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Old 12-15-2018, 01:02 PM   #2681
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Raccoons (64-42) @ Falcons (48-55) – August 2-4, 2027

The Coons had already locked up the 2027 series with the Falcons in happier times, 5-1, and here were the last three games of that season set. Despite their utterly crummy record, the Falcons were only four games out in the CL South, despite the worst rotation and the most runs conceded in the Continental League. Their offense ranked only ninth as well, and they had a -122 run differential. How they were not beaten and buried by August was beyond my imagination.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (7-8, 3.86 ERA) vs. Chris Rountree (7-10, 4.71 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (6-8, 3.00 ERA) vs. Victor Arevalo (7-9, 4.40 ERA)
Rin Nomura (12-3, 2.53 ERA) vs. Warren Polito (5-11, 7.41 ERA)

One left-hander, two right-handers. Lots of problems.

The Raccoons would play seven this week and would not get an off day until the 12th. It wouldn't hurt to give everybody a day off, and we used this southpaw on Monday to rotate out all our left-handed batters.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – LF Spencer – 2B Hereford – 1B Gomez – CF Borg – RF Magallanes – C Rocha – 3B Bullock – P Gutierrez
CHA: LF Banfi – RF Camps – 1B Fowlkes – CF Salto – C Sigala – 2B Ra. Mendez – SS Folk – 3B Ochoa – P Rountree

While a shutout by Rountree against this lineup would not have shocked anybody, the Coons put up three in the opening frame, two of those earned. Tim Stalker led off with a double, scored on Raul Mendez' throwing error that put Spencer on second base, and then Rich Hereford hit his first Coons homer. Gomez and Borg actually also reached base after that, but Magallanes whiffed and Daniel Rocha hit into a double play. Now, caution was in order, because the Falcons had an all-right-handed batting order, except for their pitcher, and we all knew how Rico liked to face his lefties; but there were no troubles in the early innings, the odd hit here and there, but no runs, and the Coons tacked on a run in the fourth inning on back-to-back doubles by Juan Magallanes and Daniel Rocha that ran the score to 4-0. Ironically, trouble for Rico brewed in the bottom 5th starting with the sole left-handed batter in there – Rountree – and a disapprovable 2-out single up the middle. Luigi Banfi doubled to right immediately, but Hereford made a good lunging grab on Juan Camps' bouncer and handled it for the third out of the inning.

There was only one more inning in Rico, who got bogged down in the sixth, which he started by drilling Pat Fowlkes with an 0-2 pitch, then surrendered a single to Graciano Salto and had to fight tooth and nail against Jairo Sigala and Raul Mendez for two outs. Brody Folk, the damn ex-Elk, coaxed a walk that filled them up for former Coons farmhand Hugo Ochoa, who grounded a 2-2 pitch to third base, which Daniel Bullock handled for the third out. The pen inherited a 5-0 lead, courtesy of Rafael Gomez' leadoff triple in the top 6th, and Magallanes' sac fly to bring him in after Greg Borg had been walked intentionally(!?). Jonathan Snyder was sent to pitch for Portland, retired the side on nine pitches in the bottom 7th, then got spanked for four hits and two runs in the bottom 8th before being dug out by Josh Boles. Bottom 9th in a 3-run game, Ricky Ohl allowed a single to Camps, then struck out Fowlkes and popped up Salto. Jairo Sigala singled. Ex-Coon Russ Greenwald dropped an RBI single into left, and Brody Folk was the winning run at home plate… but struck out on three pitches. 5-3 Coons. Stalker 2-5, 2B; Gutierrez 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, W (8-8);

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo
CHA: LF Banfi – SS Folk – 1B Fowlkes – CF Salto – RF Camps – 3B Ra. Mendez – C Carmichael – 2B Muller – P Arevalo

Raccoons hitters dropped four soft singles with two outs in the first inning, Gomez and Harenberg eventually scoring with RBI's for Mora and Tovias, and they added runs in the second inning, which Nunley started with a single up the middle. Delgadillo struck out bunting, Stalker forced out the runner, but then Hereford singled and Gomez got hit. Kevin Harenberg drove a ball over Salto's head in center for a 2-run double, running the tally to 4-0, before Elias Tovias popped out over home plate to end the inning, and would strand another pair with a fly out to Salto in the fourth inning, but at least the Coons had come out early for the second day in a row, which already counted as progress. So, attention was on Delgadillo, who was perfect the first time through the Falcons' lineup. But his own shackling was not far off; Brody Folk (dry heaves) hit a scratch single in the fourth, and Pat Fowlkes hit a no-doubter to left that cut the gap in half effortlessly. Jason Carmichael's base hit, and Luigi Banfi getting hit in the base of his buttocks put the tying runs on in the bottom 5th, and then Folk singled hard to left. Carmichael was sent, but thrown out at home plate by Cookie Carmona to end the inning.

