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Old 11-11-2018, 01:56 PM   #2661
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2027 PORTLAND RACCOONS – Opening Day Roster (first set in parenthesis shows 2026 numbers, second set career numbers; players with an * are off season acquisitions):

SP Mark Roberts, 32, B:L, T:L (13-10, 3.05 ERA | 91-68, 3.01 ERA) – Mark Roberts returned to earth after his 2025 Triple Crown campaign, lacked sparkle late in the season and also didn't win a game in the postseason. He led the CL with a 8.6 K/9 mark, which was oddly enough, but we still hope to get a bit more of the 2025 Roberts in '27. On paper still one of the elite pitchers with a dazzling arsenal, very good control, but the occasional home run bug…
SP Rico Gutierrez, 27, B:L, T:L (16-5, 3.48 ERA | 61-43, 3.37 ERA) – keeps adding a bit to his K/9 every year and the BB/9 are also going down as he is entering his peak. If he could keep the ball in the park a bit more, he would be a true ace. Has decent control while keeping batters alert with a move-happy 96mph heater.
SP Dan Delgadillo, 24, B:R, T:R (12-7, 2.76 ERA | 23-19, 3.48 ERA) – first full season for Dan was a success for sure, as he pitched a controlled game, kept the ball mostly on the ground, and also went 3-0 in the playoffs to pick up his first ring of undoubtedly more to come!
SP Rin Nomura, 28, B:L, T:L (9-5, 2.75 ERA | 9-5, 2.75 ERA) – before melting down completely in the postseason, Nomura used his 3-pitch mix efficiently to keep hitters guessing and also kept the ball on the ground, allowing only eight home runs in 20 games, while also not walking the world.
SP Kyle Anderson, 28, B:R, T:R (10-6, 3.99 ERA | 61-68, 4.01 ERA) – Anderson had a solid first season in Portland; not overly exciting, but very solid, and also the undisputed team leader.

MR Josh Boles, 23, B:L, T:L (1-3, 3.08 ERA, 2 SV | 1-3, 3.08 ERA, 2 SV) – debuted mid-season in 2026 and never went away anymore. His dazzling knuckle curve unnerves both left- and right-handed batters.
MR Jeff Kearney, 34, B:L, T:L (0-1, 2.33 ERA | 24-31, 4.70 ERA, 27 SV) – this 2026 free agent addition missed a few months to injury (which opened the door for Boles) and remained to be of the Manobu Sugano class of left-handed relievers; lethal to left-handed batters, but absolutely impossible to endure against right-handers. None of this matters – Kearney logged the final out in the World Series!
MR Kevin Surginer, 27, B:R, T:R (9-6, 3.86 ERA, 1 SV | 23-16, 3.39 ERA, 3 SV) – no, he was not a starting pitcher, but somehow still ended up with a starter's record in 2026; very solid and mostly reliable reliever that goes about his job with so little noise that you sometimes entirely forget he's still there. Has in the past been a popular choice for long relief and extra inning battles, and that might stay the same…
MR Billy Brotman, 28, B:L, T:L (2-6, 3.08 ERA, 6 SV | 8-13, 2.57 ERA, 14 SV) – control remains an issue for Billy, but his tendency to keep the ball on the ground help him greatly. Unlike Kearney, you can also let him face right-handers without closing your eyes and waiting for the crack.
MR Dan McLin *, 23, B:R, T:R (3-6, 4.37 ERA | 3-6, 4.37 ERA) – groundballer with a sinker/cutter combo that should have better control than shown in his rookie season with the Miners, and might grow into a setup role eventually..
SU Ricky Ohl, 28, B:R, T:R (7-4, 2.04 ERA, 8 SV | 13-6, 2.31 ERA, 10 SV) – aggressive strikeout pitcher who scratched at the 12 K/9 mark for the second time in his 3-year career in 2026, but couldn't hold down the closer job he was given on Opening Day.
CL Jonathan Snyder, 27, B:L, T:R (1-2, 1.34 ERA, 36 SV | 16-13, 2.50 ERA, 103 SV) – won back the closer's job quickly in 2026 and was mostly lights out for the rest of the season; there is no closer dispute to start the new season … or so we think.

C Elias Tovias, 27, B:S, T:R (.218, 7 HR, 33 RBI | .252, 53 HR, 233 RBI) – Tovias has been in a slump since the middle of 2025 and spent part of last season in the minor leagues; won back the starting backstop job mainly because of Brett O'Dell departing and the Coons unable to afford a top-notch replacement. .
C Jing-quo Liu *, 28, B:S, T:R (rookie) – signed as backup out of Taiwan for being cheap and we also think he is very intelligent; at the very least he likes talking, but nobody quite understands him; he is the first at the ballpark in the morning, which could mean he is very diligent with his work, or it could mean that he sleeps in the clubhouse and nobody has noticed yet.

1B Kevin Harenberg, 29, B:L, T:L (.313, 31 HR, 110 RBI | .306, 107 HR, 525 RBI) – came on July 28 last year and did nothing but swattin' it, putting out a 1.006 OPS with 14 homers to slug the Raccoons past everybody into the playoffs, only to go down to injury in the CLCS. The Raccoons kept him over Jon Gonzalez after much deliberation, so, no, there is no pressure at all on him…
2B/LF/3B/SS Jarod Spencer, 29, B:R, T:R (.321, 1 HR, 70 RBI | .307, 7 HR, 245 RBI) – "Pop" Spencer remains an utterly weird player that has three times batted over .300 and stole a CL-leading 46 bases in 2025, and somehow still is not an above average career player with a 99 OPS+. Not an extra-base threat, but he can move the hindpaws quickly. While a natural second baseman, the addition of Trey Rock will see him spend considerable time in leftfield again in 2027 and probably beyond.
SS Alberto Ramos, 21, B:L, T:R (.307, 3 HR, 38 RBI | .298, 3 HR, 46 RBI) – Rookie of the Year Ramos was a treat all around, hit a league-leading 13 triples, stole 41 bases, and might have won more accolades if he hadn't missed four weeks at the end of the year stranding on the DL.
3B Matt Nunley, 36, B:L, T:R (.281, 10 HR, 55 RBI | .280, 136 HR, 813 RBI) – eternal Matt Nunley, in his 14th major league season remains unaccosted for his spot at the hot corner. No trade for a challenger materialized, and why would there be one? Nunley has been here before humans kept history in written form, and he will still be here when we're all dead and forgotten.
SS/2B/3B Trey Rock *, 28, B:R, T:R (.350, 0 HR, 59 RBI | .315, 6 HR, 355 RBI) – one of the two additions won in the Jon Gonzalez trade, Rock has always been a singles slapper of the Spencer mold and also ticks the boxes of stealing lots of bases (214 for his career), and battling hard for a league-average OPS+. Rock figures to move around a bit, mostly playing second base against right-handed pitching and probably spelling Nunley a bit against left-handed pitching when Spencer could move to the keystone.
SS/2B Tim Stalker, 28, B:R, T:R (.279, 4 HR, 32 RBI | .253, 31 HR, 217 RBI) – very good defensive shortstop, more than just token speed, and most of the time also a good batter; probably bitter inside of having been supplanted by the much younger (and ultimately more successful Ramos), but at least he didn't cry his pain to the Agitator...
3B/SS/2B Daniel Bullock, 29, B:S, T:R (.194, 0 HR, 4 RBI | .236, 3 HR, 83 RBI) – strong defensive infielder, especially on the left side of the infield, with a negligible bat, the Brazilian shortstop also keeps getting injured, and some wonder why he is still around at all when the Raccoons could get the same output from a minimum-salary player. He is the official 25th man on the team, but no replacement for him materialized in the offseason.

LF/RF/CF/1B Adam St. Germaine *, 29, B:L, T:L (.250, 10 HR, 59 RBI | .261, 20 HR, 194 RBI) – excellent defender with a talent for gap power, and like many other players on the roster (!) also prone to stealing not only your lunch with his quick paws. Figures to start in leftfield whenever Spencer is not there.
LF/CF/RF/1B Abel Mora, 30, B:L, T:R (.289, 7 HR, 67 RBI | .273, 83 HR, 449 RBI) – as much of an allround player as you can find, hitting for average (having reached .300 once with the Wolves) and power, possessing good speed, and fielding very well, also throwing for eight assists last year. Not quite Neil Reece Reborn, but then again Neil's a Hall of Famer and they just don't fall from the skies. Also in a contract year.
1B/LF/RF/CF Rafael Gomez, 28, B:R, T:L (.297, 4 HR, 30 RBI | .268, 79 HR, 391 RBI) – hit only four home runs in an injury-riddled first season with the Raccoons before lighting it up for five more in he playoffs, winning CLCS MVP honors as well. Strong defender on the corners, and he has also hit a lot more home runs than this in the past.
LF/CF/RF Ricardo Carmona, 35, B:L, T:R (.291, 0 HR, 21 RBI | .308, 21 HR, 623 RBI) – signed to an early extension before the 2023 season even began, Cookie soon enough found himself in hell, not seeing the ball well the entire year and dropping 70 points from his 2022 batting average, and has remained in hell ever since; after three campaigns of zero WAR from Cookie as leftfield starter, the Raccoons conceded defeat and put one of their most expensive players on the far end of the bench for the last two years of his contract, probably also ending his Hall of Fame ambitions which would have hinged on him topping up on those 2,243 career base hits. This will be his contract year, and it is unlikely that he will win another big deal as a pinch-hitter / pinch-runner.

On disabled list: Nobody.

Otherwise unavailable: Nobody.

Other roster movement:
MR Nick Derks, 26, B:R, T:R (1-0, 4.97 ERA | 2-2, 3.98 ERA) – waived and DFA'ed; launchpad sort of reliever that ran out of options at some point…

The remaining surplus players (Magallanes, Fleischer, Gerster and others including George James) had already been moved to the AAA roster prior to Opening Day.

OPENING DAY LINEUP:

I will admit this – we have some great talent on the roster, but it does not seamlessly fit together for a coherent or traditional lineup…

(Vs. RHP: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Roberts)
Vs. LHP: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 3B Rock – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – LF St. Germaine – C Tovias – P Roberts

In a perfect world, the top 3 will bat solidly over .300, Ramos can also walk on base, all three can steal plenty of bases, and Harenberg just has to hit it somewhere where they ain't to bring in a run or two of four. Behind that is more occasional power. That is two left-handed bats back-to-back in Mora and St. Germaine, but there is not really a way around that.

OFF SEASON CHANGES:

Truth be told, the Raccoons didn't make many changes in the offseason; we only made two trades and signed a single free agent, and that was a backup catcher. However, that was still enough for a +2.8 WAR gain according to BNN, and that in turn gave us eighth place in the offseason rankings, with no team projected to overtake us.

Top 5: Pacifics (+12.1), Buffaloes (+9.1), Rebels (+8.5), Indians (+6.8), Crusaders (+4.1)
Bottom 5: Scorpions (-3.7), Capitals (-3.9), Wolves (-6.7), Falcons (-11.4), Stars (-13.6)

PREDICTION TIME:

CHAMPIONS! WE ARE CHAMPIONS! Nope, still hasn't become stale.

There is of course only one goal after winning the previous title: win the next one, too.

Last year I thought the Coons could win 95 games and maybe tackle the Titans for good. They won 94, then eight more in the playoffs, and that was all that anybody could have hoped for. The roster seems a bit better fortified even this season and we should be able to add a few wins. Can we get our second-ever 100-win season? Maybe if we can avoid such a ferocious June swoon as in 2026!

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT:

The Portland farm system crashed once again from 10th place all the way to the bottom in the rankings. In short, we have no top 100 prospects this year after starting the previous season with three, who either fell off the radar (#25 Izzy Chavez), were traded to the Stars (#77 Aaron Hagemann), or won Rookie of the Year honors (#8 Alberto Ramos). In addition to that, our fourth-best prospect is also no more; that was #112 Josh Boles!

103rd (new) – AA SP Jamie O'Leary, 23 – 2026 first-round pick by Raccoons
140th (new) – A 2B George Burke, 18 – 2026 second-round pick by Raccoons
170th (-13) – AA SP Dave Martinez, 20 – 2022 international free agent signed by Raccoons
187th (new) – INT SP Raffaello Sabre, 18 – 2025 international free agent signed by Raccoons
192nd (new) – AAA CL Jonathan Fleischer, 24 – 2021 first-round pick by Loggers, signed as minor-league free agent by Raccoons

That leaves five more to complete the franchise top 10: INT SP Izzy Chavez, 19 (2025 IFA), A 1B Craig Hollenbeck, 20 (2025 2nd Rd.), A 3B Andy Michel, 19 (2024 IFA), A C Jesus Florian (2024 IFA), AAA INF German Sanchez, 24 (trash heap);

The top 5 overall prospects this year are:

#1 IND A INF Dan Schneller (was #1)
#2 ATL AAA SP Andy Jimenes (was #3)
#3 ATL AAA RF Frank Romero (was #12)
#4 SFW A 2B/SS Mario Colon (was #53)
#5 LVA AA SP Josh Heckman (was #2)

Last year's remaining top 5 were PIT 1B Danny Santillano (#4) who went back and forth between AAA and the majors, but batted .336 with five homers for Pittsburgh eventually and looks like a future star; for now he is still 21 years old. Opposed to that, #5 prospect 3B Jim Allen of the Blue Sox dropped to #36 and will start in double-A again.

Next: first pitch.
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Old 11-12-2018, 04:41 PM   #2662
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Raccoons (0-0) @ Canadiens (0-0) – April 6-8, 2027

Last September, the Raccoons had left Vancouver having robbed the stupid Elks of all their hopes and all their dreams, and now they returned as champions! This despite the fact that the Elks had actually taken the season series, 10-8, in 2026, but at some point you had to focus on the bigger picture. We had rings. They didn't.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (0-0) vs. Antonio Muniz (0-0)
Rico Gutierrez (0-0) vs. Andrew Gudeman (0-0)
Dan Delgadillo (0-0) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (0-0)

We would start off facing a left-hander, then get two righties in this opening set.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 3B Rock – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – LF St. Germaine – C Tovias – P Roberts
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – 3B Anton – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – SS Calfee – 1B Myles – 2B Gura – P A. Muniz

First time up, the Coons' Anaconda part of the lineup was retired on six pitches, which was not the start to the season we would have hoped for, but at least there were another 1,457 innings left to the season. "Furball"(?) Muniz in fact put only one batter on base the first time through the lineup, walking Elias Tovias with one out in the top 3rd. Roberts bunted him over, and Ramos cracked a single to center to drive him in from second base for the first run to the new season! With offense at a premium, that was the only run in the first five innings. None of the pitchers was *really* dealing, but there was lots and lots of poor contact, only three base hits for the Elks, and only two for the Coons, with Abel Mora chipping in a single in the fourth. It would have been neat to add a run here or there, but the Coons weren't doing it. Ramos drew a leadoff walk in the sixth inning, stole second base, but was stranded by the hapless bunch behind him, and when Mark Roberts issued a leadoff walk in his pitching assignment to the sixth inning, putting Matt Anton on first, he soon found himself whirling around to catch one last glimpse of a fastball just murdered for a 2-run homer by Tony Coca. Now trailing, Roberts made it to the eighth inning, allowed a single to Coca there, with the runner stealing second base, but being thrown out at home by Mora on Alex Torres' single up the middle. All this would have been nifty, but Roberts was obviously out of steam, and there was still a runner on second base. Dan McLin replaced him for his Coons debut, and surrendered the tack-on run after all on a pinch-hit single by Chris Mendoza, a left-handed batter entered to counter the Coons' cunning move. Top 9th, J.R. Hreha drilled Trey Rock to start the inning, but after Kevin Harenberg's fly to right was intercepted by Brian Wojnarowski for some sort of deflation, the air didn't escape completely from the game until Rafael Gomez smacked into a double play. 3-1 Canadiens.

Three base hits. Three… base hits.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Gutierrez
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – 3B Anton – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – SS Calfee – 1B Myles – 2B Gura – P A. Gudeman

Rico was decidedly not sharp out of the gate, just like the offense. The Elks put two men on in the opening inning, then had two more on in the bottom 2nd that Gudeman bunted into scoring position. Wojnarowski grounded up the middle, neither Rock nor Ramos got to it, and both John Calfee and Ted Gura scored to put Vancouver up 2-0 again. One hit and four strikeouts was the Raccoons' output the first time through the order, and it actually took them until the fourth inning of this second game to connect for as many as two base hits in a single frame. Harenberg hit a 1-out single, Mora hit a 1-out single – would wonders ever cease? Maybe, let's get crazy here, maybe an extra-base hit!? Nope, Gomez flew out to center, Nunley flew out to right, and the inning ended in dismay. In return, the stupid, stinking Elks hit back-to-back jacks off Gutierrez in the bottom 4th, Wojnarowski and Anton being the filthy assailants, and Rico was wrapped up and pinch-hit for in the following, otherwise uneventful inning as the Raccoons threatened to trundle towards their second loss in as many games. Heck, even Gudeman walking the bases full in the sixth inning couldn't help the Raccoons. Rock popped out, Mora struck out, Nunley flew out to deep left, each out being made right after the preceding walk.

The Raccoons had to wait until the seventh inning for a ball to not only make it past the infielders but also fall somewhere where no outfielders were either, with Elias Tovias' leadoff double once more invoking some vague sense of hope that the season would not start out a complete and total disaster. St. Germaine popped out over the infield, and both Ramos and Spencer hit lazy flies to the nearest outfielder to strand Tovias on second base. The most entertaining thing about the whole performance was maybe Josh Boles walking Adan Myles and striking out the other three batters in three full counts in the seventh inning, but if you came to see any Raccoons offense, you were to be disappointed. 4-0 Canadiens. Gomez 1-2, BB; Surginer 2.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Oh boy.

For early signs of another 33-year curse having been laid on the Coons: Jarod Spencer drew a walk in this game, but is otherwise 0-for-7 at the plate. Spencer has 79 career walks compared to 881 base hits. If that ain't doom, nothing is.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Delgadillo
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – 3B Anton – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 1B Myles – SS Crosby – 2B Gura – P Cervantes

Rookie of the Year Alberto Ramos opened this game with a single before darkness fell over the lineup once more. He was stranded at second base, and the misery continued unabated. Delgadillo held on for a while before issuing a leadoff walk to Adrian Crosby in the bottom 3rd, a single to despicable Ted Gura that sent Crosby to third base, and soon enough surrendered the run on Wojnarowski's sac fly to Rafael Gomez. While emotionally I settled for 0-3 to begin the season (AND AGAINST THE ****ING ELKS), Kevin Harenberg's bat made unexpected loud noise in the top of the fourth and he hit one over the fence against Cervantes to put the Coons even with the Elks, 1-1. 22 innings and already two runs – what a roll! Not that it lasted long; Alex Torres immediately answered with his first dinger of the season, a leadoff jack in the bottom 4th that restored the Elks to a 2-1 lead.

The Coons went from the sublime to the outright bizarre as the innings progressed. Yusneldan had shown a fairly steady aim in 2026, but through five innings in this game issued four walks while striking out nobody. In turn, the two batters he walked in the bottom 5th, Wojnarowski and Coca, were individually caught stealing second base by Tovias, who was not exactly a laser gunner behind the plate. Delgadillo nevertheless failed to last six innings, and while the bullpen tried to patch for a little while, Dan McLin eventually surrendered an eighth-inning homer to Adan Myles, the fifth stinking Elk to go yard in the series. There was a Harenberg double at some point, which of course amounted to nothing, and there was a 1-out single hit by a pinch-hitting Cookie Carmona in the #2 hole for a non-existent Jarod Spencer. That still sent Trey Rock to the plate, who couldn't have been more useless if he had been radioactive and rotating his head real fast, and he chopped the first pitch he saw from J.R. Hreha into a sweep-completing double play. 3-1 Canadiens. Harenberg 2-3, HR, 2B, RBI;

Raccoons (0-3) vs. Falcons (1-2) – April 9-11, 2027

Boy, was there some yelling at the airport when the defeated suckers returned home on Thursday night. Which didn't change the fact that the next team was already arriving in town as well to squeeze all life out of that supposed-to-be-good lineup. Right now they ranked last in EVERYTHING… except for home runs and stolen bases, where some teams had put up a zero so far. But few teams had TWO STINKING RUNS by the season's first weekend! The Falcons for example had 15, good for fourth in the Continental League, but had also been emasculated for 31 counters in just three games against the Knights. It was hard to find proper words for their current situation. The Furballs had battered them 8-1 in 2026.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (0-0) vs. Victor Arevalo (0-0)
Kyle Anderson (0-0) vs. Will Hannahan (0-0)
Mark Roberts (0-1, 2.35 ERA) vs. Jesus Chavez (1-0, 2.70 ERA)

Three right-handers. Not sure whether that is any consolation, or anything at all…

Game 1
CHA: LF Banfi – C O'Dell – 1B Fowlkes – RF Kok – 3B E. Moreno – SS Ra. Mendez – CF Camps – 2B Muller – P Arevalo
POR: SS Ramos – CF Mora – RF St. Germaine – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – 2B Stalker – LF Carmona – C Liu – P Nomura

Whatever the Raccoons had, they hadn't left it in Vancouver. Ramos once more hit a single in the first, but nothing ever happened after that, while Nomura retired the first five Falcons before Raul Mendez singled, Juan Camps walked, and John Muller drove in both with a long fly that beat Cookie Carmona's range, fair and square. Then there was the obvious issue of our Asian battery obviously not being on the same page on any pitch Rin Nomura threw the entire game (which turned out not to be unbearably long either…), with numerous mix-ups, a wild pitch that almost cost a run in the bottom 4th until Camps chose to be caught stealing with runners on the corners and one out, upon which the Coons squealed, intentionally walked Muller in a half-eaten count and instead let Nomura go after the opposing pitcher – at least that one ended up an inning-ending strikeout.

Bottom 4th, Mora led off with an infield single, which was sure going to lead us to greatness. St. Germaine singled to right, with Mora racing for third base, only to be thrown out by Barend Kok; St. Germaine advanced to scoring position on the play, where he was also stranded when Harenberg grounded out and Nunley lined out to Luigi Banfi. There eventually came a sixth inning, and in this Abel Mora hit another leadoff single. It again brought up St. Germaine as the tying run, but he flew out to Camps in center. Mora stole second base, then was still stranded on groundouts by Harenberg and Nunley. The performance in its entirely was dastardly ludicrous.

The seventh saw Dan McLin toss a scoreless seventh, and Cookie stranded in scoring position after hitting a double. The eighth got Billy Brotman into a game for the first time in 2027, and he was also not scored upon. Ramos then drew a leadoff walk from Arevalo in the bottom 8th, and maybe we could finally shake off the cobwebs and get something going, goddamnit! Ramos stole second base in a pitchout(!), then scored on Abel Mora's double off the leftfield wall. Okay, now we're in business! The Falcons went to the pen, bringing right-hander David Wayne, who faced only St. Germaine and surrendered a single. Runners were on the corners for Harenberg against Jay Schimek, and Kevin poked a 2-0 pitch into play that soared barely over Mendez into shallow centerfield for a game-tying RBI single. Nunley hit a single past Pat Fowlkes to load the bases, and there was still nobody out here. Would Schimek get Tim Stalker? Nah, Tim Stalker got Jay Schimek – deep drive to left, up, and up, and outta here – GRAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMM!!!! 6-2 Raccoons. Mora 3-4, 2B, RBI; St. Germaine 2-4; Stalker 2-4, HR, 4 RBI;

Good, with that knot severed, can we please start to score a bit earlier and more regularly?

Game 2
CHA: LF Banfi – SS Folk – 1B Fowlkes – RF Kok – CF Salto – 3B E. Moreno – 2B Ra. Mendez – C Carmichael – P J. Chavez
POR: LF Spencer – CF Mora – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – SS Stalker – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Anderson

The highlight of the early innings was Anderson pouncing to turn not one, but two 1-6-3 double plays in the first three frames, but the offense still was rather reluctant to produce a comforting score, or much of a score, early on against Chavez, who replaced the skipped Hannahan. And so it was the Falcons who took the lead in the fourth inning, in which Brody Folk, Pat Fowlkes, Barend Kok, and Graciano Salto scorched Anderson for four straight singles, which gave them one run, and Eddie Moreno's sac fly gave them a second run before Mendez grounded out to Tim Stalker. But the bottom 4th also saw the Coons make a move; Trey Rock started with a single slapped into left, Harenberg singled up the middle, and Gomez chopped another single to leftfield that sent Rock around to score and Kevin to third base. Stalker, Friday's hero, wasn't the hero today, going down to ex-Coon Chavez in a full count. Nunley hit a sac fly, bringing home the tying run, 2-2, and then Tovias singled to right. Gomez charged from first to third, Kok unleashed a wild throw that went into foul ground, and Gomez raced around to score the go-ahead run on the error.

Anderson lasted seven strong innings and the Coons scratched out a run in the bottom 7th where Tovias got on base, was bunted over by Anderson, then run for by Ramos, who came home on a single by Spencer and Mora's groundout, putting Portland ahead 4-2, and now they could play with their pen while in the lead – what novelty! Ricky Ohl struck out Rick Morris, Luigi Banfi, and Brody Folk in the eighth inning, before the bottom 8th saw Harenberg reach on an error by Raul Mendez. Bullock ran for him, stole second base, but after Gomez struck out against Wayne, Stalker was walked intentionally, then caught off base and doubled up when Nunley lined out to Fowlkes. Then it was time for Snyder to actually save a game – he had pitched the ninth on Friday just so he would stop picking his nose in the pen, though. He retired the 3-4-5 batters in order. 4-2 Coons! Gomez 2-4, RBI; Tovias 1-2, BB; Anderson 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, W (1-0);

Game 3
CHA: LF Banfi – SS Folk – 1B Fowlkes – CF Salto – C O'Dell – RF Camps – 3B Ra. Mendez – 2B Muller – P Hannahan
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 3B Bullock – P Roberts

For the first time that we would have noticed, the Coons put two of the three quirky guys atop of their lineup on base in the same frame; Ramos and Spencer they were, right in the first inning, and while Rock grounded out, Ramos scored from third base. Harenberg grounded out, but Mora singled to plate Spencer for an early 2-0 lead, the highest X-0 lead the Coons had achieved in this young season, but that was it for the moment. While Tovias singled and Bullock reached on an error to begin the bottom 2nd, Roberts bunted into a double play to murder the effort, then put Muller on base with a third-inning leadoff single. The Falcons moved him around with an RBI single by Brody Folk, Roberts also walked Fowlkes to make things a bit tense, but Spencer caught up with a Graciano Salto fly to end the inning still up 2-1.

On to the fourth, where the Critters had Tovias and Bullock on base again, and again with nobody out. AGAIN Roberts bunted badly, this time getting Tovias killed off on third base. Bullock on second, Roberts at first then with one out for Ramos, who cracked an 0-2 pitch into a double play. Portland stranded another pair in the fifth, Harenberg and Mora singling for no greater good. The Critters hung onto their lead by the skin of their teeth by the time John Muller hit a 1-out double in the seventh inning. The Falcons let Hannahan bat, bunt, and strike out, but how long did you trust Roberts, who had only 9 K in 14.1 innings with an all-right-handed lineup? Ah, there were two outs, what was Luigi Banfi gonna do? He walked on four pitches, and then Brody Folk, the disgusting ex-Elk, hit a 2-run triple to flip the score. That also evicted Roberts from the game, now spiraling towards a loss. The Coons sent Kevin Surginer, the Falcons sent Barend Kok to hit for Fowlkes, and Kok singled to run their lead to 4-2.

While Hannahan held out, the Coons put the tying runs on first and second with nobody out in the bottom 8th when Mora and Gomez both hit soft singles to begin the inning. And then Tovias struck out, St. Germaine batted for Bullock, but still struck out, and when Jay Schimek was sent to relief Hannahan, Nunley batted for Kevin Surginer, but flew out to Banfi. In the ninth it was the top of the lineup against left-hander Greg Becker, who surrendered a leadoff single to Ramos. Spencer grounded to Muller, who got the force on Ramos, but when Rock also singled to right, Harenberg became the winning run and the hometown crowd was on its feet. Harenberg unleashed the worst grounder yet, right at the pitcher, and then Becker more or less fell over the ball and the Falcons had NO play. Instead the bases were loaded with one out and Abel Mora came to the plate… except that the Coons made balked and sent a right-handed bat instead against Becker: Tim Stalker. Becker threw ball one in the dirt, before hanging a breaking ball. Stalker hit it to right-center, and plenty deep. Rick Morris missed it, but Graciano was going to cut it off while Spencer and Rock were already coming across. The Coons' third base coach windmilled Harenberg around third base and for home plate, Salto's throw only reached the second baseman Muller, and Harenberg slid across home plate to end the ballgame!! 5-4 Raccoons!! Rock 3-5, RBI; Mora 2-3, BB, RBI; Stalker (PH) 1-1, 2B, 3 RBI; Tovias 2-4;

In other news

April 7 – LAP OF/1B Joe Vanatti (.538, 1 HR, 7 RBI) rips five base hits in a 15-4 smashing of the Scorpions, knocking a home run, two doubles, and drives in five runs.
April 7 – TOP SP Nick Danieley (1-0, 0.00 ERA) strikes out ten and allows only three hits in a 4-0 shutout of the Rebels.
April 7 – Another 3-hit shutout is delivered by BOS SP Greg Gannon (1-0, 0.00 ERA), who does the honors to the Loggers in a 3-0 Titans win.
April 11 – TOP SP Jose Lerma (1-0, 0.53 ERA) rigs up a dozen Wolves in a 3-hit, 2-0 shutout over the Wolves.

Complaints and stuff

This week's hero was undeniably Tim Stalker. This was a sentence that had not made much sense seven days ago, but Stalker damn sure had the two biggest base knocks of all the Coons' hits this week. To be fair and for perspective, they had not gotten many base hits at all – only 43 in total.

Okay, the damage control protocol is at least active. The series in Vancouver was like an injection of liquid pest, but at least we swept the fundamentally flawed Falcons, and we're at least 3-3 now. Next week, Knights and Loggers, two of the worst teams of last season, so it will be key to continue to rally. What is that? The Titans at 5-0? We will also play three in Boston this month, right after the Loggers series.

Far from great, but it could be worse…

You know who has it worse? Jonny Toner. He is a free agent, which is rare for a 36-year-old four-time Pitcher of the Year in April… and despite years of struggles and agony, Toner is still the active pitcher with the best career FIP (2.96);

Fun Fact: Despite having only barely more than a season's worth of experience, Alberto Ramos ranks 13th all-time in stolen bases for the Raccoons with 49 sacks taken.

Who is ahead of him? Who is in the top 15 after all? You will find lots and lots of current Raccoons in the list!

1st – Ricardo Carmona – 423
2nd – Matt Higgins – 220
3rd – Conceicao Guerin – 193
4th – Tomas Castro – 143
5th – Jarod Spencer – 139
6th – Sandy Sambrano – 115
7th – Daniel Hall – 99
8th – Armando Sanchez – 78
9th – Yoshi Yamada – 68
10th – Ben O'Morrissey – 63
t-11th – Ken Clark – 57
t-11th – Tim Stalker – 57
13th – Alberto Ramos – 49
14th – Abel Mora – 48

15th – Stephen Buell – 46

In fact, the last two seasons were the only seasons in franchise history where the Critters stole more than 100 bases; 113 in '15 and 115 in '26.
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Old 11-14-2018, 04:32 PM   #2663
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Raccoons (3-3) vs. Knights (2-4) – April 12-14, 2027

The Knights had the highest batting average and the most runs scored in the young season, something the Raccoons were not exactly close to in either case. They had also allowed the fourth-most runs, so maybe the Coons' bats could continue to thaw in this series. In 2026, the Raccoons won five of nine games from Atlanta.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. Leon Hernandez (1-0, 3.86 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (0-1, 2.84 ERA) vs. Mario Rosas (1-0, 3.00 ERA)
Rin Nomura (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Estevan Delgado (0-1, 5.14 ERA)

Looks like a right-hander followed by two southpaws.

Game 1
ATL: LF N. Hall – 3B V. Ramirez – CF M. Walker – C Luna – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Kym – SS R. Miller – RF Stuckey – P L. Hernandez
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF R. Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Gutierrez

Left-handed batting Johnny Stuckey singled home Josh Johnson to put the Knights up 1-0 in the second inning. That happened with two outs and lots of confidence that Rico Gutierrez would retire him rather than the pitcher, but it seemed more and more like Rico's arm was either still on holidays or had gotten tired from all that big contract signing. While the Raccoons' first two base hits in the game were a pair of Spencer singles, which already indicates the level of offense on display once more, and they let a leadoff double by Kevin Harenberg go entirely to waste in the fourth inning, the Knights were less picky, put Stuckey on with a leadoff single in the top 5th, then also Nate Hall with another sharp single, and then found Mark Walker willing and able to crack a 2-out, 2-run single to extend their edge to 3-0.

The Raccoons happened to load the bases with nobody out in the bottom 5th, which was as usual where you would be bracing for impact and some crush injuries, mostly to your soul. Tovias drew a leadoff walk, Rico failed to bunt, then chopped a 2-2 pitch past a befuddled Chun-yeong Kym for a single, and Ramos singled to center to make it three. Spencer, 2-for-2, fouled out before the Knights showed pity and Hernandez drilled Trey Rock to force in a run. Harenberg's sac fly was the second run in the inning, but Mora flew out to Stuckey to end the inning. Gutierrez was done after six as his spot came up just after a 2-out double by Tovias in the bottom 6th, putting the tying run in scoring position for Adam St. Germaine, who reached on merit of his hindpaws after legging out an infield grounder for a single. Ramos floated out to Walker in shallow center, though, stranding them on the corners in a 3-2 game. Top 7th, the Coons used three relievers (Brotman, Surginer, Kearney) to contain an annoying double by Leon Hernandez (…), but the Raccoons clawed the Knights in the bottom 8th. Cookie pinch-hit for Rafael Gomez against Hernandez and became the last batter Hernandez faced when he singled to right. The Knights sent Jon Ozier for damage control, but he blew their lead when he hung a breaking ball that Matt Nunley buried in the right-center gap for an RBI double; score tied, go-ahead run at second base, and Daniel Bullock ran for Nunley now, but the Coons still failed to get him in despite a pinch-hit single by Tim "Wrecking Ball" Stalker into shallow left when he batted for Kearney. Ramos struck out, Spencer popped out, and top of the order was remarkably toothless. At least Snyder struck out three in the top 9th while hitting one (Guadalupe Ramirez), and the Raccoons still had a chance to walk off in the bottom 9th, but the middle of the order was completely tamed by Alfred Morua, the Knights' right-hander of choice. After Josh Boles retired the Knights in order in the 10th, Cookie led off the bottom 10th with another single off Morua. Bullock was asked to bunt, Morua took the ball to second base, yet late, and the Coons had two on with nobody out for Tovias, who flew out to shallow center. Ah, why worry? Stalker had replaced Ramos at short and was still batting in the #9 hole, and before you knew it, he singled to right, Cookie was sent from second base and slid across home plate well safe to walk off the Critters! 4-3 Coons! Spencer 2-5; Carmona (PH) 2-2; St. Germaine (PH) 1-1; Stalker (PH) 2-2, RBI;

4-3 is also our record now, first winning record of the season, and Josh Boles leads the team in wins with two.

Game 2
ATL: CF N. Hall – SS T. Jimenez – RF M. Walker – C Luna – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Kym – LF V. Ramirez – 3B R. Miller – P Rosas
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 3B Rock – 1B Harenberg – RF R. Gomez – CF Mora – LF St. Germaine – C Tovias – P Delgadillo

Through five, Dan Delgadillo allowed two hits, two walks and whiffed five, and was really in trouble only once when Ruben Luna, the slug of catchers, somehow lucked into a weird-bounce triple in the fourth inning, but was stranded nevertheless. Only the Coons scored early on, a 2-out, 2-run single up the middle by Abel Mora in the first inning after singles by Spencer and Rock as well as an I-want-nothing-to-do-with-you 4-pitch walk to Kevin Harenberg had loaded the bases. No more scoring occurred until the bottom 6th, when Rafael Gomez reached on a grounder that died far away from all infielders for a 1-out infield single, stole second base, then easily jogged home on Mora's double through Kym to give the Raccoons a 3-0 lead, all RBI's Mora's, who then apparently changed allegiances and dropped Josh Johnson's easy pop to shallow center in the top of the seventh. Kym singled to bring up the tying run, but Delgadillo buckled down, struck out Vinny Ramirez, and got Rich Miller to pop out to Ramos in a 2-2 count, ending the inning, but also his own night, because he had broken through 100 pitches in the unnecessarily extended inning.

With Snyder unavailable, the Raccoons would play the last two innings by ear. Dan McLin whiffing the pitcher Rosas before conceding on-base privileges to both Nate Hall and Tony Jimenez sounded discordant, so he was removed for Brotman when the left-handers Walker and Luna drew up. He struck out both of them, freeing up Ricky Ohl for the ninth inning, coming on in a double switch that replaced Rock with Nunley at the hot corner. This proved an overreaction – no ball was ever put into play by the Knights as Johnson struck out, Kym walked, Ramirez struck out, and Miller… struck out. 3-0 Furballs! Rock 2-4; Mora 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Delgadillo 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, W (1-1);

Game 3
ATL: LF N. Hall – 3B V. Ramirez – CF M. Walker – C Luna – 2B J. Johnson – SS T. Jimenez – 1B Kym – RF G. Ramirez – P E. Delgado
POR: LF Spencer – 2B Rock – SS Stalker – 1B Mora – CF St. Germaine – RF R. Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Nomura

Nomura retired the Knights in order for two innings before conceding soft singles to both Kym and Guadalupe Ramirez to begin the third. Estevan Delgado then endeared himself to Coons fans with an absolutely horrendous bunt that Nomura took for an easy force at third base, and because Delgado made no effort to run after stumbling initially, Nunley zinged to first base for a double play. Nate Hall grounded out to short to end the inning. The following inning, Mark Walker and Ruben Luna hit back-to-back singles, but Walker was thrown out by Rafael Gomez as he tried to go first-to-third. However, the Coons' offense was very much included in the general detritus, not exactly sparkling still. Trey Rock's single was their only base hit the first time through the order, and the second time through Stalker and Gomez scratched out singles to at least score one run in the fourth inning. This they deemed plenty; Nomura had to make do – and for a while he actually did, although the lead was brittle to the max with the Knights stranding runners on the corners in both the sixth and seventh innings. Nomura had already been batted for when the Raccoons formidably exploded in the bottom of the eighth inning… for TWO doubles and one run. Spencer and Rock did the honors off Delgado, back-to-back. Come the ninth, so did rain, and also a Ruben Luna homer on the very first pitch by Jonathan Snyder, but Jon wiggled out of the inning before rains or runs could force an indefinite extension to the glue-like proceedings. 2-1 Critters. Rock 2-4, 2B, RBI; Nomura 8.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K;

Raccoons (6-3) @ Loggers (4-4) – April 15-18, 2027

First meeting with the Loggers this year, who were not expected to be anything but crummy in '27. So far they sat ninth in runs scored and sixth in runs allowed, with a so-so rotation and a pen that showed early signs of nuclear meltdown. The Coons were sure hoping to make good hay on them after winning 11 of the 18 games in 2026.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (1-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (1-0, 5.14 ERA)
Mark Roberts (0-1, 3.77 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (1-0, 3.68 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-1, 6.30 ERA) vs. Ian Prevost (0-1, 6.17 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (1-1, 1.35 ERA) vs. Jorge Villalobos (1-1, 1.20 ERA)

Looks like we will avoid their only southpaw, Ben Jacobson (1-1, 4.38 ERA). Will this help our offense at all? After the 2-1 win on Wednesday, we are under three runs per game for the season… I was hoping we'd be near five!

The Loggers had traded away Ron Tadlock (see below), one of their most annoying batters in recent years, but they still had sting with Willie Trevino and Ian Coleman, although Trevino was expected to miss a few more days with a thumb contusion.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Anderson
MIL: SS Ferrer – 1B Aquino – LF R. Amador – CF Coleman – 3B A. Velez – RF Rueda – C Ayala – 2B M. Green – P Rogers

Alberto Ramos opened the game with a walk drawn from Philip Rogers, stole second base, and the 2-3-4 batters didn't get the ball out of the infield at all; but when Anderson walked Manny Ferrer to begin the bottom 1st, the Loggers hit three rockets after that, one of which even fell in, and took a 1-0 lead. The Coons had their first base hit with Tovias' leadoff single in the top 3rd, and after he was bunted to second, Rogers helped out the Critters with a wild pitch that moved Tovias to third, from where Ramos scored him with a groundout. Such offensive prowess! In turn, Ferrer reached base again, stole second, and scored on a Roberto Amador single in the bottom of the inning, putting Milwaukee up 2-1 again, but again the lead lasted but briefly before Rafael Gomez flipped the score with a 2-run homer to left in the fourth inning. Abel Mora had been on base after a single.

Anderson pitched valiantly, but didn't fool anybody. His best best was to stay on the edges and don't get beat down the middle. In the bottom 6th, he failed on all counts, walking Alexis Rueda after Alberto Velez had already hit a 1-out single, and then threw right down broadway against Mike Green with two outs. Green doubled to left, both runners scored easily, and the Loggers were in front again, 4-3. The Raccoons took Anderson off the hook in the seventh; St. Germaine singled in his place, then scored from second base on Spencer's 2-out double right in the path of Green's damage dealer five minutes earlier, knotting the score at four before Trey Rock rolled out embarrassingly.

But the pen got involved now for both teams, and I still had more confidence in ours than in theirs. The real question was where the Coons' offense ranked in the confidence table; but for now Mora drew a 1-out walk in the eighth to get Rogers removed, but right-hander Yoo-chul Kim allowed a double to Gomez right away. Nunley cracked an RBI single, 5-4, before Tovias struck out. St. Germaine walked to load them up with two outs and that pulled up Ramos, batting all of .214 as reigning Rookie of the Year, but he was reaching base at a much more decent .353 clip, and a walk was really a valid option here. But he struck out. In turn, Jeff Kearney and Ricky Ohl collapsed in the bottom 8th; Kearney walked Ian Coleman and allowed a single to Alberto Velez, while Ricky Ohl drilled Victor Ayala to load the bases with one out. He whiffed Green, then walked Alex Mesa in the same three-on, two-out spot that Ramos had just failed in. That tied the game; Ferrer grounded out to Nunley.

Top 9th of a nail-biter. Joe Moore was pitching against his long-ago team, with Spencer doubling past Coleman to lead off the inning. Cookie batted for Ricky Ohl and legged out an infield single, presenting Harenberg with a perfect chance to make all Coons fans go KEVIIIIIIN. He grounded out so poorly as to keep Spencer lodged at third base while Cookie advanced to second; it was left to Mora and Gomez to hit a pair of RBI singles through the infield seams to give the Critters their third and hopefully final lead of the game. And it actually was; Jonathan Snyder retired the Loggers in order to seal the deal. 7-5 Raccoons. Spencer 3-5, 2 2B, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1; Gomez 3-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; St. Germaine (PH) 1-1, BB;

Bright sides – they scored seven! In ONE game!

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Roberts
MIL: SS Ferrer – 1B Aquino – C J. Young – LF R. Amador – CF Coleman – 2B M. Green – 3B A. Velez – RF Owens – P D. Soto

Deadly silence engulfed the Raccoons' bats in the early innings while Mike Green showed ambition to become our tapeworm of the week with a 2-run homer of a still stuffless Roberts in the second inning. The Loggers would add a run on a terrific throwing error by Matt Nunley in the bottom 4th, and the Coons looked like they were already half beaten until Elias Tovias led off the fifth inning with a jack to cut the Loggers' lead to 3-1. The Raccoons appeared awake for the time being. While Roberts made an out, Ramos walked and scored on Spencer's gapper in left-center, 3-2, before the next batters stranded Spencer. Rock flew out to Sam Owens, and Harenberg hit a soft liner right into Ferrer's mitten. Roberts lasted only six meager innings, bailing out of two-on, one-out trouble in the bottom 6th when Ramos started a splendid double play on a grounder by Velez. Top 7th, Tovias led off flying out to leftfield, before Tim Stalker batted for Roberts and got nailed. Ramos turned on a 1-2 pitch and hit it into the right-center gap where it continuously ran away from Ian Coleman ambling in circulatory fashion and ended up giving Ramos a game-tying triple.

Spencer's sac fly to Amador gave Mark Roberts a posthumous 4-3 lead, something that Kevin Surginer protected professionally in the seventh inning, but Billy Brotman and Dan McLin and the two walks and the infield single they gave out in the bottom 8th almost blew. McLin rung up Velez to end the inning with the bags choked. No insurance run would come together in the ninth despite Nunley (single) and Tovias (walk) getting on base to begin the frame. Liu batted for McLin – he should have batted the last time around, but nobody in the dugout managed to make him understand until they just threw a bat at him this time around – but grounded into a double play, and Ramos was retired on a diving play by Ramos in shallow right to end the inning. Snyder was once more unavailable, so the Raccoons turned to Ricky Ohl once Tovias and Liu had argued to conclusion who would catch the ninth inning, an argument that ended with Cookie Carmona and Rafael Gomez (who had been hit for by St. Germaine earlier) coming from the dugout to carry Liu back to the same. Amid all the distractions, Ohl drilled Jason Parten for a nasty welt, then allowed singles with two outs to Wilson Aquino, Jim Young, and Alexis Rueda to blow the lead. Abel Mora made a running catch in the gap on Coleman's drive to send the game to extra innings. Mora hit a Joe Moore pitch for 400 feet in the 11th to give the Coons a new lead, and this time it would be on Josh Boles to save it. At least he faced Moore to begin the bottom 11th – the Loggers were out of bench players. Moore grounded out sharply to Nunley, which was still within defined safe parameters, but walking Ferrer and allowing scorched singles to Aquino and Young wasn't. The tying run scored on the Young single, AGAIN, and the game continued after Rueda and Coleman both made easy fly outs. Amazingly, Jeff Kearney was not scored upon, facing right-handed bats in the bottom 12th (although Velez doubled…), although this time there was no lead to blow, either. Nor was there in the 13th; but Kearney sure tried, now against the left-handed batters. Aquino singled, moved to second on a groundout, and with two outs Coleman singled sharply to right. Aquino was sent for home, but thrown out by St. Germaine to extend a game that had long put my soul between two millstones. The Raccoons were out of pitching, but even more out of offense. Nobody got the ball to go anywhere. As a consequence, they suffered the worst shame. With one out in the bottom 14th, Kearney had Mike Green and the winning run on third base after singles by him and Owens, and reliever David Warn at the plate. Warn took a 1-2 pitch to center, it fell in, and the Loggers walked off. 6-5 Loggers. Ramos 2-4, 2 BB, RBI; Spencer 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 2-6, HR, RBI; Nunley 2-6;

Unpretty.

On to Rico now, with a blasted bullpen, and he actually had the worst ERA of any starter on the staff at this point. Well, at least Kevin Surginer was probably still somewhat rested. Who knows, if we throw a baseball at Liu he might even be able to toss some long relief to Tovias. That should be fun!

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF St. Germaine – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P R. Gutierrez
MIL: SS Ferrer – CF Coleman – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – RF Stone – 2B M. Green – 3B A. Velez – 1B R. Amador – P Prevost

Harenberg tried to wipe off an 0-for-6 on Friday with a leadoff double in the second inning, although the rest of the team was extremely hesitant to score him. Mora grounded out, St. Germaine whiffed, and while Nunley walked in a full count, that didn't get the ****ing run home! Tovias dropped a terrible blooper into shallow left to get Harenberg home for the first run in the game, finally, before Rico struck out to end the top 2nd, then put two on, but also struck out three in the bottom 2nd. Prevost hit a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd, but was doubled off on a grounder to Nunley by Ian Coleman, who had chugged out five base hits the night before. The Raccoons had Mora and St. Germaine on the corners with one out in the fourth inning, but Nunley (K) and Tovias (F2…) stranded them proficiently; in turn Mike Green continued his weekend-long torture with a leadoff jack in the bottom 5th, which was also meant no shutout for Rico this time around in Milwaukee in addition to no lead no longer…

While Rico continued to do his utmost and had a 3-hitter through seven innings – never mind that other rocket that Green hit that came pretty darn close to the fence in the bottom 7th – the Coons' offense remained paltry to stay polite. Maybe they could exploit an error in the eighth inning that put Spencer on second base with nobody out after Jim Young had thrown away his pathetic grounder. Rock's single even put runners on the corners with nobody out, yet the completely invisible Harenberg fouled out, and it was Abel Mora's sac fly that BARELY got the go-ahead run across. Rock was caught stealing to end the inning, and the Coons hit for Rico Gutierrez in the ninth because he was well over 100 pitches already. Gomez hit a 2-out single in his spot, and Ramos even doubled to create a real chance for Spencer to do damage and create insurance against Matthew Simonsen. The count ran full, Spencer rapped a line to shallow center, and Coleman had no chance; the ball was in, and two runs scored! Rock grounded out to Velez, bringing in Kevin Surginer with the best of intentions. Leadoff walk to Jim Young, then a pop out by Trevino. Jason Stone singled, bringing up the tying run in Rueda, who as Surginer struggled to throw convincing strikes grounded out to Harenberg, advancing the runners. The switch-hitting Velez was the tying run now with two outs, and another roller to Harenberg ended this game before it could get truly ugly. 4-1 Furballs. Spencer 2-5, 2 RBI; Harenberg 2-4, 2B; Gomez (PH) 1-1; Gutierrez 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, W (1-1) and 1-3;

Kevin Surginer had an impressive nine wins last year, but only one save. In fact, he has never had more than one ABL save in his career; this might be the year!

