning, but after Gomez whiffed against Chris Vazquez, another righty, and Ivey singled to put runners on the corners, Magallanes batted for him, with the Colombian’s grounder to short forcing an error on John Byrd that plated the final run of the 5-piece frame. Brotman, Surginer, and Fleischer pieced together another two scoreless frames to end this game. 8-1 Coons. Stalker 2-3, BB, RBI; Jamieson 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; Harenberg 3-5, 2B; Mora 1-2, 2 BB; Nunley 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Roberts 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (11-8);

Funnily, Matt Nunley eventually did hit into that double play the Elks wanted so badly from him, but that was only in the eighth and then not in an intentional situation.

Game 2
VAN: CF Tessmann – RF N. Day – 1B D. Fisher – 3B Anton – 2B Al. Medina – C F. Garcia – SS Byrd – LF Campbell – P E. Delgado
POR: CF Magallanes – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – RF Gomez – 3B Baldwin – SS Gerster – P Anderson

In a surprising development, the Raccoons sent eleven batters to the plate in the opening frame. Juan Magallanes reached twice on a single and a walk, while Tim Stalker made two outs, the only Coon to make out(s) on something other than a bunt (Anderson). They scored six, starting with a Jamieson RBI triple, continuing with an RBI single by Tovias, and a 3-run homer by Gomez. The sixth run scored on a passed ball charged to Garcia. It was the only inning for Estevan Delgado, who was hit for with Curtis Hargraves with two on and two outs in the top 2nd, but Hargraves flew out easily to centerfield to strand the runners. Alarico Medina would bring in a run for the Elks in a long third in which the damn Elks loaded them up against Anderson, but only got the groundout from Medina for a rally before Garcia flew out to left. In turn, the bottom 3rd saw a 1-out walk drawn by Baldwin, who was caught stealing, then another walk issued by Jonathan Shook to Gerster. Anderson singled, Magallanes hit an RBI single, and Tim Stalker whopped one for another 3-piece to left, exploding the tally to 10-1.

Anderson would concede one more run while not going six innings due to a combo of just too many messy pitches out of the zone that the damn Elks didn’t cash in on, and also that Butch Gerster throwing error in that sixth inning that conspired against him. Mauricio Garavito ended up surrendering the run on a 2-out single by Tessmann, and as the game wore on the Coons had to use their best relievers in a blowout, because the meager relievers were simply overworked. Stonecipher pitched one inning in he seventh, and then *Boles* got into the eighth with the left-handed bats drawing up, and Ohl got the ninth. In between, Juan Magallanes remained unretired by drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom 8th, then left the game with a bum knee after running to third on the following Stalker single. Abel Mora had to cover for him and scored one of the Coons’ two runs in the inning. None were scored off Ohl. 12-2 Furballs. Magallanes 3-3, 2 BB, RBI; Stalker 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Harenberg 3-4, BB; Tovias 2-5, RBI; Gerster 2-3, BB;

Magallanes was day-to-day with knee soreness, probably three days with only light duty guarding the ice cream buckets in the dugout. Well, that would be the series finale, which Mora would start against a righty, then an off day after that… and we also still had rule 5 pick Chris Baldwin to cover.

Game 3
VAN: CF Tessmann – RF N. Day – 3B Anton – 1B D. Fisher – SS Byrd – C F. Garcia – 2B Al. Medina – LF Campbell – P Govea
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – RF Rodriguez – P O’Leary

The weather was iffy, and O’Leary was, too. The Elks hit him for a steady stream of singles, plating two runs in the first inning (which were unearned thanks to a Nunley error before three 2-out singles lit up the board), and another run in the second. The Coons had a Ramos Special in the bottom 1st, a single, stolen base, and a score on Jamieson’s single, then plate two with a 2-out homer by Wilson Rodriguez in the bottom 2nd, making it three-for-all after only two frames… and all that in a drizzle.

O’Leary allowed a leadoff single to Fisher in the third, which would be the last hit off him. Byrd flew out to center before game went into a rain delay that took almost two hours to pass. O’Leary did not emerge on the other side of it. By necessity, the Critters went to Fleischer, who walked Garcia, but then grinded his way out of the inning. Shook was in for the damn Elks in the bottom 3rd, got around a Jamieson single to begin the inning when the runner was caught stealing, but served up a leadoff jack to Nunley in the fourth that put Portland 4-3 ahead. The Coons got 2.2 innings from Fleischer before Stonecipher took over in the sixth and walked a pair. Brotman replaced him and twice tried to surrender a gapper, once to PH Hargraves in the sixth and again to Norman Day in the seventh. Both times Jamieson warped into the gap and spoiled the attempt. But the Coons had their own struggles with the Elks’ pen and the Nunley dinger was their only gain after the starters were carried away by the floods. Ricky Ohl struck out Byrd and Garcia in the eighth before Medina singled in a full count. Ricky Ortiz pinch-hit and grounded out to end the inning. Yet with the Critters not getting past a 2-out single by Ivey in the bottom 8th, there remained to be no cushion for Boles in the ninth inning, with Sean Light pinch-hitting to get it going. He struck out. Tessmann grounded out to a lunging Nunley, who could still let that glove sparkle more often than he made errors, and Norman Day’s sharp grounder went right at Stalker to sweep the damn Elks outta the park. 4-3 Critters! Jamieson 2-4, RBI; Harenberg 2-3, BB; Tovias 1-2, 2 BB; Ivey (PH) 1-1; Fleischer 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, W (1-1);

Hah. **** the Elks!

Raccoons (59-56) @ Stars (52-60) – August 10-12, 2029

The Stars were in last place in the West, but not yet out of miracle range, 12 games behind the top. But, well, yeah, it had to be a pretty impressive miracle. On the other hand, the Coons’ pitching (including Roberts) in a hitter’s park was a not a pleasant thought… The Stars were not utilizing their own park well, a major problem in their decade of agony that was still continuing (ever since trading Hugo Mendoza, pointlessly, to Portland) and were in the bottom three in runs scored in the Federal League. They were allowing the fifth-most runs. The Raccoons had lost the last two series with the Stars, which coincided with their two recent title seasons – we had been swept in ’26, and had won only one game in ’28. The last Raccoons series win stemmed from 2024, two outta three.

Projected matchups:
Allen Reed (4-2, 4.70 ERA) vs. Jong-hoo Cho (9-7, 3.72 ERA)
Mark Roberts (11-8, 3.32 ERA) vs. Justin Osterloh (6-7, 4.99 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (4-4, 2.22 ERA) vs. Chris Brooks (2-6, 3.99 ERA)

Three righties to be expected here.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – RF Gomez – C Tovias – P Reed
DAL: LF Hensley – 2B Hendricks – CF Botzet – 3B S. Green – C Stickley – SS Clooken – RF Madrigal – 1B Odescalchi – P Cho

Ramos had the Coons’ first two hits, singles in the first and second that he twinned with a pair of steals, but he was only scored the second time around thanks to Jack Stickley’s throwing error on the stolen base attempt. Tim Stalker brought him in with a groundout. Immediately, the bottom of the Dallas order overturned Allen Reed: Danny Madrigal hit a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd, Raimondo Odescalchi tripled, then scored on Cho’s groundout to put the Stars up 2-1. Cho added another RBI to his tally of then eight, plating Madrigal with a sac fly in the bottom 5th. Madrigal had opened with a double to left, and then with two outs and nobody on Reed shuffled the bags full on a Tony Hensley single and then walks to Eric Hendricks and Aaron Botzet before Sam Green flew out to Mora anyway. The Coons at that point were yet waiting for another base hit, but also hadn’t had Ramos up yet again… Ramos grounded out to begin the sixth though, and Jamieson’s 2-out single led nowhere in particular with Harenberg whiffing against right-hander Omar Vega, who had relieved Cho after Jamieson reached.

The Coons got the tying runs aboard with Mora and Nunley singles off Vega to begin the seventh. Gomez popped out, and then the Critters actually hit for Tovias just to stay out of the double play. Butch Gerster hit for him and slipped a grounder past Silvio Clooken for an RBI single, and then Rodriguez whiffed in Reed’s spot. Ramos hit a soft pop to shallow left that Clooken caught hustling out, stranding the tying and go-ahead runs. Bottom 7th, Sean Rigg came in, threw three pitches, all of them being hit. John Jacobs and Eric Hendricks went to the corners with singles, and when Garavito replaced him against the .303 hitter Botzet, he got the batter to 1-2, and then still surrendered a sac fly. Sam Green grounded out, keeping it a 4-2 game. The Raccoons got Stalker on with a leadoff single in the eighth, but Jamieson got rung up by Tony Dominguez, and Harenberg smacked into a double play, and Rob Owensby allowed the Critters nothing in the ninth. 4-2 Stars. Ramos 2-4; Gerster (PH) 1-1, RBI;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – RF Gomez – C Tovias – P Roberts
DAL: LF Hensley – 2B Hendricks – CF Botzet – 3B S. Green – C Stickley – SS Clooken – RF Madrigal – 1B Odescalchi – P Osterloh

Ramos singled, reached second on a wild pitch, then scored on a Jamieson double, which was a bit of a variation to the usual drill. Jamieson however, once on base, experienced the usual drill, being stranded at third base through groundouts to Hendricks by the 4-5 duo in the lineup. Meanwhile we hoped dearly that Roberts had brought his stuff and would erase Stars right at the plate. It worked for a wee while, and before the Stars could rally, both pitchers ran the bases in the third. In the top half, Roberts hit a leadoff single, moved up on Ramos’ groundout to Odescalchi, then got picked off in a 5-4 double play when Stalker lined out to Sam Green. In turn, Madrigal hit a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd, was caught stealing, and then Justin Osterloh hit a 2-out double to right, but got stranded when Tony Hensley flew out to Gomez.

Harenberg’s solo bomb to right made it 2-0 in the fourth, and with two outs the Coons slapped out a string of singles, Nunley to right, Gomez to left, Tovias up the middle, to load the bases… for Roberts. But before Roberts whiffed to end the inning, Osterloh had a major meltdown. He threw a wild pitch to plate Nunley, then balked to score Gomez to run the score to 4-0. A major gift that Roberts better not refuse! Straight singles off Roberts to begin the bottom 4th by Hendricks, Botzet, and Green plated a run and brought up the tying run in a ****ing bandbox with nobody out… and that was still “Launchpad” Roberts on the mound…! Amazingly, the Stars failed to score more. Jack Stickley and Silvio Clooken were both retired on shallow pops, and Madrigal swung over the 3-2 pitch to end the inning. Roberts didn’t get blasted until the sixth, a leadoff jack by Botzet and no doubt about it, then cutting the lead to 4-2. Roberts was on 104 pitches, many of them wasted for no greater good, at that point, and was batted for in the top 7th for a Wilson Rodriguez single, but also no greater good. Brotman held up in the bottom of the inning, and the top 8th saw singles by Jamieson and Harenberg to get going. Mora popped out against Tony Dominguez, who then saw Stickley, normally a strong defensive catcher, complete another leg of the “stupid **** for runs” category, having a breaking ball escape through his legs for a passed ball that plated Jamieson. That made for a 5-2 lead, and all but one or MAYBE two of the Coons’ runs were scored less than honorably… Their record improved slightly with a Nunley RBI double to the fence in left, there was ANOTHER passed ball charged to Stickley, and then Dominguez walked Tovias with two outs as him and his catcher had clearly lived themselves apart and were heading for divorce. Ivey batted for Brotman, but struck out to keep it 6-2 in the middle of the eighth. Surginer held up in the bottom of the inning, a Ramos Special tacked on a run in the ninth, but Stonecipher was out of tune in the bottom 9th, hit a guy, walked a guy, threw a wild pitch, and allowed an RBI single to Odescalchi while getting only one run. Up by four with two on, Josh Boles came in once Gil Cornejo pinch-hit in the #9 hole. Boles nailed Cornejo to bring up the tying run, David Morales, who struck out, and then Hendricks sent a liner to center that Mora steamed after … and hauled in to end the game. 7-3 Coons. Harenberg 3-5, HR, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-4, 2B, RBI; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1;

There were two changes in the Dallas pitching assignment for Sunday, with reliever Josh D’Agostino (2-2, 1.45 ERA) getting the nod. He was also a righty.

The second change was when a system of thunderstorms moved in – the game was postponed.

In other news

August 6 – LAP SP Jim Bryant (6-6, 4.22 ERA) might miss up to a year with a torn labrum.
August 7 – CHA 1B Pat Fowlkes (.280, 6 HR, 49 RBI) collects his 2,000th base hit in a 14-3 thrashing the Falcons suffer at the hands of the Knights. The 33-year-old 3-time All Star and career .298 batter with 183 HR and 924 RBI was not up for celebrating after the game.
August 9 – After eight hits and no runs, and trailing 1-0, back-to-back homers by 3B Ryan Czachor (.252, 4 HR, 21 RBI) and 2B/SS Jim McKenzie (.287, 7 HR, 30 RBI) flip the score against the Cyclones and allow the Miners to celebrate a 2-1 walkoff.
August 12 – Indy’s Mario Pizano (.299, 11 HR, 53 RBI) is out for a month with a broken thumb.

Complaints and stuff

(melancholically looks out the window over a deserted ballpark) Days’ getting shorter. It’s gonna be fall soon! … I should call up Cousin Carl, and learn who hosts Thanksgiving this year… Maud, can you put me through to Cousin Carl?

Right up until Sunday, we only would have needed a fifth starter only twice more this month. There is another off day on Monday, then more on August 23, August 30, and September 3, and by then rosters will have expanded and Rico Gutierrez might be able to finish up a rehab assignment. That was before the postponement on Sunday, with the game rescheduled for the 23rd. The Coons will put this in front of a Midwest road trip to Oklahoma and Vegas, but it will created a string of 16 straight games and will us require to get a #5 guy three times. Which sucks.

Rico should be heading to St. Pete to work on that rehab early next week. Rich Hereford might have started the week after that… but he suffered setback this week and will probably not head to St. Pete before the end of the month now; and in any case, that will be it, because Delgadillo and Shumway are not expected back until next year.

And since our rotation consists of Mark Roberts and scrubs, we can not go without the extra long man, which is basically Sean Rigg at this point, who after his 7-walk fiasco last week is not going to be getting more than the bare minimum of exposure in the starting lineup. He was probably going to make the spot start on August 18 against the Titans. He was probably going to get ****ed up real good. But now we needed a guy THREE times. And I really didn’t know who I should even expect to do anything nice at this point…

Saturday, Ramos tied Pizano with 45 SB for the ABL lead; Sunday, the Indians put Pizano on the DL. I am not going to lean too far out of the window here by claiming that Ramos has free reign for the stolen base title now as long as he can stay on the field. Third place in the CL is *20* sacks behind those two. Of course, Ramos has his sights set on taking the franchise mark for a single season all for himself. He tied Yoshi Yamada’s 2005 mark (54 SB) last year, and he wants to shatter it this time around. He also is at 189 for his career and although he is not even 24 years old he has recently cracked his way into the career top 100. He is currently tied for 86th!

ABL CAREER STOLEN BASE LEADERS (excerpt)
83rd – Melvin Greene – 191
t-84th – Hubert Green – 190
t-84th – Raúl Vázquez – 190 (HOF)
t-86th – Eddy Bailey – 189
t-86th – Alberto Ramos – 189
t-88th – Manuel Gomez – 188
t-88th – Victorino Sanchez – 188 (HOF)
90th – Kunimatsu Sato – 187

Alberto also leads the batting race at this point with a .344 clip, challenged mainly by ATL Andrew Showalter (.343). Harenberg is third in batting average, also in RBI, but has barely half Tony Coca’s homers (25), which is a shame.

What is it, Maud? – Why can’t you put me through to Cousin Carl? – What do you mean, ‘he died seven years ago’??

(clenches Honeypaws, all alone in the dark office)

Fun Fact: Five years ago today, the Blue Sox’ Juan Espinosa hit for the cycle in a 13-9 loss to the Crusaders.

Just like Tim Stalker lost his cycle game to the Gold Sox, 9-8, earlier this season. Also, Espinosa is a Crusaders now. Before Stalker, Rich Hereford had the most recent cycle in ABL history, last year against Indy. Rich Hereford used to be a Gold Sock.

I read all of that on a wall with lots of Post-It notes and pins and red string in a room in the basement. I am pretty sure that Nick Valdes is chasing a conspiracy down there.
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:19 PM   #2783
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Okay, that post cheered me up some....
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Old 04-01-2019, 08:56 PM   #2784
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At least the Damn Elks are faltering a bit and have fallen out of 1st. Them winning the division would really be pouring salt in the wounds.
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Old 04-02-2019, 05:23 PM   #2785
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Questdog View Post
Okay, that post cheered me up some....
Not sure where the following week will rank on the cheer/jeer spectrum…

Quote:
Originally Posted by DD Martin View Post
At least the Damn Elks are faltering a bit and have fallen out of 1st. Them winning the division would really be pouring salt in the wounds.
I will subscribe to the "at least not them!" sentiment without much thought.