Despite getting rocked for four runs early on, the Falcons' Arevalo held out until Kevin Harenberg's leadoff double in the seventh, only then being replaced by righty Jesse Schiebout, who allowed a single to Mora that put them on the corners. Tovias came up for the fourth time in this game with a pair of Coons aboard, and for the third time failed miserably, hitting into a double play, and then Harenberg didn't even go for home from third base; instead he was stranded when Cookie flew out to Juan Camps. Bottom 8th, the Coons pen was in mild distress, using three relievers. Kearney struck out PH Joseph McClenon before Surginer walked Fowlkes, but at least got rid of Salto. When Rick Morris pinch-hit, the Coons sent another left-hander in Boles, who surrendered a single, putting the go-ahead run on board, but then got Mendez to ground out to Hereford to get through the inning. No insurance run came together for the Coons in the ninth, and so it was Dan McLin with the 4-3 lead in the ninth as Ricky Ohl was not available. Greenwald and John Muller grounded out, but Ochoa singled to left, bringing up a hitless Banfi, who aimed for and missed a 1-2 pitch to put this squeezer away. 4-3 Coons. Harenberg 4-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 3-4, BB, RBI;

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – P Nomura
CHA: LF Banfi – RF Camps – 1B Fowlkes – CF Salto – C Sigala – 2B Ra. Mendez – SS Folk – 3B Ochoa – P Polito

There was no quick start against the worst of the bunch in the Charlotte rotation, not even a slow start, but rather no start at all for the Raccoons, while Rin Nomura was the one getting torn apart early. Jairo Sigala drove in Graciano Salto twice in the early innings; once after Salto's leadoff triple in the bottom 2nd, Sigala's single making it 1-0, and then again in the third, when Salto had hit an RBI single to score Juan Camps, had reached third base on Tovias' error on his stolen base attempt, and then Sigala hit another single. Worse, Mendez and Folk also hit 2-out singles to put a fourth run on Nomura by the time the third inning ended on Ochoa's groundout. Nomura would not even get through four, being bludgeoned for ten hits by the bottom 4th. Polito hit a leadoff single, was doubled up by Banfi, but then Camps, Fowlkes, and Salto ripped him for straight 2-out base hits, running the tally to 5-0, and it was just enough. On the other side of the box score, the Coons had two base hits off Polito and his 7+ ERA in the first three innings, then one in the next three. That was Hereford with a 2-out single in the sixth, and after that he was caught stealing. No great surprise there – and they would not produce any surprise from there, either. Warren Polito ended up with a complete-game 6-hitter, losing the shutout only on singles by Harenberg and Tovias in the seventh, with Magallanes plating Harenberg with a sac fly. Polito got revenge in his own way (as if a complete game was not enough), hitting a 2-out RBI single off McLin in the bottom 8th for the final tally of… 6-1 Falcons. Tovias 2-4;

(shrugs dejectedly)

Raccoons (66-43) @ Indians (54-53) – August 5-8, 2027

The Indians were still stubbornly clinging onto a winning record, and whether the Coons were the ones to knock them below .500 was anybody's guess. Indy led the season series as a matter of fact, 4-3, despite having the absolute worst offense in the Continental League. They were scoring only 3.7 runs per game, although to be honest, the Raccoons' average over their last 15 games was much, much worse than that; since July 20 they had scored no more than 3.0 runs per game…

Projected matchups:
George James (2-1, 3.48 ERA) vs. John McInerney (11-6, 2.57 ERA)
Jason Butler (0-1, 4.26 ERA) vs. Chris Sinkhorn (11-7, 3.98 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (8-8, 3.70 ERA) vs. David Elliott (7-10, 5.23 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (7-8, 3.05 ERA) vs. Myles Mood (5-9, 2.90 ERA)

Three southpaws to begin this set, then a righty on Sunday; not that it mattered for the Critters, who didn't score against anybody and weren't of the discriminating sort…

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Borg – C Tovias – LF Spencer – 3B Nunley – P James
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – C Kennett – LF O'Rourke – 1B de Negri – RF Ryder – CF Jamieson – 3B C Castro – P McInerney

A 1-2 singles bid put Coons on the corners in the top 1st, but all they could draw from that was a Harenberg sac fly. It only got worse from there; Stalker hit a 1-out double in the third, McInerney walked on both Hereford and Gomez, but Harenberg fouled out with the bags full, and Greg Borg flew out easily to Matt Jamieson in center. While James retired the first eight Indians in a row before issuing a 4-pitch walk to McInerney – probably just to drive me crazy… - the Raccoons kept poking feebly. Spencer got on in the fourth, stole second, then was singled in by Matt Nunley, a play on which Zachary Ryder hurt himself and had to be replaced by Mike Cowan. Top 5th, Stalker hit a single, stole second, Gomez was walked intentionally, and Harenberg reached with an infield single. One way or another, that was three on, one out for Greg Borg, which didn't have a nice ring to it from the start, but at least he grounded to Cesar Castro in such way that a double play was not in the cards for the Indians. Stalker scored on the throw to first base, and Tovias then struck out to strand the other two runners in the 3-0 game.