Boy's got no wins so far, though.

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – RF Gomez – LF Carmona – C Tovias – P Delgadillo
MIL: SS Ferrer – CF Coleman – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – RF Stone – 2B M. Green – 3B Parten – 1B Aquino – P Villalobos

The Raccoon got Ramos and Spencer on base to begin the game, then a sac fly by Mora and an RBI single from Harenberg to score two quick runs on Villalobos, who was nevertheless able to enlist quick reinforcements with a Manny Ferrer jack to begin the bottom 1st against Delgadillo. Coleman and Young chopped singles before Willie Trevino fouled out and Jason Stone grounded hard at Ramos for an inning-ending double play. But why would the Loggers worry? ****ing Mike Green hit another leadoff jack in the second, tying the game. The hapless Delgadillo was also charred for singles and the go-ahead run by Aquino and Ferrer, putting him in a 3-2 hole with six hits allowed in two innings. The Coons tied the game in the top 3rd with Ramos walking, stealing, and scoring on Harenberg's single, but Delgadillo continued to get absolutely nobody out, walking the bedeviled Green with two outs in the bottom 3rd and conceding a 4-3 lead to the Loggers on Jason Parten's double to dead center. While Tovias tied the game again with a solo home run in the top half of the fourth, Delgadillo was yanked after just one batter in the bottom half. That batter was Villalobos, and he hit a howling double. That was enough! Josh Boles replaced Delgadillo and stranded the go-ahead run with a walk to Ferrer, a double play grounder, and a K to Young. In turn, the Coons grabbed the lead when Mora singled and Harenberg wrecked a fastball for 425 feet to left-center, moving out to a 6-4 edge, and with that the game got rid of its last starting pitcher.

Boles gave the Coons two more outs on another double play following a walk in the bottom 5th (whatever works!?) before the Coons went to Dan McLin, who had so far been far from impressive and became more annoying by the day. Green (…) singled, Parten walked, Aquino hit an RBI single. GODDAMNIT YOU ****ER, GET SOMEBODY OUT!! Mesa grounded out to Harenberg to end the inning, now in a rapidly evolving 6-5 score, which further morphed in the sixth inning, which Alex Gutierrez, a left-hander, began by walking Cookie Carmona, who stole second base on a hit-and-run that lacked the hitting on Tovias' part, but it still worked out alright. Young dropped that ball, and then Ferrer threw away Tovias' grounder for a 2-base error, moving Cookie across home plate, 7-5. An unretired Harenberg would come up to bat with two outs and the bases full following an intentional walk to Ramos and a bloop single by Mora, but grounded out to Aquino to let Alex Gutierrez off the hook. The fool McLin went on to walk Ferrer to begin the bottom 6th, allowed a single to Coleman, then started a 1-6-3 double play on Young at least. Trevino grounded out to Harenberg to strand Ferrer on third base. Then, the pendulum swung more violently in the seventh inning, in which McLin – as he had not thrown many pitches, we had the lead, and we needed more pitches from him now, despite the shady performance – hit a single in a pile of Coons that loaded the bases for Elias Tovias, who then buried a lazy curveball in the rigthfield stands. GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMM!!!

At once, the Loggers' will to fight was broken. McLin fooled his way through the seventh inning, getting the odd merit point or two for resilience as he threw 48 pitches in 2.1 absolutely messy innings, and Billy Brotman got the Coons the rest of the way through the game. Hardly a Logger reached base anymore, and the Raccoons also shifted back a gear or two. Tovias had a chance for a third homer in the ninth inning, but flew out to Coleman in shallow center instead. 11-5 Raccoons! Ramos 2-3, 2 BB, 2B; Mora 2-4, RBI; Harenberg 3-5, HR, 4 RBI; Tovias 2-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI; Boles 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, W (3-0); Brotman 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

In other news

April 12 – LVA SP Ed Hague (2-0, 0.00 ERA) 3-hits the Indians in a 2-0 shutout.
April 12 – DEN LF/CF Abel Madsen (.182, 0 HR, 0 RBI) will miss a month with a bad ankle sprain.
April 13 – The Loggers and Aces exchange veterans, with 1B/SS Ron Tadlock (.391, 0 HR, 5 RBI) going to Vegas, while Milwaukee sees the return of former Logger 3B Alberto Velez (.172, 0 HR, 4 RBI).
April 17 – No-hitter! The Condors' SP George Griffin (1-1, 2.82 ERA) holds the Aces completely hitless and strikes out ten against five walks in a 9-0 rout! This is the 51st no-hitter in ABL history and the second for the Condors.
April 18 – After a leadoff double by C Dylan Allomes (.350, 5 HR, 11 RBI) in the bottom 9th, the Gold Sox call for two intentional walks, separated by a sacrifice bunt, on the Pacifics before DEN MR Brian Gilbert (3-1, 4.15 ERA, 1 SV) issues an unintentional walk to PH Tony Ruiz (.286, 0 HR, 1 RBI) with the bases loaded, walking off the Pacifics for a 2-1 win.

Complaints and stuff

Mid-week, the offense was a stunning bunch. They were under three runs per game, half the runs had been drive in by either Mora or Stalker(!), we had only two homers, bottom-four ratings in all major categories except stolen bases, no .300 batter when I had calculated for four in the first four spots in the order, and in fact Alberto Ramos' .240 mark ranked third-best on the team; and somehow we were still on a 6-game winning streak.

And I'm not trying to be too bitchy, we had a 6-1 week after all, but the Loggers series went from nuts to berzerk as it went along. At least the Loggers set got the bats woken up and we moved into the midfield area in many offensive categories, and we are t-5th in runs scored suddenly. We are also stealing a base per game right now, and our run differential is a full run per game (+14 actually).

The Agitator is calling us out for racial prejudice and profiling and what not all for consistently pairing Jing-quo Liu with Rin Nomura, to which I can only shrug and explain that this has nothing to do with race, but with Elias Tovias needing regular days off. The Japanese pitcher Nomura can't understand a single word that the Taiwanese catcher Liu is saying; just like anybody else on the team, staff, and in the organization.

We may want to keep working on this one…

In weird trade offers, the Miners dangled Jonathan Morales this week, a decent corner infielder, but nobody with room on our roster, asking for Brotman and Jonathan Fleischer in return, which was not a trade I could ever consciously agree to. Mrs. Sheila Rosenzweig Brotman, Billy's dear mother, nags me all the time to promise and assure her that nothing bad is going to happen to her Billy while he is away from home.

The road trip continues next week as we go to Boston (hi-dee-ho…), then to the Bay.

Fun Fact: The first Condors no-hitter was thrown almost ten years ago by Andrew Gudeman.

He also no-hit the Aces, who have been on the receiving end of a no-hitter a record five times, although if you include combined no-hitters, the Warriors have been held hitless most often with six instances.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:17 AM   #2664
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Raccoons (9-4) @ Titans (9-3) – April 19-21, 2027

It had been six years since a Raccoons team had won the season series from a Titans team, and although the margin had been narrow in the last two seasons (8-10 each time), the lack of success was starting to become really irritating. Out of the gate, the Titans had it done mostly on pitching, conceding just 33 runs in 12 games, which came out to 2.75 runs per game. Their offense, while not exactly poor, had not quite kept up with that performance, and they ranked seventh in runs scored, even a tic behind the Coons.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (1-1, 1.59 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (1-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (2-0, 0.00 ERA)
Mark Roberts (0-1, 3.54 ERA) vs. Guillermo Regalado (1-1, 3.77 ERA)

Right, left, right in this series; Dustin Wingo was unscored upon in 16 innings, and had also issued only two walks and conceded nine hits. Looks like somebody was on fire. In a good way.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF St. Germaine – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Nomura
BOS: LF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Good – CF Reichardt – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – P Shepherd

Nomura and Liu remained not a success story, with Rin Nomura issuing five walks in the first five innings, and all to the #5 batter and down in the Titans' lineup. Rhett West and Adam Corder both walked to begin the bottom 2nd, but a timely double play started by Nunley kept them in check. West hit a leadoff double in the fourth, after which Corder grounded out and moved him to third base, but then Nomura walked both Keith Spataro and Alex Arias and conceded the run anyway on a sac fly to center by Morgan Shepherd, and that was the first run in the game. The Raccoons were doing absolutely nothing once more, being 1-hit at that point, with only a sad Trey Rock single in the first inning to their name. Titans fans started paying attention when Adam St. Germaine reached base with a leadoff walk in the fifth inning, but the Raccoons couldn't help but ground out ****tily three times to leave him on base.

Nomura got yanked before the fifth inning was over after allowing a leadoff single to Gus Gasso, a deep fly for the first out procured by Mora off Matt Good's bat, after which he yanked Adrian Reichardt and eventually walked Adam Corder. Three on, two out for Ricky Ohl, who was no help in allowing a 2-run single, sharply spanked, to Spataro, walked Arias, and then somehow managed to not allow another 17 runs with Shepherd batting. Harenberg took his grounder for the third out, now three runs down. Meanwhile, against Morgan Shepherd, the Raccoons' pathetic hitting display never stopped. They amounted to three singles, two of those by Rock and one by Nunley, and negative seven runs. Julio San Pedro was sent into the save situation in the ninth, though, and a bloop (Rock), and a blast (Harenberg), and suddenly it was a 3-2 game with nobody out, and a new pitcher in Harry Merwin, and that right-hander would restore order. Nunley hit a 2-out single, but apart from that the Coons made three more outs just as pathetic as they had made all day long. 3-2 Titans. Rock 3-4; Nunley 2-4;

That was the 300th career save for Harry Merwin. I think I am on record for calling him useless or embarrassing or an excuse-me closer or something like that. Goes to tell you how much I know about baseball. Or people.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 3B Rock – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – RF Gomez – CF St. Germaine – C Tovias – P Anderson
BOS: LF W. Vega – C Leonard – RF Braun – 1B Good – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – P Wingo

Dustin Wingo's scoreless streak to begin the season ended right at 16 when the Coons poured more hits on him than they had scrabbled together against Shepherd in eight innings on Monday. Ramos and Spencer opened with singles before Rock and Harenberg both grounded out, but that at least got Ramos home. Stalker chipped in an RBI single, and Gomez also singled before St. Germaine grounded out to Good at first base. In turn, Kyle Anderson gave the outfielders a workout with the Titans hitting lots of deep drives, most of which were caught. West's to begin the second inning wasn't, but hit off the wall in rightfield for a triple. Corder would single him in, cutting the score to 2-1. Anderson tip-toed his way from inning to inning, hoping to avoid the big one while also praying for some support, which eventually did arrive, but late and not in huge amounts. Spencer hit a leadoff single in the sixth, and Tim Stalker doubled him in, and that was pretty much all the hitting the Raccoons did after the opening frame. Anderson reached the bottom 7th, got Corder and Spataro out before Wingo singled off him with two outs and that was it for Kyle Anderson. Portland went to Billy Brotman, who retired none of the two right-handers he faced, walking Willie Vega (who had swung for a golden sombrero on Monday) and allowing a bases-filling single to Keith Leonard, then somehow got the right-handed terror Adam Braun to pop out to strand three. Brotman retired Good to begin the bottom 8th before Ricky Ohl was allowed to fart in a crowded elevator, walking on West and Reichardt with the tying runs. Corder struck out before the Titans sent left-handed batter / mummy D.J. Fullerton, whichever cemetery they had desecrated to get him. Jeff Kearney replaced Ohl as the bullpen door continued to be worn out, conceded an RBI single, then struck out Yasuhiro Kuramoto batting for Wingo, somehow. Top 9th, Javy Salomon got two outs before the Coons loaded them up for a change, St. Germaine and Tovias hitting 2-out singles before Nunley pinch-walked in the #9 hole, bringing up Ramos, whose grounder up the middle and behind second base was intercepted by Rhett West, but not in time to make any play – St. Germaine scored on the infield single, 4-2. Jarod Spencer flew out to Vega to end the inning. That run was potentially golden given how Snyder pitched to the left-handers in the bottom 9th; Vega with a deep F8, Leonard with a REALLY deep F9, then a walk to Braun to spice things up. Matt Good hit a ball into the gap in right-center that Mora caught up with on the warning track to hold Good to a double, but there was also Adam Braun decidedly not stopping at third base when his run didn't matter. The Coons were acutely aware of his bad judgement as Mora fired the ball to the infield, hit the cutoff man Stalker, and Tim zinged home to kill off Braun by six feet to end the ballgame. 4-2 Coons. Ramos 2-5, RBI; Spencer 2-5; Stalker 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; St. Germaine 2-4; Anderson 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, W (2-0);

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF St. Germaine – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Roberts
BOS: LF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – CF Reichardt – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – P Regalado

Mark Roberts still didn't much look like a Pitcher of the Year and Triple Crown winner once removed, and quickly was down 2-0 in the rubber game after stacking runners on the bases via assorted means, then conceding a 2-run triple to Keith Spataro to put Boston ahead. The Coons had one base hit and four strikeouts the first time through the order, but Kevin Harenberg opened the top 4th with a jack, which sort of seemed to get the team going. Mora reached on an infield single, St. Germaine walked, Nunley grounded out, but that opened the door for Tovias to be walked intentionally and for Roberts to bat with three on and one out, wheee. That was also what the Titans thought, but they would be disappointed and shocked once Roberts slung a single up the middle to drive in the tying run and to keep the bases filled for Ramos, who also hit an RBI single to center. Spencer's sac fly made it a 4-run inning, just before Trey Rock rolled over to Gus Gasso to end the fun. And what was winless Roberts' response? Hitting Adrian Reichardt with a 1-2 pitch, leading off the bottom 4th. Now, no harm was done in a permanent way and Reichardt was caught stealing to end the inning, but … did we really know this was the real Roberts? Does that guy have any ID he could show us?

Whoever the **** was wearing #75 struck out two in the bottom 5th, but also drilled Alex Arias, allowed a single to Willie Vega with two outs, then a Mora-defeating long, long double by Gus Gasso that tied the game at four. When Roberts put West and Spataro aboard with singles in the bottom 6th, the Coons yanked him and brought in Dan McLin which was akin to treating an ingrown toe nail with chainsawing off the leg at the knee, but choices were slim with Ricky Ohl unavailable especially. To anybody's amazement, McLin struck out Arias after running a full count, keeping the game tied for now. When Rock, Harenberg, and Mora all lopped singles off Mike Stank in the seventh inning to load them up with one out, Tim Stalker batted for St. Germaine and hit into a double play on a 3-1 pitch, so so much for our secret weapon nobody had seen coming. Pretty sure we'd all see it going …! In turn, full-o'-**** Dan McLin put Kuramoto and Vega on base to begin the bottom 7th, was absolutely no help whatsoever, and Josh Boles conceded the runs eventually on an Adam Braun single that put Boston 6-4 ahead. Billy Brotman conceded another run in the eighth. The Raccoons never squeaked after the Stalker double play. 7-4 Titans. Harenberg 2-4, HR, RBI; Mora 3-4; Tovias 2-3, BB;

Raccoons (10-6) @ Bayhawks (8-8) – April 23-25, 2027

The Bayhawks led the Continental League with 88 runs scored, an impressive 5.5 runs per game, and were tied for sixth in runs allowed, so how could they only be at .500 with a +23 run differential? This was not a mystery solved easily, and they had at least one game of 8+ runs scored against opponent faced so far this season, so that would be the main challenge for the Critters, to keep them off home plate. Portland had won the season series four years in a row, including 5-4 in 2026.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (1-1, 4.00 ERA) vs. Tom McGuire (2-1, 2.78 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (1-1, 3.31 ERA) vs. Rafael Cuenca (1-1, 4.76 ERA)
Rin Nomura (1-1, 2.41 ERA) vs. Alex Vallejo (3-0, 1.80 ERA)

For this series, we'd get the left-handed pitcher up front, then two of their four right-handers. We'd miss ex-Coon Matt Huf, off to a 1-2 start with a 4.50 ERA.

Game 1
POR: 2B Spencer – 3B Rock – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – SS Stalker – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Carmona – P Gutierrez
SFB: CF Hawthorne – 3B Hawkins – LF J. Correa – 1B Caraballo – 2B Pick – C R. Anderson – RF Ryder – SS Pulido – P McGuire

McGuire was perfect until he nailed Rico Gutierrez (but before striking out Spencer anyway), and Rico had already been struck in the hindpaw by a Tom Hawkins shot in the bottom 1st, so he'd doubtlessly be nothing more than a bloody pulp by game's end. Maybe also a loser, because the Raccoons were not exactly driving all over McGuire despite putting Rock (single) and Gomez (walk) on base to begin the fourth inning. Harenberg grounded into a fielder's choice, Stalker lined out to Hawkins, and what the heck was Mora gonna do? More importantly, what was McGuire gonna do? He threw a wild pitch to begin the Mora appearance, plating Trey Rock with the first run of the game. Two pitches later, Abel Mora hit an RBI double to center, putting the Coons up 2-0 before Tovias grounded out.

The Raccoons DID grow annoyed though by the fifth inning, in which McGuire hit Gutierrez YET AGAIN. Free base runners are all dandy, but can you please not knock up your pitcher? Unless of course you want your damn pitcher knocked up, too! Too bad you couldn't threaten the Baybirds anymore that you'd throw a curveball into Dave Garcia's bum, which would have rendered him out for the season… Nothing good came out of Gutierrez running the bases this time, either, and much the contrary, ****ing Tom McGuire continued to own him with a leadoff single in the bottom 6th which preceded George Hawthorne's game-tying homer to centerfield. Hawkins singled, Jon Correa singled, Gutierrez misfielded Pat Pick's grounder for an error, then struck out Ryan Anderson to bring up Zachary Ryder with two outs … and then got taken deep to left for a grand slam, and that basically ended the game. The Bayhawks lost Hawkins to injury by the eighth inning, but McGuire kept merrily throwing into Raccoons hitters, drilling Stalker in the ninth. Abel Mora would draw a walk after that, putting two on with nobody out in a 6-2 game and evoking an appearance by ex-Coon and closer Ryan Corkum, who conceded one run on a Cookie sac fly, but the Raccoons never got the tying run to the plate. 6-3 Bayhawks. Mora 1-2, 2 BB, 2B, RBI;

The next pitcher that looks at one of my guys funny gets beaned into a coma, I swear!

Also, with Dan Delgadillo, who wore a "you kiddin'?" look when he glanced the lineup, paired with the basically byzantine Liu, we would always have an excuse.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF St. Germaine – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Delgadillo
SFB: CF Hawthorne – 3B Ryder – LF J. Correa – RF C. Martinez – 1B Caraballo – 2B Pick – C Jai. Jackson – SS O. Camacho – P Cuenca

The goddamn Coons put Ramos and Spencer on the corners with singles to begin the game and couldn't score either one of them as Rock flew out to shallow right, Harenberg walked, Mora fouled out behind home plate, and St. Germaine unleashed the most embarrassing roller of the decade over to Tomas Caraballo. By contrast, the Baybirds got a leadoff single from Hawthorne, who would steal two bases in the inning, two walks issued by Delgadillo, a Caraballo sac fly, and finally Pat Pick nailing a fastball for a 3-run homer while Liu was set up far outside in a crouch and wondered what had just happened – and there he was not the only one wearing a Coons hat. Another run scored in the bottom 2nd on two more walks and Zachary Ryder's RBI single, putting San Francisco ahead by five, or when facing the Raccoons: a whole series' worth. In between, Jing-quo Liu had hit a single in the second inning for his first ABL base hit, then had been seen shaking his head in disappointment when Delgadillo popped up a bunt for the second out. Needless to say, the Raccoons did not appear to be in a great hurry to get back into this game.

Instead, Delgadillo hurried out of this game after a Jaiden Jackson homer extended the gap to 6-0 in the bottom 3rd, and Kevin Surginer got churned for seven hits in 1.2 innings after replacing him. Surginer left the bases loaded, one out, and a 7-0 score to McLin, so you knew the Coons had given up on this game in particular and meaningful existence in general and were embracing the rout. McLin gave the Bayhawks their 8-run game with a balk (…!) before Hawthorne flew out to left and Omar Camacho was thrown out at home plate by Spencer to end the miserable fifth. And misery never really ceased, despite McLin finishing the game in long relief, with the Bayhawks continuing to hit drives all over the place, just without scoring any more runs. Kevin Harenberg hit the most meaningless home run in memory in the eighth inning, and that was all to the Coons in this game. 8-1 Bayhawks. Spencer 2-4; Harenberg 2-3, BB, HR, RBI; Nunley 2-4, 2B;

Probably to complete the humiliation on the Coons, the Bayhawks declared Sunday the debut of 22-year-old right-hander Ben Lipsky, once a supplemental round pick by the Rebels in 2023, and having arrived in San Francisco in a trade in 2024 that involved lots of money as well as Rafael Gomez – ya, the one on our roster now.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Nomura
SFB: LF Hawthorne – 3B Ryder – CF J. Correa – RF C. Martinez – 1B Caraballo – 2B Pick – C R. Anderson – SS O. Camacho – P Lipsky

Lipsky's first career out was Alberto Ramos being caught stealing, and wasn't that a great start to any game? Lipsky whiffed four and was near-perfect the first time through the Coons' order, with Nunley opening the third inning with a double to right, but he was obviously stranded on second base. Meanwhile Nomura pitched awfully even when paired with a catcher he could actually ****ing talk to, the Bayhawks stranding them left and right early on rather than scoring, with the main defensive heroics being Rafael Gomez blatant robbery on Jon Correa's drive to deep right with two outs in the bottom 3rd. The awesome catch took away a sure RBI double and denied the Bayhawks their first run in the game. Nope, the first run of the game didn't come until the fifth inning and did involve both of the 2024 trade buddies – Rafael Gomez rammed a leadoff jack off Lipsky to put the Coons in front. Nunley also singled to get on base after this, but Nomura would take care of him with a horrendous bunt right into Lipsky's waiting arms for a 1-6-3 double play.

Nomura avoided damage, somehow, on two walks in the bottom 4th, two hits in the bottom 5th, and instead it was the Coons who tacked on in the sixth inning on Ramos' leadoff walk, after which he reached third base when Ryan Anderson misfired to centerfield on his stolen base attempt, then scored on a Spencer single. Jarod stole second base, but having a quick runner there with nobody out was nothing that could potentially help the Coons' middle of the order, which made three sad outs around Harenberg being walked intentionally. Speaking of intentional walks, the Coons issued one to Camacho in the bottom 6th with Pat Pick on third base in unearned fashion after a gross throwing error by Rin Nomura, and two outs. What was Lipsky gonna do? Damage? (grunts) No, he didn't, after Mora raced into the gap to spear a biting rocket hit on a 1-2 pitch by Nomura who probably couldn't believe his luck either. He departed in the seventh after Ryder singled, scored and waited for being cashed in. The Coons left it to Josh Boles to surrender a 2-out RBI single to Cesar Martinez, once a vaunted Indians slugger, before Caraballo went down on strikes. That didn't mean Nomura's luck was over, after all HE had not surrendered a HOMER to Martinez! Also, the bottom 8th began with Pat Pick hitting a screaming double off Ricky Ohl, and somehow the Bayhawks managed to strike out three times while Ricky remained in desperate search of the strike zone and walked Camacho with one out. The ninth also had a double, Correa's with one out against Snyder, who next surrendered a spiked bouncer at Matt Nunley, that the veteran turned for the second out on Martinez, after which Caraballo mercifully grounded out to Trey Rock to end this nerve-wrecking series. 2-1 Blighters. Ramos 1-2, 2 BB; Nunley 2-4, 2B; Nomura 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, W (2-1);

In other news

April 20 – Achievements, achievements: CIN 3B/1B Eddie Moreno (.261, 4 HR, 10 RBI) hits for the cycle in the Falcons' 6-4 win over the Aces, coming to the plate four times and going unretired with 2 RBI. The cycle is the 74th in ABL history and the fourth for the Aces after those of Hubert Green, Joe Morton (both 1999), and Jose Jimenez (2015).
April 20 – WAS RF/LF/1B Tsuneyoshi Tachibana (.298, 7 HR, 24 RBI) connects for three home runs in an 11-5 win over the Cyclones, marking the 50th time an ABL player has hit three or more home runs in a game. It is the third time the achievement has been completed by a Capital after Bob Butler (2010) and Matt Hamilton (2022).
April 20 – The Wolves acquire 3B/SS Guillermo Obando (.407, 0 HR, 4 RBI) and a prospect from the Capitals for SP Jorge Beltran (2-1, 1.25 ERA).
April 20 – NYC SP Carlos Marron (0-1, 4.61 ERA) figures to miss a month with a strained hamstring.
April 21 – SFW CF/1B Pedro Cisneros (.222, 0 HR, 2 RBI) is everything that stands between LAP SP Brian Cope (1-0, 1.09 ERA) and a perfect game. Cisneros hits a leadoff single in the first inning, and later draws a 2-out walk in the ninth inning that brings on the Pacifics' closer Kevin Woodworth to end the 2-0 game.
April 24 – The Thunder lose, 3-2 in 14 innings, in Indianapolis on MR Pedro Hernandez (0-3, 7.30 ERA) plating Indy's Joe Dale from third base with a wild pitch.
April 25 – IND SP Mark Matthews (0-2, 2.08 ERA) could miss the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff.
April 25 – The beleaguered Scorpions beat the Buffaloes 12-1 on the strength of an 8-run seventh inning and a 4-for-5 performance by INF John Byrd (.262, 1 HR, 4 RBI), who goes 4-for-5 with 3 RBI.

Complaints and stuff

Many say they are gaining weight when watching baseball, which is due to all the pretzels, but I find I am losing weight due to the sweat running all over me for three hours every day. I can't eat during games. Impossible. The Coons are hard to digest on their own without bratwurst and sauerkraut on top. Drinking is not that much of a problem. (tries to resist Maud as she wants to wrestle a bottle of booze away)

This was not a pretty week. You never expect much when playing the Titans, and the series loss was sad, but the Bayhawks series was outrageous. No hitting, no pitching, sometimes no fielding, not even bunting! How they stole a single game in that series remains a mystery…

Fun Fact: After 50 years and 50 times a batter hit three or more home runs in a game, Portland's Craig Bowen remains the only "or more" in the category. Bowen went deep four times in a 14-2 rout of the Loggers on August 31, 2007.

Bowen went 5-for-5 in the game and drove in nine runs, one of those displays of offensive prowess you will never forget if you watched it. Well, 2007 was magical in its own right, but I still don't know what was the bigger miracle – Bowen swatting four, or Cαssio Boda outdueling Martin Garcia the next day…! Two homers each by Bowen came off William Lloyd and Leonardo Gonzalez, and he also hit a double in between off Steve Galloway. 20 years later, none of these pitchers ring very familiar anymore…

Also in that lineup was Jose Gutierrez, playing second base and batting seventh, who 20 years later is the oldest fart still on a major league payroll. These were also the "Duke Smack" Raccoons, and of course the first to post a winning record since 1996.

They were also the Coons to blow a 10 1/2 game lead on June 26 to the Crusaders on their way to their first three-peat.
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Portland Raccoons, 50 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026
1 OSANAI : 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 11-17-2018, 03:14 PM   #2665
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Raccoons (11-8) @ Condors (13-6) – April 27-29, 2027

Monday was off for the Raccoons, who closed the gap to first place to one game by merely idling and the Titans losing, before they had to face the leaders of the CL South, the Condors. Tijuana ranked fourth in offense and second in killing offense in the early going, with the rotation also in second place by ERA. This would be a challenge for the already very much challenged Raccoons offense that had sacked back to tenth place in runs scored during the previous week and only had a +3 run differential anymore (Condors: +22). The Critters had won the season series for three straight years, including a 6-3 outcome last year.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (2-0, 3.20 ERA) vs. Jeff Little (4-0, 0.67 ERA)
Mark Roberts (0-1, 4.15 ERA) vs. Alex Hichez (2-0, 2.25 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (1-2, 3.75 ERA) vs. George Griffin (1-2, 3.62 ERA)

Ill weather had jumbled the Condors' pitching order last week, and after the lefty Little and the righty Hichez we could either get another right-hander in Griffin or southpaw Luis Flores (3-0, 1.48 ERA). Both had last tossed a ball on Saturday.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Anderson
TIJ: CF Denzler – RF M. Matias – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – SS Showalter – LF Chaplin – C Zarate – 2B Bross – P Little

The offense remained rightly agonizing, leaving Spencer and Rock stranded after singles in the opening inning, saw Anderson bunt into a force at third base in the second inning, and then had Spencer walk, steal second base, and getting thrown out at home by Joel Denzler in the third inning on Trey Rock's following single. At least Rock came around to score on a Rafael Gomez base hit with two outs, putting Portland up 1-0 on the so far hardly touchable Little. Fortunately the Condors pulled their own set of crazy stunts that f.e. saw Danny Zarate, admittedly the rocket-charged version of a common catcher, being caught stealing third base by Tovias in the bottom 3rd. Unfortunately, Zarate got revenge on Kyle Anderson the next time around, blasting a 450-footer to tie the score at one in the bottom 5th.

Little lasted only 5.2 innings, worn out thanks to constant Coons on the bases despite them not scoring a whole bunch at all. Mora hit a 1-out single in the sixth, advanced on Tovias' groundout, and an intentional walk to Matt Nunley was the last act for Little, who could not win the game anymore, but could well lose it. Southpaw Joe Perry promptly stabbed him in the back, surrendering a 2-out RBI single to Anderson(!), then another single to Ramos that blooped into shallow left. Jeff Rinehart, having entered in a double switch with Perry, overran the ball for an error, which allowed Nunley to score, 3-1. Perry drilled Spencer, but then got Trey Rock on a groundout to Dave Bross, ending the inning with three Coons aboard. The Raccoons missed another chance in the eighth inning, when Matt Nunley walked, was run for by Daniel Bullock, who reached third base with one out on Anderson singling against Lisuarte Paradela, the former Logger, on an 0-2 pitch, and then Ramos struck out and Spencer floated out to Mike Matias anyway. Anderson was replaced after the inning; he would have had another inning in him, but since the Critters didn't tack on and left-handed bats were up right away, they went to Jeff Kearney instead. He retired Rinehart and Denzler before the Coons sent Snyder for a 4-out save that almost went completely shipwreck. Matias hit a hot double, and Shane Sanks lined out to Harenberg, who was in the way by chance. The bottom 9th then saw a leadoff double by Kevin McGrath, who never moved off second base, but not for Snyder's pitching excellence. There was another scorched lineout, a sharp bouncer at Bullock, and then finally a 3-1 pitch to Zarate, who had gone unretired against Anderson, but now grounded back to the mound to end the game. 3-1 Raccoons. Ramos 2-5, RBI; Rock 3-5; Tovias 2-4; Nunley 1-2, 2 BB; Anderson 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W (3-0) and 2-4, RBI;

We had 13 base hits – all singles. Let's just be glad it didn’t blow up in our black-and-white faces and move on…

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF St. Germaine – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Roberts
TIJ: CF Betancourt – 1B McGrath – 3B Sanks – RF M. Matias – SS Showalter – C Zarate – 2B Fitzsimmons – LF Denzler – P Hichez

You never want to see Kevin Surginer pitching in the first inning, but everything went south in a real landslide in this Wednesday game, as Mark Roberts allowed a double to McGrath after whiffing up Danny Betancourt, balked the runner to third, and eventually conceded the run on a 2-out infield single by Mike Matias, before also conceding the entire effort, leaving the game with a blister on his index finger and leaving the Raccoons to scramble their bullpen. For bright sides (?), the Coons were retired in order by Alex Hichez the first time through the order, which included Surginer batting in an outing where he would pitch until he could no longer feel his claws, but then rapped off base hits to begin the fourth. Ramos singled, stole second, then scored on Spencer's single, which tied the score and took Roberts off an unfortunate hook. Sanks then narrowly missed Rock's bouncer that went up the line for a double, putting the go-ahead runs in scoring position for Harenberg, who was 0-for-6 in the series and stayed that way, walking in a full count to load them up for Abel Mora, who struck out. St. Germaine lined out to Denzler in shallow left, and Nunley flew out to Matias in right, stranding three on with nobody out – les miserables at work!

Surginer gave the Coons 52 pitches and 3.1 scoreless innings before requiring replacement. Cookie batted for him in the top 5th after a leadoff walk to Elias Tovias, singled, and then the bags filled up with a walk in a full count to Alberto Ramos. Three on. No outs. This time they didn't dare to play it like absolute idiots again. All runners scored in order on a Spencer single, a Harenberg walk, and a Mora sac fly that also saw Betancourt getting hurt in the act and being replaced by Mike Chaplin. Portland went on to get two innings from Josh Boles, who struck out four but also allowed a solo blast to Matias in the bottom 6th, however the Raccoons came back for two runs on Hichez in the seventh inning. Spencer got on base, went to third on a Harenberg single, then scored on Mora's groundout. With two down, Tim Stalker batted for Boles and doubled to deep left to get Harenberg in, 6-2, and they added another run in the eighth when Ramos forced out Tovias with a grounder, but then stole second base with two outs and scored on Spencer's single. Jarod also stole second base as the Coons kept robbing Zarate and the Condors' staff blind, but Rock flew out to Chaplin to end that inning. Rock then left the game in another double switch following a scoreless frame by Billy Brotman, with the intent being that Dan McLin get the last six outs, which was a mighty gamble with a 5-run lead, but for the awfully struggling right-hander it was a bit of now-or-never. Passing grades for relievers would often vary on circumstance, but McLin passed this one with flying colors. He walked Sanks, but struck out three in the bottom 8th, then was almost through the ninth when he shed 2-out singles to Denzler and Pat Sanford, but remained in the game and got Chaplin to pop out to Ramos to end the game after 32 well-placed pitches. 7-2 Furballs! Spencer 4-5, 3 RBI; Harenberg 2-3, 2 BB, RBI; Stalker (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Tovias 2-4; Carmona (PH) 2-3; Surginer 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, W (1-0); McLin 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

That was a very stingy performance by everybody involved. There was the odd 0-for-4 (Nunley), but given the circumstances, this was damn near peak performance!

Of course we now needed Rico to keep the barn door closed in the Thursday game to give the pen a chance to reset. In good news, we managed to stay clear of the sterling end of the pen; Ricky Ohl had not pitched in the series, and Snyder had not been used in the middle game, and the same was true for Kearney.

In not so good news, that was some mighty blister on Roberts' paw and he was likely to miss a start, AND the Raccoons did not have an off day anywhere in sight. We would have to play the next few days by ear and see whether we would have to DL Roberts if he was possibly even missing two starts, whether we could scrape by with a spot start by f.e. Surginer on Monday against the Crusaders, or whether we had to demote some pawn to get a spot starter from AAA.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF St. Germaine – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Gutierrez
TIJ: C Zarate – 1B McGrath – 3B Sanks – RF M. Matias – SS Showalter – 2B Fitzsimmons – CF Chaplin – LF Denzler – P Griffin

Could anybody work with Jing-quo Liu? Right in the first inning, him and Gutierrez were arguing loudly halfway between plate and mound about which pitch to throw. My best guess on gestures was that Liu wanted Rico to throw a curveball. Either that or do the rainbow, but Rico didn't throw a curveball and the Condors fans had a good chuckle about it. When Liu drew a leadoff walk in the third inning and Rico bunted badly and got him forced out at second base, Liu would not leave the field until he was finished admonishing a blankly staring Gutierrez at first base in Taiwanese for almost a minute, repeatedly pointing with his right index finger onto his left palm, whatever the **** that meant. Rico came around to score after a Spencer single and a bloop double by Trey Rock with two outs before Harenberg grounded out to Tom Fitzsimmons, keeping the lead at 1-0 for the time being, while the odd couple the Coons employed for a battery was perfect the first time through the Condors order, although McGrath singled in the bottom 4th to get the team into the H column.

Top 5th, Liu drew a leadoff walk again, this time was bunted to second base, and the Coons soon filled the bags with an intentional walk to Ramos, which was always an interesting choice, followed by a Spencer single. Three on, one out for Rock, who cracked a ball hard at Fitzsimmons for a double play, which had already been achieved the previous inning by Adam St. Germaine. Liu, who also admonished Rock intelligibly, sure knew a lot about the game for somebody batting .063, although for practical purposes he could recite found poetry and we wouldn't notice. In terms more applicable to the task at hand – sweep the Condors – Liu threw out Andrew Showalter trying to steal second after a walk in the bottom 5th. However, the nonexistent offense soon would bite the Raccoons when Rico Gutierrez was assaulted for three 2-out base hits by the Condors in the bottom 6th, with Zarate singling and McGrath and Sanks both knocking RBI doubles to flip the score Tijuana's way, 2-1. The Coons only had a 2-out single by Rock in the next two innings against Griffin, who held out for eight innings before handing it over to Pat Selby in the ninth, a right-hander who would face the full left-handed brunt of the Critters' 5-6-7 batters. Abel Mora hit his second home run of the season on the very first pitch to tie the game, although Selby retired the next three, and Ricky Ohl would send the game to extra innings, where Cookie hit a leadoff single in Ohl's place against Selby. Senor Carmona reached third base on Ramos' hard single to center, giving the Coons an excellent chance to put this in the W column after all, but Cookie stayed put on Spencer's infield grounder that led to an out at first base with Ramos moving up to second, but Rock also grounded out so poorly as to prevent advance, and then Harenberg flew out to left. OH COME ON!!

They also stranded runners on the corners in the 11th inning when Liu and Gomez made outs with St. Germaine (admittedly only on base for a Dave Bross error) and Nunley on the corners. Nobody reached in the 12th, and Mora and PH Tovias reached in the 13th against Mike Baker until Nunley chucked a grounder into a double play to end that inning, too. Danny Zarate hit a triple with two outs in the bottom 13th against Brotman, who pitched as valiantly as the rest of the bullpen, and probably just as much in vain; McGrath flew out to Spencer to end the inning and the Coons got a new shot in the 14th. By now they had Bullock playing second, Trey Rock in rightfield, almost no pitching left, and then Liu hitting a ball off Baker into the gap for a leadoff double after which he yelled detailed instructions on how to proceed towards the Raccoons' dugout. One way or another, Daniel Bullock was in the #9 hole and would bat here, cracked a pitch through Sanks and up the line for a double, and the terrible end of the bench had just broken an endless tie …! Baseball CAN be exhausting! Now the real games began as Ramos was again walked intentionally, to which the Coons responded by just taking off – just stay out of the double play, please. Zarate misfired into leftfield as he tried to kill off Bullock, who instead scored on the error, with Ramos going to third base. He scored on Rock's sac fly, giving Jonathan Snyder a 5-2 lead to work with in the bottom 14th. He walked two, allowed an RBI double to Bross in between, but nobody cared since he found three outs SOMEWHERE to get the team on the bus to the airport because they had two borders to cross before the Friday game. 5-3 Critters. Spencer 3-7; Rock 2-6, 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 2-6, HR, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1; Bullock 1-1, 2B, RBI; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; Ohl 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K; Boles 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

(sigh)

Raccoons (14-8) vs. Canadiens (10-11) – April 30-May 2, 2027

Revenge! That was the impetus as exhausted Raccoons were to face the sliding Elks on the weekend. They had gone 7-11 since sweeping the Raccoons in the first series of the season, and this was an injustice that needed rectification. They were fourth in runs scored and in runs allowed, which made the losing record somewhat confusing. Their run differential was +9, while the Coons had re-upped theirs to +12.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (1-2, 5.68 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (3-1, 2.33 ERA)
Rin Nomura (2-1, 2.13 ERA) vs. Ernesto Lozano (1-1, 4.01 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (3-0, 2.70 ERA) vs. Jonathan Shook (1-2, 5.87 ERA)

Three right-handers to contend with here as well as a well-rested bullpen that had not tossed extra innings, had not safety-netted first-inning blisters, and had not played at all on Thursday. This was an uphill battle for sure. For Portland, Josh Boles was off-limits for at least Friday after tossing two innings each on back-to-back days, and Brotman was so-so. Everybody else was ostensibly available, even Surginer.

Game 1
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – SS Crosby – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 1B Myles – 3B Brill – 2B Gura – P Cervantes
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Delgadillo

The Elks made such loud contact off Yusneldan that I was worried we'd get complaints from the neighbors at this late hour. Brian Wojnarowski and Tony Coca hit doubles to score a run in the top of the first, and while a leadoff double by Harenberg and two productive groundouts in the bottom 2nd served to pull the Critters even again, that sort of offense was unlikely to be enough to keep the W's coming in. Wojnarowski hit another long fly to begin the top 3rd that Rafael Gomez shagged on the warning track, while the Coons moved up 2-1 in the bottom of the inning on a Ramos single, Spencer getting nicked, Rock hitting into a 6-4-3, and then KEVIIIIN came up with a clean single to left to bring in Alberto. Despite all the rocket artillery going off, Delgadillo faced the minimum the second time through, which included Alex Torres getting hit to begin the top 4th, but then being caught stealing by Tovias. While Delgadillo kept inching forwards, eventually one of the drives had to fall in, and it was Chris Brill's gapper in the seventh inning that left the opposing third baseman with a 2-out triple and now the danger was real. Left-handed batter Chris Mendoza hitting for Ted Gura was reason enough to yank Delgadillo in favor of Kearney, who very helpfully plated the tying run with a wild pitch in his course of walking Mendoza. Cervantes struck out. Elias Tovias restored the Coons, but not the viciously betrayed Delgadillo, to the lead with a jack in the bottom 7th, but Wojnarowski reached base against Kearney with an infield single in the eighth. Adrian Crosby bunted, and then Ricky Ohl got rid of the main threats Tony Coca (K) and Alex Torres (F4). Brill would be trouble again in the ninth inning, wrestling a 2-out, 4-pitch walk from Jonathan Snyder, but Nunley made a fine play on John Calfee after that to end the game. 3-2 Coons. Harenberg 2-4, 2B, RBI; Tovias 1-2, BB, HR, RBI; Delgadillo 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K;

Game 2
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – 2B Gura – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 3B Calfee – 1B Myles – SS Crosby – P Lozano
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Nomura

The Critters burst out on Lozano in the opening inning, starting with a full set of base hits from the 1-2-3-4 batters, including a Ramos triple to get going. Spencer hit an RBI single, Rock a plain single, and Harenberg an RBI double before the remaining runs scored on Mora's groundout and Gomez' sac fly. Being up 4-0 invoked unpleasant memories from Game 6 with Rin Nomura on the mound, and the Elks rallied promptly with a leadoff double by Ricky Ortνz in the top 2nd, followed by Ramos butchering a Calfee grounder for an error. Defense was also a specific problem in the inning as Ortνz scored on a passed ball charged to Tovias, while Crosby knocked an RBI double to cut the Coons' lead in half, 4-2. On to the third, where Coca got walked with one out, stole second base, and the Elks tied the score with back-to-back RBI doubles by Torres and Ortνz. Nothing got better with Nomura, it only got worse as by the fifth Alex Torres' homer put the Elks on top, 5-4, and sharp base hits by Adan Myles and Adrian Crosby put runners on the corners with two outs. This was the end for both starters; Chris Mendoza batted for Lozano, and Nomura got beaten into the tunnel and was replaced by Brotman, who got Abel Mora to hustle in and catch Mendoza's blooper before it could escalate the drama even more.

The relief that Billy brought was temporary at best. By the sixth inning, he allowed a leadoff single to Wojnarowski, threw a wild pitch, and conceded more runs on base hits by Torres and Ortνz before being replaced by Dan McLin, who walked Calfee on four pitches before Myles grounded out, then in the seventh inning kept shuffling Elks on base (PH Norman Day, Wojnarowski) that then got caught stealing by Tovias, which was also a vain effort since the offense had pretty much died after the first inning. Instead they managed to bring Kevin Surginer into a 25-pitch, 2-walk eighth inning that pretty much removed him from consideration for a spot start on Monday. 7-4 Canadiens. Ramos 2-4, 3B, 2B; Spencer 2-4, RBI; Rock 2-4; Harenberg 2-4, 2B, RBI;

I am starting to intensely dislike Rin Nomura.

The Elks found Antonio Muniz (3-1, 3.28 ERA) in some crevice by Sunday morning and put him into the rubber game instead of the ex-Coon Shook.

Game 3
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – SS Crosby – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 3B Calfee – 1B Myles – 2B Gura – P A. Muniz
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF St. Germaine – C Liu – 3B Bullock – P Anderson

While Kyle Anderson retired the Elks in order the first time through their lineup, whiffing two, the Coons put the leadoff man on in each of the first three innings and still required Anderson to drive in their first run. Ramos walked in the first, but was caught stealing; Harenberg singled in the second, but got wrapped up in a double play; and Liu walked in the third and was doubled home with a ball up the line by Anderson, who was then of course stranded with one out when Ramos grounded out poorly and Spencer lined out to Tony Coca in center. Liu would then foul out to strand Harenberg (single) and St. Germaine (walk) in scoring position in the bottom 4th, a position they had collectively reached after a wild pitch by Muniz, but the Raccoons just never seemed to take advantage of other people's failures. Instead, the disgusting stinking ****ing Elks seized on the first base runner they got, Torres with a leadoff single to left in the top 5th, and took a 2-1 lead when John Calfee cracked a homer to left.

While Anderson lasted seven innings, the Coons appeared entirely dead and forsaken all the way into the bottom 8th. Josh Boles had retired the Elks in the top 8th, then was hit for by Tim Stalker, who became the tying run in scoring position with a leadoff double in the gap between Torres and Coca, the two persistent nipple twingers on the Elks. Here came the top 3 – I would expect ONE of them to find a base hit somewhere! They ****ing didn't. All three grounded out like ***holes, two of them to Muniz, who couldn't believe his luck. And if ONE of them would have gotten on base, the jack that Kevin Harenberg hit off J.R. Hreha to begin the bottom 9th would have come in the eighth and the Coons would have had the lead. Now, they were only tied, and would probably take another SEVENTEEN innings to score again. Indeed the game went to extra innings despite the freakish occurrence of Jing-quo Liu reaching base with a 2-out infield single. Mora batted for Bullock, but fouled out gloriously. Dan McLin gave Portland the ninth and the tenth, by which time the bottom threatened to fall completely out of the bullpen. Cookie batted for McLin to begin the bottom 10th and got on base with a leadoff single up the middle against Hreha. Cookie then stole second on slow play by backup catcher Manny Sanchez after Ramos had fallen asleep during the hit-and-run, but now we had reasonable (if old) speed on second base and NOBODY OUT. The Elks were going to take the high road here and walked Ramos to set up a double play – a mean trap the Coons would surely blunder into proudly. When Spencer bunted the runners over, Trey Rock got another four wide ones, Vancouver preferring(?) to face Harenberg with the bags full and one out, and to much dismay Harenberg lined out to John Calfee at third base. Cookie had seen too much **** in his career to get doubled off on this play though, so Rafael Gomez had a chance with two outs and OH ****ING HELL, he popped it up, to shallow center, and where the heck are the Elks? Crosby confused, Coca chaotic, Brill beaten – and the ball fell in! Walkoff pop single for Rafael Gomez …!! 3-2 Blighters. Harenberg 3-5, HR, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1; Anderson 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K and 2-2, 2B, RBI; McLin 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, W (1-1);

(sits there with mouth agape)

In other news

April 29 – The Blue Sox expect SP Chris Chatfield (1-2, 3.86 ERA) to miss most of the season with shoulder inflammation.
April 29 – A badly strained hamstring is expected to put VAN 3B Matt Anton (.294, 2 HR, 7 RBI) out of commission up to around the All Star Game.
April 30 – The Warriors turn their game against the Wolves with a 7-run seventh, claiming 8-2 victory eventually.