+++

Raccoons (60-57) vs. Cyclones (61-57) – August 14-16, 2029

Scoring was scarce in Cyclones games; the team amounted to the third-fewest runs scored as well as the third-fewest runs allowed, with a +5 run differential. They were just as skinny a wannabe contender as the Coons were, just a further two games behind in their division. The key difference was that they were actually second to the Buffaloes. These teams had not met since 2026, when the Cyclones had taken two of three in the set.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (4-4, 2.22 ERA) vs. Josh Irwin (6-8, 3.91 ERA)
Jamie O’Leary (1-5, 4.04 ERA) vs. Jim Shannon (9-6, 2.80 ERA)
Mark Roberts (12-8, 3.30 ERA) vs. Logan Bessey (10-4, 2.59 ERA)

Two right-handers, one left-hander in this series.

Game 1
CIN: CF Clark – 3B Rangel – LF Winborn – RF Gibbs – 1B de Santaigo – C Sanford – 2B Che – SS Eisenberg – P Irwin
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – RF Gomez – C Tovias – P Anderson

After Kevin Clark walked and Ricardo Rangel singled and pulled off a double steal, Kyle Anderso managed to whiff two, but in an 0-2 count surrendered a 2-run single to Carlos de Santiago for a first-inning deficit. Kevin Clark would also triple home Frank Eisenberg after the shortstop drew a 1-out walk in the second inning. Rangel popped out to shallow center to keep Clark on and the score at 3-0, but with this team, that was bad enough. The Raccoons did not get a base hit until the fourth when Jamieson singled and was stranded, and didn’t get a run until the fifth when Matt Nunley launched a leadoff jack. The bottom three went down in order and that run looked destined to remain a blip in the box score. Anderson got through six without allowing another run, but also pretty much exhausted himself on 101 pitches, and while Ramos began the bottom 6th with a single to center, people immediately threw wrenches into gears. Stalker grounded to short, with the Cyclones having to settle for the lead runner. Jamieson singled to left, but Harenberg grounded back to the mound, with the runner at second dead again, and the runners that remained on the corners were the guilty parties, Stalker and Harenberg. Both were chased home by Abel Mora’s left-center gap penetrator, which tied the game, and Mora was then waved around and came across safely on a clean Nunley single to left-center. Gomez grounded out to Rangel to end the inning, but suddenly the Critters were up 4-3. Come the seventh, the battery blew that one immediately. Surginer issued a leadoff walk to Eisenberg, and when Nando Maiello dropped a pathetic grounder, Tovias fired that one over Tim Stalker’s head and into foul ground for a 2-base error. Garavito replaced Surginer on account of left-handed batters, but inherited the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position and was obviously doomed. But there was not even the slightest pretense of keeping this one tight; Clark and Rangel both hit run-scoring grounders before Garavito walked Kelvin Winborn (who had struck out thrice against Anderson) and allowed a single to Ken Gibbs. PH Ricky Tello then popped out.

Former Crusaders reliever Jon Ozier appeared in the game for the bottom 7th, facing Tovias to begin things, and Tovias sure had some making-up to do! He doubled to left, which was a nice start to any inning. Wilson Rodriguez batted for the pitcher, turned on a 1-2 in do-or-die fashion and DID hit a homer to left-center that left the Cyclones’ bench in despair as it flipped the score for the third time in three half-innings. The Critters added four more singles against two relievers in the inning, but only one more run; after Ramos’ single, Stalker hit into a double play, and then it was straight one-basers from the middle of the order, Mora cashing Jamieson for an insurance run, a tiny nook into which Ricky Ohl crammed a hanger and subsequent leadoff jack by Pat Sanford in the top 8th. The next three vanished in order, the Coons stranded a pair in the bottom 8th despite Magallanes pinch-hitting for Stalker in a wicked attempt to get something done, but Josh Boles retired the top of the order on 12 pitches and with two strikeouts to put this one in the W column. 7-6 Coons. Ramos 2-4, BB; Jamieson 3-4; Mora 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Nunley 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Tovias 2-4, 2B; Rodriguez (PH) 1-2, HR, 2 RBI;

Game 2
CIN: 3B Rangel – SS Eisenberg – 2B Ri. Tello – C Sanford – CF Clark – 1B Che – LF Winborn – RF Gibbs – P Shannon
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – RF Rodriguez – C Ivey – P O’Leary

This game started on a Nunley throwing error for two bases against Ricardo Rangel, who was fast enough to have 20 steals on the year, and continued straight through a four-pitch walk to Eisenberg and then a fielder’s choice, a strikeout against Sanford, and a grounder to Stalker off Clark’s bat, and nobody scored. The Coons scored the game’s first run in the bottom 2nd, which began with Harenberg ramming a ball off the top of the fence for a double. Nunley singled him in, and they were on the corners after a Rodriguez single until Shane Ivey cracked a 3-1 pitch into a double play. O’Leary then blew the lead right away and without much further ado. Rangel opened the top 3rd with a triple to center, scored on an Eisenberg single, and there was a walk to Ricky Tello, an RBI single by Sanford, and only then did the inning begin to peter out. The Cyclones loaded them up when Hang-yu Che walked with one out, Winborn whiffed, and Gibbs stranded three with a pop to Stalker, leaving the score at 2-1. The Coons tied that up with a Ramos Special in the bottom 3rd, but make no mistake – O’Leary remained outrageously ghastly and lasted only one more inning, or just long enough to carelessly feed a goodie to Sanford for a 3-run homer in the top of the fourth. That one very much knocked the wind out of the Critters. Their attempts in the middle innings were pathetic, either with singling pinch-hitters being caught stealing (Gerster) or Harenberg hitting into his 18,000th career double play. Sean Rigg made a convincing case for team MVP with two scoreless innings in relief – that’s how bad it was. It took them until the eighth until they plated another run with another Ramos Special of singling, stealing, scoring on some sorta single, and that made it 5-3 and actually brought out the tying run. Jamieson flew out, and having Harenberg at the plate as tying run generally didn’t mean anything but more disappointment. He grounded out to short to end the inning. Garavito retired the Cyclones in the ninth, and the tying run was back at the plate with nobody out in the bottom 9th when Abel Mora got poked by an Adam Moran pitch. Magallanes batted for Nunley to stay out of the double play, flew out to center, Gomez batted for Garavito and whiffed, and that figured to be the game, with two outs and Ivey and Baldwin drawing up. Ivey singled over Tello. Baldwin singled past Rangel, Mora scored, and now it was a 1-run game with runners on the corners and Ramos coming up! …and Ramos’ liner to left was caught by Winborn. 5-4 Cyclones. Stalker 2-4, 2 RBI; Rodriguez 2-3; Rigg 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Pitching change for the final game – right-hander Geoff Whitehouse (5-7, 4.00 ERA) would start.

For the Cyclones, in case you weren’t sure. But I will admit “Geoff Whitehouse” sounded like one of the Coons’ accountants manned up and donned a uniform to help out his team. Don’t mention it to Hollywood; after the Germinator VII didn’t do as well as the last two combined they will shoot any script they can think of.

Also, Nick Valdes stopped by before the Coons would hopefully see the Cyclones out of town, but I didn’t see him all morning before the game. He was probably up to something.

Game 3
CIN: 3B Rangel – SS Eisenberg – 2B Ri. Tello – C Sanford – CF Clark – 1B Che – LF Winborn – RF Gibbs – P Whitehouse
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – P Roberts

The Coons were off in the first inning; Ramos made an out, Stalker singled and pulled off a Ramos Special, Harenberg drove in a run, and Mora hit into the double play to end it all. Seemed like everybody was out of alignment by one position… In turn, Mark Roberts was off by about 380 feet, which was the depth of Clark’s leadoff jack to tie the score in the top 2nd, and then Che and Winborn hit straight singles, and Cincy took the lead on a Whitehouse sac fly after Gibbs whiffed. Bottom 2nd, a 2-out rally of the weirdest sort was in progress when Tovias walked, Roberts singled, and Ramos walked. That loaded the bases for Tim Stalker, who ran a 3-1 count, poked, and popped out. The feckless idiot popped out indeed.

Roberts rung up Ken Gibbs to complete four innings in the game, which gave him 162 for the year and neatly assured the Raccoons at least one (and only one) pitcher would qualify for whatever awards outside the Golden Big Bertha dear Mark Roberts hoped to win at the end of the year. The fifth inning was another extended nightmare of wretched ineptness. Whitehouse led off with a single to left, which was bad enough, but Roberts at least pounced on a Rangel grounder to get the lead runner at second base, and Rangel was caught stealing. But Roberts kept leaking out of every hole. Frank Eisenberg walked, stole second, Tello walked, and then Roberts hit Sanford to load the bases. That was a three-on situation out of NOTHING for the Cyclones, and Kevin Clark was the batter. He flew out to Mora. All inept! All inept! Contract all those inept teams!

Roberts almost bumped into 100 pitches through six, and then developments outside his control (which was more on the meh side, too) saw him removed for a pinch-hitter. Mora led off the bottom 6th with a fly to Winborn, but then Nunley walked and scored on singles by Rodriguez and Tovias to tie game, and the #9 hole game up with one out and runners on first and second. I expected major agony, but sent Gomez to bat for Roberts. They had a lot in common thinking about it, mainly having been so much better about two or three years ago. The Cyclones already had a new pitcher in, righty Alejandro Purcella, who walked Gomez on four pitches to load them up for Ramos, something that had not worked in Wednesday’s game already… Ramos popped out at 1-0, and Stalker grounded out to short, and that was the rally. In turn, Kevin Surginer was impaled for a Rangel double, Eisenberg triple, Tello sac fly, and thus two runs in the seventh. Brotman and Stonecipher did better in the last two innings, but that still didn’t make the Coons come back. They would however bring the top of the order to the plate in the bottom of the ninth against Moran. Yet, two grounders to Tello and a K to Jamieson put this one away a loss. 4-2 Cyclones.

Turns out, Nick Valdes spent the morning sorting all gear with player name and number on it in the team store by numbers in ascending order, then reconsidered, sorted them alphabetically, then reconsidered, then sorted them in ascending order, then reconsidered, then sorted them alphabetically, then reconsidered, then –

Raccoons (61-59) vs. Titans (66-55) – August 17-19, 2029

Final straw, if you are so inclined to give the rump Critters that much credit. I had little confidence, especially with the pitching coming up in this series. Boston was only ninth in runs scored, but conceded the fewest runs in the Federal League. However, that +60 run differential was also nothing of old dominance, and in their case dominance was not even that old. They had pushed +200 every year just a couple of seasons ago. Boston led the season series, 7-4.

Projected matchups:
Allen Reed (4-3, 4.68 ERA) vs. Lorenzo Viamontes (14-3, 2.86 ERA)
Trevor Draper (3-2, 4.66 ERA) vs. Bryan Hanson (7-12, 3.76 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (4-4, 2.47 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (7-7, 3.00 ERA)

One right, two left; there were some injuries to those Titans, with Jeremy Waite, Ryan Corkum, Keith Spataro and others on the DL, but, ah, look at the Coons…

Draper was not yet on the roster; he had walked 27 and struck out only 14 in his earlier stint this season, nobody wanted him back, but times were desperate to the n-th degree.

Game 1
BOS: 1B Jon. Morales – LF W. Vega – SS S. Williams – RF O’Rourke – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – C T. Perez – CF Acor – P Viamontes
POR: SS Ramos – LF Magallanes – 2B Stalker – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – RF Gomez – C Ivey – P Reed

The Coons hit a few hard balls off Viamontes in the early innings; but Harenberg flew out to Willie Vega to strand Magallanes on second base in the opening frame, and while Abel Mora hit a leadoff jack in the second, all the other drives were caught as well. Maybe a few soft ones could do the job? Bottom 3rd, Ramos coaxed a leadoff walk before Magallanes dropped a meek single into shallow center. Two of the next four pitches were hit to Willie Vega for two outs, but Mora pushed a roller past Adam Corder for an RBI single, upping to 2-0 in support of Allen Reed, before Nunley grounded out. The 11th-year veteran Reed was not at all overburdened early in his third starting assignment for Portland and held the Titans to one hit in the first four innings. Unfortunately, Tony Perez and Dustin Acor hit soft singles themselves to begin the fifth and were bunted into scoring position by Viamontes. Jonathan Morales hit a sac fly to right, 2-1, but Vega struck out, keeping the Critters afloat for the moment, and then two more innings before his spot came up leading off the home team’s spell to bat in the bottom 7th. Butch Gerster struck out in his spot, but Ramos doubled to right. Bitterly, Dustin Acor robbed both Magallanes, dashing in for a catch, then Stalker, who was retired after Acor raced into the depths of center and made the catch to end the inning. Even more regrettable was Ricky Ohl’s performance, who blew the slim lead with a leadoff double hit by Morales, then Vega’s sharp RBI single to right-center. Stephen Williams hit into a double play after that, but nobody was cheering… Viamontes kept holding up in the eighth, while Surginer offered a leadoff walk to Adam Corder in the ninth, a runner that eventually Garavito had to strand. Jonathan Snyder, the former Critter, faced them in the bottom of the ninth. Gomez and Ivey made quick outs before Tovias batted for Garavito and doubled to right, which brought up Ramos, who fell to a 1-2 count before hitting a ball in the gap. Rightfielder Chris Hollar didn’t reach it, and by the time Adrian Reichardt contained the ball in the gap, Tovias was already steaming for home plate. It was a walkoff! 3-2 Coons! Ramos 2-4, BB, 3B*, 2B; Mora 3-4, HR, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-4; Tovias (PH) 1-1, 2B; Reed 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K;

There was a roster move on Saturday to bring Trevor Draper onto the roster. Matt Stonecipher was temporarily assigned to AAA, but didn’t leave town. This was only burning his first career option, which I claimed to myself was okay, because I could not bear another Sean Rigg start in my lifetime…

Game 2
BOS: 1B Jon. Morales – LF W. Vega – SS S. Williams – RF O’Rourke – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – C T. Perez – CF Reichardt – P Hanson
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Rodriguez – CF Magallanes – C Tovias – 3B Gerster – P Draper

…but what exactly made me think that I could stomach Trevor Draper pitching to the TITANS? Before long, the Titans were crowding him. Both teams plated a run in the first, the Titans doing so on three singles, and the Coons getting it done with three 2-out runners, singles by Jamieson and Rodriguez, and Harenberg getting nailed in between. The second inning was about bad bunts; the Titans had two on when Hanson bunted into an inning-ending double play, while the Coons had only Tovias on base with one out when Draper bunted poorly, but Tony Perez – a Gold Glover relatively recently – committed a garish throwing error over the head of Rhett West that put both halves of the Coons’ battery in scoring position. Ramos got in Tovias with a groundout, while Draper scored when Stalker flew to shallow center and for ONCE Adrian Reichardt could not foil the Critters and had to pull up and play it on the bounce. The score remained 3-1 for the home team when Jamieson grounded out to Stephen Williams. There was more bonfires in the making; Draper walked Morales to begin the third, Morales stole second, and Vega drew another walk anyway. Williams hit a liner to left in a full count, with the runners in motion. Ramos leapt like a cat, came down with the ball, and suddenly the Titans were screwed. Both runners were at least halfway of the base they had to return to, Ramos zinged to Stalker to double up Morales, and from there the Coons went to Harenberg to triple up Vega – yes, indeed, it was a 6-4-3 triple play!

And still, there was no saving Draper, who pitched like arse. O’Rourke hit a leadoff homer in the fourth, Corder walked, West walked. Now Perez hit into a double play, and OBVIOUSLY Reichardt was getting four wide ones to bring up Hanson, whom even Draper could ring up, but he had put up ten unintentional runners in just four innings… Through some major miracle he was in the lead, 3-2, but that went bust in the fifth with a walk to Vega, an frightening 2-base error committed by Rodriguez, and then Draper had nothing left in store to keep the Titans from scoring on an O’Rourke grounder. Corder flew out to Jamieson, keeping the game tied at three.

