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Old 10-01-2018, 03:37 PM   #2621
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Raccoons (44-38) @ Loggers (36-45) – July 6-9, 2026

There was nothing going on in Milwaukee anymore in July, which was rather ordinary when you looked back at the last five decades. The Loggers sat 15 1/2 games out and were just taking care that their ballpark wouldn't fall over in the middle of the night. Oh, and they were in the middle of a 12-game losing streak that the Raccoons were almost guaranteed to end for them as they game in for four games, the first half of the traditional All Star Game embracing four-and-four with one of their CL North opponents. The season series was even, 2-2.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (1-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (2-4, 4.95 ERA)
Mark Roberts (8-6, 2.59 ERA) vs. Mark Dempsey (3-6, 4.81 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (8-3, 3.89 ERA) vs. Jorge Villalobos (8-3, 2.36 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (5-4, 3.31 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (5-3, 4.36 ERA)

All of these starters were right-handed. The Loggers were adding injury to insult as well and were missing some of their best personnel, including Ian Prevost and Ian Coleman, but also plucky infielders Jeff Rinehart and Danny Mancia.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Kopp – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – LF Gerace – P Nomura
MIL: SS Ferrer – CF S. Green – 1B Tadlock – LF W. Trevino – 2B I. Flores – RF R. Amador – C Salazar – 3B Mesa – P Rogers

The Loggers would lead 1-0 after five innings, the lone run the product of a Manny Ferrer double to begin the third inning, followed by two strikeouts and a terrible bloop by Willie Trevino that fell for a 2-out RBI single. Both teams had squandered opportunities along the way. Nunley had speared a sharp bouncer by Philip Rogers with a pair in scoring position and two outs in the bottom 2nd, while the Raccoons had placed Justin Gerace on third base after he reached on an uncaught third strike leading off the third inning, was bunted over, advanced on Ramos' single, and then they were left there on Spencer's lineout into the mitten off Ferrer, and a weak grounder by Abel Mora. Top 6th, Spencer and Mora went to the corners with nobody out, another prime chance to worsen my depression. Alas, this time was different – Terry Kopp belted a no-doubter, and the Coons had a 3-1 lead. Kopp came up again the next inning with Ramos and Spencer in scoring position and one out, and the Loggers wanted no part of him. Gomez popped out with the bags full, but Nunley doubled into the gap in right-center. Roberto Amador cut the ball off before it reached the deeper regions of the park, then threw out Kopp at home, but by then the Coons had plated two more runs to lead 5-1. That was soon 5-2 on John Salazar's leadoff jack in the bottom of the inning, but Nomura, who had started the game with two first-inning walks before reeling himself in and pitching much better in the later innings, got through the seventh alright after that. Ricky Ohl got the ball in the bottom 8th, but a Trevino single and an Ivan Flores walk brought up the tying run. Brotman replaced him, got great support from Kopp with a defensive gem at first base on Roberto Amador's fast bouncer, then struck out Salazar to escape the jam. That still left ample time for disaster in the ninth. Brotman faced Alex Mesa and allowed a single, then was kicked for Snyder with the right-handers coming up. Ken Hanagriff singled to left, Manny Ferrer singled up the middle. Bases loaded, nobody out in a 3-run game. Pinch-hitter Alexis Rueda struck out, which was a bit of a break, and then Ron Tadlock brought in a run with a fly to Gerace, but that was also the second out. Snyder prevailed in a full count against Trevino, his second K of the inning also ending the game. 5-3 Coons. Ramos 2-5; Spencer 2-4; Nomura 7.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (2-2);

Interlude: Trade

Nothing to get excited about, really. The Raccoons picked up 31-year-old OF Matt Jamieson (.220, 3 HR, 17 RBI) from the Pacifics in exchange for MR Jeff Mudge (2-1, 6.39 ERA, 2 SV) and a pretty bad 21-year-old single-A … I hesitate to call him "prospect". Angel Salazar cost $56,000 in the 2021 IFA period and hasn't been worth it.

Anyway, the table cloth was cut between the Coons and Mudge and he had to go. Outright release was not an option, so we traded our 2-year burden for a 1-year burden in Jamieson. Also, with Jon Gonzalez probably lost for the entire season, there is still room to prove himself in the outfield with us, since Terry Kopp will likely play most of the time at first base.

Justin Gerace was demoted to make room on the active roster.

Raccoons (44-38) @ Loggers (36-45) – July 6-9, 2026

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – LF Mora – 1B Kopp – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – CF Magallanes – P Roberts
MIL: SS Ferrer – CF S. Green – 1B Tadlock – LF W. Trevino – C J. Young – RF R. Amador – 2B Berntson – 3B Mesa – P Dempsey

The Coons not only put their first three batters aboard with a triple, infield single (that didn't score Ramos), and walk, but also got Terry Kopp to draw a walk to push home Ramos after all before they chocked wholly and completely. Gomez struck out, Nunley hit into a double play. Mr. Triple Crown, whose last win had come in MAY, probably would have liked the additional support. Dempsey lasted only 2.2 innings, but not for putting too many runners aboard, but rather had to be removed for injury concerns. Koto Hayashi replaced him and surrendered a 2-out RBI single to Rafael Gomez, who scored Ramos from second, that went on Dempsey's ledger before Nunley's grounder to second base closed the inning and said ledger. That was not the last injury for the Loggers, who also lost Ferrer on a defensive play in the fourth inning. He was replaced by Ivan Flores.

Roberts allowed no base hits in the first three innings, then allowed four to begin the bottom 4th. Sam Green singled, Tadlock homered, and a 3-0 lead became 3-2, which in turn became endangered after Trevino and Jim Young went to the corners after two more singles. Roberto Amador popped out, but Jon Berntson looped a nasty one onto the leftfield line from where it went past a confused Mora and into the corner for a score-flipping triple. At least Roberts struck out Mesa and Hanagriff, but damage had definitely been done. The Raccoons were not as stunned as one would expect and loaded the bases in the following inning, although admittedly their 1-out sequence began with a Mesa error that put Kopp on first base. Gomez walked, Nunley singled, pulling up O'Dell in the prime spot. O'Dell hit Travis Feider's first pitch over the second base bag for an RBI single, and then Magallanes chopped the ball into a double play… They were batting almost as if Mark Roberts wouldn't find a loss on his own; he hit Ivan Flores to begin the bottom 5th, then served up a homer to Green, falling behind yet again, 6-4. He was not seen again after the fifth, having been pinch-hit for in the top of the sixth. Ramos and Spencer reached scoring position on a single and a double. Neither scored.

The Coons continued to dazzle with their reluctance to go for the big inning. Gomez and Nunley opened the seventh with singles, going to the corners. O'Dell racked another pitch for a double play, scoring Gomez, but not helping the cause. Magallanes even reached base on a walk, and then Matt Jamieson, in his first appearance as a Critter, struck out. Way to get yourself endeared, Matt! Top 9th, Joe Moore faced his former team with a 6-5 lead and Kopp leading off. Terry singled through Tadlock, which opened us up for all sorts of disappointment. Gomez' walk made it worse. When Matt Nunley looped a ball to shallow center, Rueda missed in on a dive and played the single into an RBI double, it was surely going to implode in our face any second now! O'Dell's sac fly was only a prelude to future ravaging! Kyle Koel's 2-out RBI double was nothing but a farce to make our fall that much deeper! No, Ricky Ohl struck out the side in the bottom 9th. 8-6 Raccoons. Ramos 3-6, 3B; Spencer 2-5, 2B; Gomez 2-3, 2 BB, RBI; Nunley 3-5, 2B, RBI; O'Dell 2-4, 2 RBI; Koel (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Boles 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, W (1-0);

That is a 14-game losing streak for the Loggers. Their mere sight made me sad. Finish them off quickly so we can get outta here.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Kopp – RF Gomez – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – C Burrows – P Gutierrez
MIL: SS Salazar – RF R. Amador – 1B Tadlock – C J. Young – 2B I. Flores – CF Hanagriff – LF Rueda – 3B Mesa – P Villalobos

Spencer doubled home Ramos in the first inning for a quick 1-0 lead for the Coons as they tried to deepen Milwaukee's misery to 15. Jamieson hit a single for his first base knock as a Critter in the second inning, but the Coons only returned to scoring in the third, with another Spencer double, a wild pitch, and Mora's run-scoring groundout that made it 2-0 for Rico, who had also seen his share of trouble recently, but was holding the Loggers to two hits through three innings while striking out four.

The knell was that much more violent when it actually happened in the fifth because of how smooth Rico had been before that. Hanagriff single, Rueda double, tying run up with no outs. Mesa's sac fly, then a suicide squeeze on which the battery fell asleep to plate the second run. Tied game. John Salazar singled. Amador singled, loading the bases. And then Tadlock struck out. And Young struck out. Three stranded, game tied at two after an inning that lasted only 29 pitches, but felt like 92. We almost felt like survivors until Rueda, Mesa, and VILLALOBOS rapped off 2-out singles to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom 6th. Can the Coons ever catch a break? No, their clumsy attempts were wholly abortive. Gomez hit a leadoff single off Villalobos in the eighth, only for the next three Raccoons to strike out. Spencer hit a 2-out single in the ninth. Mora struck out. 3-2 Loggers. Ramos 2-5; Spencer 3-5, 2 2B, RBI; Legleiter 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

This will be a pretty good team once I find a few capable batters to line up behind Ramos and Spencer, and once I get rid of all the pitchers out of the "explosive diarrhea" category, Pitchers of the Year or not…

Suddenly, a southpaw cropped up on Thursday, with Ben Jacobson (8-8, 4.61 ERA) having been claimed off waivers by the Crusaders and being put into a Loggers uni.

Game 4
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Gomez – RF Kopp – C O'Dell – LF Jamieson – 1B Koel – 3B Bullock – P Anderson
MIL: CF S. Green – C J. Young – SS Tadlock – LF W. Trevino – 3B Mesa – 2B I. Flores – RF Rueda – 1B Aquino – P Jacobson

The Coons' 3-4-5-6 batters all chained up hits with two outs in the opening inning, bringing in three runs in total as Gomez and Kopp singled softly, O'Dell hit a hard RBI double to right, and Jamieson a well-placed 2-run single to left. By the third, the Loggers were on the board as well when Tadlock brought in Sam Green with a sac fly. It was not just a sac fly; Rafael Gomez slammed face first into the fence after making the catch in deepest centerfield, then numbly fell to the ground … but kept the ball in his glove. He had to be carted off the field and was replaced by Mora.

While that sucked, maybe the Coons could at least wrap up the series. Anderson walked Ivan Flores in the bottom 4th, but Rueda lined to Kyle Koel, who not only shagged the ball, but also found time and balance to tag out an already-started Flores for an inning-ending double play. Top 5th, Stalker doubled with one out, then scored on Kopp's single, 4-1, but the Loggers still had grit. The bottom 5th saw Wilson Aquino hit a leadoff double while Anderson was coming apart slowly. He would issue two walks in the inning, allowed a few rockets, and a Jamieson throwing error also aided the Loggers to score two and get back within one before Mesa grounded out to Spencer to strand a pair. Oh well, what was the sixth inning for if not for flipping the score there? Leadoff walk to Flores, infield single by Rueda, and you just knew this was gonna be good. Aquino's groundout advanced the runners, Jacobson tied the game with a sac fly (because don't you suckers dare ever striking out a ****ing pitcher!), and Sam Green's 2-out single put Milwaukee on top. That was all for Anderson, who was hanging for the loss with the way the Raccoons were batting in the top 7th. Surginer surrendered a 2-out run to Mesa in the bottom 7th, and when the Coons got Mora aboard with a leadoff single in the eighth, Kopp was on pat to smack into a double play. The Loggers got another run off Legleiter in the eighth… not that it mattered… 7-4 Loggers. Gomez 1-2; Kopp 2-4, RBI; O'Dell 2-4, 2B, RBI;

Raccoons (46-40) @ Crusaders (48-38) – July 10-12, 2026

We were up 7-2 against New York this year, but I was not going to take anything for granted anymore. The Crusaders sat fourth in runs scored, but were allowing the fewest runs in the Continental League as they tried to catch the elusive Elks.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (6-3, 2.52 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (9-4, 2.11 ERA)
Rin Nomura (2-2, 2.91 ERA) vs. Carlos Marron (8-4, 1.78 ERA)
TBD vs. Eddie Cannon (7-6, 4.21 ERA)

More right-handers to come. For Portland, Sunday's starter depended on whether Mark Roberts (8-6, 2.93 ERA) was an All Star. I was not sold on the idea, but who knows – these selectors are routinely drunk beyond recognition. If Roberts gets picked, then the start could go to either Alvin Smith or Lance Legleiter.

The Crusaders came in having acquired infielder Mike Kane (.271, 3 HR, 22 RBI) from the Titans in exchange for SP Matt Rosenthal (8-7, 4.34 ERA). They could use a few batters, because between Sergio Valdez, Nate Ellis, Roger Allen, Robby Soto, and Juan Espinosa they had five quality bats on the DL.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Kopp – 3B Nunley – RF Jamieson – C O'Dell – 2B Stalker – P Delgadillo
NYC: CF Douglas – 2B McWhorter – 3B Schmit – RF Richardson – 1B Godown – C Leal – LF Shaffer – SS Kane – P Rutkowski

Lance Douglas singled, stole second, then scored on two groundouts in the opening inning, putting Portland into an early hole, and remember how they managed to choke when they had an early LEAD … Rutkowski, who drew a leadoff walk (…) in the third inning, also was perfect against Portland the first time through, so there was that. Ramos would draw a leadoff walk in the fourth inning, but Rutkowski remained on the minimum after Alberto got himself caught stealing trying to nip #21. Those shenanigans, however, stopped in the fifth inning. Terry Kopp laced a leadoff double, and then Jamieson found the rightfield corner for an RBI triple. That tied the game, and O'Dell's grounder to short put Portland ahead once Jamieson came home from third base. Not that we got to enjoy the 2-1 edge for long… Delgadillo allowed a single to Mike Kane – the Crusaders' first hit since the Douglas single – and after Rutkowski bunted into a force at second base still managed to surrender a 2-out RBI triple to Douglas…

That was it for Delgadillo in trying to grind out a win. He went seven, was hit for with Koel and one out in the eighth, Koel even singled, and then Ramos and Spencer made poor outs. We then continued with poor pitching. Josh Boles struck out J.D. Laughery to begin the bottom 8th, then walked Douglas. Ricky Ohl replaced him, got Tom McWhorter to fly out, then threw a wild pitch before walking Andy Schmit anyway. Jamie Richardson came through with an RBI double, and even though Nunley made a nice play on Justin Godown's grounder, the Crusaders were up, the Raccoons were down, brought up the middle of the order against Steve Casey in the ninth, and remained firmly down. Kopp hit a 1-out single. Nunley hit into a double play. 3-2 Crusaders. Kopp 2-4, 2B; Koel (PH) 1-1; Delgadillo 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – 1B Koel – LF Jamieson – P Nomura
NYC: CF Ugolino – 2B McWhorter – 3B Schmit – C J. Ramirez – LF I. Vega – 1B Richardson – RF Douglas – SS Kane – P Marron

While Nomura faced the minimum the first time through the order, walking Douglas who then got caught stealing, he was also interrupted by an hour-long rain delay after 39 pitches, which was not a good point to get hit with an hour of picking your pointy black nose. All the good effort went out the window anyway in the fourth inning with a 1-out single by McWhorter, after which Nomura whacked Schmit, then surrendered two RBI singles to Jose Ramirez and Ivan Vega. Oh why even bother!? And no, the Raccoons were not doing anything in this game, either. And, well, yeah, they tied the score in the top of the fifth, but how was it their merit? Nunley reached on a 2-base throwing error by McWhorter to begin the inning. After that O'Dell singled, Koel grounded out, and Jamieson was walked intentionally. Nomura grounded to first for the second out, and then Marron threw a wild pitch to score O'Dell. Yeah, very impressive hitting display…

Nomura lasted six, whiffing seven batters, then had to hope in vain hope that the Raccoons would pull something from their arse that wasn't **** in the top 7th. Nunley grounded out to short. O'Dell flew out to Fabien Ugolino. And Douglas caught Koel's lazy fly. Yeah, way to go, boys. Brotman retired the Crusaders in the bottom 7th, then saw his spot come up after Jamieson's leadoff single in the eighth against Marron, who was tougher than shoe leather and stubbornly hanging in. Brotman was left there to bunt, did so badly, and Jamieson was forced out. THEN Ramos singled. Oh dear …… I don't even know what dear. Probably deer. Spencer hit into a fielder's choice, Mora flew out to Vega. Nobody scored. PH Mike Fletcher singled off Surginer in the bottom 8th and with two outs Jose Ramirez drove a ball to deep right. I closed my eyes and sighed, but the crowd ended up moaning – Kopp had caught the ball at the fence, but that was only a prelude to Richardson's strong catch on Jamieson's 2-out drive in the top 9th. That one came with Nunley and O'Dell on base. They did not make it home… other than Ivan Vega, who hit a leadoff double off Surginer in the bottom 9th, then was singled in by Justin Godown. 3-2 Crusaders. Nunley 2-4; Jamieson 2-3, BB; Nomura 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K;

(sighs dramatically)

It gets better. Rafael Gomez fractured his hand in multiple spots when it got wedged between his body and the fence. He is probably on the pile with Gonzalez as out for the year. So here was another one for the DL. The Raccoons called up Justin Gerace again, five days after sending him back to St. Pete.

Mark Roberts made the All Star Game and thus was scratched from the Sunday start. Alvin Smith (0-0, 1.80 ERA, 1 SV) got the assignment.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Mora – 1B Kopp – 3B Nunley – LF Gerace – CF Magallanes – C Burrows – P Smith
NYC: CF Ugolino – SS Kane – 3B Schmit – 1B Richardson – RF I. Vega – LF R. Torruellas – 2B Fletcher – C Leal – P Cannon

Both teams had only one base hit the first time through, and only the Raccoons did something with it. Burrows hit a leadoff single in the third inning, was bunted over, advanced on a wild pitch, then was plated by Ramos with a sac fly to Ugolino in center. That run was just as deserved as the one the Coons got in the fourth inning when Mora hit a leadoff single, Kopp struck out, Nunley grounded out to move Mora to second, and then Fletcher threw away Gerace's grounder for two bases. Not that it mattered, because the middle-innings meltdown was coming, and coming hard. Smith walked the leadoff batter Kane *and* Andy Schmit in the bottom 4th, then allowed a single to left to Jamie Richardson. Kane went for home, was thrown out by Gerace, but the runners advanced behind him and both scored on Vega's double off the wall near the foul pole in leftfield, erasing all of the Coons' shady lead.

All in all, Alvin didn't do all that bad. He lasted five innings, allowed only those two runs, and was competitive, but he was also over 90 pitches after five innings, but it was a decent performance for a spot start on short notice. Plus, he still had a chance for the win with the top 6th coming around and Mora reaching on an infield single to begin the frame against Cannon. He stole second, advanced on a groundout by Kopp, then was driven in by Nunley with a soft single over the leaping Richardson at first base. That was it for the inning with Gerace whiffing and Magallanes flying out before being removed in a quad switch. Mora to center, Kopp to right, Koel to first, and Legleiter in to pitch and bat seventh, and to issue a leadoff walk to Schmit in the bottom 6th, but the middle infield found a double play somewhere in the shards of their season to get Legleiter out of the inning.

Top 7th, Ramos earned an intentional walk as the last action by Cannon, who drilled Burrows to begin the inning, after which Koel grounded out and advanced the runner. Jon Ozier came on, rung up Spencer, but then threw an egg to Mora, and Abel hit it where it hurt, 395 feet over the fence in right-center for a 3-run bomb! Legleiter went on to work himself through another inning, and then Brotman survived the eighth despite two walks issued. The Critters won another gift run in the top 9th in which Ramos singled, stole second and raced for third on Armando Leal's throwing error, then scored when Spencer flew out to Rafael Torruellas in the gap. Would five runs be enough for Surginer, facing the bottom of the order, to not send the Coons to the All Star break on a 5-game losing streak? Tough to tell – Mike Fletcher led off with a single. Leal doubled, and this sent Snyder warming up… J.D. Laughery struck out, as did Fabien Ugolino. Jose Ramirez pinch-hit in the pitcher's spot, #2 … and went down on three strikes. 7-2 Critters. Ramos 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Mora 3-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Smith 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (1-1); Legleiter 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

In other news

July 6 – The Warriors, led by the two dingers by INF Ricky Tello (.243, 5 HR, 28 RBI), out-homer the Gold Sox, 5-2, but blow a 6-run lead and lose a wicked one, 17-13. DEN RF/1B Brad Gore (.264, 8 HR, 29 RBI) drives in five on three base hits.
July 6 – DAL RF/1B Chris Hollar (.267, 7 HR, 41 RBI) might miss the rest of the month with a strained foot.
July 8 – NAS INF John Muller (.276, 3 HR, 25 RBI) is traded to the Condors along with a minor-league catcher and cash in exchange for OF Nick Hatley (.228, 3 HR, 15 RBI).
July 9 – The Canadiens beat the Indians, 6-5, when IND MR Mike Lake (1-3, 4.99 ERA, 2 SV) issues a walkoff balk to awards home plate to OF/2B/1B Ted Gura (.261, 3 HR, 31 RBI) on third base.
July 9 – The Blue Sox send another player to the Condors, this time SP Adam Potter (5-9, 5.38 ERA) for two prospects, including #89 SP Mario Gonzalez.
July 10 – SFW MR Tony Cash (4-3, 3.18 ERA) ends a 10-inning game against the Pacifics with a wild pitch that allows LAP 1B Allen Retzer (.243, 1 HR, 21 RBI) to score and L.A. to walk off, 3-2.

Complaints and stuff

With the arrival of Matt Jamieson in addition to f.e. Kyle Koel, the feeling, no, the screaming question of who the heck were these people on the roster, and were they getting paid for being awful, too, continues to intensify. Good thing the team collapsed BEFORE everybody got hurt. Otherwise we'd blame it on the baseball gods again, when it fact it was just the personnel that was again not up to snuff. I wonder whether a dead mammoth, buried under frozen tundra for 11,000 years, has more dead inertia than this ****ing team… oh well, at least Cookie comes off the DL after the All Star Game, so maybe he can give us … uhm… good vibes?

Only two All Stars on this team; one has already been named – Roberts – and the other is Jonathan Snyder, who has only 11 saves, but what do I know about baseball?

With Gomez and Gonzalez both out for the season and the rest of the team being what it is, the season is now officially in the bin. No point in trading up when your team is playing like raw ass for six weeks straight, you are down a few of your better hitters, and you are trailing three teams by a handful or more.

Oh well, yeah, there's always next year.

And at times, there was a loaded gun in this top drawer, but – (pulls open drawer) … but these days…. Maud! – MAUD!!

In the nearer future, we will have four at home with the Loggers on the other side of the break, then three more with Indy before we will tour the Southeast in Atlanta and Charlotte. August will be weird; we have only seven scheduled road games in August.

Fun Fact: We are 154-146 against the Crusaders since the end of the 2009 season.

Keith Ayers – OUT AT HOME.

Nope, still haven't unseen that.
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Old 10-03-2018, 02:17 PM   #2622
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Before the All Star Game even broke, the Coons demoted Juan Magallanes, batting a beefy .122, back to St. Pete to bring Cookie Carmona back from the DL.

All Star Game

Tijuana's Shane Sanks wins MVP honors in the 2026 All Star Game on the strength of two base hits … including a walkoff grand slam off Topeka's Mike Baker. Sanks drive in five runs in total in the game which ends a 9-5 Continental League victory.

Four of those five FL runs were on Raccoons; Mark Roberts surrendered a pair in the first inning, and Jonathan Snyder surrendered two more in the fifth…

Raccoons (47-42) vs. Loggers (40-48) – July 16-19, 2026

With the season series even at four and neither team having much to look forward to anymore, this was the first series of the rest of the year. The ruffled Raccoons would host the third-worst offense in the Continental League, not helped out by thoroughly average pitching all too much.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (8-4, 3.92 ERA) vs. Ben Jacobson (9-8, 4.60 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (6-3, 2.52 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (6-3, 4.06 ERA)
Mark Roberts (8-6, 2.93 ERA) vs. Joe West (2-4, 4.26 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (5-5, 3.58 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (2-6, 5.60 ERA)

Their only left-handed starter would lead off the series, after which it would only be righties.

And then there was the slight hiccup with land down under in torrential rain on the Thursday after the All Star Game. The game was wiped out and a double header scheduled for Friday, although ill weather was expected to last throughout the weekend.

Game 1
MIL: CF S. Green – 3B Mesa – SS Tadlock – LF W. Trevino – C J. Young – 2B Berntson – RF I. Flores – 1B Aquino – P Jacobson
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – CF Mora – C O'Dell – 1B Kopp – RF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – 2B Stalker – P Gutierrez

Rico Gutierrez retired 14 straight a day late, then Jon Berntson singled to centerfield with two outs in the fifth. Ivan Flores' groundout ended the inning anyway before the Coons' fragile 1-0 lead, courtesy of Brett O'Dell going yard in the fourth, could become seriously endangered. Offense remained slow through six and limited to solo home runs; Matt Jamieson hit the only other one in the middle innings, that one coming in the bottom of the sixth; it was also his first one in Portland. While Rico kept the Loggers appreciably short, the Coons had something going, more or less, in the bottom 7th. Tim Stalker hit a leadoff single, then got forced on a poor bunt. However, Ramos and Spencer both singled to load the bags with one gone for Abel Mora, who was 0-3 with 2 K and hit for by Kyle Koel, because we were wicked like that! Koel coaxed a walk from Jacobson before O'Dell bounced into an all too likely double play, keeping the score at 3-0 for Rico. Jon Berntson was the only guy able to hit Rico apparently; he legged out an infield single in the top 8th, then was wrapped up on Flores' grounder to Stalker for a 4-6-3 inning-killer. While Rico was the hottest **** on the block at this very moment and wouldn't have come out of the game anyway, Terry Kopp took off the save opportunity with a homer off Lisuarte Paradela in the bottom 8th. Wilson Aquino, Ken Hanagriff, and Sam Green went down in order in the ninth. 4-0 Furballs! O'Dell 2-4, HR, RBI; Jamieson 3-4, HR, 2B, RBI; Stalker 2-2, 2 BB; Koel (PH) 0-0, BB, RBI; Gutierrez 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K, W (9-4);

Rico blanked the Loggers on 85 pitches (!) for his sixth career shutout, first one this season.

Game 2
MIL: CF S. Green – RF R. Amador – SS Tadlock – LF W. Trevino – 3B Mesa – 2B I. Flores – C Salazar – 1B Aquino – P D. Soto
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Kopp – 3B Nunley – RF Carmona – LF Gerace – C Burrows – P Delgadillo

Delgadillo conceded a run in the second inning on the best plays of all, a 2-out RBI single by the opposing pitcher, that one plating Flores, who had hit a 1-out single earlier. John Salazar had also walked in the inning. The Coons would tie the game the following inning when Ramos got on with a walk, then scored on 2-out singles by Mora and Kopp, but the grief was soon back with Portland, who lost Delgadillo to injury by the fourth inning. The elbow was barking apparently. Yes, the surgically stitched one.