Complaints and stuff

Like glue! Like actual ****ing glue, but somehow mildly successful. Hard to watch, though.

So, to recap, we had a 5-1 week, but in turn we had the pen bombed out, the offense is stalling, and we have no starter on Monday. Roberts' finger is tender, Surginer had to pitch on Saturday because ****ing Rin Nomura couldn't keep his holes closed with a 4-0 lead AGAIN, and I really don't know how to get a pitcher onto the roster right now… I mean, I know which pitcher to pick for Monday – George James, since he is the #6 and Monday is his day to pitch anyway. I just don't know who will be chopped off the roster.

Disabling Roberts would not be a good idea. The Druid thinks he can pitch by Wednesday. So if we put him on the DL, he is going to miss at least one more start. Short rest… Rico threw 96 pitches on Thursday, and I am making these weird unsure "eeeeh" noises.

I need some good, sound advice here. Maud – bring in Chad! In costume or not!

Fun Fact: Mark Roberts was a 2012 12th-round pick by the Charlotte Falcons, selected #294 in the draft.

That is one spot behind Nick Brown, and I think we have established where the border is between potential eternal greatness and, well, Roberts. It is pick #293.
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Old 11-18-2018, 06:13 PM   #2666
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Raccoons (16-9) vs. Crusaders (11-13) – May 3-6, 2027

The Crusaders were in the house and the Raccoons were still scrambling for a Monday starter. New York had started slow for sure and sat six games out of the division right now. Their offense had been crawling along even worse than the Critters' as they sat 11th in runs scored. At the same time, the pitching was average at best, with the rotation even sitting in the bottom three in the Continental League in ERA. Looking back to last year, the Raccoons had beaten the Crusaders 11-7 during the season.

Projected matchups:
Kevin Surginer (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (1-2, 4.71 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (1-2, 3.48 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (1-0, 3.86 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (1-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. Doug Moffatt (2-2, 4.81 ERA)
Rin Nomura (2-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. Blake Lowrey (0-2, 9.24 ERA)

Portland picked Kevin Surginer for his first career start after 243 relief appearances since 2023. He declared himself ready and willing if he was needed. He was needed. Whether Nomura pitches in the series is questionable; we will slide in Roberts as soon as the finger is better. Rather than Surginer, we would have preferred George James as spot starter, but I found it impossible to create an opening on the roster.

The Crusaders had their own issues; while ostensibly having four right-handers lined up, Mike Rutkowski had the flu and that start was pretty much dubious right now, too.

Game 1
NYC: LF N. Ayala – RF Ellis – 3B Schmit – C Asay – 1B Godown – SS Fletcher – 2B S. Valdez – CF Shaffer – P E. Cannon
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Surginer

Kevin Surginer gave the Raccoons all they could potentially ask for, shutting out the Crusaders for 5.2 innings before running out of juice. Nelson Ayala hit a single off him to begin the sixth and he walked Jason Asay with two outs, which ended his first career start as things were getting too dicey for the Coons that held a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Ramos – who singled in both of his first two at-bats, but was caught stealing in the first inning – and a Jarod Spencer RBI double in the bottom of the third inning. That was pretty much all the action at that point as Jeff Kearney replaced Surginer to face Justin Godown, who was batting only .162 and struck out to sink even lower. Bottom 6th, Spencer opened with another double into the gap between Ayala and Nick Shaffer, advanced to third on a soft single by Trey Rock, and then scored when Kevin Harenberg dropped a ball into shallow center to up the score to 2-0. Eddie Cannon was decomposing rapidly, walked Abel Mora, then gave up a fatal 3-run triple to Rafael Gomez that saw him replaced with Casey Moore, a right-hander that somehow had 15 walks in 17 innings and a 1.04 ERA. That ERA would suffer adjustment as well on Matt Nunley's long home run to centerfield, which made it 7-0 Critters. That was also the final score, with the Raccoons using only two more relievers after Kearney as Ricky Ohl and Billy Brotman covered the final three innings between themselves. 7-0 Coons. Ramos 2-4; Spencer 2-4, 2 2B, RBI; Harenberg 2-4, RBI; Mora 2-3, BB; Nunley 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Surginer 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K, W (2-0); Brotman 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Well, that went reasonably well! Now we were only a mild shutout from Rico Gutierrez away from getting the pen somewhat back on its feet…

Game 2
NYC: 2B J. Gutierrez – 3B Schmit – RF Ellis – LF R. Allen – SS Fletcher – 1B McIntyre – C D. Hill – CF Shaffer – P Moffatt
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P R. Gutierrez

Doug Moffatt pitched on short rest and retired the Critters in order in the first two innings before Nunley hit a single to left to begin the bottom 3rd. Tovias walked before Rico, who had a 1-hitter at this stage, struggled to get a bunt down. The sign came off with two strikes, after which he looped a single to shallow right to load the bases for the top of the order, and with nobody out! Ramos grounded to 42-year-old fossil Jose Gutierrez at the keystone, which was good for Nunley to score while the Crusaders took the trivial out on Gutierrez at second base. Spencer then hit an RBI double to left, after which another spiced ball came Gutierrez' way, this one off Mora's bat and it eluded Gutierrez for an RBI single, already extending the lead to 3-0. At that point, Harenberg popped out and Mora was caught trying to nip second base, ending the inning.

At this point, the Crusaders started to take bites out of Gutierrez, whose pitch count blossomed dramatically in the middle innings. He surrendered a run on a Roger Allen double in the fourth inning, then another one on a 2-out Gutierrez single in the fifth. Both scoring runners had reached base on walks, and Gutierrez had thrown two wild pitches to advanced Nick Shaffer from first to third before Gutierrez drove him in. Bottom 5th, the Coons loaded the bases again with a Tovias walk, a Ramos single, and Mike Fletcher butchering Jarod Spencer's grounder for an error. Abel Mora now batted with the bases loaded against the beleaguered Moffatt, and slashed a 2-2 pitch into leftfield for a 2-run single, restoring the Coons to a 3-run lead before Harenberg and Gomez both flew out to rightfielder Nate Ellis. In turn, Rico rallied and pitched through seven with only a Nunley error putting another Crusader on base in the sixth, and nobody reached in the seventh. The eighth saw Josh Boles walk Andy Schmit, which brought up the right-handed middle of the order with two outs as well as Jonathan Snyder for a 4-out save attempt that began with Gomez fumbling and dropping a Roger Allen fly in right-center. Mike Fletcher grounded out, however, stranding two in scoring position, and that was already the hardest part in nailing down this game. 5-2 Raccoons! Ramos 2-4, RBI; Mora 2-4, 3 RBI; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, W (2-2) and 1-2;

By Wednesday, the two reconvalescents were going against each other as Rutkowski would face Roberts.

Game 3
NYC: 2B J. Gutierrez – 3B Schmit – RF Ellis – C Asay – LF R. Allen – SS Fletcher – 1B McIntyre – CF Shaffer – P Rutkowski
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Bullock – C Liu – P Roberts

Alberto Ramos managed to make two outs in the first inning, flying out to begin the inning and popping out to short to end it. In between, five runs scored against Rutkowski, who allowed a single to Spencer, then drilled Harenberg with two outs, and things kept escalating. Mora doubled to drive in Spencer, while Gomez hit a long one to score three more. Bullock walked, Liu reached on an error, and then Mark Roberts hurt the opposition with an RBI single that extended the gap to 5-0. With that, it became about beating Rin Nomura's Game 6 performance for Roberts, who could give the pen a breather by also going deep into the game. He sprinkled a few isolated runners through five innings while keeping the Crusaders shut out, but then allowed a leadoff single to two-time Raccoon and three-time Crusader Shane Walter batting for Rutkowski in the top 6th, walks Gutierrez, then allowed a 2-out gapper to Jason Asay for a 2-run double and required Gomez to sprint after an Allen drive and bring that one in to keep the Crusaders from closing even further. Fletcher had a leadoff single in the seventh, but Roberts shook that off with strikeouts to Will McIntyre, Nick Shaffer, and Justin Godown. And no, the Coons were not doing anything to tack on to the 5-2 lead, they were getting completely denied by the Crusaders' pen. At least Mark Roberts lasted 107 pitches and eight innings of 2-run ball, whiffing up two hands full, while Snyder was notably less successful in the ninth inning. Jason Asay led off with a double to left and he retired the next two before surrendering the run on a McIntyre single. The next batter, however, PH Nelson Ayala, grounded out to Trey Rock to the game. 5-3 Coons. Harenberg 2-3, 2 2B; Gomez 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 3 RBI; Roberts 8.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, W (1-1) and 1-3, RBI;

Game 4
NYC: LF N. Ayala – RF Ellis – 3B Schmit – C Asay – 1B Godown – 2B Walter – SS S. Valdez – CF Shaffer – P Lowrey
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Delgadillo

Dan Delgadillo still lacked his command and surrendered an unearned run (he made the error that put Ayala aboard) in a lengthy 26-pitch first inning, and it didn't get much better after that. Nate Ellis hit a leadoff jack on a 3-0 pitch in the third inning, while the defense made a few nice plays here and there to limit the damage, but the offense had yet to show up. This franchise's inability to touch up an already bloodied starting pitcher was stunning. Lowrey had so far allowed 20 hits and five walks in 12.2 innings, but the Raccoons, while having a chance for a 4-game sweep, were picking flowers in his honor.

It was already the sixth inning when the team almost faked a rally thanks to Lowrey knocking Trey Rock with two outs, then allowed an infield single to Harenberg, but Abel Mora didn't manage to do any sort of damage at all. Bottom 7th, Gomez led off with a single, advanced on Nunley's groundout, then came around to score on Elias Tovias' bloop single to shallow right center. Yaay, a run – and what a demonstration of hitting prowess! Suddenly, indeed trouble. Cookie Carmona pinch-hit for Delgadillo, who had somehow stuck it out for seven innings despite many pitches early, and shot a ball through Justin Godown for a double! Now the tying and go-ahead runs were in scoring position for Alberto Ramos, who popped out to Sergio Valdez, and Spencer rolled out to Andy Schmit. What a waste of effort… Future Pitcher of the Year Lowrey was not around anymore for the ninth inning in which righty Travis Giordano faced the Coons in a 2-1 deficit. Gomez struck out before Nunley buried a ball in the gap for a 1-out double. Great, more heartbreak to come. Tovias grounded out, moving the tying run to third base, and that was also where Adam St. Germaine left him with a pinch-hit pop to Dean Hill at shortstop. 2-1 Crusaders. Harenberg 2-4; Tovias 2-4, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1;

The Titans are undefeated this week so far…

Raccoons (19-10) @ Wolves (10-18) – May 7-9, 2027

The Wolves were not making any serious challenge for fame and glory and were already quite a bit out of the race, 8 1/2 games behind. They ranked seventh in runs scored, but dead-last in runs allowed, conceding more than five runs per game. This was the fourth straight year the two Oregon teams would meet; last year the Wolves had taken two of three games from the Raccoons.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (2-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. Eddie Flores (0-2, 7.50 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (3-0, 2.67 ERA) vs. Andy Wright (1-2, 5.46 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-2, 3.32 ERA) vs. Lance Legleiter (1-3, 6.07 ERA)

Right, left, right in this series … probably. Andy Wright was walking in Mark Roberts's shoes and battling a blister.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Nomura
SAL: 1B Ferrero – CF Duggins – SS Obando – RF M. Owen – 2B D. Cobb – C Roush – LF Beckwith – 3B X. Monroe – P E. Flores

The Raccoons put an unearned 4-spot on Eddie Flores in the opening frame, courtesy of a Xavier Monroe throwing error that put Spencer on base, also run-scoring doubles by Mora, Gomez, and Nunley; Matt plated a pair, because Cookie had drawn a 2-out walk in between doubles. Enter Rin Nomura and the dramatic musical underscore was picking it up sharply. Nomura walked the first three batters he faced, although Noel Ferrero was caught stealing in between, issued a single to Dan Cobb, and surrendered a sac fly on Tim Roush's deep drive to left, and somehow wiggled out of this living mess with only one run allowed when Myles Beckwith grounded out. And that was only the first inning! At least he chipped in when the Coons put an earned 3-spot on Flores in the third inning, hitting a sac fly that brought in Cookie Carmona after Liu had already drawn a bases-loaded walk. The third run would score when Nunley dashed home on Ramos' sac fly to right. Not much more was seen of Flores; when Kevin Harenberg went deep for a solo home run in the fourth inning it already came off reliever Josh Weeks. After this frantic beginning, proceedings cooled off noticeably. Nomura dialed down the panic, the Wolves pen settled in and allowed only one more run, some small ball in the eighth inning ending with Mora's team-leading 21st RBI, while Nomura lasted seven and relief by Brotman and McLin was accident-free. 9-1 Raccoons. Mora 2-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Harenberg 3-5, HR, RBI; Gomez 2-5, 2B, RBI; Nunley 2-4, BB, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Nomura 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, W (3-2) and 1-2, RBI; McLin 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Game 2
POR: 2B Spencer – 3B Rock – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – SS Stalker – LF Carmona – C Tovias – CF St. Germaine – P Anderson
SAL: 1B Ferrero – LF Luckett – SS Obando – RF M. Owen – C Roush – CF Duggins – 2B Felts – 3B X. Monroe – P Wright

The Raccoons scored in the first inning again, although it was "only" a Harenberg sac fly this time, bringing in Trey Rock after a pair of singles by Rock and Gomez. In turn, the bottom 1st was a colossal mess with a single and a walk putting on Elijah Luckett and Guillermo Obando, who then took off for a double steal, Tovias threw the ball away for a game-tying error, and then Anderson plated the second Wolves run with a wild pitch. Things did not get a whole lot better instantly for the so far undefeated Anderson, who managed to strand a runner on third base in the second inning, then had Gomez blatantly rob Jonathan Duggins in the gap for the third out in the bottom 3rd, with two runners on base waiting to score. The Raccoons showed no offense at all against Wright, with St. Germaine being particularly futile with two inning-ending double plays by the fifth inning. In turn, the Wolves scored a run on Matt Owen's sac fly in the bottom 5th, going up 3-1 after 1-out singles by Luckett and Obando had put runners on the corners. St. Germaine was so ice cold that he was batted for in the seventh inning with Cookie and Tovias being the tying runs with two outs. Ramos batted for him, but flew out to centerfield. There were two more batting innings for the Raccoons, but they never stumbled into an offensive inning anymore, remaining entirely putrid right until the end. 3-1 Wolves. Bullock (PH) 1-1; Anderson 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, L (3-1);

It really comes and goes from game to game right now, and they are really not getting locked out by the perennial All Stars… which does not instill confidence for the rubber game.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Gutierrez
SAL: 1B Ferrero – LF Luckett – SS Obando – RF M. Owen – C Roush – CF Duggins – 2B Felts – 3B X. Monroe – P Legleiter

Two hits, a wild pitch, a walk, and the bases were loaded for Salem in the bottom 1st. Duggins cracked a liner off Gutierrez, who seemed to have missed his morning coffee, and Alberto Ramos leapt and stretched as far as the claws would reach the caress that potential troublemaker in his glove to end the inning. Neither team scored early; the Wolves got only those two opening-inning hits off Rico in the first three frames, while the Coons had only one base knock off Legleiter, who a year earlier had still been a Raccoon, but then took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Harenberg's eighth home run of the season. Bottom 4th, Tim Roush singled, Justin Felts doubled, Monroe was put on intentionally to get Legleiter up with two outs, but Rico surrendered a sharp single up the middle that flipped the score in Salem's favor. Noel Ferrero then hit a monster homer to bury the Coons four runs deep.

Portland absolutely couldn't get the ball to fall in. When Rafael Gomez singled to centerfield in the seventh inning that was only the third base hit off Lance Legleiter, who seemed completely untouchable. Matt Nunley immediately hit into an inning-ending double play at which point I emotionally resigned from this game. Instead, Justin Felts homered off Billy Brotman in the eighth inning to further extend the lead for the Wolves, who took the series against completely absent Racc- what, there is commotion in the ninth? Cookie hit a single, Abel Mora hit a home run off Cruz Sierra, but that didn't make a summer yet, as the Raccoons were still down by three runs. Kaleb Babcock, once an offseason Raccoon that had never donned the uniform on the field, allowed a double to Harenberg, retired Gomez for the second out, then surrendered another double to Nunley, which brought up the tying run in Elias Tovias, and he promptly ended the game with a grounder at Felts. 6-4 Wolves. Harenberg 2-4, HR, 2B, RBI; Gomez 2-4;

In other news

May 4 – The Miners beat the Rebels, 1-0, on a second-inning home run by RF/LF Omar Alfaro (.190, 2 HR, 15 RBI).
May 6 – SFW 1B/SS Edgar Gonzalez (.320, 2 HR, 15 RBI) will miss three weeks with a sprained thumb.
May 6 – The Indians flip OF/1B Ricky Loya (.194, 1 HR, 3 RBI) to the Buffaloes for RF/LF Dave O'Rourke (.194, 1 H, 9 RBI).
May 8 – The Scorpions score five in the third inning and seven in the eighth in a 15-7 trouncing of the Canadiens. SAC 3B Jason LaCombe (.358, 0 HR, 11 RBI) churns out five base hits, four singles and a double, and drives in one run while scoring twice.

Complaints and stuff

Kevin Harenberg was Player of the Week batting .423 (11-for-26) with 2 HR and 4 RBI. Must have been a really slow offensive week in the Continental League. However, Harenberg is doing fine, but just look at our offensive additions Trey Rock, Adam St. Germaine, and Ding-Dong Liu and tell me what you see. Exactly. Rock has been removed from the #3 slot for now and we will probably platoon Abel Mora and Rafael Gomez in the slot. Rock is batting absolutely nothing, and while that is also true for Jarod Spencer, he is still the better one and we can't remove them both. St. Germaine is just … atrocious. St. Germaine does not have options, but Trey Rock does…

There were a few rousing games this week, and a few complete stinkers. Astonishingly, the stinkers came against the stinker pitchers. Like we had seen anything like that ever before …! The stun was totally real here…

This was the 30th ever regular season series against the Wolves, and overall we still have the upper hand at 50-40 in terms of games going back to '77.

Fun Fact: Ed Parrell was a 3-time All Star in the 1980s that appeared in only 14 ABL games after hitting a game-winning fly ball in Game 6 of the 1989 World Series.

Yes, it was the fly ball that Glenn Johnston dropped.
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Old 11-21-2018, 02:43 PM   #2667
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Raccoons (20-12) vs. Rebels (15-16) – May 11-13, 2027

After an off day on Monday the Raccoons would host the Rebels, to whom they had not lost a season series since 2018, although the teams had squared off only three times in between. Nevertheless, the Raccoons had gone 8-1 in those games, including a sweep most recently in 2023. Richmond sat third in the meager FL East and excelled solely on pitching. They had conceded the second-fewest runs in the Federal League, but they had also plated the second-fewest, and overall had a cringeworthy run differential of -23. But the Coons couldn't even score against bad pitching right now, so a string of 2-1 losses was entirely possible…

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (1-1, 3.89 ERA) vs. Jim Bryant (1-4, 4.66 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (1-3, 4.13 ERA) vs. Rich Guerrero (1-4, 5.40 ERA)
Rin Nomura (3-2, 2.68 ERA) vs. Joaquin Serrano (2-3, 5.30 ERA)

Yes, despite them allowing the second-fewest runs in the FL, they still somehow had three well-below-average starting pitchers lying around, and somehow we might see all three of them. Okay, now I was REALLY worried. All of their starters were right-handed, and they might also field an all-right-handed lineup with some regulars like Raimondo Odescalchi on the disabled list.

Game 1
RIC: LF N. Cobb – SS Zamora – 2B Hernandes – C Dehne – RF D. Brown – 3B Hibbard – CF Barcenas – 1B Pelles – P J. Bryant
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Roberts

Leadoff walk to Nick Cobb, then some insecure back-and-forth, and finally a 2-run homer by Matt Dehne – Mark Roberts surrendered a first-inning 2-spot to a team struggling to scoring even 3.5 runs per game, so that was a daft beginning. The Raccoons took a run back in the bottom of the inning when Ramos walked, stole second, and scored on Spencer's single, before quickly finding a goon (Abel Mora) to hit into a double play. It became apparent very quickly, however, that Mark Roberts had NOTHING. He struck out only Bryant the first time through, and that only after throwing a wild pitch into the quickly evading pitcher's legs, and in the third had no clue at all what to do when the bases were loaded without the benefit of a base hit for the Rebels. Cobb had walked again, Jorge Zamora had reached on a Ramos error, the runners had pulled off a double steal, and while Marco Hernandes had popped out, Roberts lost Dehne to a walk. Dan Brown flew to right on a 2-2 pitch, Gomez made the catch easily, Cobb spurted for home, but was still thrown out at the plate to end the inning. While Roberts actually retired a leadoff man for once in the fourth when Devin Hibbard grounded out to Matt Nunley (two veteran third basemen there for sure…!), Hector Barcenas walloped an uninteresting fastball over the fence to extend the Rebels' lead to 3-1, and Roberts sure wasn't going to sparkle now, either. Ruben Pelles, briefly a Coon in '22, singled, but was eventually stranded after a bunt and Cobb's groundout to Harenberg.

The Raccoons engaged in more pointless pretending when it came to offense. The fourth and fifth both saw them hit a pair of 2-out singles, first with Harenberg and Gomez, then with Roberts and Ramos, and two singles hardly ever made a run with two outs. Gomez hit another 2-out single in the sixth, also pointless. Also on the pointless pile was Dan McLin, who replaced Roberts after a 1-out infield single by Jorge Zamora in the seventh inning, allowed a hard single to Hernandes, a walk to Dehne, got Brown to pop out, but then got thumped with Hibbard's 2-out, bases-clearing double that put the game in the books for good. 6-1 Rebels. Ramos 1-2, 2 BB; Spencer 2-4, RBI; Gomez 2-4;

That was a game in which the Coons had seven base hits. All singles. Only Spencer's pair of singles came with less than two outs, and both times Abel Mora chucked a ball into a double play immediately.

I think it is time to send somebody go and look for the oxygen mask because I sure feel drowsy.

Between games here, the Rebels traded for the Thunder's OF/1B Brian Rummelhart (.139, 2 HR, 5 RBI), sending infielder Joe Cameron (.244, 1 HR, 4 RBI) to Oklahoma.

Game 2
RIC: 1B Rummelhart – 3B Hibbard – LF N. Cobb – 2B Hernandes – CF Barcenas – SS Pelles – RF Damron – C Marrero – P R. Guerrero
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – CF St. Germaine – P Delgadillo

Delgadillo still faced a lineup consisting only of right-handed batters, which did not lead to greatness for Yusneldan at all. While the Rebels didn't score early on, they sure knew how to maintain an on-base presence, collecting four hits and a walk in the first three innings, but didn't push a man across. Neither did the Raccoons, who got Gomez (walk) and Harenberg (single off Hibbard's glove) on with two outs in the first before Tovias rolled out, then put Trey Rock on with a 1-out single (…) in the bottom 2nd, but he was immediately caught stealing. Spencer hit a 2-out single in the third that led nowhere, and then Delgadillo hit the hay in the fourth with a stiff back, handing this scoreless mess over to the bullpen. McLin was put into the game and managed to not get murdered outright in completing the inning.

Bottom 4th, the Raccoons got on base with *nobody* out. Harenberg singled cleanly to left, Tovias walked, and Nunley singled softly to center. Three on, nobody out – may the baseball gods have mercy with us …! Actually, Trey Rock dealt the Rebels a blow, driving a liner into the left-center gap that would have plated three if Matt Nunley hadn't stumbled around second base and had to stop at third on Rock's 2-run double, the first markers on the board in this game. Adam St. Germaine still had no RBI this season, which didn't change when he drew a bases-loaded walk. Now came the pitcher's spot. With no runs and one or two outs, the Critters would have batted for McLin for sure, but since we were already up 2-0 and still had to find 15 outs against an all-righty lineup, McLin was sent to bat, hoping for good things from Ramos after that. There is a credo for relief pitchers batting with three on and no outs: if in doubt, just strike out! McLin poked instead, flying out to Cobb, and this time Nunley was determined to make it home. He looked dead for sure on a mighty throw home, but that throw was also off line, Carlos Marrero had to surrender the plate and cut off the ball 20 feet up the first base line instead of knocking out Nunley, and the Coons were up 3-0, with the other runners advancing on the error, too. Portland ended up with a 6-spot as Ramos drove in two and Spencer drove in Ramos before they gradually made outs. Oh, suddenly you can!?

That only left the problem with the 15 outs left to collect. McLin got three more before being hit for in the bottom 5th. Billy Brotman gave the Coons a quick sixth, the bottom of which inning saw them add a run on Kevin DuCharme, who put Ramos and Spencer on the corners with no-out singles before Gomez hit into a run-scoring double play. Brotman conceded 1-out singles to Brown and Rummelhart in the seventh before being replaced by Ricky Ohl, who got Hibbard to ground into an inning-ending double play, 6-4-3. Ohl walked Cobb to begin the eighth, then struck out three, and Synder would get some work in the ninth inning as the Coons maintained a well-earned shutout to the end. A Tovias home run off Jalen Baldwin, and a 2-out RBI single by Rafael Gomez in the eighth inning even added two more runs to their tally. 9-0 Coons. Ramos 3-5, 2 RBI; Spencer 3-5, RBI; Gomez 2-4, BB, RBI; Harenberg 2-4; Nunley 2-4; Rock 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 1-1; Delgadillo 3.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K; McLin 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, W (2-1) and 0-0, RBI; Ohl 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

Looks like Dan Delgadillo might not miss a start with the balking back. I am trusting the Druid on this one.

The Rebels made a skip to their rotation for the Thursday game, sending Todd Wood (2-1, 1.99 ERA) into the fray. Oh well, still a righty. The Raccoons also made a last minute change and put Kyle Anderson into the game rather than Nomura. This was of course for the platoon factor with the almost exclusively right-handed Rebels. Anderson would start on regular rest due to the off day on Monday.

Game 3
RIC: 1B Rummelhart – SS Zamora – LF N. Cobb – 2B Hernandes – RF D. Brown – 3B Hibbard – CF Olmos – C Marrero – P Wood
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF Carmona – C Liu – P Anderson

Five base hits for 15 total bases got the Coons out to 4-0 lead in the first inning as Ramos tripled, Gomez and Mora both hit dingers, and then *Matt Nunley* tripled into the gap and was singled home by Cookie Carmona. Matt Nunley! Four singles tacked on a run in the bottom 2nd, while Anderson was allowing a bit much in terms of contact, but the Rebels had yet to overwhelm him, although Carlos Marrero did hit a solo home run in the third inning. But more about Matt Nunley; he had the last of the Coons' four singles in the bottom 2nd, loading the bases before Cookie flew out to end the inning, then came up in the fourth with Harenberg (double) and Mora (single) aboard and nobody out and ended Todd Wood with a 3-run blast to rightfield, extending the lead to 8-1. That was the Coons' 13th hit in the ballgame, Matt's third, and now only the double remained for a cycle. He came back to the plate with Mora on first base in an 8-2 game in the bottom 5th, but struck out against Ismael Gutierrez; however thanks to the pronounced pounding the Coons were dealing to the Rebels, he was guaranteed another plate appearance. While much attention was now focused on Matt, it also distracted people from Anderson pitching a mild gem after the bullpen had suffered some abuse in the previous game; he went eight innings of 5-hit, 2-run ball, pitching to contact in a mostly controlled manner until he lost cohesion in the eighth and issued his only two walks of the game at that point, but he still finished the frame. The bottom 8th had Jaden Baldwin pitching and started with Mora at the plate and a fly out to Franklin Olmos in centerfield. That brought up Nunley and got the fans to cheer loudly, but to no avail, sadly. Nunley grounded out. Kevin Surginer allowed a 2-out run in the ninth after hitting Olmos and conceding an off-the-fence double to Marrero (who drove in all the Rebels' runs in this game), but the Coons still easily took the series. 8-3 Furballs. Ramos 2-4, BB, 3B; Harenberg 2-5; Mora 3-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Nunley 3-5, HR, 3B, 3 RBI; Carmona 2-5, RBI; Liu 1-2, 2 BB; Anderson 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (4-1);

This was Matt Nunley's first triple in three years. It would have been the Coons' first cycle in 18 years.

Raccoons (22-13) vs. Titans (24-9) – May 14-16, 2027

The Critters would instead send three southpaws against the Titans in their newest bid to somehow get a paw up on their rivals from the opposite coast. Boston was still three games ahead, fourth in runs scored, but first in runs allowed in the Continental League. And they were first not just by a little. They had allowed all of 94 runs so far, which was rounded down to 2.8 runs per game. Two point eight! Oh well, we somehow clipped two games from the Rebels, it would sure be nice not to get shut out for the weekend… The season series was currently, as usual, in favor of the Titans, who were up 2-1.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (3-2, 2.68 ERA) vs. Guillermo Regalado (2-1, 2.98 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-3, 3.86 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (3-2, 2.32 ERA)
Mark Roberts (1-2, 4.17 ERA) vs. Greg Gannon (5-1, 3.31 ERA)

The Titans had been involved in a double header on Sunday that had seen Regalado and Wingo pitch. They announced the Nicaraguan Regalado to start on Friday, but were not yet committed to send Wingo, their only left-handed starter. It was possible for them to move Jeremy Waite (3-1, 3.19 ERA) into the series.

Game 1
BOS: LF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – CF Reichardt – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – P Regalado
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Nomura

The Titans sat on Nomura immediately – Willie Vega doubled, Gus Gasso homered, and it was 2-0 Titans before I had settled down with my booze and a box of donuts for the good old blood sugar. Adam Corder doubled to begin the top 2nd, scored on two productive outs, and then even Regalado doubled off an obviously detuned Nomura. That runner was stranded, but the Coons were down 3-0, HOWEVER they also hit three singles to begin the bottom 2nd, pulling up Tovias with the tying runs on and nobody out. Elias cracked a grounder to right, Rhett West lunged but missed it, and the single got the Coons on the board with their first run of the game. There was confusion in the infield on Trey Rock's grounder then, Regalado and Corder got in each other's limbs, and the Coons plated another run on the resulting infield single before Nomura tied the game with a clean single to centerfield. Six up, six singles! The string ended there with Ramos' sac fly, which nevertheless put Portland ahead, 4-3, Spencer's fly to right, and then Rock got picked off second base, which was indeed inexcusable.

The Titans batted for Regalado as early as the fourth inning after Nomura had issued a 1-out walk to Keith Spataro, then had nicked Alex Arias. Two on, one out, Justin Perkins hit straight into a double play of the 6-4-3 variety, ending the inning. Bottom 4th, ex-Coon Joel Davis was pitching, but not very successfully. Rock led off with a single, stole second base, then advanced on Nomura's groundout. Ramos walked to put runners on the corners, which Davis turned into a runner on second and a 5-3 lead with a balk. Rafael Gomez would up the score to 6-3 with a single to right that scored Ramos. Too bad that Nomura immediately gave back the runs on a Gasso single, a Braun walk, a wild pitch, and then Adrian Reichardt's 2-run single to center in the top 5th as the Titans closed back to 6-5. It really seemed like this was not a meeting between two well-pitching teams, but rather a race to 21; the Coons got an RBI double from Trey Rock, still off Joel Davis, in the bottom 5th, extending their edge to 7-5 again, and Tim Stalker batted for Nomura, so the likely biggest threat to a Coons win was gone from the game, too (grumbles). While Josh Boles held up in the sixth, the Coons got Ramos on with a leadoff single against Mike Stank in the bottom 6th. Ramos scooped second, advanced on a soft single by Spencer, then scored on Gomez' sac fly, 8-5. Surginer allowed a double to Adam Braun in the seventh, but otherwise held the Titans short, and Ricky Ohl conceded an infield single to Corder in the eighth, but otherwise whiffed three. Brent Beene held the Coons short in the seventh and eighth, too, and so it was still an 8-5 lead in the ninth inning, with the Raccoons sending out… Jeff Kearney? With D.J. Fullerton pinch-hitting in the #9 hole to begin the inning, that put two left-handed bats into the inning, so the Coons were trying to steal the save with Kearney, who had not pitched at all in the Rebels series, while Snyder had, but was on standby anyway. Fullerton flew high, but not deep to right, Gomez logging the out. Willie Vega whiffed, and with the tying run still far away, Kearney remained in to face the right-hander Gasso, who hit a deep fly to center on a 3-1 pitch… but Mora kept up with it and ended the game with a grab in fairly deep center. 8-5 Coons! Mora 3-4; Nunley 2-4; Tovias 2-4, RBI; Rock 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI;

Game 2
BOS: LF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – CF Reichardt – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – P Wingo
POR: LF Spencer – SS Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – CF St. Germaine – P Gutierrez

Tim Stalker lasted only into the third inning before tweaking something on fielding Keith Spataro's grounder and had to replaced by Daniel Bullock, which turned out to be a splendid move. In keeping Alberto Ramos on the bench on what was supposed to be maybe a PH appearance but mostly a day off, the Raccoons got themselves the go-ahead homer in the bottom 3rd, yes actually, when Bullock hit one out of left-center for the first run in the game. Rico Gutierrez was unscored upon at that point and in fact perfect. But before long, the Titans were on him. He sat down 11 in a row to begin the game, but then surrendered a double into the gap to Adam Braun, and Adrian Reichardt – a pest as usual – singled sharply to right to bring in the tying run right away. Bottom 4th, Harenberg and Nunley hit singles and Trey Rock walked, loading them up with one out for Adam St. Germaine, the former Titan who was in freefall, batting .161 at this precise moment. He struck out, and so did Rico, and nobody scored.

Instead, the Titans knocked over Rico in the seventh, an inning in which he retired nobody. Reichardt led off with a sharp single up the middle, Rhett West cracked an even harder double to right that chased Reichardt around to score the go-ahead run. Losing Corder to a walk was the end for Rico, who was subbed for by Ricky Ohl, who did away with the Titans eventually, but surrendered a run on a sac fly anyway. Meanwhile the Raccoons kept choking against Dustin Wingo, who only incurred some resistance again in the bottom 8th with his pitch count crossing over 100 while he surrendered singles to Harenberg and Tovias, who were on the corners with two outs. This brought up Matt Nunley, who would have been hit for if we had found any sort of right-handed batter on the bench, but there was just nothing on there except the switch-hitter Liu, and … eh, no. And Nunley struck out. Nope, the Coons wouldn't get through Wingo, then would face Julio San Pedro in the ninth inning. That was a right-hander, and Ramos batted for Rock right away. He struck out, as did the completely forsaken St. Germaine. Abel Mora batted for Billy Brotman with two outs, actually put a ball in play, but flew out easily to Willie Vega. 3-1 Titans. Spencer 2-4; Harenberg 2-4;

Well, that was a stinker of a game…

Tim Stalker had a barking back just like Dan Delgadillo had incurred this week, but also would not be hampered for very long by it. The Druid listed him as la-la for about three more sunrises. That was actually the text on the report.

Game 3
BOS: LF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – CF Reichardt – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – P Gannon
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Roberts

Like Gutierrez, Mark Roberts no-hit the Titans for three innings, and like Gutierrez he couldn't get the bid through four. Gus Gasso hit a leadoff single in the top 4th, but would not get around to score on account of two groundouts and Rhett West being fiendishly robbed by Rafael Gomez in the gap. The Coons also hid under a rock until a leadoff blast by Rafael Gomez off Gannon in the bottom 4th, so again a solo dinger put the Coons ahead. Just like Saturday. (instinctively braces for the worst) But other than Saturday, the Coons actually tacked on a run before the heavens could cave in and crush them all, with Rock and Ramos drawing walks in the bottom of the fifth, and Rock managing to get around to score on a sac fly hit by Jarod Spencer, extending the lead to 2-0. There were some chinks in the armor in the sixth though as Roberts appeared to be through the inning until Ramos dropped Reichardt's 2-out pop for an error, and Roberts took several pitches to get back into the groove, which was likely a mental thing. Reichardt swiped second base, West walked, but Adam Corder popped out right above home plate to end the inning, as Roberts was still nursing a 2-hit shutout, but his pitch count had just taken a beating, and he reached a flat 100 pitches in retiring the bottom of the Titans' lineup in order in the seventh inning.

After Rock's leadoff single (his third on-base stint leading off an inning in the game) brought up Cookie as pinch-hitter, but he lined out to a lunging West for a hard-luck out. Ramos singled to left, but Spencer's grounder and Gomez' pop were not going to get a run in. Top 8th, Josh Boles retired two before the terrible Braun/Reichardt combo scorched the Critters again. Double by the former, single by the latter, and they were on the board in a 2-1 game. Snyder replaced Boles, with the Titans immediately sending Keith Leonard to counter him in place of Rhett West, but he leisurely flew out to centerfield. BUT – the Coons struck back! Yeah, I know! Harenberg worked a walk to begin the bottom 8th against Gannon, who then threw his 110th and final pitch into Abel Mora's wheelhouse for the outfielder's fifth homer of the season, a near-liner that just barely made it over the fence in extreme leftfield, but it still counted for two. Brent Beene replaced him, but the Coons tacked on a run on Tovias' double and then … well, Jonathan Snyder came up with two outs and a 4-1 score, so he was sent to bat … and singled up the middle, perfectly placed to get Tovias home from second base! Fortunately the thrill of baserunning in a brown jacket (a sight not witnessed often anymore!) didn't throw his pitching off-camber, and he retired the Titans without much drama in the ninth as the Coons took this series, levelled the season series, and had looked fairly competent in the series. 5-1 Critters! Ramos 2-4, RBI; Harenberg 1-2, 2 BB; Rock 2-3, BB; Roberts 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, W (2-2); Snyder 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, SV (11) and 1-1, RBI;

In other news

May 11 – VAN SP Rodolfo Cervantes (4-2, 2.08 ERA) 2-hits the Cyclones in a 3-0 shutout, whiffing nine.
May 11 – In the crazy game of the week, the Loggers and Gold Sox exchange blows until time runs out and Milwaukee takes a 19-12 win over Denver. Teams combine for 37 base hits and five home runs, five player with 4+ RBI, and MIL INF Mike Green (.247, 5 HR, 15 RBI) having the best day overall with four base hits and 5 RBI, and only the triple missing for a cycle.
May 13 – Blue Sox rookie SP Dan Jerge (1-3, 3.98 ERA) is done for the season with shoulder inflammation.
May 15 – The Gold Sox have another wild one, putting together two 5-run innings in the same games against the Scorpions and still finding themselves on the losing end, 12-11. SAC 1B Luis Moreira (.261, 10 HR, 28 RBI) has four each in terms of base hits and RBI in this game.
May 16 – The Wolves trade LF/RF Matt Owen (.283, 2 HR, 18 RBI) to the Rebels for two prospects.

Complaints and stuff

Baseball is so much more fun with offense! Well, if your team puts up the offense. I mean, I like a well-pitched game, too, but … okay, to be honest, I like my guy to hurl a shutout and our offense to score six early so I can get drunk calmly. There is nothing worse than drinking angrily.

Would you mind looking at that stingy bullpen of ours? That's a 1.82 bullpen ERA, just so you know!

Abel Mora is tied for third in the league with 27 RBI, just one behind Nate Hall on the Knights and Condor Shane Sanks. Weirdly, Shane Sanks leads the ABL in dingers with a dozen, which is not something that sounds right to me. Yeah, he hit 29 last year, but … (shrugs)… however, the really weird part is the RBI thing. The CL lead is 28, the FL lead would be 30 if it wasn't for Tsuneyoshi Tachibana. The Capital tied Sanks for the homer lead with 12, and had already driven home *48* runs. He was merely on pace for 205 for the season.

I am looking at the numbers and they don't make much sense. The Raccoons are barely scoring 4.15 runs per game. That is good enough to put them fourth-best in runs scored in the Continental League. In the CL offense currently is the lowest it has been in decades. Last season already saw the lowest league ERA (3.80) since 1998, but currently players are trying to reach a 3.70 mark last touched in 1988. Granted, offense always is a little slow in April in all the frigid places we play in, but this is astonishing…

Down on the farm, the Beagles (who lost over a hundred last year…) are 21-8 with some strong pitching that got partially moved up to AA this week, while we canned some never-will-be pitching, including 2023 third-rounder Travis Taylor and his 6.75 ERA and almost a full walk per inning pitched.

Fun Fact: CL North teams have won the last six World Series titles, which is the longest any ABL division has ever had the trophy circulate among its members without interruption.

Well it hasn't circled much. The Loggers won in '21, then four times the Titans. Last year, us.

The record for all other divisions is just two titles. No team other than the Crusaders (twice) and the Titans (once) have ever won three or more in a row, and no division rivals ever glued together for three in a row, even during the Federal League's 1980s string of dominance.
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Old 11-22-2018, 06:39 PM   #2668
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Raccoons (24-14) vs. Indians (20-18) – May 17-20, 2027

The Indians, who had dwelled in the depths of hell for a few years, looked almost like a semi-competent ballclub as they sat just over .500 in the middle of May, at least until you started poking holes into the pretty faηade. Their pitching was doing alright, sixth in runs allowed, with the sixth-best rotation by ERA and an even better pen. But their offense was outright abysmal, scoring only 3.6 runs per game, which put them in the red lantern position in the Continental League. Their run differential was -16, which was not outrageous, but it sure appeared to hint into which direction the train would drive from .500. The Coons had four straight season series wins against Indy, including an 11-7 performance in 2026. This was the first meeting with them in '27.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (1-3, 3.75 ERA) vs. John McInerney (5-3, 2.72 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (4-1, 2.40 ERA) vs. Killian Savoie (3-2, 3.57 ERA)
Rin Nomura (4-2, 3.43 ERA) vs. David Elliott (3-4, 5.96 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-4, 3.93 ERA) vs. Myles Mood (2-3, 3.69 ERA)

Oh look, there are all the left-handed starting pitchers! The Indians had four of them making the rounds and we'd meet three of them. Myles Mood was the odd one out, and we'd miss Chris Sinkhorn (3-4, 4.34 ERA) altogether, who had returned to the CL North after three and a half years with the Gold Sox in the FL. He had won the FL ERA title last season and had been Pitcher of the Year in '21, then for the Loggers, who in the day traded him for a pile of nothing to Denver.

Game 1
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – 1B Cardona – CF Suhay – RF O'Rourke – 3B C. Castro – LF de Negri – C Dale – P McInerney
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Rock – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Delgadillo

You weren't alone in wondering who these people in the Indians' lineup were, because the veteran Mario Pizano, ex-Coons farmhand Manuel Cardona, and former Elk Dave O'Rourke aside, they were mostly rookies and/or misfits, which was ONE explanation as to why the Arrowheads had no offense whatsoever on their stat sheet. Accordingly, Pizano opened the game with a double in the gap and scored on Elias Sosa's single up the middle. Of course, how much was this a factor of Dan Delgadillo just not getting any set of paws on the ground in 2027? The guy that would absolutely have won Game 7 in the previous World Series kept on struggling, putting O'Rourke on with an error to begin the top 2nd, then allowed a double to David de Negri, whoever the heck that was. Joe Dale flew out to Rafael Gomez, who hammered out O'Rourke at home plate to end the inning. While that wasn't Dale's fault, technically speaking, he would come up with the bases loaded and two outs twice in this game and could not have failed more miserably. Delgadillo walked the bases full in the fourth inning, but Dale popped out in foul ground, and the Indians chained up singles in the sixth to present Dale with a slam chance, and this time he struck out against Delgadillo. That was also the last batter Dan faced in this game, with him at 100 pitches and his spot leading off the bottom 6th for a team that so far had one base hit and could not have been further from scoring a run. Cookie Carmona walked in Delgadillo's spot, which was at least a RUNNER on base. Ramos flew out to center, Spencer grounded out, but Gomez got a grounder past Pizano for a 2-out RBI single, tying the score at one. Kevin Harenberg flew out to de Negri, though. Offense remained non-existent for either team. Boles, McLin, and Snyder relatively effortless did away with the Indians in the seventh, eighth, and ninth, with ex-Coon Matt Jamieson making a PH appearance against Snyder, unsuccessfully. Another ex-Furball pitched the ninth inning for Indy, as Cory Dew was sent against the 2-3-4 batters of a team still being 2-hit by the opposition here. Finally a right-handed pitcher! Jarod Spencer singled on an 0-2 pitch, and without much further ado, Rafael Gomez clocked a 91mph fastball over the leftfield fence to end this chewy contest. 3-1 Coons. Gomez 3-4, HR, 3 RBI;

That was sloooooow.

Game 2
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – 1B Cardona – CF Suhay – RF O'Rourke – LF M. Cowan – 3B C. Castro – C J. Ramirez – P Savoie
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – C Tovias – CF Mora – 3B Bullock – P Anderson

While the game started with a Stalker error to put Pizano on first base, the Coons turned a 5-4-3 double play on Cardona in the same inning. Anderson, who was outpitching his entire career at this point, was close to foundering in every inning, though. He allowed two sharp singles in the second, then issued 2-out walks to Sosa and Cardona in the third. This time, Indy came through with a single by Ben Suhay, who entered batting .202 with seven homers. The Indians added two more runs in the fourth, Carlos Castro doubling and scoring on Jose Ramirez' single, who was then bunted over to second base and scored on Pizano's single to center. Nope, this was not Kyle Anderson's day, and neither was it the day of the offense – AGAIN. They had only two base hits and posed no danger whatsoever in the first four innings until Elias Tovias hit a leadoff double against Savoie in the bottom 5th on which Suhay, also not much of a defensive centerfielder, came up well short. Abel Mora walked, bringing up the tying run in … eh, Bullock. He flew out to Suhay, and Anderson grounded into a double play to do away with the "threat".

Portland got a pair of 2-out runners in the bottom 6th when Gomez legged out an infield single and Savoie had strike two in a 3-1 count against Harenberg called for ball four. Tim Stalker resolved this situation by grounding out to Pizano. And it wasn't that they didn't come up with runners – the tying run was at the plate again in the bottom of the eighth inning. Savoie, still unfazed, allowed a single to Ramos, who stole second, then another soft single to shallow left to Spencer, putting them on the corners for the power department. Characteristically of a team relying on charity to get anywhere, Ramos then scored on a wild pitch, getting Portland on the board before Gomez grounded out to short, Harenberg grounded out to second, and Stalker grounded out to short again. They were and remained absolutely disgusting. 3-1 Indians. Spencer 2-4, 2B; Tovias 2-4, 2B;

Game 3
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – 1B Cardona – RF O'Rourke – LF M. Cowan – C J. Ramirez – CF Jamieson – 3B C. Castro – P D. Elliott
POR: LF Spencer – SS Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Rock – 3B Nunley – CF St. Germaine – P Nomura

And as always, the Indians scored first, with Manuel Cardona walloping a double off the wall to score Elliott and Sosa in the third inning before getting caught in a rundown between second and third base. The sweet thing about this was that Nomura, unable to keep his balls to himself to begin with, issued a leadoff walk to David Elliott in this inning after the previous two had already been going like glue. Matt Jamieson upped it to 3-0 with a solo homer in the fourth inning, while the Raccoons did NOTHING: Okay, Matt Nunley hit a single in the bottom 2nd before St. Germaine – with whom my patience was running out rapidly – smacked into a double play. And even before that, the Critters had put Stalker and Gomez on the corners in the first inning, at least until Gomez was caught stealing, Harenberg walked unhelpfully, and Tovias struck out to strand a pair.

Nomura meandered through darkness for six innings, allowing only three base hits while drilling two batters and having Tovias throw out two of the guys he needlessly walked on base when they tried to snatch second base by force. None of this changed that the Raccoons remained ghastly ineffective and shut out on three hits through five innings. Nomura's spot led off the bottom 6th, with Cookie Carmona getting a cameo and grounding out just like Spencer and Stalker would do after he was done. Like every other Indians starter in the series, Elliott lasted eight innings largely unmolested after entering with an ERA near six and leaving with an ERA of almost five. The second Mo Robinson took the mound for the bottom 9th there was some sort of danger in the air. Spencer singled to left, Stalker walked, and here came the tying run with nobody out. Rafael Gomez buried the first pitch he got in the right-center gap for an RBI double and now Kevin Harenberg had a chance to win it, but was held to a sac fly. The Indians twitched after this deep fly to left and sent Dew in relief of Robinson. A wild pitch for ball one to Tovias moved Gomez and the tying run to third base, Tovias ended up walking, putting the winning run aboard, and then Stalker lined out to Sosa and Nunley popped out to short. 3-2 Indians. Gomez 2-4, 2B, RBI; Nunley 2-4; McLin 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Dear players: GET YOUR ****ING **** TOGETHER, FOR ****ING ****'S SAKE.