That was all anybody could allow Draper to do in this game without risking mass suicide in the stands in what was a frankly mad game. Fleischer kept the Titans short in the sixth, while Hanson stayed in the game. Magallanes reached with a 1-out single in the bottom 6th, Tovias poked a single into center, and then Gerster hit a ball to the left side that Corder could not quite reach, and it also died just beyond the infield dirt, robbing Vega of a play on Magallanes who was sent around to break the tie with a run, 4-3. The Coons then fudged up, trying to get Gerster to steal second (he was thrown out) so that Fleischer could plate a run with a ball put in play (which he then couldn’t), and we then tried to get Fleischer through the seventh (which he wouldn’t). After Morales grounded out, Vega and Williams walked and it was not close. When Chris Hollar pinch-hit for O’Rourke, Billy Brotman got the boot in the pen, fell 2-0 to Hollar and then surrendered a liner to right, and unbelievably Vega was caught off base AGAIN when Tim Stalker reached to shag the liner, then flicked it to Ramos for a 4-6 double play to end THIS inning.

Bottom 7th, Hanson lost Ramos on balls, and this was the chance for an insurance run. Ramos acquired second by force on a pitch in the dirt, then moved to third when Stalker grounded out. Jamieson ran 2-0 on Hanson, then knocked the ball up the third base line, through a diving Corder, and far enough up the line for an RBI double. YES!!! (shakes fist wildly until shoulder makes a weird noise) YESsssss…!!! (freezes in pain)

Maddeningly, Ohl couldn’t get through the bottom half of the order in the eighth. Corder popped out, but West singled and Perez walked. Those were the tying runs, and also Keith Leonard pinch-hitting. This was too important to go to Garavito with the tying runs on – Josh Boles would see the lefty-batting Leonard, entering in a double switch with Mora, who went to center and would bat third in the bottom 8th. He did so still with the Coons in the lead despite Boles walking Leonard on five pitches. With the bags full, Josh sniffed out Eddie Moreno and Jonathan Morales on strikes, though, stranding three Titans. But Pat Selby retired the Coons in order, and Boles returned with a leadoff walk to Willie Vega, bringing up the middle of the order as the tying runs. Williams ran a full count before grounding out to short, Vega reaching second base. Hollar whiffed, but Corder walked in a full count. Boles was on 36 pitches and could probably only face one more batter in good conscience before Surginer would have to be tossed into a cascade of runners, unless Rhett West made the final out. There was a LONG mound conference, with umpires dragging Tovias and Stalker in particular off the mound eventually. Boles ran a 2-1 count before giving up a floater to right near the line. Rodriguez did not get it; Vega was sent around third base, Rodriguez fired – WILD! The throw was wild!! Vega scored, the runners moved up, and Boles left with his head hanging onto his chest as it was 5-4 with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. Kevin Surginer faced Tony Perez, the count ran full, and he walked him … bases loaded, two outs for Dustin Acor, batting .294 with one homer. Two pitches later, it was .292 with one homer. Acor grounded the 1-0 to short, Ramos to first, ballgame. 5-4 Raccoons!!?? Jamieson 2-4, 2B, RBI; Tovias 2-4;

BALLGAME!!

(collapses onto the couch and falls asleep immediately)

Game 3
BOS: 2B R. West – LF W. Vega – SS S. Williams – RF Hollar – C Leonard – 3B Corder – 1B E. Moreno – CF Acor – P Wingo
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – RF Rodriguez – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Anderson

Kyle Anderson was in general search of the meaning of life in general and the strike zone in particular. He surrendered two walks in the first inning and also a run on a Williams double to left, and again the Raccoons had an all too strenuous hold on contention. Acor reached on an infield single in the second, but was caught stealing, and by then the Coons had already tied the score on a Ramos Special in the bottom 1st. Alberto stole his 49th bag of the season in the inning. He struck out his next time around in the bottom 3rd, but Tim Stalker singled and then Jamieson hit a bomb to left that put the Coons up 3-1. But the shaky Critters pitcher of the day remained shaky, walked Leonard to begin the fourth, Corder doubled off Anderson, and somehow the Titans only scored one run on Acor’s sac fly. Eddie Moreno, who almost got the Coons as a pinch-hitter in the 2026 World Series, fouled out with nobody out and runners in scoring position. That run came back, though; Gomez hit a 1-out single to right in the bottom of the inning, and Wingo issued a free pass to Tovias, his first of the game. Matt Nunley fell to two strikes before bolting a ball to deep center. Acor didn’t get to it, and the ball fell in for an RBI double, the lack of speed on the base paths preventing greater carnage. Anderson and Ramos made outs to strand the runners in the 4-2 game.

But Anderson was not up to it. The Titans continued to whack him, pulled back a run in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Williams and Hollar, and Anderson was at 92 pitches after the inning. It was only a question of WHEN the Coons’ pen would finally collapse for good under the stress despite the extra arm, not IF. Maybe they could put off catching fire until after this game. Maybe not. The cruel Coons dragged the overmatched Anderson through the sixth against the bottom of the order. And then the pen collapsed.

Matt Stonecipher retired nobody in the seventh inning, walking Rhett West, conceding a single to Willie Vega, and then got blasted by Stephen Williams with a mammoth 3-piece that flipped the score, 6-4, and another run scored off Billy Brotman, who got whacked around for a walk and two hits, including an Adrian Reichardt, pinch-hit RBI double. Bottom 7th, Nunley led off with a single up the middle against Rafael Urbano. Harenberg batted for Brotman, struck out, and Urbano lost Ramos on four pitches. Tim Stalker drove a ball to right, Hollar would not get it, and it landed against the base of the wall for an RBI double, and now Portland had the tying runs in scoring position with one down for Jamieson, and then the tying RUN in scoring position with one down for Jamieson when Urbano balked in Ramos. And they didn’t get Stalker in. Urbano struck out Jamieson. Mike Stank struck out Abel Mora. Stalker remained at third base.

Top 8th, Willie Vega drew a 1-out walk from Fleischer. While Vega would steal two bases, Fleischer walked the bags full anywhere with Hollar and Leonard, making Corder come up with three on and two outs. The Coons would have liked to be able to go to a guaranteed strikeout reliever, but Ricky Ohl had been anything but that. Surginer was off limits after three straight days in action. There was still Sean Rigg available…? … All yours, Johnny! Corder grounded out to strand the runners. Pat Selby sawed off the 5-6-7 batters in the eighth, and then it was Snyder for the ninth, leading off against Nunley, who lined out to Reichardt. Magallanes batted in the #9 hole and legged out a pathetic grounder for an infield single, and now the Coons came back to the top of the order. The crowd was chanting and screaming for a comeback with Ramos as the winning run, and while Synder got him to 1-2, he couldn’t get him removed, and Ramos slashed a low liner up the middle and into centerfield for a single. C’mon, boys!! One solid knocker for a sweep! Stalker struck out. Jamieson struck out. 7-6 Titans. Ramos 2-4, BB; Stalker 3-5, 2B, RBI; Gomez 2-4; Nunley 2-4, RBI; Magallanes (PH) 1-1;

In other news

August 14 – RIC RF/LF Keith Damron (.304, 9 HR, 49 RBI) collects a hit in the Rebels’ 11-1 rout of the Titans, extending a hitting streak to 20 games.
August 14 – A fracture in his elbow puts BOS SP Chris Munroe (5-10, 4.28 ERA) out for the rest of the season.
August 15 – The Condors’ Shane Sanks (.287, 20 HR, 85 RBI) shines with four hits and four RBI in a 13-1 mauling of the Scorpions.
August 18 – The hitting streak of Richmond’s Keith Damron (.303, 10 HR, 50 RBI) ends after 22 games with an 0-for-4 effort in a 4-3 loss against the Cyclones.
August 18 – SFW SP John Rucker (12-7, 3.10 ERA) twirls a 3-hit shutout over the Pacifics. The left-hander whiffs six in the 8-0 Warriors win.
August 19 – WAS SP Greg Gannon (9-11, 3.98 ERA) no-hits the Buffaloes in a 3-0 game, whiffing eight batters! This is the 56th no-hitter in ABL history and the second for the Capitals, the other having been Eric Williams’ perfect game against the Rebels in 2024.
August 19 – Scorpions superstar Pablo Sanchez (.331, 10 HR, 59 RBI) is out for the season with a tear in his labrum. Now 35, Sanchez is the only ABL player ever to hit .400 in a season, doing so with a .409 clip in 2021, and will be a free agent at the end of the year.

Complaints and stuff

Saturday was … BY FAR … the most wicked game I can remember. I mean, yeah, there were wicked games before, either for one moment (Keith Ayers out at home!) or a series of moments (Juan Diaz with three wild pitches in one at-bat), or even the sheer madness of your average Wednesday afternoon, 12-11 bonanza in Elktown, which seems to happen annually.

No, Saturday was something else entirely. The Coons were shambling along for nine innings, had horrendous pitching, issued TWELVE walks, and TEN hits, and still held the Titans to four runs on four double plays and a TRIPLE PLAY. The entire ****ing thing almost collapsed in every single inning, and somehow the team pulled through …!! They were out-hit, out-walked, even out-run, and certainly out-pitched. And they still won an ab-so-lute-ly crucial, vicious nail biter of a game!

And then, that ****ing cold shower on Sunday.

Why the hell can nobody on this team pitch? The pitchers are so miserable …! Just look at them! (points at Roberts, Anderson, Reed, and O’Leary all piled up on the couch) Look at the miserable bunch!!

Next week: Loggers at home, then that Midwest road trip, seven games in three shanty towns, starting with the makeup date in Dallas and the continuing through Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

Fun Fact: Kevin Surginer made it this far into the season without picking up a decision until he soaked a loss against the Cyclones this week. In the past, Surginer got as much as 15 decisions in a season.

That would have been 2026, when he went 9-6 with a save and a 3.86 ERA in 59 games for 65.1 innings. And not one of the 196 outs he logged that season was remotely as intense as the one he logged on Saturday.

*The walkoff hit spawned as a triple, but with Tovias at second base should really have been a double.
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Raccoons (63-60) vs. Loggers (50-74) – August 20-22, 2029

Last in offense, in the bottom three in pitching – wasn’t it a typical Loggers season again? They even had a semi-capable rotation, but the bullpen was full of both holes and horrors. The Raccoons had won eight of a dozen games against Milwaukee on the season, meaning they were one win away from denying the Loggers a season series win for the 16th straight year.

Projected matchups:
Jamie O’Leary (1-6, 4.66 ERA) vs. Josh Long (4-3, 4.78 ERA)
Mark Roberts (12-8, 3.29 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenarez (6-15, 3.68 ERA)
Allen Reed (4-3, 4.32 ERA) vs. Alfredo Casique (0-4, 2.16 ERA)

Left-hander in the middle of this set; Casique was making only his fourth start of the season. The rookie had started the year in AAA and had then moved through the pen into the rotation. He was walking 5.8 batters per nine innings, so maybe that was an opening for the Coons. His 2.16 ERA was based on silly luck and a .208 BABIP.

Game 1
MIL: SS Lockert – 3B V. Diaz – RF W. Trevino – 2B W. Morris – 1B Aquino – LF St. Germaine – C Canody – CF Creech – P Long
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – P O’Leary

O’Leary, who attracted losses like a dead body attracted worms and beetles, struck out three in the first two innings before getting support with a Harenberg leadoff jack in the bottom 2nd, Kevin’s 16th of the season. Tim Stalker reached on a Wilson Aquino error after that, stole second, then was maneuvered around on a Mora grounder and Wilson Rodriguez’ sac fly to make it 2-0. That would still be the score in the fifth inning, with both teams on only three base hits, when it started to rain once more. Ah, the Portland weather – don’t ever change. In the light rain, O’Leary hit a 2-out double in the right-center gap in the bottom 5th, Ramos walked, but Nunley flew out to Gabe Creech in center to leave the runners stranded. O’Leary then surrendered a leadoff single to Long in the sixth, which provoked all sorts of dark thoughts in me, but Matt Lockert flew out easily to right, Long got forced out on a Vinny Diaz grounder, and then Willie Trevino popped out to short. All remained well for O’Leary through seven, and he was removed for a pinch-hitter with two outs in the bottom 7th and a critical insurance run on third base, where Wilson Rodriguez was parked up after singling, stealing second, and moving up on Tovias’ grounder to Aquino. Magallanes batted for the pitcher, and the runner scored indeed… on a passed ball charged to Taylor Canody. Magallanes flew out to center. And with the pen in the top 8th, everything threatened to fall apart once more. Garavito conceded a single to leadoff man Canody, then walked the .100 batter Creech. Firmino Cambra hit for Long, but flew out, and with the right-handed top of the order coming up, the Coons moved over to Kevin Surginer, who got a soft fly to right from Matt Lockert, then rung up Diaz on a nasty breaking ball that stripped the third baseman down to his undies. Josh Boles in the ninth survived both nailing Wayne Morris with one out as well as a brief rain delay, whiffing two and ending the game when Adam St. Germaine, the previous bad Coons experience, grounded out to Stalker. 3-0 Coons. Rodriguez 1-2, RBI; O’Leary 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, W (2-6) and 1-2, 2B;

Josh Long and Jonathan Hose failed to strike out a single Raccoons position player in this game; Long whiffed O’Leary once, and that was it. The Raccoons totaled eight strikeouts.

Game 2
MIL: SS Lockert – LF Cambra – RF W. Trevino – C J. Young – 2B W. Morris – 3B V. Diaz – 1B St. Germaine – CF Creech – P Colmenarez
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Gerster – P Roberts

The game was scoreless through the first three innings, with COlmenarez even facing the minimum. Only Butch Gerster reached for the Critters, drawing four balls, but then was doubled off when Roberts clumsily bunted. The Loggers had two base hits, but failed to threaten Roberts much at all. Bottom 4th, maybe the Coons had something cooking? Alberto Ramos led off with a double to left, then hobbled around second base in obvious discomfort. It was the sort of scene that made you go for the cheap liquor right away, because the cheap one was more effective in putting you into a booze-induced good night’s sleep, the only good night’s sleep I could hope to get anymore. Baldwin replaced Ramos as pinch-runner and then took over at third base, with Gerster moving to short, all that after the 2-3-4 batter conspired to strand the runner anyway.

Mark Roberts’ first walk in the game was a 5-pitch effort to put on Colmenarez with nobody out in the sixth, which was annoying, but surprisingly did not lead to a loss and mandatory contraction of the team when the top of the order popped out hard enough to strand the runner. The Raccoons did not get another base hit until Harenberg doubled in the seventh, but that came with two outs and Rafael Gomez was no help dead or alive, either (although we had not really tried dead yet!), and then the eighth rolled along. Roberts led off getting a slow roller from Creech to third that Baldwin stumbled over for an error. Colmenarez was retained to bunt to third, Baldwin on that one, too, and he threw it past Stalker for a 2-base error. That put runners in scoring position with nobody out and Mark Roberts was really not amused. The Coons’ sole remaining ace tried to dig in; he got Lockert to fly out to center, shallow enough for Creech to hold, Firmino Cambra popped out to Stalker, and now there were two outs against the right-handed batter Trevino – and the Coons removed Roberts (on 97 pitches) for Ricky Ohl in a double switch that also removed Gomez for Rodriguez. It took three pitches for Trevino to pop out to Harenberg, ending an inning that had been ready to get away fantastically; not that Chris Baldwin escaped without penalty. Between half-innings, the Critters duct-taped him to the front of the dugout railing, so that a foul ball might hit him right in the beans… His spot to bat came up, unfortunately, before someone could decapitate him, then with Mora and Rodriguez on the corners and two outs against Colmenarez, who was not removed so as to not have the Coons send Matt Nunley to pinch- … oh, you know what? **** it! Keep Baldwin taped to the railing! Matt, grab a stick! Nunley hissed for having to interrupt his candlelight dinner in one corner of the dugout, then grounded out to Morris.

Colmenarez remained in the game in the ninth and got two out before Harenberg singled. Magallanes batted for Ohl, singled, and Colmenarez lost Mora on four balls. Elias Tovias had three on, two outs, and was 0-for-3, but Colmenarez was still not removed on 110 pitches, and we only had Shane Ivey left on the bench, and that was probably really not a winning move. The count ran full, Tovias poked, grounded out to short, and the game went to extra innings. Stonecipher held the Loggers short in the top of the tenth, and a Brendan Day error at third base put Gerster on base to begin the bottom 10th with righty Zach Weaver on the mound. Rodriguez unhelpfully popped up a bunt, after which Nunley walked, which advanced the winning run anyway. Tim Stalker also popped out, running his day to 0-for-5, and that brought up Jamieson. He hit a soft looper to shallow left that fell between the converging Day and Willie Trevino, since having moved from rightfield. With two outs, Gerster had been in motion right away, was waved around, and scored handily, two strides ahead of Trevino’s throw. 1-0 Blighters. Ramos 1-2, 2B; Harenberg 2-4, 2B; Magallanes (PH) 1-1; Roberts 7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K; Ohl 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

And Alberto Ramos? – Mena! Mena! … I don’t know where he is hiding again …! – (turns over every single bobblehead in the showcase next to the door) … Mena!! If you have bad news, I swear I’m gonna ****ing find you anyway!!