Under the gloom of doom, the bullpen got involved in this second leg of a Friday double header. Billy Brotman inherited two on with one out, got Wilson Aquino on a soft fly to Mora, then would have gotten Soto on a grounder to short if Ramos hadn't thrown it into Stalker's face to make the positionally shifted shortstop at the keystone panic and dart for the dugout. The Loggers loaded them up on the error, but Brotman prevailed when the right-handed Green struck out in a full count. After that jam situation we turned to one of our long men (we even had three…) in Lance Legleiter, the shortest of the three long men, if that made any sense at all, who took over in the 1-1 game after Ramos grounded out to strand Gerace and Bullock on the corners in the bottom 4th. Lance got around a Ron Tadlock double in the top 5th by whiffing the next two, then again had a man on second with one out in the sixth. Aquino struck out, but Soto singled AGAIN and plated Flores AGAIN. The lead didn't last for the Loggers; Cookie led off the bottom 6th with a soft single to right, leading the home crowd to make rather much noise for unassuming base hit #2,216, but they ramped that up tremendously when Justin Gerace followed up with a blast to right-center, a score-flipper, 3-2 Portland!

Top 7th, Legleiter put Tadlock aboard again, this time with a 1-out walk. Willie Trevino popped out in foul ground, which brought up the left-handed Alex Mesa. The Coons went to Josh Boles here, and the Loggers sent Berntson, a.k.a. the reason why Rico Gutierrez was not in the ABL No-Hitter Club. Before Berntson got to do damage, Tadlock took off for second – and Burrows nailed him out to end the inning. In turn, Justin Gerace joined the still important club of hitters to bang home runs in back-to-back innings; he hit another 2-spot off David Warn in the bottom 7th, plating Terry Kopp alongside himself. Berntson didn't get to see Boles again, with Ricky Ohl taking over in the eighth. Berntson shrugged and homered off Ricky instead, cutting the gap to 5-3. Ohl managed to get the next three batters out to hand a lead over to Snyder in the ninth. Alexis Rueda to begin the ninth and Roberto Amador to end it both hit deep fly balls, but both hit them into outs to Mora and Cookie, respectively, and somehow Snyder retired the side in order. 5-3 Coons. O'Dell (PH) 1-1; Kopp 3-4, 2B, RBI; Gerace 2-3, BB, 2 HR, 4 RBI; Bullock (PH) 1-1; Legleiter 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (3-5);

Jarod Spencer pinch-hit for a groundout in the bottom 8th to maintain his perfect attendance record in 2026. He is the only Raccoon who has showed up in all games this year, and he has been the only one for a good long while.

The Druid diagnosed Dan Delgadillo with elbow soreness, which could mean anything and everything. He was off to the DL but was supposed to be back in early August. The Raccoons cooked up something here, and promoted top pitching prospect George James from St. Pete, where he had an ERA just under four, but Carrasco claimed he was ready for the show at 22. The right-hander (and our #7 pick two years ago) would bump Anderson from the Sunday start. He would then return to St. Pete pronto as we would get through the month on off days and/or spot starters again, probably to be called back in September.

Game 3
MIL: CF S. Green – 3B Mesa – SS Tadlock – LF W. Trevino – C J. Young – 2B Berntson – RF Rueda – 1B I. Flores – P J. West
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Jamieson – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – LF Carmona – C O'Dell – 1B Koel – P Roberts

Had the Coons found their power stroke now, with the season easily in its fourth month? Terry Kopp opened the scoring with a 2-piece in the first inning, and they would pile another three base hits and two runs (the latter on Kyle Koel's 2-out single) on the board before Koel also ended the inning when he was picked off first base by Joe West. An inning later, Jamieson missed a homer only narrowly and was robbed at the fence by Trevino, but that was still good enough for a sac fly. With Roberts, who's last win had come during approximately the Fourth Crusade, staked to a 5-0 lead, we were sure stoked to see what would happen. Only good things, surely! For example Alexis Rueda's leadoff jack in the third… that was actually the only hit off Roberts through five, but the Loggers loaded them up on two singles and a walk in the sixth inning. Tadlock batted with one out, which was high danger, but grounded out to Nunley, who conceded a run and instead took the safe out at first base, after which Trevino grounded out to short, keeping the Critters 5-2 ahead. Roberts was not threatened again in his last two innings, leaving after eight with 105 pitches under his belt. The Raccoons suddenly awoke from a snooze of almost two hours in the bottom 8th, got Nunley on against Paradela, then Koel to double him in with two outs. Gerace grounded out in Roberts's spot, which was then taken over by Alvin Smith with a 4-run lead. Singles by Alex Mesa and Jim Young put the tying run in the on-deck circle with two outs, but Smith would still face Berntson, and then we'd have Brotman for the left-handed Rueda. Billy never got involved – to his mother's delight – with Berntson ending the game when he flew out to Cookie in leftfield. 6-2 Raccoons! Ramos 2-4; Nunley 1-2, 2 BB; Koel 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Roberts 8.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, W (9-6) and 1-3;

Game 4
MIL: CF S. Green – C J. Young – SS Tadlock – LF W. Trevino – 3B Mesa – 2B I. Flores – RF R. Amador – 1B Aquino – P Rogers
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Kopp – RF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – LF Gerace – P James

James struck out Sam Green on four pitches, his first batter in the major leagues going down for a K, and the Loggers would not reach base in the first inning. Soon after that he had his first lead, Ramos singling, advancing on Spencer's groundout and then coming home on Mora's single to center. Alex Mesa was the first guy to beat James, hitting a 1-out single in the top 2nd, and Roberto Amador added himself to the firsts with a walk drawn with two down. Wilson Aquino, however, struck out, ending that inning, too. After three, he had four strikeouts on his ledger, the Loggers looked bad, but then again James had been called up roughly 24 hours earlier and the Loggers probably had not expected him up at such short notice and likely hadn’t been prepared with video material… but that swift start would not be the most amazing thing happening on that Sunday. In the bottom of the third, it was James' first time at bat, leading off against Philip Rogers, who threw right down the middle and soon learned that you're not doing that to a 22-year-old debutee pitcher. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause – George James took a 93mph heater and barraged it over the leftfield fence for a leadoff jack, much to the ecstasy of the assembled crowd … and myself no less! YES, WE GOT A SLUGGER!!

Meanwhile the rest of the batting was not very excitable as far as the Critters were concerned. They got Ramos and Spencer to the corners with two outs in the fifth, but Mora flew out to center, and the Loggers were taking better aim at James in the middle innings, too. Roberto Amador had a very deep out in the fourth, stranding a runner, and they also left Trevino on second base in the sixth. How much deeper to push the debutee? Might also depend on offense, but he was only over 80 pitches through six and would be good for more. Bottom 6th, Kopp smacked a single to center and then Jamieson hit one up the rightfield line for a double. Nobody out, runners in scoring position for Nunley, who had popped out with Jamieson on third and one out his last time up, now whiffed. O'Dell flew out to left, Kopp was sent and thrown out, and the Coons didn't score. George James got through the 6-7-8 batters without ill events in the seventh, K'ing Aquino to get to the stretch, and we decided that this would constitute a wonderful story and a job well done – not even the Agitator would be able to poke holes into this! Ricky Ohl did the honors in the eighth, which set up Snyder to face the meat of the order in the ninth. Tadlock swung and missed a 3-2 to start the inning, Trevino grounded out to the mound, and then Snyder nicked Mesa with an 0-1 pitch. Flores came up as the tying run, batting .218 and sinking, especially after being struck out by Snyder to complete the 4-game sweep. 2-0 Furballs! Ramos 2-4; Jamieson 2-3, 3B, 2B; James 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, W (1-0) and 1-2, HR, RBI;

George! James! George! James! George! James!

In other news

July 13 – The Crusaders trade MR Jon Ozier (1-0, 3.96 ERA) to the Falcons for two prospects.
July 14 – Pacifics and Knights exchange veterans as SP Brian Cope (4-7, 3.59 ERA) goes to L.A. in exchange for RF D.J. Fullerton (.391, 3 HR, 29 in 69 AB) and a prospect.
July 16 – Four hits, three walks, and two errors help the Condors to a 6-run, comeback eighth inning against the Falcons, and are enough for a 6-5 win. The Condors only have one more base hit in the ballgame.
July 18 – The Cyclones relax after a 7-run opening inning and still beat the Rebels comfortably, 12-1. Cincy's LF Ray Meade (.266, 10 HR, 44 RBI) drives in five runs on two homers.
July 19 – OCT 3B/SS Lorenzo Rivera (.292, 2 HR, 39 RBI) has a 20-game hitting streak after connecting once in a 3-2 win over the Knights.
July 19 – WAS OF Jeremy Houghtaling (.246, 8 HR, 37 RBI) collects four hits and as many RBI in the Capitals' 13-0 rout of the Blue Sox.
July 19 – Season over for SFB MR Alex Cordova (1-1, 3.91 ERA, 1 SV), who has been diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff.

Complaints and stuff

Some more detail on everybody's new favorite toy, George James. Funny story. His middle name is Edward. His father's name is Henry. And his mother's maiden name is Richard, no S attached. That is most of 1,000 years of English kings since the Norman Invasion assembled here. No-not that I am a fan of monarchy! Liberty, ya-ay!

And he can let 'er rip!

Mark Roberts is a winner again! It had been merely 50 days since he had last down a team, in that case the Bayhawks. In between he had gone 0-4 in seven starts, with a few real clunkers among them, but also a 1-0 loss mixed in. His ERA had still been not worthy of a Pitcher of the Year: 5.49! Yikes!

That prospect in the Cope/Fullerton deal? Angel Salazar. He was also the prospect in the Jamieson/Mudge deal, a trade that looks really good right now with Jamieson batting .440 since coming over (with Mudge, who shaved once he arrived in Cali, unscored upon in 6.2 innings for L.A.). Usually this works the other way round with the Raccoons, so I can only guess that Jamieson is mere minutes away from having both legs and an arm torn off in a household accident involving a toaster, a fork, and a third, mystery utensil.

Fun Fact: The Loggers really hate Rico Gutierrez, who has thrown four shutouts against them in his career.

That is 67% of all his shutouts, as indicated above, and the 2-hitter on Friday was also the closest he came to a no-nothing. He has never shut out a team outside the North, with the Indians and Elks also on his ledger.
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Old 10-06-2018, 06:16 PM   #2623
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The week began with a roster change. The Raccoons sent George James back to St. Petersburg after his delightful major league debut. There would be more of him about six weeks from now, but the Raccoons had off days both this Thursday and next Monday and could well scrape by on just four starters until the end of the month. The Raccoons added an additional left-handed reliever in Hector Morales, who got into a total of 22 games with Portland between 2023 and 2024, pitching to a 4.08 ERA, but with 5.6 walks per nine innings. Recent numbers in St. Pete and Ham Lake indicated that things had not improved for the 26-year-old.

Jon Gonzalez was moved to the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster, so there's a hint about late-season availability for the alleged slugger.

Raccoons (51-42) vs. Indians (37-53) – July 20-22, 2026

Who better to face than the miserly Indians with the Coons now on a 5-game winning streak once again? Indy was not going anywhere, mired second from the bottom in runs scored in the Continental League, which was not something average pitching was going to solve. And they were pitching just barely around the league average, too. The Raccoons had a 6-3 lead in the season series and eager to build on that, so all was well, right? Well… after three months of getting kicked and battered, the Indians were actually 10-7 in July…

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (5-5, 3.58 ERA) vs. Myles Mood (4-0, 2.67 ERA)
Rin Nomura (2-2, 2.92 ERA) vs. Tom Shumway (6-10, 3.65 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (9-4, 3.64 ERA) vs. John McInerney (6-8, 3.45 ERA)

A right-handed spot starter in Mood, who got the assignment with injuries to Mark Matthews and Brian Leser, then two southpaws. We actually hadn't seen Shumway in a long time…

Game 1
IND: CF Zanches – 3B C. Castro – RF Good – 1B Herlihy – C T. Perez – LF Kaczenski – 2B Folk – SS Pizano – P Mood
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Kopp – RF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – LF Carmona – P Anderson

The Raccoons posed no threat early on except for Alberto Ramos with a leadoff double in the first and a 2-out walk in the third, and general ignorance at his presence on base. The Indians didn't do much either in the early going, except for Tony Perez' leadoff single in the second, and a 4-pitch walk to Gary Kaczenski issued by Anderson. Soft and easy contact to the outfielders kept the Indians in check then, but trouble was brewing in the fifth inning with Mario Pizano's leadoff double into the left-center gap. He advanced on the bunt by Myles Mood, but then Alex Zanches popped a pitch to Matt Nunley for the second out. Maybe things would turn out okay! No, they didn't. Cesar Castro, a 24-year-old rookie with more of a defensive reputation so far, hit a shallow pop that Ramos and Mora would charge for. Neither got it, it fell for a single, and the Indians were up 1-0. Bottom of the inning, Cookie hit a single, stole second, but the days where we had personnel behind him to drive him in were long gone. Anderson grounded out to short, keeping Cookie at second base, and then Ramos failed with a grounder to Brody Folk, the despicable ex-Elk. Maybe Jarod Spencer's leadoff double up the leftfield line in the bottom 6th would bring us joy? Well, while Mood plated him with a wild pitch after Mora's groundout, the Raccoons even would have brought him in on their own after Terry Kopp's 1-out walk (generous call, but we'd take it) and Matt Jamieson doubling past Matt Good in rightfield. A walk to Nunley loaded them up, but Brett O'Dell was on pat to ground into a double play…

Bottom 7th, Cookie leading off with a double that didn't even get past Good, but the veteran was trying to force the issue now. Anderson was over 90 pitches – a job well done – and was going to be hit for. With the Coons' bench looking like the immediate aftermath of a tsunami, Kyle Koel grabbed a stick, grounded out (but advanced the runner), and the Indians were scared of the rookie shortstop and walked Ramos intentionally. There was a "no steal" on here; Cookie's run was to go ahead, and Tony Perez had some arm! Jarod Spencer got it done anyway, lining a ball into the gap between Zanches and Kaczenski and that would score both runners! While that one worked out well in the end, the Coons would have the bags full again in the bottom 8th and would bring up Koel again after the garbage pile pickup had stayed in the game at first base; now he hit into a double play, home-and-first, Ramos got another four-finger salute to bring up Spencer with three on and two out against Jose Fuentes, and Jarod came through AGAIN, lining over Castro at third base for a 2-run double! Mora struck out, ending the inning, and while the save was taken off for the moment, the Coons put it right back on. Brotman allowed a single to Kaczenski to begin the ninth, then Alvin Smith walked Folk. Third batter up, third pitcher in, this time Snyder. Three angry strikeouts for having to interrupt a hummer meal did away with the Indians. 5-1 Coons. Ramos 1-2, 3 BB, 2B; Spencer 4-5, 3 2B, 4 RBI; Carmona 3-4, 2B; Anderson 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (6-5);

Minus a Jamieson double, all our hits rested in Ramos, Spencer, and Cookie. Abel Mora had a particularly nasty day, going 0-for-5 with 3 K and stranding seven. How about a day or two off for you, Abel? Or twenty.

Game 2
IND: 3B C. Castro – 2B Folk – RF Duarte – SS Pizano – 1B Good – C T. Perez – LF Zanches – CF Mack – P Shumway
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – CF Jamieson – RF Kopp – 2B Stalker – 1B Koel – 3B Bullock – C Burrows – P Nomura

Again offense started out somewhere between "slow" and "none". The Raccoons had a Jamieson double in the first, but Kopp struck out, and that was it until the fourth when a Tony Perez homer put the Indians 1-0 in front. Again, that was all the other team would get off the Coons' starting pitcher, and like Anderson, Rin Nomura went seven innings in this game. He sprinkled three hits, but that was already one too many. The Coons through six also had three well-scattered and forgettable base hits, and Tom Shumway looked most excellent against them after a rough first half. Bottom 7th, leadoff walk drawn by Stalker, but Koel smacked into another double play. After that, Daniel Bullock hit a double to leftfield, but the completely irrelevant Jake Burrows flew out gingerly to Matt Tinsley in leftfield. Lance Legleiter handled two innings on just 22 pitches, with Burrows throwing out Castro trying to steal third base in the top 8th, and Tom Shumway tried to handle nine when he entered the bottom 9th against the meat of the order on his 4-hitter and a 1-0 lead. Jamieson singled, and the Indians acted at once, sending Nick Salinas in, who was walking quite a few for a closer and who's ERA was over four. He hit Terry Kopp, then got some D from Craig Mack, who spoiled a Tim Stalker drive in deep center. Jamieson advanced, putting them on the corners for Matt Nunley, who batted for Legleiter in the #6 hole and bounced straight into a double play. 1-0 Indians. Jamieson 2-4, 2B; Nomura 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, L (2-3) and 1-1; Legleiter 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

What a forgettable team…

The following day, Rin Nomura's interpreter inquired why the team's lousy batting display had them not punished by standing in the steaming sun with winter parkas on the entire day. This supposedly was how youth coaches handled gross incompetence in Japan. I was believing in an error in translation there, but then again, the idea sounded nice to me…

Game 3
IND: 3B C. Castro – 2B Folk – RF Duarte – SS Pizano – 1B Good – C T. Perez – LF Kaczenski – CF Mack – P McInerney
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Kopp – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – RF Carmona – P Gutierrez

For once, the Raccoons scored first; Matt Jamieson was the early hero in the rubber game, homering for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the opening frame, and then threw out Pizano at home plate on Perez' wannabe sac fly in the second inning. Pizano had reached on a Stalker error and had stolen his 20th bag off O'Dell before tagging up on the fly that was not quite deep enough and ended the top 2nd on an 8-2 double play. That was also IT for Jamieson's heroics; he was gone by the third inning, having left the contest with back spasms. Abel Mora entered the game after all.

The Indians kept looking bad; Kaczenski ended the third inning like Pizano had ended the second, with being thrown out at home plate, this one by Cookie Carmona. While Rico Gutierrez carefully moved through the middle innings while displaying little in terms of stuff – he whiffed only two through six innings, and that included one instance of the opposing pitcher – the Raccoons twice let doubles with less than two outs get away and didn't add to their early lead. Rico went on to unexpectedly strike out pairs in both the seventh and eighth innings, and needed only 83 pitches through eight. At this junction, and five days after his shutout against the Loggers, it dawned on me – Rico had transcended being scored upon like a mere pawn, he was surely untouchable now! All the Raccoons did in the bottom 8th was delaying the inevitable, another shutout, and he would pitch shutout after shutout for all eternity! The bottom 8th, peskily intermingling with fate itself, saw Spencer hit a single, steal second and nip third on Ricardo Vargas' throwing error, further an intentional walk to Kopp, an unintentional walk to Stalker, and Nunley batting with three on and two outs against righty Jose Fuentes. He got a ball past Castro for a 2-run single before O'Dell grounded out to end the eighth. Good, good! Bring on the progidy, the demigod! The demigod allowed a leadoff single to Vargas in the ninth, then whiffed Castro. Brody Folk popped out. Alex Duarte, the ex-Critter, singled to right – intermingling with the divine would sure see him struck down by lightning any second now. Vargas went to third and beat out Cookie's throw, as Pizano came up as the tying run. Rico got this – there was no doubt about it. Mario Pizano agreed. Devotely he snipped a ball back into Gutierrez' holy mitten, and was out by 55 feet to end the game. 3-0 Furballs! Spencer 2-4, 2B; Jamieson 1-1, HR, RBI; Gutierrez 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, W (10-4);


Matt Jamieson was not fatally hurt on that throw, but was day-to-day for the weekend series against the Knights.

The Raccoons made a different roster move though before the weekend, demoting Jake Burrows and bringing up Elias Tovias, who had just found his stick in AAA.

Raccoons (53-43) @ Knights (31-64) – July 24-26, 2026

The Knights had lost six in a row, only cementing their status as worst team in the Continental League even more. They were rock bottom in runs scored, third from the bottom in runs allowed, and were heading for a ghastly -200 run differential by the end of the season. The Raccoons would want to beat up on that, and so far had three wins in the bank against them in the only three games these teams had played so far this season.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (9-6, 2.89 ERA) vs. Leon Hernandez (2-7, 3.70 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (6-5, 3.43 ERA) vs. Mario Rosas (7-11, 3.80 ERA)
Rin Nomura (2-3, 2.68 ERA) vs. Estevan Delgado (1-2, 4.70 ERA)

Like in the first set this week, right-left-left.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Mora – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 1B Koel – LF Gerace – P Roberts
ATL: CF N. Hall – 3B V. Ramirez – SS Showalter – C Luna – RF G. Ramirez – 2B T. Jimenez – LF Stuckey – 1B Siebuhr – P L. Hernandez

The second inning saw Portland go up 1-0 on Koel's 2-out walk and Justin Gerace's subsequent RBI double into the corner in left, then the Knights choke after Guadalupe Ramirez' 1-out triple in the bottom of the inning. Tony Jimenez struck out, and Johnny Stuckey popped one over to Ramos to keep the tying run at third base. No, tying the game would be the honor of Jon Siebuhr, who hit a real moonshot off Roberts to begin the bottom 3rd, tying the game at one there, and in the fourth Ramirez hit another triple, this time over Mora's head, and this time the Knights didn't strand him with one out. Jimenez singled, Ramirez scored, and it was 2-1 for the home team.

Kyle Koel's leadoff single in the fifth was only the Coons' third base hit in the game, and nothing good happened immediately. Roberts would bunt him to second for as many outs after Gerace was rung up, and a wild pitch advanced the runner further before Ramos walked in a full count. Spencer beat Vinny Ramirez with a fast bouncer and two outs, and the RBI single knotted the score again. Mora inherently not useful at this point, struck out. At least the opposing teams kept playing even dumber… Nate Hall drew a walk off Roberts in the bottom 5th, then went into motion on Andrew Showalter's 2-out double to left. He went around third base for home and was tagged out by Tovias right there, Gerace's throw and Ramos' relay arriving well in time to axe the go-ahead runner for the Knights. But the offense refused to shift out of neutral, and Mark Roberts refused to stop giving up extra bases. He got around Ruben Luna's leadoff double in the sixth, mostly because Luna was a tardy runner that could not easily be sent. He did not get out of Jeremy DeFabio's leadoff double in the seventh inning. Devin Hibbard's pinch-hit single plated him, and the Knights took a 3-2 lead into the eighth with Roberts done now and on the hook once again. The middle of the order stunk it up in the eighth, then faced closer Alfredo Morua in the ninth with the highly exciting trio of Tovias (0-for-3…), Koel, and Gerace. Cookie pinch-hit to begin the inning, but flew out to Cory Briscoe in leftfield. Koel was unretired in the game (!), but struck out. Stalker hit in Gerace's place and grounded out. 3-2 Knights. Koel 2-3, BB;

No, they just aren't a playoff team. They probably never were, not even when they fraudulently got to a 32-15 record.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Spencer – CF Kopp – C O'Dell – 3B Nunley – 1B Koel – RF Carmona – P Anderson
ATL: CF N. Hall – 3B V. Ramirez – C Luna – SS Showalter – LF Stuckey – 2B T. Jimenez – 1B Siebuhr – RF Briscoe – P Rosas

The Knights sure had a good chance to bury Anderson early under an unremovable of one, maybe two runs in the second inning after a single by Johnny Stuckey and a double by Tony Jimenez to begin the inning. The runners were in scoring position with no out, and they were still there with three out after Siebuhr's pop to short, Briscoe's lineout to Nunley, and then a K on a 3-2 to Rosas. Bottom 3rd, Nate Hall appeared on third base with nobody out after singling on an 0-2, stealing second, and gaining third on O'Dell's errant throw. Vinny Ramirez popped out again, but the Knights scored the run on Ruben Luna's groundout eventually, and would load the bases on two singles, an error, and then Siebuhr's K stranded three, which to recap meant that just that little bit of clutch could have seen them up by like six runs at this point.

At least the Raccoons were entirely and truly dead. They had a bloop single by Cookie in the third. They had a soft single by Ramos in the sixth. At this point, Anderson was even already gone, having expended 103 pitches in five near-nightmare innings, yet was only on a 1-0 hook. Josh Boles did the sixth, and then the Raccoons had the tying run on with nobody out after Jarod Spencer hit a leadoff single in the seventh inning, also a soft roller that fit just through the gap between Ramirez and Showalter on the left side. Kopp flew out ****tily to left. O'Dell walked on four pitches. Nunley came up, I thought about a double play, and he hit into a double play. ****ing ass, why didn't you think about a 3-run homer!!?? The bottom 7th began with a 4-pitch walk by Boles to Rosas, and the southpaw then smacked Hall, which indicated that this game was indeed really in the bin. Even then the Knights got only one run on a 2-out base hit by Andrew Showalter off Ricky Ohl, but what did another run matter when the Raccoons couldn't even out-pace zero runs against the worst team in the league? The Knights stranded another three in the bottom 8th when Stalker caught a scorched liner by Vinny Ramirez off Kevin Surginer, and the Coons carted up the top of whatever order that was supposed to be in the ninth inning, facing Morua again. Ramos flew out to center before Stalker got nailed, which – hear, hear – brought up the tying run in Jarod Spencer, ye old slugger. He flew out to Nate Hall, too, and Terry Kopp would strike out to end this ****ing game. 2-0 Knights.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Kopp – RF Gerace – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Bullock – P Nomura
ATL: CF N. Hall – LF Stuckey – SS Showalter – C Luna – RF Briscoe – 2B T. Jimenez – 3B Hibbard – 1B DeFabio – P E. Delgado

Sunday's game was lost on Jeremy DeFabio's run-scoring groundout in the bottom of the fourth inning. It could have been worse. The bases had been loaded with nobody out after a leadoff single by Luna, a double by Briscoe, and a walk issued to Jimenez. Devin Hibbard had fouled out, but DeFabio wouldn't go down. Delgado struck out after that, so the damage was only one run, but one run was one run too many with this team that had ceased any and all hitting approximately on Tuesday. They had window-licked their way to five base hits in four innings, all singles, and had never seen third base. Poor Rin Nomura, although he had surely had other offers this winter and could have signed more or less anyway…

Nomura hit a leadoff single past Showalter to begin the fifth inning, which was for most teams the start of something beautiful, but for the Raccoons would surely once more end with the phrase "double play". Ramos grounded to Jimenez, who had no trouble turning two, and Spencer flew out gingerly to Johnny Stuckey. The Knights single-double-groundouted again in the bottom 5th, adding another RBI to Luna's ledger, and moving the game out of range for good at 2-0 since now they could even survive the unlikely, unlucky longball. You know, the one Terry Kopp hit in the sixth with absolutely nobody on base. Nomura went seven while getting absolutely no love whatsoever and was still on a 2-1 hook when he got a sad pat on the bum in the dugout. Delgado was grinning at how easy this whole pitching deal was when you were not facing a proper team as he started the top of the eighth, which put him up against the top of the lineup, which in the Coons' realm meant guys you were more disappointed about when they grounded out to the second baseman in lifeless fashion than when the guys at the bottom of the lineup did it. Ramos led off with a single to right. Ramos then stole second base, his first bag in a while, which was a byproduct of NOT HITTING A LICK. But Nomura came off the hook when Spencer singled to left, Stuckey had a slight fumble (but not errorworthy) and Ramos ignited the afterburners and screamed for home plate unimpeded, knotting the score. Delgado's grin vanished for good when Jamieson took him into the gap for a double; Spencer couldn't score because Stuckey came pretty close to that ball and Spencer had to wait at second base, and then Nate Hall was on the ball right away. Runners in scoring position, nobody out for Kopp, who grounded out to the first baseman, and then the Knights walked GERACE to get to a badly slumping Matt Nunley. On the other hand, the Knights sent a right-handed reliever in Alex Silva. Nunley didn't care; he could hit into a double play against anybody, spanked one at Hibbard, and that was it for the Coons with three on and one out.