There. This, posted to the clubhouse door, should get them motivated against the right-hander tomorrow.

Game 4
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – 1B Cardona – CF Suhay – RF O'Rourke – LF M. Cowan – C Dale – 3B C. Castro – P Mood
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Gutierrez

With the Indians' lineup full of right-handed batters exclusively, Rico Gutierrez on the mound, and the Raccoons entirely dead for the entire series, it was no surprise that the Arrowheads scored first for the fourth time in the meeting with Mike Cowan's solo homer in the second inning. More 2-out offense from the Indians would follow; Sosa singled and scored on Cardona's double with two down in the third inning. The Raccoons had a Spencer single in the first, a Harenberg double in the fourth, and absolutely nothing in between as even seeing a right-handed pitcher for a change did not seem to affect their complete and utter ineptness. When they did get on the board, it was – bitterly, again – due to a wild pitch in the fifth inning. Tovias (double) and Rock (single) were on the corners, Rico Gutierrez was batting, and Myles Mood still managed to throw a ball over Joe Dale's head to get in the opposing catcher. This spiraled into a walk to Rico, then a 4-pitch walk to Ramos that filled the bags with one out. Oh c'mon, now, boys. NOW is the time to break out! And they … sorta… well… not, actually. Spencer lined a ball at PIzano's face at incredible speed, with the shortstop's instinct of self-preservation taking over as he barely managed to deflect the ball with his glove, then botched the pickup as the ball rolled into shallow center. For his efforts he got an error and the Coons tied the game on the play. Gomez rocked a ball through the gap between Castro and Pizano for a 2-run double then, Indy walked Kevin Harenberg intentionally, but then Mood walked Mora unintentionally with the bases loaded as the entire Indians team rapidly unhinged in a 5-2 game. The Arrowheads went to their bullpen IN THE FIFTH INNING, sending Andy Bressner to contain the uncontainable. Nunley scored a sixth run with a groundout, but the inning fizzled out after that. But this time the Critters got their guy through eight innings, aided by double plays in the sixth and eighth innings, and Rico also started the ninth inning, getting Elias Sosa on a pop to begin the inning before he got taken well deep by Manuel Cardona. Snyder was then called on to get the final two outs from Suhay and O'Rourke, whiffing both. The Raccoons never had a runner in scoring position or a base hit after their 6-run fifth. 6-3 Blighters. Gutierrez 8.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, W (3-4);

We also ended up with less base hits (5) than runs (6).

Raccoons (26-16) vs. Aces (19-21) – May 21-23, 2027

The Aces had dropped four games in a row and into fourth place as well, with a completely overwhelmed pitching staff complementing a mediocre offense. They were sixth in runs scored, but second from the bottom in runs allowed, not that I was getting my hopes up for the Critters to start swinging it all of a sudden… The Raccoons had gone 8-1 against Vegas in '26.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (2-2, 3.56 ERA) vs. Abramo Archibugi (4-2, 2.50 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (1-3, 3.43 ERA) vs. Chris Guyett (2-5, 6.00 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (4-2, 2.59 ERA) vs. Luis Flores (7-0, 1.58 ERA)

Now, the Aces had picked up Luis Flores from the Condors in a trade for LF/RF Luis Leija (.288, 0 HR, 9 RBI) and a prospect on Tuesday. Him and Guyett were synched to the same day. If I was the Aces, I would shunt Guyett aside and throw three southpaws (including Tom Shumway, who was 2-5 with a 5.40 ERA, somehow) at the Raccoons just to keep them off balance…

Game 1
LVA: LF Dunlap – C Motley – CF Raynor – 1B M. Hamilton – RF Serrano – 2B A. Medina – SS Dein – 3B Roundtree – P Archibugi
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – 3B Rock – CF St. Germaine – P Roberts

Scoring first remained an entirely foreign concept to the Coons in this crummy week, with Ron Raynor hitting a mighty line drive homer off Mark Roberts right in the first inning. Oh well, at least it was only a solo job, and the Raccoons scratched their way into the lead right in the first inning as Ramos led off with a single, scored on Rafael Gomez double that went past Tom Dunlap into the gap, and then Harenberg singled home Gomez. Next thing you knew, Adam St. Germaine ended an 0-for-24 suffocation with a double to deep center in the bottom 2nd, but was stranded.

At least Mark Roberts flashed his stuff a bit in this start and held the Aces mostly under control except for that unfortunate Raynor homer. He struck out six through five innings and allowed no other base hits, while the Coons added to the lead with Tim Stalker's solo dinger in the bottom of the fourth, and another solo deed by Rafael Gomez in the fifth. Too bad that Alberto Ramos had been caught stealing prior to that 370-footer. That put the Critters to a 4-1 lead, and with the way Mark Roberts was going we sent the bullpen home after the seventh inning. No way we'd need them! Roberts expended 85 pitches through eight innings of 1-hit ball, then was not batted for with Trey Rock and Adam St. Germaine on the corners and two outs in the bottom 8th. He hit an RBI single off Archibugi anyway, and so did Ramos, with the Aces having to get right-hander Alberto Molina from the pen to end the inning. Then Roberts started the ninth with a walk to Steve Roundtree, his first free pass issued in the game. Oh it'll sure be FINE! PH Jason Travis ran a full count, whiffed, and at the same time Roundtree had been going for second base and was caught stealing by Elias Tovias. The pesky Dunlap singled, but Josh Motley flew out to St. Germaine to end the game, finally. 6-1 Critters! Ramos 3-5, RBI; Gomez 2-3, BB, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Stalker 2-4, HR, RBI; Rock 2-4; St. Germaine 1-2, BB, 2B; Roberts 9.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, W (3-2) and 1-4, RBI;

Luis Flores was moved into the second game – as we had somewhat expected even with Guyett originally announced – and it was thus another left-handed starter, the fifth of the week, on Saturday.

Game 2
LVA: LF Dunlap – C Motley – SS Tadlock – 1B M. Hamilton – RF Serrano – CF Raynor – 2B A. Medina – 3B Moroyoqui – P L. Flores
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Rock – C Liu – P Delgadillo

Yusneldan was not exactly spot on, and f.e. surrendered doubles to Matt Hamilton whenever he came around to bat, but then again didn't let him or anybody else get around to *score* in the early innings, including getting Jesus Moroyoqui to pop out with runners on the corners to end the second inning. On the other hand the Raccoons were not exactly charging ahead. But hey, at least we reached third base before the umpteenth inning – Jing-quo Liu hit a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd, advanced on a bunt and a Ramos groundout, but then was still stranded when Jarod Spencer popped out. Bottom 4th, Flores issued a leadoff walk to Gomez, who reached third base when we called a hit-and-run with Harenberg batting. Kevin's grounder up the middle eluded Andres Medina for a single, and the Critters were on the corners with nobody down in the inning. And they actually scored FIRST. FIRST, I tell ya! Well, it was one run on Stalker's sac fly before Mora and Rock made weak outs on the infield, but they scored first for the first time this week and it was SATURDAY.

Meanwhile Delgadillo was quietly doing his thing, but 1-run leads were naturally fragile. Hamilton led off the seventh and when he fired a charge to deep right I shrieked instinctively, but it turned out that the ball only reached the track, and more specifically Rafael Gomez' glove. Danny Serrano then singled, but was wiped up in the double play that Raynor hit into, and another inning was ticked off. Now, the Coons had another situation of runners on first and third, two outs, and the pitcher batting in the bottom 7th. It was an unearned situation thanks to Tim Stalker having reached on a Moroyoqui error, but they again let the pitcher bat, but this time with a 1-run lead and two innings, rather than a 3-run lead and one inning. Delgadillo struck out, and Medina immediately hit a leadoff single in the eighth to make me dizzy. Danny Munn hit for Moroyoqui, but struck out, as did Ivan Flores, a switch-hitter, in Luis Flores' place, but then Dunlap hit a double to right, and it was probably the rumors of Rafael Gomez being able to shoot lasers with his arm that made the Aces stop Medina at third base. But here were the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, two outs, and the left-handed batter Josh Motley at the plate. Too dicey – Josh Boles came in (since there was still plenty of right-handed folk on the Aces bench, we could not use Kearney). No pinch-hitter came out, and Motley struck out looking to end the inning. Fffffffffff. They sure know how to torture a poor, old GM!

No offense came forward in the eighth, and then everything collapsed in the ninth. Snyder was pitching, allowed a leadoff single to Ron Tadlock, struck out Hamilton, then balked the tying run to second base, from where he promptly scored on a Serrano single. Raynor singled to move Serrano to third base, but Medina hit a grounder to Stalker, and if they hurried they would turn – no, they did not turn two, the go-ahead run scored, and then Liu threw away a Roundtree grounder for a 2-base error, and when Jason Travis flew to center, the ball hit off Abel Mora's wrist for another error. At this point, down 4-1, we stopped bothering with Jonathan Snyder who had well earned this loss, and sent Kearney instead against the left-handed brigade, which at least ended the miserable inning. The utterly useless Raccoons went down in order in the bottom 9th. 4-1 Aces. Delgadillo 7.2 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K and 1-2;

Some nights, I have murder on my mind.

This is one of those nights.

Game 3
LVA: LF Dunlap – C Motley – SS Tadlock – 1B M. Hamilton – RF Serrano – CF Raynor – 2B A. Medina – 3B Moroyoqui – P Shumway
POR: LF Spencer – SS Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Anderson

Rubber game, sixth left-handed opposing pitcher this week, and how on earth were things supposed to get any better against Tom Shumway? Harenberg and Mora hit hard drives the first time through, but both were caught by Dunlap and Serrano, respectively, and Shumway in fact retired them in order the first time through the lineup. Kyle Anderson also held the Aces as short as possible, allowing only two hits through four innings, and the bottom 4th was also where the Coons first materialized on base. Jarod Spencer hit a leadoff single to right-center, and then Shumway lost hold of a circle change and circled it right into Tim Stalker's legs to add a second runner. Gomez struck out, Harenberg would have done god-knows-what if Hamilton hadn't misfielded his grounder for an error, and then came Abel Mora and ripped away at a 1-2 fastball, blasting it a good 400 feet. GRAAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!

Anderson shut the Aces out through five, but eventually served up a home run to Dunlap, but the leftfielder's sixth-inning shot was only a solo issue. On the other hand, why complain? The Aces were outhitting us 5-2 in the middle of the sixth inning, yet we led by three runs, going on four, as the Coons pushed a run across in the bottom 6th on singles by Stalker, Gomez, and Tovias. Nunley drew a 2-out walk, but Trey Rock struck out to leave them loaded in what was now a 5-1 game. Anderson lasted seven, walking Medina but seeing Tovias catch him stealing in the seventh, then was hit for by Cookie to begin the bottom 7th. Cookie hit a double to left, then was stranded on three consecutive shallow fly outs. Oh well, at least Kearney and Ohl kept the Aces at safe distance in the last few innings, collecting two and four outs, respectively. 5-1 Critters. Mora 1-4, HR, 4 RBI; Ramos (PH) 1-1; Carmona (PH) 1-1, 2B; Anderson 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, W (5-2);

Is it weird that Kyle Anderson leads this team in wins?

In other news

May 17 – WAS SP Graham Wasserman (4-1, 4.17 ERA) wins an 8-1 decision against the Rebels, but loses a no-hitter in the ninth inning on a leadoff double by RIC LF/CF Nick Cobb (.303, 1 HR, 5 RBI) and then an RBI single by RIC 2B Marco Hernandes (.252, 0 HR, 9 RBI).
May 18 – CIN INF Raul Maldonado (.309, 0 HR, 11 RBI) connects for his 2,000th base hit in the Cyclones' 3-2 victory over the Buffaloes. The 34-year-old Maldonado, who won a Gold Glove in his career and once led the Federal League in at-bats, is a career .313/.344/.394 bat with 27 HR and 672 RBI as well as 185 SB.
May 18 – Salem acquires LF/CF Nick Cobb (.303, 1 HR, 5 RBI) from the Rebels for SP/MR Kaleb Babcock (2-2, 5.29 ERA, 1 SV) and a so-so prospect.
May 19 – Miners RF/LF Omar Alfaro (.252, 4 HR, 21 RBI) connects for five hits, including a 3-run home run, in a 14-3 whopping of the Blue Sox in which the Miners also score a pair of 6-spots.
May 20 – The Pacifics get torn up at a 21-6 pace by the Stars in Dallas. DAL OF David Morales (.316, 0 HR, 6 RBI) goes 5-for-7 in the game with a home run and two RBI.
May 21 – No scoring occurs in the Knights-Titans game until the 11th inning and the 3-run walkoff homer hit by BOS INF/RF/LF Matt Good (.270, 4 HR, 16 RBI) off ATL MR Adrian McQuinn (2-2, 4.58 ERA, 3 SV).
May 21 – The Stars win a 4-3, 10-inning game against the Buffaloes when TOP CL Vince Devereaux (0-2, 2.84 ERA, 12 SV) and his team mates conspire to concede a walk, a passed ball, two more walks, and finally a dropped catch for an error charged to TOP 1B/2B Chris Owen (.216, 1 HR, 10 RBI) to walk off the Stars.

Complaints and stuff

Sometimes the best thing about a week is that it eventually ends.

Six left-handed starting pitchers by the opposition has got to be a record for a week. Even for a 7-game week. There has to be a record here…

Kyle Anderson in fact leads the team not only in the clubhouse, but also in wins and ERA. A shame he is really anything but a strikeout threat. In fact it is late May and our postseason heroes from last year have losing records and our 4-5 starters have the most wins on the staff. And Josh Boles ties for third place.

I like Josh Boles, though. He is more and more becoming the Ron Thrasher type. So far this year he has pitched 17 innings and has rung up 24, which is 12.7 K/9, and he had a few tenths more than that in his rookie year in '26. He is vicious, there is no denying it. Left-handers have next to no chance. He has faced 22 this year, and only two got on base. He has actually faced twice as many right-handers (44), and while they have amounted to a mediocre .665 OPS against him, it's not like he is a target for them. He is very much a two-way weapon much like Thrasher was. For comparison, when Ron Thrasher was a sophomore, he whiffed 12.3 per nine innings and had a 1.92 ERA, and was actually a bit more vulnerable to left-handers than Boles is.

Almost forgotten is Billy Brotman, who has a completely abnormal year with a 1.1 BB/9 value. For his career he is rather uncomfortably close to 5 BB/9. Strikeouts are also up. Tempted to see how this plays out although right now he is a bit of the forgotten man in the pen.

Fun Fact: The Rebels and Wolves traded twice in two days with one another on May 16 and 18, the deal involving a prospect each time. It was the same prospect, SS Todd Baer.

The kid that seemingly nobody on either team really wants is a 21-year-old solid defender with admittedly no bat whatsoever in AA, a third-round pick in the 2024 draft, and there is nothing remarkable about him at all. Meanwhile the Rebels and Wolves behave like divorcees unable to agree on who gets to keep their three-legged dog. "You take him", "No, you take him …!" – Sad spectacle, really.
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Old 11-25-2018, 09:48 AM   #2669
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Raccoons (28-17) @ Thunder (22-22) – May 25-27, 2027

The Raccoons would have their first stop on a week-long road trip in Oklahoma City, playing the second-place Thunder – yup, .500 ball was enough for second place (and only a half-game deficit!) in the CL South right now. Oklahoma ranked fifth in offense, but ninth in denying offense with a -7 run differential (Coons: +48). They had some bits in place; but were missing plenty of more bits for a contending team. The Raccoons tried to win the season series from them again, as they had done last year when they had taken five of nine games.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (4-3, 3.56 ERA) vs. Chris Wickham (0-2, 6.82 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-4, 3.84 ERA) vs. Jeff Dykstra (5-3, 3.07 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-2, 3.16 ERA) vs. Andy Palomares (6-2, 2.63 ERA)

So far this season the Raccoons had faced right- and left-handed starting pitchers at exactly a 2:1 ratio, and this trend would continue in this series, with the left-hander Wickham beginning the meeting on Tuesday, followed by two right-handed hurlers.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – 3B Rock – P Nomura
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – C Burgess – 1B J. Elliott – SS Serrato – RF Sagredo – CF Pagel – 2B Cameron – LF Camarillo – P Wickham

The Coons got Ramos (walk) and Spencer (single) on base to begin the game, but failed to score either of them with the most pathetic chain of outs by the middle of the order, while the Thunder put John Elliott aboard with a 2-out infield single, Nomura walked Alex Serrato, then surrendered an RBI double to left-center to Luis Sagredo, who came in batting .177, to fall behind 1-0 in the first inning before Kyle Pagel grounded out to Trey Rock. When Elias Tovias tied the game with a solo homer in the second inning, Nomura found another struggling batter to give a moral boost to, getting taken WELL deep by Danny Camarillo, a .176 batter, in the bottom 2nd.

Maybe things could still go either way. A Serrato error put Jarod Spencer on base to begin the top 3rd, and Rafael Gomez immediately walloped a hanging breaking ball over the fence to flip the score the Coons' way, 3-2. Here was, finally, a struggling pitcher however the Coons seemed to be able to take apart. The 3-4-5 batters all reached base in the fifth inning with Gomez singling, Harenberg knocking a double to center, and Mora chipping in an RBI single, 4-2, before Tovias scored Kevin Harenberg with a groundout, 5-2. One run had been unearned earlier on the Gomez homer, so the Thunder hung a bit longer with Wickham, which didn't pay off. Rin Nomura – not exploding yet – hit a 1-out double in the top 6th on which Kyle Pagel did not look very competent, Ramos walked, and then Spencer and Gomez chipped in RBI hits to extend the lead 7-2, which was finally the curtain coming down on Wickham. Right-handed former starter Max Nelson took over and got out of the inning when Gomez was caught stealing and Harenberg grounded out weakly. Now, what about the mandatory Nomura collapse? You needed some fine hearing to make out the early warning bells especially since he hadn't pitched spectacularly to begin with and had only two strikeouts through five innings. He opened the sixth with a leadoff walk to Mike Burgess, though he got wrapped up in a double play on Elliott's grounder. Bottom 7th, Luis Sagredo led off with a soft single. Pagel hit another soft single. I'm not sure, but I think there are some discords in the music here. A walk in a full count to Joe Cameron loaded the bases with nobody out and got Ricky Ohl involved, maybe a batter too late? Tim Stalker really freaked me out when he bobbled Camarillo's grounder for an error when it could have been two outs. A run scored anyway, 7-3. Ohl struck out Brett Dobbs, then had Lorenzo Rivera hit a liner at Harenberg on an 0-2 pitch. Kevin shagged the ball, but couldn't double off Pagel, who had started early from third base. Rookie mistake! Burgess was rung up by Ohl to end the inning.

Portland pulled the run back in the eighth inning with kind support by the Thunder pen, which hit PH Adam St. Germaine to move Trey Rock and his leadoff single to second base, ultimately resulting in a run-scoring groundout when Matt Nunley batted for Jarod Spencer, and a ninth run came about in the ninth inning via Abel Mora singling, stealing second, moving up on a wild pitch by Arturo Arellano, and ultimately scoring on a Tovias single. Billy Brotman, pitching to right-handers exclusively, would put two on in the bottom 9th, but the Thunder didn't stage any sort of rally anymore. 9-3 Coons. Spencer 2-4, 2B, RBI; Gomez 3-5, HR, 3 RBI; Mora 2-5, RBI; Tovias 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Rock 2-4; Nomura 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, W (5-3) and 2-3, 2B;

In a perverse way, Tim Stalker's error was GOOD for Rin Nomura, since it made the run that would have scored one way or another on the play unearned.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – LF St. Germaine – P Gutierrez
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – C Burgess – 1B J. Elliott – SS Serrato – RF Sagredo – CF Pagel – 2B Cameron – LF Camarillo – P Dykstra

The Raccoons merely managed to be a slight annoyance for Dykstra the first time through the order. Matt Nunley hit a single. That was it. Rico even bunted into a force play at second base to get him erased as lead runner. Oklahoma scored first, putting a run across in the bottom 3rd on three singles, the first of which had been Dykstra's with one out in the inning. Lorenzo Rivera and John Elliott also hit singles to move him around to score the game's maiden run. Three singles in an inning were easily shaken off by the Coons in the top of the fourth inning, though. They didn't hit three singles – they hit three home runs! After Spencer grounded out, Rafael Gomez cracked his ninth, taking sole possession of the team lead with a shot to right center that tied the game, after which Harenberg reached on a bloop, Tovias also snuck on base with a single, and then Matt Nunley romped a fastball to dead center for a 3-piece before Adam St. Germaine made it back-to-back for his first RBI of the year.

In a perfect world, Rico Gutierrez would have taken the 5-1 lead and would have run with it, but this was not such a world. Sagredo led off the bottom 4th with a double, Rico nicked Pagel, and after Cameron struck out the runners advanced on a wild pitch, but then had to hold when Camarillo grounded out to Nunley. And Dykstra ALMOST beat Rico – but St. Germaine caught his fly in leftfield to end the inning. Well, this was a mostly right-handed lineup, and Rico had shown to be vulnerable in these games before, and often. Again, this one would need a keen ear to hear trouble approaching. John Elliott's double in the bottom 5th came with two outs, as came the wild pitch that advanced this particular runner to third base. Serrato walked, Sagredo struck out. Whatever works! After a clean sixth, Thierry Becker's leadoff single in Dykstra's spot to begin the bottom 7th surely got the bullpen stirring. Rivera hit into a fielder's choice, Burgess popped out, and Mora caught up with Elliott's drive to centerfield to end this inning without help from the bullpen, though. Portland scratched out a 2-out run in the top 8th on a Tovias double and Nunley RBI single, and Rico Gutierrez logged one more out, a K against Sagredo after a Serrato single to begin the bottom 8th. With only right-handers coming after that, the Coons went to the pen. Surginer and Kearney would take care of the last five outs while the Raccoons added a run on "Doppler" Nelson in the top of the ninth, Rafael Gomez picking up another RBI with a groundout. 7-1 Raccoons! Spencer 2-5; Gomez 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; Harenberg 2-5; Tovias 2-4, 2B; Nunley 3-4, HR, 4 RBI; St. Germaine 2-4, HR, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1; Gutierrez 7.1 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (4-4);

That 2-hit game came too late for Adam St. Germaine, though.

Interlude: waiver claim
The Raccoons had already put in a waiver claim for Blue Sox veteran LF/CF Steve Hollingsworth (.194, 1 HR, 3 RBI), who was also struggling, but was at least a right-handed batter, helping us balance the bench some more.

Adam St. Germaine was now exposed to waivers and designated for assignment.

Raccoons (28-17) @ Thunder (22-22) – May 25-27, 2027

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Roberts
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – C Burgess – 1B J. Elliott – SS Serrato – RF Sagredo – CF Pagel – 2B Cameron – LF Dobbs – P Palomares

Matt Nunley on fire! The third-sacker socked a jack leading off the third inning to put the Coons 1-0 in front, and they would plate another run the same inning when Ramos singled with two outs, stole second for #17, and was doubled in by Cookie Carmona. Meanwhile Mark Roberts retired the first seven Thunder (but with only one strikeout) before Brett Dobbs dropped a single between Ramos and Mora in the bottom 3rd. Roberts threw away Palomares' bunt, then filled them up with a single allowed to Rivera. For relief, Mike Burgess popped out over the infield before Gomez threw himself in the way of Elliott's liner to end the inning with three men stranded.

Elias Tovias and Alex Serrato exchanged solo home runs in the fourth inning before Cookie hurt himself containing a Sagredo fly to deep left. Old man had back issues and required replacement by new arrival Steve Hollingsworth. Mark Roberts was also in constant danger of falling off the mound, whirling after all the hard fly balls the Thunder hit. They didn't get them out, but they sure got a few to fall in (and Roberts also nailed Lorenzo Rivera in the fifth…), and stranded two more in both the fifth and sixth innings, for seven left on base in the span of four innings. At least Mark Roberts realized that he was a hazard to sealing the sweep and teamed up with Alberto Ramos for a pair of 2-out doubles in the seventh inning that added a fourth run to the Coons' tally. The 2025 Triple Crown winner (yes, actually!) faced four batters and threw only four pitches in the bottom 7th, and somehow the only batter that reached was the opposing hurler Palomares, and that was on a Tovias error…?

Roberts' day ended at the same part of the lineup that Rico's had ended the day before. He put Serrato on board (with a walk) to begin the bottom 8th, then still faced Sagredo because he was a left-handed batter. However, other than Rico, Roberts served up a homer, and suddenly this was a 4-3 game with six outs to cobble together. Ricky Ohl replaced him at once, but still made things "exciting". Pagel walked on four pitches, Cameron hit into a fielder's choice, but then reached third base on Carlos de Santiago's pinch-hit single. Uh-oh? Mike Pizzo pinch-hit in the #9 hole, cracked a grounder at Trey Rock, and the Coons turned a 4-6-3 double play to escape the mess. Closer Jonathan Snyder also didn't seem to be able to buy a clean inning for his dear life, allowing a 1-out single to Burgess in the bottom 9th, but got Elliott to pop out and whiffed up Serrato to complete the sweep after all. 4-3 Critters. Ramos 3-5, 2B, RBI; Carmona 1-2, 2B, RBI; Mora 2-4;

Unfortunately, Cookie Carmona required a trip to the DL with a barking back, and of course this came the day AFTER the Coons had to make room in the outfield… Juan Magallanes was called up to fill that vacancy.

Raccoons (31-17) @ Knights (18-28) – May 28-30, 2027

The Knights were quite old and very turpid with the worst batting average (but the seventh-most runs) in the Continental League, but were in the bottom three in terms of runs allowed. Their rotation was even the second-worst. Their lineup looked like what famine did to a povery-stricken third world country. Two years ago, a then 33-year-old Ruben Luna had batted .266 with 31 homers and an .880 OPS. This year their centerpiece was .229 with six homers and a .776 OPS. He was surrounded by plenty more .230-ish batters.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (1-3, 2.90 ERA) vs. Mario Rosas (6-3, 3.78 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (5-2, 2.44 ERA) vs. Tim Wells (2-5, 4.92 ERA)
Rin Nomura (5-3, 3.50 ERA) vs. Estevan Delgado (0-6, 5.56 ERA)

Timing had worked out for us to face all three of their left-handed starters. I was not sold yet that this was a good thing.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – 3B Rock – CF Hollingsworth – C Liu – P Delgadillo
ATL: CF N. Hall – 3B V. Ramirez – RF M. Walker – C Luna – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Kym – SS R. Miller – LF W. Lopez – P Rosas

Both teams got a 2-out triple by their rightfielder in the first inning, but neither Rafael Gomez nor Mark Walker were scored by the cleanup men or anybody behind those. Harenberg struck out, and while Ruben Luna coaxed a walk out of Delgadillo, John Johnson still struck out. The Coons would score first eventually, getting one run out of four singles (…) in the second inning, a tally the Knights matched with one run on one hit, a Nate Hall double in the bottom 3rd. Granted, Liu helped them out with a throwing error, too. Delgadillo then got swamped in the bottom 4th, in which Johnson hit a leadoff single and Dan then lost both Chun-yeong Kym and Willie Lopez in full counts. Rosas batted with one out, but chopped a bouncer right at Tim Stalker for a perfect double play, keeping the game tied. The glee was short-lived; the Coons put Spencer (single) and Gomez (walk) on base in the fifth, but Harenberg's baffling RBI-lessness continued restlessly as he grounded hard into an inning-ending double play. Oh well, the Knights thought, if you insist …! Both Hall and Luna bombed Delgadillo in the bottom 5th to move them out to a 3-1 lead. That was before Jeff Kearney unraveled completely in the sixth inning following the Critters stranding a pair in the top 6th when Mora popped out in Delgadillo's spot, right above home plate. The Knights scored an unearned run on Kearney, who allowed a hit, a walk, and a throwing error… It came even worse, because the Raccoons actually scored on the Knights' pen late in the game, but by then it was too late. Liu singled home Trey Rock in the eighth, and Gomez hit a long one in the ninth, but it was all too little, too late. The Gomez homer off Adrian McQuinn came with two outs and nobody on, and Matt Nunley batted for Josh Boles in the cleanup spot, but flew out to Hall in shallow center. 4-3 Knights. Spencer 2-5; Gomez 2-4, BB, HR, 3B, RBI; Rock 3-4, 2B; Hollingsworth 2-4; Liu 2-4, RBI; Boles 1.2 IP; 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – RF Gomez – 1B Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – CF Hollingsworth – P Anderson
ATL: CF N. Hall – 3B V. Ramirez – RF M. Walker – C Luna – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Kym – SS R. Miller – LF Briscoe – P Wells

While Nate Hall kept being the nastiest vacuum cleaner south of the Mason-Dixon line and robbed Raccoons of all their extra-base (or even just one-base) hits, the Knights came close to knocking Kyle Anderson out early in the middle game. They had two hits in the bottom 1st, didn't do damage, then kept churning them out in the second inning. John Johnson led off with a single, scored on Kym's double, and they brought their Korean first baseman around on a bitter 2-out single by Tim Wells before putting two more on base on soft singles before Mark Walker's drive fell short of the fence and into Gomez' glove, ending the inning with the bases loaded, but already a 2-0 lead for Atlanta. Stunningly, Alberto Ramos made up the difference in the third inning, blasting a 2-run homer to rightfield with Hollingsworth aboard, but Anderson continued to offer no resistance whatsoever. Ruben Luna and John Johnson began the bottom 3rd with back-to-back doubles, giving the Knights the lead again at 3-2, Kym singled, and they scored their fourth run on a deep sac fly by Rich Miller. Somehow, ex-Coon and ex-Elk Cory Briscoe popped out, but Tim Wells hit a single through Abel Mora, and that was it. Anderson (5-2 and sinking) was yanked after 2.2 innings of 10-hit ball, and Jarod Spencer closed his line at four runs when he caught Nate Hall's sizzling liner, hit off Billy Brotman, to end the damned third inning.

It was the only out that Brotman logged, because after a Mora double, Nunley working a walk, and a soft single by Steve Hollingsworth the bases were loaded with two outs in the top of the fourth, and this was Kevin Harenberg's turn. Yeah, he was slumping, yeah, he had no RBI since the 12 tribes had resettled in Israel (actually 2 RBI in the last 20 days, and none in the last seven), but who was supposed to hit here? Liu? The select Raccoons fans sprinkled throughout the ballpark almost inaudibly howled KEVIIIIN when Vinny Ramirez leapt in vain to catch Harenberg's liner as it escaped over his head and up the leftfield line for a bases-clearing double that took Kyle Anderson off the hook and gave the Raccoons a 5-4 lead in a game that would surely drag on some longer. The Raccoons put Tim Wells to bed with Ramos' RBI single to right, 6-4, with 32-year-old Bonairean right-hander Levi Snoeij replacing him. Spencer singled off him, but Rock grounded out, and now the Coons had to make the most out of their own vaunted bullpen.

Portland turned to Kearney despite a right-hander (Ramirez) leading off the bottom 4th, but this was not a time to be picky. The Knights had four left-handed batters between #3 and #8 and I was intent to have Kearney face all of them. Kearney facing a mixed bag worked so well he was even sent to bat with nobody on and two outs in the sixth, ending that inning, then pitched another inning. The only batter that reached against him with a base hit was Knights reliever Danny Munos (…!), he walked Ramirez with two outs in the bottom 6th, but then struck out Mark Walker to strand the tying runs. No, it was Ricky Ohl who kicked the rest of the team into the knees from behind. He came on in the seventh and retired nobody; Josh Boles replaced him after he nailed Ruben Luna, allowed a single to the annoyance Johnson, and walked Kym. Three on, no outs with a 6-4 lead, Boles struck out Trent Herlihy, Guadalupe Ramirez as well, then got Willie Lopez to fly out to Hollingsworth. JOSH ****ING BOLES!! YEAH BOY!!!

Boles also struck out Hall to begin the bottom 8th, and yet it was still for nought. Kevin Surginer came on after the Hall strikeout, allowed a double to Ramirez, walked Walker (cough), and Luna singled. Three on, one out. All that was left for Portland was to go to Snyder and close the black eyes real tight. Johnson hit a sac fly, Kym hit a 2-out single, and all the work was finally undone in a 6-6 tie. By the bottom 10th, the Raccoons had been completely shut down offensively for quite a while and were also on their final reliever, Dan McLin, who walked Ruben Luna with one out, but at least bumped into reliever Adrian McQuinn with two outs and got an easy strikeout with the Knights' bench empty. Between a Mora double in the eighth and Daniel Bullock (who long ago had replaced Nunley in a double switch and was batting ninth) reaching on an error (…!) in the 12th inning, the Coons had absolutely nothing cooking. And Bullock was caught stealing, too. But, eh, at least Tovias also threw out Mark Walker trying to take second on McLin in the bottom 12th, further extending the game.

Top 13th, leadoff single for Trey Rock, looping over Vinny Ramirez into shallow left. Rafael Gomez flew out to VERY deep leftfield (curse you, Nate Hall!!), but Rock with some bite-me attitude tagged and dashed for second base successfully after the catch was made. That brought up McLin with one out, and while we had *bats* available (in the broadest sense in Liu and Magallanes), we lacked more arms to take over from here. McLin had to bat, lined out to Tony Casillas at short, and Jon Ozier also struck out Tovias. That was really all that was to them in the last six or seven innings. The Knights put one Ramirez (Guadalupe) on base with a leadoff single in the bottom 14th, McLin's fifth inning and at least one too many, and the other Ramirez (Vinny) plated him with a 2-out single to walk them off. 7-6 Knights. Ramos 2-6, HR, 3 RBI; Spencer 2-6; Mora 2-5, 2 2B; Hollingsworth 2-6; Harenberg (PH) 1-1, 2B, 3 RBI; Kearney 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K; Boles 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K; McLin 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, L (2-2);

Welll. … Alllleast Shonny Wallllkersssssillll baddna- … baddna- .. bad' … na hunrid f-f-for me…!

(hcks)

Game 3
POR: LF Spencer – SS Rock – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – CF Magallanes – P Nomura
ATL: LF N. Hall – 3B V. Ramirez – CF M. Walker – C Luna – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Herlihy – RF G. Ramirez – SS R. Miller – P E. Delgado

While I hid behind a set of huge and entirely black sunglasses for the Sunday game, the knowledge that a bombed-out bullpen would provide comfort neither for Rin Nomura nor me was haunting me tremendously. If only we would burst out early…!

But an early winning bid was prevented by the Youth of Colombia that arrived at the plate with two outs and three on in the top 1st and the Coons ahead 2-0. Rock had singled, then scored on a Gomez blooper that Guadalupe Ramirez had somehow played into an RBI double. After Harenberg flew out, Estevan Delgado walked three Raccoons in a row, including Matt Nunley with the bases loaded, but damn Juan Magallanes couldn't hold still for ten seconds and grounded out to Rich Miller. Well, for consolation Nomura allowed only one hit the first time through the order (a Johnson single) and struck out four, so at least that part of the game plan (don't get knocked up early, or in the middle for what it was worth) worked out so far.

Portland fashioned a third run from Tim Stalker's leadoff double, Nunley grounding out, and Magallanes flying out to Guadalupe Ramirez in rightfield in the fourth inning and at least Rin Nomura was ON through five, so that there were multiple reasons, not least of those his 2-hitter with 7 K, to not bat for him when the Coons loaded the up with two outs for him in the top 6th. OF COURSE he was going to bat. Nate Hall caught his high, shallow fly with the least effort, but the Raccoons needed more outs, not necessarily more runs. So of course the entire game went pear-shaped in the bottom 6th. Nate Hall walked with one out, stole second, and scored on Ramirez' single, but it got well worse. Luna walked, Johnson singled, and there were three on with two outs for an actual batter now in Trent Herlihy. Also the knowledge that nobody was able to save Nomura right now. At least it was a lefty-lefty matchup because Boles and Kearney were both unavailable in this game. Herlihy dropped a 1-0 pitch near the leftfield line for a 2-run single, the lead was blown, and I inched my way back to the nearest beer stand to get a cheap fill. Nomura struck out Guadalupe Ramirez, his ninth K in the game, but it was too late. It was worthless.

Harenberg gave the Critters a new lead in the seventh. Following Spencer's single and a walk drawn by Gomez that pushed the go-ahead run to second base, Harenberg singled to right-center, deep enough to allow Jarod to scamper around and score, 4-3. Tovias then hammered a grounder into an inning-ending double play, but at least the defense somehow nursed Nomura through the bottom 7th in which Willie Lopez stole his way to second base after a pinch-hit single, but was then stranded. Nomura got groundouts from Walker and Luna to begin the bottom 8th, at which point he reached a) a right-handed bat that had murdered the Coons all weekend long, and b) 116 pitches. Surginer replaced him and got Johnson on a foul pop to get the Coons to the ninth. Trey Rock's 2-out double alone provided no insurance, and so it was on Snyder again. The tying run was on base immediately after a Herlihy single. PH Jose Gomez popped out to first base in a full count. Chun-yeong Kim pinch-hit next and grounded out to Harenberg but the tying run advanced to second for another pinch-hitter… Cory Briscoe. He was batting .063. It smelled like a walkoff homer in the making. Instead, Snyder walked him to bring up Nate Hall, which was NO relief and Hall hit the first pitch he got A TON. Upwards. All the infielders circled under it forever while Herlihy scored from second base and Briscoe reached third … with the ball still in the sky. Alberto Ramos, who had pinch-hit and grounded out in the top 9th, finally made the catch, annulling Herlihy's run and ending the game instead. 4-3 Critters. Rock 2-5, 2B; Stalker 1-2, 2 BB, 2B; Nomura 7.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, W (6-3);

In other news

May 25 – Just after the Scorpions made up a 5-run deficit to tie the Miners at ten in the top of the ninth inning, SAC MR Rich Hewitt (1-3, 6.07 ERA) maneuvers PIT 3B Ryan Czachor (.206, 8 HR, 24 RBI) to third base in the bottom of the ninth, then balks to walk off the Miners altogether.
May 26 – The Warriors score 14 runs in the sixth inning alone in an 18-2 drubbing of the Capitals. SFW CF/1B Pedro Cisneros (.255, 4 HR, 18 RBI) leads off and leads the way with four base hits and as many RBI.
May 30 – It takes 12 innings for the Bayhawks to walk off, 1-0, on the Loggers thanks to a 2-out RBI single by 3B/SS Tom Hawkins (.270, 2 HR, 18 RBI).

Complaints and stuff

This week the Druid loudly wondered in the clubhouse whether two weeks on the DL would be enough for Cookie Carmona, then walked away from the conversation with me. That was not the sort of info that helped a GM plan around inadvertent events. You know, like Saturday's game. At least we have Monday off.

Adam St. Germaine went unclaimed and was assigned to AAA on Sunday. There appears to be considerable prejudice against 29-year-olds batting .179 in this league.

When we swept the Thunder earlier this week it was our fourth sweep against a CL South team in six attempts this season. In that entire division, only the Aces (2 wins) and Bayhawks (1 win) had successfully offered any sort of resistance to us by then. Of course that was before the Knights bludgeoned us to death.

We have a new employee around, as we have finally found an interpreter that can actually understand Jing-quo Liu's very particular Taiwanese accent. By chance, Matt Nunley noticed Liu making a video call to his sister in Taiwan in sign language. Apparently she is profoundly deaf since birth, and this is where we got the good old Willamette Institute for the Limbless and the Blind involved. Sure enough they managed to hook us up with a recent graduate of theirs. He is of Taiwanese descent and goes by R.C., the shortened version of his birth name that apparently translates to "beautiful sunrise". Yeah, yeah, whatever. He's been deaf and mute since birth, but he can actually communicate with Liu! We can now finally learn what that huge windmilling motion is that he always makes when a pitcher has thrown ball three, and a thousand other things.

Although it is very inconvenient that he has to write down everything he translates.

So the entire team is taking lessons in sign language now.

I wonder whether it would be easier to just get a new backup catcher.

Fun Fact: 17 years ago today, on May 30, 2027, the Loggers' Todd Moultrie connected for six base hits in a 17-2 drubbing of the Aces.

The Loggers have the most 6-hit games of all ABL franchises, six precisely. Moultrie was the most recent Logger to connect that often though and this while his time in Milwaukee was but brief. They signed him to a 1-year deal the preceding winter when he was 32 years old, but traded him to the Rebels in June for Suketsune Ito and … Ronnie McKnight!

Now, Ronnie was still five years removed from his 2015 Rookie of the Year title at that point. He was traded THREE times in 2010, from the Warriors to the Rebels to the Loggers to the Cyclones, actually got two cups of coffee with them, and only was exchanged to Portland in December of 2014, then for Graham Wasserman.

And while Moultrie had a mixed career mostly in backup roles and was traded for other bits and pieces seven times in a 14-year career, he was already 32 when he connected for six base hits. By 32, Ronnie McKnight had already played his final ABL game in a backup role for the 2022 Crusaders, the third and final ABL team of his career.
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Raccoons (32-19) vs. Bayhawks (25-25) – June 1-3, 2027

And here came the team with the best offense in the league. The Bayhawks were scoring more than 4.6 runs per game, which at this point was indeed good enough for first place in a low-offense season in the CL, and they were also in the top four in not giving up any runs to the opposition. So, with their +31 run differential, what were they doing at .500? This was not a comfy question to ask, especially since they had already taken two of three games this year from the Critters.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (4-4, 3.55 ERA) vs. Ben Lipsky (0-5, 5.04 ERA)
Mark Roberts (4-2, 3.23 ERA) vs. Alex Vallejo (6-1, 2.21 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (1-4, 3.13 ERA) vs. Allen Reed (2-2, 4.97 ERA)

Looks like two right-handers, then a left-hander, but do they know who else they have? Signed late on May 5, the Bayhawks also ran out Jonathan Toner every fifth day now. Lo and behold, he was 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA.

Game 1
SFB: LF Hawthorne – 3B Hawkins – 1B Caraballo – RF C. Martinez – CF Ryder – C R. Anderson – SS O. Camacho – 2B Pick – P Lipsky
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Gutierrez

Rico Gutierrez began his day with two strikeouts against right-handed batters, but before we could get too euphoric for no good reason, Tomas Caraballo and Zachary Ryder hit singles around Cesar Martinez getting stung with a fastball, and Gutierrez balked in a run before Ryan Anderson could fly out to left. The Coons got Spencer and Gomez on base with 1-out singles in the bottom 1st, but then had Harenberg hit into a double play rather than rallying immediately… Their level of stupidity would reach new heights in the new month. Nunley hit into a household double play in the second inning, which was one thing, but Rafael Gomez drew a leadoff walk against Lipsky in the bottom 4th and was then doubled off when Harenberg lined out to Pat Pick. At that point, the gap was three runs, courtesy of Anderson's 2-run homer in the top of the fourth inning. And that was more or less the entire game, a real stinker, in which the Raccoons hit into a double play as soon as they could. Case in point – they didn't have another runner with fewer than two outs until Trey Rock's leadoff single in the bottom 8th. Stalker, batting for Gutierrez, IMMEDIATELY hit a ball right at Tom Hawkins to allow him to turn two. An absolutely shameful performance awarded consistent pushover Ben Lipsky his first win of the season … by forfeit. 3-0 Bayhawks. Spencer 2-4;

That was revolting.

Game 2
SFB: LF Hawthorne – 3B Hawkins – 1B Caraballo – RF C. Martinez – CF Ryder – C R. Anderson – SS Pulido – 2B Pick – P Vallejo
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Gutierrez

Mark Roberts was battered for a 3-spot in the second inning that happened in like no time. Ryan Anderson and Jose Pulido hit back-to-back doubles, and before I could do much in being upset about that maiden run in the game, Pat Pick went well deep to left. That was a quick threesome if I had ever seen one, but at least the Raccoons dug themselves out of the hole this time… while getting a headstart on Anderson's throwing error in the bottom 2nd that put Abel Mora on second base with nobody out. Tovias' fly to left and Nunley's single brought him in to score, and the Raccoons scratched further with a solo jack by Rafael Gomez (#11) in the bottom 3rd, then cobbled together singles in the fourth. Mora got on, stole second base, advanced on a grounder, then scored on another Nunley single. Rock singled, Roberts singled after failing to bunt for two strikes, and now the bags were full for Ramos with one out in a 3-3 tie. Although I was pretty sure, a double play was lurking SOMEWHERE here, Vallejo lost Ramos on balls to push in the go-ahead run, and Spencer hit an RBI single to make it 5-3. Gomez was the double play fool, Hawkins to Pick to Caraballo.

The next two innings saw little besides both second basemen being stranded at second base at some point, and Roberts made it through seven without further damage incurred, but on 106 pitches, so continuation was not much of a thought in a 5-3 score. The Critters didn't tack on in the bottom 7th, either, with Harenberg hitting into another double play. At least the other Kevin did a good job; Surginer sat down the Baybirds in order in the eighth, whiffing both Omar Camacho and George Hawthorne in getting rid of the 9-1-2 batters. But Alex Ramos was just as been to the opposition in the bottom 8th, which still led us to Jonathan Snyder against the meat of the order. Tomas Caraballo homered as if on command, cutting the lead to next-to-nothing, and then Harenberg fumbled an overly simple grounder by Martinez to put the tying run on base with nobody down. While Zachary Ryder and Jaiden Jackson made outs, Jose Pulido then singled to left, bringing up Pick again, who ran a full count before grounding sharply to first base. This time, Harenberg was on his post and handled the grounder for the final out, and not one attempt too soon… 5-4 Critters. Spencer 2-4, RBI; Gomez 2-4, HR, RBI; Nunley 2-4, 2 RBI; Rock 2-3; Roberts 7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, W (5-2) and 1-3;

It has been almost a month since Kevin Harenberg homered. His last long ball came on May 9 against the Scorpions.

Oh, and here comes Jonny.

Game 3
SFB: LF Hawthorne – 3B Hawkins – 1B Caraballo – RF C. Martinez – C Jai. Jackson – SS O. Camacho – CF Rendon – 2B Pick – P Toner
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Bullock – CF Magallanes – P Delgadillo

Four years removed from being a Critter as well as seven years on from his fourth Pitcher of the Year, Jonny Toner still got sufficient roars from the home crowd to make Dan Delgadillo mighty jealous. Well, maybe if he pitched more like a winner, the people would like him too! He didn't though, loading the bases with no outs in the top 2nd on a walk to Jaiden Jackson sandwiched between Martinez and Camacho singles. A run scored on Edwin Rendon's sac fly to center before Pick hit into a double play, but there were the Baybirds again, leading. Not for long, though. The Raccoons loaded them up in the bottom 2nd, but didn't score, although when they had the bags full, they also had two outs and Delgadillo came up and was whiffed, so that one was almost inevitable. The following inning, however, saw Ramos draw a leadoff walk. Spencer and Gomez were not overly helpful and he was still on first base with two down, but Harenberg shot a ball into the leftfield corner for a double and George Hawthorne took long enough to allow Ramos to score. Tovias then walked, Jonny Toner threw a wild one, then walked Nunley. Well, it brought up all .185 of Daniel Bullock, so my enthusiasm was not exactly fervent, at least until Bullock's fly to center eluded Rendon and made it all the way to the wall. Harenberg in, Tovias in, even Nunley in from first base on a bases-clearing triple! Holy co- and before I could even exclaim that, Cristiano Carmona burst through the door into my office, gleamed all over and asked "Did you see that, Mr. Westfield?? Did you SEE that??" before wheelieing back out again. Yeah, well, that was a damn dandy hit.