Game 3
MIL: SS Lockert – LF Cambra – RF W. Trevino – C J. Young – 2B W. Morris – 1B Aquino – 3B V. Diaz – CF St. Germaine – P Casique
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – RF Rodriguez – C Ivey – SS Gerster – P Reed

Allen Reed lasted one inning before leaving the game with an injury, ever so slightly intensifying the despair. Sean Rigg would have to replace him and we’d try to patch the rest of the way from where he’d give up four runs in 1.2 innings or something like that. In actuality, Rigg retired five of the first six Loggers he faced before Firmino Cambra homered off him with two outs in the third, a solo shot for the Loggers’ first run in the series. It was not THAT bad a performance…

On the other end of the box score, the Critters got their first two batters on with a Magallanes single and Nunley walk before Jamieson hit into a double play and Harenberg flew out to St. Germaine in the first inning, but Jamieson and Harenberg hit singles to go to the corners with nobody out in the fourth, and Casique lost Tim Stalker on a borderline 3-2 pitch to load them up. Three on, no outs – there was undoubtedly disappointment in the making! In this case though, it would be on the Loggers’ Casique, whose BABIP luck ran out when Wilson Rodriguez planted a 2-2 pitch in the right-center gap for a bases-clearing double. Ivey flew out, Gerster walked, and with runners on the corners, Rigg grounded out to advance both runners for an RBI and a 4-1 lead. Magallanes made it 5-1 with a single up the middle. Nunley shot a single to left, but Jamieson struck out to end the inning.

Sean Rigg pitched four innings in the end before he was lifted for Billy Brotman to begin the sixth. Billy allowed a single to Trevino, nicked Jim Young, but pulled through the inning with strikeouts against Morris and Aquino and finally got his ERA out of the four range again. The Coons, while laying down on offense, stayed sharp on the mound. Stonecipher got four outs against no runners, Garavito got two outs after a Cambra single, and then we – albeit reluctantly – used Josh Boles for a non-save, 10-pitch ninth inning because everybody else was sort of toast at that point. The Loggers never even hinted at recovery after the 5-run blow. 5-1 Coons! Magallanes 3-4, RBI; Rodriguez 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Rigg 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, W (1-1);

Raccoons (66-60) @ Stars (58-66) – August 23, 2029

This was the makeup for the series finale postponed two weeks earlier on what would have been a convenient off day for the Critters to hide their genuine lack of starters. As things were, they needed to come up with one, and since Sean Rigg had pitched in long relief for Allen Reed the previous day, he was not available as a spot starter from the “who gives a ****” pile. We had to reach a wee bit deeper, thus, and brought up Dave Martinez, who ironically the last time he had been brought up for a spot start had not actually started but had pitched in late-inning relief. He had been the idiot that had managed to blow a 17th inning lead with two walks and two hit batters, and somehow still wound up with the win over the Baybirds then. Martinez took the roster spot of Allen Reed, who was out for the season with a ruptured finger tendon, which was such a coonish development.

Suspiciously, no news about Ramos.

Martinez (1-0, 3.00 ERA) would face right-hander Chris Brooks (4-6, 3.36 ERA) in the game while trying to brave the Texan bandbox that nevertheless saw the second-worst offensive team in the Federal League play in its confines. The Stars ranked seventh in runs allowed. This was also the rubber game for the series, the first two games having been split two weeks earlier.

POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – SS Stalker – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – 2B Baldwin – P Martinez
DAL: LF Hensley – 2B Hendricks – CF Botzet – 3B S. Green – RF Chaplin – C Wool – SS Clooken – 1B Cornejo – P Brooks

The Coons’ first hit in the game flipped a 1-0 deficit, but didn’t come until the fourth inning. Brooks had previously walked three, including Magallanes to begin the game (only for Juan to be caught stealing) and Matt Nunley twice. Nunley was left on in the first, but was up again in the fourth when Kevin Harenberg homered to left-center to put Portland ahead 2-1 and to erase Dallas’ run in the bottom 3rd when Gil Cornejo had singled to right, had been bunted over, and had scored on a clean Tony Hensley single up the middle. Martinez, who had seen double plays turned in his favor in the first two innings, got around a walk to Sam Green in the fourth and a Silvio Clooken single in the fifth to keep his claws on the 2-1 lead. Come the sixth, the Coons finally put a few more markers in the H column. Magallanes led off with a single to right, and while Nunley struck out, Jamieson and Harenberg both his singles to allow Magallanes to score, 3-1, but Stalker whiffed and Rodriguez grounded out to keep the two runners on. Bottom 6th, the Stars ran into rotten luck after a 1-out triple by Aaron Botzet. Sam Green hit 1-2 liner to the left side that Botzet thought was past Nunley for sure, but clearly hadn’t seen catlike Matt enough in his career to know better. Nunley made a sprawling catch, picked himself up in a swift scramble, and fell onto the bag before Botzet, who had to turn around from 25 feet away, could do the same, finding himself double off on a 5-U play.

Nunley went on to hit a leadoff single off Alex Hichez in the eighth, then scored on a long, long triple by Mat Jamieson to add to the tally, 4-1. The Stars called for Harenberg to be put on intentionally, but still conceded the run on Stalker’s sac fly. Rodriguez doubled up the line, offering Tovias the chance to put the game away with a pair in scoring position… except that the Stars called for another intentional walk. I kept wondering whether intentional walks were a smart move in a hitter’s haven, but it was not my business. Harenberg scored on Baldwin’s sac fly to right, 6-1, and with a 5-run lead and a low pitch count (65!), Martinez was not batted for here, with new reliever Evan Wilcher whiffing him to end the inning. Gil Cornejo hit a leadoff single in the bottom 8th, but the Stars produced three outs after that, and Martinez remained alive for the ninth. Besides, Harenberg hit another 2-run blast off Nate Ward in the ninth (plating Nunley again), so there was plenty of cushion available. Bottom 9th, Botzet grounded out to Baldwin. Green flew out to Magallanes. Mike Chaplin poked at the first pitch he got, easy fly to Rafael Gomez in right, and that was the ballgame. 8-1 Critters! Nunley 1-2, 3 BB; Jamieson 2-5, 3B, RBI; Harenberg 3-4, BB, 2 HR, 5 RBI; Martinez 9.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, W (2-0);

Yes, this was obviously Dave Martinez’ first career complete game. And yes, we are desperate enough that he has won one of the vacant rotation spots for the time being…

Oh, about vacant spots… the shortstop gig turned into another vacancy be the weekend, when the Coons put Alberto Ramos on the DL with a quad strain. He was likely out for the rest of the season. Portland called up certified warm body German Sanchez to plug the hole for the time being…

Raccoons (67-60) @ Thunder (63-63) – August 24-26, 2029

The Thunder were defeated in the South, 14 games out of first place. They had the fifth-most runs scored in the Continental League, which was not enough to cope with the second-worst pitching in the league and a -63 run differential that frankly did not mesh well with their .500 record. They were not even that good in 1-run games (22-17), and they also had a losing record at home and a winning record on the road (both six games off .500). Wicked bunch, against whom the Critters were 4-2 this year.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (4-4, 2.67 ERA) vs. Jeff Dykstra (16-7, 4.00 ERA)
Jamie O’Leary (2-6, 4.05 ERA) vs. Enrique Guzman (4-4, 3.47 ERA)
Mark Roberts (12-8, 3.15 ERA) vs. Paul Metzler (2-1, 3.08 ERA)

Three right-handers on offer here, with southpaw “Graveyard” Gill still on the DL.

Game 1
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – RF Mora – C Tovias – SS Gerster – P Anderson
OCT: CF Dalton – RF Sagredo – SS Serrato – 3B D. Garcia – 1B D. Cruz – C Burgess – 2B Kane – LF L. Otero – P Dykstra

Anderson allowed no base hits the first time through, although Dave Garcia almost hit a 2-piece to left in the opening inning; Jamieson caught that ball on the track after Luis Sagredo had drawn a walk earlier in the inning. The Raccoons scattered three hits pretty well in the early innings and were nowhere near scoring, and thus the Thunder put the first run on the board in the bottom 3rd with back-to-back 2-out doubles to right by Dan Dalton and Sagredo. Both teams would tally four hits through five, with Anderson once more being low-key, unspectacular, but ultimately quite efficient. In the sixth, he was rewarded with the lead; Dykstra walked Matt Nunley, and Matt Jamieson hit a blast to left that was clearly out of here, right off the bat, and flipped the score to 2-1 Critters, who also got Harenberg (single) and Stalker (walk) on base, but Mora flew out to Leo Otero and Tovias was absolutely fooled for just three pitches and a K to end the inning.

Efficiency ended for Anderson in the sixth, in which he retired nobody before Dave Garcia slugged a 3-piece to left-center. Sagredo had singled, and Alex Serrato had worked a free pass. Anderson was done after that inning, while Dykstra grinded the Coons for eight, allowing six hits and whiffing as many. Portland carted up the 6-7-8 bunch for the ninth inning against righty Cruz Sierra, who did have a control problem with 31 walks in 54 innings. That didn’t show up, but he still blew the save; after whiffing Mora, Gomez hit for Tovias and dropped soft single into left, and after that Butch Gerster turned on a 1-2 pitch and belted it over the fence in left, which was stunning not only to the Thunder. Butch Gerster can do that?? After Ivey and Magallanes made quick outs, Billy Brotman retired three in the bottom 9th to send the game into overtime, the second extra inning affair for the Raccoons this week. Top 10th, Nunley hit a leadoff single against Sierra, then was at second after Harenberg singled, with a Jamieson K in between. Baldwin ran for Nunley at that point, an arrangement rendered moot when Sierra hung a breaking ball to Tim Stalker that was hit well into Kansas, and again over the fence in left-center. Dusty Kulp replaced Sierra, who had fallen and couldn’t get up, at that point, but the bags were full immediately. Mora singled, stole second, Gomez singled, and Gerster walked. He put the first ball up the middle, JUST out of Serrato’s reach, and it escaped for a 2-run single, and then German Sanchez was the last Coon off the bench, batting for Brotman and hitting an RBI single to right. This was the end for Kulp, who had retired nobody, and also brought pinch-runner Chris Baldwin to the plate against righty Jose Vazquez, who ended the shenanigans with a double play grounder, but the Coons had thrown up six in the inning. Kevin Surginer, who had thrown only seven pitches on the week, pitched the bottom 10th and made it over with quickly. 10-4 Critters! Sanchez (PH) 1-1, RBI; Jamieson 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; Harenberg 2-4; Stalker 2-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Gomez (PH) 2-2; Gerster 2-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Ivey (PH) 1-2, 2 RBI;

With no off day until Thursday, we thought it prudent to mix in some off days to the regulars during this road trip. Jamieson would get the day off on Saturday. Probably Stalker on Sunday, and we *should* face Abramo Archibugi on Monday, so that would be the cue for the left-handed batters.

Game 2
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – LF Mora – 1B Harenberg – SS Stalker – RF Rodriguez – C Ivey – 2B Sanchez – P O’Leary
OCT: CF Dalton – C Burgess – 1B D. Cruz – SS Serrato – 3B D. Garcia – RF Sagredo – LF D. Brown – 2B Myers – P E. Guzman

The first run in the game was Serrato drawing a 2-out walk with the bases loaded in the bottom 3rd and was unearned. After a leadoff single by Dave Myers in the inning, Nunley had tried to turn two on a pathetic bunt by Guzman, but threw the ball into Stalker’s legs for an error, and O’Leary would not recover from that. O’Leary had batted with two outs and the bases loaded in the second inning, had flown out to Sagredo, and he came up AGAIN with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, then the result of a Rodriguez single and two walks, all with two already down. Again, O’Leary stranded all of them, taking strike three looking in a full count. Top 5th, Magallanes opened with a single, then was running when Nunley hit a drive to right that was caught by Sagredo on the track and barely made it back. He was aggro again when Mora singled to right and reached third base safely, giving Harenberg a really good chance to tie the game with runners on the corners and one out, but he didn’t, smacking into a double play instead. O’Leary came to bat again with Rodriguez on second and Sanchez on first (after an intentional walk), and Matt Jamieson was sent to bat for him. Six left on base were enough, even for a pitcher. Jamieson instead flew out to Dan Dalton.

Bottom 6th, the Thunder also let one get away. Sagredo singled after Matt Stonecipher got two outs, and then the right-hander threw two wild pitches before walking Dan Brown. Myers ran a 3-1 count and just had to hold still to make something happen, but popped out to German Sanchez to strand the runners. On to the eighth, where the Coons reached ten hits and still no runs when Rodriguez hit a 1-out single and Ivey doubled to center. That was runners in scoring position, Ying-hua Ou replacing Guzman, and Sanchez being hit for, despite being unretired on the day. Rafael Gomez batted for him and rushed the first pitch by Ou through Dave Garcia, and that went deep enough to become a score-flipping double before Dalton contained it. Chris Baldwin batted for reliever Ricky Ohl and singled to left, but Magallanes hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the fun. Surginer almost surrendered a game-tying homer to Sagredo in the bottom 8th, but Abel Mora made the catch at the centerfield fence; the ball sure had the right travelling distance, but too high an arc to get out. Top 9th, Ou continued to bleed hits, allowing three singles to the 2-3-4 batters to fill the bags with nobody down. Some insurance would be sweet indeed! They only got one run; Tim Stalker was 0-4 in the game, 3-1 against Ou, then flew out to center for a sac fly, and a foul pop by Rodriguez and an Ivey fly to left ended the inning and stranded two before Josh Boles came out. He retired Brown and Myers on grounders, leaked a single to Liam Riley, the backup catcher, but then rung up Dalton to extend the winning streak to six. 3-1 Furballs. Magallanes 2-5; Nunley 2-5; Mora 2-5; Rodriguez 4-5; Sanchez 1-1, 2 BB; Gomez (PH) 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI; Baldwin (PH) 1-1;

Game 3
POR: CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – SS Gerster – C Tovias – 2B Baldwin – P Roberts
OCT: CF Dalton – C Burgess – 1B D. Cruz – SS Serrato – 3B D. Garcia – RF Sagredo – LF D. Brown – 2B Myers – P Metzler

Offense was again slow in the early going, with the Coons getting Roberts and Mora into scoring position after a pair of singles in the third inning, but Jamieson’s deep drive was intercepted by Dan Brown to end that inning. Roberts inexplicably exploded in the fourth inning to end the Coons’ winning streak; Danny Cruz and Serrato hit a pair of singles to begin the inning, with Cruz scoring right away on Rafael Gomez’ gruesome throwing error, but the inning continued to simmer and finally blew up on a 2-out RBI single by Brown, then a pair of RBI doubles by Myers and, annoyingly, Metzler. Portland did not get another runner until Harenberg’s leadoff single in the seventh that eluded Serrato up the middle. Gomez hit into a fielder’s choice, but advanced on a passed ball, only to be stranded in scoring position when both Gerster and Tovias struck out. This was just not a lineup that could upend any sort of pitcher… Overnight, they had completely deflated again after a week of battle, and just couldn’t reach Metzler, who went into the ninth, where Jamieson hit a 1-out single. Harenberg grounded up the middle, Serrato to Myers to Cruz, and that was the ballgame, a 5-hit shutout for Paul Metzler in his sixth start of the season after 27 relief outings. 4-0 Thunder. Mora 2-4;

In other news

August 21 – The Blue Sox not only blow a 2-1, ninth-inning lead against the Cyclones, but go down to a 9-2 defeat in regulation when Cincy unfolds an 8-spot entirely blamed on pitching. At one point in the meltdown, six straight Cyclones reach base without the benefit of as much as a base hit. NAS CL Tim Colangelo (4-6, 3.43 ERA, 14 SV) and MR Jimmy Souders (3-9, 3.76 ERA, 18 SV) are principally responsible for the carnage.
August 24 – Dallas utility Raimondo Odescalchi (.253, 1 HR, 22 RBI) could miss up to nine months with a broken elbow.
August 24 – LVA 3B/SS Tom Hawkins (.217, 0 HR, 15 RBI) shines with three hits and 5 RBI, including a pair of 2-out, 2-run triples, in a 12-4 rush over the Indians. The Aces score nine runs in the eighth inning.
August 25 – Topeka’s SP Jose Lerma (12-7, 2.63 ERA) 3-hits the Warriors in a 7-0 shutout, whiffing eight.

Complaints and stuff

(Depeche Mode’s “Shake the Disease” blasts at full volume)

(is barely audible) Well, that was … that was … some week.