Bottom 8th, Billy Brotman faced only Ruben Luna and surrendered a leadoff single. Great stuff. When Vinny Ramirez pinch-hit for the left-handed Briscoe, the Coons sent Ricky Ohl, who got a double play grounder, then got Jimenez to ground out. Maybe we could at least make a 19-inning brain-melter out of this one… Or maybe the Knights would beat Alvin Smith to death in the ninth. D.J. Fullerton's pinch-hit, leadoff double put them in the driver's seat in a 2-2 tie. Jose Gomez struck out. Jon Siebuhr drove a ball to deep left, but Cookie Carmona inserted himself in the path out there after pinch-hitting in Bullock's spot for no good result at all in the previous half-inning. He also caught Nate Hall's high but short fly to left after that, sending the game to extras. Freddy Heredia, another nondescript right-hander, sat down the top of the order without fuss in the top 10th, then had to bat leading off the bottom 10th because the Knights were out of bench players. Smith ran a 3-1 count on him. Then Heredia singled. Then Showalter singled, with Heredia racing for third base. Justin Gerace's throw was utterly wild, up the line, Nunley couldn't chase it down, and Heredia turned for home and scored to walk off the Knights. 3-2 Knights. Ramos 2-5; Jamieson 2-5, 2B; Kopp 2-4, HR, RBI; Tovias 2-4; Nomura 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K and 1-3;

That was 31-year-old Freddy Heredia's second career base hit.

In other news

July 22 – The Rebels' SP Rich Guerrero (11-6, 3.15 ERA) not only loses a seven-inning no-hitter, but also the game against the Miners, 1-0, on Pittsburgh's three singles in the eighth inning.
July 23 – Falcons and Bayhawks play nine scoreless innings before a pinch-hit home run by INF Raul Mendez (.247, 6 HR, 22 RBI) gives the Falcons the 1-0 win in the 10th inning.
July 23 – The Loggers deal MR Lisuarte Paradela (1-1, 3.51 ERA, 2 SV) to the Condors for two prospects.
July 25 – Oklahoma 3B/SS Lorenzo Rivera (.288, 2 HR, 40 RBI) sees his hitting streak end at 24 games in a 3-0 Thunder win over the Indians. Rivera comes to the plate four times, but does not connect even once.
July 25 – TIJ SP Alex Hichez (7-5, 3.16 ERA) and CL Tony Harrell (3-5, 2.12 ERA, 28 SV) combine for a 1-hit shutout, 3-0, of the Titans, who get their only hit with one out in the eighth inning on a single by 1B Jay Elder (.251, 3 HR, 39 RBI).
July 25 – PIT C/1B J.J. Henley (.298, 14 HR, 60 RBI) will miss the rest of the season with a broken hand.
July 26 – Three weeks on the DL is the likely outcome from a strained calf for VAN OF Brian Wojnarowski (.247, 6 HR, 27 RBI).

Complaints and stuff

50 years on, the Baseball Gods have lost the element of surprise. I always knew that any guy coming over and batting north of .400 was absolutely bound to get hurt. See Jamieson.

I don't want to talk about the offense at all. If it was legal to test the ill effects of new cosmetics on raccoons in Oregon, I'd donate all o' them to the nearest lab. 'nuff said. Just this much: the Raccoons this week scored two runs per game, OUTSCORED their opponents … and STILL had a losing week. It was THAT ****ing bad.

But, ah, pitching! Back-to-back shutouts by Rico Gutierrez! That makes it seven for his career, and still all against the North. That will change though; the Church of Rico will welcome its followers again on Tuesday, then in a road temple in Charlotte, which is an inconvenience, I will admit, but if we start the march to North Carolina right now, we can get there by first pitch. Maud says it's some 2,800 miles, so come on, come on, come on – let's go! (grabs knotted wooden stick) I shall lead the way of the procession, in person and in song! A-maaa-zin' Graaace … (marches out of the office, stick raised, with Chad and Slappy following obediently)

Fun Fact: Eight years ago today, Brian Furst no-hit the Indians in a 13-0 rout.

Furst became only the second pitcher to toss multiple no-hitters in the ABL, joining Henry Selph, and is the only player to break out both of his no-hitters with the same team, the Thunder in his case.
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Old 10-07-2018, 10:19 AM   #2624
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Entrιe: Trade

The Raccoons scooped up SAL 1B Kevin Harenberg (.305, 17 HR, 59 RBI) on Tuesday, sending three players to the Wolves: SP/MR Lance Legleiter (3-5, 4.15 ERA), AA C Elijah Bean – our 2023 first-rounder – and A OF Jesse Stedham, who had been taken in the sixth round last year. The Wolves also added $50,000 in cash to the deal, because the Raccoons were thumping against their budget with this trade.

Bean is the main loss in the panic-born deal, who could have been a potential major leaguer some way down the road. Stedham looks like nothing, and Lance Legleiter himself is not quite sure whether he has a role after all. Kyle Koel was demoted in the aftermath of the deal, while the Raccoons promoted Nick Derks to the major league roster, if only for a few days.

Harenberg can whack it. He is under a big contract through 2030, but that will be something to sort out in the offseason after we have wrapped up our third championship and first since '93.

(snickers madly)

Raccoons (53-46) @ Falcons (48-48) – July 28-30, 2026

The battered Raccoons crawled into Charlotte to face the Falcons, who they were 2-1 against in 2026, but what had being up by X helped them against the hopeless Knights? The Knights had been only hopeless until the Raccoons had crashed into Atlanta, lying motionless on the field for three straight days. The Falcons had the worst pitching in the league, which was not encouraging to me anymore, either, with the worst rotation, worst pen, and most runs allowed. They were third in runs scored, which wasn't helping them a great deal. Despite being .500, their run differential was a whopping -50.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (10-4, 3.39 ERA) vs. Doug Moffatt (5-12, 5.07 ERA)
Mark Roberts (9-7, 2.93 ERA) vs. Jesus Chavez (7-5, 3.78 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (6-6, 3.35 ERA) vs. Greg Gannon (11-6, 4.08 ERA)

Only right-handers, maybe, unless our common off day on Monday would give them thoughts about bringing left-hander J.J. Rodd (6-7, 5.67 ERA) into the series.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Gutierrez
CHA: 3B Czachor – C A. Gonzales – 1B Fowlkes – RF Kok – LF B. Adams – 2B Pelles – SS Burns – CF Cano – P Moffatt

Inspired by the signing of Kevin Harenberg, the Raccoons did absolutely nothing in the first three innings. Matt Nunley reached base, but then only on a throwing error by Ryan Czachor, and the Raccoons weren't going to exploit this; they were playing the game the decent way or whatever. Nunley would reach on an error again his next time up, in the fourth inning. Then, the scoreless game saw three Raccoons aboard, Spencer having singled and stolen second base, Harenberg having been put on intentionally before he could do any damage, and Cookie had reached on a soft 2-out single. Nunley lined a 2-2 pitch to left, right at Bill Adams, but Adams lost it for a split second and then was almost decapitated by the ball, which hit the glove that he had raised to cover his face, but then fell to the ground. Two runs scored, putting Rico Divine up 2-0. Rico flew out to Barend Kok after another intentional walk to Elias Tovias.

Rico's streak ended in the fifth inning, which saw a 1-out single by Ruben Pelles, the extremely useless ex-Coon, then TWO wild pitches to Kyle Burns, who eventually singled to put Pelles over home plate. Ricky Cano also singled. With runners on first and second and one out in the inning, the Falcons had Doug Moffatt swing away, but his sharp grounder was intercepted by Nunley at third base, who tapped said base, but couldn't complete the double play. Gutierrez allowed two more 2-out RBI singles to Czachor and Alfonso Gonzales, which put Charlotte up 3-2. Back to sucking again, Rico, huh? Barend Kok hit a leadoff triple in the bottom 6th, left the game injured and was replaced by Chris Mendoza, but the Falcons of course drove Mendoza in, too, when given the chance. Adams' single extended their lead to 4-2 against the Raccoons, who continued to be much better at blowing music out of their bum holes rather than their day job. They had only two hits through six innings. They would get a third in the seventh inning, a pinch-hit homer in the #9 hole by Justin Gerace. Of course there was nobody on base. Maybe the Falcons' defense could give them some assistance again. Burns fumbled Spencer's grounder to begin the eighth inning, putting the tying run aboard on the Falcons' third error of the contest. Jamieson struck out against Moffatt, who now sat on 7 K. Harenberg flew to right, but right at Mendoza, remaining hitless as a Coon. Terry Kopp whacked away at the first pitch – high to right, long, and OUTTA HERE!! Terry's eleventh flipped the score back in the Coons' favor after all hope had been abandoned, and the Coons' Surginer and Boles kept the Falcons away in the bottom 8th. The top 9th saw Jon Ozier issue leadoff walks to Nunley and Tovias, Abel Mora chop into a double play, an intentional walk to Ramos, and then Spencer flying out to Ricky Cano, which left Snyder to his own devices in the bottom 9th. He struck out left-handed pinch-hitters Danny Munn and Paul Mattaliano, then had Cano at 1-2 before he grounded to second. Spencer had it, dropped it, chased it into the infield, and the Falcons brought up the winning run, PH Geoff Simko, on the error. Another 1-2 was put in play, high to left, but not deep at all. Cookie had it easily, and the Coons ended their losing streak. 5-4 Critters. Gerace (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI;

Kevin Surginer picked up the win in relief, his sixth of the season. That puts him even with Kyle Anderson for third on the team.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – LF Gerace – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – P Roberts
CHA: 3B Czachor – C A Gonzales – 1B Fowlkes – RF Kok – LF B. Adams – SS Ra. Mendez – 2B Pelles – CF Cano – P Chavez

Harenberg cashed his first Coons RBI with a 2-out double in the first inning that plated Jarod Spencer, who himself had singled and swiped second base. The 1-0 lead would not stand up because "Rockets" Roberts was getting smacked all over the place. Barend Kok, despite a sore ankle, hit a leadoff jack in the bottom 2nd to rightfield, and Bill Adams would have smacked a back-to-backer to left if that hadn't been caught up in the wind and dropped into Gerace's mitten. To illustrate the state of Roberts in this game, he struck out nobody in his first run through the Falcons' order, and that lack of whiff would come back to bite him in the fifth inning, where Raul Mendez was on second base with two outs, Roberts for the **** of it couldn't get rid of Chavez even in a 1-2 count, and surrendered a bloop RBI single to give the Falcons the lead. It only got worse from there – and no, the Coons did not do anything great offensively. Roberts allowed a single to Gonzales to begin the sixth, another single to Pat Fowlkes, threw a wild pitch, and fell to 3-1 on Kok's single. After a pop out by Adams, Roberts walked Mendez, then was removed after 5.1 innings and only *65* pitches. Ricky Ohl spared him from major damage when he got a double play grounder to short from Pelles, ending the inning, but that 3-1 deficit still towered tall over the tiny Coons, that didn't amount to anything in the seventh and eighth innings. Top 9th, Jon Ozier to the mound and immediately a leadoff walk to Terry Kopp. Maybe NOW, please? Justin Gerace tried to use the power void in the outfield mess/mix and hit a double that put the tying runs in scoring position for the struggling bottom of the order. Matt Nunley was in a hole about 90 feet deep, ran a full count, hit a blooper to shallow center, and that damn thing actually fell in for an RBI single. Gerace couldn't score since Cano almost got to the ball after all. O'Dell struck out. Cookie batted for Billy Brotman, flicked a single to left center, and that tied up the game – COOKIE POWER!! Tied game, runners on first and second with one out for the top of the order, but Ramos struck out and Spencer grounded out to third…

Kevin Surginer put himself in line for yet another win by pitching a quick ninth against the bottom of the order. When extra innings rolled along, lefty Joe Perry got Jamieson to ground out, then surrendered base hits to the actual left-handed batters. Harenberg doubled to right, Kopp singled in the same vicinity, and Harenberg raced home to break the 3-3 tie. He also drew a throw that missed the cutoff man, allowing Kopp into second base. Gerace was walked intentionally (!), after which Tim Stalker batted for Nunley to get a platoon advantage against the southpaw Perry. He got good wood on a 2-1 pitch, but lined out to Danny Munn, and O'Dell struck out to strand the runners for good. Snyder did away with the Falcons in the bottom of the inning, whiffing a pair. 4-3 Blighters. Harenberg 2-5, 2 2B, RBI; O'Dell 2-5; Carmona (PH) 1-1, RBI;

…and now Kevin Surginer actually has MORE wins than Kyle Anderson. The good news for the team leader? He's up next. The bad news? Not in Charlotte. The third game was washed out by bad weather.

The game will be made up in Portland on September 18 as part of a mixed double header.

Raccoons (55-46) vs. Thunder (57-41) – July 31-August 2, 2026

The Thunder were fourth in both runs scored and runs allowed, which did not sound that impressive, but they had a +61 run differential. Fourth place was actually their rank in so many statistics, except for a few key stats. F.e. the Raccoons were still first in batting average (unbelievably), but the Thunder also managed to walk a ton and were second in batting average AND on-base percentage. And since they were also second in home runs, they were a real pain for any pitching staff… The Raccoons couldn't handle them this year, having lost four of the six previous games with them in '26.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (6-6, 3.35 ERA) vs. Mike Homa (11-5, 2.98 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (6-3, 2.53 ERA) vs. Jose Diaz (10-5, 3.31 ERA)
Rin Nomura (2-3, 2.67 ERA) vs. Andy Palomares (8-7, 3.40 ERA)

Two southpaws up front, then the right-handed Palomares. Dan Delgadillo would not be activated until Saturday morning. Right now, Nick Derks was still on the roster, but had not actually gotten into a game since being called up after the Harenberg trade.

The Thunder had a crippling injury to contend with though, with CF Dave Garcia (.295, 8 HR, 29 RBI) after two relatively healthy years having another one to forget. He went to the DL with a broken elbow this week and would have to work towards making Opening Day in 2027.

Game 1
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – SS Serrato – 1B M. Rucker – CF Pizzo – RF Sagredo – C Burgess – LF Millan – 2B Ts'ai – P Homa
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – LF Gerace – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Anderson

In a stunner, the Coons roughed up Mike Homa for five runs in the opening inning; Ramos and Spencer hit singles, scored on Jamieson's gapper, with the centerfielder coming home on two groundouts before Gerace's double and Nunley's 2-piece over the fence in right put the Thunder in a significant hole against Kyle Anderson. Mike Pizzo's leadoff jack made it 5-1 immediately in the second, but that wouldn't help Homa, who left the game with an apparent injury in the second inning just after receiving a groundout from Anderson, which sure was an odd spot to remove him for anything else than an injury. Although, maybe Pizzo could single-handedly tear down Anderson and the Critters… the fourth inning saw a Mike Rucker single, then a 2-run homer crashed outta leftfield by Pizzo, and by now this was a 5-3 game.

Time for more offense for the home team! Nunley hit a soft leadoff single in the bottom 4th, followed by a hard double over Pizzo's head in centerfield smacked by Tovias. No outs and runners in scoring position, but with the pitcher up, yet long man Mike Tandy couldn't strike him out. Anderson's fly to center was caught, but Nunley scurried home with the team's sixth run. That was all; Tovias was thrown out at home plate when he tried to tag up on Ramos' fly to right. That run was pulled back by the Thunder in the fifth: leadoff single by Zhang-ze Ts'ai, then a balk by Anderson (…!), and Tandy's bunt moved the runner to third base, from where Lorenzo Rivera singled him in. Anderson was not seen again in the sixth with Josh Boles trying to contend a bit better with the lineup, but allowed a leadoff single to Pizzo. Hey, at least not another dinger… Jamieson and Kopp would make strong catches on rockets hit by Luis Sagredo and Mike Burgess, followed by another left-hander singling to centerfield, Omar Millan. Pizzo chased for third base with two outs, was not a great runner, really, and was thrown out by Matt Jamieson to end the inning.

Bottom 6th, with rain setting in now. Gerace coaxed a leadoff walk out of Tandy, then was in motion when Nunley flew a ball to centerfield, past Pizzo and to the track for a double on which the speedy Gerace then easily scored, 7-4. That was the final at-bat in the game that would see completion; Tovias saw two pitches from Tandy before the game went to a rain delay from which it never emerged. 7-4 Coons. Spencer 2-3; Nunley 3-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI;

The rainy demise of this game gave Josh Boles his second career save, and we even nursed Anderson's seventh W over the finish line, too! Nick Derks indeed never got into a game in his most recent stint in the majors.

Game 2
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – SS Serrato – 1B M. Rucker – CF Pizzo – RF Sagredo – C Burgess – LF Millan – 2B Ts'ai – P Jo. Diaz
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – LF Gerace – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – P Delgadillo

"Butch" Diaz was the newly minted Pitcher of the Month in the Continental League and was looking forward to continue domination against the Raccoons, who sent out Dan Delgadillo straight off the DL, and he barely showed any rust in the first inning, walking Alex Serrato on four pitches (Serrato would eventually be caught stealing third base) and nailing Mike Rucker. By the way, last night's rain was still hanging around. It drizzled in the second, it rained in the third inning, and there was also a delay of about a quarter of an hour when Delgadillo had a 3-inning, 1-hit shutout. Rucker hit a leadoff single in the fourth inning, but was doubled up when Pizzo bounced a ball back to the pitcher. At least it happens to other teams too from time to time… And at least other teams at least got on base… the Raccoons had three hits through four innings, all singles, and none to lead off an inning.

Top 5th, Mike Burgess opened with a single past Spencer before Delgadillo lost Millan on balls. Two on, nobody out, clutch situation for Ts'ai, who popped out to Terry Kopp, followed by Diaz whiffing as he tried to bunt. Lorenzo Rivera, who led the league in stolen bases with 27, grounded out to the pitcher, and the Thunder had been turned away again. Millan would hit a 1-out single in the seventh and be caught stealing as slowly but surely lots of zeroes lined up on the scoreboard. Maybe the bottom 7th would end that. Justin Gerace led off with a single to left, stole second, then reached third on Nunley's single to Luis Sagredo's feet, and you don't run on Sagredo unless you really want a pinpoint throw to cave in your left temple as you are still ten feet shy of the plate. O'Dell ran a full count before grounding out to Serrato, who looked back Gerace before getting O'Dell at first; Nunley moved up, and everybody wondered if they could have gotten two. In any case, they got Delgadillo, because in this situation we needed a hitter. Tim Stalker came off the bench by virtue of being right-handed and that pick was golden; Stalker lined into left-center, it split Millan and Pizzo, the ball went all the way to the fence, and Stalker put the Coons in front with a 2-run triple! Ramos hit an RBI single, was caught stealing, but the Coons were now up 3-0 and had lots of choices in their pen. Ricky Ohl retired the Thunder on seven pitches in the eighth inning, but the save opportunity then went to Billy Brotman. The meat of the order was up for the Thunder, and they were all left-handed. Snyder was tossing casually though and could be called upon if things went pear-shaped. They didn't. Soft grounders by Rucker and Pizzo made for two easy outs, and Sagredo went down on strikes. 3-0 Furballs! Stalker (PH) 1-1, 3B, 2 RBI; Delgadillo 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K, W (7-3);

And here's another winning streak. You never know with this team…

Game 3
OCT: 3B L. Rivera – SS Sertato – CF Rummelhart – C Burgess – 1B J. Elliott – RF Sagredo – 2B Ts'ai – LF Dobbs – P Palomares
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – LF Gerace – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Nomura

Except for walking Abel Mora in the second inning, Andy Palomares carried a no-hitter against the nauseous Raccoons into the fifth inning where he met Justin Gerace, who hit a 1-out single, and Elias Tovias, who whammied one out of right center to flip the score, 2-1, in Portland's favor. Tovias' homer erased a solo shot by Mike Burgess in the second inning against an otherwise flawless but not overpowering in any sense of the word Rin Nomura, who scattered three base hits in the first five innings, but whiffed only two batters, reaching three only at the end of the sixth inning with a swinging strike three on Brian Rummelhart. Bottom 6th, leadoff double to left for Spencer, and how much would we love an insurance run! Harenberg walked, setting up a perfect double play opportunity for Kopp, who didn't have to be asked twice. 4-6-3, Spencer to third, where Mora stranded him with a fly to Brett Dobbs. At least the pitching was awesome; Nomura ended up with eight very controlled innings, four hits and four strikeouts at the end, and would have had room left for the ninth inning, but that would require the Raccoons to move their bums in the bottom 8th, and they couldn't have made less of an impression on Palomares, who also went eight, and who also would have room left for a ninth inning on only 84 pitches, if only his team could do something about Jonathan Snyder. The top of the order was up, but there were also plenty of left-handed bats on the bench; Mike Pizzo hit for Rivera right away, which was a ballsy choice. Snyder rung him up, just like he did with Serrato, but Rummelhart was hit for again with Carlos de Santiago. 1-2 pitch, contact and deep drive to center, Mora on his ****ing horse out there, and he made the catch in deep, deep centerfield, putting this game away for a series sweep and season series triumph for Portland. 2-1 Blighters. Tovias 1-3, HR, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-3; Nomura 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (3-3);

In other news

July 27 – The Titans will be without All Star outfielder Adrian Reichardt (.306, 5 HR, 39 RBI) for a month. The 28-year-old has strained a groin muscle.
July 28 – A bruised wrist puts VAN OF Tony Coca (.305, 19 HR, 63 RBI) out of action for three weeks.
July 29 – Swiss Army knife Brody Folk (.268, 2 HR, 28 RBI) is traded from the Indians to the Condors for four minor leaguers and prospects, none of them ranked in any way.
July 29 – The Bayhawks trade SP Jonathan Shook (9-9, 3.89 ERA) to the Cyclones for #94 prospect SP Eric Fox.
July 29 – SAL C Matt Wittner (.302, 8 HR, 45 RBI) ends a 16-inning game with the Blue Sox in a 4-2 Wolves victory with his walkoff homer off MR Tim Colangelo (2-5, 3.27 ERA, 2 SV).
July 30 – The Indians deal CL Nick Salinas (2-4, 4.26 ERA, 22 SV) to the Capitals for two prospects.
July 30 – Once a Sock, always a Sock, sort of: the Blue Sox trade CL Mike Greene (1-4, 1.09 ERA, 19 SV) to the Gold Sox for four prospects.
July 31 – CIN SP Diego Mendoza jr. (12-7, 3.92 ERA) is expected to miss ten months with a partial tear in his UCL.
July 31 – The Pacifics rally from a 4-0 deficit and claim victory, 7-4, plating all their runs in the eighth inning.
August 1 – A sprained ankle will cost DEN RF/1B Brad Gore (.255, 8 HR, 34 RBI) the next six weeks.
August 1 – Another sprained ankle will put out CHA 3B Ryan Czachor (.280, 8 HR, 44 RBI) for much of August.
August 2 – SAC 3B Jason LaCombe (.319, 2 HR, 52 RBI) joins the 2,000 hits club at age 37 with one hit against the Buffaloes in a 4-2 Scorpions defeat. TOP SP Nick Danieley (7-6, 3.81 ERA) gives up the single in the first inning. LaCombe, a 13-year veteran, has been a career Scorpion with a .325/.443/.407 clip, 28 HR and 721 RBI, as well as eight All Star nods, four Gold Gloves, four Platinum Sticks, a World Series ring, and the 2014 Rookie of the Year award.

Complaints and stuff

While the CL Player of the Week title went to the Elks' 24-year-outfielder Alarico Medina (6-for-11, 2 HR, 9 RBI) in his first week in the major leagues, back in 2014 Jason LaCombe was the other end of Matt Nunley in the ROTY results, so two third basemen collected bling that year. Yet Matt Nunley is still 136 base knocks short of 2,000…

Also, the name Alarico reminds me of Alarico Violante, one of those nondescript, no-good catchers that we trotted out routinely for decades and still do.

Lose three, win six, lose three, win four … from zero to 65 and hard on the brakes… this team is wearing on everybody's clutch right now… which is not to be confused with clutch hitting.

Kevin Harenberg was named Batter of the Month with a .327 clip, 5 HR, and 20 RBI. Technically the award was given to the Raccoons, although he of course did virtually all the damage as a Wolf. His Portland resume at the end of July was going 3-for-11 with 1 RBI. No homers. Nobody's got homers on this team. Matt Nunley's got five now, which is the third-place threshold on this team. A guy of Harenberg's profile could make it into the top 3 with a solid month…

Jeff Kearney started a rehab assignment on the weekend and might be back in ten days or so. Right now we have three left-handed relievers on the roster, and none of them are tearing out any tree trunks. Maybe Kearney will be of help.

What will August bring? Mostly home games! In fact, we only have seven road games this month and we will not cross the mountains until right at the very end of August. There are three games in Tijuana (coming right up), then three more in Salem after a 7-game homestand against the Titans and Miners. The Elks will come in for a 3-game weekend from the 21st through the 23rd. There will be Nick Brown bobbleheads on the 22nd, remembering his September 9, 2016 no-hitter against the ****ing Elks because they will not come in again this year, and also because I'm an ***hole. (wears bright grin)

Fun Fact: With the sweep over the Thunder on the weekend, the Coons' worst all-time record against a CL South team is now their .510 mark against the Condors.

Yup, we have all-time winning records against all the teams in the South, and not just by a game and a half. The full list goes:

Aces (.535)
Bayhawks (.528)
Knights (.517)
Falcons (.516)
Thunder (.513)
Condors (.510)

But we currently have only two winning records, all-time again, in our own division, against the Loggers (.534) and Indians (.515). The Raccoons are a .513 team after almost 50 years of ABL.
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Raccoons (58-46) @ Condors (55-50) – August 3-5, 2026

Both these teams were roughly a handful of games back in their division and could not afford losing anymore ground. Both had also already lost some ground playing against each other previously this season, with the season series locked at three wins per team. The Condors had a slow offense, with the third-worst batting average and the fifth-fewest runs in the Continental League, but their pitching was ready to press the next pillow onto the Coons' little snouts, sitting third in runs conceded. They even had the second-best rotation.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (10-4, 3.50 ERA) vs. Jeff Little (9-6, 2.62 ERA)
Mark Roberts (9-7, 3.01 ERA) vs. Adam Potter (8-10, 4.71 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (7-6, 3.52 ERA) vs. Alex Hichez (7-6, 3.14 ERA)

Little was their lone left-hander with Luis Flores on the DL, where he had spent most of this season just like the one before.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Gerace – 2B Stalker – C O'Dell – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez
TIJ: 2B B. Rojas – C Sanford – 1B McGrath – 3B Sanks – LF O. Larios – RF M. Matias – SS Muller – CF Chaplin – P Little

Portland got on the board in the first with a bouncer by Ramos that got through Kevin McGrath somehow for a soft leadoff double, then ultimately two groundouts after that. Harenberg got the RBI after Jamieson had walked. Unfortunately, Rico Gutierrez was very much back down to earth after consecutive shutouts a few starts ago and completely lacked aim to begin this game. After having walked only 17 batters in 138.2 innings this year, he walked three the first time through. Only timely double play grounders and bringing up the pitcher with Scavengers aboard saved him in the first two innings. So it was on the offense! Oh bother… Nah, actually the Coons focused on Little well, adding three runs in the third inning. Granted, two were unearned when Rico Gutierrez reached base on a McGrath error to begin the frame. After that, Ramos walked, Spencer grounded out, Jamieson singled in two, then scored himself on Justin Gerace's 2-out double over the head of Omar Larios. The Condors would get on the board as well before long with a leadoff jack by Shane Sanks in the bottom 4th, but the second time through Rico actually looked a wee bit better…

The offense didn't, despite the 4-1 lead that Rico nursed through six. While they got Jeff Little out by the top of the sixth, they only actually logged four base hits against him. That was the same total that the Condor would log off Gutierrez in 6.1 innings, but they also got into a great spot against him in the bottom 7th after a leadoff walk to Mike Matias, who stole second and then scored on John Muller's single to right. Gutierrez whiffed Mike Chaplin, a left-handed bat, before the Condors sent Brody Folk, their recent acquisition, in the pitcher's spot. That was the tying run, and it was time to mix and match with a righty. Kevin Surginer appeared, allowed an RBI single, disappeared, and Billy Brotman took over, ending the inning on two grounders. The lead was now down to 4-3, and the Raccoons hadn't been seen on base in a while. Ricky Ohl would retire the middle of the order in order in the eighth, but the offense remained dead from the waste up and got no base hits against the Condors' pen at all. Jonathan Snyder was left to his own devices in the bottom 9th, where Matias went to second base as the tying run right away, although it wasn't Snyder's fault; Alberto Ramos had thrown away Matias' grounder. Muller popped out to Spencer, Chaplin walked on four pitches, and then Danny Zarate flew out to right, moving the tying run to third base. Switch-hitter Dave Bross came to the plate, batting .286 with one homer. Like Matias before, he put the first pitch into play and hit it to a middle infielder. Unlike Ramos earlier, Tim Stalker kept his calm and threw easily to Harenberg to end the game. 4-3 Coons.