It was also the final hit off Toner, who was pinch-hit for after three rough innings (4 hits, 5 walks, 4 runs) just after Delgadillo, the second erratic pitcher in the pairing, had loaded the bags in the top 4th and had conceded two runs on a 2-out single by Pat Pick. Andy Howell grounded out to Nunley to end the inning with Rendon and Pick still on base. This also had not been Daniel Bullock's final base hit of the contest – he hit a 2-out RBI single in the bottom 4th against Scott McLaughlin, who had begun the inning by conceding a single to Ramos, who had swept second and scored on Spencer's single, and the Coons kept poking him over and over. Nunley hit an RBI single, Magallanes reached on a 2-out infield single, and thus we cleared the pitcher's spot once more in a 7-3 game. Soon enough it was 7-4 as Delgadillo kept bleeding just as well. Cesar Martinez doubled home Hawthorne (leadoff walk) in the top 5th. Omar Camacho's leadoff single in the sixth knocked him out of the game after a terrible performance. Billy Brotman added a runner, Daniel Bullock added a runner with an error, and somehow Dan McLin struck out Hawkins to strand a full set in the sixth…

Nunley's double, Bullock getting nailed, and Magallanes working the walk against Ying-hua Ou loaded the bags with one out in the bottom 6th. The Raccoons got one run on Abel Mora's pinch-hit groundout, but Ramos' grounder was cut off by Camacho for the third out. And everything LOOKED fine in an 8-4 game, but then we made a double switch in the eighth inning that turned out nearly fatal. Ricky Ohl and Jing-quo Liu came on to replace Kearney and Tovias, and those two absolutely weren't getting along. Not in sign language and not whenever a bowl of food was standing around somewhere. Ohl walked Pick, the annoying thug, threw a wild pitch, surrendered the run on a Ryan Anderson triple, and that runner scored on a passed ball. They were not even on the same page in the Coons battery, they weren't even in the same library! A new pitcher fixed it all in the ninth. Since lefties were up and Snyder had pitched a while on Wednesday and Boles had yet to see action in the series, it was Josh Boles in the ninth … and he retired the Bayhawks in order. 8-6 Furballs! Spencer 2-5, RBI; Harenberg 4-5, 2B, RBI; Nunley 3-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Bullock 2-4, 3B, 4 RBI; Magallanes 1-2, 3 BB;

Of course signing is hard with one paw in the glove at all times. And the other in the cookie jar.

Raccoons (34-20) vs. Canadiens (25-27) – June 4-6, 2027

And here was the #2 team in runs scored in the CL, which we had already noticed this year when they had swept us during opening week. Although that had also been a factor of the Coons hitting absolutely nothing in Elk Country back then. They were also fifth in runs allowed, and they held a 4-2 edge in the season series they had to lose pronto!

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (5-2, 2.89 ERA) vs. Antonio Muniz (5-2, 3.48 ERA)
Rin Nomura (6-3, 3.50 ERA) vs. Andrew Gudeman (3-7, 3.61 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-5, 3.53 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (5-3, 2.70 ERA)

Left-right-right. They had been off on Thursday, and I had a hunch they were skipping Jonathan Shook (4-3, 3.56 ERA), who would have his regular turn on Saturday.

Game 1
VAN: CF Day – SS Crosby – RF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 3B Calfee – 1B Myles – 2B Gura – P A. Muniz
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Hollingsworth – 2B Rock – 3B Bullock – C Liu – P Anderson

The Coons came close to starting their fourth game of the week in the trailing position when Alex Torres led off the second inning with a single to right, stole second, and moved to third base on Ricky Ortνz' groundout. John Calfee cracked a liner, but right at Trey Rock for the second out, and Adan Myles made the third out and stranded the runner. The Raccoons had to wait to the bottom 3rd for a semi-decent chance, a 1-out walk issued to Jing-quo Liu by "Furball"(??) Muniz. Anderson bunted, Muniz was greedy and tried to get the lead runner, got nobody, then loaded them up when Ramos hit a clean single between Calfee and Adrian Crosby. And then Jarod Spencer annoyingly clubbed the ball right into Crosby's fangs for a 6-4-3.

Yup, that was basically the only scoring opportunity the Critters allowed themselves on Kyle Anderson's watch. The captain gave his all, pitched a sparkling seven innings with nine strikeouts, including whiffing the 2-3-4 batters in the sixth inning, somehow managed even to escape a 2-out wild pitch to Muniz that moved Myles and former pinch-hitter Chris Mendoza into scoring position, and still didn't get close to a win until after he got a pat on the bum after 103 pitches. Gomez led off the bottom 7th with a sizzler past Crosby's glove for a single, then made it to third base on Harenberg's single up the middle. Runners on the corners, no outs. Okay, folks, this is crucial here! How about – ARGH, NO, BAD HOLLINGSWORTH! (rolls up a magazine and hits centerfielder on the black pointy nose) Don't you pop out on the first pitch!! Actually, that pop was to rightfield, Tony Coca misjudged it, had to go two steps back at the last second, and that ruined the play for the Elks because Rafael Gomez knew a damsel in distress when he saw one and scurried for home. Coca having to rearrange himself allowed Gomez a few free steps towards home, and those made the difference as he scored the game's first run. Rock walked, Bullock hit into a double play, and I felt very tired. Kearney put a man on in the eighth, Ohl put a man on in the eighth, and just before the Elks could break through, Ramos made a nifty play on Torres' sharp grounder and managed to somehow turn it for a double play to end the frame. The Coons put runners (Ramos, Spencer) on the corners in the bottom 8th, but with two outs, and with Rafael Gomez popping out harmlessly, so it was on Snyder again and he had to improve on Wednesday. He did! Barely. After a K to Ortνz, John Calfee doubled with one out, moved up on Adan Myles' groundout, and then watched with a sad complexion while Chris Brill struck out. 1-0 Blighters. Ramos 2-4; Spencer 2-4; Anderson 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, W (6-2);

Six singles. But I have decided that any which way you win against the stinkin' Elks, the W is all that counts.

I could use my … (rummages through papers on the desk) Maud, where are the drops for my heart!? … (fishes bottle of booze from the lowest drawer) Never mind, Maud, I found them!

Game 2
VAN: CF Day – SS Crosby – RF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 3B Calfee – 1B Myles – 2B Gura – P Shook
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Nomura

Rin Nomura walked three in the opening inning, and somehow the Elks didn't bludgeon him outright, whiffing twice and finally sent Calfee to fly out to Gomez. Oh well, at least the Coons made Jonathan Shook wish he would have actually been skipped, with Spencer's walk, Gomez' triple, and Abel Mora's homer in the bottom of the first inning meaning a quick 3-0 edge for Nomura to blow, slow or fast, just as he desired. Vancouver had no base hits the first time through the order, but Norman Day led off the third inning with a looong double over the head of Abel Mora in center. No run resulted from that action though, with Day being caught trying to nip third base during Coca's at-bat. Instead, John Calfee hit a solo homer in the fourth inning before the Elks made another out at third base in the following frame. Despicable Ted Gura opened the top 5th with a double to left-center, then got nailed out by Nomura on Shook's poor bunt and the inning concluded with the Coons up 3-1, but things sure were dicey…

But the Elks continued to hoof themselves in the gut almost every inning, which sure was a delight. Nomura walked Coca to begin the sixth inning, Coca stole second, then tried for home plate on Ricky Ortνz' single to center. Abel Mora told him otherwise, and after two outs at third base the Elks also made one at home plate on a perfect throw. They oughta have been up by now, but somehow, the Coons endured despite sitting on three base hits through five innings. Shook walked Harenberg and Mora with one out in the bottom 6th, which meant they needed only two more walks / balks / wild pitches to get a man across. Nunley flew out to right, and Tovias also hit a ball to right, albeit deep, deeper, GONE, a 3-piece to extend the lead to 6-1! It didn't stay that way for long, with the Elks getting another leadoff double in the seventh, this one by Adan Myles, and this runner actually got around when with runners on the corners Trey Rock couldn't play Norman Day's 1-out grounder fast enough to turn two. Nomura got through seven, though, and the Coons still led by a slam. Tim Stalker procured an extra run with a pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom 8th, then off former Coons farmhand John Waker, which the Elks pulled back in the ninth with three singles off Surginer and Brotman, but the win stood firmly. 7-3 Furballs. Gomez 2-4, 3B, RBI; Mora 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Stalker (PH) 1-1, RBI; Nomura 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, W (7-3) and 1-2;

Game 3
VAN: CF Day – SS Crosby – RF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 3B Calfee – 1B Myles – 2B Gura – P Cervantes
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Gutierrez

While the Coons got unearned runners in scoring position in the bottom 1st following a Rafael Gomez single and Harenberg reaching on a mildly catastrophic throwing error by Ted Gura, Abel Mora couldn't get the ball past John Calfee and stranded the runners, and Rico Gutierrez retired the first 11 batters he faced before he got taken deep to left by Tony Coca, putting the Elks up 1-0. The Raccoons' immediate response was to have Harenberg lean into a pitch to get a man on with nobody out in the bottom 4th. Mora singled, and Nunley ruined it with a double play grounder before Tovias struck out. Harenberg and Mora were on again in the bottom 6th, this time with two outs, and this time Nunley struck out. Oh dear baseball gods, the offense…

Rico held up for eight innings but still allowed another run on a Ricky Ortνz jack leading off the seventh inning. Apart from that, the Elks could hardly faze him, except with the odd long ball. The Raccoons still hadn't done the faintest bit of rallying, although Cervantes was pinch-hit for in the top 8th and they could now face righty J.R. Hreha with the top of the order, whatever sort of consolation that would offer. Absolutely nothing. Ramos flew out to right, Spencer and Gomez both popped out, and this game was another total write-off. The ninth saw ginger fly outs to Torres by both Harenberg and Mora, facing Sean Carlsen, a no-nonsense right-hander, before Matt Nunley surprisingly for everybody involved rammed a home run to centerfield. Yet, the Coons were still trailing by a run. Tovias singled to shallow right-center. Oh great, now they were teasing me. Trey Rock grounded out. 2-1 Canadiens. Tovias 2-4; Gutierrez 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, L (4-6);

In other news

June 1 – The Canadiens have to rule out OF Brian Wojnarowski (.302, 4 HR, 23 RBI) for the entire month after the 25-year-old sprains a thumb.
June 1 – Despite being out-hit 17-7, the Gold Sox squeeze out a 13-inning, 2-1 win against the Blue Sox. Blue Sox batters strand 15 runners on base and knock it into four double plays.
June 2 – The Titans' only hit in a 4-1 loss to the Aces is a home run by 3B/2B Rhett West (.192, 4 HR, 17 RBI) against Luis Flores (8-0, 1.37 ERA).
June 5 – LAP SP Shane Baker (3-4, 4.99 ERA) will miss time until the All Star Game with a torn groin muscle.

Complaints and stuff

Offense remains low throughout the league. I mean we are hardly scoring 4.2 runs per game and that is good enough for fourth in the CL. The league ERA is 3.71 (but in the FL has gone up to 4.15), which is the lowest mark since 1988. Last year the league ERA's were 3.80 (CL) and 3.96 (FL).

Next week we will have four with the Loggers, and then will try to avoid revenge exacted on us by the Pacifics for the 2026 World Series. You know, the one we won.

Hear, hear, Cristiano Carmona's weekly presentation on why Daniel Bullock, the best Brazilian shortstop in baseball they say, is the most important player on the team has a new slide 2. What a bases-clearing triple in a rubber game can do. Also a new slide 17, although I am not quite sure what he wanted to show me with that photo of Bullock dripping in the shower. Maybe the new tattoo on his back of two rather cute snakes eating their own tails, which are also interlocked like a pair of rings?

I don't generally know what Cristiano does around here after all, but I sure enough believe him. Bullock stays for another month!

Fun Fact: Last year's 3.96 ERA was the Federal League's second-lowest in 31 years.

31 years (from then on back; 34 years total from now) is coincidentally also the length of time it has been since the Continental League had a higher ERA than the Federal League. 1994 saw the FL at 3.85, the CL at 3.92. In all the decades in between, there was one tie (2025), and apart from that the FL has always been the more-offense-sooner league.
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Old 11-27-2018, 06:37 PM   #2671
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2027 DRAFT POOL ANALYSIS

Slowly but surely the annual amateur draft was coming upon us and the Raccoons were compiling scouting reports once again. We would have the 22nd pick in every round of the 2027 draft, plus a supplemental round pick as compensation for the loss of Matt Jamieson that was currently sitting at #37 in the draft order.

And as usual the countless bucks we paid to our scouts ended up yielding different rankings than however BNN was developing their own shopping lists:

The annual hotlist (*denotes HS player):

SP Matt Peterson (13/14/8)* - BNN #4
SP Roland Warner (12/14/11)
SP Brian Bowsman (11/15/14) – BNN #8
SP Jim Tierney (12/11/12)*
SP Jon Bleich (12/13/12)

CL Chris Ritz (16/15/10)

C Nate Evans (13/11/12) – BNN #1

3B Chance Bossert (15/5/15)*
1B Eric Clarke (10/12/12)

LF/RF Kyle Weinstein (9/13/16) – BNN #10
LF/RF Jared Kitzman (10/12/12)* - BNN #6
LF/RF Ron Miller jr. (8/11/12) – BNN #5

We appear to have found another scout that basically hates people and young baseballing men especially, because those ratings look so low again. No way Ron Miller jr. should be rated an 8 in contact when he is completely destroying all sorts of top-notch college pitching.

In the end, the exercise of composing the hotlist is mute though; the Raccoons pick only at #22 and can't be very picky. The shortlist consists of 94 players and guarantees us a few picks to be made from it at least.

But I very much prefer winning the championship to the #1 pick to be honest…
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Old 11-28-2018, 06:32 PM   #2672
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Raccoons (36-21) vs. Loggers (21-35) – June 7-10, 2027

The good ol' Loggers were struggling to put it mildly. They had a miserable .235 team batting average, worst in the CL, ranked second from the bottom in runs scored and also in runs allowed, and were crummy from top to bottom. They had no power, they had no speed, they had hardly any defense at all. Between 22 standard offensive and defensive stats, they ranked in the top half amongst CL teams only in two; their batters drew the sixth-most walks, and their pitchers got the third-most strikeouts. On top of all the raw numbers, they had also lost nine of their last ten games. What a miserable bunch. The Coons were up 3-1 against them in '27.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (5-2, 3.30 ERA) vs. Jorge Villalobos (2-6, 4.11 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (2-4, 3.47 ERA) vs. TBD
Kyle Anderson (6-2, 2.61 ERA) vs. Ian Prevost (4-5, 3.52 ERA)
Rin Nomura (7-3, 3.41 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (3-4, 4.88 ERA)

Three right-handed pitchers on offer here, and nobody knew yet what they might unfurl on Tuesday. They had gotten rid of their fifth starter a while ago, had been off the previous Thursday, and before that MR Joe West (1-2, 5.70 ERA) had made a spot start, but he had also pitched twice on the weekend.

Game 1
MIL: SS Ferrer – 3B Parten – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – CF Coleman – RF Stone – 2B M. Green – 1B Aquino – P Villalobos
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Roberts

By habit, the Coons trailed early on with a Jim Young home run off Mark Roberts in the first inning, but put Ramos and Gomez on base with a pair of singles in the bottom of the first. Alas, Kevin Harenberg remained not very useful in this stretch of the season and grounded right into a double play. Offense was scarce after that with little action beyond a 2-out triple by Willie Trevino, who was left stranded when Ian Coleman flew out, and a 2-out double by Harenberg, both in the fourth inning, and of course Abel Mora didn't get Harenberg across, either. Roberts was mostly untouchable until the sixth when he walked Manny Ferrer and allowed a single to Jason Parten to follow up, but the Loggers were just as unclutch as the Critters and Jim Young and Trevino were retired on pops to end the inning. In turn, the Coons finally made up their deficit in the bottom 6th despite Roberts whiffing to lead off and Ramos' single leading into Spencer hitting into a fielder's choice at second base. Jarod stole second base though and streaked home from there when Rafael Gomez' grounder eluded the reach of Ferrer for a single into centerfield, knotting the score at one.

The Loggers put Jason Stone and Mike Green on base against Roberts in the seventh, but the 2025 Pitcher of the Year struck out Wilson Aquino and Villalobos to exit the inning. The Loggers probably figured they could get more value by keeping their starting pitcher in the game, and Villalobos had arguably been rock solid so far and continued to hold the Coons short in the bottom 7th. Ricky Ohl struck out two pinch-hitters (Alexis Rueda and Victor Ayala) in the top of the eighth, with Young popping out to Trey Rock against Billy Brotman after that, as the Coons tried to still squeeze out a win against the Loggers. Rock hit a leadoff single to right in the bottom 8th, and the Critters desired Brotman to bunt him to second base, a task in which he failed miserably. Rock was out, and now the Coons had a reliever on first. This was remedied by having Daniel Bullock run for Brotman, and the Brazilian Beast quickly swiped second base, advanced on Ramos' groundout, then scored on Jarod Spencer's single up the middle to give Portland the lead! There was drama in the ninth, though; Snyder retired Trevino and Coleman to begin the inning before walking Jason Stone. Green hit a bloop single, putting runners on the corners, and the count on Aquino ran full before the first baseman popped out over the infield. 2-1 Coons. Ramos 2-4; Gomez 2-4, RBI; Rock 2-3; Roberts 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K;

If I could wish upon a star, I would probably go for offense at this point…

Meanwhile the Loggers would go on with Joe West (1-2, 5.70 ERA) on Tuesday. He was another right-hander and was continuing in the swingman role that he had also been employed in during his rookie season last year when he had made 18 starts and 12 relief appearances for a 4-10 record and 4.75 ERA.

Game 2
MIL: SS Ferrer – CF Coleman – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – RF Stone – 2B M. Green – 3B A. Velez – 1B Aquino – P J. West
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – C Liu – P Delgadillo

As Dan Delgadillo continued to pitch like liquid arse, the Loggers put two on the board before they ever made an out in the Tuesday contest. Ferrer walked, Coleman singled, Ferrer went for third base on the play, Rafael Gomez' throw was decidedly nowhere near Matt Nunley, and Ferrer scored outright, but would have anyway on Jim Young's gapper for an RBI double. The inning fizzled out for the Loggers after that, but what a hole to dig out of for these lame-winged Coons …! To make the point, the Raccoons had three base runners in the first five innings, and two of those were washed up in double plays Matt Nunley hit into. Don't mind if we do, thought the Loggers then; Jim Young hit a 2-run homer off Delgadillo in the sixth, which oughta have been enough to go to sleep afterwards. The Raccoons were nowhere at all. When Joe West, who was silently brilliant against a completely rancid lineup, walked both Gomez and Harenberg in the bottom 7th, Mora flew out to Coleman in center, and Nunley popped out to short. Bottom 9th, still down 4-0, the Loggers sent ex-Coon Joe Moore to investigate and finish what Joe West had started with eight innings of 3-hit ball. Alberto Ramos ripped a triple to begin the inning, which was literally all the rally the Critters would do. Spencer plated the run with a sac fly, and then Gomez whiffed and Harenberg bounced out harmlessly to Aquino. 4-1 Loggers.

Stats from a perverse game: Raccoons pitchers logged 13 strikeouts of the Loggers, including hanging golden sombreros on Mike Green AND Wilson Aquino, themselves struck out ONCE in eight innings against a sophomore swingman, and still couldn't topple a glass of water.

This was the fifth game this month in which the Coons scored two runs or fewer (mostly fewer). In fact, in half of their games in June they amounted to ONE run or less. For the month they were scoring 3.1 runs per game.

I should concentrate energy to yell at them like they should be yelled at.

Game 3
MIL: SS Ferrer – CF Coleman – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – RF Stone – 2B M. Green – 3B A. Velez – 1B Aquino – P Prevost
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 3B Rock – CF Magallanes – 2B Stalker – P Anderson

Another game that was over by the second inning. Stone walked, Green singled, Velez found the gap for a double, and the Loggers plated a pair in the inning, then a third run in the top of the third which Ferrer began with a sharp single to left before scoring on Ian Coleman's double to right-center. To be fair, the Coons made up two runs in the bottom 3rd. Tim Stalker drew a leadoff walk against Prevost, was bunted to second base without any serious accident, then scored on Ramos' double to left. Alas, the second run to score, Ramos', was only due to Prevost balking him to third base, from where Spencer plated him with a grounder to short. Gomez flew out harmlessly after that to end the inning. Bottom 4th, Harenberg and Tovias made soft outs before Trey Rock singled to right-center, then stole second base. Magallanes hit a single to center, Rock effortlessly scored from second, and now it was a tied game, THREE runs for the Raccoons in ONE game!! Everybody was stunned. What's more, Tim Stalker added a single to the total, but that brought up the pitcher, not that Kyle Anderson was going to let down his comrades, chucked another single to shallow center, and that one chased home Magallanes as the Coons took a 4-3 lead! Ramos then grounded out to Mike Green.

Anderson held up with the lead, although the Loggers put a man on with a single in both the fifth and sixth innings against him. The sixth saw Aquino legging out a 1-out infield single, but when 26-year-old rookie Corey Dresch batted for Prevost he knocked the ball straight to Stalker for an inning-ending double play. In between, the Coons had wrapped up an extra run with Tovias singling home Spencer with two down, 5-3. Anderson was hit for in the bottom 6th, but Steve Hollingsworth flew out to Stone in his spot, and Josh Boles took over in the seventh, ringing up the 1-2-3 batters in order. The home team added another run in the same inning, and it was Tovias with his second consecutive 2-out RBI single, this time brining in Harenberg, who had singled and advanced on a wild pitch charged to right-hander David Warn. Dan McLin did away with the Loggers in the eighth, after which Jonathan Snyder didn't really do away with them in the ninth. Alberto Velez singled, Wilson Aquino homered, and suddenly it was a 1-run ballgame with nobody out in the ninth inning. Starting with Rueda, however, the Loggers made three straight easy outs to concede defeat after all… 6-5 Coons. Spencer 2-5, 2B, RBI; Tovias 2-4, 2 RBI; Rock 3-4; Mora (PH) 1-1, 2B;

Game 4
MIL: SS Ferrer – 3B Parten – LF W. Trevino – CF Coleman – RF Stone – 2B M. Green – C V. Ayala – 1B Aquino – P Rogers
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – LF Hollingsworth – P Nomura

Lo and behold, by Thursday the Raccoons actually had a game where they scored FIRST. While Manny Ferrer opened the game with a single to center, Nomura then whiffed three in a row, and the bottom of the first saw Spencer reach on Ferrer's error before scoring on Rafael Gomez' single to center and Ian Coleman's throwing error on that play, reminiscent of how the scoring started on Tuesday, just with teams reversed. While Aquino contained Harenberg's hard grounder for the second out, there was no containing to be done on Abel Mora's drive to right-center, which was well outta here and spotted Nomura to a 3-0 lead.

But we all know Rin Nomura, who despised pitching with a large lead. It had to be narrowed down, necessarily by force! Green singled, Ayala doubled in the second inning, which put them in scoring position with one out. When Nunley contained Aquino's grounder for the second out and nobody scored, Nomura fired a wild pitch with two outs to Rogers, and that sure enough got a run home for the Loggers before Rogers popped out over home plate. Nomura would remain fuzzy throughout his outing and ended up with 94 pitches through five innings despite not allowing another run or even much of a situation as dicey as the one in the second inning. The Coons added one run to the tally in the bottom 4th, Ramos singling in a terribly struggling Nunley, who had somehow fallen into a walk to begin the inning. Nomura completed the sixth inning despite hitting Green with an 0-2 pitch to begin it, getting Ayala to ground out before ringing up Aquino and Rogers.

The game dallied on into the ninth inning with a 4-1 score and there was Snyder again, looking for a bit more rhythm perhaps and less panic, but we sure weren't getting any of that. Aquino led off with a single, Ferrer hit a 1-out single, and while Rueda then grounded to Spencer, the Coons only got the out at second base and runners remained on the corners with two outs for Willie Trevino the wreak havoc. Although it was actually Tovias who wreaked havoc when he tried – for reasons best known to only him – to pick Rueda off first base on the first pitch to Trevino. Harenberg couldn't reach the errant throw, and Aquino scored on the error. Rueda moved to second, from where he scored on Trevino's sharp single on the next pitch. The Coons hit the brakes at this point. Josh Boles was sent to end this thing right here and now against the left-handed Coleman, whom he walked, and then conceded the win with an RBI single up the middle hit by Jason Stone. Only Velez struck out, with sufficient damage having been done to bring the Coons back to the plate in the bottom 9th and inviting everybody to hang around for another 17 innings. Tim Stalker led off the bottom 9th in the #9 hole in which both Snyder and Boles had just ****ed up in gargantuan fashion, and doubled to left against lefty Ben Jacobson. That was the winning run in scoring position with nobody out. Which team would **** up colossally now? Turned out, the Loggers. They walked Ramos intentionally, but the runners were sent on the first pitch to Spencer to cause chaos (despite Coons being 0/2 in stealing off Ayala in this game). Chaos they caused – Ayala's throw to third base was wild, Rueda couldn't dig it out anywhere, and Stalker scored to walk off the team after all. 5-4 Blighters. Ramos 3-4, BB, RBI; Gomez 2-4, 2B; Mora 3-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Nunley 0-1, 3 BB; Stalker (PH) 1-1, 2B; Nomura 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K;

Our closer is now the reliever with the worst ERA on the staff. And it's not a small margin. Snyder's ERA blossomed to 3.71 with two ****ty days at the office, while no other reliever on the staff even has an ERA north of *two*. The next closest suckers are Surginer, Brotman, and McLin, all with 1.93 ERA's.

Raccoons (39-22) vs. Pacifics (37-24) – June 11-13, 2027

Were we in much of a condition to tackle the Pacifics? They were out for revenge to begin with thanks to a neat little series nine months ago, but it was not all crisp and tidy with them either. While they were 13 games over .500 as they came in, their run differential was actually just +25 and they were sixth in runs scored as well as runs allowed in the Federal League. But mind the league difference – while the Coons currently somehow were fourth in runs scored in the Continental League, the Pacifics had still outscored them by 31 counters. The Critters had not only won the World Series from the Pacifics last year, but the teams had also met in the regular season, a matchup also won by the Critters back then, two games to one.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (4-6, 3.40 ERA) vs. Gavin Lee (7-1, 3.38 ERA)
Mark Roberts (5-2, 3.12 ERA) vs. Bryan Hanson (3-4, 4.56 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (2-5, 3.64 ERA) vs. Dave Christiansen (6-2, 1.45 ERA)

After a right-hander in Lee, the Critters would probably get two southpaws, but we didn't know in which order. Both Hanson and Christiansen had pitched on Tuesday in a double header the Pacifics split with the Gold Sox.

The Raccoons made a roster move leading into this series as they activated Cookie Carmona from the DL and sent Juan Magallanes back to St. Petersburg.

Game 1
LAP: 1B Cambra – 3B Hansen – CF Fowler – LF McEwen – C Allomes – 2B Rolland – RF Vanatti – SS Avent – P G. Lee
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Rock – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – RF Carmona – LF Hollingsworth – P Gutierrez

After two slow innings, the third began with a Ramos error that put Dan Avent on base before Gavin Lee fooled the Coons by swinging away at the first pitch and ripped a single to right-center, sending Avent to third base. Runners on the corners and nobody out, things looked bleak for Rico, who then rebounded by handling Firmino Cambra's grounder for a force at second base, struck out John Hansen, and had Abel Mora handle a standard fly by Justin Fowler; Avent was stranded at third base. The Coons had only a Hollingsworth single to show for in the first run through their lineup, but scrabbled something together in the fourth, with kind support by the Pacifics, admittedly. Abel Mora hit a 1-out single in the bottom 4th and advanced on Harenberg's groundout, after which Tovias grounded to rightfield for a single. Mora was sent, Joe Vanatti tried for the play at home, but misfired badly and was charged an error, probably not so much for Mora scoring, but Tovias going to second base. From there he went to third base on John Hansen's error that allowed Nunley to reach, and Cookie crackced an RBI single just off the DL. Hollingsworth grounded out to end the inning. Vanatti would take his frustration out on Rico right in the fifth inning, slapping a leadoff jack to get the Pacifics back to 2-1, and also rapped a leadoff double in the seventh inning that escaped between Hollingsworth and Mora. Two groundouts brought in the run, and the teams were tied at two again. The Raccoons indeed could not find another run anywhere in their ruffled fur, and Rico Gutierrez was left without a win once more. He got one out from Fowler in the eighth, but then allowed a single to Chris McEwen on his 111th pitch and that was enough. Kearney got him out of the inning, and then Ramos led off the bottom 8th with a triple into the rightfield corner. Now Gavin Lee was shivering – and then he stranded Ramos. Yes, actually, the ****ing Raccoons managed to **** up their runner on third with nobody out. Rock popped out, Mora grounded out to first, and Harenberg grounded out to second. On top of that, Ricky Ohl blew the game for good in the ninth inning. Mike Rucker, batting a crisp .163, pinch-hit and turned an 0-2 pitch into a homer to right, and Ohl bled another three base hits and a second run in the inning. The ****ty Raccoons lost this ****ty game, ****tily. 4-2 Pacifics. Ramos 2-4, 3B; Carmona 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Gutierrez 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K;

Game 2
LAP: 1B Cambra – 3B Hansen – CF Fowler – LF McEwen – 2B Rolland – RF Vanatti – C Spears – SS Jam. Wilson – P Christiansen
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Rock – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Roberts

To anybody's surprise, the Raccoons scored a pair in the second inning, which Gomez began with a narrowly squeezed out walk. Rock and Nunley chipped in singles up the middle, scoring Gomez in the process, and Liu walked to fill them up for Roberts, who hit a sac fly to left. Ramos grounded out to strand two more runners. Meanwhile Mark Roberts was also a contributor on the mound, whiffing five in a perfect first run through the Pacifics' lineup. Bottom 4th, the Coons encroached on Christiansen and his well-under-two ERA some more. Harenberg and Rock hit singles to begin the inning, then moved to scoring position when Nunley grounded out to Jaylen Rolland. The Pacifics decided to walk the fearsome .143 slugger Liu intentionally, pulling up Roberts with three on and one down again. This time, Christiansen eviscerated him with his best breaking stuff before Ramos grounded to right and Rolland kept the Coons from scoring with a sparkling play.

McEwen became the first Pacific on base with a single up the middle leading off the fifth and all of a sudden Roberts' spell of retiring 12 straight to begin the game was broken. The stuff was gone, the counts got long, and the fly balls did, too. Vanatti hit a sharp single, and Errol Spears and Jamie Wilson almost hit extra-base knocks, but were juuust denied by Spencer and Mora, respectively. By contrast, Christiansen was sunk by his own defense in the bottom 5th, which would have been a 1-2-3 affair except that the "3" coughed on Rolland's errant throw when Gomez grounded to him. Rafael got second base out of the deal, then scored on Harenberg's double in the gap in right-center. Rock singled, Nunley hit an RBI single. Liu hit an RBI single past the reach of Jamie Wilson! Roberts struck out, but it was now a 5-0 game, but – eek – why the heck was Roberts on 81 pitches already? Resilient antique road show display Mike Rucker batted for the defeated Christiansen in the sixth, but grounded out, and the Critters scratched out a run on Bryce Sudar in the sixth, Ramos being plated by Mora, and two more in the seventh when Sudar just couldn't get the third out. Cookie with a pinch-hit RBI single, Ramos with a walk, and Spencer with an RBI single all reached base with two down to extend the score to 8-0. It was even worse in the bottom 8th for left-hander Chris Cooper. With two outs and no Furball on base, he walked Bullock, Stalker (both PH'ing), Liu… AND Cookie… AND Ramos! Then Tovias batted for Billy Brotman and hit a 2-run single. The Pacifics finally took him out after 44 pitches and six straight 2-out runners. Pete Molina struck out Hollingsworth to end the inning after all. 12-0 Furballs. Tovias (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI; Harenberg 2-5, 2B, RBI; Rock 4-4, 2B, RBI; Nunley 2-4, RBI; Liu 1-2, 3 BB, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1, BB, 2 RBI; Roberts 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K, W (6-2) and 0-2, RBI;

So, can we please play against more aces rather than dunces, and can we also move some of those runs into the Friday game we so stinkingly lost? No?

Arf.

Game 3
LAP: 1B Cambra – RF Vanatti – CF Fowler – LF McEwen – C Allomes – 2B Jam. Wilson – 3B Hansen – SS Avent – P Hanson
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Rock – 3B Bullock – P Delgadillo

After another rather inoffensive beginning to this rubber game, the Critters got on base bit by bit in the bottom of the third inning. Trey Rock knocked a double, Bullock walked in a full count, and when Delgadillo bunted, the ball rolled into the perfect spot far away from everybody near the third base line and the Pacifics had no play at all, three on and nobody out for the top of the order! How could this not end in heartbreak? Well, the Coons DID hit into a double play in the inning, but that was Gomez, far away in the lineup, after four runs had scored on Ramos' single, Spencer's groundout, and Mora's single. You want more miracles? Kevin Harenberg found the ****ing fence!! KEVIIIN blasted a leadoff jack in the bottom 5th, upping the tally to 5-0, his first homer in more than a month …!

The Raccoons murdered Hanson in the inning when Bullock and Delgadillo ticked him for 2-out singles, then both scored on Ramos' triple that became wedged underneath the padding in the rightfield corner. Since Vanatti never called for a stoppage and instead pulled it out of the nook the ball got crammed into, Ramos had a 2-run triple rather than a 1-run ground rule double, but then again the end result for Hanson would probably have been the same. The Coons continued their sudden romping with a 2-run homer by Tovias in the bottom 5th, then another run in the seventh.

So that is a 10-0 game, time to go home, right? Oh you silly boy, you got a lot to learn! Delgadillo pitched silently but efficiently through seven, but was lifted when Mike Rucker hit another pinch-hit jack off him in the top 8th. Oh well, still decent enough an outing. Billy Brotman replaced him, allowed a single to Cambra and an RBI double to Vanatti before yielding for McLin, who surrendered a Fowler single, a double to McEwen, then a homer to Dylan Allomes. Suddenly it was a 10-6 game, and we were none the closer to the finish line. Oh look, a Jamie Wilson single! Hansen grounded out, Avent whiffed, then Josh Boles replaced McLin as the heavily fossilized Rucker came to bat again. Rucker hit a ****ing deep drive to center, but Abel Mora made the catch in deep centerfield… the inning was FINALLY over. But – oh joy – there was another one to pitch! Boles walked the left-handers Cambra and Vanatti, then left for Snyder in an actual save situation after a 10-0 lead. Snyder rung up Fowler and McEwen before more left-handed bats approached. Eh, we were sorta short on pitching in a game that was ****ing 10-0 at one point. Allomes grounded out to Rock, ending the game. 10-6 Coons. Ramos 2-5, 3B, 3 RBI; Rock 2-4, 2B, RBI; Delgadillo 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, W (3-5) and 2-3;

(gasp!) These last two innings felt like barely eight minutes. UNDER WATER.

In other news

June 12 – The Aces trade LF/CF Ron Raynor (.206, 8 HR, 23 RBI) to the Buffaloes, along with cash, for AAA 3B/1B Brett Blades and #26 prospect SP Casey McQueen.
June 12 – The Crusaders claim a 7-6, 11-inning walkoff win against the Scorpions on a sequence of INF Sergio Valdez (.250, 1 HR, 12 RBI) doubling, an intentional walk, a wild pitch, another intentional walk, and one final wild pitch, all charged to SAC MR Rich Hewitt (2-4, 5.23 ERA).
June 13 – PIT SP Mel Lira (8-3, 2.79 ERA) 2-hits the Knights in a 1-0 duel.
June 13 – TIJ SP George Griffin (5-6, 3.10 ERA) carries a no-hitter in another 1-0 nailbiter into the ninth inning against the Stars, but is removed after DAL RF/1B Chris Hollar's (.315, 7 HR, 19 RBI) pinch-hit leadoff single in the ninth. TIJ Pat Selby (2-1, 1.84 ERA, 16 SV) finishes the game and saves the 1-0 win.
June 13 – ATL 2B/3B John Johnson (.333, 1 HR, 19 RBI) will be out for a month with a strained hammy.

Complaints and stuff

Well, aren't they some good fun? From day to day, you never know which team might show up. They raked Dave Christiansen on Saturday after having another few games of NOTHING before that. Thank goodness the Loggers are the Loggers…

…and Sunday would have been amazing if they had actually blown a 10-0 lead. I once heard of a guy that screamed so loud he blew out his back – I might have challenged for that record.

Wednesday's 6-5 win over the Loggers was the Raccoons' 4,200th regular season victory. Kyle Anderson was the winner in what was almost given away by Snyder in the ninth inning.

Next week, after an off day on Monday, Miners and Indians, two of the positive surprises so far, and also the draft, which will take place on Tuesday.

Fun Fact: This was the first time in over 30 years that the Raccoons won a regular season series against the team they faced in the previous year's World Series.

We swept the Stars in 1984 after losing the 1983 World Series in six in between, and the most recent instance was a 1992 set in which we took two of three from the Capitals. In World Series at that time it went the other way round, 2-1 in favor of the Coons, although we had actually dropped the 1991 World Series to them. We won in 1992 and 1993, though.

Year-after series we lost against World Series opposition: to the Wolves in '90, the Rebels in '97, and the Cyclones in '11.
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:35 AM   #2673
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2027 AMATEUR DRAFT

Boy, Draft Day sure arrived in a hurry this year, hasn't it? No? Felt that way for me at least! Maybe this is what old age gives you. Your last few days fly by.

Independent of reflections on one's own mortality, there was still a draft to go through, in which the Raccoons would have the 22nd pick in every round, plus a supplemental round pick for the loss of Matt Jamieson, plus the vain hopes that they could get anything crisp off…

The annual hotlist (*denotes HS player):

SP Matt Peterson (13/14/8)* - BNN #4
SP Roland Warner (12/14/11)
SP Brian Bowsman (11/15/14) – BNN #8
SP Jim Tierney (12/11/12)*
SP Jon Bleich (12/13/12)

CL Chris Ritz (16/15/10)

C Nate Evans (13/11/12) – BNN #1

3B Chance Bossert (15/5/15)*
1B Eric Clarke (10/12/12)

LF/RF Kyle Weinstein (9/13/16) – BNN #10
LF/RF Jared Kitzman (10/12/12)* - BNN #6
LF/RF Ron Miller jr. (8/11/12) – BNN #5

I do like the looks of that Evans kid, but we probably should have lost 100 last year to get paws on that guy.

While the Raccoons were in Pittsburgh, I had flown to New York with our head scout – who's name I totally know! – for the draft ceremony and taking pictures with your future disappointments (or Hall of Famers!). Say, what IS your name? Sanchez? Martinez? Gonzalez? Well, you sure look Mexican though!

Before things could get ugly, the commissioner hit the giant gong near the door of the draft room and the Blue Sox were on the clock, although the #1 pick was never something that took long to make, since you had weeks upon weeks to decide beforehand. 3B Chance Bossert was the #1 selection in 2027, and there they began with taking pictures, all smiles. SP Roland Warner went #2 to the Knights, and the Wolves took Kyle Weinstein at #3. Things continued with starting pitchers, Josh Long to the Loggers at #4, then Brian Bowsman to the Falcons at #5, before the Indians took outfielder Jared Kitzman at #6, and then it was back to pitchers with Matt Peterson being made the #7 pick by the Bayhawks.

Teams ventured off our hotlist for a moment there, but then returned to hit, and right into the guts when the Capitals selected C Nate Evans with the #11 selection. Ugh, nooooo …! The Crusaders' and Condors' GMs turned heads as I slumped over the table, weeping, but to no avail. The Capitals would not give Evans back.

Further hotlist picks were Ron Miller jr. (#12, Miners) and Jon Bleich (#18, damn Elks), leaving us with a selection of CL Chris Ritz, SP Jim Tierney, and 1B Eric Clarke as far as the hotlist was concerned, as well as some 75 players still on the shortlist. We eventually succumbed to the promised power of Eric Clarke, a right-handed slugger at Stetson, who is said to have been able to hit a baseball over the lagoon between his hometown of Merritt Island and the Florida mainland when he was only 14 years old. Probably all lies, which is why you are always disappointed by draft picks.

Chris Ritz went #23 to the Scorpions, while Jim Tierney was the last one to go as far as the hotlist was concerned, falling to #26 and the Falcons' supplemental round selection.

2027 PORTLAND RACCOONS DRAFT CLASS

Round 1 (#22) – 1B Eric Clarke, 20, from Merritt Island, FL – defensively clumsy prototypical first baseman with not much patience but a huge power promise, and above-average ability to make contact. Just watch him whack 'em!
Supp. Round (#39) – SP Ian Wilson, 19, from Lubbock, TX – left-hander with variable movement and a nasty curveball; the tertiary stuff needs a bit more work, but he looks like a very efficient groundballer in the making
Round 2 (#68) – SP/MR Bryan Rabbitt, 21, from Chester, NH – right-handed groundballer with a late sinker and good stamina; the problem is more in his lack of a crisp third pitch and we sure hope he can get that changeup around to be actually useful
Round 3 (#92) – INF/RF Joe McFarlin, 21, from Sikeston, MO – patient batter with good contact abilities, also defensively adept and with multiple positions, and with impressive base stealing qualities.
Round 4 (#116) – 2B Brad Murphy, 18, from Sunrise Manor, NV – another patient batter (and switch-hitter) with good contact abilities and tremendous base stealing potential, but without McFarlin's defensive pedigree, just being able to hang onto second base, and that just barely…
Round 5 (#140) – SP/MR David Fernandez, 21, from St. Louis Park, MN – another left-hander with not much of a third pitch, but if all else fails, he can still fall back on that quite nasty slider and hope that his 91mph catapult pitch isn't picked out and upon too often
Round 6 (#164) – OF Edgar Espinosa, 18, from Camuy, Puerto Rico – our scout sees a contact bat with gap power and speed, but not much of an outfield arm, while BNN sees a career minor leaguer with so-so stats in high school in Tennessee.
Round 7 (#188) – SS Justin Fowler, 18, from Florence, KY – bat could be more steady, eyes could be more precise, and his brains more patient, and the hands aren't very steady either…
Round 8 (#212) – C Zach Mandeville, 22, from Johnson City, TN – we agreed it was time to draft a catcher, any catcher, and it was also his birthday…
Round 9 (#236) – MR Alvin Gallegos, 21, from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico – right-hander with a 90mph fastball and a decent curveball
Round 10 (#260) – LF/RF Danny Azulay, 19, from Sylvester, GA – imagines himself as a famous slugger with several home run titles; pitchers, coaches, scouts, fans, his peers, his mother, and Mother Nature not least all think otherwise…
Round 11 (#284) – SP Dusty Kuhlman, 19, from Lawnside, NJ – this years's Nick Brown Memorial Pick has a lot of stamina, a slider, and a sturdy neck that has already withstood a lot of spinning around to catch a last glimpse of a murdered baseball gasping as it crosses the plane over the outfield fence.
Round 12 (#308) – RF/LF Josh Cleveland, 18, from Brooklyn, NY – lazy bum with a knack for being a drama queen on strike three calls…
Round 13 (#332) – LF/RF Greg Brinson, 19, from Springfield, NJ – not a lot to love about this bland, trying-but-always-failing kid; his stepmother agrees with that assessment…

+++

All draft picks were assigned to single-A Aumsville. Of course, with the influx of dubious talent, we also have to get rid of even more dubious talent.

2021 fourth-rounder Hank Gibson, a left-hander, first reached AAA in '22, and was never called up. He is now 29, has an 8.07 ERA on the season, and we can't support his act any longer. He wasn't even the longest-tenured AAA left-hander released, as we also canned 27-year-old 2020 ninth-rounder Matt Wilson, who actually did make the ABL roster once, making ten appearances for the '25 Coons for a 12.00 ERA.

Also culled: 2023 Nick Brown Memorial Pick, AA reliever Mike Mattice, who was mainly an expert in walking people (8.5 BB/9), 2026 seventh-rounder Marco Diaz (I suspect he's actually legally blind…), and a few others that have likely never been mentioned by name in the first place.
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Old 12-02-2018, 03:19 PM   #2674
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Raccoons (41-23) @ Miners (39-24) – June 15-17, 2027

Too pretty decent teams were up against another in this interleague series, and the Miners even sported a 7-game winning streak we were keen on ending. They ranked second in runs scored in the Federal League as well as first in conceding runs, so here was a team that looked like a good bid for the playoffs. Their run differential was approaching +100 in June, too, with a +92 tally heading into the series with the Raccoons. Both teams had already played against another last season, when the Raccoons lost two of three games. The Coons's most recent series win against them stemmed from the 2022 season.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (7-2, 2.76 ERA) vs. Josh Walsh (7-1, 2.84 ERA)
Rin Nomura (7-3, 3.25 ERA) vs. Bobby Morris (5-5, 3.99 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-6, 3.32 ERA) vs. Matt Brost (4-4, 3.11 ERA)

Three right-handers on offer, but remember they also had Monday off and could bring left-hander Ramiro Benavides (8-2, 2.58 ERA) into the series without much effort.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Anderson
PIT: LF J. Lopez – RF O. Alfaro – C Henley – CF de la Riva – 1B Santillano – 3B Czachor – SS Tyer – 2B Becker – P J. Walsh

The Raccoons refused to be inspired by one of the ABL's best offenses (even with Omar Alfaro included). Alberto Ramos had their first two hits in the game, a pair of singles, stole one base, and scored a total of never. By contrast, the Coons' Kyle Anderson got shackled early and shackled a lot, surrendering plenty of runners and runs alike. Danny Santillano hit a 2-out, 2-run double in the bottom 1st, and former Falcon Ryan Czachor added two more runs with a 2-out homer in the bottom of the third inning. Preceding the bomb, .360 batter Santillano had ripped another double. Santillano then drew the 1-out walk in the bottom 5th that knocked Anderson from the game with J.J. Henley (walk) and Carlos de la Riva (single) already on the base paths. Henley, as slow-footed as they made catchers, tagged and went for home when Czachor hit a fly to right off Dan McLin, but was thrown out by Rafael Gomez to end the inning. Like that mattered anything in this game, in which the Raccoons made it to the eighth inning without landing another base hit against Josh Walsh, who issued walks to Harenberg and Nunley in the fourth inning to get into some mild discomfort, but nowhere near trouble, and otherwise stood unassailable. When the Coons did get their third base hit of the dismal night, it was Ramos again, a leadoff triple to left-center. He barely scored on three ****ty groundouts by Spencer, Gomez, and Harenberg, in order. What a rally! … instantly undone by back-to-back doubles fired by Santillano and Czachor against Kevin Surginer in the bottom 8th. 5-1 Miners. Ramos 3-4, 3B; McLin 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – CF Hollingsworth – P Nomura
PIT: LF J. Lopez – SS Tyer – C Henley – CF de la Riva – 1B Santillano – 3B Czachor – RF B. Ortega – 2B Becker – P Brost

Bobby Morris was nowhere in sight, and Matt Brost was moved up into this game, so it was not unrealistic to expect Benavides on Thursday, although at this point did it even matter which pitcher they were facing? The offense was stale like old arse, and no improvement could be made out on the horizon even when one squinted mightily. Case in point, Ramos was retired to begin the game, meaning three innings without runs for sure for the Coons, who then put Spencer (walk) and Gomez (single) on base, only for Kevin Duncenberg to expertly ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Rin Nomura allowed a 2-spot in the opening inning just like Anderson had done the night before. Jorge Lopez drew a leadoff walk, went to third on Brian Tyer's sharp single to center, then scored on de la Riva's single. Santillano also singled, loading them up, and the second run scored on Czachor's grounder to Matt Nunley, who tapped third base, but couldn't kill off Czachor at first base anymore after that.

There was a Cookie double in the second inning that only produced a sad aftermath, and Spencer was also stranded in scoring position in the third. The fourth inning saw Cookie single, Nunley double, and Hollingsworth be walked intentionally with one down. Nomura popped out for not a whole lot of surprise, but Ramos still batted with three on and two outs, and maybe a gapper could save the Critters here. No gapper occurred, but Brost also didn't occur in the strike zone right now and lost Alberto to a bases-loaded walk, which shortened the gap to 2-1 for Spencer, who impatiently flew out to Jorge Lopez. It wasn't until the fifth inning that the Critters got even, then on a Tovias homer, his tenth of the season.

Brost looked tired by the sixth inning, which was certainly what five walks and numerous long counts could do to a pitcher, but the Raccoons failed to topple him before the Miners went to former starter Dan Lambert with two outs. Lambert retired Spencer after Ramos walked and stole second base, and the Coons got their own scare with mighty long drive to left hit by Czachor in the bottom 6th. Hollingsworth caught that one right against the wall; too high, not quite deep enough, still a 2-2 tie. Top 7th, Rafael Gomez ripped a leadoff double over the head of Lopez to maintain the illusion that the Coons could win this game. Despite his performance in the last six weeks being utterly lacking top to bottom, the Miners walked Kevin Slumpenberg intentionally, bringing up Tovias with two on and nobody out, which he turned into one on and two outs with a wonderfully placed grounder to Greg Becker. Santillano then handled Cookie's grounder to end the inning. The Miners didn't fare much better. Santillano doubled off Jeff Kearney to begin the bottom 8th, the only batter Kearney faced, and then was stranded by Ricky Ohl with a K to Czachor, not-future-Coons-Hall-of-Famer Omar Alfaro grounding out to first, and Becker flying out to Cookie Carmona.