More injuries ripped through the roster, and of course Alberto Ramos was the first one culled. He is probably gone for the year with the quad strain, and why wouldn’t he be. It is the third consecutive year that he misses at least 56 games. Another year – another failure. At this point the Coons might wonder whether they should just see into what package of prospects they –

Oh, wait a moment… (waits for his cue in the song before chiming in, clearly off tune) You know how haaaard it’s for meee to shake the diseee-eeease …!

Where was I? Well, about injuries. Rich Hereford started a rehab assignment this week, while Rico Gutierrez has so far struggled in three outings in AAA. Rico will only rejoin the Coons in September; not that we would not need a starter… but he should recover his mojo and stuff first… The next vacancy is on Monday, and I wonder whether we should just have Cristiano Carmona pitch in Vegas. Granted, he does not get a lot of drive out of his legs and lower body, but maybe he can nag the Aces to death. No, Cristiano, we are not going to pick Daniel Bullock off waivers this time, either!!

Fun Fact: The Raccoons have already used their 13th different starting pitcher this season in game #127, which is a new franchise record for starting pitchers used in a campaign.

We most recently used as many as *ten* starting pitchers in 2023, which was a year that we were banking on “Tragic” Travis Garrett. We have seven guys with 10+ starts, which is not a record. We used nine starters for 10+ games in 2022, only one of which made it to 30 starts. That was Bobby Guerrero, who went 6-18 on the year with a 4.40 ERA, more losses than all but three pitchers managed to amass in starts for Portland that year (Rico Gutierrez and Ryan Nielson were the exceptions).

In 2013, the Raccoons used 12 different starters, including four guys who only started one or two games due to injury (Daniel Dickerson, Mauro Castro), sucking (Ian Cumins) or utmost desperation (Pat Slayton). The only other year the Critters carted up a full dozen starters was 2006.

But 2029 stands alone in seeing 13 different starting pitchers penciled into the lineup, and few of them were by choice… Overall we have used 25 pitchers, and 43 players overall. Is there room for more? Conventional wisdom says there’s always one more fly to swat…
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True! Normally I only encounter the guy with the scissor hands in the dark alleyway on Wednesdays, but this week he appeared to me in my sleep a whopping five times!
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Raccoons (69-61) @ Aces (67-63) – August 27-29, 2029

The Coons that just ****ing wouldn’t die would stop by in Vegas on the way home, facing the Aces that sat third from the bottom in runs scored as well as in runs allowed. Somehow that amounted to third place in the South and a winning record, and I will not even attempt to explain it… We were 4-2 against them in ’29.

Projected matchups:
Trevor Draper (3-2, 4.56 ERA) vs. Abramo Archibugi (14-9, 2.97 ERA)
Dave Martinez (2-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Jose Menendez (8-10, 5.98 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (4-4, 2.97 ERA) vs. Chris Guyett (13-11, 3.41 ERA)

German Sanchez was deactivated to allow Draper, reluctantly, to make the spot start on Monday. There was just no option to supersede Dave Martinez on Tuesday. Things are somewhat frightening around here… Monday would also be the day where we faced the lefty in Archibugi, giving our regulars a day off before they could collapse under the strain of scratching out wins.

Game 1
POR: CF Magallanes – SS Stalker – LF Jamieson – RF Rodriguez – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – 2B Baldwin – 3B Gerster – P Draper
LVA: CF Leader – LF Dunlap – 1B Ra. Tello – 3B Grigsby – SS Hawkins – C Scheffer – 2B Donahue – RF Barrientos – P Archibugi

Who was the more pathetic cleanup batter? Regardless of that, the Coons got two singles, two walks, and an actual run when Rafael Gomez ticked one into shallow center to score Tim Stalker with two outs for a first-inning marker. The Aces did not get more than a Tom Hawkins double off Draper in the early going, and Archibugi kept leaking runners, conceding leadoff singles to Jamieson and Rodriguez in the top 3rd. Gomez flew out to Bill Leader, the leadoff man (sic!), in the gap, but Elias Tovias found a hole in the other gap between Leader and Tom Dunlap for an RBI double, then got doubled off second base when Baldwin lined out to Hawkins… yet, Tim Stalker added a pair with a homer to left in the fourth, going deep with two outs and Magallanes aboard. That made it 4-0, and that 4-0 lead was near busting in the bottom of the same inning. Ramon Tello opened with a double to left, Draper walked long-ago fail-Coon Mike Grigsby (batting .242 with seven homers) and Philip Scheffer, but then was lucky enough that with one down Evan Donahue spanked a fast bouncer right into Butch Gerster’s glove, Gerster held on, AND went around 5-4-3 to end the inning.

Somehow, nobody quite understood how, the defense made Draper hold up for six innings of shutout ball, and yes, it was defense alone. There were four hits and four walks on Draper’s ledger, and not one strikeout. Rafael Gomez made a sharp play to strand two to end the bottom 6th, and the seventh would start with the left-handed Ramiro Barrientos. What could possibly go wrong there? Barrientos poked at the first pitch, legged out the resulting roller for a single, and when Matt Hamilton pinch-hit for Archibugi, the Coons went lefty-for-lefty despite three left-handed batters coming up, sending Brotman into the game. Brotman gave up a single to Hamilton, and then a 3-run homer to Dunlap, so there was that. THAT could go wrong there. Fleischer replaced Brotman, walked Grigsby, walked PH Justin Quinn, balked them into scoring position… and then Scheffer struck out when he just had to wait for the inevitable third walk, and that ended the inning. Top 8th, Arturo Arellano began with a single conceded to Baldwin, then had Andres Medina, who had come in at short with Hawkins removed, misfire a Gerster grounder that could have been two and ended up none. The Coons did not **** around here and sent Abel Mora to hit for Fleischer. The count ran to 3-1, and Arellano *had* to get a strike here. Abel knew. Abel was ready. Abel beat him, a screaming 3-piece to right that re-established slam range! Matt Stonecipher wobbled in the bottom 8th and put two on (including Josh Motley with an error of his own), but Leader hit into a double play to defuse the inning, and Stonecipher retired the Aces in order in the ninth. 7-3 Coons. Stalker 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; Jamieson 2-4, BB; Tovias 1-2, 2 BB, 2B, RBI; Mora (PH) 1-1, HR, 3 RBI; Stonecipher 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Game 2
POR: CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – RF Gomez – C Ivey – SS Gerster – P Martinez
LVA: CF Leader – LF Dunlap – SS A. Medina – 1B Barrientos – C Motley – RF Quinn – 3B Hawkins – P Jo. Menendez – 2B Donahue

To start the game, Mora and Nunley both hit singles past either side of Evan Donahue, but the bid quickly fell apart when Jamieson hit into a double play and Harenberg whiffed. Nobody else reached base in the first three innings, for either team, and it was Nunley to become the next base runner with a leadoff single in the fourth. Jamieson also singled, and when Harenberg looped one over the head of Hawkins for another single, the bags were full and nobody was retired – the worst situation to be in for both the team opposing the Raccoons… and the Raccoons. Tim Stalker struck out. Rafael Gomez hit into a double play. I was slightly mad.

I was still chewing on my hat when Dunlap drew a walk to end a string of ten straight Aces retired by Dave Martinez (who??) to begin the game. Andres Medina singled to center, but Barrientos hit to Stalker for a 4-6-3 and the inning ended. The Coons finally scratched out a run in the top of the fifth when Shane Ivey led off with a scratch single and was plated by Mora with two outs, and the following inning Jamieson and Stalker were on the corners with one out, and Gomez dropped a blooper into no man’s land for an RBI single. It was the Critters’ second run on ten singles. Runners remained on the corners, even through K’s to Ivey and Gerster. The Aces also left them on the corners in the bottom of the inning, and the Coons were right back in action in the seventh, which Martinez started with a single. A walk and a single filled the bags with nobody out (sounds familiar?), and this time one rousing run was scored on a Harenberg grounder, while Jamieson and Stalker were rung up. At least Martinez continued to confound the Aces and lasted seven and two thirds before a Bill Leader single created a stir. Garavito came on, got a grounder from Dunlap, and that was the eighth. No, only Boles got tagged for a run in this game, giving up a solo homer to Ramiro Barrientos in the bottom 9th. Nobody else reached, though. 3-1 Coons. Mora 2-4, BB, RBI; Nunley 3-5; Jamieson 2-4; Magallanes (PH) 1-1; Martinez 7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, W (3-0) and 1-2;

Game 3
POR: CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – RF Gomez – C Tovias – SS Gerster – P Anderson
LVA: CF Leader – LF Dunlap – RF M. Hamilton – SS A. Medina – 1B Barrientos – C Motley – 3B Grigsby – P Guyett – 2B Donahue

The Coons filled the bags before they made an out on a leadoff walk to Mora and then two singles to left-center. Kevin Harenberg narrowly beat the range of Grigsby for an RBI single, Stalker dropped a soft one into right for another RBI single, Gomez struck out, but Tovias singled to center to make it 3-0. Gerster was rung up, badly, and Anderson dropped a roller on the infield that… nobody managed to play anywhere, putting Kyle Anderson on base with a 2-out infield RBI single and extending the score to 4-0. Mora then grounded out to third base. Now, Anderson was a bit lacking in command… the Aces got a few walks early on, and had Motley and Grigsby in scoring position with two outs in the bottom 2nd. Evan Donahue lined to shallow right, but Rafael Gomez made an amazing running catch, blasting in at full steam, and even then he had played rather shallow here to make the play at all. The Aces did get on the board the following inning, though. Leader led off with a single, stole second and reached third on Tovias’ throwing error, and then came home on a Hamilton double to right that would have plated him maybe even from first base, so the run was earned. Anderson kept having troubles; Guyett singled off him in the fourth and he walked Donahue, all with two outs, and then Gomez made another hustling grab to retire Leader near the line. Anderson had less luck in the fifth; Hamilton took him deep to cut the gap to 4-2, and then a Barrientos double and Motley single created a 2-out run before Grigsby flew out to center. Five innings was all the Coons got from Anderson, who allowed seven hits and three walks.

Unfortunately, the Critters could not kick the offense back into gear. They got a few leadoff men on, but that led to double play grounders by Gomez in the fifth and Mora in the sixth, while Billy Brotman ached through two innings in relief against a very much left-handed lineup (part of Anderson’s troubles, surely). Top of the eighth, the Coons loaded them up with one out against the Aces’ very resilient Chris Guyett. Tovias singled, Magallanes walked in place of Gerster, and Baldwin singled hitting for Brotman. That brought up the top of the order with Mora, who got nailed with an 0-2 pitch, which was a very painful, but equally precious run. Nunley brought in another run with a single to left, and Baldwin was thrown out at home plate there. Jamieson flew out to right against Arturo Arellano to end the inning, now up 6-3. Ricky Ohl and Josh Boles took care of the rest. 6-3 Coons!! Nunley 2-4, BB, RBI; Tovias 3-5, RBI; Baldwin (PH) 1-1; Brotman 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

That was the second straight game where we dished out at least 12 hits, and they were all singles.

Never mind; the Coons managed to tie the Indians for first place during this series, then watched the Arrowheads play the Elks on Thursday when the Critters were off in Portland. Or at least we tried to – the Indians-Elks tilt was rained out and the division stayed knotted until Friday, when they’d try to play two, while we were content trying our paws at one game against the Crusaders.

Raccoons (72-61) vs. Crusaders (66-66) – August 31-September 2, 2029

The Crusaders were on the very tail end of the five-pack atop the CL North and really needed a major scoop here in town to stay close as we headed into September (rosters would expand for the second game in the series). They had yet to win this week and ranked second from the bottom in runs scored as well as fourth in runs allowed. Overall, that was a net negative at -20. The Raccoons were up 7-4 in the season series.

Projected matchups:
Jamie O’Leary (2-6, 3.70 ERA) vs. Mel Lira (7-16, 4.10 ERA)
Mark Roberts (12-9, 3.22 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (10-8, 4.21 ERA)
TBD vs. Mike Rutkowski (9-9, 3.76 ERA)

Only righties on offer here!

The Coons planned to activate both Rico Gutierrez and Rich Hereford on Saturday along with a few other roster additions.

Game 1
NYC: 3B Schmit – LF M. Owen – CF Coca – C F. Delgado – RF Reardon – 1B Tadlock – 2B T. Fuentes – SS Cameron – P Lira
POR: CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – SS Stalker – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 2B Baldwin – P O’Leary

The moment Nick Valdes started to breath down my neck again, things decidedly started to not work out anymore. While the Coons took a 1-0 lead on Harenberg’s 2-out double that chased home Mora in the first inning, Felipe Delgado’s double and Chris Reardon’s single in the top 2nd were enough to equalize. The Coons had Tovias and Baldwin aboard with one out in the bottom 2nd, but O’Leary bunted into a force at third base to give Mora a less great chance to do damage, and when he did lace a liner to left, Matt Owen threw himself into the ball and caught it to end the inning. Things got worse for Mora, who hurt himself on a defensive play in the fourth inning and had to leave the game in favor of Magallanes.

Top 5th, O’Leary plunked the pitcher and walked Andy Schmit with one out. Owen hit into a fielder’s choice, but that brought up Tony Coca, who had 30 homers and still 24 stolen bases after having been thrown out by Tovias in the third. But this was the right spot for him to do serious damage in a 1-1 game. The Raccoons *could* go to a right-hander here… but didn’t. Too early, too panicky. Coca hit an RBI single to right, and Owen was thrown out between second and third to end the inning, but that could have gone better… or worse. Indeed worse was that the Coons stranded pairs of runners in the bottoms of the fifth and sixth innings, Harenberg and Rodriguez grounding out respectively, the latter in place of O’Leary. The Crusaders did tack on, plating a run on two leadoff singles against Fleischer in the seventh, and I had Valdes’ whispers in my ear, wondering why our boys couldn’t do that, why? Truth be told, I wondered the same; Magallanes hit a leadoff single in the seventh, then was stranded at third base, while Tony Coca hit #31 off Surginer in the eighth. And despite all the crummy – the tying run was at the plate in the bottom 9th against Travis Giordano, who allowed singles to Gerster and Nunley before Jamieson came up with two outs, but grounded out to J.D. Laughery to end the game. 4-1 Crusaders. Harenberg 2-4, 2B, RBI; Tovias 2-4, 2B; Baldwin 1-2, BB; Gerster (PH) 1-1;

The month of August ended with the Arrowheads leading the Coons and Titans by half a game. The Elks were 3 1/2 back, and the Crusaders were out by a handful.

The tension was unbearable.

Then, call-ups! Rico Gutierrez (2-1, 1.63 ERA) and Rich Hereford (.263, 6 HR, 33 RBI) were activated from their rehab stints. We also added Nick Derks, who had a 3.96 ERA in AAA and had posted an 11.81 ERA earlier this year for Portland, Billy Ramm (3.50 and 5.82 respectively), and some non-right-handed batting options with Ryan Allan (who you may remember from earlier in the season before he went on the DL and from there straight to AAA) and 2B Sam Cass, who had made a 15 AB cameo last year, batting not a whole damn lot. Finally, Daniel Rocha as unsuccessful third catcher. That extended the roster to 32, including the ailing Abel Mora.

Game 2
NYC: 3B Schmit – LF M. Owen – CF Coca – C F. Delgado – RF Reardon – 2B Lichty – 1B Olszewski – SS Cameron – P R. Gonzalez
POR: CF Magallanes – SS Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 2B Hereford – 3B Nunley – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – P Roberts

Robby Gonzalez (7-9, 4.81 ERA) gave up a solo homer to Tim Stalker in the first, but then dug in, while Mark Roberts retired New York in order the first time through, whiffing four, before Schmit singled to begin the fourth, a clean one to center. Matt Owen doubled him up, Coca singled, but Delgado popped out to end the frame. Portland scratched out a run on a string of 2-out singles by the 6-7-8 crew in the bottom 4th, staking Roberts to a 2-0 lead. Roberts retained a 2-hit shutout until he didn’t, hanging one to Felipe Delgado with two outs in the seventh that was bombed to Nowhere, Idaho and cut the lead in half. Overall, there was precious little offense; in the bottom 6th the Coons had more 2-out singles by Nunley and Rodriguez, but Tovias lined out to the shortstop Joe Cameron to strand them that time around. No more offense came forth for Portland against Gonzalez and Keith Roofener, leaving Josh Boles to his own devices in the ninth, which started with Ron Tadlock pinch-hitting in the #9 hole. Tadlock singled to left on the first pitch, then moved up on a bunt and a fly to center. That brought up Tony Coca with the tying run at third, and the Coons had none of that! Intentional walk! Mind, Boles was still going to face a right-hander here, but it was Delgado, the catcher. Whom Boles struck out …! 2-1 Furballs!! Nunley 2-4; Rodriguez 2-4; Tovias 2-3, 2B, RBI; Roberts 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, W (13-9);

WHOAH.