James no-hit the Indians into the fifth before Matt Jamieson, who should have been a Coon by now, but I couldn't make it work out in July, singled to center with two outs in that inning, but nothing undue happened at that point, and the Raccoons remained ahead, and even more comfortably so when Elias Tovias took sole possession of the team home run lead with a dismal 14 on a 2-run homer off David Galmore in the seventh inning. Greg Borg had reached base ahead of him with a 2-out single, and it was now 5-0 in George James' favor. The Coons would try to squeeze a shutout from their young pitcher, but it didn't work. He entered the bottom 9th on 110 pitches, allowed a single to Elliott Kennett, then a double to David de Negri, which put runners in scoring position with one down. Snyder replaced James at that point, and the game ended three pitches later when Mike Cowan lined out to Hereford, with de Negri caught off his base and doubled up by a quick lob over to Stalker. 5-0 Coons. Stalker 2-4, 2B; Spencer 2-4; Nunley 3-4, RBI; James 8.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, W (3-1);

Game 2
POR: 2B Hereford – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Borg – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – 3B Bullock – P Butler
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – C Kennett – CF Suhay – 1B de Negri – RF Ryder – LF Jamieson – 3B C. Castro – P Sinkhorn

Jarod Spencer tripled in the first, but the Coons didn't score, which was one of those things that drove me into madness, every day a little bit deeper. Never mind that this probably was not the Coons' game to win anyway, but at least Butler got disemboweled quickly to spare us any illusions. The first two Arrowheads made outs in the bottom 1st before he walked Kennett, who scored on Ben Suhay's double to right. Suhay moved to third on Gomez' throw, then scored on a wild pitch at 0-2 to de Negri, who singled on the next offering. Ryder, with a balking oblique, then went WELL deep to right-center, putting the Indians up 4-0 in no time at all. And that was all there was to the ballgame! After the early onslaught, the Indians would get only two more base hits against Butler, who lasted seven shoddy innings, but they didn't need any more base hits because Sinkhorn had the stinking Coons more than just under control. I would liken it to a death grip on their puny little necks. Besides Spencer, who rapped together a 3-hit day, the team was dead from the waists up… AND down, to be fair, and was easily shut out on 117 pitches and six base hits. 4-0 Indians. Spencer 3-4, 3B;

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – LF Magallanes – CF Mora – P Gutierrez
IND: 1B de Negri – 2B E. Sosa – CF Suhay – RF Ryder – C Kennett – SS Wagner – LF Cowan – 3B C. Castro – P D. Elliott

Blink and you missed it – before I could really get into much of a muttering rage, five innings were over in a 1-1 game. The Indians had scored first on Ryder's 2-out double in the first that brought in de Negri, with Magallanes tying the game with a 2-out single in the fourth that scored Harenberg, but came after Nunley had clubbed into a double play. Gomez led off the sixth with a single, got doubled off by Harenberg, and when Magallanes and Mora both walked in the seventh that brought up Rico with one out. He was hitting .061 this year, and in an 0-for-39 rut in particular, which was grim even by light-hitting pitchers' standards. SWING AWAY, RICO, SWING AWAY …!! (cries in despair) Of course he struck out. Stalker flew out to Cowan in left. Nobody scored. Every run could be the last one now. Rico spilled a leadoff single to Ryder in the bottom 7th, but Kennett hit into a double play (at least it happens to them, too…) and Matt Jamieson struck out when he hit for Curt Wagner, a rookie on his third cup of coffee.

Top 8th, leadoff single by Spencer against the so far sturdy Elliott. Spencer went on to swipe second on a pitchout, and the Indians responded by walking Gomez intentionally. You wanna play it that way? Fine. Off they were for a double steal, Kennett got nobody, and then Harenberg was walked intentionally. Three on, no outs, where the Coons' run expectancy was somewhere around negative .3 runs. Tovias popped out before a double switch brought on ex-Coon Cory Dew and Edwin Alvarez at second base, which was also where Nunley grounded in his 1-out appearance. Alvarez handled the ball, stepped on second base… and somehow threw late to first. Nunley legged it out, Spencer scored, and Portland had the lead. Magallanes struck out to leave them on the corners. Nope, they couldn't just take a lead and run with it. Rico was okay through eight, was batted for with Cookie in the ninth to no effect at all, and then Ricky Ohl faced the top of the order with the skinniest of leads in the bottom 9th. De Negri led off with a soft single to center. Oh ****ing ****. Dave O'Rourke struck out, Suhay grounded into a fielder's choice, and then Ohl drilled Ryder. Kennett came up; not technically a rookie anymore but also on his third (slightly longer) cup of coffee. He squeezed out a walk, which brought up Jamieson with the bases loaded. No, not Jamieson. Not him… not him… not him…! (begs) Not him…! Ohl got the K on a 98mph blaster, ending this particular comatose appearance by the Raccoons. 2-1 Blighters. Spencer 2-4; Magallanes 2-3, BB, RBI; Gutierrez 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, W (9-8);

(deep sigh)

Game 4
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo
IND: SS Pizano – RF Ryder – CF Suhay – LF O'Rourke – 1B de Negri – 2B E. Alvarez – C J. Ramirez – 3B Wagner – P Mood

Two pitches in, Tim Stalker tripled, but it should not shock you that he did not score. Hereford walked, Gomez popped out, and Harenberg clubbed into a double play, and I had my tearful breakdown a few innings earlier than usual. Delgadillo got around a pair of singles in the bottom of the inning before the Coons were back in action. Abel Mora worked a leadoff walk, Tovias singled, Cookie singled – three on, no outs, again, hooraaaay. Thankfully Alvarez chose to turn two on Nunley's grounder right at him rather than go home; the 4-6-3 double play at least brought in the first run of the game before Delgadillo flew out to Suhay…