Nope, this game, tougher than old boots, went to extra innings when the Miners stranded two against Billy Brotman in the bottom 9th. Come the tenth, Nunley and Hollingsworth would slap 1-out singles off right-hander Howard Haws. Tim Stalker batted for Brotman, but flew out to Lopez. Ramos was up with two down, lined to left-center, and Lopez missed that one. Both Nunley and Hollingsworth scored before de la Riva could make an attempt at a play after cutting off the gapper near the warning track, holding Ramos to a 2-out, 2-run double. Ramos stole third base, then scored on Spencer's single to shallow left before lefty George Marsh replaced the luckless Haws. Marsh got Gomez to fly out to center, and with that the game was in Jonathan Snyder's paws against the 5-6-7 batters, a.k.a. all the danger for two days running. After getting two outs from the main threats, Snyder not only lost Alfaro in a full count, but also Becker and Leo Otero, bringing up the left-handed batting Jorge Lopez as the winning run… The Coons had seen enough and sent for Josh Boles to get a lefty in as long as the rewards were promising. The merciless K to Lopez ended the game, and the Miners' 8-game winning streak, too. 5-2 Furballs. Ramos 1-3, 3 BB, 2B, 3 RBI; Gomez 2-6, 2B; Carmona 3-5, 2 2B; Nunley 2-5, 2B; Hollingsworth 2-3, 2 BB; Nomura 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 1B Mora – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 2B Rock – 3B Nunley – CF Hollingsworth – P Gutierrez
PIT: LF J. Lopez – SS Tyer – C Henley – CF de la Riva – 1B Santillano – 3B Czachor – RF O. Alfaro – 2B Becker – P Benavides

The Raccoons scored first(!) in this left-handed duel, getting Spencer on with a single, Mora with a walk, and then putting Spencer across on Gomez' groundout after he had stolen third base. The lead didn't stand up at all, though, as Tyer's single and Henley's double into the corner undid it right away in the bottom of the first inning. On to the third, where Ramos coaxed a leadoff walk from Benavides, Spencer singled, and when Mora grounded to Jeff Becker, Tyer dropped the feed and all paws were safe, three on, nobody out. Oh goody, the perfect jump-off point to make total fools of ourselves again! Gomez cracked a 2-0 pitch to left, past the lunging Tyer for an RBI single, but when Tovias hit an 0-2 offering to the left side, Tyer was upon that and turned a 6-4-3 double play. Spencer scored, but he was the final runner to cross home plate in the inning, with Rock lining out to Becker.

…and again Rico Gutierrez was immediately and violently upended. Tyer singled, de la Riva homered to tie the game in the bottom 3rd, and then Santillano and Czachor also ripped singles to go to the corners before Alfaro flew out to Hollingsworth in pretty deep center to end the damn inning… But don't you feel bad for Omar Alfaro (because I forbid it to begin with…), because he got the go-ahead single, a 2-out blooper in the bottom 5th and the third of four singles the Miners got in the inning. They scored two runs, the second coming in on Jeff Becker's RBI single, and closed Rico's outright disgusting line at five innings, 12 hits, and five runs.

A de la Riva homer off Kevin Surginer in the bottom 7th extended the Miners' edge to 6-3, but their own bullpen found a tough spot in the eighth inning, much to anybody's surprise. Gomez and Tovias went to the corners with nobody out, and here came Howard Haws again. Harenberg batted for Rock, but walked on four halfhearted pitches before the Miners sent left-hander Rob Owensby after Nunley with the tying runs all aboard and nobody out. Owensby, too, faced only that one batter and allowed an RBI single, a whizzer that narrowly got past Becker's extended glove and into shallow center. With the right-handed Dan Lambert coming in immediately, the Coons went back to their box of tricks and sent Cookie to bat for Hollingsworth, and he squeezed Lambert for a walk on five pitches, bringing in another run, 6-5! Daniel Bullock batted for Brotman by necessity, since only Liu was left on the bench other than that. Lambert still didn't find the zone, lost Bullock in a full count, and we were tied (and still three on, no outs…!)! Ramos grounded to first, with Santillano firing home to kill Nunley, but the bases remained loaded until Spencer's sac fly gave the Coons a 7-6 lead. Mora's soft roller on the infield should have ended the inning, but the Miners couldn't play it in any way, instead loading the bases again for Gomez, who drove in Bullock and Ramos with a sharp single to left-center. COONS, COONS, COONS!! Finally, the defeated and dismembered Lambert was removed. Jarrod Morrison replaced him, longtime Indians closer, 41 years old. Tovias grounding out against him ended the inning with a 9-6 score after a 6-spot. Morrison conceded a 2-out run in the ninth inning to add to the Coons' total, Cookie drawing a walk and scoring after singles by Liu and Ramos. Jeff Kearney began the bottom 9th with a 10-6 lead, then left with a 10-7 lead and Santillano on first, while there were no outs. De la Riva had smacked a leadoff jack, and trouble was on. The Coons scrambled for Snyder, who surrendered an RBI triple to Czachor, then threw a wild pitch to shorten the score to 10-9. By the way, there was still nobody out. Josh Keen struck out, Jeff Becker popped out, Bobby Ortega flew out to center. 10-9 Critters. Spencer 3-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Gomez 3-5, 4 RBI; Nunley 2-5, RBI; Carmona (PH) 0-0, 2 BB, RBI; Bullock (PH) 0-0, BB, RBI; Liu (PH) 1-1;

(blinks slowly and looks very pale)

Anyway, Billy Brotman picked up the W in both this game and the one on Wednesday, giving him five for the season a.k.a more than Rico Gutierrez.

Raccoons (43-24) @ Indians (34-31) – June 18-20, 2027

The Indians stubbornly clung onto their above-.500 record despite all signs hinting at them not belonging anywhere near it. They were right at the bottom of the league or at least the bottom three in most important offensive categories, and were scoring only 3.4 runs per game, easily enough for last place in the CL. Their pitching was very good, though, with the third-fewest runs conceded, but that still gave them a -22 run differential (Coons: +78). These teams so far had split a 4-game series in 2027.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (6-2, 2.86 ERA) vs. Myles Mood (3-5, 3.18 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (3-5, 3.42 ERA) vs. Chris Sinkhorn (7-4, 3.66 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (7-3, 3.05 ERA) vs. John McInerney (6-6, 2.74 ERA)

Following the right-handed Myles Mood on Friday, we could not expect anything but right-handers the rest of the way. The Indians were employing four of those buggers.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Roberts
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – RF O'Rourke – CF Suhay – LF de Negri – C J. Ramirez – 1B Tello – 3B C. Castro – P Mood

Indy moved up 2-0 on a bloop (David de Negri) and a blast (Jose Ramirez) in the second inning while Mark Roberts otherwise struck out four in the first run through the Indians' lineup. The Coons were rather tame except for Nunley's leadoff double in the third inning, after which he advanced on a Liu groundout, then scored on a wild pitch. Nunley's 2-base effort was the Critters' only base hit through five innings, but Ramos led off the sixth with a single. Ramos advanced on two groundouts, then scored… on a wild pitch.

Whatever works?

Mark Roberts was left with a no-decision, spending 106 pitches in just six innings, again to no avail. Kevin Surginer gave the Coons the seventh and eighth innings, while the offense remained dead from the ankles up. Liu drew a leadoff walk against Mood in the eighth inning, advanced on Hollingsworth's grounder, Ramos was walked intentionally, and Spencer and Gomez couldn't get the ball past the infielders. Kevin Harenberg's leadoff single up the middle in the ninth inning against Mo Robinson was the Coons' third base hit in the game. Abel Mora hit into a fielder's choice, Trey Rock pinch-hit and popped out, and Nunley whiffed. And the really good news – the Indians couldn't fart themselves a run, either, and this game also went to extra innings …! The revolting joy! The Coons had nothing (oh wonder) in the top 10th, but the Indians put Manuel Cardona on second base in the bottom 10th when Elias Sosa fired a 2-out drive to deep left. Hollingsworth made everybody happy with a flying catch in the depths of the gap, and this game would yet go on! Top 11th, Cory Dew, the former Raccoon, allowed a soft 1-out single to shallow center to Rafael Gomez (base hit #4 in the game, not for Gomez, but ALL THE COONS), and then was unlucky when Harenberg's soft liner fell just in front of the rushing Ben Suhay. Gomez raced for third base to be in sacrifice position for Abel Mora, who found the idea appalling and instead hit another single to shallow center. WHOAH, A RUN!! The Coons even found another one after Tovias walked in McLin's spot, when Nunley got Harenberg home with an actual sac fly. Liu grounded out to end the inning. Josh Boles was sent into the bottom 11th in deference to Snyder having had two long and chewy outings in Pittsburgh, promptly allowed a leadoff single to ex-Elk Dave O'Rourke, got Jon Siebuhr and Jose Ramirez, then yielded a sharp single to Tello. I was looking at the pen with great consternation – it was mostly burned out after a ravaging Miners series. This was Boles' to lose or to save. He saved it with strike three on Ramon Tello. 4-2 Blighters. Harenberg 2-5; Roberts 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K; Surginer 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K; McLin 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, W (3-2);

I wonder when one of our starting pitchers most recently won a game…

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – CF Hollingsworth – 3B Bullock – P Delgadillo
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – 1B Cardona – CF Suhay – RF Siebuhr – LF Jamieson – 3B J. Navarro – C Dale – P McInerney

Portland players couldn't be bothered to get a base hit in the first three innings of the middle game, up until Rafael Gomez hit a single to left-center to lead off the fourth inning of a scoreless game. Before that, Spencer had walked in the first, and Hollingsworth had reached on an error in the second, but the oomph was still missing and remained as such throughout the inning, as the Coons couldn't even get Gomez to second base, let alone around to score. Like the offense's inability to get H's and R's, Delgadillo failed to find K's as this game started and went through the early innings, until Siebuhr and Jamieson encroached on him with 2-out singles in the bottom 4th, after which he got Navarro to swing and miss for strike three.

The stalemate would be broken in the fifth with a run on Delgadillo that couldn't have been more unearned if they had tried; Ramos mishandled Joe Dale's grounder to begin the inning for the first error, and then Bullock threw away McInerney's bunt for another error. Runners on second and third, nobody out, and the stuffless Yusneldan was doomed. Mario Pizano flew out to shallow right to still keep the runners pinned, but Elias Sosa's fly to left was deep enough to get Dale home with the first run of the game, or in other words, ballgame, even before the Indians scored another run when Jamieson drove home Siebuhr in the bottom 6th. Dale then singled with two outs, and Delgadillo drilled McInerney to load the bases at which point he deserved whatever grisly thing they would do to him. Pizano grounded out to Spencer on the first pitch. Top 9th, Mo Robinson inherited McInerney's 3-hitter and the 2-0 lead, then walked Harenberg to get going. Tovias, who had already hit into a double play in the game, hit into a fielder's choice now. Stalker grounded out. Cookie grounded out. 2-0 Indians. Delgadillo 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, L (3-6); Brotman 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

GODDAMNIT SCORE SOME RUNS, YOU ****ING ****S!!

At least that old yeller sent them for cover and out of my sight…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Mora – 2B Rock – 3B Nunley – P Anderson
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – 1B Cardona – CF Suhay – LF O'Rourke – 3B C. Castro – RF de Negri – C J. Ramirez – P Sinkhorn

The miserable Coons scored without the benefit of a run when Ramos was nicked by Sinkhorn's 1-2 to begin the game, angrily swiped second, advanced on Spencer's grounder, and waggled home on Gomez' deep F9 to de Negri. The Indians shrugged. Pizano led off the bottom 1st with a double, Sosa and Cardona made hard outs, and then the .200 batter Suhay lobbed one over the leftfield fence to give them a 2-1 lead. In my state of agony I had to wait to the fourth inning again to see them get a ****ing base hit, this time Spencer singling up the middle. He went to second on Gomez' looper over Pizano for a second single, then to third when Strandemberg flew out to the annoying Suhay in centerfield. That brought up Tovias with a chance for an inning-ending double play. And that was also how the ****ing inning ended.

I took a wee portion of the game off to have a little personal time here (crying on the Arrowheads' public toilet), and when I came back I found the Coons had tied the score at two in the top 5th, courtesy of a Matt Nunley double. Oh, Matt Nunley – when he ever retires, we can close down the franchise for good …! Or maybe even sooner – Ben Suhay, the disgusting pumpkinhead, hit an RBI double off Anderson in the bottom 6th that put Indy back in front, 3-2. Elias Sosa had drawn a leadoff walk in the inning, to be fair the first one Anderson had issued. By the bottom 7th, Anderson threw away a de Negri grounder that should have been the first out for a 2-base error, that run of course came also around to score, and my sympathy for him immediately reduced itself significantly…

Top 8th of what was probably a coaster to the finish line now for Sinkhorn, Spencer grounded out to Cesar Castro to begin the inning before Gomez and Harenberg hit for seven bases in the wrong order. Gomez homered to left, and then Harenberg hit a triple into the gap between O'Rourke and Suhay, which meant the tying run was on third base for Tovias, which had potential for all sorts of adversities and infirmities. He ended up hitting a sac fly, getting Anderson off the hook, but the Raccoons would not grab a lead. Ricky Ohl held the Indians in check in the bottom 8th, with Rock grounding out against Sergio Aredondo to begin the ninth inning, but then Nunley hit a double to left, but would be stranded between Cookie and Spencer grounding out around another intentional walk to Ramos. Instead, the Indians walked off on Josh Boles in the bottom 9th with a leadoff triple by Jose Navarro. Boles' defense to that crummy situation (winning run at third, no outs) was to walk Ramon Tello, then surrender the game on Ramirez' single up the middle. 5-4 Indians. Gomez 2-3, HR, 3 RBI; Harenberg 2-4, 3B; Nunley 2-4, 2 2B, RBI;

In other news

June 16 – He still has it, hasn't he? SFB SP Jonathan Toner (4-2, 2.30 ERA) throws a 4-hit shutout, whiffing six, against the Wolves in a 4-0 Bayhawks win.
June 16 – TOP SP Joe Jones (5-7, 4.13 ERA) has himself quite the day in the Buffaloes' 13-1 rout over the Canadiens. The 29-year-old left-hander pitches 7.2 innings of 1-run ball and also casually has three base hits, including a double, and 4 RBI against the interleague opposition.
June 17 – SFW LF Jeff Wadley (.313, 6 HR, 47 RBI) extends a hitting streak to 20 games with a fifth-inning single in the Warriors' 8-5 win over the Falcons.
June 17 – NAS SP Pat Staley (1-5, 5.62 ERA) gets his first win of the season (and in 14 attempts) in style, 3-hitting the Condors in a 7-0 shutout.
June 18 – The hitting streak of SFW LF Jeff Wadley (.307, 6 HR, 47 RBI) finds a quick end after 21 games as he goes 0-for-5 in a 5-4 loss to the Scorpions.
June 19 – LAP INF Jamie Wilson (.322, 1 HR, 23 RBI) hits a single off DAL CL Eric Davidson (2-5, 4.40 ERA, 13 SV) for his 2,000 base hit, but the Pacifics still lose to the Stars, 7-6. Wilson, a 7-time All Star and 18-year veteran, is a career .281/.412/.403 batter with 152 HR and 917 RBI.
June 19 – The Rebels acquire INF John Hansen (.221, 0 HR, 19 RBI) from the Pacifics, along with a prospect, and send SP Jim Bryant (4-7, 4.96 ERA) to L.A.
June 20 – BOS SP Greg Gannon (8-3, 3.01 ERA) 3-hits the Crusaders in a 6-0 shutout.
June 20 – SAL RF/LF Nelson Colon (.254, 3 HR, 38 RBI) drives in five runs on three hits in the Wolves' 14-8 win over the Gold Sox that includes a 7-run seventh.

Complaints and stuff

They couldn't be less fun. If, a million years ago, you would have given the first humans a few bats and a ball and would have waited for them to figure it out, they could not have looked less inspiring. The Loggers (24-45) were probably not giving their GM such a hard time than these Raccoons. Absolutely crummy, the entire lineup, top to bottom, everybody is sucking their socks off!

Oh, good news, we'll have the Titans in for three games next week. That should solve the CL North mystery for the year…

Fun Fact: On Thursday, Carlos de la Riva (.308, 9 HR, 41 RBI after the fact) became the first Miners batter to slug three home runs in a game.

Yes, of course it was the Raccoons' fault. Rico, Surginer, and Kearney all got knelt. It is the fifth time in the decade that we were responsible for somebody else's 3-homer game. Oh well, at least John Calfee of the disgusting Elks didn't do it to us in September. Oh, and we still won, which is funnily enough the second such 3-homer game we actually won in the 2020s. We also squeezed out a 9-8 win over the Condors in Pat Sanford's 3-HR effort in 2024. We are the only team to win a game in which an opposing player hit three home runs in the last 13 years.
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Old 12-04-2018, 04:42 PM   #2675
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Raccoons (44-26) vs. Titans (47-20) – June 21-23, 2027

Here came the Titans, and this series was extremely crucial. Unfortunately, the early signs were not encouraging – at all. The Titans were first in offense, first in pitching, the Raccoons had not done anything to make pitchers at least be aware of them in weeks, and finally, the chicken I just opened to read its liver for signs of the baseball gods – (dumps carcass into a bin obediently held in his lap by Cristiano Carmona) – is *disgusting*! Cristiano, roll that out of - … get this - … it smells. Hurry up, we're wheeling with both hands here! Woof. Eh, right. The Coons were so far 3-3 against the Titans in 2027, but that gut feeling… oh that gut feeling was about as revolting as those chicken guts.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (7-3, 3.20 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (8-2, 1.99 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-6, 3.63 ERA) vs. Guillermo Regalado (3-5, 3.87 ERA)
Mark Roberts (6-2, 2.87 ERA) vs. Jeremy Waite (7-3, 3.57 ERA)

In good news, we got three right-handers, we got only one of their two sub-2 ERA pitchers (the other being 8-2 Dustin Wingo at 1.79) and only two of their best three (Greg Gannon sat at 8-3, 3.01 ERA).

And I don't think that will be enough. Not even close. Not remotely. The Niagara Falls, right now, were closer than a Raccoons series win.

Game 1
BOS: CF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – 2B R. West – SS Spataro – LF Reichardt – 3B Perkins – C A. Arias – P Shepherd
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Nomura

Nomura got blasted in the first inning, figuratively and literally. After putting Gus Gasso on base with a throwing error that already sent piercing pain through my abdomen, Adam Braun rocked a fastball for a no-doubt 2-run homer, and Nomura managed to walk Rhett West right after that, whom the Titans brought around on singles by Keith Spataro and Justin Perkins before Alex Arias ended the inning with a groundout to Matt Nunley. There was … not even the pretense of giving it an honest effort… the Raccoons were so dead …!

An hour-long rain delay added to the misery right in the second inning, although in more ways than just one. It also screwed up Shepherd, who had already walked Ramos in the first (although Spencer had 6-4-3'ed the Coons out of that one), and didn't get much more resilient after the rain delay. Cookie walked, Nunley walked, Liu walked, all with one out, before Nomura clipped a single to left that plated Cookie and Nunley, and Ramos tied the game when he grounded to short and Spataro fumbled the ball. Spencer hit into another double play before the Coons could take a lead though, and while play was certainly sloppy from both sides, the Raccoons remained guilty of just not hitting the ****ing baseballs. Nomura's single was their only base hit in the first five innings, and when they finally got a second one, it was Harenberg with an infield in the bottom 6th on which two Titans appeared to slip on wet grass. The Furballs loaded them up with Abel Mora walking (the sixth free pass issued by Shepherd) and a single that Cookie cracked past Gus Gasso. And with nobody out! Nunley lined a ball to shallow left for an RBI single, and Liu dumped a soft single into shallow center to add another run, 5-3! Nomura was done after six innings and was hit for by Tim Stalker, who held still and drew the seventh and final walk issued by Shepherd in this game, pushing in a run before Javy Salomon replaced the discombobulated starter after a nightmare outing. He got out of the inning without bleeding another run, as the lame-ass Coons returned instantly. Ramos grounded into a force at home, Spencer popped out, and Gomez rolled over to short. The Coons now squelched the lemon again, pressing two innings out of Dan McLin, which worked wonderfully (but watch his arm fall off soon…) before sending Snyder into the ninth with a 6-3 lead, not words that had evoked comfort recently. He faced Spataro to begin things. Spataro and DH D.J. Fullerton struck out before Justin Perkins singled past Harenberg, and ooooh, here came the panic again… but for no reason. Alex Arias struck out looking, and the Coons took the opener. 6-3 Furballs. Nomura 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, W (8-3) and 1-2, 2 RBI; McLin 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

The Coons had more runs than hits, which illustrates sufficiently what sort of game this was.

Game 2
BOS: CF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – LF Kuramoto – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – 2B Good – C A. Arias – P Regalado
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Gutierrez

The Titans again got off to a quick start on this Tuesday where the Raccoons held a special beer promotion to draw an even bigger crowd, making three quick outs in the top 1st, while the Coons struck out thrice in the bottom 1st, but then ramped it up in the second inning. Yasuhiro Kuramoto slapped a single to center, Adam Corder singled to right, and between Kuramoto going for third and a weak throw by Rafael Gomez, the Titans placed runners in scoring position with nobody out. There they remained on Spataro's grounder to Rico, but Matt Good singled hard to right to bring in Kuramoto with the first run of the game. Corder also went for home, but this time Gomez threw impressively well and precise and nailed him out. Good went to second, and Portland bailed out on an intentional walk to Arias and Regalado grounding out to Nunley.

While that was an early setback, Abel Mora had something to respond, cracking a solo shot to right in the bottom 2nd to tie the teams again, although after that nobody bothered to get on base much until Mora came back up again in the fourth, but had no homer in him at that point. While Rico held on at this point, he also threw only 37 pitches through four innings and whiffed nobody, hinting at the Titans being a bit on the unlucky side. Top 5th, the Titans started to poke him. Arias singled, Willie Vega singled, and Gasso also singled to plate Arias with the go-ahead run, 2-1. Adam Braun popped out to leave them on the corners there, and now the Critters needed a swift comeback. Nunley grounded out to begin the bottom 5th, but Trey Rock doubled to left-center. However, neither Rico, nor Ramos could get the ball out of the infield, and the chance was wasted. As was a somewhat dicey but mostly solid start by Rico, who went into the eighth inning before coughing up a run on Kuramoto's 2-out triple that was followed by Tovias being unable to pounce on Corder's roller in front of home plate that allowed the Titans to score an insurance run, 3-1.

Regalado retired nobody in the bottom 8th, conceding a leadoff single to rightfield to Cookie Carmona, hitting for Gutierrez, then a 4-pitch walk to Ramos. The go-ahead run came to the plate and Harry Merwin came to the mound, only to nail Jarod Spencer with his first pitch. Three on, nobody out, middle of the lineup coming up! The park was buzzing; turns out that everybody can be entertained by the most simple and inept way to play the game if it's $10 beer night. Come on, folks, there's always more, don't hold back, it won't ever be so cheap again! Gomez grounded to short, where Spataro wasted no time to fire the ball to home plate for the best out to get, and with the bags still full, Mike Stank struck out Harenberg before Mora grounded out to Good. The despicable **** team had struck again.

And the drama wasn't over. The increasingly intoxicated crowd witnessed Jeff Kearney issue a leadoff walk in the ninth before leaving with an injury, while Billy Brotman surrendered the runner, falling to 4-1, before Julio San Pedro loaded the bases in the bottom 9th with singles to Nunley and Rock, then a 4-pitch walk to Cookie. Ramos came up as the winning run with one out, flew to deep left, but couldn’t really challenge the fence, although the crowd tried to yell the ball over the wall. Alberto had to settle for a sac fly, which was not a winner. Steve Hollingsworth batted for Brotman in this crucial spot and grounded out to Spataro. Magnificently, no riot broke out. 4-2 Titans. Rock 2-4, 2B; Carmona (PH) 1-1, BB;

The Druid diagnosed Kearney with forearm soreness that was totally not going to be any more serious at all, but would rule him out for most of the week, and also diagnosed me with a booming headache and recommended I should do something nice instead of watching the rubber game.

What nice things are there besides baseball?

Game 3
BOS: CF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – LF Kuramoto – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – P Waite
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Rock – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – CF Hollingsworth – P Roberts

Mark Roberts was all over the place and issued four walks in the first three innings, including two on his way to loading the bases in the top 3rd. Kuramoto batted with three on and one out, grounding to short, but Ramos and Rock couldn't turn two and the Titans scored the game's maiden run. Rhett West grounded out after that, but Roberts was on 63 pitches and didn't convince anybody… Waite used half as many in three innings, and although the Coons put Hollingsworth on with a leadoff single, but then Roberts couldn't get the bunt down, and even when Ramos reached on a throwing error by Arias, the Critters still didn't get anybody to third base in the inning. Spencer popped out, Gomez grounded out, nobody scored. Bottom 4th, Harenberg hit a soft single to center, Rock hit a hard single to right, two on and nobody out. DESPERATE for a run, the Coons signaled Tovias to bunt (gasp!), and it was not a very good bunt, but it still beat Waite's hasty throw to first base. Actually past first base and into the seats down there, taking out a guy's regularly priced beer. This awarded the Coons two bases and a run, and another present was coming as Waite balked in Trey Rock, when he had Nunley (who would strike out) already at 1-2. Hollingsworth plated Tovias with a groundout, 3-1, before the inning ended with Roberts, who – sigh – began the fifth inning like the fourth by surrendering a leadoff double (now to Gus Gasso), then had to fight for every inch of the field to keep that damn runner from scoring. And he did! But he also threw 102 pitches in five innings of 4-hit, 6-walk, 1-run ball and was not seen again thereafter.

Kevin Surginer got five outs before walking both Kuramoto and West in the seventh inning, prompting a move to Ricky Ohl in a quadruple-switch of Spencer to second, Hollingsworth to left, Mora to center and batting #9, and Ohl going into the #5 slot vacated by Trey Rock to pitch for four outs if at all possible here. He got the most important one for now, the one on Adam Corder, who fouled out on 0-2. Ricky would log three outs, then surrendered a 2-out single to Waite(!), which was Waite's third single(!!) in the game, or in other words … one less than the entire Raccoons team had. Boles then got Vega to easily fly out to left. As much as I wished them to, the Coons failed to scratch out an insurance run… or get on base. Snyder was in for the ninth again, got Gasso to ground out to first, then gave up a 1-out single to Braun, soon followed by walking West with two outs after PH Keith Leonard had lined right into Spencer's glove. Corder was to tip the scales again here with two outs… and failed again. He grounded out to Spencer, giving the series to the Coons. 3-1 Blighters. Rock 2-3; Hollingsworth 1-2, BB, RBI;

We had FIVE base runners. FIVE.

That is only about a handful!

That is… uuugh…

Raccoons (46-27) @ Falcons (31-39) – June 25-27, 2027

Now for the diametrical opposite to the Titans – the Falcons! They were 11th in runs scored, dead-last in runs allowed, had a -100 run differential, and were probably a valid recipient to make tax-exempt donations to as well. It was grim. Their rotation was worst by ERA, their bullpen was as well, and they were in the bottom three in A LOT of statistics. The Coons were up 3-0 against them this season.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (3-6, 3.28 ERA) vs. Victor Arevalo (4-6, 3.90 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (7-3, 3.11 ERA) vs. Chris Rountree (6-5, 3.93 ERA)
Rin Nomura (8-3, 3.08 ERA) vs. Warren Polito (5-7, 8.20 ERA)

Rountree was their only southpaw in the rotation. There best starter was actually Jesus Chavez (7-9, 3.33 ERA), but he had pitched (and won) on Thursday, our off day.

And whatever you think about league-worst pitching, just remember that these are the series where the Coons tend to get REALLY stale…

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Delgadillo
CHA: LF Banfi – SS Bowman – 1B Fowlkes – RF Kok – CF Salto – 3B E. Moreno – C Sigala – 2B Folk – P Arevalo

The Coons' middle of the order slugged out three extra-base hits in the top of the first, taking a quick 2-0 lead on Gomez' double and Kevin's dinger, while Mora's double dissipated when Nunley grounded out like the 1-2 poke had done. The Falcons would not go down without a fight, though, and got to Delgadillo by the bottom of the second. Delgadillo walked Graciano Salto, then surrendered the run on a 2-out double by Jairo Sigala. The Coons called an intentional walk on Brody Folk before getting the third out from Arevalo. Ramos pulled the run back in the third, drawing a walk, swiping second, and moved around to score on two fly outs. Top 4th, another chance to score as Nunley singled, Tovias doubled, and Rock was halfheartedly walked to fill the bags with one out to bring up Delgadillo, who was not exactly a good hitter, even by pitchers' standards (career .145/.189/.164), but he added one to his 10 career RBI with a single up the middle, extending the lead to 4-1. By contrast, Ramos and Spencer remained cold and both made outs, Ramos with the K and Spencer with a roller to the mound.

In the meantime, Delgadillo was somewhat efficient, but not flashy. The Falcons had two on in the bottom 3rd, but Eddie Moreno grounded into a double play to help him out of that. By the sixth, Pat Fowlkes hit a solo homer to reduce the Coons' lead to 4-2. But again, the Raccoons pulled the run back as soon as they got a chance, and again Ramos was involved. Both Ramos and Gomez hit doubles into the leftfield corner in the top of the seventh inning to get the score to 5-2, after which Harenberg got four wide ones, Arevalo balked the runners into scoring position, but Abel Mora's deep fly to center was caught by Graciano Salto, ending the inning. And then Delgadillo blew it completely. Eddie Moreno and Jairo Sigala hit singles to begin the bottom 7th, and Brody Folk rammed a 3-run homer to left. Oh, look, a brand new ballgame…

Since the Coons were invariably not of the resilient kind, they didn't get on base at all anymore in regulation, which was not an immediate problem and cause for defeat thanks to Ricky Ohl and Billy Brotman holding off Charlotte until extra innings arrived. Hooray. But the damn Coons didn't get on base in the 10th, either. But the Falcons did. Dan McLin was in again, walking Luigi Banfi to begin the bottom 10th. Sean Bowman singled up the middle into centerfield, Banfi went to third, Hollingsworth's throw went somewhere, anywhere, both runners reached scoring position with nobody out, but it didn't matter one bit once Pat Fowlkes hammered a homer to left… 8-5 Falcons. Gomez 3-4, 2 2B; Harenberg 2-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI;

(opens mouth)

(moans terribly)

(closes mouth)

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Mora – 2B Rock – 3B Bullock – P Anderson
CHA: LF Banfi – SS Bowman – 1B Fowlkes – RF Kok – CF Salto – 3B E. Moreno – C Sigala – 2B Ra. Mendez – P Rountree

After an uneventful first inning, the Critters began the second with four singles, but didn't score with any of those. Harenberg singled to right, but was thrown out on a hit-and-run where Tovias missed wildly before being the first of three Critters to load the bases on three more singles. Daniel Bullock just held still as Chris Rountree lost it and drew a bases-loaded walk to push in the first run of the game. Anderson hit a sac fly to make it 2-0 before Tim Stalker grounded out. But there was more offense to enjoy before the inevitable collapse; Rafael Gomez buried a triple in deep center in the third inning, then was singled home by Harenberg to make it 3-0, and it was 5-0 after the fourth in which Bullock and Stalker drew walks, not only stole a pair of bases but also coaxed a throwing error from Sigala that allowed Bullock to come in right away, and Stalker came home on Spencer's sac fly. All the while, Anderson was holding the Falcons short, quite short actually. Sigala had been retired on a deep drive in the bottom 3rd, but apart from that they could not challenge him much through five innings, amounting to one walk and no base hits. Raul Mendez hit a deep fly to right-center, but Mora somehow came up with that one, too, and the Falcons remained hitless through six innings.

But the dream ended in the seventh. Banfi struck out, Bowman made an out into Stalker's glove, but Fowlkes, Friday night's coonslayer, ended the bid with a double into the left-center gap. Barend Kok flew out to center to keep him on base, though. Salto opened the eighth with a single up the middle, but was forced out on Moreno's grounder. The Coons didn't get a double play, but got two soft outs from Sigala and Mendez, and Anderson was only on 87 pitches through eight and good to go another inning. Rick Morris pinch-hit in the #9 spot, but popped out on a 1-2 pitch. Banfi grounded to third, Bullock handling the grounder well for the second out. Anderson then did the rest himself, ringing up Sean Bowman on three pitches. 5-0 Furballs! Gomez 2-4, 3B; Harenberg 2-4, RBI; Tovias 3-4; Mora 2-4; Anderson 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, W (8-3);

Oh finally a cozy game with no terror! I really needed that…!

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Nomura
CHA: RF Banfi – 3B E. Moreno – 1B Fowlkes – RF Kok – CF Salto – C Sigala – SS Ra. Mendez – 2B Folk – P Polito

Portland batted through the order in the opening inning, collecting four hits and two walks against Warren Polito. Ramos and Spencer both singled, both stole a base, and both scored, while Harenberg (sac fly), Nunley (groundout), and Rock (single) all collected an RBI in the 3-run frame that ended with Nomura grounding out to short, stranding three. Sizable early lead – Nomura pitching – you better keep a fresh set of underwear ready! Banfi hit a double in the first. Mendez was nailed in the second. Banfi walked and Moreno hit a sharp single in the third. None of them scored, but the tension was something one could easily grasp…

The next two innings were dull with no base runner of any sort, but the Coons added on in the sixth with a Tovias homer, 4-0, and then Polito drilled Trey Rock pretty good. Rock did not approve – it was on! Before Rock could cave in the skull of Polito, Sigala tackled him and the pile formed halfway between the mound and home plate. It took the umpires five minutes to restore order, with Polito and Rock ejected after the fact. Stalker replaced Rock at the keystone. Maybe the Critters could take it out on lefty Danny Burgess, who replaced him Polito. They hit singles to go to the corners with Gomez and Harenberg, and nobody out, in the top 7th before Abel Mora flew to left, where Banfi dropped the ball. Gomez scored, 5-0, but that unearned run was all they got in the inning. Bullock batted for Nunley and whiffed, and Tovias hit into a double play. Bottom 7th, Nomura drilled Sigala, which was surely totally by accident, but the Falcons couldn't get him around, either, but they cashed in Banfi in the eighth. Nomura walked him on four pitches, and pretty soon we weren't going to have back-to-back shutouts once Eddie Moreno drove a ball past Spencer in deep left for an RBI double. Nomura managed to starve Moreno with a groundout, a K to Kok, and Salto fouling out, but he was now at 101 pitches, and the Critters would try the ol' bullpen in the ninth. Surginer and Boles got three more outs with only a Mendez single off Surginer accounting for a Falcons rally. 5-1 Raccoons. Ramos 1-2, 3 BB; Spencer 3-5; Rock 1-2, RBI; Nomura 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (9-3);

In other news

June 21 – After his hitting streak, the season of SFW LF/CF Jeff Wadley (.314, 6 HR, 49 RBI) also ends after he is diagnosed with a partially torn UCL. He will undergo Tommy John surgery this week.
June 25 – DAL SP Matt Diduch (6-3, 2.45 ERA) has a no-hitter through eight innings against the Capitals, but to no avail as the Stars are not scoring for him and the game is scoreless into the bottom 9th. DAL MR Chris Munroe (3-3, 3.18 ERA) replaces Diduch and gives up a single to the first batter he faces, Washington's Evan Adams (.248, 3 HR, 14 RBI), but the Capitals fail to score and the Stars win the game in the 10th inning, 1-0.

Complaints and stuff

(while Jing-quo Liu, R.C., and Cristiano Carmona sit around the table, your dearest GM motions a flat hand, palm upright; a well with his left hand and *something* with the right; three fingers of the right hand extended to the left and finally V for victory) No, no, no-no-no-no, R.C., listen to me! – Lis-ten to- … - I know he's ****ing deaf, Cristiano, I'm just sayin' … - No! No! – Stop signing! – (extends a pen and paper) WRITE IT DOWN …!!

All is well here, obviously!

Trey Rock was given a 4-game suspension for … basically being knocked by Warren Polito, tackled by Jairo Sigala, and then screaming in rage at the bottom of a pile. Yeah, sounds about fair! At least that gives Tim Stalker a few at-bats.

Oh well, at least we held out to take a 5-4 edge in the season series against Boston, and took the season series from the Falcons for the fifth straight season.

4.3 runs per game, but that is still above average in the Continental League. For comparison, the Gold Sox are fifth in runs scored in the FL, but with 4.8 runs per game! We have two games more and 31 runs less…!? And we really don't have a batter crushing it. Alberto Ramos leads the CL in steals with 26, five ahead of the competition, although he would barely be registered in the FL, where WAS Enrique Trevino is racing towards a new ABL record for stolen bases. He has 46 bags taken and it's not even halftime yet. The ABL record was put up by CIN Nando Maiello in 2020, 66 bases. Only five runners have ever reached 60, and only 21 have ever taken 50, and Trevino might reach the latter mark and maybe even the former mark before the All Star Game. Cookie Carmona (52 SB in '14) and Yoshi Yamada (54 SB in '05) remain the only Coons to take a half-century in a season, but Ramos is on the way there.

Speaking of offense, Kevin Harenberg isn't tearing out any trees right now, but what about Jon Gonzalez in Dallas? It is actually awful. .202 with three homers in 61 games. He is slugging .290. In Dallas!

Next week, Aces and Loggers, and then we are already in July!

Fun Fact: Kyle Anderson had his fifth career shutout on Saturday, and his first as a Raccoon. His previous four had been as a member of the Falcons, who he shut out this time around, and one of those, also a 2-hitter, against the Raccoons.

That had been on a Saturday (also a match) in April of 2023, when the Coons were in the bin. It was the year Matt Nunley batted cleanup for most of the season. In fact, five of the starters that day were still on the roster: Stalker (leading off), Spencer (second), Nunley (cleanup…), Tovias (eighth), and Rico Gutierrez was the Coons' starting pitcher that day and surrendered all runs in the 4-0 game… including Kyle Anderson's only career home run.
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Old 12-06-2018, 07:25 PM   #2676
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Raccoons (48-28) @ Aces (36-38) – June 28-30, 2027

Funnily enough, the Aces were just 4 1/2 games out in the crummy CL South, which was just one game more than the Critters were trailing the Titans in their own division. There was just no justice in the world! Vegas was wholly mediocre, sitting seventh in runs scored, eighth in runs allowed, and had the distinction of the most flammable bullpen in the Continental League, with a league-worst 4.47 ERA. They were down 1-2 against the Coons this season.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (4-7, 3.61 ERA) vs. Abramo Archibugi (6-7, 3.15 ERA)
Mark Roberts (7-2, 2.81 ERA) vs. Luis Flores (10-2, 2.34 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (3-6, 3.53 ERA) vs. Tom Shumway (4-8, 4.96 ERA)

Dan Delgadillo was really the odd one out in this series, because he was the sole right-hander that would be sent into battle. The other five starters all threw from the sinister side.

The Raccoons would be without Trey Rock for his suspension through Thursday, and since we only faced left-handed pitchers in this series, Tim Stalker was likely to start all the games at the keystone rather than sliding Spencer in from the outfield and putting in Cookie.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – CF Hollingsworth – P Gutierrez
LVA: LF Dunlap – C Motley – 3B Blades – RF M. Hamilton – 1B Tadlock – CF Serrano – 2B Dein – SS A. Medina – P Archibugi

The Aces obliterated Rico Gutierrez right out of the gate. Following a walk drawn by Josh Motley, the next batters all rocked hard line drives off Rico, starting with Brett Blades' single to left. Matt Hamilton hit an RBI double, Ron Tadlock lined out to Hollingsworth for a sac fly, and Danny Serrano cracked a hard RBI single for a quick 3-spot. And you combined that with what you saw from the offense early on and you just knew that the game was lost, right out of the gate, gone. Gone was also Matt Hamilton's solo shot in the bottom 3rd that ran the score to 4-0, his 12th homer of the season. Meanwhile, the Coons put one runner on base under their own power the first and the second time through their order. Nunley singled in the top 3rd, and Hollingsworth drew a walk in the top 5th. In between, Gutierrez had his bunt mishandled by an otherwise splendid Abramo Archibugi, and that was ALL until Ramos' infield single to begin the top of the sixth. Alberto stole second base and came around to score on Rafael Gomez' single for his 50th RBI, but it was just not enough, and never enough, and that run was also pulled back by Ron Tadlock with his first home run of the season right in the bottom of the inning. The Aces cruised to victory, the Coons cruised to dinner. 5-1 Aces. Nunley 2-4; Brotman 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Stalker – CF Hollingsworth – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Roberts
LVA: LF Dunlap – C Motley – 3B Blades – RF M. Hamilton – 1B Tadlock – CF Serrano – 2B Moroyoqui – SS A. Medina – P L. Flores

Tim Stalker hit a second-inning double past Tom Dunlap, but the Coons again failed to score first with Mark Roberts not getting anybody put away with two strikes and surrendering singles to Dunlap and Motley on consecutive pitches in the first inning. Dunlap went to third right away, then came home on Blades' sac fly. Matt Hamilton had a mighty deep drive to center caught by Steve Hollingsworth, which was about the only good thing the Critters did early on. Jing-quo Liu opened the third inning with a single to right to become the tying run on base, and then Roberts had his bunt played into an extra runner by Brett Blades, who tried to throw out Liu at second base, but was well too late for that. Having his pitcher on base then robbed Alberto Ramos of a triple into the rightfield corner. Hamilton could not catch up with his sizzling liner into the nook out there, Liu scored from second, but Roberts had no chance to score and that held Ramos to an RBI double, but the Coons WOULD come up with a triple still in the same inning. It took a while though. With runners in scoring position and nobody out, Jarod Spencer uncharacteristically whiffed, but Gomez hit an RBI single, and Harenberg hit a sac fly for a 3-1 lead. It became 4-1 when Tim Stalker buried a fly in the right-center gap, and HE was the one with the triple, Danny Serrano taking forever to bring the ball back in. Hollingsworth flew out to left to end the inning, but Roberts now had a 4-1 lead and still couldn't retire people with strike three. Flores led off the bottom 3rd, fell to 0-2, then almost hit a looper for a single, but Gomez caught the ball hustling in. All of this came back to bite in the fifth inning, at which point Roberts had only rung up a hacking Hamilton, and now had to contend with Andres Medina being on base after a 2-out walk. Luis Flores flicked a single to left, and then Dunlap drove a 3-2 pitch over Harenberg's head, after which it bounced fair just once, then made the turn for the spacious foul grounds in Vegas, allowing even the pitcher to score on a 2-out, 2-run double.

For cringes, the Raccoons only got one base hit out of their lineup after the third inning ended, and that was a Roberts single in the seventh. Everybody else just blew out of a hole of their choice. Roberts crawled through seven and two thirds with remarkable resilience without ever appearing to be a Pitcher of the Year of recent mint. Ricky Ohl replaced him after 104 pitches and retired Blades only, ending the eighth, after which the 4-3 lead was Snyder's, and judging purely from the shots the Aces were firing of him, also soon gone. But it wasn't. While Synder got the save, he didn't deserve it. Rafael Gomez shagged two booming line drives in the inning, the first by Hamilton as well as the last one by Jesus Moroyoqui. In between, Ron Tadlock laced a double, and Spencer had to navigate the warning track to catch a Serrano fly. 4-3 Aces. Stalker 2-4, 3B, 2B, RBI; Roberts 7.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, W (8-2) and 1-2;

Like glue! Like glue…

Jarod Spencer was put on the bench for the rubber game after all. He sat in a 4-for-26 hole and sometimes even facing lefty can't get you cured. Maybe doing the Sudoku in the Las Vegas Gambler-Examiner could get him straightened out.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 1B Mora – RF Gomez – C Tovias – LF Carmona – CF Hollingsworth – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo
LVA: LF Dunlap – C Motley – 1B Tadlock – RF M. Hamilton – 3B Blades – SS A. Medina – CF Serrano – 2B Moroyoqui – P Shumway

Ramos with a walk and Stalker with a single got on base to begin the game, but where summarily stranded by the middle of the order that couldn't get a ball to fall in. But the Coons would score first anyway despite or because of the Aces went out of their way to get Delgadillo to the plate with two outs in this game. He came to bat in the second and fourth innings with Cookie on second base each time, and Delgadillo dropped two base hits, a double and a single, to score him twice. At the same time he held the Aces hitless through three, at least until Josh Motley doubled off the fence in the bottom 4th, but was stranded on Tadlock's grounder to Ramos, a pop to center by Hamilton, and Brett Blades' grounder to Stalker. Dunlap hit a 1-out single in the sixth, but was also stranded, and the Aces looked unsure what to do with Delgadillo, who was also suddenly strutting stuff that had been missing for the entire first half. He had entered with 57 K in 86.2 innings, but struck out six through six innings in this game.

Brett Blades' error then opened the score a bit in the seventh inning (maybe he should wear a glove rather than scissors?). He only fumbled a 2-out roller by Ramos with nobody on base to begin with, but the error brought up Stalker, who tripled around Serrano for the second time in the series, and then scored on a simple Abel Mora single to extend the score to 4-0. On the other hand, Blades reached first base on an uncaught third strike in the bottom 7th. Blades would have been the second strikeout in the inning after Hamilton, but now the Aces had a man on with one out, and he immediately stole second base. Andres Medina hit a long fly to right that dropped down into Gomez' mitten right at the fence, and Serrano grounded out to keep Dan unscored upon through seven innings, but he was also done after 106 pitches. Facing righty Tyler Nodelman in the eighth inning, Harenberg batted for Delgadillo with two outs and two (Cookie, Hollingsworth) on by merit of bases on balls. Harenberg lined out to the pitcher, and his rotten season continued… Bottom 8th, McLin faced only one batter, allowing a single to Moroyoqui, before Danny Munn pinch-hit in the #9 hole and the Coons sent Kearney, who got a double play grounder from the left-hander before surrendering a fluke triple to Dunlap, whose looper bounced in front of Hollingsworth and went under his glove into the caverns of deeper centerfield, then threw away Motley's grounder for a 2-base error. Meltdown? Ricky Ohl came to the resuce and got a grounder to Nunley from Tadlock, so at least the inning ceased to scare us at a 4-1 score. No further Raccoons offense materialized, getting Josh Boles involved in the bottom 9th. Boles hadn't pitched in the series, and the Aces would send Matt Hamilton first, so it made sense in my head. Hamilton grounded out, and while Blades hit a single, the Aces never got the second man on base to become an actual threat. They hit four grounders in the inning, three of which were handled for outs. 4-1 Coons. Stalker 2-5, 3B, RBI; Carmona 2-3, BB; Delgadillo 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, W (4-6) and 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI;

Yusneldaaaaan!! Happy for the guy, he needed that game.

Raccoons (50-29) vs. Loggers (28-49) – July 1-4, 2027

Critters had to make hay here. The Loggers were list in the water, taking water, and a few life boats had already been lowered. 23 1/2 games out of first place at half time, they had absolutely no hope, and now needed a good trouncing over a 4-game weekend. The Raccoons so far were up 6-2 on the Loggers, who sat in the bottom three in runs scored and runs allowed. Their run differential was only -59, so it could be a whole lot worse and they had not been kissed by Lady Luck either as they sat four games under their Pythagorean record, but … eh… no, not a good team at all.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (8-3, 2.83 ERA) vs. Ian Prevost (5-7, 3.55 ERA)
Rin Nomura (9-3, 2.92 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (4-6, 4.44 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-8, 3.82 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (6-6, 4.30 ERA)
Mark Roberts (8-2, 2.86 ERA) vs. Joe West (2-4, 4.44 ERA)

Four right-handers; they had no southpaw at all. They currently also didn't have a few of their position players, with Jason Stone (oblique), Manny Ferrer (broken foot), Victor Ayala (abdomen) all on the DL and Sam Green had also left their last game with an injury…

Game 1
MIL: SS Dresch – RF Rueda – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – CF Coleman – 2B M. Green – 3B A. Velez – 1B Aquino – P Prevost
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – P Anderson

The aggravating Raccoons remained aggravating, loading the bases in the bottom 3rd after two innings of nothing (even though that took Gomez getting hit with two outs after singles by Stalker and Cookie), and then Harenberg flew out lazily to give it all away. Kyle Anderson, who had started the game with three calm innings, fell apart like a house of cards in the fourth, allowing a leadoff single to Alexis Rueda, a walk to Jim Young, and the Loggers stomped him from there. After five base hits and four runs, including a gut-twisting 2-out, 2-run triple by Mike Green that got them on the board at all, and a 2-out RBI single by the opposing pitcher Prevost, Anderson loaded the bags with a Corey Dresch single, before the pitching coach pointed out that his shotgun was cocked and loaded. Anderson rung up Rueda in a full count, but the result of this particular nightmare was a 4-0 deficit, and come on, how were the Coons ever going to erase that?