Okay, there were some issues, like Hereford posting an oh-fer, but eh, one game.

Game 3
NYC: 3B Schmit – LF M. Owen – CF Coca – C F. Delgado – RF Reardon – 2B Lichty – 1B Jam. Richardson – SS Cameron – P E. Cannon
POR: CF Magallanes – SS Stalker – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 2B Hereford – 3B Nunley – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – P Gutierrez

The crowd was buzzing (and even Nick Valdes was pleased and humming into my left ear) for Rico’s return to the mound after four long months away, and the Coons immediately gave him work. Owen singled on a ball Hereford missed in the first, but was doubled up, and then Stalker threw away a Delgado grounder and Rico had to grind to keep him from scoring in the second. He kept the Crusaders to two hits through four before a Harenberg homer gave him the lead in the bottom 4th. Rich Hereford came up with a gapper for a triple after that, but was stranded when the Crusaders went around Nunley, who got four intentionally wide ones, got a pop from Rodriguez, and a groundout from Tovias to end the inning. Rico kept the Crusaders shut out until he ran into Tony Coca in the sixth inning. Coca hit a no-doubter to left to tie the tally at one run per side.

The Raccoons had a chance in the bottom 6th with Harenberg reaching on a Jamie Richardson error and Hereford lifting a single to shallow left. The dilemma was Nunley; if we could be sure to get Wilson Rodriguez to hit the ball, we could use Nunley to bunt. But Rodriguez was no certain contact. So Nunley swung away and hit right into a double play. Rodriguez *walked*, and then Tovias struck out to strand a pair. Gutierrez was done after seven strong innings, and Butch Gerster hit for him to begin the bottom 7th, singling to center on a 3-1 pitch before taking second base for his 10th steal of the year. Magallanes flew out to right, with Gerster tagging up to head for third. Chris Reardon wouldn’t let him, but threw the ball away past Andy Schmit, allowing Gerster to score and break the 1-1 tie. Tim Stalker tripled after that, but was … stranded. Jamieson grounded out to third base, Harenberg was walked intentionally, and Coca took Hereford’s fly to strand the pair. Ricky Ohl came in for the eighth and put on Schmit and Owen with singles before getting anybody out. With Coca next, the quick Giacobbe Vacarri ran for Schmit as the tying run. Ohl dug in, whiffed Coca, whiffed Delgado, then faced left-handed pinch-hitter Jaiden Jackson, who was hitting .302. We twitched and sent Brotman, a ballsy move given his season-long struggles and 4.06 ERA. A long ball would do the Coons in, probably – but Jackson went down swinging, and the Coons had dodged the bullet there. No insurance came forth, though, and Boles was on his own against the 6-7-8 batters, starting with Tony Fuentes, who singled to left and was bunted over by Tadlock. Joe Cameron popped out to Hereford at 1-2, bringing up a pinch-hitter, switch-poking Brennen Mayeux in his first at-bat of the year. He coaxed a walk. I was getting antsy, but not as antsy as Valdes, who was chewing on the sleeve of my suit. Juan Espinosa pinch-hit for Vacarri, at least a left-hander! Surginer was warming up, too, to face Owen. Espinosa ticked the first pitch into center, the tying run scored, and that was that. Deflated, the Coons went to Surginer, who got a pop from Owen, but the pretty lead that Rico had worked so hard for was gone.

Before long there were extra innings. The 10th saw Tony Coca nailed twice; once by Surginer to put him on base, and then again by Tovias when he tried to scoop second. Bottom 10th, the big boys were up against righty Shane Baker. Harenberg singled to left, and Hereford zinged one up the line for a double, but Harenberg had no chance to score. The winning run was at third base with nobody out, though. Baldwin ran for Harenberg now, just in case… The Crusaders walked Nunley intentionally to create a force at home. The Coons stuck to Wilson Rodriguez, who looked at strike one, then poked at the second pitch. Soft line, hovering over Tadlock at short. Tadlock leapt, in vain, the ball went into center, and Baldwin jogged home as the Critters walked off!! 3-2 Furballs!! Stalker 2-5, 3B; Harenberg 2-4, BB, HR, RBI; Hereford 4-5, 3B, 2B; Rodriguez 2-4, BB, RBI; Gerster (PH) 1-1; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K;

Winneeeeeeeers …!! (dances embarassingly with Nick Valdes, each of them shaking a pair of Coons Hall of Famers’ bobbleheads)

In other news

August 27 – NYC SP Carlos Marron (7-10, 3.15 ERA, 1 SV) is done for the season with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
August 30 – Boston’s Adam Corder (.226, 3 HR, 38 RBI) would probably miss the rest of the season with an abdominal strain.
August 31 – SFB SP Matt Huf (13-7, 3.36 ERA) might be done for ’29 with elbow tendinitis.
September 1 – Sioux Falls’ SP Pat Okrasinski (18-6, 2.69 ERA) 3-hits the Gold Sox in a 5-0 shutout in Denver.
September 1 – SFB C Eric Carpenter (.226, 5 HR, 18 RBI) drives in six from the #8 hole in a 14-1 mashing of the Falcons.

Complaints and stuff

Kevin Harenberg was Hitter of the Month in the CL, going .366 with 7 HR and 15 RBI. I noticed the power surge, but I didn’t find him overwhelming. Also, the power surge has already ended.

WHAT A RACE, THOUGH.

What does BNN say for playoff chances and strength of schedule?

Indians (75-62) – POR (6), NYC (4), BOS (3), MIL (3), OCT (3), SFB (3), VAN (3) – .498 – 36.9%
Titans (74-62) – VAN (6), MIL (4), POR (4), IND (3), NYC (3), OCT (3), SFB (3) – .491 – 32.3%
Raccoons (74-62) – IND (6), BOS (4), NYC (4), ATL (3), CHA (3), MIL (3), VAN (3) – .491 – 30.3%
Canadiens (70-68) – BOS (6), ATL (3), CHA (3), IND (3), MIL (3), NYC (3), POR (3) – .493 – 0.4%
Crusaders (67-68) – MIL (7), IND (4), POR (4), BOS (3), LVA (3), TIJ (3), VAN (3) – .500 – 0.1%

By keeping Rico and Rich in AAA until the morning of September 1, we gained a few options for the postseason roster, should the opportunity arise. I mean, I want no piece of German Sanchez even when I am dangling off the cliff ledge and only he has a free paw to reach out to me, but it sounded smart in my head, so we did that. Besides, Rico would not have been able to pitch before Saturday anyway.

On Thursday, the Falcons were the first team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and also the first team with a losing record, then at 50-82.

Come on, people, who is antsy for a great finish??

Fun Fact: 30 years ago today, the Falcons’ Joe Morton hit for the cycle against the Aces.

That was the highlight of Morton’s career, who was otherwise perfectly bland during his 15-year career, during which he played for six different teams. He was a career .294 batter with 54 HR and 546 RBI that never led the league in anything, never was an All Star, and never won a championship. Even of the five players he was traded for during his career, four never played in the majors, and the fifth, journeyman Paco Batlle, was also more or less perfectly bland except for stumbling into a ring with the 2009 Crusaders.
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Old 04-06-2019, 07:37 PM   #2790
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Wow! If you pull this one out, it will be amazing with all the injuries the team has suffered this year.

I guess Matt Nunley has to be up among the team leaders by now in a lot of stuff. I remember watching him back before they put the lights out on me.....
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Old 04-06-2019, 07:55 PM   #2791
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Yeah, this one would be a division crown won on character and winging **** day by day.

Matt Nunley has the second-most seasons as a Critter (trailing Brownie by one) and has the most games, games started (nine short of 2,000), and at-bats, but as he was never a threat to be a serial All Star, he trails in the quality categories. He is…:

2nd in hits (2,193) behind Cookie Carmona (2,299)
2nd in doubles (366) behind Daniel Hall (485)
5th in homers (154) behind Daniel Hall (223), Mark Dawson, Neil Reece, and Tetsu Osanai
2nd in RBI (930) behind Daniel Hall (980)
4th in runs (873) behind Daniel Hall (1,101), Cookie Carmona, and Neil Reece
2nd in walks (701) behind Daniel Hall (1,099)

Silverware include the 2014 ROTY crown (back-to-back with Ronnie McKnight then), one All Star nomination, three Platinum Sticks, and one Gold Glove, most of that stuff in the 2010s. One should also note that his current .757 OPS is his highest in a decade. His career OPS is .725, which is 56th amongst Raccoons with at least 500 at-bats; a steady producer without any great peaks or valleys (but a great glove!); well, except for last year when he missed 108 games with the broken leg.

He has also never played anywhere but at third base. Not one third of an inning.
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Old 04-06-2019, 08:30 PM   #2792
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Nice run to get into serious contention for the stretch run. 14-2 goes a long ways toward being on a serious roll so hopefully the Critters can ride that hot streak into the postseason.

With all the injuries the Druid most be working overtime
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Old 04-07-2019, 02:20 PM   #2793
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The NorthWest Sports Network brings to you the Portland Raccoons … presented by …

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Off to the DL was Abel Mora with a strained oblique. Like Ramos he would likely miss the rest of the regular season, but could be available in the playoffs, if the rest of the ramshackle crew indeed made it there.

Raccoons (74-62) @ Indians (75-62) – September 4-6, 2029

A stellar way to make the playoffs would be to win the series in Indy. After an off day on Monday, the Coons would play three with the division leaders, who were tied by the time the series began on Tuesday, since the Titans were active and successful on Monday. The season series was knotted at six and the Coons had to find a way through the third-best offense and the fifth-best pitching in the Continental League.

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (3-0, 0.92 ERA) vs. Sal Bedoya (11-2, 2.55 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (5-4, 3.14 ERA) vs. Ben Darr (6-8, 3.57 ERA)
Mark Roberts (13-9, 3.13 ERA) vs. David Saccoccio (11-7, 2.62 ERA)

There was some unlikely good pitching assembled here. The Coons would probably face only right-handers; southpaw John McInerney (12-11, 3.20 ERA) had pitched on Sunday. Notably on the DL for Indy: Mario Pizano, who had been out for four weeks with a broken thumb and would not return in time to plague the Coons here, but would indeed return in time to snatch the stolen base crown from Alberto Ramos later in the month.

Game 1
POR: CF Magallanes – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – SS Gerster – P Martinez
IND: LF Zanches – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – RF Plunkett – C Dear – 2B Schneller – 3B C. Castro – SS T. Johnson – P Bedoya

The Coons burst out fast in the first inning, in which ROTY contender (and not the only one on the squad) Sal Bedoya started with a walk to Magallanes, then brittled from there. Stalker flew out to right, but the 3-4-5 batters hit straight singles for a Nunley RBI to take the lead, Wilson Rodriguez – Sunday’s hero – legged out the return throw to break up a double play to bring in Hereford, Harenberg scored on a Tovias single, and Gerster singled to right to plate Rodriguez. Dave Martinez struck out before he threw a pitch, ending the inning in a 4-0 tally. Martinez went on to throw four pitches in the bottom 1st, all of which were put into play. Alex Zanches popped out, Jon Gonzalez flew out to left, Ben Suhay singled up the middle, and then was caught in a rundown between second and third on Mike Plunkett’s sharp single to left. Suhay would get more blame in the third inning, which he ended by popping out to Magallanes on a 3-0 pitch after Jon Gonzalez, the 2026 World Series MVP, had just hit a double into the right-center gap. The strange fairytale of Dave Martinez came to a screeching halt in the following inning. Plunkett led off with a jack, Matt Dear doubled and scored on Dan Schneller’s single (there was that other ROTY contender), and Martinez continued to leak with a 1-out walk to Todd Johnson, then a Bedoya RBI single. Alex Zanches singled to load the sacks, and then Jon Gonzalez emptied them with a slammer to center, which was also the final pitch Martinez threw after acquiring a 7-4 deficit.

That was it for the Coons, really. Rich Hereford hit a leadoff double in the fifth and came around on a grounder and a wild pitch, but after Butch Gerster hit a leadoff single in the sixth against Mark Matthews, Ryan Allan smacked into a double play, and terrible Billy Ramm gave a run back without retiring much of anybody in the bottom 6th, when the Indians just shot liners all over the place. Hereford worked a leadoff walk in the seventh, got doubled up by Harenberg, and the bottom completely gave way on the bullpen in the home half of that inning. Nick Derks was in for some garbage time baseball, and was precisely that: garbage. He walked two, allowed a single to Zanches, and with three on and one out gave way to Sean Rigg, who gave up a few doubles to conceded five runs in total as the Coons got completely blown up. 13-6 Indians. Hereford 3-4, BB, 2 2B; Nunley 2-4, BB, RBI; Stonecipher 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

That was butt ugly. And I know some ugly butts.

Game 2
POR: CF Magallanes – SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – RF Gomez – C Ivey – P Anderson
IND: LF Zanches – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – RF Plunkett – C Dear – 2B Schneller – 3B Dichio – SS Rolph – P Darr

Hereford homered in the first to give Anderson a 1-0 lead, and also for his first RBI since coming off the DL, and the Coons had a stellar chance out of the blue in the second, when with two outs Darr nicked Shane Ivey, allowed a single to Anderson, and walked Magallanes. Tim Stalker farted though, popped out, and nobody scored. Well, at least until the bottom 2nd, where Plunkett was hit leading off, Dear singled, and then Schneller hit into a double play. Anderson fell behind Dominique Dichio, though, then had a fastball destroyed over the leftfield fence to flip the score in the Indians’ favor, 2-1. That was not the last run in the game, though, not by a mile… The Critters opened the third with a K glaring by Hereford, but Harenberg singled and Jamieson walked to set something up. Nunley went down swinging, but Gomez found a seam on the infield for a 2-out RBI single, tying the teams at two. Ivey singled to center, but Suhay was ON that ball and Jamieson had to hit the brakes despite the pitcher up. Oh great, they’re gonna strand three in back-to-back innings…! No, they weren’t gonna…! Kyle Anderson tracked Jamieson’s seamer’s route for a 2-out, 2-run single, taking the lead, and Magallanes hit an RBI single to center against a not very convincing Ben Darr, who then had Stalker poke and ground out to Dichio at 3-1, ending the inning with two left moored and a 5-2 score.

Kyle Anderson, as “veteran gritty” as he might be in his second tour of duty with Portland, was not the right guy at the right time to calmly level the series, though. He put two on in the bottom 3rd, then barely survived a mighty Suhay drive to left that Jamieson picked at the fence. Suhay had been a desolate all-or-nothing hitter in his first few seasons, but he had improved A LOT this year. While he was already over 100 K again, he sat on 19 dingers (in 99 games, all starts) and was hitting for an .843 OPS. No longer hitting barely .200 for this guy…! Anderson kept inviting the Indians; in the fourth he walked Dear and Brad Rolph, prompting the Arrowheads to bat Brett Blades for Darr with two outs; he grounded out on the first pitch. He had an easier fifth, including a K against Suhay, and the Coons got two on with two outs against lefty George Strauss in the top 6th when they sent Wilson Rodriguez to bat for Nunley for leverage, but Wilson struck out. Anderson lasted six and a third before being yanked at the very next base runner, Rolph hitting a single to left. Left-handed Trent Herlihy batted for the pitcher, so the Coons went to Brotman (with another lefty, Zanches, hitting leadoff). Billy got a comebacker and turned it for two, keeping it a 5-2 game, but then walked Zanches to begin the eighth. Ricky Ohl came on, got Gonzalez on a grounder, Suhay on strikes, and then still conceded the run on Plunkett’s single to left-center.

Top 9th, Franklin Alvarado was on the mound and poked holes into the Indians’ plausible comeback scenario with two errors. The first put on Harenberg on a grounder back to the mound. Allan batted for Jamison against the righty, hit into a force, then was the target when German Sanchez bunted and Alvarado pounced on the ball. He also threw it behind Dan Schneller’s back for the second error, presenting the .219 threat Rafael Gomez with a chance to give the Coons insurance. He flew out to Zanches, Ivey whiffed, and Josh Boles had to make do with a 2-run lead. And he did! 5-3 Coons. Harenberg 2-4, BB; Jamieson 1-2, BB; Anderson 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W (6-4) and 2-4, 2 RBI;

By Wednesday night we were right back to the situation of Tuesday morning: the Critters trailed both Boston and Indy by half a game. The Titans would be off on Thursday, readying themselves to head to New York for the weekend.