I spent the next few innings breathing slowly into a paper bag, but at least for now Yusneldan held up nicely. Suhay hit a leadoff single in the bottom 4th, O'Rourke hit another single to right, but Suhay bid for third, and Gomez told them to screw off, hammering him out with a wonderful throw, which killed the Indians' inning and the 1-0 lead stood through four. Delgadillo hit a double in the fifth, was ignored, then blew the lead on three singles by Jose Ramirez, Pizano, and Ryder in the bottom of the inning. Suhay fouled out to strand a pair, but these were the two most annoying teams in the league, and this was the fourth game of the set, and I just didn't want to live anymore…

Rafael Gomez had not homered in exactly a month, and I wouldn't claim that he was back on the horse after his 1-out solo jack off Mood in the eighth inning, but at least the damn Coons were up 2-1 again in a stingy pitchers' duel / offensive anorexia. In what appeared to be a waste of perfectly good runs, Kevin Harenberg went back-to-back with Gomez to move the Coons out to a 3-1 lead, but while I thought Delgadillo would pull through for a complete game now, the Indians rolled him from the game with a pair of 2-out singles by Suhay and O'Rourke in the bottom 8th, going to the corners. Surginer came on to face de Negri, ran a full count, then blasted him away with a high 99. The Coons also went to the corners in the ninth, Cookie and Nunley knocking singles against Galmore to go to the corners. Of course they would not do any better than a Stalker sac fly, giving Ohl a 3-run lead. Jose Ramirez' 1-out homer served well to make me dizzy, but it was the only batter that reached base in the bottom 9th. 4-2 Coons. Gomez 2-5, BB, HR, RBI; Tovias 2-4; Carmona 2-4; Delgadillo 7.2 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, W (8-8) and 1-3, 2B;

In other news

August 2 – The only hit of IND 1B Ramon Tello (.311, 1 HR, 10 RBI) in an 11-inning affair in Tijuana is a 2-out grand slam in the top 11th that allows the Indians to win 8-4. All of the runs in the game are scored in 4's. The Condors took a 4-0 lead in the third, which the Indians wholly made up in the fifth.
August 3 – RIC LF/RF/1B Dan Brown (.224, 7 HR, 38 RBI) knocks in five on three base hits in a 15-8 Rebels win over the Scorpions.
August 5 – VAN OF Tony Coca (.314, 21 HR, 74 RBI) goes 3-for-3 with two walks and 6 RBI in a 13-3 thrashing of the Loggers.
August 5 – It takes 12 innings in Sioux Falls for Scorpions and Warriors to total even one run. SFW 1B/SS Edgar Gonzalez (.300, 6 HR, 46 RBI) singles home utility Andy Walker (.167, 1 HR, 5 RBI) to walk off the Warriors for a 1-0 win that took some time to materialize.
August 6 – SAL INF Dan Cobb (.353, 4 HR, 22 RBI) has cobbled together a 20-game hitting streak after connecting for a 2-run single in the Wolves' 6-5 loss to the Gold Sox.
August 7 – The Condors' SS Andrew Showalter (.306, 11 HR, 43 RBI) notches his 2,500th career hit in a 5-2 win over the Thunder. Showalter hits a sixth-inning double off MR Zach Warner (1-0, 4.50 ERA) to reach the milestone. Showalter, 36, spent most of his 16-year career in the Federal League for the Blue Sox and Cyclones. A 6-time All Star, he has a career .307 batting average with 247 HR and 1,170 RBI.
August 7 – The hitting streak of Salem's Dan Cobb (.346, 4 HR, 22 RB) is already perdu after an 0-3 game against the Gold Sox, who beat the Wolves, 7-2 in 11 innings.
August 8 – NYC SP Mike Rutkowski (6-7, 5.04 ERA) might miss the rest of the season with torn ankle ligaments.

Complaints and stuff

Matt Nunley's fourth-inning RBI single off John McInerney on Thursday was his 2,000th career base hit. It took him a while – he has almost 14 years of major league service credit – but at least the 36-year-old got off to a quick start on his chase for 3,000 (cough!) with a 3-hit game and a total of 2,002 knocks that point. His career slash of .279/.338/.388, while not shabby, will probably not get him into the Hall of Fame (sneeze!). He also has 143 HR and 852 RBI. Well, he's been a glove third baseman for most of his career – he hasn't beaten a .750 OPS in almost a decade.

Matt Nunley is also second in all-time base hits for Raccoons, trailing Cookie Carmona of course. Here are the top 10:

PORTLAND RACCOONS CAREER HITS LEADERS

1st – Cookie Carmona – 2,281
2nd – Matt Nunley – 2,004

3rd – Neil Reece – 1,983
4th – Daniel Hall – 1,886
5th – Ieyoshi Nomura – 1,581
6th – Tetsu Osanai – 1,548
7th – Adrian Quebell – 1,400
8th – Mark Dawson – 1,313
9th – Daniel Sharp – 1,267
10th – Conceicao Guerin – 1,185

Apparently Jonathan Fleischer returned from Portland to St. Petersburg with some mild shoulder inflammation. I wonder whether this is all a dream. A bad one at that.