Here's something – a win for the Coons and not one player with a good stat line. Not one! Way to have a 6-game winning streak…

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – LF Gerace – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Roberts
TIJ: 2B B. Rojas – C Sanford – 1B McGrath – 3B Sanks – LF O. Larios – RF M. Matias – SS Bross – CF Denzler – P Potter

Offense remained slow. Through five innings, the Coons built a 2-0 lead while Roberts was nursing a 2-hitter. Both Portland runs were scored by Matt Nunley, who singled to lead off the third inning and again with one out in the fifth, was bunted over by Roberts each time and then scored on a Spencer double and a Ramos single, respectively, both times with two down. So far, so well, but the general lack of clutch elsewhere in the order was coming back to bite in due time. The Coons had Harenberg and Mora on with singles in the sixth inning, but Gerace whiffed and Tovias flew out gingerly to rightfielder Mike Matias to end that inning before the Condors opened the bottom 6th with consecutive doubles by Pat Sanford in the gap in left-center and then McGrath to due left, which placed the tying run in scoring position with nobody out. Sanks' pop over home plate, Larios' fly to left, and a K to Matias kept him right where he was, but the Coons really needed an add-on run. Top 7th, Nunley worked a leadoff walk, then was bunted over by Roberts again. Oh, here comes the goodness! Ramos was walked intentionally once more, after which Spencer grounded up the middle. Dave Bross cut off the ball way deep behind second base, but had no play; the bags were full on the infield single with one out for Kevin Harenberg, who was a .261 batter with 2 RBI from his first 23 at-bats as a Critter. It was time! To hit into a double play. Piss poor grounder to the pitcher, Potter to Sanford to McGrath, with enough time for the Condors to pick in the sad Mark Roberts' intestines in between outs.

Roberts retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, whiffing seven in seven, and was more or less done on pitch count. The Raccoons opened the eighth with a Kopp double between Larios and Denzler, then a walk (intentional) to Mora and another walk (unintentional) to Gerace. Nobody out, so maybe NOW? Elias Matias Tovias Diaz said no, flying out to Larios in shallow left. Nunley? Fly to left, Larios back for the catch, but that was at least deep enough for Kopp to dally home, 3-1. Cookie Carmona came out to bat for Roberts, cracked a single to left, and Mora scored from second base, 4-1. Ramos walked the bags full against Tony Harrell, but Spencer struck out to end the inning. The Condors would not reach base again, sat down by Hector Morales (1 out), Ricky Ohl (2), and Jonathan Snyder (3). 4-1 Critters. Spencer 2-5, 2B, RBI; Harenberg 2-5, 2B; Mora 2-4, BB; Nunley 2-2, BB, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1, RBI; Roberts 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, W (10-7);

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – LF Gerace – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Anderson
TIJ: SS B. Rojas – C Zarate – 1B McGrath – 3B Sanks – RF M. Matias – CF Denzler – LF Chaplin – 2B Muller – P Hichez

Both teams got a run in the early going, with the Condors taking their first lead in the series with a Shane Sanks sac fly that brought in Bob Rojas in the first inning. The Coons equalized in the third, but that required a leadoff single by Anderson AND a wild pitch in the inning to allow Harenberg to get the run in on a grounder. The tie would be broken by Tovias with a leadoff jack in the fifth and that after the Condors had clearly shown what they thought of him in the second inning, when they had pitched to him with Mora in scoring position and two outs and Tovias had grounded out in his usual pathetic way. Not this time – the homer to right-center put the Coons up 2-1. The inning progressed to see Ramos and Spencer single and go to the corners, then Harenberg smacking into a double play. The trades I do!

Tovias was walked intentionally the next time around, then in the sixth to load the bags with one out. Nunley had just hit an RBI single to score Terry Kopp, who had opened the inning with a leadoff double off Hichez, who so far had allowed seven hits, four walks, and had enjoyed some good luck. The Raccoons were tempted to bat for Anderson here to create offense, but the bullpen situation was a concern, with neither Ohl nor Snyder available. And truth be told, if some dork hits into a double play, it can at least be the pitcher… and so he did, on a 3-1 pitch. AH!! COONS!!

Top 7th, Ramos led off with a hard single to rightfield, then stole his 26th bag of the season. Spencer singled right to Matias' feet, keeping Ramos at third base, but then also stole second base, his 20th robbery of the year. Harenberg was now walked intentionally to bring up Kopp with three on and nobody out. Terry. Please! To the Condors' great dismay, no double play, but to my chagrin, an out at home as Kopp bounced one back to the pitcher. Hichez then bowed out with a bases-loaded walk to Mora, Gerace struck out against lefty Bobby Thompson, with O'Dell batting for Nunley now, but O'Dell popped out to strand three… Meanwhile Anderson retired nobody in the bottom 7th, allowing a leadoff homer to Sanks, 4-2, then walked Matias. With left-handers up, the Coons made the change to Josh Boles, who got a 3-U double play when Matias was a-running as Joel Denzler lined a 1-2 pitch into Harenberg's glove and the runner was caught far off base and just gave himself up and walked right into the glove without Harenberg having to move a lot. Surginer did away with the Condors in the eighth, getting the Coons within three outs of a sweep and an 8-game winning streak. There was an insurance run on a Kopp solo home run in the top 9th, then more Surginer in the bottom 9th. The 2-3-4 batters were up, all right-handed, and Alvin Smith was the only available right-handed alternative. Billy Brotman was readying in the pen in case the Condors tried something funny with left-handed batters. Or in case Surginer ****ed up. Zarate – leadoff double. McGrath – RBI double. BROTMAN! BROTMAN NOW!! That didn't make things better… Brotman survived a deep fly to center by Sanks for the first out, then conceded Surginer's second run on a Matias single. The winning run came up in PH Brody Folk. Brotman had nothing – but Folk softly lined out to Ramos, two down. Maybe after all? There was nobody to bat for left-hander Mike Chaplin as the Coons now sent Alvin Smith to warm up after all. He would not get into the game, but not for a walkoff jack. Chaplin instead grounded out to Spencer. 5-4 Coons. Ramos 2-4, BB; Spencer 2-5; Kopp 2-5, HR, 2B, RBI; Mora 0-1, 4 BB;

Mora walked four times – and never scored.

Raccoons (61-46) vs. Titans (54-53) – August 6-9, 2026

Four games with Boston, who were in free fall and their string of four consecutive championships looked like it was going to end. They were 12 1/2 games behind the damn Elks, and that number was growing rapidly as they had won only FOUR games since the All Star Game (4-15 in total), all this despite them still ranging in the top half of the league in terms of runs scored and runs allowed and a +41 run differential that hinted at a team better than .500. But then this was no comparison to the teams of years past that had often chased +200 at this point. Key injuries to f.e. Adrian Reichardt were also part of the equation. Nevertheless, they still held a 4-3 edge over Portland this season.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (7-3, 2.39 ERA) vs. Julio San Pedro (4-6, 3.39 ERA)
Rin Nomura (3-3, 2.47 ERA) vs. Jeremy Waite (9-8, 4.13 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (11-4, 3.54 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (6-5, 4.02 ERA)
Mark Roberts (10-7, 2.93 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (6-8, 4.26 ERA)

Again only one left-handed opponent, and this time at the tail end of the series, with Wingo going on Sunday. We'd miss unlucky bastard Guillermo Regalado (6-9, 2.78 ERA).

Game 1
BOS: CF W. Vega – C Leonard – LF Kuramoto – RF Braun – SS Jam. Wilson – 2B R. West – 1B Elder – 3B Corder – P San Pedro
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF Carmona – C O'Dell – P Delgadillo

Dan Delgadillo was cast into the abyss immediately in a horrendous first inning that saw a leadoff walk to Willie Vega, a single by Keith Leonard, then even a double play hit into by Yasuhiro Kuramoto, and somehow Delgadillo still managed to give up a 3-spot with potential for more. Adam Braun's single put Boston 1-0 on top, and then Jamie Wilson homered to dead center. Rhett West singled, Jay Elder singled, somehow Ramos got paws on Adam Corder's grounder to end the inning, but things looked not great for the Coons' winning streak and the Titans playing more .200 ball. Wilson hit another home run in the third inning, this one a solo deed, which put him at three for the year, and two thirds of those in this very game… Delgadillo limped through five innings, which was going to be all, not only for the 101 pitches thrown (most of them unimpressive) but also for his spot coming up to bat with two outs in the bottom 5th. After lots of nothing, the Coons had just scored their first run on a Cookie single and O'Dell doubling down the rightfield line. Momentum! Gerace struck out in his spot. There was no momentum. There was probably not even a god… The Titans pulled the run right back in the sixth with lots of hard balls against Alvin Smith, who was lucky to elope with only one run scored against him, before the bottom 6th saw one of those juicy chances. Leadoff walk for Ramos. Spencer reached on an error. Then a Harenberg single. Three on, no outs. But I was no longer the fool. They wouldn't score plenty, they probably would not score at all. Terry Kopp flew out to shallow right, nobody daring to run on Braun. Mora chopped a grounder to Rhett West for a double play. Told ya. They kept teasing though. Bottom 7th, Cookie with a 1-out single, then an error by San Pedro to put O'Dell on. Jamieson batted for Morales in the #9 hole, popped out, and Ramos grounded out to West. Bottom 8th, leadoff singles by Spencer and Harenberg put the tying run in the on-deck circle before Kopp was going to move him back to the dugout with another grounder right at West. This time, though, West's lob to short got away from Jamie Wilson. The Titans got nobody, and the Coons got three on with nobody out again. Hah, funny, like that ever got them anywhere nice. San Pedro allowed a sac fly to Mora before yielding for Matt Rosenthal, who walked Nunley on four pitches. With Cookie the go-ahead run, and facing lefty Mike Stank, the tired crowd got to their feet once more and clapped and chanted politely. Cookie hit into a double play to damn Rhett West, and the crowd started to leave shortly after that. Those that left missed the tying run coming up once more in the bottom 9th against Harry Merwin. Ramos drew a 2-out walk, stole second, then scored on Spencer's single. That made the still homerless Harenberg the tying run. Harenberg had four hits in the game, which the baseball gods deemed enough and made him ground out to Gil Cornejo on first base. 5-3 Titans. Spencer 2-5, RBI; Harenberg 4-5; Boles 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K;

Game 2
BOS: CF W. Vega – LF Kuramoto – RF Braun – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – 1B Gasso – C Gio. James – P Waite
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Gerace – 3B Bullock – C Tovias – P Nomura

In a first inning that saw both teams have a middle infielder drop an easy ball (Spencer and Keith Spataro being guilty), the Coons got a 2-0 run lead on Ramos singling, stealing, advancing on a wild pitch, and scoring on Spencer's groundout in but short a time, then Matt Jamieson boinking one over the fence in leftfield. Harenberg and Gerace reached base to no avail when Bullock struck out. Bottom 2nd, leadoff single for Tovias past Gus Gasso, and he advanced on a bunt and Ramos' single, then scored on Giovanni James' throwing error when Ramos tried to swipe another base. Tovias in, Ramos to third with one out, and Spencer's sac fly made it 4-0. Waite reached complete unhingement as early as the third inning with base knocks by Mora and Gerace to begin the inning. While Bullock flew out to center, Tovias ripped a 2-run double up the rightfield line, Waite loaded them up with walks to Nomura and Ramos, then served another gopher ball to Spencer for a bases-clearing double. With that, it was 9-0 Coons, adieu to Waite, and right-hander Dustin Cory saw Jamieson reach base on Corder's error. Not the Titans' game! Harenberg grounded out, keeping the Coons out of double digits for the moment. At this point, Rin Nomura could pretty much do whatever and still win the game… although Elias Tovias' gross throwing error in the fourth inning put two Titans in scoring position that were then singled in by Spataro to cut the gap to 9-2. Those runs were unearned, but the runs that scored on Rhett West's 2-out double off the fence in the fifth inning were not; Willie Vega had doubled, Adam Braun had been nailed. Now it was 9-4, then 9-5 after Corder's single to right. Corder stole second, Spataro ripped a single to right, and Corder scored, too.

Yeah, me and my big mouth. After a 9-run lead, Nomura failed to go five and was yanked for Surginer, who got a grounder to short from Gasso to end the inning, but allowed another run in the sixth on a Vega double and Kuramoto single. The tying runs would be on with two outs in the seventh inning after Surginer had allowed Corder and Gasso aboard. Billy Brotman replaced him and whiffed Giovanni James to get out of that mess. The offense had obviously switched off mentally after pulling out by nine and was no big help, being hardly present at all in the middle innings. 2-out singles by Tovias and Kopp (who had entered with Brotman in a double switch at Mora's expense) were the first significant threat by the Coons since Jeremy Waite had last been seen alive, but Ramos grounded out to his opposite, Spataro, to end the inning. The Titans put them on the corners in the eighth against Brotman, who walked PH Jay Elder, who was then run for by Fernando Rodriguez, and Ohl, who allowed a single to Kuramoto, but somehow the Coons' defense kept the board closed. Spencer made a strong play on Braun to help Ohl out of the inning. This bollocks game was then also the perfect opportunity for Kevin Harenberg to FINALLY hit one out as a Coon, hitting a solo shot off Javy Salomon in the bottom 8th, getting the Coons into double digits FINALLY. Snyder was in the ninth, allowing a leadoff single to Corder. Spataro however spanked a grounder at Spencer, who turned two, and then Gus Gasso went down on strikes as the Coons eeked out a win to even the series. 10-7 Critters. Ramos 2-4; Spencer 1-4, 2B, 5 RBI; Gerace 2-4; Tovias 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Kopp 1-1;

Oh boys oh boys oh boys oh why… I mean, 9-0, and you still managed to drain the pen!?


There was a roster move after this game. Hector Morales returned to St. Petersburg despite his best efforts as the Coons brought back Jeff Kearney from a dominant rehab assignment.

Game 3
BOS: SS Spataro – LF Kuramoto – RF Braun – 2B R. West – 1B Elder – 3B Corder – CF F. Rodriguez – C Leonard – P Shepherd
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Gutierrez

Rico allowed hard contact to the first few batters, all right-handers, with Spataro and Braun getting to the corners after base hits, but got a shallow fly out from West and whiffed Elder to escape the inning. The K to Elder was the first of four straight for him, so he would maybe be fine after all as the Coons really longed for a good long outing by their starter. Rico also hit a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd which was followed by Shepherd losing Ramos and Jamieson on balls while he did strike out Cookie. When Harenberg popped it up and Corder registered the second out I began to look for the Kool-Aid, but Shepherd lost Kopp in a full count to push home the first run of the game, then allowed a 2-run single to Stalker to put Rico 3-0 ahead. Maybe, just maybe… we'd be fine?

Bollocks! Adam Braun hit a monster shot to begin the fourth, well outta dead center, to cut the gap to 3-1, then Harenberg mishandled Ramos' good throw to put West on with an error. Elder singled, assembling the tying runs aboard, there was a wild pitch, and there was also a 2-run double by Keith Leonard with two outs and first base open… Two runs were unearned, and it was just getting a bit too easy to blame everything on Harenberg, who continued to be of no more use than… oh… R.J. DeWeese after his first year?

When Nunley singled and Tovias walked with two outs in the sixth, Rico – on 96 pitches – was reluctantly hit for against Shepherd, who was on four hits, six walks, and somehow still went on. Abel Mora grounded right at Spataro for the third out and the game remained deadlocked at three through six innings. The Coons squeezed through the seventh with Jeff Kearney despite Leonard's leadoff single, then got Ramos on base with a leadoff walk issued by Salomon in the bottom 7th. Throughout the series, Ramos had stolen bases at will against the Titans, getting up to 29 for the season, so they were definitely going to watch for that now. The hit-and-run was called instead, with Ramos moving up to second as Cookie grounded out. Jamieson whiffed, Harenberg grounded out pathetically with Leonard making the play, and nothing good could ever happen to this team. Harenberg was then purged in a double switch to get Alvin Smith to pitch multiple innings, which was almost guaranteed to lead to disaster. Leadoff walk to Kuramoto, another walk to Wilson, then a West singled. Three on, no outs. I closed my eyes. Jay Elder singled home two, which was actually all the Titans got, but it was still more than the Coons got with three on and no outs if they got into that spot in three consecutive innings. They would not get into that situation in the last two innings. In fact, they did not get on base at all… 5-3 Titans. Nunley 2-4;

Game 4
BOS: SS Spataro – LF Kuramoto – RF Braun – 1B Elder – 3B Corder – CF F. Rodriguez – 2B Jam. Wilson – C Leonard – P Wingo
POR: LF Spencer – CF Jamieson – C O'Dell – 1B Kopp – RF Gerace – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – SS Bullock – P Roberts

Spencer singled for his 150th hit of the season right in the bottom of the first, stole second base, reached third on Leonard's throwing error, then was cashed in by Jamieson with a sac fly. None of this mattered because Mark Roberts got battered in the top of the second inning. Elder and Corder hit singles to left, Rodriguez hit an RBI double into the gap in right-center, there was a walk to Leonard, and with the bags full Dustin Wingo hit an RBI single up the middle to put Boston 2-1 on top. Spataro flew out to Gerace, but deep enough to get a run in, 3-1, Kuramoto doubled in a pair by beating Jamieson in center, and then Braun reached on an infield single. The inning just wasn't going to end, ever. No, actually Elder flew out to Gerace after that, but the game was lost regardless with a 5-1 score. Maybe they'd tease a little, but they surely wouldn't dig this one out with their gross ineptitude.

And even their teases were weak or required major help by the Titans. O'Dell hit a leadoff single in the bottom 4th after which little happened until Stalker was clumsily walked by Wingo. Nunley's grounder was then botched into an error by Jamie Wilson, loading them up for … Bullock. He fell to 0-2, put the ball in play somehow, but of course Corder had easy pickings on that grounder and played it for the third out. Roberts after the early shellacking at least at the decency to make it through six in completely unimpressive fashion. There was no excuse for the offense, who through six innings amounted to all of three base hits. Daniel Bullock would get their fourth hit in the bottom 7th, a 2-out infield single. Nothing came of it. 5-1 Titans. Stalker 1-2, BB, 2B; Surginer 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

In other news

August 4 – ATL SP Leon Hernandez (4-8, 3.67 ERA) has a no-hitter through 8.1 innings against the Loggers when RF Sam Owens (.281, 1 HR, 1 RBI) hits a home run – the first of his career! – to end Hernandez' night. ATL MR Freddy Heredia (1-4, 2.05 ERA, 1 SV) replaces Hernandez immediately and brings the 2-1 Knights win to conclusion.
August 4 – While the Aces rout the Indians, 12-0, LVA OF/1B Danny Serrano (.347, 9 HR, 51 RBI) raps out four base hits, including two dingers, and drives in five runs.
August 6 – SFW CL Ken Gautney (3-3, 2.61 ERA, 33 SV) has just entered the Warriors' game against the Scorpions in the bottom 11th when he allows Sacramento to walk off on a wild pitch to John Byrd (.273, 2 HR, 56 RBI) that scores OF/1B Chris Barnes (.217, 2 HR, 10 RBI) from third base.
August 7 – VAN SP Warren Polito (12-7, 2.78 ERA) 2-hits the Crusaders in a 4-0 Canadiens win.
August 7 – CIN 3B/SS Ricardo Rangel (.315, 2 HR, 48 RBI) goes 5-for-5 with two doubles and as many RBI in a 7-6 loss to the Buffaloes.
August 7 – Pacifics and Gold Sox play 17 innings before L.A. pull through with a run in the top 17th to take a 4-3 win. LAP SP/MR Tom Grant (7-4, 4.18 ERA, 2 SV) earns the victory with four scoreless innings of relief.
August 9 – The only tally in the Wolves' 1-0 win over the Stars is LF/RF Matt Owen (.289, 19 HR, 71 RBI) hitting a walkoff homer off DAL SP Jonas Mejia (9-10, 4.28 ERA). It is only the second hit allowed by Mejia in the game.

Complaints and stuff

****ing **** week. Even when they won they continued to play like old, stale arse. And that was before they met the Titans again. 28-55 in the last five seasons. This team spots something blue, drops some scat, and is never seen again, every single ****ing time.

Re Sunday and the infield single and the general motion of "Nothing came of it" – that will also be the sentence following the statement that the Raccoons began the 2026 season at 32-15 once the season makes it into the history books. What a loser bunch. Disgusting.

Fun Fact: On October 4, 1986, the Raccoons' Christopher Powell got a double play from the Titans' Isto Grφnholm to end the season finale with a 3-0 shutout win over Boston.

That was of course "Old Chris" Powell's last career start, a 4-hit shutout of the Titans. 40 years later, still golden!

Offense was sketchy back then as well. Powell drove in the first run himself. Kelly Weber would later score on a Kinji Kan error. Tetsu Osanai had an RBI double in the seventh, plating Armando Sanchez with his 121st RBI of the year, a mark still good for third-highest in Coons history, but then a franchise record, trumping Mark Dawson's 119 from '83.

Oh, '83.

By the way, you know how 1986 ended, right? The damn Elks won the North, 102-60, 15 ahead of the second-place Coons. No other North team had a winning record. At least they lost in seven to the Knights in the CLCS, which is not a likely scenario this year.
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Portland Raccoons, 49 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019
1 OSANAI : 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 10-12-2018, 04:01 AM   #2626
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Raccoons (62-49) vs. Loggers (47-64) – August 10-12, 2026

The Loggers were loggering along in another forgettable season, already 20+ games behind first place. They were in the bottom three in both runs scored and runs allowed, their rotation was the second-worst around, and they were wholly not going anywhere. The Coons were up on them on the season, 8-4, and barring major explosions would not lose the season series to the Loggers for the 13th consecutive season.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (8-6, 3.50 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (2-10, 5.99 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (7-4, 2.57 ERA) vs. Jorge Villalobos (10-3, 2.50 ERA)
Rin Nomura (3-3, 2.84 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (7-6, 3.94 ERA)

Only right-handers coming up here; the Loggers had six players on the DL, including – to just name a few – Ian Prevost, Ron Tadlock, Ian Coleman, and Danny Mancia…

Game 1
MIL: 1B Aquino – CF S. Green – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – SS Ferrer – 3B Berntson – RF Rueda – 2B Holder – P Rogers
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – LF Gerace – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – P Anderson

Justin "Feast or Famine" Gerace struck once again in the bottom of the second inning with a long homer to rightfield that also collected Terry Kopp and his leadoff double for the first runs in the game. The Loggers had their hits, they just didn't have any runs in the early going. Kaleb Holder and Wilson Aquino hit singles in the third to go to the corners with one out, but Anderson wiggled out of there with a soft fly to center by Sam Green that Mora caught coming in at full steam, thus shying back the runners, and then Jim Young grounded out to Spencer. They had four hits through three innings, while the Critters had only three going into the fifth. There, O'Dell drew a 2-out walk before Anderson singled past a lunging Holder into centerfield. Ramos came up, cracked a single to rightfield, and O'Dell came around to score, 3-0, but Anderson erroneously turned second base and was caught in a rundown, where he gave himself up easily, which ended the inning. Milwaukee didn't get on the board until the seventh inning when Willie Trevino hit a leadoff jack off Anderson on the Critters hurler's 82nd pitch of the game. Manny Ferrer and Jon Berntson cracked line drive singles and Anderson was yanked without getting somebody out in the inning. Billy Brotman replaced him, with the Loggers sending right-hander Sam Owens to pinch-hit for Alexis Rueda. The right-handed Owens turned on a 1-2 pitch, wrapped it around the left foul pole, and just like that the Loggers had flipped the score… Kevin Surginer and Jonathan Snyder would keep the Loggers from doing any more damage, but the damage had already been done. The Coons failed to get to the much-clobbered Rogers, who lasted eight innings, then had to face ex-Coon Joe Moore in the ninth inning, with Kopp up first. Moore rung him up in a full count, and Mora and Gerace ended the game with groundouts to Holder. 4-3 Loggers. Ramos 2-3, BB, RBI;

Game 2
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – 1B Aquino – C J. Young – LF W. Trevino – RF R. Amador – SS Ferrer – CF Hanagriff – 2B Holder – P Villalobos
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Delgadillo

Vinny Diaz' long leadoff double to begin the game did not lead to a run for Milwaukee, with Wilson Aquino grounding out before Young and Trevino both popped out in foul ground. Alberto Ramos however did score in the first inning; he hit Villalobos' second pitch of the game for 360 feet just to the left of the 342' sign in rightfield for his third career dinger. By the end of the inning, not only Ramos had three bombs – the Coons also had three in the game. Harenberg hit a solo jack, and after that Jamieson singled and Abel Mora went yard. One to right, one to center, one to left, 4-0 lead for Yusneldan. Not for long, though: Manny Ferrer hit a solo home run in the top 2nd to get the Loggers within three again. The wind was not particularly ferocious, by the way… Bottom 2nd, Tovias and Ramos got to the corners with a walk and a single and one out, Ramos stole second for #30 on the year, but when Spencer flew out to Trevino and Tovias went for home, he did so rather sluggishly and was easily thrown out to end the inning.

Maybe the home run parade would continue. Harenberg hit a leadoff jack to center in the bottom 3rd, adding to the lead to get it to 5-1, and Matt Jamieson narrowly missed another home run, doubling off the top of the fence in rightfield with one out. Abel Mora rammed a 2-0 pitch by the overmatched Villalobos into the gap between Willie Trevino and Ken Hanagriff, nobody got to hit before it reached the fence, and Mora easily reached third base standing up with an RBI triple, 6-1. Mora also became the second Coon to be thrown out at home plate in three innings, this one also ending the game when Nunley flew out to Roberto Amador, and there was another accurate murder arm that kept the Coons from adding on. The Loggers scored two off Delgadillo in the top 4th; Trevino singled, Amador tripled, and Ferrer hit a sac fly that did not lead to an out at home… In the end, Delgadillo ended up with the same basic line as Anderson on Monday, six innings and three runs, but at least he was in the lead.