Game 3
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – SS Gerster – P Roberts
IND: 2B Schneller – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – RF Plunkett – 3B Blades – C Dear – LF Ryder – SS T. Johnson – P Saccoccio

All the right-handed bats the Indians could find were in there against Mark Roberts, who lost Schneller to an infield single to begin the game, dropped a Harenberg feed to put Jon Gonzalez on base, too, then challenged Suhay at 1-2 with a 97mph heater and had it hit for 415 feet, all of which was just one of many ways to end up 3-0 down in the opening frame. The Coons did not get a hit until Gerster led off with a single in the third. Roberts bunted him over, Magallanes popped out, but Nunley snuck a single into left. Gerster was sent from second and thrown out at home, and after Hereford’s leadoff walk led to nothing more than a 5-4-3 double play Matt Jamieson cracked into in the fourth we started to get it that this one was not divined to be the game where we’d tie for first in the division. That much became crystal clear in the very same inning: Roberts started the bottom 4th with a hanger that got jacked by Brett Blades, then after that two walks and a single to the 6-7-8 guys. He rung up Saccoccio, then allowed a sac fly to Schneller, which already made it 5-0. Jon Gonzalez parked himself on a fat one; he got a fat one: Mark Roberts’ 58th pitch of the game was clocked at *101*. It was also right down the middle to a hitter pretty damn good at getting to those. Jon Gonzalez hit it about 445 feet, and that was the end of the road for Roberts and this game in general. The Coons were smothered and done; Saccoccio shut them out over eight innings before running out of pitch count, having allowed only three hits. Surginer was charged a run in the bottom 6th that nobody cared about, just as nobody cared about Ryan Allan’s pinch-hit sac fly off J.R. Hreha in the top of the ninth. 9-1 Indians. Rigg 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

Well, guess what, “Launchpad” Roberts struck again… he is now at 22 homers allowed this year, second-most in the league this year, and only one behind Andy “Boom Boom” Palomares.

And now, the ACTUAL bad news…:

Raccoons (75-64) @ Canadiens (71-70) – September 7-9, 2029

Before the boys went into hostile territory I reminded them that playing the Elks now was good. Like a band-aid, you RIP it off to be done with. These were our last games against the terrible skunks this season. Get two wins for a respectable result, and then come home. In one piece, please. The Elks were now tied for fourth and on the verge of being done with the postseason. They had the third-most runs scored (uh-oh) in the league, but were allowing the sixth-most as well for a modest +36 run differential (Coons: +47). The season series stood in their favor, 8-7.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (2-1, 1.56 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (11-10, 3.27 ERA)
Jamie O’Leary (2-7, 3.64 ERA) vs. Chris Sinkhorn (5-4, 3.35 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-1, 3.52 ERA) vs. Leon Hernandez (8-8, 3.92 ERA)

Lefty on Saturday. The good news was that the Elks had lost A LOT of players to injury. They had no less than four lineup pieces on the DL, and that was after having traded Tony Coca. Unavailable, among others, were Alex Torres (broken hand), Brian Wojnarowski (concussion), Ricky Ortíz (broken finger), and perennial **** stain Ted Gura (broken hand).

Game 1
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – SS Stalker – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – P Gutierrez
VAN: CF Tessmann – RF N. Day – 3B Anton – 1B D. Fisher – SS N. Millan – C F. Garcia – 2B Byrd – LF Campbell – P J. Martin

Harenberg brought in the first run with a groundout, cashing Nunley (single), who had reached third base on a Hereford double just inches past David Fisher’s glove at first base. Jamieson went on to pop out foul to leave Rich stranded at third. Rico Gutierrez found himself in plenty of full counts early on, lacking sharpness, and had a second inning that would definitely have gone pear-shaped if the Elks had not had half a lineup worth of at least borderline All Stars on the DL. With two down, John Byrd walked, Tim Campbell grounded past Stalker for a single, and then even Joe Martin poked at a 2-1 pitch for a single. The bases were full for Danny Tessmann, who held out at 2-2 before popping out. Norman Day and Matt Anton opened the bottom 3rd with a pair of singles, but Fisher hit into a double play and Hereford handled Nelson Millan’s grounder to park Day at third base, too. The same fate befell Fernando Garcia after a leadoff double in the fourth, and after that the game was marred by a rain delay of more than 30 minutes that was probably going to curtail Rico from bidding for an actual win, as he was already on 68 pitches and wobbling mightily.

Rico lobbied himself into pitching the fifth, survived a deep fly by Tessmann as well as a walk and stolen base by Anton, and Fisher popped out in a full count to end the inning. For a change, the Critters made an appearance in scoring position in the top 6th when Harenberg singled to center leading off against Joe Martin and Tessmann fumbled the ball for an extra base. The runner never advanced again as Jamieson grounded out to short, Stalker was put on intentionally, Rodriguez lined out, and Tovias simply and meekly whiffed. Bottom 6th, ****ing Jonathan Fleischer put a fork in the game. Millan walked to get going, stole second, then scored when Byrd hit a blooper for a single and through Jamieson’s wickets. As if that was not enough, Luke Gross came up with a 2-out, pinch-hit, go-ahead, RBI triple to dead center. I howled in despair back at home, watching from the discomfort of my chewed-up couch and cushions.

Garavito replaced Fleischer and got four outs from there. Then, the top of the eighth, and maybe an opening. The Elks sent lefty Jesus Chinchilla after Hereford and Harenberg, but both drew walks to begin that inning. A swift change brought on right-hander Jared Stone, hit a ****ty flare to center and it dropped for a single, but Hereford had to wait halfway for Tessmann to actually not get to the ball. The bases were thus loaded for Tim Stalker, with nobody out, so get your paranoia hats out because they sure as heck would not score here and instead roll up losers. Tim Stalker stepped in, hit a 1-0 pitch over the shortstop, and it fell in for an RBI single, tying the game. Shane Ivey batted for Garavito in the #7 hole as the Coons had seven batters on the bench, but not a single HITTER. Ivey at least countered the hurler. He also hit into a double play of the 3-2-3 variety, and Tovias flew out to center to end the inning without taking the ****ing lead. As always! The game ended up in extras, with Ohl and Brotman keeping the Elks off the board. The Coons’ 3-4-5 went down 1-2-3 in the 10th against Raul de la Rosa, after which Matt Stonecipher was decidedly less successful in the bottom 10th. Sean Light batted for day, singled to right, moved up on Anton’s grounder, and then scurried around to score on a Sean Bowman single to center. 3-2 Canadiens. Jamieson 2-5; Stalker 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Gutierrez 5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K;

Game 2
POR: CF Magallanes – SS Stalker – 3B Hereford – LF Jamieson – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – 1B Gomez – 2B Baldwin – P O’Leary
VAN: CF Tessmann – RF N. Day – 3B Anton – 1B D. Fisher – C F. Garcia – 2B Byrd – SS Paredes – LF Campbell – P Sinkhorn

The Coons didn’t get a hit in the early innings, while the Elks only had a Garcia single the first time through that didn’t get them anywhere, either. However, O’Leary walked Sinkhorn with one out in the bottom 3rd, which was actually terrifying given that Sinkhorn had base stealing qualities that were rarely seen; Jonny Toner had been of the same runner’s mold. Tessmann’s fly to center and Day’s pop over home plate prevented The Bad Stuff from happening, but we were nervous nonetheless. In the fourth, both teams had their third baseman on third base with two outs. Hereford was stranded when Rodriguez flew out, but Anton was plated on a Byrd single, and that was the first marker in the contest, and of course for the damn Elks. The Raccoons continued to eat donuts and do little on the field, while O’Leary ran out of talent in the bottom 6th, walked a pair, and conceded another run on another Byrd single. Kevin Surginer came in and dug him out, but it was 2-0 after six and the Critters had only two base knocks against Sinkhorn.

A double switch inserted Harenberg in the #9 hole in the bottom 7th, and his spot was up second in the top 8th. Baldwin singled ahead of him, making Kevin the tying run against the left-handed Sinkhorn. At the 1-0 pitch he knocked the ball in play, grounder to short, Sean Bowman to – no, the ball rolled out from under him, and the Coons dodged the double play for the error! Well, boys – NOW you gotta kill them!! Magallanes flew out to center, but Stalker got hit by the pitch, loading them up for Rich Hereford. Who but Rich would you love at the plate here? He drove in 140 last year! Come-on-Rich! Come-on-Rich! He struck out. Jamieson lined out to Byrd. Everything was dark. Top 9th, Rodriguez opened with a fly to center as Sinkhorn kept holding the reins. Gerster pinch-hit and singled to left. Nunley pinch-hit and singled to center. Those were the tying runs, AGAIN, and the lack of oomph on the bench allowed Chris Baldwin, the measly rule fiver, to hit in the crucial spot. The measly rule fiver just had to bring Harenberg up and then may-… grounder to third, Anton to second, to first, ballgame. 2-0 Canadiens. Gerster (PH) 1-1; Nunley (PH) 1-1;

To complete the sweep on Sunday: Victor Govea, entering with a 3.15 ERA and soon to be 8-4 on the year.

Game 3
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – SS Stalker – RF Allan – C Ivey – P Martinez
VAN: CF Tessmann – RF N. Day – 1B D. Fisher – 3B Anton – C F. Garcia – 2B Al. Medina – SS Byrd – LF Campbell – P Govea

Martinez, who was last seen getting stomped for seven runs in the fourth inning in Indy, retired eight in a row before Govea hit a single, but the Elks would not turn that into a score. Neither did the Critters when Harenberg opened the second inning with a double to left-center; they stranded him right at second base. Harenberg reached base again with a 1-out walk in the fourth. Jamison popped out, but Stalker singled, bringing up Ryan Allan, who was in the lineup mostly because none of the right-handed rightfielders were hitting much of anything. Govea made a mistake and paid for it as Allan belted his first major league bomb over the fence in left-center, a 3-spot in 102nd plate appearance between this and the previous season. From there, Dave Martinez neatly insisted on putting leadoff men on. He nicked Day in the fourth, but Fisher doubled him up. In the fifth, Garcia walked and Medina singled up the middle before Byrd hit a long drive to left that Jamieson caught on the warning track. Garcia moved up on the play, which gave the damn Elks a run on a Tim Campbell groundout before Govea struck out, and it was 3-1 through five. Harenberg restored the 3-run gap with a long leadoff jack to right-center, his 20th of the season and that made it 4-1.

Martinez made it through seven with only a 2-out walk in the last frame issued to Medina, which set the Coons up to have their good arms to secure a win. The damn Elks wouldn’t get to Ricky Ohl in the eighth, after which Jared Stone was back out in the top 9th. Ivey struck out, after which Sam Cass drew a walk hitting for Ohl. Cass was running in a full count with Magallanes when Juan hit a ball into the gap for a double; the early start allowed Cass to score and took off the save chance for Josh Boles. Stone walked Nunley, then allowed a drive to deep right to Hereford that ended caught by Norman Day on the final inch of grass. Magallanes went to third on the play, then scored when Harenberg skipped a single into right, 6-1. Jamieson would hit another single, but the inning fizzled out against a new pitcher in Andy Purdy. Billy Ramm would take over the 5-run lead in the ninth. He retired the damn Elks in order. 6-1 Furballs. Magallanes 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Harenberg 3-4, BB, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Martinez 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, W (4-1);

In other news

September 5 – NYC SP Mel Lira (9-16, 3.80 ERA) 1-hits the Loggers in a 7-0 Crusaders victory. Former FL batting champ Firmino Cambra (.280, 6 HR, 50 RBI) has a fifth-inning single for the Loggers’ only base knock.

Complaints and stuff

Today’s mantra shall be – at least the Elks are over. The damn Elks! But to be honest, that was a bad week every which way. Losing Abel Mora never helps, Roberts had another “day”, and we lost a few games we really shouldn’t have lost, including being squeezed out twice in ****ing Elktown.

The good news? We have series left against the Titans and Indians, and we have a chance to righten all that on our own.

Titans (78-64) – MIL (4), POR (4), IND (3), OCT (3), SFB (3), VAN (3) – .487 – 56.2% (+23.9%)
Indians (78-65) – NYC (4), BOS (3), OCT (3), POR (3), SFB (3), VAN (3) – .510 – 30.8% (-6.1%)
Raccoons (76-66) – BOS (4), NYC (4), ATL (3), CHA (3), IND (3), MIL (3) – .483 – 12.9% (-17.4%)
Canadiens (73-71) – ATL (3), BOS (3), CHA (3), IND (3), MIL (3), NYC (3) – .478 – 0.2% (-0.2%)
Crusaders (71-71) – IND (4), POR (4), MIL (3), LVA (3), TIJ (3), VAN (3) – .516 – 0.0% (-0.1%)

Fun Fact: Alberto Ramos ranks second in OPS among Continental League players.

It is true. Oklahoma’s Luis Sagredo leads all qualifying players with a .938 OPS, and after that it is Ramos (.898), Harenberg (.897), Andrew Showalter (.897), and Shane Sanks, the disgusting little rat weasel (.884).

It is true…
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Old 04-07-2019, 04:00 PM   #2794
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You know it’s been so long but I can’t for the life of me remember if the Loggers have ever made the playoffs, let alone won the division.
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Old 04-07-2019, 05:00 PM   #2795
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The Loggers have won the North four times. They won the division in 1994, then with a 85-77 record that remains the worst for a CL North champ, then again in 2000, the only time their strong team around the turn of the millennium got through the first real Titans dynasty around that time. Then it was famine until their only back-to-back in 2020-21. They won two tie-breakers against the Titans and Raccoons (Nick Lester...) in '20, then won a whopping 98 in '21.

They lost to the Thunder in both 1994 and 2000, but got to the World Series in 2020 and 2021. They lost to the Scorpions the first time around, but swept the Blue Sox the following year for their only title.
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Old 04-08-2019, 04:31 PM   #2796
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Raccoons (76-66) @ Crusaders (71-71) – September 10-13, 2029

Last pokes at the Crusaders this year, with one win needed to take the season series, and probably more than one win needed to stay in touch with first place. The Crusaders were second from the bottom in offense, but also conceded the third-fewest runs in the Continental League. This was also our second-to-last road series of the year; the Loggers’ damp dump was the final stop for Portland left, but that was two weekends from now.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (6-4, 3.12 ERA) vs. Mel Lira (9-16, 3.80 ERA)
Mark Roberts (13-10, 3.40 ERA) vs. Robby Gonzalez (7-11, 4.91 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-1, 1.36 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (11-8, 4.03 ERA)
Jamie O’Leary (2-8, 3.60 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (10-9, 3.60 ERA)

Four right-handed hurlers coming up from the New Yorkers in this set.

Game 1
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – SS Stalker – C Tovias – RF Gomez – P Anderson
NYC: LF Olszewski – 3B Cameron – CF Coca – C Jai. Jackson – 2B T. Fuentes – 1B Espinosa – RF Reardon – SS Laughery – P Lira

The foundering Raccoons had no hits the first time through the order, but with Hereford and Harenberg on base in the fourth and two outs, Tovias hit a ball to left-center for a double. Harenberg scored, Jamieson was thrown out at home trying to do the same, and the inning ended. It was quite literally their only time in scoring position in the first five innings, while Kyle Anderson was a big thunderclap waiting to happen. The first three innings of the Crusaders batting all ended with deep drives to the outfield that were all caught, but were bad enough to cause discomfort. In the bottom of the 5th, finally, Anderson allowed leadoff walks to Juan Espinosa (who stole second right away) and Chris Reardon, and while J.D.Laughery popped out, Mel Lira hit an 0-2 pitch over the head of Matt Nunley for a game-tying RBI single. The avalanche rolled down the mountainside right away. Drew Olszewski’s RBI single gave them the lead, and they got a third run home on a Tony Coca single. Jaiden Jackson walked to fill the bags with two outs before the inning ended once more on a deep drive to the outfield, and Tony Fuentes had three stranded on account of Magallanes’ glove in centerfield. The Coons showed no immediate reaction besides the usual stuff of trying to steal **** of each others’ plates in the dugout, but began the eighth with the meekest of rallies. Butch Gerster hit for Anderson to begin the inning and singled softly to center. Juan Magallanes ran a 3-1 count and then poked, and was lucky enough to have the resulting roller get through between Fuentes and Espinosa .That put runners on the corners for Nunley, who hit a sac fly that was not much in terms of help. Hereford hit one hard to right, but was caught by Reardon. Harenberg hit a good fly to center, but that was where Tony Coca made extra-base hits go die. Travis Giordano made the Coons go die without bothering his outfielders in the ninth… 3-2 Crusaders. Magallanes 2-4; Harenberg 2-3, BB; Gerster (PH) 1-1;

Game 2
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – RF Rodriguez – SS Gerster – C Tovias – P Roberts
NYC: 3B Schmit – RF M. Owen – CF Coca – C F. Delgado – LF I. Vega – 1B Tadlock – 2B Lichty – SS Cameron – P R. Gonzalez

A Nunley jack in the first put the Coons up 1-0 and also caused the Critters worry, because if Nunley could hit one outta here quite easily, then Roberts was probably going to be sheared in half just by the wind forces. Hereford and Harenberg hit singles and Jamieson legged out the return throw on a grounder to short to get another run across before Roberts ran a 3-1 count to Andy Schmit in the bottom 1st, and then right away got blasted for a leadoff jack to left. And here we go! Tony Coca unsurprisingly hit another one, #33, right away, and the game was tied at two, and that remained the score through five, with the Coons’ offense showing assorted miseries, and amounting to only one base hit in the next four innings, but two double plays, Rodriguez in the fourth cleaning up a Jake Lichty error, and Nunley in the sixth erasing a Magallanes single to begin that inning. The second one was especially bitter, as Rich Hereford homered three pitches later, then staking Roberts to a 3-2 lead. The Crusaders stock had crashed even before; Tovias had been robbed by Coca in the left-center gap the prior inning, but Coca had pulled up lame and had been replaced by Fabien Ugolino – not Tony Coca, in any sort of way you can think about!