Fun Fact: 14 Raccoons teams finished with fewer than 4.0 runs scored per game. Only two of them wound up with winning records.

That would be 1987 and 2025, both seasons seeing the Coons with 3.9 runs per game. They even missed the playoffs by only one game in '87.

The 2027 Coons are now one run over a flat 4.0 R/G. They are in a steep descent. Somehow, they are 25 games over .500, which is even more than the '87 Coons squeezed out with their final 91-71 record.
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Old 12-16-2018, 12:24 PM   #2682
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Raccoons (69-44) @ Crusaders (58-53) – August 9-11, 2027

The Crusaders were the one team the Raccoons seemed to do good against as they had so far won nine of the dozen games played in the current season, and we had in fact scored 5.0 runs per game against them this year. Well, that was going to help with a stingy pitching staff! However, at this point, the Raccoons were locked in a 3.0 R/G trudge, and part of that pitching had moved to the DL (as had the Crusaders'). New York was the team with the second-most runs scored in the Continental League, but they were giving up the fifth-most runs and had the second-worst rotation, which just had suffered another punch with news that Carlos Marron (5-6, 4.13 ERA) was out for the year with a torn labrum.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (12-4, 2.73 ERA) vs. Chris Klein (13-7, 3.90 ERA)
George James (3-1, 2.75 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (7-8, 4.62 ERA)
Jason Butler (0-2, 4.72 ERA) vs. TBD

Having two starting pitchers taken out in a few days had thrown the Crusaders' pitching into disarray. They had no starter lined up for Wednesday so far. Klein and Cannon we knew about; both were right-handers. The third survivor in the rotation was righty Doug Moffatt (10-6, 4.28 ERA) who if he started on Wednesday would do so on short rest.

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

Monday's opener was out of the window after two innings. Felipe Delgado's leadoff single got coupled with Nunley throwing away a grounder by Zheng-ze Ts'ai, and then Harenberg couldn't reach a quick Nick Hatley shot past the first base bag that made it to the depths of the outfield for a 2-run double. Because, honestly – who expected the Raccoons come back from anything at this point? The only batter that reached base for them the first time through was Nunley, and he got nicked by an erring Chris Klein. The top 4th saw leadoff singles by Rich Hereford and Rafael Gomez, who occupied the corner, after which Harenberg had nothing better to do than to strike out. Abel Mora hit a fly to right and Hereford dashed home for a sac fly, but that was all they got in the inning, Tovias whiffing to end it. Tovias also allowed Juan Espinosa to reach first base on an uncaught third strike to start off the bottom 5th, and that free runner almost cost the Coons. Nomura walked the bags full in the inning, then had to thank Abel Mora for tracking down a Delgado drive in the gap to end the inning. On the other side of the box score, Klein was obliterating the Coons, whiffing eight in five innings and was not slowing down either, while Nomura couldn't get through the sixth, knocked out with a leadoff walk to Nate Ellis, a 2-out RBI single by Espinosa, then another single by Klein. Jonathan Snyder retired ancient Jose Gutierrez on a pop to strand them on the corners in the inning and kept the score at 3-1, then struck out the side in the bottom 7th. In between, Harenberg had dropped a leadoff single into left to begin the top 7th, but had been thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. He would go on to sock a home run off Travis Giordano with two outs in the ninth inning, but there was nobody on base and Abel Mora grounded out pathetically after that, ending this stinker of a game. 3-2 Crusaders. Harenberg 2-4, HR, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1;

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – RF Carmona – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Spencer – 3B Nunley – CF Magallanes – C Rocha – P James
NYC: 1B Elder – CF Hatley – RF Ellis – 3B Schmit – LF Espinosa – C Asay – 2B S. Valdez – SS Ts'ai – P Cannon

George James appeared to be in trouble by the second inning after Andy Schmit and Juan Espinosa dropped in soft singles to begin the frame. Jason Asay's grounder to third was taken for a force at that base by Nunley, after which James reached back and rung up both Sergio Valdez and Ts'ai to get out of the jam. If you could look past the Coons being sat down, 12-for-12, by Eddie Cannon in the early going, James' game didn't look so bad until he issued back-to-back leadoff walks in the bottom 4th to bring up Espinosa, who grounded to Nunley. This time, the force at third was not an option and Nunley only got the runner at second; no problem, though, with Jason Asay spanking into a double play, 4-6-3.

Cannon whiffed four in five perfect innings before the scrubs got to him in the sixth. Magallanes chipped a clean single into leftfield, followed closely by Daniel Rocha singling over the head of Ts'ai, which led to James bunting obviously. Cannon, greedy, fired the ball to third base – late! All paws were safe, three on, no ou-… oh dang. Another round of rumble baseball! Stalker grounded to short, Ts'ai fired home, Magallanes was out. Cookie grounded to first, and Jay Elder had never been a great defender, and he would not become one down the road, either. No play at home, but Elder managed to get Cookie out at first while a run scored on the groundout. Hereford then laid down a pathetic roller that nevertheless fooled Asay and the quick Hereford managed to leg it out for an RBI infield single. Harenberg popped out to end a depressing 2-spot inning.