They scored a pair in the bottom of the inning, although both runs were unearned after Nunley initially reached on a throwing error by Jim Young. Tovias doubled him in, scored himself on Anderson's 2-out single, and they loaded the bases with Ramos and Cookie also getting on, before there was another lazy fly to Ian Coleman, this time off Gomez' bat. Things didn't get better for Portland in the near future either, with Kyle Anderson retiring Wilson Aquino on a grounder to begin the sixth inning before he retired himself motioning for the trainer. He came out of the game (along with Nunley in a double switch), and Jeff Kearney surrendered a run in the inning, allowing Dresch on with a single, the runner stole second, then scored on Tim Stalker's throwing error on Rueda's 2-out grounder. Young made the third out, but this was followed by Bullock's throwing error on a Willie Trevino grounder the following inning, and that immediately led to a run on Ian Coleman's RBI single. The truly atrocious aspect was the fact that the Coons would be even by now if they weren't insisting on continually ****ing it up, having scored a pair of runs in the bottom 6th on the Loggers' own ****ups, which included Prevost putting the first two runners on and throwing a wild pitch and balking in a run in the inning. Kevin Surginer went on to surrender the Coleman run on Alberto Velez' 2-out single, and the hole was getting deeper and blacker at 7-4. Jarod Spencer batted for Surginer in the bottom 7th and smacked into a double play. Goodness all around!

And the Loggers STILL kept inviting the Raccoons to make a roaring comeback, again and again! Tim Stalker reached second base on a sickening throwing error by Corey Dresch in the bottom 8th, giving Portland a 1-out runner. Bullock flew out to Trevino to fall further from .200, but then Matt Simonsen walked Ramos and Ben Jacobson walked Cookie, and suddenly it was three on, two out for the fourth time in the game for the Raccoons, and they had yet to score a run in these situations. And they didn't. Right-hander David Warn became the third reliever of the inning and rung up Gomez. 7-4 Loggers. Carmona 2-3, 2 BB; Mora 2-5; Tovias 2-5, 2B, RBI;

That was an absolutely disgusting **** show…

Game 2
MIL: SS Dresch – 3B Parten – LF W. Trevino – CF Coleman – RF Rueda – C Canody – 2B Holder – 1B Aquino – P Rogers
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Rock – P Nomura

Rueda's 2-run triple right in the first inning only served to further my frustration and depression with this team that seemingly couldn't hit two stones together to cause a spark. Jason Parten had already doubled before that, Coleman had walked, and both scored on the ball that hoppled all the way into the leftfield corner, always further away from an aged Cookie Carmona. While Nomura would get credit for at least erasing his own ****ty deficit with a 2-out single in the bottom of the second inning, driving in Nunley (single) and Tovias (double) in the process after Trey Rock, fresh off the suspension, had been less than helpful in grounding out to Parten, that didn't excuse the middle of the order one bit. The 3-4-5 section had been next to meaningless for weeks now, and I found infuriating!

Thus I accepted my fate early on in the fourth inning of the 2-2 game when Rock and Ramos were on the corners with one out, Alberto even swiped second from Taylor Canody, and then Cookie rolled one over to Parten at third base. Not helpful! Rafael Gomez ran a 3-1 count, swung, I sighed, but Willie Trevino just couldn't get to the looper in the shallow gap that fell for a single and allowed both reasonably quick runners to score, breaking the tie in the Coons' favor, 4-2, before Harenberg swung over a 2-2 splitter in the dirt. And they did not take the lead a second too soon; Nomura labored through five innings on 93 pitches and wouldn't be around for much more, and this was for his 10th win of the season. They got Nomura through six at least, before the worst string of three base hits to start an inning anybody had ever witnessed in this town followed. Ramos led off the bottom 6th with a roller near the third base line. Parten hustled in, but couldn't get to the ball in time to make a play and Ramos was safe. Cookie was next, rolled a ball under a falling Rogers, over the mound, and then the leather just died when it hit the crease at the end of the mound, and Dresch had no play as he dashed in. All paws were safe on the second infield single. Next was Gomez, popping it up to shallow left near the line… and Trevino couldn't get to that one! It fell for a single, Ramos had read it well and scored, and somehow three outs had become three singles and a run. After Harenberg grounded out, Mora was walked intentionally to get to Nunley, who was unretired in the game, but rallied for his outs due and hit into a double play… Oh well. The consolation for this particular hard to watch game would be that they won. Nomura was squeezed out for six and two thirds on 112 pitches, and Ohl, Boles, and Snyder took the ball from there. Mora added an RBI single in the eighth inning, plating Ramos for an additional run. 6-2 Coons. Ramos 3-3, 2 BB; Gomez 3-5, 3 RBI; Mora 2-4, BB, RBI; Nunley 1-2, 2 BB; Nomura 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (10-3) and 1-2, 2 RBI;

Game 3
MIL: SS Dresch – 3B Parten – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – CF Coleman – 2B M. Green – RF Rueda – 1B Aquino – P D. Soto
POR: SS Ramos – RF Carmona – 2B Rock – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Spencer – 3B Nunley – C Liu – P Gutierrez

Gutierrez continued to be the essence of not sharp, couldn't get ****ing batters struck out even at 0-2, and the very second the lame-ass Raccoons offense by chance pulled a run from their belly fur, Spencer singling home Mora in the fourth inning, Gutierrez threw it all away again with a leadoff single allowed to Rueda, then a 2-run homer to Wilson Aquino in the fifth. Six crummy innings was all that Gutierrez was around for before rumpling through 100 pitches and enough unconverted 2-strike counts. Mora led off the bottom 6th with his second double in the game, but was still on base, occupying the corners along with Nunley, with two outs and the #9 spot up. Rafael Gomez batted for Gutierrez on his off day, dropped a game-tying single into left, and then Ramos struck out to consign another Gutierrez start to the realm of "best effort, well not enough".

Portland left another pair on base in the seventh inning. Rock singled, Harenberg failed as usual, Mora reached on a 2-out error, and then Spencer grounded out to Dresch anyway. Brotman got a double play from Young in the top 8th to save Surginer's bum after Kevin had walked the only batter (PH Ruben Roque) he had faced, and the Loggers didn't take the lead either. Snyder retired the Loggers in order in the top 9th in what was sadly not a save situation, but at least the Critters started with their #1 spot in the bottom 9th against Ben Jacobson. 1-2-3 all grounded out pathetically. The 10th, facing Joe Moore was more of the same, and Snyder got spanked by the 11th, allowing a single to Young, nailing Trevino, and then bleeding runs with a Coleman RBI double and a 2-run single by Roberto Amador. Nunley drew a leadoff walk off Moore to begin the bottom 11th, but was doubled up on Hollingsworth's bouncer to short, and Elias Tovias fouled out. 5-2 Loggers. Ramos 2-5; Mora 2-5, 2 2B; Gomez (PH) 1-1, RBI; Stalker (PH) 1-1;

Time for roster moves. Jing-quo Liu was batting .164, had done so for the entire season, and was finally banished to St. Petersburg along with R.C., the not so helpful interpreter. The Raccoons also waived and DFA'ed Steve Hollingsworth outright. He had batted .194 with the Blue Sox; he was batting even less with the Raccoons.

AND the Raccoons got the news that team leader Kyle Anderson had to get Tommy John surgery and would be out for a year.

SOME ****ING GOOD TIMES AROUND HERE.

In need of three new players, the Coons called up SP George James (despite a ****ty 4.97 ERA in St. Pete – no other options were available…), C Daniel Rocha (a Colombian scouting discovery that had been in Ham Lake even three weeks ago), and … yes, he is still alive… OF/1B Greg Borg, batting .294 in St. Pete.

Meanwhile, the Loggers still admitted defeat and ahead of Sunday's game traded SP Ian Prevost (6-7, 3.53 ERA) to the Gold Sox for a bevy of prospects, all of them dubious.

Game 4
MIL: SS Dresch – 3B Parten – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – CF Coleman – 2B M. Green – RF Rueda – 1B Aquino – P J. West
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Roberts

Bottom 1st, the Coons put three on with nobody out on Ramos coaxing a walk from Joe West, Spencer ripping a double, and Gomez… being put on base on catcher's interference. Oh, well, whatever THE **** GETS THEM ON!! But what got them on, didn't get the suckers in… Harenberg threatened to hit into a double play at least until Gomez made Dresch abandon the attempt to turn Green's feed for two when he slid into second base aiming for Dresch's stomach with his left leg, and after that Mora popped out, Tovias walked, and Nunley was retired in deep right to end the inning with only Ramos across on the Harenberg grounder. Harenberg came back up with Spencer and Gomez on second and first, respectively, and nobody out in the third inning, and this time indeed smacked into a double play. Mora grounded out to Green, nobody scored. GODDAMNIT, KEVIN, I ****ING HATE YOU!!!

While I was busy with a tantrum, Mark Roberts allowed one runner the first time through the Loggers' lineup, and between the third, fourth, and fifth innings logged eight strikeouts, but somehow also managed a walk to Trevino, a double to Aquino, and two wild pitches. The 1-0 lead stood tall through five, though. Bottom 5th, Ramos and Gomez on the corners for Harenberg with two down? Strikeout! LIKE A ****ING BOSS!!

Mark Roberts was really all that stood between the Coons and a series loss to the Loggers. He rung up ten through seven innings and maintained a 3-hitter after an infield single by Dresch, while also bunting badly enough to coax Joe West into trying to get Trey Rock at second base in the bottom 7th, but still well enough that West had to fail. All paws safe, nobody out, top of the order coming up. Now RAMOS hit into a double play… and Spencer flew out to Rueda. Are you … are you … are you kidding me, possibly? What had to come, came, with Roberts surrendering the ****ing 1-0 lead on Corey Dresch's first career homer with two outs in the eighth. Oh, don't feel bad, Mark. That 26-year-old rookie could be the next shooting star. You know, when nobody will talk about you and your ****ty-*** teammates anymore.

(sigh!) Roberts struck out Parten as a parting gift to the rest of the team, bleeding into the bottom 8th… Gomez grounded out. Harenberg, with nobody on ****ing base, singled up the middle, as did Mora. Tovias grounded to the mound, Ben Jacobson stumbled, couldn't field the ball, and Tovias was judged a "single" on that mockery of the game. Three on, one out for Nunley, who was only batting .250, but was not quite as infuriating in his failures… yet. Because this was a prime double play spot. First pitch, grounder to Green, to short, to first, double play. I hate you all. Wonderfully, this ****ting **** game bled into extra innings, because the Loggers were impressed by Jeff Kearney in the top 9th, and the home team just kept lying face down in the dirt. The Loggers couldn't score on Dan McLin in the 10th either despite an Aquino double and McLin balking him to third base.

Top 11th. Dresch drew a leadoff walk, Velez flew out to left. Young then grounded to third base, Nunley threw it away, and the Loggers had a pair on base, which soon enough was a full set when Trevino singled. There wasn't a way this wasn't blowing up in damn Dan McLin's face, especially with Ian Coleman at the plate. He didn't disappoint as he lined a ball up the rightfield line, uncatchable for Gomez, and all the way to the corner. One, two, three runners scored on the triple, and the Raccoons had gotten exactly what they deserved, the ****ing losers. Sam Green drove home Coleman, too, not that it mattered whether the Loggers scored three runs or four, seven runs or just one. Well, except for the one run in the bottom 11th that they scored on Green's throwing error… 5-2 Loggers. Spencer 2-6, 2B; Gomez 2-4; Tovias 3-4, BB; Roberts 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K;

In other news

June 28 – NYC 3B Andy Schmit (.301, 5 HR, 28 RBI) will be out for two to three weeks with a strained oblique.
June 29 – LAP OF Justin Fowler (.304, 16 HR, 61 RBI) shines with four base hits and 7 RBI in a 19-6 drumming of the Rebels. In addition to two singles and two homers, Fowler also draws two walks.
June 29 – Oft-injured DEN SP Jose Menendez (1-3, 3.27 ERA) is on the shelf again with a forearm strain. The Gold Sox don't expect him back before late August.
July 1 – Topeka's SP Nick Danieley (9-6, 3.84 ERA) strikes out 15 Blue Sox in a 5-0 win, giving up just four base hits in eight innings of work.
July 1 – Medal-hung SAC RF/LF Pablo Sanchez (.307, 4 HR, 35 RBI) will miss the entire month with a torn meniscus.
July 1 – CHA LF/RF Barend Kok (.255, 10 HR, 38 RBI) will probably also be out for a month with a hamstring strain.
July 2 – SP Andy Palomares (8-6, 3.26 ERA) is traded along with a coffer of cash from the Thunder to the Rebels in exchange for two prospects, including #42 SP Kyle Dominy.
July 3 – Another difficult to replace loss for the Scorpions, who will be without 3B Jason LaCombe (.311, 0 HR, 23 RBI) for three weeks after the 37-year-old has come down with rotator cuff tendinitis.
July 3 – IND SP Mo Robinson (4-1, 1.82 ERA, 17 SV) pitches a 3-hit shutout (sic!) in a 4-0 win over the Titans. It was the 34-year-old's first start of the season.
July 4 – SFB SS/3B Omar Camacho (.259, 5 HR, 29 RBI) hits for the cycle in a 6-0 win over the Knights, going 4-for-4 and driving in three runs. This is the 75th cycle in ABL history and the fourth for the Bayhawks, joining Alberto Rodriguez (1997), Dave Garcia (2018), and Rafael Gomez (2022).
July 4 – The Buffaloes score ten runs in the third inning in a 14-5 rout of the Blue Sox. TOP 1B/2B Chris Owen (.283, 6 HR, 27 RBI) goes 4-for-4 with a home run and 5 RBI.

Complaints and stuff

How can a single offense be THIS ****ING ****?? I should demote all of them. Or fire them outright. Or just lock them in the clubhouse without food for the night. THAT should take care of things!!

(screams some more into his paper bag)

It gets worse. George James pitched on Saturday, so he can not take the next scheduled start for Anderson, which is on Tuesday. A combination of factors, including 40-man roster constraints, a financial pinch and our reluctance to give out another minimum salary, and no options on the waiver wire mean that at least Rin Nomura has to go on short rest unless we decide to go to Kevin Surginer for another spot start instead.

Fun Fact: The only previous cycle occurring on Independence Day was Carlos Leσn's first cycle on July 4, 1982, in the Wolves' 9-5 win over the Scorpions.

Leσn is not only one of only three players to hit for a cycle twice in their career, but he is also the only such player to hit for his two cycles in the same summer. He also cycled on August 24, 1982, against the Stars. He was later a Raccoon, but could hardly hit for ten bases in a month by then…
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Old 12-09-2018, 11:27 AM   #2677
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Raccoons (51-32) vs. Crusaders (45-36) – July 5-8, 2027

Next up for the Raccoons and their perpetually foundering offense were their four-and-four playmates for this season as the All Star break approached. The Crusaders were already almost double digits out in the CL North despite leading the Continental League in runs scored and batting average and a few other offensive categories. They did have serious pitching woes, though. They were conceding the fourth-most runs overall, and their rotation was getting wrecked to the tune of a 4.47 ERA, second-worst in the 2027 low-offense CL. The Raccoons were 3-1 on them this season.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (4-6, 3.27 ERA) vs. Doug Moffatt (8-5, 4.55 ERA)
TBD vs. Chris Klein (10-4, 3.25 ERA)
Rin Nomura (10-3, 2.90 ERA) vs. Carlos Marron (5-2, 3.43 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-8, 3.78 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (5-5, 4.75 ERA)

All righties for New York, while the Critters were as of yet none the smarter about who would fill in on Tuesday, although Kevin Surginer (2-0, 2.06 ERA) remained a valid option as long as Dan Delgadillo didn't press him into service with a ****ty Monday outing.

Game 1
NYC: LF Espinosa – 3B Walter – RF Ellis – C Asay – 1B Godown – 2B Kane – CF N. Ayala – SS S. Valdez – P Moffatt
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Delgadillo

Let alone our squeezed pitching situation for a second, the weather also attempted to be a factor in this game as it started to drizzle more or less right after Delgadillo's first pitches, which Juan Espinosa and Shane Walter hit for singles to go to the corners, with Nate Ellis' double play grounder plating Espinosa for a quickie 1-0 lead for the Crusaders, and it would rain on and off throughout the game. The Coons had Ramos on base in the first, but stranded him after he stole his 29th bag, then brought up Nunley with a 2-out single in the bottom 2nd. Trey Rock pushed a grounder through Justin Godown for a double, but pulled up lame at second base and had to be replaced by Tim Stalker before Delgadillo being rung up by Doug Moffatt concluded the inning with a pair stranded in scoring position. Yusneldan was also struck out to strand a pair in the bottom 4th, but at least Tim Stalker had brought in the tying run with a groundout just before that. The inning had started with a Harenberg double; weirdly he only seemed to be able to do anything at all if nobody was on base these days, as his 35 RBI this year could attest to. He struck out to end the bottom 5th with Rafael Gomez on first base after a 2-out single, too.

Delgadillo was not convincing anybody, relying on the defense to drag him through innings. Through six he struck out nobody at all while walking three and running up 103 pitches. He walked Godown with two outs in the top 6th, then was only bailed out when Mike Kane's drive to deep left was caught by Jarod Spencer while he bounced off the fence out there, but survived the ordeal without crippling injuries. Bottom 6th, Moffatt walked Mora and Tovias to begin the inning, but these were not the dastardly disturbing Raccoons for no reason at all. Nunley and Stalker BOTH fouled out behind home plate, and when Cookie batted for Delgadillo, he grounded out to the mound…

Not that the Crusaders were much better. Kearney put PH's Jose Gutierrez and Felipe Delgado to begin the top 7th, but then Moffatt bunted into a double play. After Kearney walked Espinosa in a distracting appearance, Ricky Ohl secured the third out from PH Nick Shaffer. Things only got more wicked from there; Ramos got on base on the Crusaders' error for the second time in the bottom 7th – this time Kane being the culprit – but was again blindingly left stranded. Ricky Ohl continued the dirty work in the top of the eighth, struck out Nate Ellis for the first Coons K on the day, but then Jason Asay singled, after which the rain got so bad that the umpires had to call a rain delay that lasted the rest of the evening and ended up suspending the game to Tuesday.

At this point, the Raccoons were *really* in the ****. We had an incomplete game to complete (probably in extras the way I know the little ****s), THEN probably pitch a complete game starting with Surginer? By then, the Titans had also won and put us five games out, so why even worry anymore?

Game 1 (resumed)
NYC: LF Espinosa – CF Shaffer – RF Ellis – C Asay – 1B Godown – 2B Kane – 3B Vacarri – SS F. Delgado – P Moffatt
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Stalker – P Ohl

Play resumed with a pitching change as the Coons sent Josh Boles to actually resume tossing here, which didn't get the damn Coons anywhere. Boles yielded a single up the middle to Godown on an 0-2 pitch, Asay went for third base, and Abel Mora's throwing error allowed him to score. And that was really the game. The Raccoons put Mora and Stalker on base in the bottom 8th, then saw Greg Borg strike out to strand them in his first plate appearance of the season, and Travis Giordano retired the 1-2-3 batters in that order in the ninth. 2-1 Crusaders. Mora 2-3, BB; Rock 1-1, 2B;

With the bullpen now shackled, too, the Coons had to pull Surginer out of the Tuesday start. Rin Nomura was sent on short rest instead.

Game 2
NYC: 2B J. Gutierrez – C F. Delgado – RF N. Ellis – 1B Godown – 3B Kane – CF Shaffer – LF N. Ayala – SS Vacarri – P Klein
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – 2B Spencer – C Rocha – P Nomura

This was the major league debut for Daniel Rocha, a catcher nobody had talked about even six weeks ago. His first plate appearance occurred with the Coons up 1-0 thanks to Abel Mora's leadoff jack in the bottom 2nd and had Spencer on first base after Jarod's single. Rocha grounded out to Mike Kane, but that allowed Spencer to move to second base, from where he scored when Rin Nomura cracked a single to shallow center, extending the lead to 2-0. The Crusaders responded by making two outs at third base in the third inning; Giacobbe Vacarri hit a 1-out double to left, then was caught stealing, and then Chris Klein hit a gapper to right-center which would have been good for a double, but displaying a lack of awareness he tried to get to third base, where then Nunley already waited with the ball to tag him out easily. Nomura then hung on to the 2-0 lead with great stubbornness (he was just better with small leads…) while the Coons flailed aimlessly for a few innings, right up until Nomura opened the bottom 5th with a single to left. Klein walked Ramos, then lost Cookie on a single. Three on, no outs, middle of the order approaching. Go get a drink now and spare yourself the agony. Rafael Gomez drove in a run on a bloop single before Harenberg grounded hard to first base, Godown firing home to cull Ramos at the plate. Mora flew out to Ayala in left, but that allowed Cookie to scamper home, 4-0 on the sac fly. Nunley struck out.

Nomura lasted seven innings, which in itself was already a success on short rest, and also remained unscored upon, which was even dandier. And tension was high in the seventh inning, with Godown reaching base with a 1-out single before Nomura lost Shaffer in a full count for his second walk in the game. Nelson Ayala was likely his final batter one way or another, and Nomura reached back once more and managed to get in a 3-2 changeup that seemed to freeze in mid-air and completely threw Ayala's timing off. He flailed himself out to end the inning. Nomura hung around to retire Vacarri in the eighth, but then was replaced by Surginer, who entered in a double switch that also exchanged Mora in center for Greg Borg, but got stuck against Gutierrez (single) and Delgado (double) that put 2-out pressure on Portland. Billy Brotman replaced him against Ellis, whom he struck out. Billy hung around for the save despite a leadoff double hit by Godown in the ninth and Ayala driving him in with a 2-out single. Vacarri struck out to end the game. 4-1 Coons. Ramos 1-2, 2 BB; Nomura 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, W (11-3) and 2-3, RBI; Brotman 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, SV (1);

Daniel Rocha hit a double off the fence in rightfield in the sixth inning for his first major league base hit, but was left stranded.

Game 3
NYC: LF Espinosa – CF Hatley – RF Ellis – C Asay – 1B Godown – 2B Kane – 3B Walter – SS S. Valdez – P Marron
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 2B Spencer – 3B Nunley – P James

James struck out his first ABL batter of the season, Espinosa, which was as close to a good outing a she would come. The Crusaders hit him all over the place, including doubles by Godown and twice-a-Coon Shane Walter in the second inning for their first run. They added an unearned run in the third on a Tovias throwing error, but Nick Hatley also romped a 2-run homer with nobody out in the fifth after Espinosa's leadoff single. That was already the ninth base hit off James, who couldn't help himself and also got no help from the rest of the team; Carlos Marron threw a 2-hitter through six innings, and no Raccoon had touched third base by the time their bullpen got involved after Tim Stalker had fouled out in James' spot in the bottom 6th. Tovias would hit a 1-out single in the bottom 7th, moving Mora to second base after Abel's walk earlier, and a normal team would consider two on, one out when down by four runs a remote chance, but these Coons only saw the cheap glory of hitting into another double play. Jarod Spencer grounded to short, and it was only a slight bobble by Kane on Sergio Valdez' feed that kept the Crusaders from turning two. Nunley then flew out to Hatley in center.

Nope, this had all the signs of a lame-ass loss. Bullock struck out batting for Brotman to begin the bottom 8th before Ramos walked and Cookie singled. They pulled off a double steal, then scored on Gomez' single to left. Suddenly it was an actual ballgame, except that the Crusaders sent Ben Marx to replace Marron and Harenberg struck out willingly. Mora was up with two outs, when an errant pickoff throw sent Gomez to second base, Mora singled to left-center, Gomez scored and pulled a throw that allowed Mora to move up to second base, from where he scored on Tovias' single. Tied ballgame! What just happened!!?? Spencer grounded out to end the inning, but suddenly it was 4-4 on the board! Please curb your enthusiasm though – they were not likely to score again this week after this sudden outburst. For now, Jonathan Snyder survived a double by 42-year-old Jose Gutierrez in the top 9th to give the team a walkoff chance after all, but the team couldn't piece anything together in the bottom 9th against Marx, who walked Bullock with a one out, but that didn't amount to a run before time ran out. Reason enough to gnash teeth was that Bullock was also the very next Raccoon to reach base again in the game, and then because Travis Giordano drilled him leading off the bottom 12th. On the bright side, the Coons' Snyder and Boles had held up this far, and now Ramos grounded through Gutierrez, who finally showed his age and gave the Coons a potentially game-winning single that sent Bullock to third base. With nobody out even! Cookie grounded to Gutierrez in that situation, Gutierrez had to go home, and fast – and dropped the ball. Walkoff error! 5-4 Blighters! Gomez 2-5, 2 RBI; Tovias 3-4, BB, RBI; Snyder 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; Boles 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, W (5-2);

Fewer 12-inning games would be great, though…

For now the Druid reported that Trey Rock's knee showed no structural damage but was still sore and that he would only be ready again after the All Star Game and a few wraps with the Druid's world-infamous snake gut ointment.

It doesn't sound half as bad as it looks. And it doesn't look even a quarter as bad as it smel- (heave!)

Game 4
NYC: 2B J. Gutierrez – C F. Delgado – RF Ellis – CF Hatley – 1B Godown – 3B Kane – LF Shaffer – SS Vacarri – P E. Cannon
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – 3B Bullock – P Gutierrez

Rico pitched his heart out, striking out four in the first three innings while requiring divine intervention only once when Gomez shagged – somehow – Felipe Delgado's drive deep into the right-center gap. Ellis and Godown hit soft singles off him in the fourth, but Kane grounded into an inning-ending double play. The bottom of that inning also saw vague movement by the Coons for the first time, even in the most subtle of ways. Harenberg drew a 1-out walk, Mora hit an infield single. After Tovias grounded out to advance the runners, Tim Stalker was walked intentionally to get .180 slugfest king Daniel Bullock involved with three on and two outs, which ended with a sad grounder to Godown. The Crusaders' own sub-.200 infielder then put them up 1-0 in the fifth on Vacarri's solo shot to right. Delgado and Gomez exchanged leadoff jacks in the fifth inning to bring the score to 2-1 in favor of the wrong team, but the Critters followed that up with Harenberg and Mora both singling off Cannon to bring the go-ahead run on base. Cannon hung two strikes on Elias Tovias, before hanging what was supposed to be third one, right in the wheelhouse. Deep to right – ELIAS! MATIAS! TOVIAS! DIAZ! THREE-RUN HOMER!!

After this ecstatic moment, the Coons put Stalker on base, he stole second, but ultimately ended up stranded. Rico battled through the seventh, striking out ancient Gutierrez (who I can't tell often enough was a Raccoon when Clyde Brady was a Raccoon…!) with the tying runs aboard to protect his 4-2 lead. Everybody wanted him that win so badly after a 4-8 first half, and the Coons chipped singles off Steve Casey in the bottom 7th to tack on. Gomez singled, Mora singled, Tovias singled to extend the lead to 5-2. But Rico ran out of steam in the eighth; Delgado singled, and Hatley walked with one out, bringing up Godown again. Kearney replaced him despite my lefty-for-lefty aversion and got out of the jam with an easy F9 from Godown, then a K hung on Mike Kane. Bottom 8th, Bullock walked against Casey to begin the inning, stole second, Jarod Spencer singled up the middle, then stole second. Runners in scoring position with no outs, the Crusaders shrugged Ramos aboard to try their luck with an 0-for-4 Cookie, who grounded into a force at home, and then Gomez grounded into a double play. Nobody scored… and did I hear the bells of doom tolling in the distance? Top 9th, Nick Shaffer was thrown out trying to bunt his way on against Snyder before Vacarri homered to center. What?? Ayala flew out to right, but then Gutierrez and Walter chucked 2-out singles, bringing up the tying run in Nate Ellis and his 12 homers. The count ran full, Ellis took a big hack – and popped out to short. 5-3 Critters. Gomez 3-5, HR, RBI; Mora 3-4; Tovias 2-4, HR, 4 RBI; Stalker 1-2, BB; Spencer (PH) 1-1; Gutierrez 7.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, W (5-8);

Raccoons (54-33) vs. Canadiens (43-42) – July 9-11, 2027

The Elks sported the second-best offense in the league at this point, but like the Crusaders rotted in the bottom quarter in terms of runs allowed. They had the second-most runs conceded right now, giving them a meager +2 run differential (Coons: +86), but they still held a 5-4 edge over us in the season series.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (8-2, 2.74 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (0-0)
Dan Delgadillo (4-6, 3.16 ERA) vs. Ernesto Lozano (2-7, 4.59 ERA)
Rin Nomura (11-3, 2.71 ERA) vs. Antonio Muniz (8-5, 4.44 ERA)

Two more right-handers before we'd get the southpaw "Furball"(??) Muniz on Sunday. Since Nomura might make the All Star Game I was looking at options to not have him pitch on Sunday, but that would once more involve having somebody go on short rest… or Kevin Surginer.

Joe Martin would make his first major league start. The 23-year-old from Chicago was the #44 pick in the 2023 draft and had made one appearance last year when he had surrendered four runs in one inning in relief. No offense to the Coons, but they would probably allow him to get his 36.00 career ERA down significantly in this outing.

Game 1
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – 3B Crosby – LF A. Torres – 2B Gura – 1B Myles – C M. Sanchez – CF Day – SS R. Walsh – P J. Martin
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 2B Spencer – 3B Nunley – P Roberts

The Raccoons' season ended in the first inning with Alberto Ramos leaving the game with a strained oblique, Bullock replacing him. Ramos had knocked a leadoff double as he fell by the wayside, the first of three doubles in the inning (Cookie, Harenberg) as the Critters took an early 2-0 lead. But, oh, for what price!? The home crowd was stunned to see this development occur, and so was I. I was so stunned I couldn't even reach for the liquor until like the fourth inning.

At that point and beyond, Mark Roberts was shutting out the Elks, but the Raccoons didn't tack onto their early lead, and didn't even get close to another run while Roberts was 3-hitting the damn Elks through five innings with seven strikeouts to his ledger. All of this and more was undone in the sixth inning; Adrian Crosby opened it with a soft single to left, and Roberts got Alex Torres to strike out before surrendering back-to-back blinding bombs to dismal Ted Gura and Adan Myles, falling 3-2 behind in the process. And whoever hoped for something of a reaction from the Raccoons would be sorely disappointed. They did not get another base hit against Martin through eight innings (and had only gotten two in total after the 3-double first inning), then faced right-hander Sean Carlsen and his 5+ ERA in the bottom 9th. That was curious choice even for a team with pitching problems. But did it harm them? Of course it didn't. Harenberg grounded out to short, ****tily, Mora flew out to left, and Tovias was rung up. 3-2 Canadiens. Ramos 1-1, 2B; Carmona 2-3, BB, 2B, RBI;

Along with Alberto Ramos being buried on the DL after this game, the Raccoons' season was buried with him. There was no spark left in that failure-trodden lineup.

Juan Magallanes was called up from AAA.

Game 2
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – 1B Day – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – SS Byrd – 3B Crosby – 2B Gura – P Lozano
POR: LF Carmona – SS Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Delgadillo

Through three, Delgadillo yielded a Torres single, but struck out four, while also watching his team being no-hit by Ernesto Lozano. The Elks got on the board in the fourth inning thanks to Norman Day lobbing a leadoff single, swiping second base on the rookie Rocha, and then racing for home on a single by Ricky Ortνz that eluded Tim Stalker up the middle. Ted Gura hit a 1-out double the following inning, went for home on Brian Wojnarowski's single to center, but was thrown out to end the inning by Abel Mora.

Meanwhile the Coons' offensive ambitions were entirely limited to whatever the Elks did wrong. Lozano lapsed Gomez and Harenberg on base with 2-out walks in the bottom 1st, but Mora grounded out to Day. They didn't get another runner until Nunley reached on Day's error in the fifth inning, but Rocha hit into a double play to do away with that one, and then John Byrd threw away Delgadillo's grounder for a 2-base error at the start of the sixth inning, which was technically a splendid chance for a normally abled team. These Raccoons, however… popped out, grounded out, and popped out. The home crowd booed slightly in the seventh inning, a bit more in the eighth, at least until Greg Borg rolled a pinch-hit single past a lunging Byrd for a 2-out base knock that broke up Lozano's bid with four outs left to collect. That didn't make them winners, though. Cookie grounded out pathetically, and with Carlsen taking over they were sat down 1-2-3 in the ninth. 1-0 Canadiens. Borg (PH) 1-1; Delgadillo 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, L (4-7);

[INCOHERENT SCREAMING WITH VAGUE THREATS MIXED IN]

For the Sunday game, the bench got even shorter, with Cookie Carmona being in diffuse pain and unable to play. Oh jolly, baseball gods – always keep 'em coming!

Game 3
VAN: 3B Crosby – 1B Day – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 2B Byrd – RF C. Mendoza – 2B Gura – P A. Muniz
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – 1B Mora – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Borg – LF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – P James

With Rin Nomura winning an All Star nomination, the Coons scratched him from the Sunday game and sent George James, who had thrown 81 pitches on Wednesday, on short rest instead. The first results of this were terrific… for the damn Elks. Crosby and Day lashed singles, and Alex Torres' double allowed them to score two runs in the first inning, one immediately, and one after Ortνz grounded out to Spencer. The Coons left them loaded in the bottom 1st, which Stalker opened with a double, then put Magallanes (single) and Nunley (Gura error) on base to begin the bottom 2nd. James bunted them over. The tying runs scored … albeit on a groundout and a wild pitch. The mileage of your confidence might vary.

And the error parade continued; Abel Mora grounded poorly to begin the third inning, but Ortνz threw the roller past the reaching Day, awarding the go-ahead run second base with nobody out in the bottom 3rd. And it also scored! After a Gomez single moved Mora to third, he came home when Tovias drilled a bouncer into a 6-4-3 double play. And I had no more pills to swirl into my martini. While James held of collapse for now, the Coons put them on the corners with singles by Magallanes and Nunley in the bottom 4th, with nobody out. No way we'd hit for James anyway, but he'd also not bunt, but rather … strike out looking. Stalker walking on four pitches made all that relative anyway, and the bases were loaded for Jarod Spencer, who was batting .249 and falling, and grounded right in the next double play. GODDAMNIT!!! Nope, the stupid ****s would hit into another double play the following inning, Tovias 6-4-3 to erase Gomez' single, and that after Mora had erased his own single when he was caught stealing.

Accordingly, the Elks tore James to shreds in the sixth, three singles with one out by Torres, Ortνz, and Byrd to tie the game, and then a walk to Chris Mendoza loaded the bases. Ricky Ohl replaced the swamped starter and struck out both Gura and Muniz to end the inning, but GOOD LORD, what were they even DOING??? Bottom 6th, Magallanes with another 1-out single, then a walk drawn by Nunley. Harenberg batted for Ohl, coming off a bench otherwise containing only the two Daniels, and – LO AND BEHOLD – he came through with a single to right that sent Magallanes around to score. HALLELUJAH. Then Stalker and Spencer were going to strand Nunley on third base with soft fly outs to Chris Mendoza… except that Mendoza dropped Spencer's ball for a run-scoring error. What an assembly of two teams, only intent on soiling somebody's well-mown lawn …! The inning ended with a Mora strikeout, and the following inning saw Tovias with his third double play grounder of the game, and Nunley chucked a ball to Byrd for a double play in the eighth. They were actually trying to kill me – the only logical explanation at this point. At least Kearney and McLin handled the 5-3 lead without breaking it, and handed it off to Snyder in the ninth inning, who had nothing better to do than allowing a leadoff single to Mendoza. Ted Gura singled, sending Mendoza to third, and when Adan Myles flew to center, Borg dropped that ball. Mendoza scored, tying run at third base, go-ahead run on second base. Nobody out. And nobody was made out by Snyder, either, who walked Crosby, then faced PH Manny Sanchez with the bags full and surrendered a long, long, long, long slam to left. Snyder was hauled in and kicked down the stairs to the tunnel between dugout and clubhouse, leaving the game to Surginer, who extracted the team from the ninth. Bottom 9th. J.R.Hreha allowed a leadoff single to Jarod Spencer as I watched numbly. Mora grounded out. Gomez, unretired, walked onto the open base. Which brought up Tovias with a chance for a fourth double play in this game, and Rocha had already batted, so nobody could bat for Tovias. Four double plays had to be a league record for a single stupid player! And he couldn't even do THAT correctly, flying out to Torres. Borg flew out to Coca. 8-5 Canadiens. Gomez 4-4, BB; Magallanes 3-3, BB; Harenberg (PH) 1-1, RBI;

Destroyed. Everything shattered and… Destroyed.

In other news

July 5 – The Scorpions pick up INF/RF John Calfee (.188, 12 HR, 32 RBI) from the Canadiens along with a prospect, sending INF John Byrd (.282, 1 HR, 17 RBI) to Vancouver. The Canadiens also pick up SP Ben Jacobson (4-3, 3.18 ERA) from the Loggers, who in turn receive a prospect from Vancouver.
July 6 – TOP SP Nick Danieley (10-6, 3.57 ERA) 2-hits the Capitals in a 3-0 shutout.
July 6 – DEN SP Ian Prevost (6-7, 3.56 ERA) doesn't even last two innings in his first Gold Sox start before twisting an ankle. He is expected to miss the rest of the month.
July 8 – Loggers INF Mike Green (.212, 8 HR, 28 RBI) is lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.
July 8 – OCT C Mike Pizzo (.271, 2 HR, 10 RBI) is traded to the Rebels for LF/RF Alfredo Quintana (.270, 3 HR, 13 RBI).
July 10 – The Crusaders pick up 2B/SS Zheng-ze Ts'ai (.280, 5 HR, 39 RBI) from the Stars in exchange for two prospects.
July 10 – Knights' LF/RF Johnny Stuckey (.244, 1 HR, 13 RBI) is traded to the Rebels for INF Ruben Pelles (.211, 3 HR, 16 RBI).
July 11 – RIC SP Fernando Estrada (5-5, 4.39 ERA) is done for the season after suffering radial nerve compression.
July 11 – DEN SP Ernesto Lujan (6-7, 3.89 ERA) is also lost for the year with a torn back muscle.

Complaints and stuff

From stabs in the back to kicks in the guts to punches on the nose. Let's dissect this one by one. We expect Alberto Ramos to be back somewhere around the middle of August, at which point this lame-ass team will probably be nine games out and will be on a 74-inning scoreless streak.

Then there is the curious case of Cookie Carmona, who is 35 years old, but according to the Druid has the body of a 70-year-old man. He dragged himself through the season so far, but starting four games in a row this week mostly crippled him and the Druid has now diagnosed him with *gout*, which is not something he is expected to shake off any time soon. We'll see how he is after the All Star break, but the Druid recommends giving him a walker for assistance in the field, and will also change his diet to mostly herbs and roots, ostensibly to kill him?

For no reason at all, the Raccoons would send six All Stars for the Tuesday game, although a sizable portion were relief pitchers… Rin Nomura, Josh Boles, Ricky Ohl, Billy Brotman, Rafael Gomez, and Kevin Harenberg (!!?) all got tabbed. It was the first such nomination for all the pitchers minus Ohl, who made the second exhibition of his career along with Gomez. Harenberg got the third nod.

Note that Jonathan Snyder, unlike Kevin Harenberg, did not get a fake All Star nomination. When Ricky Ohl comes back, he will be the new closer, and Snyder can consider himself lucky if I can find a ****ty team to trade him to rather than pulling out all of his whiskers one by one without sedation for either him or me!!

This is the low point, right? They can't get any more atrocious, right?

Ah. All that remains is booze.

Fun Fact: Poignantly, Joe Martin's first career outing (1 IP, 4 ER) occurred on September 30, 2026 in the 14-1 rout by which the Raccoons clinched the CL North in Vancouver.

Ramos and Spencer hit singles, Matt Jamieson hit a 2-run double, and Nunley, Terry Kopp, and Brett O'Dell all chipped in singles to run up the 4-run tally.

Happier times.
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Old 12-11-2018, 04:38 PM   #2678
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All Star Game

Tijuana's Shane Sanks was named the All Star Game MVP, going 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the Continental League's 2-0 win over the Federal League in Richmond. The Elks' Brian Wojnarowski drove in the only other run of the game.

The Coons' Rin Nomura pitched one perfect inning for the win appearing right after Tijuana's Jeff Little held the FL scoreless to begin the game. Josh Boles and Ricky Ohl also had scoreless appearances. Billy Brotman did not pitch.

Kevin Harenberg started the game at first base, but was 0-for-2 before being replaced by Pat Fowlkes. Rafael Gomez had an unsuccessful pinch-hitting appearance.

Raccoons (54-36) @ Crusaders (48-40) – July 15-18, 2027

The All Star break couldn't have been long enough for lineup as dead as the Raccoons' before the next series rolled around. Off they were to a 3-city road trip that would begin in the Northeast with a 4-game set against the Crusaders, who the Coons were up 6-2 against this season after taking three of four in the week prior to the All Star Game. All of that success had come before the Coons had been made complete laughs by the Elks on the weekend, and didn't count anymore. Runs counted – and the Coons weren't scoring any. They had dropped to sixth in runs scored by now, while the Crusaders ranked first. Their pitching was still miserable, with the second-worst rotation and the fifth-most runs conceded overall.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (8-3, 2.81 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (4-5, 5.60 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (5-8, 3.70 ERA) vs. Carlos Marron (5-2, 3.45 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (4-7, 3.04 ERA) vs. Doug Moffatt (9-5, 4.28 ERA)
Rin Nomura (11-3, 2.71 ERA) vs. Chris Klein (11-5, 3.37 ERA)

The exact order of their right-handers might vary, but they were all that: right-handers. No surprises expected here.

While the Crusaders were still without Andy Schmit to begin the series, he was expected to return during the weekend. The Coons' Cookie was … old. He was still listed as OUT to begin the series.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Spencer – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Roberts
NYC: 1B N. Ayala – SS R. Allen – RF Ellis – C F. Delgado – LF Espinosa – 2B Ts'ai – CF Shaffer – 3B Kane – P Rutkowski

Both teams dropped the odd single here or there, but the odd single wasn't going to create a run unless paired with some extra-base prowess, and who was merrier than Mark Roberts in surrendering home runs? While that was certainly the booming question in my head, he held up nicely early on and the Coons were actually the first ones to get a ball in for extra bases when Abel Mora hit for a 1-out double in the third inning. Gomez flew out, but Harenberg got a ball into centerfield that allowed Mora to score with the game's first run, and the top of the order was on it again in the fifth inning when starting with Stalker they chopped off straight singles to run the score to 2-0 on Rafael Gomez' single to center. Harenberg grounded out, creating an open base at first that the Crusaders walked Elias Tovias onto to face the struggling Jarod Spencer – yes, all the Coons were struggling. Spencer grounded a ball to Rutkowski for a sure out at home, and Nunley popped out to short as the misery continued unabated. Bottom 5th, Zhang-ze Ts'ai's leadoff triple signaled that the fun was due to be over. Roberts foolishly plated him with a wild pitch, then walked Nick Shaffer, who stole second and came around on two groundouts to tie the game.

While resignation was hardly ever uncalled for with this summer's Raccoons, they actually moaned and scored again. Trey Rock hit a leadoff single in the sixth, was bunted over by Roberts, and scored on a Stalker single, and in the seventh inning Spencer reached base with two outs, nipped second base (his 13th base this year), then came home when Ts'ai could not reach Nunley's roller over the second base bag and it escaped for an RBI single, 4-2. Too bad Roberts got stuck in the bottom 7th; Shaffer hit a 2-out double and he lost Mike Kane on balls, bringing up Jose Gutierrez, old enough to have witnessed the first Spanish landing in Central America, as pinch-hitter for Rutkowski. That removed both starting pitchers; Kevin Surginer would be tasked with this batter, and rung him up with blazing heat. That solved the problem in this inning, but Billy Brotman created a new mess in the eighth in which Nelson Ayala and Felipe Delgado reached. Snyder replaced him with two outs and PH Jason Asay batting for Juan Espinosa, and four days after his infamous Sunday meltdown in Vancouver got the K this time. The Coons failed to tack on when Shaffer caught Nunley's soft fly to center in the top 9th, ending the inning with Greg Borg and Jarod Spencer stranded on the corners after a pair of singles off Steve Casey. That made the ninth Ricky Ohl's first appearance as official closer; he struck out Ts'ai and Shaffer before Kane reached on Stalker's throwing error. Oh please god no – Shane Walter flew out to center to end the game. 4-2 Coons. Stalker 3-4, RBI; Mora 2-5, 2B; Gomez 2-5, RBI; Borg (PH) 1-1; Spencer 2-5; Nunley 2-5, RBI; Roberts 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, W (9-3);

You would think that 15 base hits would yield more than four runs, but not when you mix in 14 singles. Only Abel Mora had that lone double.

Matt Nunley livened up a 1-for-20 stretch with his pair of hits.

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Spencer – 3B Nunley – 2B Rock – P Roberts
NYC: 2B J. Gutierrez – SS R. Allen – RF Ellis – C F. Delgado – CF Hatley – LF Espinosa – 1B N. Ayala – 3B Kane – P Marron

Tim Stalker reached on an uncaught third strike to begin the game, which was one way to make something happen. Abel Mora singled, and then Gomez popped out, Harenberg popped out, and Elias Tovias grounded out to short on a 3-0 pitch. Stay awesome, boys, stay awesome …! By contrast, the Crusaders – leadoff single by Mummy Gutierrez, then a 2-out, 2-run homer by Felipe Delgado, and BAM – a 2-0 lead. But leave it to the Coons – even when the first bite was not very tasteful, they kept nibbling. Stalker hit a leadoff single in the third, scored on Rafael Gomez' triple to dead center, and Harenberg's fly to right was deep enough to get Gomez home to tie the score. The following inning Rico's spot came up with Nunley and Rock on second and first, respectively, and one out. Now, Rico was a terrible batter and nothing good would come of letting him swing with one out and a double play waiting to be made. So he bunted, badly, to third base, where Mike Kane got Nunley forced out. The Crusaders' Carlos Marron however lost Tim Stalker to a 2-out walk, then also lost control of his fastball, throwing a yummy one to Abel Mora. That ball was never seen again, breaking the plane over the wall in rightfield at lightning speed – GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!

Funny thing, Rico Gutierrez almost blew the lead in the same inning. Nate Ellis, Felipe Delgado, and Nelson Ayala all singled off him, bringing a run across already, and Mike Kane unleashed some sort of rocket to center with two outs and a 1-2 count. Abel Mora had to race into the deep gap, where he made the catch, to prevent a once 6-2, now 6-3 lead from blowing up instantly. Instead, Nate Ellis slapped a 2-run homer the following inning…

While Rico got some clear signals that his day was ****ing over when he somehow got Delgado out to complete five, the Coons showed some more rally and counterstruck in the sixth inning despite Casey Moore getting two of them out to start the frame. Then Gomez and Harenberg reached, Tovias hit a looper onto the leftfield line for an RBI double, and Jarod Spencer flicked a 1-2 pitch into centerfield for a 2-run single. This bled into Spencer getting caught stealing, then Kearney getting flogged by left-handed batters. Nick Hatley singled, Juan Espinosa homered, it was 9-7, and the game was far from over. At least the Coons lucked into four accident-free outs from Dan McLin after that, then went to Josh Boles when the same part of the lineup that had fried Kearney came up again. Hatley and Espinosa both struck out this time in the bottom 8th. Top 9th, Rock got on base, as did Stalker. Abel Mora batted with two outs and two on against Blake Lowrey, hit a ball into the shallow gap in right-center, Nate Ellis tried to make a sliding catch but MISSED it, and Abel Mora scooted into second with a 2-run double that put the game away. Josh Boles struck out the side to finish the contest. 11-7 Coons! Stalker 3-5, BB; Mora 3-6, HR, 2B, 6 RBI; Gomez 3-6, 3B, RBI; Harenberg 2-4, RBI; Spencer 2-5, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-4, BB; Rock 2-4, BB; Boles 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, SV (5);

Whoop-whoop, offense!