That lead was in danger in the seventh with Kaleb Holder's leadoff double to the wall off Jeff Kearney, who got a grounder from PH Jon Berntson before departing with Ricky Ohl taking over. He starved the runner on third base with a strikeout to Diaz, then an easy fly to Mora off the bat of Aquino. Bottom 7th, Matthew Simonson was in the game, a right-hander with roughly equal walks and strikeouts. He whiffed Cookie in the #9 hole, got Ramos on a grounder, then surrendered a triple to Spencer. It got worse for him, though: Kevin Harenberg hit a 2-run homer to right, his third in the game! HAL-LE-LU-YAH!! Not that the game was over. Josh Boles walked a couple in the eighth and plated a run with a wild pitch, but the same was true for Portland. Gerace and Cookie hit singles in the bottom 8th. With one down, Ramos grounded to Diaz, who got Cookie at second base, but runners remained on the corners until Spencer cracked a Simonson pitch into shallow left for an RBI single. That made it a 9-4 game, and that also brought up Harenberg, who was already on three bombs. The crowd was on its hind paws, but new pitcher Travis Feider kept him on the ground, holding him to an RBI single to left past the diving Ferrer. O'Dell would ground out in Kopp's spot to end the inning. The crowd was delighted anyway. Jim Young hit a 2-piece off Alvin Smith in the ninth inning, but the crowd remained in party mood anyway. 10-6 Furballs!! Ramos 2-5, HR, RBI; Spencer 2-5, 3B, RBI; Harenberg 5-5, 3 HR, 5 RBI; Jamieson 2-3, BB, 2B; Mora 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; Gerace (PH) 1-1;



Game 3
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – 2B Berntson – LF W. Trevino – CF S. Green – SS Ferrer – RF Owens – C Salazar – 1B Aquino – P D. Soto
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Nomura

The rubber game began with a Ramos error on Diaz' grounder. The Coons twice replaced the runner on first base on fielders' choices, but could not turn a double play. Trevino stole second base eventually, but Ramos made up for his earlier mistakes when he snagged a nasty bouncer by Sam Green and turned it for the third out after all. The Coons then had a productive first inning themselves. Ramos and Spencer got on, pulled off a double steal, and Jamieson's groundout brought home Ramos with the first run. Harenberg walked on four cautious pitches, Gerace hit an RBI double into the gap, and Mora hit another run-scoring groundout. Nunley flew out to right, but Portland had another quick lead, 3-0 for Nomura. But just like in the previous game, the Loggers had a swift answer. One after the other reached base against Nomura in the second inning. Ferrer single, stolen base, and an RBI single by Owens. John Salazar walked in a full count, Aquino hit another RBI single. 3-2, two on, nobody out. Soto bunted the runners over, and Nomura kept imploding with a 2-run single to center by Vinny Diaz that put the Loggers in front, 4-3. After an RBI double by Berntson and Trevino's single, Nomura was yanked. Surginer replaced him, struck out Green, then got Ferrer to hit a soft liner to Nunley to end the inning in a 5-3 deficit.

Surginer pitched 2.2 innings without allowing a run while the Critters scrambled. Ramos hit an RBI double to plate Tovias in the bottom 2nd, and they loaded the bases against Soto in the fourth. Tovias walked, Spencer singled, and Jamieson also walked, bringing up Harenberg, who had not a single homer yet in this game. And he didn't get one, grounding out to Berntson to end the inning. Instead, the Loggers got a run off Jeff Kearney, who was abused for two innings to face mostly right-handed batters. The Coons didn't do much in the middle innings, and Soto was still around in the eighth, where he allowed a leadoff single to Mora. The tying run came up in the 6-4 game, but Matt Nunley grounded to the mound for a double play. Bottom 9th, still 6-4, Tim Stalker's pinch-hit double brought up the tying run again with Moore pitching and the top of the order coming up. Ramos and Spencer got him in – but only on groundouts. Jamieson grounded out to Berntson to end the game. 6-5 Loggers. Ramos 2-5, 2B, RBI; Spencer 2-4, RBI; Mora 2-3, 2B, RBI; Stalker (PH) 1-1, 2B; Surginer 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Raccoons (63-51) @ Wolves (49-66) – August 14-16, 2026

Like the Loggers, the Wolves were wrapped up and done for the year, 22 games out in the FL West and in last place. They were also in the bottom three in runs scored, but only allowed the sixth-most runs in the Federal League. Their -40 run differential was not THAT bad. They probably also had a few surprise stun wins in them. These teams faced each other the third year in a row; both had won a 2-1 series in those last two pairings, with the Furballs winning the 2025 set.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (11-4, 3.46 ERA) vs. John Waker (1-8, 5.34 ERA)
Mark Roberts (10-8, 3.11 ERA) vs. Alex Contreras (7-9, 4.10 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (8-6, 3.54 ERA) vs. Jorge Beltran (8-9, 2.73 ERA)

Their only southpaw John "Icon" Waker was a former #9 pick by the Raccoons who was on his second team of the year. He had once been part in the package for Hugo Mendoza to the Stars and although that had been eons ago, he was still only 28 somehow. He was not the only former Raccoon on their staff. But we would neither see Lance Legleiter, who was 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA since going over to Salem, as he had pitched on Thursday (our day off), nor Jonathan Toner, who had gone 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in a swingman role before biceps tendinitis had caught up with him. That had been more than two months ago; he was still on the shelf…

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Gerace – C O'Dell – 2B Stalker – 3B Bullock – P Gutierrez
SAL: CF B. Adams – LF D. Morales – C Wittner – RF M. Owen – SS McGee – 1B R. Morales – 2B Ri. Mendez – 3B Keys – P Waker

Since the Wolves were so very bad, and Portland fans always travelled well down I-5, the sparse crowd was more or less split half-and-half on Friday night, where the Coons went up 1-0 in the first on Harenberg's RBI double that scored Matt Jamieson, who had drawn a walk in a full count against Waker. The Coons fans cheered, the Wolves fans clapped politely but with frustration in their hearts. The Wolves would pull up even with the Coons soon enough, though, with Rico Gutierrez not retiring anybody on his own in the bottom 1st. Danny Morales doubled, then scored on Matt Wittner's sharp single through between Bullock and Ramos, and we were all even at one. It got so much worse in the second; Rich Mendez hit a double into the corner in deep right, Dave Keys hit a no-doubt homer over the leftfield fence, and then even Waker reached base on a 4-pitch walk. He would be caught stealing to end the inning eventually, and then the Critters roared back in the top 3rd: Ramos single, Jamieson triple, Harenberg double, at the score was level again, 3-3.

And while it seemed that both pitchers would get levelled and leave early, that was all the scoring through five innings. Both teams stranded the go-ahead run in scoring position in the fifth, the Coons failing to get Ramos home after a 1-out single and a stolen base, his 32nd. The go-ahead run appeared at second base even earlier for Portland in the top 6th with Harenberg's double precisely laid against the foul line in rightfield to begin that inning. A wild pitch advanced Harenberg after a K to Gerace, but he would have scored anyway on Brett O'Dell's double into the leftfield corner that followed the wild pitch. The Wolves walked Tim Stalker intentionally to get to Daniel Bullock, who saw his batting average sink consistently, now at .179 with an 0-for-2, but here he came through. I squealed as he swung at a 3-1 pitch by the eroding Waker, but he chipped it over the head of Chris McGee for a single to stuff the bags. What now? Rico was not very good in this game, and the bases were loaded with one out. Oy. And there comes Abel Mora – Coons are gonna roll the dice! They would not get anything for their efforts, with Mora flying out to Danny Morales in so shallow leftfield that it was impossible for O'Dell to go, and Ramos grounded out to Keys to end the inning. The Raccoons then lucked into two scoreless innings by Alvin Smith to defend the 4-3, but didn't tack on, and then saw Billy Brotman implode spectacularly in the bottom of the eighth. Dan Cobb hit a leadoff single to right before Brotman made consecutive throwing errors on the grounders of Ben Adams and Danny Morales, which already tied the ballgame, with Wittner's sac fly putting Salem ahead. Kevin Surginer would strand Morales on base when he entered the game, but the damage had been done. Dusty Balzer retired Cookie, Ramos, and Spencer in order in the ninth, and the Raccoons suffered a soul-shattering loss. 5-4 Wolves. Harenberg 4-4, 3 2B, 2 RBI; Smith 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – CF Mora – LF Carmona – C Tovias – P Roberts
SAL: CF B. Adams – 2B D. Cobb – C Wittner – RF M. Owen – SS McGee – 1B R. Morales – LF D. Morales – 3B Keys – P Contreras

Come the first, Ramos singled, stole second, and scored on Kevin Harenberg's long homer over the fence in rightfield for a quick 2-0 edge for still-Pitcher-of-the-Year-but-not-for-much-longer Mark Roberts. The Wolves went down in order in the first inning, but loaded them up in the second on an Owen single, followed by the Moraleses reaching on a walk and another single, respectively. Dave Keys struck out in a high voltage at-bat, and Contreras tamely rolled out to short, but geez, how about some aceful dominance? There was a Wolf at third base in the bottom 3rd as well: Ben Adams hit a leadoff single, advanced on Cobb's groundout, then a wild pitch. Wittner struck out, fortunately, and Roberts wiggled out of the inning on another groundout to Ramos. The Raccoons were mostly relaxing after taking a 2-0 lead. From there through the end of five they collected only two more base hits, both Nunley's, and he had no support behind himself in the lineup… Worse yet, in the fourth Abel Mora promptly smacked into a double play after Nunley had singled. In the sixth, Kopp hit a single to center, but now Nunley lined out to Cobb, and Mora still got nothing done, grounding out to McGee at short. In turn, Matt Owen got the Wolves on the board with a solo shot in the bottom 6th, just when Roberts had been about to press his ERA under three again.

Roberts lasted seven for the moment, and Contreras started the eighth, but was replaced after a 2-out walk to Harenberg, the first Coon on in the inning. Kaleb Babcock replaced him, got a grounder from Kopp that McGee threw away, and the error put them in scoring position for Nunley, who grinded out a full count walk to bring up Mora again. Unfortunately we had no smarter idea, especially not against a right-handed pitcher. Mora uselessly grounded out to Cobb, and the Coons stranded three once more. Roberts began the bottom 8th on 95 pitches and with a flimsy 2-1 lead, but retired Rich Mendez, Adams, and Cobb without much fuss. Jamieson batted for him in the top 9th to no great effect, and then it was on Snyder to face the meat of the order, all right-handed batters. He allowed a mighty deep drive to right to Matt Wittner, which Kopp picked off the fence as my heart skipped a beat or three. Owen grounded out to Nunley for the second out, and Matt also speared McGee's sharp bouncer for the final out. 2-1 Coons. Harenberg 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-3, BB, 2B; Roberts 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, W (11-8);

We had five base knocks total in this game. Salem had only four. Not a great hitting display…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – LF Gerace – C Tovias – P Anderson
SAL: CF B. Adams – 2B N. Cobb – C Wittner – RF M. Owen – 1B R. Morales – SS McGee – LF D. Morales – 3B Eason – P Beltran

Wittner and Owen went yard back-to-back in the bottom 1st for their 10th and 21st shots of the year, respectively, after the Coons had gotten Spencer on in the top 1st, and Spencer had gotten himself caught stealing. Portland opened the second inning with straight singles then; Kopp to left, Jamieson to right, and Nunley up the middle, resulting in the bags being loaded with nobody out for "Feast or Famine" Gerace, who in 91 at-bats had 11 extra base hits, including five dingers, and 25 strikeouts. Famine it was, with his grand slam rip never finding a ball, but Elias Matias Tovias Diaz pulled through for the Critters with a high fly in the gap that neither Morales nor Adams got to and that bounced off the hard warning track over the fence for a 2-run ground-rule double to even the score. Anderson fouled out for the second retirement of the inning, but Ramos rammed a grounder past Cobb for the go-ahead RBI single, after which Spencer rolled a ball near the third base line. Wittner fired to first while still turning around and more or less blindly, missed the target, and the resulting throwing error plated Tovias, 4-2. Astonishingly, the Wolves did not walk Harenberg intentionally with first base open after the 2-base error, but depressingly, Harenberg fouled out to keep Ramos and Spencer on base.

After the early rush, the game slowed down a bit. The next run did not occur until the fifth inning, and then the Coons were aided by Beltran, who struck Spencer with a pitch. Harenberg's grounder advanced him, and Kopp's 2-out single up the middle plated him, 5-2. In turn the Wolves loaded them up with one out in devious fashion, starting with an infield single by Beltran(!) in the bottom 5th. Adams walked, Cobb singled to center, and there were three on for Wittner, who struck out with the Gerace swing. Owen was the bigger danger anyway. He hit a terribly soft grounder where Spencer had rolled one earlier that had led to the Wittner throwing error. Even Nunley couldn't dig this one out; a run scored on the infield single, 5-3, and now a lefty was up with Morales, who singled up the middle to tie the game, and then McGee cracked another RBI single to left to put the Wolves up, 6-5. That also led to Anderson's removal, with Ricky Ohl allowing a bases-loading single to Danny Morales before Bobby Eason struck out to end the miserable inning with a crippling 4-spot.

The Wolves added on, plating a run in the sixth that was very much unearned after Ramos' throwing error placed Beltran on second base with nobody out. Alvin Smith could not get a strikeout against anybody, and the run scored on two groundouts. Ramos tried to make up in the top 7th, hitting a leadoff single off the tough-as-nails Beltran, then took second base by force. Spencer popped out, but Harenberg slugged a double to the fence in leftfield to bring in the runner and put himself up at second base as the tying run with one out in the inning. And Beltran ALMOST had this under control. Kopp grounded out, advancing Harenberg to third base. Jamieson grounded poorly as well, but it was yet another ball in that Bermuda Triangle that had already hurt both starting pitchers in this game. Beltran had to take this one himself, but couldn't get a good enough throw off to first. Jamieson was safe, Harenberg scored, and we were even at seven. Right-hander Cruz Sierra then replaced Beltran and retired Nunley on a pop. Tovias (walk) and Ramos (single) reached in the eighth, but Eason handled Spencer's grounder for the third out, then hit a 1-out double off Kearney in the bottom 8th, only to be left stranded by Mendez and Adams and their poor groundouts. Dusty Balzer retired the meat of the order in the top 9th, but Kevin Surginer didn't quite, going down in defeat on singles by Wittner, Owen, and McGee. 8-7 Wolves. Ramos 3-5, RBI; Kopp 2-5, RBI; Jamieson 2-5, RBI; Tovias 2-3, BB, 2B, 2 RBI;

Kevin Surginer also appeared to be going down with an injury which became apparent after the game, but we do not have a report on that one yet.

In other news

August 10 – The Gold Sox beat the Warriors, 5-1, on a pinch-hit walkoff grand slam by C Jose Vargas (.279, 3 HR, 16 RBI) off SFW SP Vinny Olguin (11-7, 4.84 ERA).
August 11 – SFB C Jaiden Jackson (.273, 10 HR, 39 RBI) cracks five hits, including three doubles, in an 18-2 crushing of the Aces.
August 11 – WAS INF Dave Menth (.288, 8 HR, 27 RBI) drives in five with a home run and two singles in the Capitals' 19-8 mauling of the Blue Sox.
August 11 – The Indians beat the Canadiens, 5-1, despite landing only three base hits, a double and two singles. They get more runners in other ways, with three walks, three Vancouver errors, an uncaught third strike, and a hit batsman.
August 13 – TIJ SP Jeff Little (9-8, 2.61 ERA) will be out for three weeks with elbow tendinitis.
August 16 – TIJ LF/RF Omar Larios (.249, 10 HR, 37 RBI) has a home run, two doubles, and a single with 4 RBI in the Condors' 16-5 thrashing of the Capitals.

Complaints and stuff

Kevin Harenberg was an obvious choice for Player of the Week in the CL, whacking it at a .478 pace (11-23) with 4 HR and 10 RBI! So much for the good news.

Another week facing two absolutely hopeless teams, another 2-4 result. What a farcical team we have here.

As usual, the mantra remains "better luck next year". What is there to look forward to in the last seven weeks? Alberto Ramos' ROTY campaign remains hot, and he has now also taken over the CL lead in stolen bases with 34, with the competition seeing a few guys with 32. The ABL lead is 38, held by WAS Guillermo Obando. Mark Roberts might win the strikeout crown, but nothing else. Maybe we can finish with a winning record, although things are getting very speculative right now.

Well, technically one chance remains. Sweep the damn Elks on the upcoming weekend. Never mind that 3-8 record we have against them this year…

Fun Fact: In 50 years of ABL baseball, players have hit three or more home runs 49 times. This includes two more Raccoons; Ben Simon in 1977 and Craig Bowen in 2007. All of them did the dirty job against the Loggers.

Craig Bowen remains the only ABL player to go yard four times in a game.
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Portland Raccoons, 49 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019
1 OSANAI : 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 10-15-2018, 05:41 PM   #2627
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Raccoons (64-53) vs. Buffaloes (62-55) – August 18-20, 2026

The Raccoons began the week with an off day and disabled Kevin Surginer with mild elbow inflammation, expecting him to be back in early September, then saw the Buffaloes come in. These teams had not faced another in two years, and the Coons hadn't won a series since 2020 against them, getting swept in the most recent meeting in 2023 and losing the last two series in total. They sat fourth in runs scored and fifth in runs allowed in the Federal League, with the FL-best rotation with a 3.49 ERA. They were also our last interleague opponent of the season.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (8-4, 2.65 ERA) vs. Nick Danieley (7-7, 3.69 ERA)
Rin Nomura (3-4, 3.44 ERA) vs. Tim Wells (12-10, 3.84 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (11-4, 3.52 ERA) vs. Joe Jones (10-8, 3.14 ERA)

After the right-handed Danieley, the Buffaloes would cart up two of their three southpaws, while the Raccoons carted up an additional right-handed reliever in our 2023 fifth-round pick, Steve Costilow, who had just recently debuted at St. Pete, but had struck out 11 in eight innings, and we needed an arm right now.

Game 1
TOP: SS Majano – LF J. Castillo – 3B S. Williams – RF Benson – 1B Blades – C Motley – CF Perkins – 2B J. Estrada – P Danieley
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF Carmona – C Tovias – P Delgadillo

Brett Blades and Juan Estrada fell over another but could not stop Elias Tovias' ****ty grounder from escaping the infield with two on and two outs in the second inning. Abel Mora scored the first run in the game, coming home from second base. Delgadillo struck out to end the inning, and while you would never blame the pitcher for a lack of offense on your own team, the way he was pitching was not exactly encouraging thoughts that one run would be enough. The Buffaloes were on base constantly, stranding five between the first three innings without scoring, but at least the contact was not high and deep; all their hits were singles at this point. While the Coons added a run on Ramos' leadoff triple and Harenberg's sac fly – Spencer had grounded out to third baseman Stephen Williams – things did not get calmer for Yusneldan. While he run gup Josh Motley for his 100th K of the year to begin the fourth, the Buffaloes got a walk from Nick Perkins, a Juan Estrada single, and the runners were bunted into scoring position by Danieley, a former first-rounder, for Alex Majano, who got into his third 0-2 count in the game and yet refused to go down even once, but his grounder to the right side was competently handled by Jarod Spencer to end the inning.

Delgadillo never got in a clean inning, and before long the opposing pitcher knocked him out of the game. The three left-handed batters in the 6-7-8 slots all reached base for the Buffaloes in the sixth inning, and Danieley singled up the middle with nobody out to score two and kick Delgadillo to the curb. Ricky Ohl came out to play fireman again, got a grounder from Majano for the first out, then struck out Juan Castillo and Williams to keep the game tied. Terry Kopp was not a fan of that 2-2 tie. When Harenberg drew a leadoff walk in the bottom 6th, Kopp sent a blast out of rightfield for his 13th dinger of the year, and just like that the 2-run lead was back. The Coons went to Jeff Kearney in the seventh, where he hit a batter, but overall he would get through the bottom part of the order without incurring damage, remained around for the eighth, got Estrada out, then conceded a single to the right-handed-batting Danieley right up the middle. The Raccoons had already burned their big man Ohl, and didn't feel like going to Snyder with five outs to collect. Instead, we exchanged lefty for lefty and sent Billy Brotman. He got Majano to ground out to Spencer, threw a wild pitch to move Danieley to third base, then got a grounder to short from Castillo that Ramos threw wildly past Harenberg. The 2-base error made it 4-3 with the tying run in scoring position. Williams, another right-hander, was walked intentionally to get to Travis Benson, who was hit for by Pat Green, who had shown power in the past, but had only one homer on the season. Brotman rung him up – inning over. The ninth saw Snyder then, finally, a K to Blades to get going, then a Motley single and Perkins walking. PH Ezra Branch, 37 and known to us from various CL assignments in the past, struck out, bringing up another pinch-hitter in right-hander Randy Garner. He swung three times. He missed three times. 4-3 Critters. Kopp 2-4, HR, 2 RBI;

Game 2
TOP: SS Majano – LF J. Castillo – 3B S. Williams – 1B Blades – RF Benson – C Motley – CF K. Hess – 2B J. Estrada – P Wells
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – CF Jamieson – RF Kopp – C O'Dell – LF Gerace – 3B Bullock – P Nomura

Ken Hess' triple was key in the Buffaloes' 2-run second inning, plating Josh Motley and setting him up to be eventually chased home by Majano with a 2-out single after Estrada had extended the inning and the Buffaloes' chances with a 1-out walk, too. For once, Portland was unfazed, despite beginning the bottom 3rd with two outs they would run up a crooked number. Ramos singled, then stole two bases before Spencer could single, leisurely jogging home from third base when that happened. When that dust had settled, Kevin Harenberg blasted a 430-foot missile to left center to flip the score, 3-2 Coons. Unfortunately, the lead gave no confidence at all to Nomura, who also seemed to be at odds with O'Dell, who maintained that he had no reason to learn the Japanese word for "changeup" when Nomura could not even order a glass of water without an interpreter, still. The result was weird command, quick reflexes displayed by O'Dell – not the youngest guy out there – and also panic at the discotheque in the sixth inning when Williams drew a leadoff walk and Blades got plunked. That brought up left-handed bats, and Nomura had gotten two double plays already, and could REALLY need a third one with the go-ahead run aboard. Benson grounded into a fielder's choice, putting them on the corners when Motley grounded hard at Harenberg, who started a marvelous double play in 3-6-3 fashion to send Topeka back to the dugout in the 3-2 game. On to the seventh, where Nomura retired Hess on the ground, Estrada on strikes, and then Wells on a 9-5 play after a grounder had bounced over the back past Harenberg, into foul ground and then Kopp hammered out the greedy pitcher for the third out at third base to get the crowd all amped up for the stretch. Kopp hit a sizable fly (to Hess) leading off on the other side of the middle of the seventh, but O'Dell yanked a homer to left afterwards, finally putting a safety run on the board. While the Coons got Bullock on with an Estrada error after that and Tim Stalker when he got plunked, Ramos struck out to strand a pair in the bottom 7th, but in exchange the Coons fooled the Buffaloes with Alvin Smith in the eighth. The Buffs had not expected to see ALVIN SMITH in a setup assignment and the top 3 in their order went down without a peep, including two strikeouts. Snyder retired Topeka in order in the ninth. 4-2 Raccoons. Harenberg 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Nomura 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, W (4-4);

Alberto Ramos took three bags in this game, raising his season total to 37, which was necessary with Lorenzo Rivera on the chase. The Thunder was now at 36.

Game 3
TOP: SS Majano – LF J. Castillo – 3B S. Williams – 1B Blades – RF Benson – C Motley – CF K. Hess – 2B J. Estrada – P Joe Jones
POR: SS Ramos – LF Spencer – 1B Harenberg – CF Jamieson – RF Kopp – C O'Dell – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez

Rico was in trouble early as well, putting Blades on with a leadoff single in the second, then made a throwing error to add Benson to the mix. Two on, no outs, then three good-to-great outfield plays to keep the Buffaloes in check. Spencer's on Motley in the gap was most impressive. Not so impressive was the Coons failing to get a hit until Gutierrez snuck one past Blades in the bottom 3rd for a 1-out single. Ramos then knocked one up the middle for another single, and Spencer walked in a full count, giving Harenberg a sacks-full chance, but he struck out against Joe Jones, who was not really a strikeout pitcher. He just didn't give him anything to hit in a 1-2 count, but would not have that luxury when the count on Jamieson with two outs ran full. Jamieson knocked a pitch on the inside corner, rammed it over Williams' head and landed a 2-run single for the first score on the board. Kopp lined out to Estrada, ending the inning, but Estrada also hurt himself and was replaced by Pat Green, who soon enough encountered Rico Gutierrez with two on and two out in the fourth inning and cracked a no-doubt homer to left that put Topeka on top, 3-2…

Oh the blessings of fading pitching. In a perfect world, the hitters would pick up the slack, but the Raccoons hadn't seen that since … oh, the 80s maybe? Although maybe Brett O'Dell would be the random hero of the week. He came up with Jamieson aboard in the bottom 6th and cracked another left-handed pitcher's heart with another homer, almost into the same spot as in the previous game. This one was even more important; Wednesday's had been a tack-on, but this one flipped the score to 4-3 Coons. After that 1-out blast, the Coons would proceed to get Stalker (walk) and Nunley (double) on base, and the inning ended. Stalker had been caught stealing, and Nunley pulled a Wells and was thrown out at third base by the rightfielder.

Despite this slight deflation, it got worse for the Buffaloes in the seventh. Abel Mora drew a walk, hitting for Rico to begin the inning. Ramos grounded to Green, who butchered a double play and instead put two on with nobody out. The runners pulled off a double steal, Spencer rushed a ball through between Majano and Williams to score them both, and then a Harenberg double on 0-2 and an intentional walk to Jamieson loaded the bags with nobody out, after which Jones was replaced with right-hander Matt Beckstrom, who walked Kopp to force in a run, then rung up O'Dell. Stalker grounded at Green, who had only one out to get and took it at second base as Harenberg scored, 8-3. Nunley was hit by a pitch (and quite good…), bringing Mora for the second time in the inning. He hit a soft pop to shallow right that oughta have been caught, but dropped between Green and Benson, and two more runs scored. Ramos singled to load them back up for Gerace, batting for Spencer. He sure gave a ball a ride to left – but Castillo made the catch on the warning track, ending the inning with a 6-spot and a 10-3 score. This led into Steve Costilow's major league debut in the eighth. He retired nobody. Castillo walked, Williams singled, Branch pinch-walked, and then it was time for a new face. Jeff Kearney took over while Costilow sat on the bench, hiding his head under a towel. It did get quite ugly indeed. Benson hit an RBI single before Motley popped out. Ken Hess grounded at short, but Ramos' throw was not good; while Spencer had it at second base for the second out, there was no way to turn two anymore. Another run scored on Pat Green's single before Kearney struck out PH Brian Marshall to FINALLY end the inning. Ohl and Boles would deliver the ninth without quite half the drama later on. 10-6 Coons. Ramos 2-5; Spencer 1-2, BB, 2 RBI; Jamieson 3-4, BB, 2 RBI; Mora (PH) 1-1, BB, 2 RBI;

What a debut! (yells at Costilow) GET OUTTA MY FACE!! SCUM OF THE EARTH!!