James went seven in admirable fashion, but was done after 104 pitches. Surginer took over with the 2-0 lead, allowed a leadoff single to Ts'ai in the bottom 8th, but got Delgado to fly out to Spencer, then a double play from Elder. The ninth inning saw no action from the Critters, then Josh Boles take the mound in the bottom half. We expected left-handers to arrive at the plate soon, and Ricky Ohl had been through a busy weekend. Hatley flew out to Mora in center before Nate Ellis singled, but Boles remained in control, ringing up Schmit before he got PH Jose Gutierrez to fly out easily to Abel Mora again. 2-0 Blighters. Hereford 2-4, RBI; Magallanes 1-2, BB; Mora (PH) 1-1, 3B; James 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, W (4-1);

The Coons would see right-hander Jesse Wright (2-0, 1.42 ERA) in the rubber game. Wright was a second-year player who had made 25 appearances this season, including one start in May against the Stars. He had also been in 14 games last season, all starts, pitching to a 4-7 record and 3.45 ERA, so he was not just some ol' spot starter.

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Butler
NYC: 1B Elder – CF Hatley – RF Ellis – LF Espinosa – C Asay – 2B S. Walter – 3B J. Gutierrez – SS Ts'ai – P J. Wright

Kevin Harenberg was charged with his second baserunning blunder of the series right in the first inning. The Coons had loaded them up with straight 1-out singles after which Abel Mora walked to force home a run, when Spencer flew out to right. Harenberg hadn't gotten the memo and was easily doubled off second base to end the inning. Wright however didn't seem to be able to retire many batters at all; in the second Tovias singled, Stalker walked, and then Cookie and Gomez chipped in 2-out RBI singles to extend the lead to 3-0 – lofty heights! Don't look down! On to the third, Spencer drew a leadoff walk, Nunley doubled past Ellis, and the Coons walked Tovias intentionally to get to Butler, who was as of yet not scored upon, but got his first career RBI as a dismembered Jesse Wright threw him four balls. I felt almost sorry for the poor kid. … Almost. The Coons threatened to make nothing of what was still of a three on, no outs situation when Stalker whiffed, but Cookie brought in another run with another grounder to Elder, similar to his move in the sixth on Tuesday, extending the lead to 5-0 in the process. Gomez grounded to short for the third - … oops, no, Ts'ai threw the ball away, plating two unearned runs. The Crusaders tried with a new pitcher at this point, sending struggling right-hander Sean Byrd into a 7-0 collapse (but mind that the Coons had a pitcher on the mound that had gotten beaten regularly in AAA), and Byrd secured the third out from Harenberg on a pretty deep fly to center.

Speaking of Butler, he showed his ugly side right away in the bottom 3rd. Ts'ai hit an infield single to get go, but Byrd bunted into a double play. Butler still managed a major cock-up, allowing a single to Elder before walking the bags full and surrendering a 2-run single to Espinosa. Asay popped out to end the inning in a rapidly developing 7-2 game. And while there were no runs in the next couple of innings, drama there surely was. The Coons stole four bases in the fourth, but, as indicated, didn't score, which involved among other fails Jarod Spencer striking Abel Mora with a batted ball. Well, bright sides – he didn't hit him in the head; just in the cushy bum.

Butler made it through five, somehow, before walking the bags full in the bottom 6th with nobody out. That also gave him six walks in the game. With Ts'ai up, Portland turned to Dan McLin, then disaster. Ts'ai singled to left, two runs scored, the ball got lost on the infield after an imprecise throw from Cookie, and the runners moved into scoring position. After a nifty Nunley play on Will McIntyre's grounder that kept the runners pinned, Jay Elder flew out to center. As Gutierrez tagged up, Mora fired home, albeit wildly, allowing Ts'ai into third base, from where he scored when Nunley fumbled Nick Hatley's grounder for an error. An Ellis single, a walk to Espinosa, the bases were loaded in a 7-6 game and McLin was yanked for Surginer, who secured a groundout from Jason Asay to end the utter nightmare of this sixth inning, which was swiftly followed by the utter nightmare of the seventh inning, in which Billy Brotman allowed a single to Gutierrez, walked a pair, and bled two runs on Elder's single and a sac fly to put the Coons into the trailing position after they had led 7-0. Well, hadn't that been a long time ago? 8-7 Crusaders. Carmona 3-5, 2 RBI; Gomez 2-5, RBI; Spencer 2-4;

Jason Butler (0-2, 5.89 ERA) was canned immediately and thrown to the waiver lions. A second roster move divested the Coons of Daniel Bullock and his .155 bat. The Raccoons activated Alberto Ramos in time for their arrival in Denver, while adding Steve Costilow (3.51 ERA in AAA) for pitching support over the weekend.