Ugolino did not enjoy the trust of the New York brass, either. With Roberts falling apart for good in the bottom 7th, Ugolino’s inherited spot came up with two outs and Schmit and Matt Owen on the corners after a pair of hissing singles just hit off Roberts. They wanted a righty batting here, with Reardon batting for Ugolino. The Coons responded with Ricky Ohl to replace Roberts. Reardon popped out on the second pitch, and the inning ended. In a perfect world, the Critters might have tacked on a run in the next two innings, but could not even get on base. Ohl retired New York in order in the eighth, and that brought up Boles in the ninth. Jamie Richardson pinch-hit in the #7 hole and grounded out to first on the first offering. Joe Cameron whiffed. Brennen Mayeux ran a full count… then got nailed. Oh dear baseball gods, please no, I can’t take any more – Schmit struck out. 3-2 Furballs. Hereford 2-4, HR, RBI; Roberts 6.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, W (14-10);

Game 3
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – SS Stalker – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – 2B Cass – P Gutierrez
NYC: 3B Schmit – RF M. Owen – CF Olszewski – C F. Delgado – LF I. Vega – 2B Lichty – 1B Jam. Richardson – SS Cameron – P E. Cannon

The Crusaders whacked four hits off Rico in the opening inning, but also had Schmit thrown out at home by Hereford on a Matt Owen double, which cost them a run and gave them only a 1-0 lead on Delgado and Ivan Vega singles. After four base hits in the first, the Crusaders had four more in the third inning, then in order, and then doing damage for real. After singles by Owen and Drew Olszewski, Felipe Delgado went yard to left and the Coons sat in a 4-0 deficit, or about two games’ worth of run support for Rico Gutierrez this season. Rico would never get into any sort of groove here; Jamie Richardson led off the bottom 5th with a double, came around to score, too, and up to that point the Coons seemed fiercely intent on putting this one firmly into the loss column. Down 5-0 they entered the sixth on only three base hits, and that included a Rico single… The sixth began with a Magallanes single, and then Nunley found the gap for a double. Cannon lost Hereford on balls, loading them up for Harenberg with – unfortunately – nobody out. Despite falling behind 0-2, Harenberg found the gap between Vega and Olszewski for a double, and two runs scored on the play. Tim Stalker came up as the tying run, grounded to left, Joe Cameron intercepted the ball, but couldn’t make anything out of it, Stalker had an RBI infield single. Four pitches later, the score was even when Wilson Rodriguez beat Olszewski in deep center for a 2-run double. What had just … what!? Unfortunately, that was the end of it. Tovias walked, causing the yanking of Cannon for righty Jesse Wright, Sam Cass uselessly bunted into a force at third, Jamieson hit for Rico and flew out to center, Magallanes walked, and Vega took Nunley’s deep fly on the warning track to strand a full set.

In a new ballgame, something had to give way eventually, and unfortunately it was Kevin Surginer in the bottom 7th. He walked Andy Schmit to get going, then allowed a single to Owen, and then could not get strike three past a batter to salvage the situation. Schmit broke the tie by scoring on two groundouts, and the Coons had nothing cooking in the top of the eighth. It didn’t seem likely to get any better in the ninth inning against the resilient Giordano, but Giacobbe Vacarri at second base misfielded Nunley’s grounder leading off, putting the third baseman on base with an error, then off base when Gerster ran for him, carrying the tying run. The pinch-runner was rung up before long when Hereford grounded to short and the lead runner was the only out New York got. They got two on Harenberg’s bouncer to Vacarri, though… 6-5 Crusaders. Magallanes 2-4, BB;

Harenberg….. and the chronically learing O’Losey is on the mound for the finale…

Game 4
POR: SS Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – CF Allan – C Tovias – 2B Baldwin – P O’Leary
NYC: 3B Schmit – RF M. Owen – CF Olszewski – C F. Delgado – LF I. Vega – 1B Tadlock – 2B Lichty – SS Cameron – P Rutkowski

Things fell apart around O’Leary from the get-go, with Owen and Olszewski hitting a pair of singles, and Owen going for third base, drawing a throw from Hereford on the latter single. That throw missed Nunley by seven nautical miles, Owen scored on the error, and yet again the Critters were trailing after the first inning… And that would not change soon, with the Raccoons wholesomely harmless all the way against the veteran Rutkowski; Jamieson hit a single in the second. That was IT. He walked Harenberg with two outs in the fourth, and Kevin was left on by Jamieson, then walked Allan to begin the fifth, but the little idiot fell asleep and was picked off first base. The Crusaders tacked on runs on an Owen homer in the sixth, then a leadoff triple by Vega in the seventh that saw Ron Tadlock line out to Nunley, but Jake Lichty got the run across grounding out to short. Andy Schmit homered off the miscarriage Nick Derks in the eighth. The Raccoons never got a second base hit. 4-0 Crusaders.

Nick Derks (12.38 ERA) was waived and designated for assignment after this game to open a spot on the 40-man roster that we then did not even fill right away. Bobby Reed was called up from St. Pete to join the team in Portland. He had made five appearances with the Critters earlier in the year, including a start (who hadn’t made a start?), posting a 10.13 ERA.

Raccoons (77-69) vs. Falcons (56-90) – September 14-16, 2029

The Falcons hoped to avoid 100 losses. The Raccoons hoped to avoid another embarrassment, although despite their shoddy impression left in New York they were still only two games out of the tied Titans and Indians. Charlotte was 31 1/2 out in the South and long been relegated to punching bags. They ranked eighth in runs scored but had the worst pitching in the land, fittingly paired with creaky defense. Remarkably, the season series with them was tied at three.

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (4-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Chris Klein (10-10, 4.11 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (6-5, 3.18 ERA) vs. Chris Rountree (6-17, 4.73 ERA)
Mark Roberts (14-10, 3.38 ERA) vs. Aaron Lewis (4-13, 5.94 ERA)

Rountree would be the only southpaw to face this week.

Boys, we gotta get a win, and another win, and another win. Boys, you got me? Boys? – Okay, why are Nunley’s ears stuffed with whipped cream??

Oh well, Matt Nunley had all the time in the world to get his head stuck in a bowl of whipped cream on Friday. The weather was Portlandesque and the game was postponed into a Saturday double-header.

Game 1
CHA: CF N. Nelson – 3B G. Ortíz – RF Kok – LF Salto – 1B Fowlkes – C Losey – SS J. Gonzalez – 2B E. Roman – P Klein
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – C Tovias – RF Gomez – SS Gerster – P Martinez

Instant offense, and even for Portland, in the first leg of the Saturday double-header, when Magallanes led off with a single, stole second, Nunley – ears free – walked, and Jamieson punched a 3-piece over the fence in left, just out of Graciano Salto’s reach. Salto would get nailed - *nailed!* - to start the top 2nd, stole second, his 23rd of the season, and came around on a Josh Losey single, so neither did the Falcons lose any time here. Bottom 2nd, Klein loaded the bags with the 7-8-9 batters without getting an out, which included a full-count walk to Martinez. Juan Magallanes batted with a full plate, brought in Gomez with a sac fly, and then Nunley spanked into a double play to keep it 4-1…

When Martinez reached on an Emmanuel Roman error to begin the bottom 5th (still up 4-1) and Magallanes walked, the Coons’ dugout showed Nunley the bunt sign and they meant it. Nunley showed teeth, but got the runners over. Jamieson grounded out poorly, Harenberg was walked intentionally, but Tim Stalker hit a gapper for a 2-out double that knocked over the veteran Chris Klein, and brought on Josh Pillsbury who rung up Tovias to strand a pair in a 6-1 contest. The Falcons struggled to get bats up against Dave Martinez, who had allowed only that Losey single through five, but nailed Emmanuel Roman to begin the sixth and then misfielded a Pillsbury bunt to put two on with nobody out… before the Falcons’ 1-2-3 failed collectively. A pop, a whiff, and Barend Kok at least made Jamieson jog some 30 feet to make the catch to end the inning. Rafael Gomez woke from the dead briefly to take Pillsbury deep to left-center in the bottom 6th, and in the bottom 7th the unlucky Falcon loaded them up with nobody out and Stalker approaching the plate… and eventually hitting into a run-scoring double play. That was the Coons’ final run in the game… and the final run overall, too. Losey hit another single off Martinez in the seventh, Salto hit a single in the ninth, and that was ALL they got. Martinez pitched another complete game! 8-1 Raccoons! Jamieson 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; Martinez 9.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (5-1);

Game 2
CHA: CF N. Nelson – 3B G. Ortíz – RF Kok – LF Salto – 1B Fowlkes – SS Hobbs – C Carmichael – 2B E. Roman – P Rountree
POR: CF Magallanes – SS Stalker – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – RF Rodriguez – 1B Gomez – 2B Baldwin – C Rocha – P Anderson

The Raccoons absolutely, bitterly needed another win, and they wouldn’t get it. They got no hits the first time through the lineup, and then Matt Jamieson did hit a fourth-inning double he also tweaked his back and had to be removed for Ryan Allan. At that point the Coons trailed 3-0, courtesy of two leadoff walks issued by Anderson in the second and fourth that came around to score, once on a Michael Hobbs base knock in the second, and then on a Michael Hobbs 2-piece in the fourth. Hereford hit a sac fly in the bottom 4th, but Anderson kept flatly failing and walked Rountree (!) to begin the fifth. Nate Nelson’s RBI double put the Falcons up 4-1, and also saw Anderson yanked, but Matt Stonecipher was no great gain following up, walking two and conceding both Nelson and another run when Pat Fowlkes hit a single to center, burying the Coons five deep. Bottom 5th, Gomez opened with a single! … and then Chris Baldwin hit into a double play. There was just no hope in this game, the exact opposite of the first game on this Saturday. The Coons were getting NOTHING until very late in the game when two of them happened to fall onto bases and Rich Hereford slugged a Rountree offering over the fence, but that only got them into slam range. There was a Roman homer off Bobby Reed, some meaningless run in the bottom 8th… but mostly there was another loss that dropped the Coons three games out. 8-5 Falcons. Hereford 1-2, BB, HR, 4 RBI; Gomez 2-4; Gerster (PH) 1-1;

Sunday, the ball would be Mark Roberts’, and losing was no longer an option. We could NOT afford to fall back another game!

Game 3
CHA: CF N. Nelson – RF Kok – 1B Fowlkes – LF Salto – 3B G. Ortíz – C Sigala – SS Hobbs – 2B Brandon – P Lewis
POR: CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – C Tovias – RF Gomez – SS Gerster – P Roberts

…and Mark Roberts was everything the Raccoons didn’t need to happen to them. Jairo Sigala hit a 2-run bomb in the second inning, Sean Brandon hit a solo shot – the first of his major league career, because that is what we are good for, and nothing else – in the fifth, and in between the miserable Raccoons managed just three hits and a single run on a Stalker homer in the bottom 2nd. Roberts allowed another single to Brandon to begin the seventh, the runner was bunted over by Lewis, who was normally a sure source for base runners, just not today, and two more singles by Nelson and Fowlkes plated the insurance run. Roberts was yanked for Ohl to finish the inning, and that move alone hinted at an unhealthy level of desperation involved at this point. It helped nothing; they could not get through ****ing Aaron Lewis, who had entered the game with 84 walks allowed, and added zero. The Falcons added two runs off Billy Brotman in the ninth, but it was not like the game and the season hadn’t already been out of the window even before that. Mike Tandy replaced Lewis in the ninth, up by five, and Nunley and Hereford hit singles right away before moving into scoring position on a wild pitch. The fans got into chanting. The miserable suckers – always fooled by this team. I was not. I stood at the big glass window, holding Honeypaws on my left forearm and comforting him behind the right here with the other hand, and glared at Kevin Harenberg, loathing him even as he hit an RBI single. That brought on a new reliever in makeshift closer, right-hander Brian Bowsman, who also had as many walks as strikeouts. Stalker struck out. Tovias grounded out, plating a run, which wouldn’t mean ****. Ivey hit for Rafael Gomez… and grounded out to short. 6-3 Falcons. Hereford 2-4; Tovias 2-4, RBI;

In other news

September 12 – WAS RF/LF/1B Tsuneyoshi Tachibana (.274, 21 HR, 75 RBI) is finished for the season with a ruptured finger tendon.
September 14 – IND 1B Jon Gonzalez (.301, 20 HR, 71 RBI) swats three home runs in a 10-1 downing of the Thunder and drives in six runs.
September 14 – Broken ribs end the season of NYC OF Tony Coca (.280, 33 HR, 95 RBI), the clear and undisputed home run leader of the season.

Complaints and stuff

The coins were tossed, the dice were cast, and every single one of them came up asses. The miserable Raccoons fudged their way through mediocre opposition to a 2-5 record when even modest success would have kept them in the race. The Titans dropped three of four to the Loggers, for crying out loud. In their constitution the Raccoons were no threat for the Titans and Indians in what was likely a two-horse race, but even the Crusaders could still fever-dream up a scenario in which they’d rally past everybody.

There was no rally left in this team. Too many casualties. Too many games with barely professional ballplayers populating half the lineup. Too many starts gone to absolute, dire scrubs. All the dreams are dead. All the dreams ended up with this misfit team being paralyzed, surrounded by darkness, and eaten and devoured by the shadows of the bigger, better teams.

Titans (81-68) – POR (4), IND (3), OCT (3), VAN (3) – .520 – 57.1% (+0.9%)
Indians (81-68) – NYC (4), BOS (3), POR (3), SFB (3) – .512 – 39.2% (+8.4%)
Raccoons (78-71) – BOS (4), ATL (3), IND (3), MIL (3) – .503 – 3.3% (-9.6%)
Canadiens (77-73) – BOS (3), CHA (3), MIL (3), NYC (3) – .460 – 0.3% (+0.1%)
Crusaders (76-73) – IND (4), MIL (3), TIJ (3), VAN (3) – .514 – 0.1% (+0.1%)

Fun Fact: No Indians player had hit three home runs in a game since Claudio Rey had done it against the Loggers in 2004.

That was the only season in which Rey amounted to more than 300 plate appearances. A career Indian, he had less than 1,000 PA for his career, despite batting .272/.345/.414 with 16 HR and 113 RBI, and did not appear in the majors after his age 29 season.
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Last edited by Westheim; 04-09-2019 at 01:23 AM.
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Old 04-08-2019, 05:24 PM   #2797
Questdog
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At least finish ahead of those Lady Canadiennes....
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Old 04-08-2019, 08:21 PM   #2798
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The door is still wide open as you have 7 games left with the 2 leaders and 3 with the worst franchise in either league the LOGGERS

GO 6-1 or 5-2 against the Indians and Titans and sweep the Logrollers and you are golden. I think the Fur Babies still have a solid chance
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Old 04-08-2019, 08:24 PM   #2799
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Originally Posted by DD Martin View Post
The door is still wide open as you have 7 games left with the 2 leaders and 3 with the worst franchise in either league the LOGGERS

GO 6-1 or 5-2 against the Indians and Titans and sweep the Logrollers and you are golden. I think the Fur Babies still have a solid chance
Yeah! All you have to do (eezy-peezy) is win 10 or 11 of the last 12 games and you are sittin' on Easy Street! Piece of Cake!....
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Old 04-08-2019, 10:04 PM   #2800
DD Martin
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Originally Posted by Questdog View Post
Yeah! All you have to do (eezy-peezy) is win 10 or 11 of the last 12 games and you are sittin' on Easy Street! Piece of Cake!....
Come on I cut slack with the other 3 game series with the less than spectacular Atlanta team. He only has to probably win 1 game in that, so yeah piece of cake
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