Raccoons (67-53) vs. Canadiens (72-48) – August 21-23, 2026

This was the weekend that could still make our season or break it for good. Anything but a series win was unacceptable. Of course, having gone 3-8 against the stinkin' Elks so far this season had my mood dim and my eyes dead way before people filtered in for the Friday opener. The skunks ranked tops in the CL in runs scored and were still a very decent fifth in runs allowed, although they had a brittle bullpen that could at times crack open. Not that the Raccoons had gotten to see much of that bullpen in the recent meetings with the damn Skunks…

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (11-8, 3.01 ERA) vs. Fernando Estrada (8-3, 3.04 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (8-6, 3.83 ERA) vs. Warren Polito (12-8, 3.04 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (8-4, 2.68 ERA) vs. Andrew Gudeman (13-7, 3.20 ERA)

All right-handers coming up… well, maybe. Gudeman was laboring on a sore shoulder and it was not clear yet whether he would actually take that Sunday start.

Game 1
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – SS Brill – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – 3B Calfee – 1B Myles – 2B T. Casillas – C Holliman – P F. Estrada
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF Carmona – C Tovias – P Roberts

Roberts lacked stuff, but not brain farts or hit batters in this opener. The Elks had Brian Wojnarowski and Tony Coca on base in the first, the latter on getting nailed, but stranded them. The fourth however saw Alex Torres get nicked, then a 4-pitch walk to John Calfee. The runners pulled off a double steal, and then Adan Myles' sac fly to Kopp in deep right gave the Elks the 1-0 lead. The Raccoons had only two singles at this point, and only one of those had survived to see the end of the inning; Harenberg had double-played Spencer back off first base in the opening frame. Bottom 5th, Nunley hit a 1-out single, but Cookie then rolled into a double play. That was the state of the Portland offense whenever it counted. Meanwhile, the state of Portland pitching was to nick another batter whenever the bases were empty. Roberts hit Chris Brill to begin the sixth inning, which was so going to ease my blood pressure. He then threw a wild pitch, followed by Ramos' fumbling error on Coca's grounder that was DEFINITELY going to pull the rug out from underneath the Coons' season for good. Coca stole second base to take away the double play, after which Torres fouled out to Nunley in foul ground. A STRIKEOUT would be good, but Roberts absolutely couldn't get one. Calfee flew to shallow center in a 3-2 count, Mora came in and made the catch on the run, also shooing back Brill to third base. And just when we thought we'd get out of it, Adan Myles cracked a 2-0 pitch into centerfield for a 2-out, 2-run single. It was 3-0 Elks, the Coons had nothing, and how was this ever going to change? It didn't change on Tovias' leadoff double off the wall in rightfield in the sixth. Maybe Mora's 2-out single in the seventh off Ivan Morales? Nunley came up, cracked a drive to center, stretching, getting longer, longer – gone! That made it 3-2, and maybe there was hope after all? Cookie flew out easily to center, then yielded for Alvin Smith in a double switch. Smith got the Coons through another eighth inning that counted, and then they hoped to pick a run or two from left-hander Joe Williams, which did not happen at all, and then the Elks drew walks with Tony Casillas (off Smith), then PH Max Weigel (off Kearney) in the ninth, but Jeff Kearney struck out Chris Tanzillo, also off the bench to escape into the relative safety of the dugout, and now it was three last outs to get a run. Or two. Or likely none.

Meat of the order against right-hander J.R. Hreha and his 1.81 ERA. Harenberg ripped a 1-1 pitch to deep left, Torres wasn't getting it and it hit the base of the wall for a leadoff double. Coons in business!? A little bit, at most. Kopp grounded out, Mora flew out to center. That did plate the tying run, taking Roberts off the hook, but that was not enough for a W. Nunley walked, bringing up the pitcher's spot. O'Dell batted for Kearney as the best hope for power off the bench still remaining (Gerace was gone), and his grounder up the middle eluded the middle infielders for a single. Nunley held at second, then went back to the dugout, exchanged for Daniel Bullock as pinch-runner. The move turned out unnecessary, with Hreha's first pitch to Tovias being wild and to the backstop, advancing the runners anyway. Tovias hit the 1-0 to deep center, but could not beat Tony Coca, who made the catch in the deep outfield. And we went to the 10th, excruciatingly. The Coons had used most of their pen and had to make do with Billy Brotman against right-handed bats in the 10th, which, frankly, did not work out. He walked the leadoff man Coca, who stole second, then scored on Calfee's 1-out single. Casillas and Norman Day also walked before Mora got paws on a deep Fitzsimmons drive to end the inning. Hreha this time didn't miss a beat, and in the bottom 10th retired Jamieson, Ramos, and Spencer in order. 4-3 Canadiens. Nunley 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; O'Dell (PH) 1-1; Tovias 2-4, 2B; Smith 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

The Raccoons had nine hits. The ****ing **** Elks had THREE. They still won.

Why keep showing up after all? Obviously divine intervention had been at work the entire year…

Game 2
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – SS Brill – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – 3B Calfee – 1B Myles – 2B Fitzsimmons – C Tanzillo – P Polito
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Anderson

Spencer single, Harenberg double in the bottom 1st, then a lineout by Kopp into the mitten of Fitzsimmons and a weak strikeout for Mora – hey, even on a very bad black-and-white TV you just KNOW when the Coons are in action! The Coons DID bring in a run in the bottom 2nd on Jamieson's leadoff triple and Nunley's sac fly, but Warren Polito walked three in the third and they didn't score… It was all too obvious how this game would end eventually, it was just about the "how" and "when". Probably a sudden pitching explosion, a theory that held some weight because Anderson was absolutely rock solid through five innings, spotting just a single base hit to the Elks and holding on tight to that 1-0 lead.

That became a 2-0 lead in the fifth. Ramos led off with a single, stole second (after having been caught stealing once by Tanzillo earlier) for #39, then scored on Spencer's single to left. After a wild pitch to Harenberg, the Elks walked the Coons' biggest threat to get to the so-so-eh Kopp, who flew to the fence, but into an out to Wojnarowski. Spencer however advanced on the play, then scored on Mora's fly out to center, a sac fly to get the score to 3-0.

When the pitching explosion came, it came without as much of a hint beforehand. Tony Coca hit a leadoff jack in the seventh, cutting the gap to 3-1. Anderson still looked completely fine to us. Then Torres and Calfee became the tying runs by virtue of back-to-back infield singles. Oh, those baseball gods! Always a joke on their lips! Ricky Ohl came in but only got to serve up a bun for Myles, after which Curtis Hargraves hit for Fitzsimmons. Kearney came in to counter, walked him to load the bases, then got Tanzillo to pop out to Harenberg. And for reasons beyond us, the Elks did not bat for Polito – their pitcher batted with three on and two outs, and grounded out to short to keep the Coons up 3-1.

But, oh snap! Ramos reported discomfort after the play and was found out to have strained his shoulder, which required replacement by Tim Stalker and would likely end his season. Like we needed more kicks to the nuts. Tim Stalker replaced Ramos at short. I was numb. Why? Why did this have to happen? I was numb all the way through two outs by Kearney and one by Snyder in the eighth, a Jamieson homer in the bottom 8th, Torres and Calfee doubling for a run, but well not enough in the ninth, the drive home, and dropping into bed to cry face down into my pillow before falling asleep at sunrise, finally. 4-2 Coons. Spencer 2-4, RBI; Harenberg 1-2, 2 BB, 2B; Jamieson 2-4, HR, 3B, RBI; Nunley 1-1, BB, RBI; Anderson 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, W (9-6);

Off to the DL with Ramos, who could have been the Rookie of the Year, and the stolen base king, and so much more, and now was hurt and discarded onto the pile with Gonzalez and Gomez and who-knows-who-else-we-already-lost-because-I-lost-count.

Butch Gerster replaced Ramos on the roster. The Druid was not going to say whether there was any chance of him coming back at the end of the season. He just said that these sort of things would take about six weeks normally.

There is only six weeks left…

Also a rubber game. And my eyes are already wept bright red.

Game 3
VAN: RF Wojnarowski – SS Brill – CF Coca – LF A. Torres – 3B Calfee – 2B Fitzsimmons – 1B Hargraves – C Tanzillo – P Bowsher
POR: 2B Spencer – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – SS Stalker – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – P Delgadillo

Jesse Bowsher (11-3, 2.81 ERA) got the start on short rest, whatever that was going to be worth for Portland. To begin the game, Nunley spared Delgadillo some early pain after a leadoff single by Wojanorowski and a walk issued to Alex Torres when he spared Calfee's vicious grounder for the third out of the inning, after which Jarod Spencer was back in the leadoff spot and hit a triple to begin the bottom 1st. Jamieson walked, and Harenberg grounded sharply at Fitzsimmons, who was eaten up by the ball. Spencer scored on the error, 1-0, and there were two on with nobody out still… at least until Kopp hit into that double play on offer. Mora grounded out to short, keeping it at one first-inning run and that one didn't keep the Coons afloat for long. Fitzsimmons walked, Tanzillo singled, and Wojnarowski tied the game with a 2-out single in the second. Delgadillo utterly lacked control; in the third he walked Coca and Calfee, and somehow wasn't strafed for runs, with Hargraves fouling out to strand them on the corners.

An erratic display put Delgadillo at 99 pitches through five innings, having walked four and struck out seven that couldn't hold still long enough to take ball four. Three strikeouts came in full counts, but he appeared to be done. He got his pat on the bum in a 1-1 tie, but Matt Nunley gave him a sendoff with a leadoff jack off Bowsher in the bottom 5th, putting the Coons up 2-1 again. The inning went on with singles by O'Dell and Spencer, with O'Dell going for third and drawing a throw that allowed Spencer to move up on the latter play. Wojnarowski's throw was late, and the Coons had them on second and third with one out for Jamieson, who upped the hurt on Bowsher with a 2-run single near the right foul line, 4-1, before Harenberg smacked into that 4-6-3 he had tried to notch earlier to end the inning. Now, Delgadillo had not been hit for in the bottom 5th and was still in the game; he was sent back out to get another out or two (or three?) to save the pen that had been extolled badly all week long. Fitzsimmons flew out to Kopp. Hargraves flew out viciously to Jamieson. Tanzillo beat Jamieson for a 2-out double, but the Elks did not hit for their pitcher AGAIN. Delgadillo hung around, struck him out, and now was indeed done for good after six innings and 113 pitches.

It was going to get nasty again, one way or another, but this time the angle was unexpected. The seventh inning brought a near-brawl with Josh Boles pitching. Brill hit a 1-out double, which brought up the right-handed core of the lineup, but the Coons were SO short on pitching, they had to squeeze more out of Brill! Coca flew out to shallow right for the second out, but Torres singled to left. Brill went around third and went for home as Jamieson unleashed a throw. O'Dell planted firmly after receiving the ball with a second's worth of preparation, then was smothered feet first by Brill – O'Dell was thrown on his back, but held on to the ball and had actually gotten glove on Brill before going down! The inning was over, and so was the game for O'Dell, who was knocked up and had to replaced by Tovias while both teams accumulated on the infield but left it at bickering and pointing fingers for now as the Coons had six outs to collect in a 4-1 game.

The Coons were down to Smith, Brotman, and Costilow; so really Smith and Brotman. Snyder only in an emergency, and Kearney and Ohl were off limits after pitching four times already this week. Smith got into his third eighth inning of the week after an eventless bottom 7th. He allowed a 1-out single to Fitzsimmons, but got a K from Calfee to begin the inning, which was so important. Hargraves and Tanzillo went down meekly. Before Brotman could get involved, the Coons tacked on a run on a Terry Kopp sac fly, bringing in Spencer in the bottom 8th. It took off the save. **** the save. Get the W! Leadoff walk to Norman Day in a full count, then a 4-pitch walk to Wojnarowski. And those were left-handers! Nooooo!! Brill fouled out, but here came the big guys. Snyder was stirring, but would only be called upon if the tying run appeared at the plate. Coca struck out before the count on Torres ran full and Brotman lost him. GODDAMNIT BILLY!! Here came Snyder to face John Calfee, who was the tying run indeed. Snyder went to 1-1, threw a wild pitch – 5-2 game and melting – then walked Calfee anyway. Adan Myles pinch-hit for Fitzsimmons, but he was a right-handed batter. And one right-handed batter that struck out. 5-2 Blighters. Spencer 2-3, BB, 3B; Delgadillo 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, W (9-4);

In other news

August 18 – 12 hits and nine walks are enough for 14 runs for the Gold Sox as they smash the Falcons, 14-1, with Denver's Rich Hereford (.259, 21 HR, 71 RBI) plating six runs on two base hits, including a bases-loaded double.
August 18 – WAS C Ricky Ortiz (.367, 5 HR, 21 RBI) shines with 7 RBI in a 3-hit game against the Canadiens as the Capitals break out the bats for a 14-8 win.
August 19 – The Falcons beat the Gold Sox, 7-1, plating all their runs in a seven-run seventh.

Complaints and stuff

To the delightful Chris Brill, who knocked up O'Dell's throwing shoulder with that reckless slide on Sunday. We will remember this. There is a baseball coming for your ****ing face. O'Dell is temporarily listed as day-to-day, but there is a thing about day-to-day catchers… this is the most terrible situation; a week from September 1, and you're damned if you DL him and damned if you don't. He might even be day-to-day for 15 days anyway. And whatever we'll do, it'll be wrong.

And Brett O'Dell is not even the big blow. Losing Ramos – on Nick Brown No-Hits the ****ing Elks Bobblehead Day no less! – for the season deals damage impossible to put into numbers to the Raccoons. Tim Stalker is a decent player, but he lacks the YEEHAAAAH factor of Ramos. Totally.

And just when the Critters crept back within four of the Elks. And now, just for ****s and giggles, imagine how the division would look if the Coons had won the Friday game, where the Elks had more runs than hits, and the Coons had all the hits and not nearly enough runs. We'd be within TWO.

I will never win another thing of bling in my lifetime, I just know it…

Fun Fact: Alberto Ramos accumulated 4.2 WAR before going down to the shoulder injury.

This is more then Matt Nunley (3.5) in his ROTY season, but less than Ronnie McKnight (4.5) in his ROTY campaign, the two most recent Raccoons Rookies of the Year in 2014 and 2015. Generally, 4.2 is a damn dandy number for the ROTY race. Since McKnight, only three other CL rookies have beaten Ramos' mark; Chris LeMoine with the Loggers and 4.5 WAR in '16; NYC Sergio Valdez had 5.0 WAR in '18; and then IND Justin Jackson with 4.4 WAR three years ago.

A CL ROTY with more WAR than Ramos right before Nunley was Oklahoma's (then Indy's) Mike Rucker in 2013. Rucker is still around, batting .304 with 14 homers for the Thunder this season, and .384 with 3 HR, and 8 RBI this week to win CL Player of the Week honors at age 39.
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blazertaz13 (10-16-2018)
Old 10-16-2018, 04:03 PM   #2628
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Butch Gerster was sent back to the minors without having done much since replacing Ramos on the roster. The Raccoons needed the add-on catcher as they did NOT disable Brett O'Dell. Jake Burrows was brought back up. He had an .876 OPS in St. Petersburg, but so far this had not translated at all into success in the majors…

Raccoons (69-54) vs. Indians (49-72) – August 25-27, 2026

Worst batting average, fewest runs scored, and despite a torpid .405 winning percentage not yet a triple-digit negative run differential. Well, almost; -99 was right there. The Raccoons would try to win some more from the Indians, who they had beaten eight out of twelve times so far this year. This required them to beat up on league-average pitching, so everybody was rightfully concerned…

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (4-4, 3.36 ERA) vs. John McInerney (7-11, 3.27 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (12-4, 3.53 ERA) vs. Mo Robinson (4-10, 3.79 ERA)
Mark Roberts (11-8, 2.96 ERA) vs. Chris Munroe (6-6, 4.34 ERA)

Left-right-right on the menu here, it seems. There were two more southpaws currently not up for offerings, including the elusive Tom Shumway (10-13, 3.15 ERA).

Game 1
IND: 2B DeMedio – RF Duarte – SS Pizano – 3B Ju. Jackson – 1B Good – LF Loya – C R. Vargas – CF Linnell – P McInerney
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – 1B Harenberg – CF Jamieson – RF Kopp – C Tovias – LF Gerace – 3B Bullock – P Nomura

Alex Duarte, once a Coons discard, would torture them forever, hitting a triple in the first inning before coming home on Mario Pizano's single for a 1-0 Indy lead, and while Duarte made a clumsy error in rightfield to put Spencer on base to begin the bottom 1st, the Coons expertly delivered a stinker right in the first inning. After a Harenberg double, runners were in scoring position for Jamieson, who popped out to Bobby DeMedio, and when Kopp walked Tovias found the bases loaded … and popped out to Bobby DeMedio. When Justin Gerace opened the second with a double in the gap, the Coons stranded him at second base. Meanwhile, Nomura was a royal mess, allowing two singles in the third inning, then issued 2-out walks to both Ricky Loya and Ricardo Vargas to force home a run for the Indians. Richard Linnell struck out to strand three there. Nomura's generally confused and disoriented pitching style had him out of the game by the sixth inning, a point at which the Coons had been retired for a dozen in a row, and Steve Costilow took over. At least somebody got rid of their infinite ERA by striking out Vargas to begin the sixth! In fact Costilow put up quite the show, striking out five Indians in two innings; if only the rest of the team would have ANYTHING to show for. Harenberg hit a single in the sixth that was not going to lead the Coons to salvation. Daniel Bullock even hit a single to right with two outs in the seventh… but Matt Nunley lined out to Matt Good when he pinch-hit for Costilow. Bottom 8th, maybe the first actual chance since the opening inning; Jarod Spencer hit a leadoff double up the leftfield line, and then McInerney walked Stalker. Harenberg put an 0-2 pitch in play, right into Pizano's fangs, and the Indians turned an easy 6-4-3 double play, and then Jamieson struck out. Bottom 9th, another shot for the winning run at the plate in this 2-0 depressant. Kopp singled, Tovias walked, and that brought up Gerace against Jose Fuentes, the right-hander with more walks than innings pitched! He popped up a 3-1 pitch for the initial out, and Abel Mora struck out pinch-hitting in the #8 hole. Nunley had stuck around after pinch-hitting earlier and now cracked a 3-2 pitch up the middle, past the middle infielders, and Kopp scored to put the Coons on the board and the tying run 90 feet away in Tovias! Spencer up, first pitch put in play to left, and through between Pizano and Justin Jackson – we're tied! Tim Stalker was hit to load the bases by new pitcher Mike Lake, and that meant Harenberg would get a good pitch to hit. He hit the 0-1 into shallow center, unreachable, and the Coons walked up after playing deader than dead all game long… 3-2 Blighters. Spencer 2-5, 2B, RBI; Harenberg 3-5, 2B, RBI; Nunley (PH) 1-2, RBI; Costilow 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K;

Even after this pitching display, Costilow's ERA is still 13.50 …

There was a change in assignments for the Indians, who moved Chris Munroe up into the middle game of the series. We would probably still get Mo Robinson, but now on Thursday.

Game 2
IND: 2B DeMedio – RF Duarte – SS Pizano – 3B Ju. Jackson – 1B Good – LF Loya – C R. Vargas – CF Metts – P Munroe
POR: 2B Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – LF Gerace – SS Stalker – P Gutierrez

The Arrowheads lost their cleanup man Justin Jackson in the first inning when he vividly argued strike three to end the inning with the home plate umpire. Tossed he was, replaced in the field by Joe Dale, who made his third major league appearance and was not very experienced at the hot corner. Top 2nd, the Indians loaded the bases on a full-count leadoff walk to Matt Good, then singles by Ricky Loya and Ricardo Vargas into shallow center. Rico reached back and struck out Dwayne Metts (.188 and falling), Munroe, and DeMedio in order to strand them all. He survived a 1-out triple by Pizano in the third inning as well, but not Ricky Loya's leadoff shot in the fourth that put Indy up 1-0. Munroe was still facing the minimum at this point despite two hits for the Coons in the early going. Spencer had singled in the first and had been doubled up on Jamieson's grounder, and Stalker had singled in the third and had been caught stealing.

The Coons reached not only second, but also third base in the bottom 5th for the first time – what a rush. Kopp singled to right, advanced on a groundout by Nunley, then was pinned when Tovias flew out to left. Gerace struck out, except that Vargas could not come up with the ball and Gerace reached on the uncaught third strike while Kopp made it to third base. They were stranded on the corners when Tim Stalker grounded out to Pizano. Gutierrez was toast after six thanks to exploding his pitch count early and was on the hook right until first dips after a leadoff single by Cookie, hitting in the #9 hole for him, in the bottom 6th. Spencer and Jamieson made outs before Harenberg hit a real moonshot, no doubt about it, to right-center, flipping the score just in time to put Rico in line for a W. The paper-thin 2-1 lead was then maintained by Ohl and Boles through the next two innings before Jarod Spencer's aggro base-running created a run in the bottom 8th to serve as insurance. He took an extra base on Jamieson's single going first to third, then went home on a close call when Harenberg flew out to Loya in left. He was safe twice to give Snyder a cushion. He struck out Metts, then allowed a single to Gary Kaczenski, who hit a ball so hard it went through the webbing in Tim Stalker's glove at short. Thankfully the ill-feeling mitten would not be tested again – Snyder finished the game on strikeouts. 3-1 Coons. Harenberg 1-3, HR, 3 RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1; Gutierrez 6.0 IP, 8 H, 1 R; 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, W (13-4);

Everybody in the starting lineup except for Tovias and Rico had a base hit. Everybody had ONE base hit to be precise…

And no, the Indians pitchers are not that great. The Coons make them look like it.

Game 3
IND: 2B DeMedio – RF Duarte – SS Pizano – 3B Ju. Jackson – LF Loya – 1B Linnell – C Dale – CF Metts – P Mo Robinson
POR: 2B Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – LF Gerace – SS Stalker – P Roberts

The Indians scored first again, this time in gut-wrenching fashion with a 2-out walk issued to Joe Dale by Roberts in the second inning, then a Dwayne Metts single to left that send Dale all the way to third. Then he threw a wild pitch to Mo Robinson, WALKED him, and was lucky that Jamieson caught up with a Bobby DeMedio drive to end the inning when DeMedio was on 6 K in the series. Alex Duarte, another one of those nagging ex-Coons, robbed Tim Stalker in the gap to end the bottom 2nd when the Coons had Nunley and Gerace on base, and then the whacking of Roberts continued. Hard leadoff single by Duarte in the top 3rd, then a walk to Pizano. Jackson grounded out, advancing the runners on a strong play by Nunley, with Roberts following that good turn up with a 4-pitch walk to Loya, his fourth free pass in the game. Spencer then made an AMAZING flying grab on Linnell's line drive, and Dale struck out hacking to end the inning with three aboard.

After a slow start, the Raccoons used the power stroke again to take the lead in the fourth inning. Kevin Harenberg opened the inning with a hard single into rightfield, and then Terry Kopp lifted a blast over the rightfield fence, putting a hardly-deserving Roberts up 2-1. The inning continued with a Gerace double with two outs, prompting the Indians to bypass Stalker and get the third out from Roberts, which worked nicely for them. All this served to bring up Terry Kopp yet again in the fifth after a Spencer single and stolen base, then an intentional walk to Harenberg. Kopp pulled off the feat to homer in back-to-back innings when he fired a 3-spot into the stands in rightfield, extending the lead to 5-1, and roving reporter from NWSN soon found out that both blasts had landed in the same row, three seats apart, and had been caught by people of the same family. That blast also ended Mo Robinson's efforts for the day, while Roberts limped on a bit further, but got stuck in the seventh, losing Pizano to a 2-out single after a 9-pitch at-bat and that was it for him. Alvin Smith took over, walked Jackson, but got Loya to ground out to Nunley to end the inning. On to the bottom 8th, said Matt Nunley singled up the middle to get going, then was run for by Bullock. The Coons planned to send Costilow into the ninth, and every run was precious. The Coons soon filled the bags; Tovias hit an infield single, Gerace a proper manly single, and then Tim Stalker also pulled Pizano towards leftfield with a grounder that also became an infield single. At this point, Bullock finally scored. The Indians Manny Estrella wasn't getting an out, bleeding two more runs on a Mora single, then made room for David Galmore, who allowed an RBI single to Spencer. Galmore whiffed Jamieson, then gave up a run on Harenberg's sac fly. That gave Kopp another shot after hitting an F9 the last time up. He got a hit, but "only" a single to center. Bullock, the pinch-runner from a while ago, came up to bat, but flew out to Metts to end a 5-spot. Costilow ended the Indians in just three batters, though. 10-1 Coons! Spencer 3-5, RBI; Kopp 3-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI; Nunley 2-4, 2B; Gerace 2-3, BB, 2B; Mora (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI; Roberts 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, W (12-8);

Raccoons (72-54) vs. Aces (65-62) – August 28-30, 2026

Last set with Las Vegas this season, and the Aces had yet to win a game from the Coons, sitting down 0-6 in the season series. The Raccoons had never gone 9-0 on a CL South opponent, and had not even won seven from the Aces in 12 years. The Aces had rallied a bit from a terrible start to the season, they were fourth in runs scored, but they were also really cursed with some putrid pitching. They were conceding the second-most runs in the Continental League, and despite being slightly over .500 they were 54 runs below even. Both their rotation and their pen were in the bottom three in the league.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (9-6, 3.73 ERA) vs. Ed Hague (15-9, 4.00 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (9-4, 2.64 ERA) vs. Joel Trotter (8-12, 5.26 ERA)
Rin Nomura (4-4, 3.26 ERA) vs. Samuel McMullen (7-10, 3.85 ERA)

Sam McMullen would be the only southpaw in this set, although they could also use Matt McCabe (5-6, 4.40 ERA), a third righty to push him out of the series.

Game 1
LVA: CF Serrano – RF Leija – 1B M. Hamilton – C T. Robinson – SS A. Medina – LF Raynor – 3B A. Velez – 2B Moroyoqui – P Hague
POR: 2B Spencer – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – SS Stalker – LF Carmona – C Burrows – P Anderson

While the former Crusader now in an Aces uniform no-hit the Coons effortlessly through four innings, Anderson was facing the minimum through four on a 1-hitter. That would change in the fifth when a pitchers' duel became something else as Ron Raynor and Alberto Velez hit 2-out singles, and then Jesus Moroyoqui hit a 400-foot bomb to left that put Vegas up 3-0. Even Hague singled to make it four in a row before Danny Serrano flew out to Jamieson in centerfield. Terry Kopp would get the Coons' first hit with a single up the middle to begin the bottom 5th, but nothing came of it. Burrows' leadoff walk in the bottom 6th led to Anderson bunting into a double play, which was the worse when Spencer's 2-out single and Jamieson's RBI double could have been much bigger. Still, the meat part of the order was up as the tying run, and Harenberg missed a score-knotting homer by less than five feet as he doubled off the rightfield wall to get Jamieson home, 3-2. Kopp flew out to left, keeping the Coons a-trailing until they staged another 2-out upset in the bottom of the seventh. Cookie singled, Burrows snuck a ball through former Furball Matt Hamilton that went unplayed as it went into foul ground for long enough to allow somewhat aged and stale Cookie to score on an RBI double, and THAT tied the game. Mora hit for Anderson, but flew out to Luis Leija. Was another comeback win in the works? Kevin Harenberg told you to better bet, homering off Hague with two down in the bottom 8th to put Portland on top, 4-3! With the left-hander Hamilton leading off the ninth, the Coons now tried to be cute and sent Brotman into the inning. The Aces pinch-hit with Saverio Piepoli, who flew out easily to Kopp, and only then came Snyder, rung up two, and this game was in the books! 4-3 Furballs! Harenberg 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Burrows 1-2, BB, 2B, RBI; Anderson 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K;

With a Crusaders loss on this Friday, the Raccoons moved into second place, but were still three games behind the damn Elks.