Raccoons (70-46) @ Gold Sox (60-54) – August 13-15, 2027

Denver ranked sixth in runs scored and runs allowed in the Federal League, which somehow worked out for a +56 run differential that was hard to grasp for me. Their rotation was a bit crummy though when you got past their 1-2 punch, who were of course lined up for this series. How much their defense, second-worst in the league, had to do with this was not quite clear, but they sure were not innocent. These teams had not played another since 2022, when the Gold Sox had taken two of three games.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (9-8, 3.56 ERA) vs. Tommy Weintraub (12-7, 3.17 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (8-8, 2.94 ERA) vs. Robbie Gonzalez (8-1, 3.09 ERA)
Rin Nomura (12-5, 2.74 ERA) vs. Jeff Horton (1-3, 6.22 ERA)

Three right-handers for a team that had already recycled a few pitchers this year. Jose Menendez was on the DL among others.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – LF Spencer – CF Mora – C Tovias – P Gutierrez
DEN: Rock – 1B Gore – RF Chavira – CF Madsen – LF Kopp – 2B Herman – C Brooks – 3B Janes – P Weintraub

What did Rich Hereford and Trey Rock have in common since having been traded for another? Both had shed some 50 points of their batting averages with their new team. Both made outs in the first inning after Alberto Ramos returned with a single flicked into rightfield, only to be doubled up by Stalker. Brad Gore homered off Rico to put the Gold Sox up 1-0 in the bottom 1st. In the third, Trey Rock would drop in a 2-out single, reached third on Gore's double, then scored on a wild pitch before Vinny Chavira struck out. Bottom 4th, Abel Madsen led off with a double to left, Terry Kopp singled and drove the runner home, Nick Herman walked, Jeremiah Brooks singled, at which point the Gold Sox were 3-0 on the board and 3-0 in terms of runners and outs in the inning, although Erik Janes drove a knife into that stat with a run-scoring double play grounder. Weintraub struck out, but Rico was down 4-0 and the Raccoons were nowhere near a vague threat. They scored one run with a Jarod Spencer leadoff double and two groundouts in the top 5th, to which the Gold Sox responded with a 4-spot in the sixth that tore Gutierrez in half entirely. Nick Herman had opened that inning with a double and was on third base with two outs when Weintraub hit a roller in front of the plate that Tovias decided to try and brood and hatch that damn egg rather than making a good throw. The run scored, and Rico bled another single to Rock, then a 3-run homer hit by Brad Gore. We won't go into too much detail about the Gold Sox' other 4-spot in the eighth inning on Billy Brotman and Steve Costilow, because there are only so many tears one can cry. 12-2 Gold Sox. Stalker 2-4; Rocha (PH) 1-1, RBI;

Interesssssing thhhingisss… even when you'ramm- mm- ….. mmmmile high …! (shakes empty bottle) Ugh. … they ss-s-still juss bury you s-six feet under …!

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo
DEN: 1B Gore – SS Rock – CF Madsen – RF Chavira – LF Kopp – 2B Herman – C Brooks – 3B Janes – P R. Gonzalez

Ramos walked, stole second, moved up on Hereford's infield single, and finally scored on a sac fly by Harenberg in the first inning – oh, how we had missed that stuff …! A solo shot by Abel Mora made it 2-0 in the second, but the Sox soon pulled a run back in the bottom 3rd, which Jeremiah Brooks opened with a long double to the rightfield fence and was plate with Gore's 2-out single past Harenberg. Top 4th, the dreaded three on, no outs situation was back after a leadoff walk to Gomez, then singles by Tovias (JUST past Trey Rock) and Mora, the latter dropping one cleanly into rightfield. Nunley was up, ran a full count, then got the borderline call for a bases-loaded walk, 3-1. Gonzalez ran another full count on Delgadillo, but then blazed him with a high fastball just in the zone to get the first out. Ramos popped out, Stalker grounded out to Janes. As usual, they had crapped their own nest…

The rest was Delgadillo. Chavira took him deep in the bottom 4th to cut the lead to 3-2, after which the Gold Sox loaded the bases and Mora had to make a long run on Gonzalez' 2-out drive to end that inning. Bottom 5th, leadoff walk to Gore, who was bunted to second base by Rock before Abel Madsen doubled him in to tie the game. Delgadillo walked Chavira, then served up a 3-piece to ex-Coon Terry Kopp to piss this particular game into the wind. He issued a 4-pitch walk to Herman before being disgracefully yanked and replaced by Kearney, who got out of the inning on a double play grounder coaxed from Brooks, but down 6-3 the Coons were once more done. The tying runs came up in the seventh, when Gomez singled home Ramos only for Tovias to ground out to short and strand the tying runs on the corners, all of this only for McLin to give back a run in the bottom of the inning, then again in the ninth in a 7-4 game when Brian Gilbert walked both Stalker and Hereford with one out. There was no confidence left in Kevin Harenberg putting a score straight. He grounded out to first, entirely to expectations, before Rafael Gomez struck out. 7-4 Gold Sox. Mora 2-4, HR, RBI;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Nomura
DEN: SS Rock – 1B Gore – RF Chavira – CF Madsen – LF Kopp – 2B Herman – C Brooks – 3B Farias – P Horton

Ramos singled, errr… and was caught stealing in the first, and yet the Coons somehow still scored a run. Hereford single, moved up on Gomez groundout, then scored on a Harenberg double. While Rin Nomura issued a 4-pitch walk to Trey Rock to begin his day and would dance on the very edge of the volcano, and lewdly so, ever after, the Coons kept ticking Horton for singles, but couldn't get their runners across. They had six hits through the first three innings, but still only that 1-0 lead as they entered the fifth inning. Ramos drew a leadoff walk, snatched second base before Hereford walked, then scurried to third when Gomez hit into a double play. (exhausted groan!) Harenberg got a ball past Brad Gore for an RBI double, though, and then Rock missed Mora's shot up the middle for an RBI single, finally extending the lead a bit more into the comfy zone with an erratic Nomura on the mound doing whatever. The Sox promptly went onto the corners in the bottom 5th on a leadoff single by Brooks, then a 2-out single by Rock, but Gore struck out against the southpaw, a crucial difference to the last two games in which he had roamed and romped free against Rico and Yusneldan.