Oh if only every game could be like this. Maybe with better pitching.

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Spencer – 2B Rock – C Rocha – 3B Bullock – P Delgadillo
NYC: 3B Schmit – CF Hatley – RF Ellis – C Asay – LF Espinosa – 2B Kane – SS Ts'ai – 1B Walter – P Moffatt

To put it mildly, Dan Delgadillo SUCKED in the Saturday game, starting with a 29-pitch first inning that saw a Nick Hatley homer in the middle of Delgadillo's spirited search for the strike zone. Early on, the Crusaders scored off him in every inning, the second seeing a 2-out combo of a Moffatt single and Schmit RBI double, then Juan Espinosa hitting a triple in the third and coming home on Mike Kane's rock-hard single past Trey Rock. In the fourth, Moffatt scored again, this time after a leadoff single (…), then on Nate Ellis' double. Somewhere in between, Mora had singled home Daniel Bullock, but, eh, who gave a ****… Like Gutierrez he lasted only five innings, while conceding one fewer run, and then was thankfully gone, only for Jeff Kearney to continue to get socked. Andy Schmit hit a leadoff double in the bottom 6th and was eventually plated by Kearney with a wild pitch. And if you had to rely on Daniel Bullock to get your team back onto the board… while Bullock hit a 2-out RBI double, plating Trey Rock, in the seventh inning, that was just not enough… and the run was also unearned, Rock having reached on Ts'ai's throwing error. On top of that "success", Billy Brotman got ripped in the bottom 8th, surrendering a leadoff walk to Schmit, then a triple to Hatley, who scored on Ellis' groundout to add two runs to New York's tally. 7-2 Crusaders.

Game 4
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Carmona – 2B Spencer – 3B Nunley – P Nomura
NYC: 2B J. Gutierrez – 3B Schmit – C F. Delgado – RF Ellis – SS Ts'ai – CF Hatley – LF Espinosa – 1B N. Ayala – P Klein

Tim Stalker thumped Chris Klein with a leadoff jack five tosses into the game, and the Raccoons would make more hard contact against the Crusaders' starter, but were not nearly as successful with that as one might wish for. Nunley hit a 2-out double in the second, but was stranded when Nomura struck out, and he made the third out with two on in the fourth as well. In between, not a whole lot had happened for Portland, but at least Nomura was still facing the minimum despite a second-inning single by Ts'ai, who then had been wrapped up on Hatley's double play grounder.

The fifth inning saw the Coons make softer contact, but with more success; Stalker opened with a weak single, but who was I to complain about a leadoff single dropped near the rightfield line? Mora struck out, Gomez walked, and a wild pitch advanced the runners, after which Harenberg squeezed a grounder through the right side to score both runners and extend the score to 3-0. Before the inning dwindled away, the Coons added another run on 2-out singles by the returning Cookie and Jarod Spencer. Nomura led off the sixth with a single past Gutierrez (still 42, but playing like 84), and Mora and Gomez flocked on base to present Harenberg with a slam chance with one out. While he did knock out Klein, a slam was not in the cards for the struggling slugger right now, although his RBI single, 5-0, continued to make daylight appear over those far hills. The Crusaders imploded between Casey Moore and Jesse Wright, who went on to allow a 2-run double to Tovias, a run-scoring groundout to Cookie, an RBI double to Spencer, and an RBI single to Nunley; a 6-run sixth that ran the tally to 10-0. With that, the Coons started to remove the regulars (Mora and Gomez being gone by the seventh), and this was all Nomura's in a shutout bid which lasted into the bottom 8th before the annoying Ts'ai hit a solo homer to left. That, however, was all the rally in those New Yorkers – Rin Nomura finished the game on 95 pitches. 10-1 Coons! Stalker 3-6, HR, RBI; Harenberg 2-5, 3 RBI; Tovias 2-4, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Spencer 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Nomura 9.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (12-3) and 1-5;

In other news

July 16 – The Aces pick up 1B/3B Eddie Moreno (.281, 11 HR, 36 RBI) from the Falcons, sending a prospect to Charlotte.

Complaints and stuff

The Coons' schedule has no games on Monday in July. Yes, there is the All Star Game, yes, there was a rain delay. But the schedule looks weird. I don't like it. Maud! Maud…! – I want to write a letter. No, two letters. One to the league, and one to the guy from the weather channel.

Rafael Gomez retains the CL lead in RBI by one. Rin Nomura has claimed the CL lead in wins, also by one. Alberto Ramos still holds the CL lead in steals by five, but who knows how long that will last while he's relaxing in the hammock over there. None of these players hold the ABL lead, though, or are even remotely close. They are outpaced by, in order, 19 RBI, two wins, and 19 sacks claimed.

We ended up not signing ANY international free agent for the first time since… I don't know. There was really nothing lovable about the 2027 bunch, except for one or two that asking for more money than the Raccoons had left in their budget.

That 3-city road trip mentioned at the top of the Crusaders series will next bring us to Boston to face the Titans that already swept the damn Elks over the long weekend. I fully expect the division to be decided this time around.

Fun Fact: Nine years ago this weekend, the Condors' Andrew Gudeman no-hit the Aces in a 3-0 win on July 17, 2018. It was the first of three no-hitters in the month.

OCT Brian Furst on the 26th and PIT John Key on the 29th would join the party before the end of July. The 13-day span is by far the quickest three no-hitters have been spun in the ABL. The next-closest triplet of no-no's are the efforts by LAP Bob Haines (May 23, 1984), RIC Roger Weaver (June 14, 1984), and NYC Eric Edmonstone (June 28, 1984), 37 days apart.

The longest between three no-hitters? IND Salah Brunet (June 29, 1977), MIL Bill Warren (September 6, 1980), and the Bob "Butcher" Haines no-hitter, merely six years, 10 months, and 24 days removed.
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:20 AM   #2679
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Raccoons (57-37) @ Titans (60-31) – July 20-22, 2027

The writing was on the wall for this do-or-die series, which I could have done without with at this time, and which could kill off the Coons for the year very easily. The Titans had an impressive +123 run differential with the third-most runs scored and the fewest runs conceded; another tough nut to crack for a Raccoons team that did better against actual nuts with their bare teeth than most starting pitchers when armed with a wooden club. The season series stood at 5-4 in our favor, but for how much longer?

Projected matchups:
George James (0-0, 4.76 ERA) vs. Jeremy Waite (8-6, 3.86 ERA)
Mark Roberts (9-3, 2.80 ERA) vs. Greg Gannon (11-4, 3.20 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (6-8, 3.91 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (11-4, 2.59 ERA)

Three right-handers are likely here, although with the off day on Monday and the All Star Game the previous week they would have no trouble maneuvering Dustin Wingo (9-3, 1.88 ERA) and his left arm of doom into the series at their whim.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P James
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – 1B Good – RF Braun – C Leonard – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – P Waite

The Raccoons tallied four walks before getting any sort of base hit, which sounds better on paper than it was on the field. Jeremy Waite walked three in a row with one out in the opening frame before Mora popped out and Spencer grounded out to Keith Spataro, who made a nifty play to his right to beat the speedy Spencer. Jarod would later be the first Coon to get on with a base knock, a fourth-inning double, which would have been put to better use his previous time at the plate, but, well, spilled milk is spilled milk. By that point, the Titans had scratched out a 2-0 lead largely on the merits of Adrian "Coonskinner" Reichardt, who led off the bottom 1st with a single, stole two bases, and came home on a groundout, and then also hit a third-inning single shifting Spataro from second to third, after which Willie Vega's sac fly brought him home. Spataro had also been the leadoff man, and the Titans' leadoff men reached with disturbing regularity against George James, who nevertheless hit a leadoff single in the fifth inning. Tim Stalker walked, then was forced out on Cookie's grounder. Rafael Gomez came through, though, splitting Reichardt and Adam Braun for a game-tying 2-run triple, then scored on Mora's sac fly after an intentional walk to Harenberg (why do they still bother?) to give the Raccoons an unexpected 3-2 lead.

That lead barely survived a 1-out double by the unavoidable Reichardt in the bottom 5th, with him stranded at third base, but James got stuck for good in the sixth inning. Rhett West hit a 2-out single, he lost Adam Corder on balls, and then Surginer replaced him for the .306 batter Spataro, who the Titans could allow themselves to bat eighth despite a .753 OPS – those are problems I would like to have for once. Spataro grounded out to Stalker on Surginer's first pitch, ending that inning with the 3-2 lead still alive. Bottom 7th, Surginer struck out Justin Perkins, then lost Reichardt to a single. Argh. Kearney came in, walked the resulting right-handed pinch-hitter, Yasuhiro Kuramoto, then left replaced by Jonathan Snyder, the recently disgraced closer, when the Titans sent right-handed batter Gus Gasso to hit for Matt Good. He got him to pop out, then walked Braun. Josh Boles became the fourth Coons reliever of the inning, ran a full count against Keith Leonard, and then Nunley handled Leonard's slow grounder for the third out, stranding a full set of runners. These were Boston's final runners; Josh Boles retired the side in order in the bottom 8th, as did Ricky Ohl in the ninth, finishing up with a K to Kuramoto. 3-2 Critters. Gomez 1-2, 2 BB, 3B, 2 RBI; Boles 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

We never had another base hit after that Gomez triple. Ah, what shall I say? A win is a win is a win, but I now have to treat my irregular heartbeat, so please excuse me.

(unscrews a cheap bottle of wine while lying in his Boston hotel bed)

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Roberts
BOS: LF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – CF Reichardt – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – P Wingo

Neither team managed to score an earned run in the early innings, although the Titans scored an unearned run in the bottom 3rd, where Vega walked with one down, stole second and reached third on Rocha's throwing error, then came home when Gasso grounded out to Nunley's left. Nunley also had the Coons' only base hit, a leadoff single in the top 3rd, although Rocha had hit into a double play and the southpaw Wingo was still facing the minimum. While Tim Stalker's leadoff double removed the minimum tally from Wingo's ledger, it didn't lead to a run owing to three ****ty outs, and meanwhile Adrian Reichardt was 2-for-2 by the bottom 4th (and 6-for-7 in the series) with his second single of the day against Mark Roberts, although this time Corder smacked into a double play to get him off the bags.

Spencer's 1-out single in the sixth was the next low-key attempt to do anything about the 1-0 deficit, but he was caught stealing before Abel Mora could single up the middle. The bad baserunning proved costly once Rafael Gomez hit a game-tying triple into the leftfield corner, which could have been a go-ahead triple if Spencer had still been around. The Coons failed to take the lead, Harenberg being walked halfheartedly and Magallanes grounding out to short.

Roberts gave the Coons seven innings, whiffed nine, but was totally toasted after throwing 119 pitches in the effort that still wouldn't reward him with his 10th win of the season, because the Coons couldn't break through Wingo at all. But the Titans would readily eat up Dan McLin, who needed only 11 pitches in the bottom 8th to load the bases, and THAT brought up Reichardt, in other words, the Coons were ****ed. Surginer replaced McLin, held Reichardt to a go-ahead sac fly (yay, what success!), then secured a fly out from Corder, and THEN we had to sit through a half-hour rain delay in a sudden shower while the Titans were nagging the umpires to call the game. The game continued, the Coons carting up their 4-5-6 batters against Julio San Pedro in the ninth. Gomez grounded out to short, Harenberg walked on four pitches but was forced out by Cookie's grounder, and Nunley was rung up to end this terrible game. 2-1 Titans. Roberts 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K;

I wonder why the liquor shop with the stuff that gives you the most spin in this damn town closed up. I bought piles of booze three times a year, and I would like to do so again, because this hotel champagne was only running up the bill, and did nothing to erase pictures.

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez
BOS: LF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – CF Reichardt – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – SS Spataro – C A. Arias – P Gannon

In things that were new, the Coons scored first, Cookie drawing a third-inning walk and scampering home on singles by Gomez and Harenberg, while Rico Gutierrez allowed an infield single to the first batter he faced, Willie Vega, but Gasso hit into a double play and even REICHARDT was retired the first time around, grounding out, and then was RUNG UP in the bottom 4th with Adam Braun on second after a 1-out double to right. Alas, the Titans had more than that one steak knife to stuck up your back – Adam Corder tied the game with a single, Rico lost Rhett West on balls, shoving Corder to second, and Spataro plated him with another 2-out single to put the Titans 2-1 ahead.

While the Coons kept flailing and failing away at Greg Gannon, the Titans got runners to the corners from about nothing in the bottom 6th. Stalker threw away a Braun grounder to put him on second base to begin the frame, and then Reichardt legged out a sorry chopper near the third base line for an infield single. Rico somehow held the Titans to a West sac fly, but that still extended their lead to 3-1 when you could not reasonably expect the Coons to make up even ONE run with three innings left. Which was all a shame really, since Tim Stalker led off the seventh inning with a fly ball near the leftfield line. Vega hustled over and tried the perpendicular flying approach on the ball, but missed it and instead ate some dirt and chalk after a rough landing in no man's land. The ball in turn merrily bounced its way into the corner, where it rolled to a dead stop. Reichardt had to hustle over with Vega dazed and coughing up dirt in foul territory, and Tim Stalker was minding his own business, which here amounted to 360 feet of dashing for an inside-the-park home run! And then they made three pathetic outs to remain 3-2 behind. Gutierrez was gone after 6.1 innings and remained on the hook while Snyder and Kearney barely avoided making it even worse through eight. Braun doubled off the fence against the former in the eighth, then was barely stranded against the latter when Mora made a running grab in the gap on PH Keith Leonard. Top 9th, Matt Rosenthal pitching. Nunley pushed an 0-2 pitch into right for a leadoff single, then was run for by Bullock while Trey Rock batted in the pitcher's place. The Brazilian Bulldozer (?, might want to rethink that one) reached third base on Rock's 0-1 single to left, and there was still nobody out! Stalker's single tied the game, the go-ahead run was on second base…… and then Cookie lined out to Rhett West and Gomez chucked the ball into a double play.

Dan McLin somehow got around a leadoff single by West in the bottom 9th without giving away his second game in the series, and the Coons put Harenberg aboard with a leadoff single against lefty Brent Beene in the top 10th. Mora grounded out, moving Kevin to second, and Spencer walked. The runners advanced on a wild pitch to Elias Tovias, who had yet to do ANYTHING in the series, struck out instead, and Bullock stranded the two Coons in scoring position when he grounded out to Matt Good. That was the last action worth mentioning for about 45 minutes until Kevin Surginer drilled Adam Braun with Reichardt on deck in the bottom of the 13th. Reichardt struck out, falling to 1-for-6 on the day (which was stellar compared to some Coons' lines), and while Good singled, West got also rung up to extend the game into yet another inning I couldn't bear watching. Top 14th, a.k.a. Beene's fifth, although he didn't complete it, not even close. In fact, he retired neither Juan Magallanes, who singled, then stole second, nor Tim Stalker, who also singled to get runners back to the corners with nobody out. Javy Salomon replaced Beene, while Daniel Rocha batted for Surginer in the #2 hole, clubbed a looper to left, and it dropped in front of Kuramoto for an RBI single – the tie was broken! Gomez walked to fill them up for Harenberg, who found new levels of sucking by hitting into a 6-2-3 double play for a change. Mora grounded out, falling to 0-for-7 in the game, but at least we could now get Ricky Ohl involved against the bottom of the Titans' order. Groundout, strikeout, strikeout did the job, the latter K coming against Salomon with the Titans' bench empty. 4-3 Blighters. Stalker 4-7, HR, 2 RBI; Rocha (PH) 1-1, RBI; Harenberg 2-5, 2 BB, RBI; Magallanes 1-2; McLin 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K; Boles 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

This was the first career RBI for Daniel Rocha, who was rewarded by me personally with a big smooch on the cheek, which he did not appreciate as much as I appreciated his lucky single in the 14th.

Get used to it, Rocha! Here in Portland we play with passion!

Raccoons (59-38) @ Condors (49-47) – July 23-25, 2027

With their shady record, the Condors were actually in a virtual tie for the CL South lead, which was just ever so slightly depressing for a team 21 games over .500 that had been chasing after the Titans and had tried to remain within a handful for three months now. Tijuana ranked fifth in runs scored, fourth in runs allowed, had a healthy +49 run differential, but had been swept by the Coons in the teams' first meeting of the season.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (4-8, 3.22 ERA) vs. Alex Hichez (8-7, 4.08 ERA)
Rin Nomura (12-3, 2.58 ERA) vs. Sean Rigg (2-3, 3.90 ERA)
George James (1-0, 4.24 ERA) vs. Jeff Little (8-3, 1.82 ERA)

Right-right-left, and boy, was that a left. The 26-year-old Little was getting better and better every year. He had posted a 3.66 ERA just two years ago.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 2B Rock – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Delgadillo
TIJ: CF Denzler – RF M. Matias – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – SS Showalter – C Zarate – LF Chaplin – 2B Bross – P Hichez

More o' the same, more o' the same in the early innings. The Raccoons couldn't score a run if you tied a runner to their bellies, or if by chance their pitcher poked for a 1-out single as Delgadillo did in the third inning. Stalker walked, Spencer hit into a double play. At least Yusneldan also held up on the mound, holding the Condors to one hit in the first three innings and the game scoreless overall. Top 4th, Gomez led off with a soft single to left, then was a-runnin' with Harenberg at the plate to stay out of the double play. This was unnecessary, as Kevin launched a 440-footer to put Portland up 2-0, his first homer in July after hitting two in June and three in May. Regress, regress! The same was true for Jarod Spencer, who found Rocha and Stalker on the corners with one out in the fifth and hit into ANOTHER double play. The Condors also threatened for real in the bottom 5th for the first time in the contest, putting them on the corners with two outs and their pitcher approaching. Hichez grounded out, keeping Delgadillo's sheet clean.

For a bit, the Coons then again had more double play grounders than runs to their credit when Abel Mora did the honors to end the sixth, but Matt Nunley pulled them back even with a solo shot to left in the seventh inning. Rocha then reached on a throwing error by Andrew Showalter, which opened the door for an unearned 2-out, 2-run homer to left off the bat of Tim Stalker, extending the score to 5-0. At around this time, the contact off Delgadillo was also getting progressively harder. The Condors had made two deep fly outs in the sixth inning, then put Danny Zarate and Mike Chaplin on base with singles in the bottom 7th. Dave Bross hit a 2-out drive to deep left, but Jarod Spencer caught up with it on the warning track to keep the Condors shut out. Ultimately, Delgadillo got only one more out, a Pat Sanford pinch-hit fly to left, before walking Joel Denzler and reaching 100 pitches. Brotman replaced him, swapped the runner to his own when Nunley only got the out at second base on Mike Matias' grounder, walked Shane Sanks, and finally conceded a run on Kevin McGrath's double to center. Showalter struck out to end the inning. While this left the score at 5-1, the Coons still found a way to get their closer involved. Zarate reached against Snyder in the bottom 9th, and Kearney allowed a single to Mike Chaplin. Ricky Ohl appeared with them in scoring position and one out after Bross had grounded out to second. The runners scored, first on Luis Leija's sac fly, then a Denzler single, before Ohl rung up Matias to end the game. 5-3 Coons. Stalker 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Gomez 3-4; Delgadillo 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, W (5-8) and 1-3;

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 2B Rock – 3B Nunley – P Nomura
TIJ: CF Betancourt – 1B McGrath – 3B Sanks – RF M. Matias – SS Showalter – C Zarate – LF Denzler – 2B Bross – P Rigg

Rin Nomura was outrageous, issuing three walks the first time through the order, including to Zarate and Bross in the bottom 2nd, which brought up Sean Rigg with two outs. Nomura still didn't find a groove, gave up a single to center, and the Condors took a 1-0 lead against hitless, listless Coons, of whom Rigg faced the minimum the first time through the order despite walking Harenberg in the top 2nd, thanks to Tovias finding a double play in his tea leaves today. Tovias batted again with three on and two outs after a Gomez double and walks issued to Harenberg and Mora in the fourth inning, but flew out lazily to Danny Betancourt in center. It took until the seventh inning for the Raccoons to get another runner on base, but this time Abel Mora doubled and thus became the tying run in scoring position AND all of that with nobody out in the inning! Oh god, Tovias… at least he grounded to the right side, allowing Mora to move to third. Rock walked, which didn't help at all, and Nunley flew out to center, but deep enough to get the runner across and tie the ballgame. Greg Borg hit for a spent Nomura (99 pitches) and even hit a double to left, but Rock was too slow to score, and Stalker's fly to right was caught by Matias to end the inning.

At least the Condors also failed to convert their chances. Luis Leija hit a pinch-hit double off Dan McLin leading it off in the bottom 7th, but then was stranded when McGrath, Sanks, and PH Mike Chaplin produced three soft outs between them against McLin and Jeff Kearney. The bullpens then murdered the opposition in the eighth and ninth innings, giving the Coons another extra-inning chew. What fun! The Coons, who were increasingly short in their much-molested bullpen, could not compete in another 14-inning game, but they did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING against Pat Selby in his second inning in the 10th. Billy Brotman removed the Condors in the bottom 10th to bring about an 11th inning, which Harenberg led off with a walk drawn against Mike Baker. The right-hander then quickly surrendered a 2-run homer to Abel Mora that couldn't wait to get over the rightfield fence, and NOW we were talking business! Nunley would hit a 2-out single in the inning, Magallanes pinch-walked, but Stalker dropped to 0-for-6 in ending the inning. Ricky Ohl didn't mind – he retired the Condors 1-2-3 in the bottom 11th. 3-1 Blighters. Mora 2-4, BB, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-4, RBI; Borg (PH) 1-1, 2B; Boles 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K;

Billy Brotman picked up his sixth win of the season (more than Delgadillo and level with Gutierrez), and the 20th (!) win for a reliever overall in 2027. However, by Sunday, the Coons' pen was burned out quite good. Ohl and Kearney were ruled off limits after appearing in four games already in the last five days. Surginer was the only guy that had not appeared in this series, but that was also a factor of making into every one of the Titans games earlier… in short, we needed a decent outing from George James.

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Magallanes – CF Borg – 3B Nunley – P James
TIJ: CF Denzler – RF M. Matias – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – SS Showalter – C Zarate – LF Chaplin – 2B Bross – P Little

James retired the first seven Condors he faced before Dave Bross hit a single, but Tijuana didn't pounce on that in a game that was not seeing much offensive action. Both teams had two measly singles through four innings, and the Raccoons were largely dominated by Jeff Little, as had been expected. By the fifth inning, however, Greg Borg hit a ball over Shane Sanks that bounced fair just once before making its way into foul ground where Chaplin had to dig it out from next to the rolled up tarp (what where they keeping a tarp for in Tijuana??), and Greg Borg slid in with a 1-out triple. That put the pressure on Nunley, who was in a month-long slump and had struck out feebly his first time up against Little. This time he poked an 0-1 pitch in play, but grounded to the left side, where Borg stayed put and was stranded once Little was done disemboweling George James. Top 6th, Stalker with an infield single, Spencer with a single to center, runners on the corners with nobody out; but now, boys! NOW, boys! Now they had Gomez strike out and Harenberg grounded to Bross for a 4-6-3 double play. AAAAARRRGGGHH!!

Buried under all the detritus of sucking the leather off the balls was the fact that George James splendidly kept pace with Jeff Little and even outlasted him. Little was gone after seven innings, while James went into the eighth… and there he walked a pair and surrendered a deadly 2-out RBI single to Joel Denzler. And the Coons were just done… 1-0 Condors. Magallanes 1-2, BB; James 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, L (1-1);

In other news

July 20 – Back soreness forces LAP OF Justin Fowler (.306, 17 HR, 76 RBI) to the DL, with the Pacifics hoping that 15 days will be enough for him to heal up.
July 21 – The Knights' C Ruben Luna (.212, 12 HR, 43 RBI) walks off his team the hard way for a 6-5 win over the Condors, getting nailed by MR Mike Baker (2-2, 1.12 ERA, 2 SV) with the bases loaded in the bottom 9th.
July 22 – The Warriors take the Pacifics apart in a 16-2 mauling, with four of their players chipping in 3-hit games. Of those, OF Josh Stevenson (.284, 0 HR, 17 RBI) has the most RBI with four.
July 23 – BOS SP Guillermo Regalado (6-6, 3.80 ERA) 2-hits the unsuspecting Falcons in an 8-0 Titans shutout.
July 23 – CIN SS Frank Eisenberg (.294, 0 HR, 25 RBI) is expected to miss a month with a torn meniscus.
July 25 – SFB INF Pat Pick (.252, 6 HR, 38 RBI) is traded to the Capitals along with #66 prospect SP/MR Dennis Wheeler for SP Danny Arguello (9-9, 4.33 ERA).
July 25 – Pacifics and Blue Sox play 11 innings before any of the teams scores on a walkoff single by LAP INF Robby Soto (.260, 2 HR, 20 RBI), giving L.A. a 1-0 win.

Complaints and stuff

Sunday's crummy loss was were I was shining most as a manager and motivator. I pulled over George James, who had pitched his heart out, all FOR NOTHING, and gave him some wisdom I had learned in my decades of suffering. "Listen, George. You did very well today. But life is full of horrors, and you will never win. Now go cry in the shower."

They are disgusting. Not talking about the pitching right now, which endured 59 innings this week and allowed only 12 runs. That was still almost not enough to even secure a winning week since the miserable sucker offense only scored 16 times, and two of those were unearned. Raccoons pitching had only allowed two games of more than three runs since the All Star break, yet they were merely 7-3. Elias Tovias couldn't break glass. Jarod Spencer had surely been abducted by aliens and the anal probe was bothering him. Trey Rock, finally, couldn't have been more useless if he had been covered in chocolate. They were a burden to watch, fail and fail and fail again, every single ****ing day.

Don't think I am not trying to find offensive support on the trade market, but our lack of prospects is a real issue here… I tried to reunite the Coons with Indy's Matt Jamieson, which didn't work, and I also couldn't ice Dan Dalton off the Rebels' roster.

And thusly, the Coons' gap behind the Titans perpetually remained 3 1/2 games…

Fun Fact: Matt Nunley is second among active players in grounding into double plays, having achieved that special feat 287 times in his career.

The leader among active players? Well, who could have been more useless for an entire career than Mike Bednarski with 330 double plays smacked into? Bednarski has been so useless as a clutch guy, he's even in the career top 10 and even has the second fewest extra-base hits among the circle:

CAREER ABL LEADERS IN DOUBLE PLAYS

1st – Ray Gilbert – 422
2nd – Antonio Esquivel – 404
3rd – Alberto Rodriguez – 401
4th – Stanley Murphy – 377
5th – Jimmy Roberts – 366
6th – Steve Butler – 337
7th – Mike Bednarski – 330
8th – Mark Dawson – 329
9th – Hector Garcia – 304
10th – Gabriel Ortνz – 299

**** Ray Gilbert. **** him forever.
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Old 12-14-2018, 06:50 PM   #2680
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Raccoons (61-39) vs. Thunder (45-51) – July 27-29, 2027

Despite the Thunder sitting six games under .500 they were not some pushover team. They were right around the league average in runs scored and runs allowed, had been quite unlucky so far, and were looking forward to get a foot or two up on some lackluster wannabe team. Like the Coons, they wouldn't hit for extra bases, and like the Coons they gave up lots of longballs. Unlike the Coons they had yet to win a game in the season series, which Portland led 3-0.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (9-3, 2.65 ERA) vs. Jeff Dykstra (9-10, 3.28 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (6-8, 3.86 ERA) vs. Jose Diaz (4-5, 4.00 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (5-8, 3.03 ERA) vs. Chris Wickham (2-4, 5.73 ERA)

This rotation was due for some jumbling, so this was merely an educated guess with the righty Dykstra on Tuesday, then two southpaws after that. The Thunder had just traded away SP Mike Cavallin (9-9, 5.18 ERA) to the Bayhawks (plus MR Rafael Urbano and his 4.34 ERA to the Titans), had played a double-header on Sunday before our common off day on Monday, so they could go crazy on those starters.

Game 1
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – C Burgess – RF Sagredo – SS Serrato – CF D. Garcia – 2B Cameron – 1B Faulk – LF Dobbs – P Dykstra
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Spencer – LF Carmona – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Roberts

Speaking of home runs, Mike Burgess hit a huge one off Mark Roberts right in the first inning. It was the only homer he allowed in this game though, because he already left it in the second inning with an apparent injury. Snyder took over and logged seven tumultuous outs without allowing a run, although this required Tovias to throw out a pair of base stealers, and Tovias also put Snyder in line for a win with a 2-run shot in the bottom 2nd, collecting Jarod Spencer and his 1-out double. Kevin Surginer kept the Thunder short in the following two innings, while the Coons tacked on an extra run in the bottom 5th on doubles by Matt Nunley and Tim Stalker, 3-1, before stranding Harenberg (leadoff double) and Magallanes (pinch-hit single) on the corners in the following inning when Tovias whiffed against Dykstra and Nunley popped out foul. Billy Brotman put Brett Dobbs and Lorenzo Rivera on base in the seventh, somehow survived that, then offered a leadoff walk to Luis Sagredo in the eighth, and Dan McLin cleaned that one up with a double play grounder coaxed from Alex Serrato. Runners were back on the corners for Portland in the bottom of the eighth inning. Harenberg hit a 1-out double, Spencer singled, and that brought up McLin, with Cookie having long been removed in a double switch, three relievers ago. Greg Borg batted for McLin, popped out to left, Harenberg went anyway, and was thrown out by Carlos de Santiago. On to the ninth, Ricky Ohl allowed a bloop single to Joe Cameron to get going, then walked two left-handed batters in PH Alfredo Quintana and de Santiago. In other words, **** was steaming, with three on and nobody out in a 3-1 game. He didn't get out of that one, because why would he in such a cluster**** of a game even by this cluster**** of a team's standards? Omar Millan grounded to first, which scored a run, and Rivera grounded slowly to third, where Nunley had to hustle in and could not contain the runner from third base, which was the tying runner, who scored. Burgess flew out to Mora in center, keeping the game tied at three. The Coons sucked their tails off in the bottom 9th, sending the game to extras, where Ohl continued to blow up, putting runners on the corners with one out when he nailed Serrato and allowed a single to Dave Garcia. Boles replaced him, but the go-ahead run scored on Cameron's groundout. 4-3 Thunder. Stalker 3-5, 2B, RBI; Harenberg 2-5, 2 2B; Spencer 2-4, 2B; Magallanes (PH) 1-1; Tovias 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Snyder 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K; Surginer 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

The scums outhit the Thunder 14-9, and still couldn't win a game, but managed to bleed their ****ing pen for nine innings and a third.

By now, the season was definitely, really over.

Game 2
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – C Burgess – RF Sagredo – SS Serrato – CF D. Garcia – 2B Cameron – 1B Faulk – LF Millan – P Wickham
POR: SS Stalker – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Rock – CF Borg – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez

Both pitchers were perfect the first time through the other team's lineup, which was good news for Rico Gutierrez, but not much of a surprise where Chris Wickham, the Thunder's token starter, was concerned. Lorenzo Rivera led off the fourth with a single to right, though, advanced on a passed ball and then tried to come home on Burgess' single to center. Greg Borg managed to throw out Rivera at home plate, but Rico was not in control at all right now, allowed a double to Sagredo, then a sac fly to Serrato. For all anyone knew – ballgame.

It wasn't, thanks to Jarod Spencer hitting a 1-out double in the bottom of the inning. He made it to third on Gomez' single, and never mind that Rafael was picked off first base right away, Kevin Harenberg dropped in another single with two down and brought in the tying run. The home team even took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth on Greg Borg's unexpected solo homer to centerfield, but that was nothing that Gutierrez couldn't **** up. Rico allowed a leadoff single to Wickham to begin the top 6th, then nailed Rivera with a 2-2 pitch. Burgess hit into a double play, but that left Wickham at third base with two down, a situation that didn't cause the Thunder to shrug like SOME OTHER TEAMS DID. Sagredo singled convincingly up the middle, the game was tied again, and then Gomez had to defuse a sizzling line drive by Serrato to keep the game at least tied…

Bottom 7th, Wickham allowed leadoff singles to Tovias (to center) and Rock (to left), giving any decent team a prime chance to make a move for a W. The Thunder sent righty Pedro Hernandez in relief, and the Coons sent Abel Mora to bat for Greg Borg, resulting in the third single of the inning. Dave Garcia in center was on the ball quickly, which kept Tovias from making a bid for home plate. "Double Play" Nunley came up and I feared the worst all the way until he pushed a ball into the gap between Garcia and Sagredo for a 2-run double. Gutierrez batted for himself in deference of the Coons having grabbed the lead and our bullpen being consistently burned out, whiffed, but then Walker stalked and Spencer lobbed an RBI single, 5-2. Gomez and Harenberg both flew out without producing anything of value. Rico Gutierrez then merited the confidence in him being able to take on the eighth inning by ****ing up, allowing a double to Omar Millan to begin the inning before he conceded the run on a Brett Dobbs single. That brought up the tying run, and somehow the Coons had to find six outs in their dead bullpen. McLin came on, got Rivera to ground out and Burgess to pop out to Gomez, and then Kearney punched out Sagredo. That still left the ninth, and that was Josh Boles' task for today, with Ohl shackled after throwing 36 pitches on Tuesday, all for the loss. Aaaaand a leadoff single by Alex Serrato …! GODDAMNIT, CAN YOU STUPID FU- … Garcia grounded into a fielder's choice, and then Boles rung up both Joe Cameron and A.J. Faulk to end the game. 5-3 Coons. Spencer 2-4, 2B, RBI; Gomez 2-4; Tovias 2-4; Borg 1-2, HR, RBI; Mora (PH) 1-2; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, W (7-8);

Rafael Gomez had a 13-game hitting streak by now.

Oh, and the Druid came back with news that Mark Roberts had a ruptured disc, whatever the heck that meant, and that he was out for the season.

With Roberts off to the DL, the Raccoons called up Jonathan Fleischer from St. Pete before planning their next moves. He would help out the battered pen for the next few days. Fleischer had been around briefly last year, pitching to a 2.25 ERA in five games.

Game 3
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – RF Sagredo – SS Serrato – CF D. Garcia – C Burgess – 2B Cameron – LF de Santiago – 1B Faulk – P Jo. Diaz
POR: SS Stalker – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Rock – CF Magallanes – 3B Bullock – P Delgadillo

Yusneldan worked his way around a leadoff single in the first inning, then saw the Coons' Tim Stalker rock a leadoff triple in the bottom 1st, buried in the gap between de Santiago and Garcia. Spencer singled him in, and then Gomez was hit by "Butch" Diaz with a fastball. What looked like a potential bit inning was disemboweled when Harenberg grounded into a double play, but then the Thunder also ****ed up, piling all on top of each other to play a slow Tovias roller, but nobody got glove on the ball to either beat Tovias to first or Spencer to home. Trey Rock singled, but Magallanes struck out to end the 2-run inning. The team was not likely to add to that tally soon, so it was about Delgadillo now and how the defense corrected all his mistakes nicely for four innings until the fifth saw de Santiago hit a soft leadoff single, advance on Faulk's groundout, and then advance again on "Butch"'s single to center. Why on why can't our pitchers ever retire a swinging pitcher!? De Santiago eventually scored on Rivera's groundout, cutting the Coons' lead in half.

Bottom 5th, Stalker opened with a single past Serrato before a wild pitch by Diaz took away the double play that might have occurred on Spencer's grounder after this, and that ended up handing the Coons a run they didn't deserve when Harenberg dropped in a 2-out single near the leftfield line. Mike Burgess' homer pulled the Thunder back within one before they put the 2-out clamps on Delgadillo in the seventh. Rivera singled up the middle, Sagredo hit a single to right, and – hold on, Rivera stretched it to third base, but found himself knocked out by Rafael Gomez' throw there, and the inning was over. Surginer retired the Thunder core in the eighth, leaving only the question who the **** should try to close this one out? Turned out, Billy Brotman was the closer du jour, with Ohl having been yuck, Boles having been out twice in a row, Snyder having been super-yuck, and lefty Alfredo Quintana pinch-hitting to begin the inning. Brotman rung him up in a full count, then used fewer pitches on Dobbs and Faulk in a 1-2-3 strikeout parade. 3-2 Coons. Stalker 2-4, 3B; Tovias 2-4, RBI; Rock 2-4, 2B; Carmona (PH) 1-1; Delgadillo 7.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, W (6-8);

Raccoons (63-40) vs. Bayhawks (51-51) – July 30-August 1, 2027

The Raccoons were 3-3 against the Baybirds this season. This was a team with a +39 run differential, yet nailed to a .500 record, which was SOMEHOW good enough to lead the CL South at this junction. They were fourth in runs scored, fifth in runs allowed, and had a really sturdy bullpen, second to the Coons' by ERA.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (12-3, 2.53 ERA) vs. Mike Cavallin (9-9, 5.18 ERA)
George James (1-1, 3.24 ERA) vs. Juan Mendoza (1-4, 6.69 ERA)
TBD vs. Matt Huf (9-7, 3.30 ERA)

Cavallin was a left-hander and the pitcher they had just acquired from the Thunder (and they had also acquired infielder Jose Navarro (.238, 1 HR, 9 RBI) and a prospect from Indy on Thursday night, parting with Zachary Ryder (.326, 3 HR, 28 RBI; AND had picked up left-hander Greg Becker (2-2, 2.62 ERA, 19 SV) from the Falcons for prospects). They had a handful of pitchers on the DL, mostly relievers, foremost Alex Ramos; outfielder Cesar Martinez was also out with an oblique injury.

Our TBD was most likely going to be a spot starter for the moment, but I was not even clear on whether he would come from our pen or from AAA.

Oops, I just hear some breaking news breaking.

Interlude: Trade

In a last-ditch effort to save the season, the Raccoons trade INF Trey Rock () to the Gold Sox in exchange for INF/LF/RF Rich Hereford (.289, 12 HR, 62 RBI). The Gold Sox also receive 20-year-old AA SP Robbie Blair and 19-year-old A 3B Andy Michel.

We will talk about Rich Hereford's ludicrous 4-year contract when there is time for such discussion.

Raccoons (63-40) vs. Bayhawks (51-51) – July 30-August 1, 2027

Game 1
SFB: CF Hawthorne – SS O. Camacho – LF J. Correa – 1B Caraballo – C R. Anderson – 3B J. Navarro – RF Rankin – 2B Quantrille – P Cavallin
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Spencer – C Rocha – 3B Nunley – P Nomura

Rich Hereford felt at home immediately, knocking into a Stalker-erasing double play right in the first inning of his first game. By contrast, Jose Navarro's first at-bat as a Bayhawk saw him bang a 2-run homer off Nomura in the second inning, cashing in on Tomas Caraballo's leadoff walk. The Raccoons did absolutely nothing, with Cavallin nursing a no-hitter and facing the minimum into the middle innings, while Nomura shuffled the bases full in the fifth with walks to Cavallin (…!), George Hawthorne, then Omar Camacho's infield single. Somehow, both Jon Correa and Tomas Caraballo struck out swinging to strand the full set.

Rin Nomura struck out ten in a seven-inning, 110-pitch effort, and when he got his pat on the bum, the Coons were still being no-hit and held to the minimum by Cavallin, who had come in with a 5+ ERA and had since only issued a stalk to Walker in the first inning. That guy would also break up the no-hitter, singling sharply to left leading off the bottom 7th. Great, Tim! Now, boys – rally! No rally took place, Hereford, Gomez, and Harenberg making soft outs in order, and that string continued with Mora and Spencer in the eighth before Cavallin lost Daniel Rocha to his second walk of the game in the bottom 8th. That brought up Nunley, not necessarily a slugger against left-handed pitch- forget, what I thought, he just puked the ball over the leftfield fence, right near the foul pole, and we had a brand-new ballgame. Borg popped out in the #9 hole before Jeff Kearney pitched around a leadoff double by Jaiden Jackson in the top of the ninth. The Coons, as tethered and unhinged as they were, had a chance to walk off against a resilient Cavallin in the bottom of the ninth, starting from the top again. …which if you think about it was from where rotten fish smelled. They went down 1-2-3. For this, Cavallin would receive the win; Kearney allowed a leadoff single to Howard Read in the 10th, a runner that Ricky Ohl conceded on Jon Correa's 2-out gapper. The Coons remained absolutely useless misfits and went down in order to Ryan Corkum in the bottom 10th. 3-2 Bayhawks. Nomura 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K;

Hereford went a sturdy 0-for-4 on his first day in the office.

He actually also jammed the Xerox … in the actual office.

With his bat.

I don't know how he did it, or whether it was on purpose, and whether Cristiano Carmona can fix it. Slappy has already indicated that he won't fix it.

Game 2
SFB: CF Hawthorne – SS O. Camacho – 1B Caraballo – LF J. Correa – C Jai. Jackson – 3B J. Navarro – RF Pacheco – 2B Quantrille – P Huf
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Hereford – LF Spencer – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P James

Rich Hereford went 0-for-5 as a Coon before hitting a single in the fourth inning, which was actually not half as bad as I would have had expected. This came with Harenberg on first after ex-Coon Matt Huf had walked him, and nobody out in the inning, and also with the Coons down 1-0 to Vincent Pacheco's second-inning RBI double. The Coons had already stranded them on the corners, had smacked into a double play, and I was rather accepting of fate at this point. Omar Camacho having to come in on Spencer's grounder right at him was all that kept the Coons out of a double play right now, with the existing runners advancing into scoring position for Elias Tovias, who had in fact already started three games this week despite not showing up remotely near a box score. And he struck out. With no chance for a double play, the Bayhawks were respecting Matt Nunley's skill set after all and walked him intentionally, bringing up George James with three on and two out. Huf wasted no time and peppered the strike zone. James took a 94mph heater and hit it 410 feet. For a second, the park fell totally silent. Then it kicked in – GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMM!!!!

Tim Stalker homered off a shellshocked Matt Huf to extend the lead to 5-1, but the Baybirds were right back in James' face in the fifth, in which Caraballo hit a solo homer, and the sixth, when Jose Navarro tripled to right and scored on a Pacheco single. Somehow, James go through that inning, but not through the seventh, which Omar Camacho opened with a single to left. Brotman replaced James now with the tying run at the plate, rung up Caraballo and Correa, and had Rafael Gomez catch Jaiden Jackson's lazy fly to end the inning. The offense had long gone to bed at this point (because the offense had been the pitcher…), so the pen was on its own. Kearney retired the 6-7-8 batters in the eighth, handing it off to Ricky Ohl, who had Gomez catch a deep Ryan Anderson fly, then walked Hawthorne and Caraballo to put the tying runs on base. Then he threw a wild pitch. Then he had Correa spank a bouncer at Matt Nunley – who was still master of his paws and played the tricky ball into the final out of the game. 5-3 Critters. Stalker 3-4, HR, RBI; James 6.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (2-1) and 1-2, HR, 4 RBI;

Time to find a pitcher, somewhere. The Coons would give a spot start to AAA Jason Butler, who was 4-12 with a 5.17 ERA, but if we had to lose a game to a 6.69 ERA pitcher, then we could also play the rancid guy. Butler, 26, had been in nine relief outings for the '26 Coons, allowing a run per inning back then. Nothing about his AAA output hinted at improvement since then. Jonathan Fleischer, who had pitched a scoreless inning on Friday, was sent back to St. Pete.

Game 3
SFB: CF Hawthorne – SS O. Camacho – 1B Caraballo – LF J. Correa – C Jai. Jackson – 3B J. Navarro – RF A. Howell – 2B Quantrille – P J. Mendoza
POR: SS Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 2B Hereford – LF Spencer – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Butler

Not even briefly would Jason Butler maintain the illusion of basic competence in this game. The Bayhawks ticked him for four base hits and a 2-spot on Caraballo's early homer in the top 1st, and Jaiden Jackson added a solo shot in the third. The defense was well involved in the game with him on the mound, and the offense was not up to the stink. Matt Nunley hit an RBI single, cashing Spencer in the bottom 2nd, but apart from that it was the same **** as always when they faced a 6+ ERA pitcher – he would utterly dominate them. Mendoza was hardly challenged by the Raccoons, who scattered the odd single, but overall were completely toothless. The defense dragged Butler through six and a third, before Brotman had to resolve Hawthorne at second base with a critical run. Not that it mattered whether they were down 3-1 or 4-1. They remained down 3-1 in the top 7th, but how would they ever turn this one around against such a beast of a pitcher? Six innings of 1-run ball had dropped Mendoza's ERA to a FLAT SIX already …! Turned out, San Fran wouldn't take many chances. Spencer and Tovias made outs to begin the bottom 7th, but when Nunley singled past Jose Navarro, Mendoza was gone before you could snip your fingers twice (or your claws even once). Greg Borg batted against the relieving Greg Becker, and harmlessly grounded out to short. Bottom 8th, Tim Stalker hit a leadoff single off Becker, who was yanked right away. Allen Reed got Mora to pop out uselessly, then Gilberto Rendon secured a double play grounder from Gomez. HHRRRRRGGHGHRRHRHH!!!

Those gurgling noises would actually get worse in Ryan Corkum's ninth. Kevin Harenberg led off with a base hit to left, made it safely to second while the ball rolled up the line, but then grossly misjudged Jon Correa's play out there and went for the leadoff triple. He never made it, Howard Read slapping him out in front of the base. The park was aghast. I made drowning noises. Steve from Accounting accidentally entered our gate receipts twice into his PC. A boy in junior high age tossed his Coons cap onto the field. It was THAT BAD. And it was not even game over yet. Rich Hereford singles. Jarod Spencer singled. OH WELL. THE GREAT TEASE! Elias Tovias was next, and he had the skills to hit one out and make the Critters winners, but the problem was that I *knew* that he wouldn't. None of them would. They would choke as they always choked. Grounder to Caraballo, throw to second to get Spencer, runners remained on the corners for Matt Nunley, who could – fun fact – not hit into a game-ending double play anymore. Instead he flew out to left. 3-1 Bayhawks. Harenberg 2-4, 2B; Hereford 2-4; Spencer 2-4; Nunley 2-4, RBI;

In other news

July 27 – The Loggers acquire 2B Jesus Moroyoqui (.228, 5 HR, 27 RBI) from the Aces in exchange for MR David Warn (2-2, 3.38 ERA, 2 SV) and a prospect.
July 27 – The Cyclones pick up LF Kelvin Winborn (.271, 8 HR, 53 RBI) from the Warriors in exchange for MR Logan Sloan (3-3, 3.60 ERA), MR John Simenson (1-2, 5.84 ERA), and cash.
July 28 – The Buffaloes win their 10-inning game against the Gold Sox, 4-3, in walkoff fashion on Denver's Freddy Heredia (0-3, 2.88 ERA) balking in TOP LF/CF Ron Raynor (.228, 9 HR, 31 RBI) with the winning run.
July 30 – MIL SP Danny Soto (7-9, 3.84 ERA) 2-hits the Falcons in a 4-0 shutout.
July 30 – The Loggers pick up last years' FL batting champ, LF/RF/1B Firmino Cambra (.279, 1 HR, 32 RBI) in a tough to explain trade with the Pacifics, who receive MR Matthew Simonson (3-4, 2.86 ERA, 1 SV) and a meager prospect.
August 1 – MIL C Jim Young (.270, 10 HR, 43 RBI) is expected to miss three weeks after suffering an oblique strain.

Complaints and stuff

Season over, at least now we know.

We are probably going to call up 2026 first-rounder Jamie O'Leary from Ham Lake next week. He was some stuff, he was unlucky with defense with the Panthers, but overall I have no doubt he will get pummeled.

Jon Gonzalez, a.k.a. 2026 World Series MVP, was batting .219 with eight homers this year, then took out his frustration on the Rebels' Andy Palomares. For this he received a 10-game suspension this week. Which, I guess, is one way to not sully your career stats any further…?

We will get into dissecting the intestines of the terrible Jon Gonzalez trade once the time for that has come. Throw it on the pile with a the $10M commitment to Rich Hereford we took on. We will talk about all of that when there is time for it.

And please, nobody tell Cristiano Carmona that I would have included Daniel Bullock in that deal with the Gold Sox, if only they had taken him.

Fun Fact: George James's grand slam off Matt Huf on Saturday put his career output at a .222 clip with 2 HR and 5 RBI in 18 attempts.

He has now more career homers than Nick Brown and Kisho Saito combined. Just 459 wins for him to go to catch up to them for good.
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