Game 2
LVA: CF Serrano – 3B A. Velez – 1B M. Hamilton – C T. Robinson – SS A. Medina – LF Raynor – RF Piepoli – 2B Moroyoqui – P Trotter
POR: 2B Spencer – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – SS Bullock – P Delgadillo

Everything went to plan for Portland when Delgadillo got bum-rushed for two homers by Tim Robinson and Ron Raynor in the second inning, putting Vegas up 2-0. Apparently, coming from behind was the new challenger way to go about the North. Unfortunately there was not only the problem of the Aces tacking on an unearned run in the third, which began with Serrano walking and Velez reaching on a Harenberg error, then saw two productive outs, but not only saw the Raccoons bat like under heavy sedation – which was the usual way of things here – but also saw Tovias thrown out at second base trying to stretch a leadoff single into two bases to begin the bottom 3rd. He was the only Critter to reach base at all the first time through. They had three hits total through five, but never put a paw on third base. When they finally did get on the board with a Harenberg leadoff jack in the bottom 7th they had successfully lulled most of the attendance to sleep. It took them even longer to draw a walk off Trotter, who had issued 102 free passes already this year, but didn't give out one to a Critter until Nunley drew four balls with two outs in the bottom 7th, but Tovias struck out to end the inning. A Spencer single made Jamieson the tying run in the bottom 8th, also with two down, and he also struck out against Trotter. The Coons' 6-game winning streak ended for good when the Aces tagged Alvin Smith for two runs in the ninth, including a Piepoli homer. 5-1 Aces. Harenberg 3-4, HR, RBI; Delgadillo 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, L (9-5);

Our marriage to second place had been but brief – the Crusaders zoomed past again.

Game 3
LVA: CF Serrano – 3B A. Velez – LF Raynor – 1B M. Hamilton – C T. Robinson – SS A. Medina – RF Bednarski – 2B Moroyoqui – P McCabe
POR: 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – LF Gerace – SS Stalker – P Nomura

No southpaw named Sam, instead Matt McCabe in the rubber game for Vegas, while the Coons stuck to their left-hander. There was also rain in the forecast for that extra bit of suspense. Without much delay though the Coons got a single from Spencer, a home run from Harenberg, and were up 2-0 in the first and both those guys also had 11-game hitting streaks as the week was about to end. The rain delay however was coming, and it came as early as the second inning after Rin Nomura had thrown only 26 pitches. He continued of a 45-minute delay, finishing the second inning with a final strike to Mike Bednarski (argh!), but the pen better not get too complacent out there… Nomura started the top 3rd with a leadoff walk to Moroyoqui, but the Aces had McCabe swing away – tough choice with a .122 batter – and he grounded to Stalker for a double play. And after THAT … Serrano reached on a throwing error by Tovias, going to second base, then scored on Alberto Velez' single. Ron Raynor's homer flipped the score, Hamilton doubled, and somehow Spencer got leather on Tim Robinson's scorched rocket. Well, that had gone quick.

Bottom 3rd, the Coons got back even at three with a walk to Mora to start the inning, then McCabe knocking Harenberg. Kopp grounded into a fielder's choice, but Nunley singled past Moroyoqui, bringing home Mora from third base to knot the tallies. Maybe McCabe was also melting away! Tovias ripped a 2-1 into shallow center to load the bases, but that brought up a do-or-die Gerace and a slumping Stalker. But guess what – both knocked RBI singles to the right side, putting Portland up 5-3, and that brought up Nomura's spot. And the Raccoons left him in, and fully expected to pay for it. For now, Nomura hit ANOTHER single to right, 6-3. Spencer hit a sac fly to left, plating Gerace and knocking out McCabe, with reliever Kevin Woodworth retiring Mora to end the inning in a 7-3 score. Nomura continued to look crummy, but maybe could still be carried through five. Bednarski (grrrr!) reached on a 1-out single in the fourth, but was caught astray of first when Moroyoqui lined out to Harenberg and was doubled off to end the inning. After all the hassle Nomura struck out the side in the fifth, but that was still all for him, although at day's end he had not allowed an earned run in the 7-3 game – all the Aces' runs had been on Tovias' errant throw.

Woodworth held up into the sixth before Mora and Harenberg reached base and occupied the corners. Terry Kopp hit an RBI double, 8-3, and then Nunley (!) was walked intentionally to load them up, which was then Mike Kress' problem, facing Tovias, who managed to just barely chip a 2-2 pitch into play and cause enough confusion to bring home a run on the groundout, and then Kress couldn't fully remove Gerace in that count, either, yielding an RBI single to right-center, which got the Coons into double digits and probably sealed their second straight 5-1 week. Stalker grounded out. Mora would add one final run with a sac fly in the seventh. 11-3 Furballs! Spencer 2-4, 2B, RBI; Harenberg 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Gerace 2-5, 2 RBI; Jamieson (PH) 1-1, 2B; Nomura 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (5-4) and 1-1, BB, RBI; Costilow 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

In other news

August 24 – Rookie DEN LF/CF Abel Madsen (.277, 5 HR, 12 RBI) will be out for up to four weeks with a sprained thumb.
August 24 – A sprained wrist could see SFB RF/LF Cesar Martinez (.273, 15 HR, 58 RBI) miss the rest of the season.
August 25 – Washington 3B/SS Guillermo Obando (.287, 2 HR, 58 RBI) churns out a triple, two doubles, and two singles for 7 RBI in the Capitals' 21-6 smothering of the Cyclones.
August 25 – NYC CL Steve Casey (5-4, 1.94 ERA, 40 SV) will be shut down for the next three weeks with a strained back muscle.
August 25 – OCT RF/LF Brett Dobbs (.163, 2 HR, 9 RBI) hits a walkoff home run for the only tally in the Thunder's 1-0, 10-inning win over the Aces.
August 26 – DEN INF Nick Herman (.239, 10 HR, 56 RBI) has a home run, two doubles, and two singles, driving in two in a 12-4 Gold Sox win over the Wolves.
August 28 – All the Canadiens need on Friday is a 7-run seventh to beat the Knights, 7-4.
August 29 – TIJ 1B Kevin McGrath (.314, 24 HR, 89 RBI) has a 20-game hitting streak thanks to two hits in the Condors' 6-5 loss to the Indians.
August 30 – Five different players land four hits apiece in a 13-10, 13-inning madhouse win for the Capitals over the Stars, but a Dallas player leads all in RBI; DAL OF/1B Adam St. Germaine (.264, 6 HR, 43 RBI) has only three hits, but two go for extra bases and he drives in six overall while going down to defeat with his team.
August 30 – Season over for BOS SP Jeremy Waite (10-11, 4.48 ERA); the 28-year-old is suffering from elbow tendinitis.

Complaints and stuff

Kevin Harenberg was Player of the Week again, for the second time this month. This week he batted .478 (11-23) and homered four times, driving in ten. Yup, he is RED HOT. Which is the main reason I made the Druid check all the important equipment. The stretcher, the defibrillator, the oxygen tank, the neck brace, the spare wheelchair, even Cristiano Carmona's wheelchair – once (not: if) Harenberg goes down to injury, he needs all the best treatment he can get!

5-1 once more! The Elks went even, and the top of the division is huddling up as we are almost at roster expansion. We have already plundered St. Pete for many of its riches, so maybe we should at this point look at what our DL can give us down the road. First, Kevin Surginer will come off the DL. He actually has to be activated on Monday, meaning somebody has to vacate the roster. Maybe Burrows. O'Dell pinch-hit twice on the weekend and while he went 0-2, Tovias will probably be able to go ONE day without breaking a leg!

The clock on Alberto Ramos reads four weeks, and there are five weeks left to play. *Crucially* the final week of the season will see us play the Elks and Crusaders *on the road* - I'd give an arm and a leg to have Ramos back by then!

News on Gomez and Gonzalez are rather grim; neither can be expected back before the end of the regular season.

Balls get past fielders all the time, but this month I think Matt Nunley finally showed his age. The total numbers don't really show it yet, but I feel like he is starting to lose his tight defensive grip on the hot corner.

What comes up next? We will be off to the East Coast next week, hitting up Atlanta and Boston. The Crusaders will be in for three the week after that. We actually have 17 games left with teams in the race in the North; seven with Boston, six with New York, and four with the goddamn Elks. And we are only 17-20 against these teams this season… we also lost our interleague complement this year, 8-10. We were on our best against the Arrowheads and the South; there is a chance that we win all the season series against the CL South teams.

Fun Fact: From 1983 through 1993, the Raccoons and Elks finished 1-2 in any order eight times, but have done so only once since.

That was of course 2012.

Ray Gilbert.

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The Raccoons sent Kevin Surginer on a faux rehab assignment to St. Petersburg on Monday to get him off the DL but avoiding a roster move on Monday; roster moves would only come upon us on Tuesday.

Raccoons (74-55) @ Knights (49-80) – August 31-September 2, 2026

The Knights were a sorry bunch, stuck with the second-fewest runs scored and the fifth-most runs allowed in the Continental League. There was some good pitching on the team, and they had even a top 3 bullpen, but the offense had either gotten old or crummy, or in some cases both. Nevertheless, the Coons were only 3-3 against them in this season.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (13-4, 3.46 ERA) vs. Chris Chatfield (4-13, 6.30 ERA)
Mark Roberts (12-8, 2.90 ERA) vs. Leon Hernandez (4-9, 4.48 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (9-6, 3.73 ERA) vs. Mario Rosas (11-13, 3.42 ERA)

Right, right, left, barring any call-ups twirling up their rotation.

Game 1
POR: 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – LF Carmona – SS Bullock – P Gutierrez
ATL: CF N. Hall – 3B V. Ramirez – SS Showalter – C Luna – RF G. Ramirez – 2B T. Jimenez – LF Stuckey – 1B M. Green – P Chatfield

Rico Gutierrez' first inning was from hell as the Knights tallied four hits, two runs (on Andrew Showalter's homer), and Rico chipped in a wild pitch and a balk for good measure. He also struck out three in the inning (Nate Hall, Ruben Luna, Johnny Stuckey), and when he struck out the side in the bottom 2nd that made every Knight coming to the plate either land a base hit or a whiff. While that run ended in the third inning, the Raccoons' year-long offensive coma wasn't likely to end anytime soon. They had four base hits in the first three innings, but either were caught stealing (Mora), or sent the pitcher to the plate with two outs and runners in scoring position (Nunley, Bullock). The hope remained to put something on the plate for Kevin Harenberg to homer home, which had worked well in recent history. Mora had been on board in the third, but alas, had been caught stealing. In the fifth, Spencer hit a 2-out single, Mora walked, and that did bring up Harenberg as the go-ahead run, and wouldn't you know it he smothered a 92mph fastball for 425 feet outta dead center to put the Raccoons on top, 3-2! This was in support of Rico, who struck out ten through five innings, but found himself on an escalating pitch count. How about some more offense? Tovias and Cookie got on base in the sixth inning, bringing up Bullock with one out. Brazil's Finest had a grand total of 1 RBI (in words: one run batted in) in 110 at-bats this season, and it was high time for another one. He sent a grounder up the middle that eluded Tony Jimenez for a single, and Nate Hall was so far away from the ball that even Elias Matias Tovias Diaz – Panama's Slowest Catcher for four years running – managed to score from second base, 4-2. Rico was up again with two in scoring position, but this time with one out, but didn't get to strike out even, being hit by Chatfield to load the bags. After Spencer popped out, Chatfield had Mora at 0-2 … then hit Abel, too, forcing home a run. That also brought up a slightly annoyed Harenberg, who didn't like his mates getting hit, and knocked out Chatfield with a 2-run single. Right-hander Yoo-chul Kim then faced Kopp, who was on three strikeouts but hit a clean single to right to add a run before Nunley flew out to left, making the first and last out in a 5-run inning. That proved to be well enough for Rico Gutierrez, who allowed a home run to Mike Green in the bottom of a seventh inning that he wouldn't finish, but Alvin Smith dug him out of there, and in fact after the shoddy first, Rico allowed only three base hits to the Knights anymore. The Raccoons administered their lead carefully, and won the game by five. 8-3 Coons. Harenberg 3-5, HR, 5 RBI; Bullock 2-4, 2B, RBI; Gutierrez 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, W (14-4);

Both Jarod Spencer (1-for-5) and Kevin Harenberg extended their 11-game hitting streak to a round dozen.

And with that, roster expansion was upon us. The Raccoons added a few extra right arms (Surginer, Derks), but stayed away for now from another long option (Juan Barzaga, a quad-A type that was already 30 years old and had a 4.21 ERA in 28 ABL appearances) as well as their sterling prospect, George James. The latter would come up after the conclusion of the minor league season.

We also added three bats in Kyle Koel, Butch Gerster, and … Omar Alfaro! #4 had batted .386/.465/.557 in angry fashion in St. Pete ever since his demotion.

Game 2
POR: 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – LF Gerace – SS Gerster – P Roberts
ATL: 3B M. Green – 2B T. Jimenez – SS Showalter – C Luna – LF Stuckey – CF Briscoe – RF Nieto – 1B M. Wright – P L. Hernandez

Mark Roberts' weird incompetence continued with very few strikeouts, quite a few walks, and while Jon Nieto was the only Knight to reach base the first time through, he reached all the bases in a single stroke, driving a leadoff jack over Kopp's head to put Atlanta up 1-0. Two 2-out walks to Green and Jimenez and Showalter's RBI double put the Knights even up 2-0. While the Coons as a whole did their precious-little routine again, Roberts loaded the sacks in the bottom 5th with walks to Green and Luna (who had struck out twice before) around a Showalter single. Johnny Stuckey flew out to center to end the inning, but on a 3-2 pitch. So far, the Raccoons were on two base hits through five, which was not bloody much. Roberts and Spencer made outs to begin the sixth, but then Abel Mora pumped a ball over the rightfield fence for a homer, shortening the gap to 2-1. It was 1-2 on Harenberg then when the imported darling slugger blasted a shot to left … yet foul. It was well outta the park, but on the wrong side of the pole – something that his next drive did better, but that one went to right, well inside the pole, and tied the game. HA-REN-BERG!! Or, as the fans at home have begun howling: KEVIIIIIIN!!

Then Roberts ****ed it all up again, hitting Nieto with one out in the bottom 6th, somehow getting Matt Wright out, but then allowed singles to Hernandez (…) and Green with two out, the latter plating Wright for a new Knights lead. Then Jimenez singled, and then Showalter hit a 2-run double for a 5-2 score and Roberts' early exit. The Knights continued to shred Kearney for two runs in the bottom 7th as they zoomed away, and the Raccoons had only one more base hit after their sixth-inning power surge. 7-2 Knights. Gerace 2-3, 2B;

Game 3
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – 3B Nunley – RF Alfaro – C Burrows – P Anderson
ATL: CF N. Hall – 3B V. Ramirez – C Luna – SS Showalter – LF Stuckey – 2B T. Jimenez – 1B Nieto – CF Briscoe – P Rosas

Spencer and Harenberg both extended their hitting streaks to 14 in the opening inning, although Spencer was thrown out trying to nip third base before Harenberg's single plated Tim Stalker for a quick 1-0 lead, and the Coons going up 1-0 was not a familiar sight in recent times… Understandably, Kyle Anderson was confused and couldn't handle it. Nate Hall singled, stole second, then scored on the destroyer Showalter's single up the middle to tie the game right away in the bottom 1st. Portland went on to slap four singles off Rosas in the top 2nd, plating a pair on the base hits by Alfaro, Spencer, Stalker, and Jamieson. The Hall/Showalter combo struck again however; Nate Hall dropped a bunt for a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd, advanced on a groundout by Vinny Ramirez, and was AGAIN singled in by Showalter, who seemed determined to singlehandedly keep the Coons out of the playoffs, a weird grudge for a career Blue Sock. Anderson also failed to contain Tony Jimenez after a leadoff double in the bottom 4th, blowing the lead on Cory Briscoe's RBI single that evened the score at three.

Anderson was still not hit for in the sixth inning despite the elongated bench and deepened pen after Jake Burrows reached on a single to begin the inning. His bunt went to third base, Vinny Ramirez' throw was aimed at second base, but ended up in rightfield, putting two on with no outs. So what do the Critters do? Ground to short twice; Spencer for a double play, and Stalker for the final out. The tie would only be broken the following inning, in which Harenberg hit a 1-out single, then got to second on Gerace's groundout. Matt Nunley had not looked very great against Rosas so far, so we did not expect anything good to happen now, but it was Nunley who drove a ball up the rightfield line and got it past Briscoe for a 2-out RBI double, putting Portland ahead 4-3, and Omar Alfaro hitting a double in the other direction even extended the score to 5-3.

The Raccoons were already in their pen after Anderson had not gotten through the sixth. Neither would Alvin Smith get through the seventh, conceding a run on a Hall single, a wild pitch, then a Ramirez single, 5-4. Billy Brotman dug him out, but then put Stuckey on base to begin the bottom 8th, and Ricky Ohl conceded the tying run on a D.J. Fullerton pinch-single. That was the third blown lead of the game for Portland – they just sucked when scoring first! Top 9th, Alfredo Morua trying his luck for Atlanta, with Justin Gerace lighting up an 0-for-4 day with a double into the gap to begin the inning. Nunley dropped a single between Stuckey and Hall, but Gerace had been forced to wait for it to fall in and couldn't score, as runners were now on the corners with nobody out for Alfaro, who was homerless through 63 AB in the Bigs this season and struck out. Cookie batted for Burrows and hit a sac fly to pretty deep right, giving Portland their fourth lead on the day before Koel hit for Ohl, and was out on a roll to short. The 6-5 was then Snyder's problem, and the Coons closer issued a leadoff walk to Nate Hall, which was so not good. However, Showalter was no longer in the game, having been subbed out with a balky knee. Vinny Ramirez popped out to Spencer. Ruben Luna flew out to easily to Gerace. Corey Flynn, no hits on the season in the cleanup slot, grounded over to Nunley, and Matt sealed the deal with a nifty play to first base. 6-5 Coons. Spencer 2-5; Stalker 4-5, RBI; Harenberg 2-5, RBI; Nunley 3-5, 2B, RBI; Alfaro 2-5, 2B, RBI;

The Elks matched our result day-by-day, but we are ahead of the Crusaders again, who are now 2 1/2 back of Vancouver.

And here come the Titans, who we can NEVER EVER win against…

Raccoons (76-56) @ Titans (71-61) – September 3-6, 2026

The Titans were seven games out but claimed that they still had perfectly good playoff chances due to the in-division-heavy schedule towards the end of the season. Step 1 would be to turn the Raccoons inside out once more, against whom they were already 7-4 this year, and much better in the previous four, all of which had ended with Titans championships. They were third in runs scored, sixth in runs allowed, and while they had been plagued by injuries during the summer, they were mostly back healthy, with the exception of SP Jeremy Waite, who was done for '26.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (9-5, 2.63 ERA) vs. Julio San Pedro (8-7, 3.29 ERA)
Rin Nomura (5-4, 3.07 ERA) vs. Matt Rosenthal (8-8, 4.58 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (14-4, 3.48 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (7-8, 4.09 ERA)
Mark Roberts (12-9, 3.05 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (9-8, 3.90 ERA)

Like during the week, only the last starter in the series will be a southpaw as far as our opposition was concerned.

Game 1
POR: 2B Spencer – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – RF Alfaro – SS Stalker – P Delgadillo
BOS: CF W. Vega – C Leonard – LF Kuramoto – RF Braun – SS Jam. Wilson – 2B R. West – 1B Elder – 3B Corder – P San Pedro

Boston sat on Delgadillo's face immediately, as Willie Vega walked on four pitches, was doubled in by Keith Leonard on a 3-1 pitch, and then Yaushiro Kuramoto hit an RBI single to make it 2-0. The Coons would not reach base until Alfaro singled in the third. Stalker also hit a clean single, and when Delgadillo bunted badly, San Pedro tried to get the lead runner but also threw badly, and Alfaro slid in safe as Adam Corder scrambled for the ball. Three on, nobody out! Fans of all ilk closed their eyes. One run scored on Spencer's groundout… and that was it. Mora flew out to shallow left, and Harenberg grounded out to Jay Elder at first.

Delgadillo lingered, allowing two hits and four walks through five innings, while the Raccoons stood around with blown-up cheeks and wondered how to crack San Pedro. Maybe a leadoff single by Spencer would get them going in the sixth? Mora swung at a 3-1 and lined it softly into shallow center for another single. Okay, well, boys – now a big one! Oh look, who's up – KEVIIIIIIIN!! San Pedro ran a full count, but couldn't get him out; finally, Keviiiiiin hit a ball into the gap, Kuramoto couldn't get to hit, and Harenberg raced all the way to third base with a score-flipping 2-run triple! Then the rest of the crew left Harenberg at third base. Kopp was walked intentionally, was forced out on Nunley's grounder, O'Dell whiffed, and Alfaro flew out to shallow center.

Delgadillo never got better and was knocked out with one down in the bottom 7th after consecutive singles by Corder and Keith Spataro. Kearney came on to face left-handers, but then was greeted by right-handed pinch-hitter Gus Gasso, whom he nailed on the first pitch, which was certainly ONE way to not give up a soul-killing 3-run homer. At least he threw a good anchor when Keith Leonard then spanked a 3-2 pitch back right at him. Kearney scrambled, fired home for the second out, and the lead-footed Leonard was easily doubled up before he could make it to first base, ending the inning. While Ricky Ohl retired the meat of the order in the eighth with two strikeouts and a grounder to second base, the Coons had a chance to create a cushion in the ninth. O'Dell singled, Alfaro struck out, Cookie and Jamieson had pinch-hit singles to load the bags against Javy Salomon. Spencer grounded to Corder, who fired home to kill off O'Dell, but Spencer was no Leonard and beat out the throw to first handily, which left Mora with a chance to do damage, but he grounded out to Rhett West instead. However, the Titans still had to get through Snyder! West flew out to Alfaro, Elder grounded out to Nunley, and Corder grounded speedily up the middle, but Spencer got to that ball and threw him out. 3-2 Furballs! Stalker 1-1, BB; Jamieson (PH) 1-1;

The Elks and Crusaders were idle on this Thursday, so the Coons crept to within 1 1/2 games of those stinkin' hooved menaces.

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

Spencer opened the game with an infield single, but was caught stealing, while Willie Vega began the bottom 1st with a single to center, took second successfully for his 26th steal, then scored on a Kuramoto double. Spencer had another infield single the next time up, then with two outs in the third and moving Nomura to second base after the pitcher had forced Tim Stalker with a bad bunt. Abel Mora grounded out pathetically to Gus Gasso to end the inning. In turn, Kuramoto had his second RBI double in the bottom 3rd, this one with two outs, and after Vega had been thrown out going first-to-third by Terry Kopp on Spataro's single. Nomura was adrift, Rosenthal wasn't so much. Rosenthal even got Harenberg to 0-for-2 with a grounder leading off the fourth, which was not something many pitchers had managed in the last few weeks, but then Kopp doubled over Kuramoto's head and Nunley dropped in a bloop single to put Coons on the corners with one out for Tovias, who struck out. Tim Stalker's 2-out single got the Coons on the board as it chased Kopp home, Cookie singled to load the bases, but Nomura grounded out to short, stranding three, but this was not the playoffs, you weren't batting for your pitcher in the fourth inning on September 6… yet, what do I know of the playoffs?

The fifth inning started with a throwing error by Spataro, putting Spencer on second base as the tying run. Two strikeouts and Kopp's fly to Kuramoto denied the Critters, while Kuramoto then denied his own team in the bottom of the inning, starting from first on Rhett West's 2-out single and aiming for third, but being thrown out by Abel Mora, the second out made by the Titans at third base. They were BEGGING for punishment for their naughtiness, but the Raccoons just wouldn't break out the whip. Maaaybe (…) in the seventh. Cookie laced Rosenthal's first pitch in the inning down the leftfield line for a double, once more representing the tying run in scoring position. Justin Gerace came off a crowded bench to hit for Nomura, and that was a gold move. Rosenthal fell to 2-0, came inside, and right into Justin's maws to allow him to wrap a 350-footer around the right foul pole, flipping the score in the process!

Now, the Coons had to be careful. They needed nine outs, and they probably wouldn't want to use Ohl and Snyder, if at all possible. They worked the seventh with Costilow and Boles against the bottom of the order, but each of them put a man on and Jay Elder struck out swinging really hard to end the inning against Josh Boles. After a poor top 8th, Kevin Surginer came on in a double switch that removed Kopp from the game and entered Alfaro in rightfield. In a perfect world, Surginer would get six outs without blowing the 3-2 lead. He struck out Spataro and Kuramoto before Braun flew out to center, so that was a job half well done through eight. Top 9th, Stalker with a leadoff double. Cookie flew out to left, Alfaro was walked intentionally – still a puzzling move with a .235 batter with no homers – and then Spencer singled to left. Stalker was sent around and thrown out at home by Kuramoto, the runners moved up, and then Harry Merwin plated an insurance run with a wild pitch before Mora could fly out. Surginer struck out West and Corder before falling to 3-1 on Gus Gasso. The first baseman poked at that point … and popped out to Spencer! 4-2 Coons! Spencer 3-5; Stalker 2-3, BB, 2B, RBI; Carmona 2-4, 2B; Gerace (PH) 1-1, HR, 2 RBI; Nomura 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, W (6-4); Surginer 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, SV (1);

Spencer's hitting streak lived, but Harenberg went 0-for-4 and ended up stranded in the on-deck circle in the ninth inning.

More important, the damn Elks lost to the Crusaders, and now the Coons were within sneezing distance of the division lead.

Game 3
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – LF Alfaro – C O'Dell – P Gutierrez
BOS: SS Spataro – 1B Elder – RF Braun – CF Reichardt – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – LF Kuramoto – C Leonard – P Shepherd

Stalker hit a triple to right in the first inning, but Harenberg struck out in a prolonged battle with Shepherd and Kopp grounded out to Spataro to waste the good opportunity. Instead, Rico had another rough opening inning, yielding a Jay Elder single, then a homer to Adam Braun. West also singled before the inning was over. The Coons kept completely missing the early innings of games while the Titans tacked on, Keith Spataro with a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd, a stolen base despite repeated pickoff attempts, and finally a 2-out single by curiously-absent heretofore Adrian Reichardt over Stalker's reaching mitten to bring home the runner.

Shepherd had a meltdown to begin the fourth inning, walking Harenberg and Kopp on eight pitches total to bring up the tying run in the game. Jamieson flew out to right before another walk to Nunley loaded the bags for Omar Alfaro, the career .239/.318/.377 disappointment. He embarrassingly popped out over the infield before O'Dell drove a ball to left, but into the glove of Kuramoto. Nobody scored, as usual. Rico Gutierrez hit a leadoff double in the fifth inning that led nowhere nice either, and the Titans merrily kept pummeling him in return; two doubles for a run in the fifth, then a Corder triple, Kuramoto's sac fly, and 2-out singles by the left-handers Leonard and Shepherd (…) in the bottom 6th. Steve Costilow walked the bases full, then had Nunley spear a sharp bouncer by Jay Elder and throw to first in time to end the inning. The Raccoons never made another move even vaguely threatening, and the Titans let the game fizzle out against Nick Derks after this, too. 5-0 Titans. Nunley 1-2, 2 BB; Derks 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

Only three hits in total for the team against Shepherd, Salomon, and Mike Stank. Not included in this total was Spencer, so we had no active hitting streaks anymore.