Bottom 6th, a Madsen single and a Ramos error brought up the tying run yet again, and that tying run, Brooks, singled with two outs to load the bases for Emilio Farias, the seasoned (he was a rookie in '11, before Nunley and even Cookie) veteran. Nomura slipped to a 3-1 count against him before Farias hid a soft floater to shallow right. Gomez hustled in – and caught it. Oh dear. On to the seventh, where Horton's final move was another leadoff walk to Ramos, before being replaced with right-hander Mike Tandy and his 6.16 ERA. Ramos, with reinforced vigor after a month on the sidelines, swiped second base, leading to an intentional walk to Rich Hereford, who of course knew every trick in Tandy's (thin) book. The middle of the order collectively ****ed up; Gomez and Harenberg both flew out easily to Madsen in shallow center, and Mora grounded out to Rock to strand the runners. In turn, the Gold Sox scored an unearned run in the bottom of the inning, which Nomura opened with putting Tom McWhorter on second base and a clutch throwing error of his own making, then surrendered the run with two outs to Chavira singling up the middle. Oh well, at least Nomura made it through the seventh and the Coons had lined up what they perceived to be the game-winning duo of Boles (who retired Denver in order in the eighth) and Ricky Ohl, who had not been in any game this week. But before he could get engaged, the top 9th saw Freddy Heredia allow a leadoff double to Ramos, after which the Gold Sox walked Hereford intentionally AGAIN. What did he have that he wasn't showing to US?? The runners pulled off a double steal before Gomez grounded out to the mound (crying roar), after which Harenberg was walked intentionally to load them up for Mora. Abel looped a ball over McWhorter for a single, Chavira overran the ball for an error, and two runs scored. That was the inning, Spencer and Nunley making poor outs. Ohl came in anyway despite the save opportunity having passed, and ended the Gold Sox with only a 2-out single allowed to Rock. 5-1 Coons. Ramos 2-3, 2 BB, 2B; Hereford 2-2, 3 BB; Harenberg 3-4, BB, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 2-5, 3 RBI; Nomura 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, W (13-5);

In other news

August 10 – A broken hand will likely cost VAN OF Tony Coca (.315, 21 HR, 75 RBI) a month on the DL.
August 11 – BOS SP Dustin Wingo (13-4, 1.66 ERA) strikes out 12 and allows only two base hits in a 5-0 win over the Canadiens.
August 13 – TOP 2B/SS Alex Majano (.283, 2 HR, 39 RBI) falls a home run short of the cycle in a 5-for-5 effort with 2 RBI in a 9-4 win over the Thunder.
August 14 – SFW SP Juan Muniz (16-4, 3.09 ERA) 3-hits the Crusaders in a 7-0 shutout.

Complaints and stuff

Maud called me in Denver to tell me that Cristiano Carmona was inconsolable that Daniel Bullock had been sent to St. Petersburg and that he had tried to throw himself off the top of the building, but hadn't been able to get over the railing in his wheelchair. This was something I would have to sort out back in Portland, a place I was dreading to go to at this point, given that the Agitator was very active on the social media nonsense and by now was tweetering insults and derisions live while the Coons were playing.

Wait – you can get onto the roof? Why didn't anybody ever tell me!? … Oh well. I guess I will have to buy Cristiano a stuffed animal on the way home from the airport.

For positives (!), Alberto Ramos had just lost the CL lead in steals to Mario Pizano before he came off the DL for the weekend and immediately robbed the Gold Sox for four sacks to reclaim the lead, 36 SB to Pizano's 34. There's seven weeks left to the season, so there is plenty of time for him to challenge Yoshi Yamada's single-season franchise mark of 54. In fact, despite missing a month, his current season is already up to eighth-most stolen bases in a Raccoons season. His 41 SB last year rank seventh.

Tough to find anything else. The Titans have zoomed out to an 8-game lead. The team dropped under 4.0 R/G for the season with this crummy week, at least the fourth crummy week in a row, although they were not very exciting even in June. In fact, here is a goody…

Fun Fact: Except for three games against the Crusaders, the Raccoons have not scored more than five runs in a game since July 3.

It is TRUE. They won 6-2 against the Loggers on July 2. Since then they ran of even that many runs only three times, all in Crusaders games. They won 11-7 against them on the Friday and 10-1 on the Sunday after the All Star Game. Then they put up seven early on Wednesday and still managed to lose.

If you look for games not against the Crusaders in which they scored *seven* runs (which is not outrageous on paper), you immediately go back to June 17, a 10-9 bamboozle game against the Miners. That was the week after they strafed the Pacifics in a 3-game set, and it was the tail end of when this offense was any sort of productive. It's been two months.

What has this team become?
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Portland Raccoons, 50 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
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1 OSANAI : 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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