Also, with another Crusaders win over the damn Elks (and in style, see below!), the top three in the division were now within half a game of another with 27 or 28 games to play.

Game 4
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – C O'Dell – RF Kopp – 3B Gerster – P Roberts
BOS: LF W. Vega – 1B Elder – CF Reichardt – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – RF F. Rodriguez – 2B J. Perez – C Leonard – P Wingo

Corder and Fernando Rodriguez doubles put the Titans up 1-0 in the second inning as Roberts continued to be not sharp at all and the Raccoons offense refused to go early. Wingo struck out four and yielded only a Harenberg single the first time through, while Roberts began the bottom 3rd with a leadoff single allowed to Vega, then a wild pitch, then drilled Elder. After the pitching coach came out, but didn't even go to the mound, instead hollering some choice words from the sideline, Roberts K'ed Reichardt, got a groundout from Corder, and popped up Spataro to get out of the inning.

By the fourth inning, the Titans lost Wingo to injury. Left-handed rookie John Logsdon inherited Stalker on first base after a 1-out walk, faced Jamieson and Harenberg, both of whom hit balls hard, and neither of them got them to fall in. Rodriguez and Reichardt made good plays, respectively, to keep the Coons shut out. The 26-year-old Logsdon would strike out four on a run through the order as he excelled in unexpected long relief, and also did away with Jamieson and Harenberg again in the seventh. Harenberg remained the only Raccoon with a base hit in the game, right up until Gerace rammed a 1-1 fastball over the leftfield fence for a score-tying homer. Roberts carried that tie through the seventh, where he retired the bottom of the order, but the Coons would not get him a win any which way. Ricky Ohl faced the top of the order in the bottom 8th, dropped a 1-out single to Jay Elder, but pulled through the inning, and, after more NOTHING from the Critters in the top 9th, also retired Spataro to begin the bottom 9th before Kearney whiffed a pair to send the game to extras. Merwin retired the Raccoons in order once more in the 10th, but Kearney lost the game on a pinch-hit single by Giovanni James and Gil Cornejo's walkoff double. 2-1 Titans. Roberts 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K;

In other news

August 31 – The hitting streak of TIJ 1B Kevin McGrath (.315, 24 HR, 91 RBI) ends at 21 games after he is held out to dry by the Titans in a 5-1 Condors victory.
August 31 – A solo home run by LVA LF/RF Luis Leija (.275, 8 HR, 41 RBI) in the first inning is all the scoring that the Aces' 1-0 win over the Crusaders will see.
September 1 – At the worst time, the Buffaloes lose 1B/2B Chris Owen (.333, 11 HR, 56 RBI) to an intercostal strain. The 31-year-old is expected to be out three weeks.
September 2 – LVA OF Tom Dunlap (.360, 0 HR, 10 RBI) is out with a sprained thumb. The 24-year-old sophomore could be out for the season.
September 3 – ATL SP Jim Shannon (9-11, 3.45 ERA) is headed for Tommy John surgery with a torn UCL and will miss the next 12 months.
September 3 – LAP SP Shane Baker (13-10, 3.51 ERA) 3-hits the Gold Sox in a 4-0 win.
September 3 – TOP 3B/1B Brett Blades (.212, 4 HR, 14 RBI) ends a 10-inning affair with the Cyclones with a walkoff grand slam off CIN CL Troy Charters (3-7, 4.25 ERA, 25 SV), giving the Buffaloes a 7-3 win.
September 4 – RIC RF/CF Dan Dalton (.321, 6 HR, 41 RBI) is likely out for the season with a strained hammy.
September 5 – The Canadiens emerge dazed from an encounter with NYC SP Mike Rutkowski (15-8, 1.97 ERA), who strikes out ten and walks one batter in a 2-0 Crusaders win. Most importantly, he allows no hits for the 50th no-hitter in ABL history, and the fifth in Crusaders lore, for whom Jaylen Martin had most recently thrown a no-hitter in 2017.
September 6 – The Falcons hope to have 1B Pat Fowlkes (.282, 19 HR, 66 RBI) back before the end of the season. The 30-year-old is laboring on a quad strain.
September 6 – Stars and Wolves play scoreless ball into the 13th inning before DAL OF/1B Adam St. Germaine (.269, 8 HR, 48 RBI) lifts his team with a solo home run for a 1-0 win.

Complaints and stuff

The offense drives me crazy. I should probably get a stamp with that sentence. (opens the drawers of the desk one by one) Oh, we do have such a stamp!

The offense drives me crazy. The offense drives me crazy. The offense drives me crazy. The offense drives me crazy. The offense drives me crazy. The offense drives me crazy. The offense drives me crazy. The offense drives me crazy. The offense drives me crazy.

Wonderful! Maud – When did we get the "The offense drives me crazy" stamp? – Oh, yeah, '05 was rough.

Any which way, the division lead could have and should have been ours, at least a share of it. They should not have lost the Sunday game. The least bit of effort would have won that one. Now we are back in third place, and have to play the Crusaders next.

It is time to look at the stretch programs for all four teams still relevant in the North. Yes, even the Titans are relevant. They didn't win four rings in a row BY SITTING ON THEIR DUMB BUMS ALL THE TIME (hollers at random players heard in the office next door).

Down the stretch – games remaining per team – strength of schedule – playoff chance as divined by BNN:
NYC (79-57): POR (6), IND (4), VAN (4), ATL (3), BOS (3), MIL (3), OCT (3) – .505 – 45.6%
VAN (78-57): MIL (7), NYC (4), POR (4), BOS (3), IND (3), LVA (3), TIJ (3) – .498 – 23.2%
POR (78-58): NYC (6), CHA (4), VAN (4), BOS (3), IND (3), MIL (3), SFB (3) – .504 – 30.3%
BOS (73-63): IND (7), OCT (4), ATL (3), MIL (3), NYC (3), POR (3), VAN (3) – .491 – 0.9%

Well, we will get around the Thunder, which is good, but I really would like the extra series against the Loggers or Indians… The Raccoons are however the most in control of their own fate with 13 games left against the other three teams, ten games left against the top two, and all games in their final week against the top two.

Why am I shivering while saying that?

Fun Fact: The Raccoons are the team most frequently no-hit by the Crusaders. Two of New York's five no-hitters came against the Coons.

That's Carlos Guillen in 1985, then George Kirk in 2004. Kirk was the second half of the pair of completely useless pitchers that featured in early-00's no-hitters that Coons and Crusaders (both teams being then deep in the bin) tossed against one another, the first having been the entirely forgettable Bob Joly on May 17, 2000, the fourth Raccoon to toss a no-hitter, but the first to no-hit the Crusaders. There was another one later – Jose Dominguez in 2007.
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Raccoons (78-58) vs. Crusaders (79-57) – September 8-10, 2026

Every game was golden now, and none more than the six remaining against the Crusaders, who were up in this Tuesday-Thursday series as well as in a distant time at the very end of the season. By virtue of an Elks loss on Monday, the Crusaders were up a full game on both of their fiercest competitors, but that was nothing a Portland series win wouldn't be able to fix for now. They still had a pathetic batting average, .239, third-worst in the CL, and were only eighth in runs scored, so worse than the Raccoons, but their pitching was the finest, they had the best starters' ERA, the best bullpen ERA, and the fewest runs allowed, and we were in a boatload of trouble. The season series, however, showed the Raccoons up significantly: 8-4 for the Critters through a dozen.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (9-6, 3.77 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (10-9, 4.36 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (10-5, 2.64 ERA) vs. Carlos Marron (14-6, 1.77 ERA)
Rin Nomura (6-4, 3.07 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (15-8, 1.97 ERA)

Oh boy. Three right-handers are coming up. The Crusaders had two key relievers on the DL in Steve Casey and Gilberto Castillo – which is a ****ty battle plan; get choked for eight, then upend Travis Giordano.

Boatload o' trouble!

Game 1
NYC: C F. Delgado – CF Shaffer – 3B Schmit – RF Ellis – 2B McWhorter – LF I. Vega – 1B Douglas – SS R. Soto – P Cannon
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – 1B Harenberg – RF Kopp – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – LF Carmona – P Anderson

Abel Mora hit a leadoff single in the bottom 2nd and took second base by force, which took the double play off on Tovias' grounder and after Matt Nunley had popped out. Mora was at third with two outs for Cookie, whom the Crusaders judged so little that they did not break out the intentional walk, and Cookie lined a soft one to center for a 2-out RBI single, the first run in the game. Even better, Anderson lined a ball up the leftfield line for a double that drove Cookie all the way to home plate and put the score at 2-0 after two innings, however the Crusaders made up a run immediately in the third inning. It was unearned thanks to Harenberg overrunning Lance Douglas' grounder. Douglas stole second base, advanced on Robby Soto's groundout, then scored on Cannon's fly to right. The Crusaders continued to not need many base hits to stir up some damage. While the Coons had a single each in the third (Stalker) and fourth (Cookie), they scored neither runner, and allowed Tom McWhorter to tie the score with a solo shot in the top 5th. It was two hits, two runs for New York, compared to six hits, two runs for Portland.

There were still more chances to miss. The Coons had Spencer and Harenberg (the latter with an intentional walk) aboard in the bottom 5th when Terry Kopp smacked into an inning-ending double play, but the Crusaders got a gut-squeezing leadoff double from Cannon in the sixth and left him stranded, too. In short order, the Coons took a 3-2 lead on Elias Tovias' 410-footer in the bottom 6th, then blew it on Ivan Vega's solo shot in the seventh. That one knocked out Anderson, with Jeff Kearney retiring PH Jamie Richardson to end the seventh. But that was not it for solo home runs. Bitterly, switch-hitting Nate Ellis took Josh Boles deep to left in the ninth inning, giving the Crusaders their first lead in the game, and there was Travis Giordano to try and nail it down. He retired Nunley, Jamieson, and Koel in order to end the game. 4-3 Crusaders. Carmona 2-3, RBI;

And that was the one starting pitcher NOT with a stat line from out of this world…

Game 2
NYC: C F. Delgado – LF Espinosa – 3B Schmit – RF Ellis – 1B J. Richardson – 2B McWhorter – CF Douglas – SS Kane – P Marron
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – RF Carmona – P Delgadillo

My mood was gloomy before this game, even though technically Dan Delgadillo was also in the top 3 in ERA in the Continental League and certainly a match for Marron; but the problem was that our offense was likely not. However, there was rain in the forecast, so maybe the weather could deal damage to Marron? Although, completely unexpectedly, the Coons did squeeze out a counter against Marron in the first inning: Mora hit a 2-out double, Harenberg was brushed by a pitch, and then Gerace singled to right. With one out, Mora probably wasn't gonna score, but there were two, and he DID score thanks to the early jump. Nunley grounded out to strand a pair, and now Yusneldan just had to be perfect from here and – oh dear, leadoff walk to Nate Ellis, double by Jamie Richardson, and in the top 2nd the Crusaders had runners on second and third and nobody retired. While I didn't dare looking, Delgadillo rung up McWhorter, got Douglas on a great Mora hustle coming in from centerfield for a catch so shallow that Ellis had not the whiff of a chance to go and score, an intentional walk got rid of Mike Kane, and then Marron struck out on pure acid. Slappy, can I exhale now? Is it over? Are we champions?

We weren't, and we weren't likely to become some. The rain struck in the top 3rd, with both pitchers at around 40 pitches. Delgadillo returned afterwards, but had already a man on, surrendered a game-tying RBI triple to Andy Schmit, then the go-ahead sac fly to Ellis. Delgadillo wouldn't last five thanks to rain and the general high urgency, departing in a 2-2 tie (attained with Tim Stalker's solo homer in the bottom 3rd), but Felipe Delgado and Schmit aboard with two outs in the fifth. Billy Brotman came on and struck out Nate Ellis to leave Dan with a no-decision. Marron had used fewer pitches after the delay, probably being affected less, but that also meant that the Crusaders were walking in a thin line as the game turned into the bottom 6th. Justin Gerace hit a leadoff single over the head of McWhorter, and at what point would the Crusaders twitch and go to the sterling pen? Not yet! With Gerace starting early, Matt Nunley drove a ball to deep center, over the head of Lance Douglas, and the speedy Gerace had no problem coming home on the double, giving Portland a 3-2 lead! But in a pattern all too familiar, the Coons left Nunley on base when O'Dell and Cookie grounded out, and Kopp went down on strikes in the #9 hole. And then they couldn't hold on to the lead, either. Alvin Smith retired two in the seventh, then put Juan Espinosa on base. Espinosa stole second on a terrible throw by O'Dell that almost got away, then scored on Andy Schmit's single off Josh Boles, and we were even again. Costilow and Kearney squeezed through the eighth, still in a tie, before Jonathan Snyder took over in the ninth. The good thing was that the plentitude of left-handed New York bats had by now mostly been pinch-hit for as the Coons had paraded all their left-handed relief into action, and that mostly only right-handed bats were left over. The bad news were a leadoff walk to nondescript Dean Hill to begin the ninth, but Snyder pulled through the inning by retiring the next three. The walkoff rally had to begin with Cookie, facing Giordano again. He hit a 3-2 pitch to shallow right for a single, which put Tovias, having arrived in a double switch along with Snyder, into an obvious bunt spot. That one worked well, the winning run went to second base, and another single by another singles slapper would do. However, Spencer grounded out to third, and Jamieson struck out when he batted for Tim Stalker, stranding Cookie on second base and sending the game to extras.

Roger Allen greeted Snyder with a leadoff jack in the top 10th, putting the Coons behind the #8 ball again. Giordano also hung around for another inning, but allowed a leadoff single to Abel Mora. Worse yet Ivan Vega overran the ball for an extra base, so the tying run was at second base. And they got him home – albeit excruciatingly slowly on a poor groundout by Harenberg, then Gerace' easy fly to center that allowed Mora to tag third and go home. Nunley's 2-out single didn't figure to be much with Omar Alfaro now hitting for Snyder, but Giordano threw a wild 1-2 pitch to move Nunley to second. In a whiff, Butch Gerster was sent to run for him, because Nunley was unlikely to come home on a single (and Bullock was already in the game at short), however the more pressing problem was the unlikelihood of Omar Alfaro hitting a single. Of course he struck out. Bottom 11th, Jarod Spencer hit a 2-out single off Casey Moore but was caught stealing. Bottom 12th, Daniel Bullock drew a leadoff walk(!), then advanced on Mora's groundout, but that was speed at second and a single would do! The Crusaders walked Harenberg intentionally for the first time in the game, but then also walked Gerace not quite as intentionally, but with three on and one out, they also were in the weeds department of the Coons lineup as Butch Gerster came up. Moore, though, was out of control now. He threw one ball, two balls, and Gerster got a sign (written on cardboard) from the dugout that if he swung, he'd be abandoned in an orphanage. He didn't swing, Moore never threw a strike, and with a 4-pitch walk completed, the Coons walked off on Butch Gerster's first career RBI. 5-4 Furballs! Spencer 2-6, 2B; Bullock 0-0, BB; Mora 3-6, 2 2B; Gerace 2-4, BB, 2 RBI; Gerster 0-0, BB, RBI; O'Dell 2-4; Ohl 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, W (7-4);

Okay, back even. Problem is, we still will face a monster in the rubber game, and we burned both of our best relievers.

Game 3
NYC: CF Ugolino – 1B Espinosa – 3B Schmit – RF Ellis – LF R. Allen – 2B McWhorter – C Leal – SS Kane – P Rutkowski
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – RF Alfaro – P Nomura

Dice were out as soon as the second inning. After Nomura had struck out the side in the opening frame, the second saw him more a-struggle, issuing a walk to Roger Allen and allowing a 2-out double to Armando Leal. Those two were in scoring position with the left-handed Kane up and first base open. But Nomura had already three left-handed trophies on his belt – how was a left-handed batter EVER going to get another hit off him? He pitched to Kane, and Kane struck out, leaving two adrift. The Raccoons actually loaded the bases in the bottom 2nd. Harenberg, who was homerless for a week, worrisomely, led off with a single, Tovias walked, and Alfaro hit another single, bringing up Nomura with two outs and all bases occupied. He grounded to McWhorter, and the veteran unleashed a poor throw to first that Espinosa could not come up with – a run scored on the error! That was not all, nope, for once, the Coons pounced, and pounced HARD. Jarod Spencer hit a liner into the gap for a 2-run double. Rutkowski stalked Walker, err, walked Stalker, then allowed a soft line into left to Mora that fell for an RBI single before losing Harenberg to a walk in a full count, pushing in another run. He threw the anchor on Gerace, striking him out for the second time in the game, but the wholly unearned 5-spot put the Raccoons into a WONDERFUL spot.

Thank goodness Nomura was ON. He rung up nine through four innings and did not allow a Crusader on base before the Coons loaded them up again in the bottom 5th, this time without the aid of an error, but also without an out on the board. Mora singled, Harenberg doubled, Gerace walked after laying off the junk food. Nunley largely killed the inning with a 4-6-3 double play, but up by five the Raccoons would be entirely happy with the insurance run. Don't disturb Nomura's yusaburu with a long inning! Espinosa would finally reach base for New York with a 2-out single in the sixth, but Schmit got rung up for K #10 and that was that. And even though it was 6-0, it didn't get dull. Nomura ripped a double down the line with one down in the bottom 6th, then moved to third on a Spencer single, only for Stalker to smack into a double play. Nomura drilled Ellis to begin the seventh, put McWhorter on with a sorry bloop, but then got a double play from Leal to clean up and end the inning. That also put him at 105 pitches. The Raccoons took Justin Stewart apart in the bottom 7th with a Mora single, Harenberg single, Gerace's run-scoring groundout, then an RBI double by Nunley, 8-0, before the inning fizzled out. Nomura was back out for the eighth, because there were left-handed bats up and there was my known reluctance to go lefty-for-lefty on the mound, especially when all southpaws had been used the previous day and the team was up by eight. Kane popped out and Nomura rung up Vega and Fabien Ugolino in quick fashion, and suddenly he was an option for the ninth! Except that the Coons hit for him leading off the bottom 8th. At 115 and up by eight there was no need to risk anything. Steve Costilow retired the Crusaders in order in the ninth. 8-0 Critters! Spencer 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 2-4, BB, RBI; Harenberg 3-3, BB, 2B, RBI; Nomura 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K, W (7-4) and 1-3, 2B;

The Elks completed a 4-game split with the Loggers on Thursday, which meant that before the weekend games, all the top three were exactly even at 80 wins, 59 losses. The Titans were 4 1/2 behind after winning three of four from Indy, including a double-header on Monday.

We were now off to Milwaukee, the Elks had Indy on their plate, and the East Coast teams would be amongst themselves.

Raccoons (80-59) @ Loggers (58-81) – September 11-13, 2026

The Loggers had just let the Elks stumble, so this was not an auto-win here. The Coons had to do something to stay above the waterline. Of course the Loggers were rancid, in the bottom three in both runs scored and runs allowed, and with a -118 run differential overall, but the Coons were only 9-6 against them on the season, either. However: there was an absolute storm of injuries to the Loggers team as well. With Willie Trevino, Ian Coleman, and Ron Tadlock (among others!) all on the DL, most teeth had been pulled from an already weak lineup, and they had scored more than three runs only twice in eight attempts this month.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (14-5, 3.62 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (3-11, 5.55 ERA)
Mark Roberts (12-9, 2.99 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (9-9, 4.31 ERA)
Kyle Anderson (9-6, 3.73 ERA) vs. Jorge Villalobos (12-5, 3.05 ERA)

That should be three right-handed bats, bypassing the pair of southpaws they had in the rotation.

Game 1
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – 3B Nunley – RF Kopp – C O'Dell – P R. Gutierrez
MIL: RF V. Diaz – LF Hyland – 1B R. Amador – SS Ferrer – 3B A. Mesa – CF S. Green – C T. Williams – 2B M. Hill – P Rogers

After nobody on either team reached base in the first two innings, although Rico was soul- and zone-searching with a few 3-ball counts, Brett O'Dell hit a 1-out single in the third to become the game's first runner. Gutierrez promptly got him forced out with a poor bunt, but then the Coons churned out straight 2-out hits. Spencer singled, Stalker singled and scored Rico. Mora hit a 2-run double off the fence in the right corner, and then Harenberg singled to right, but Mora was thrown out at home plate after being sent by a greedy team, ending the inning in a 3-0 score. The fourth saw the bags full again, but the Loggers walked O'Dell intentionally with ONE out to get there, and Rico didn't disappoint them, hitting into a double play to end the inning. Rico had other issues, too, like not making wipeout pitches. The first 12 Loggers in the game all put the ball in play, and while all were retired, things remained worrisome after a leadoff walk to Manny Ferrer in the bottom 5th, then a wild pitch. Alex Mesa struck out, but Rico also walked Sam Green before Travis Williams and Matt Hill made poor outs on the infield to bail out the Coons' meandering southpaw. Then the Loggers went down on four pitches in the bottom 6th…

Top 7th, bases loaded again, now with two outs after a Gutierrez single, Stalker single, and Mora walking on five pitches. That brought up Harenberg who still had not homered in ten days and who could conceivably put this one to bed, yes, please? OH A DRIVE TO RIGHT!! Past Diaz, not out, but in, and all the way to the fence! Gutierrez in, Stalker in to score, here comes Mora – bases-clearing double for Kevin Harenberg!! Oh, the trades we do!! Meanwhile, Rico Gutierrez came within seven outs of an unlikely no-hitter, while walking Ferrer again in the bottom 7th. Sam Green hit a 2-out single, but Gutierrez got Williams on the umpteenth poor grounder of the game. Vinny Diaz had a 2-out single in the following inning, which again did not spark a rally. Rico was on 96 pitches through eight, so although he was by no means sharp, he sure was effective and he would also get to try his paw at the ninth and another shutout. But before that Gutierrez could get a shot, another Gutierrez got shot; that was Alex Gutierrez, a Loggers lefty, that the Raccoons stripped down and ate alive for three runs, most key being a 2-run triple by Justin Gerace. Bottom 9th, up by nine, Rico got Roberto Amador to ground out to Kyle Koel, a defensive replacement for Harenberg at first base, then popped out Ferrer. With two outs, Jon Berntson walked, Sam Green singled, and Rico would have one last shot against Travis Williams, a .177 righty, and he eviscerated him with the best pitches of the game for only his second strikeout of the night! 9-0 Furballs!! Spencer 2-5; Stalker 2-5, RBI; Mora 2-3, 2 BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Harenberg 3-5, 2 2B, 4 RBI; O'Dell 2-3, BB, 2B; Gutierrez 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 2 K, W (15-5) and 1-4;

This was Rico Gutierrez' fifth career shutout … AGAINST THE LOGGERS. He has eight in total for his career, three this season, and of those three, two against Milwaukee.

Yup, they hate him.

As an aside, while they had been spiritually eliminated in May, this game also erased them from mathematical contention.

The 3-way tie became a 2-way tie as the Elks dropped their game to Indy, but New York beat Boston.

Game 2
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – RF Kopp – C O'Dell – P Roberts
MIL: RF V. Diaz – LF Hyland – C J. Young – CF S. Green – SS Ferrer – 3B A. Mesa – 1B T. Williams – 2B M. Hill – P D. Soto

Three hits, a strafed batter (Harenberg), and a bases-loaded walk drawn by Terry Kopp produced two runs for the Raccoons in the opening inning, and it didn't get much better for Danny Soto, who allowed a leadoff single to Roberts into shallow center in the top 2nd, then a Spencer double. Abel Mora hit a ball off the wall to drive in two more, and Matt Jamieson would get the score to 5-0 in the early going with an RBI single to center. That should be enough for Roberts, you'd think, but think twice maybe, because Roberts had not been gold for a while now, doing better than a 70 Game Score only twice in his last nine attempts, and being tagged for five runs twice, although he was 2-0 in three attempts against the Loggers this season.

The Loggers had no base hits the first time through the order. Phil Hyland dropped a single into left in the bottom 4th, was caught stealing, and after that Sam Green tripled. That would have been funny if Manny Ferrer hadn't jacked a 2-out 2-piece right afterwards, followed by a deep Alex Mesa drive that caused Jamieson to shed some sweat in deep left to make the catch, and it was 5-2 after four. Soto was knocked out in the top 5th after singles by Jamieson and Nunley. A Hyland error fielding the Jamieson ball put the lead runner at third base by the time Kopp flew out to Sam Green in center. Jamieson went and scored, colliding with Jim Young at home plate, but both emerged unhurt from the encounter as it was now 6-2. Make no mistake, the Loggers were still in this one; they were hitting the ball well off Roberts, but mostly into outs, but when a Harenberg error put Matt Hill on base in the bottom 5th we got nervous. Alex Gutierrez – on in relief again – bunted the runner over, but Vinny Diaz struck out to end the inning, the fourth victim for Roberts in the game and #183 this year. The ball kept flying though, and in the case of Green's drive with two outs in the sixth it flew outta here once more, a solo homer to get the Loggers back to 6-3, and Alex Mesa's leadoff jack in the seventh made it 6-4 already, and it knocked out Roberts. Kevin Surginer replaced him and struck out the side. Additional offense would not be unwelcome for Portland, but they got Mora on with a single, he stole a base, but that put Harenberg on intentionally, and then he got forced out on a Jamieson grounder, and Nunley flew out to Sam Green to strand two. Ohl and Kearney took care of the 1-2-3 batters in the bottom 8th, setting up Snyder, who allowed a mighty fly to left to Sam Green that was caught by Jamieson, then a pair of softer singles to Ferrer and Mesa, bringing up the winning run in left-handed pinch-hitter Ruben Roque. (Who?) Snyder rung him up, then got Jon Berntson to fly out easily to Abel Mora to end the game. 6-4 Raccoons! Spencer 2-6, 2B; Stalker 2-5; Mora 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Harenberg 1-2, 2 BB; Jamieson 2-5, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1;

The Elks won, but the Crusaders LOST, and thus the Raccoons were in first place by themselves for the first time since… the final day of May!

Now let's not **** up the Sunday game…

Game 3
POR: 2B Spencer – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – RF Alfaro – C O'Dell – SS Bullock – P Anderson
MIL: LF V. Diaz – 2B Rinehart – C J. Young – 3B A. Mesa – SS Ferrer – 1B R. Amador – CF Hyland – RF Roque – P Villalobos

The Raccoons put up a quick run as Spencer singled, stole second, then scored on Jamieson's single. Mora hit into a double play, making Harenberg's following double somewhat less useful, and the Loggers turned things around quickly with a walk drawn by Jim Young and then Mesa's 2-run homer in the bottom of the inning. Anderson opened the third with a single, however, and then Spencer was gently tickled on the chest by a Villalobos pitch to put two aboard. Jamieson drove a ball to right, but Ruben Roque caught the ball; Anderson however raced for third base, putting them on the corner for Mora with one down. Although Mora flew out to Hyland in centerfield, the ball was plenty deep and Anderson got to dash home to tie the game. Harenberg then grounded out to Roberto Amador.

The fourth inning was the second moment where Daniel Bullock proved actually worth the oxygen this week. Nunley and Alfaro had hit singles to begin the frame, but O'Dell had struck out rippin'. Bullock hit a liner perfectly well into the gap, and while Diaz prevented it from reaching the warning track, it was plenty deep for an RBI double to score Nunley, but Alfaro was kept at third base thanks to the strong defensive play. Anderson got *drilled*, loading them up for Spencer, who was sniffing 200 base this and was only eight removed; also unretired in the game, but hit into a double play, textbook 6-4-3 style to end the inning. However, the Coons tagged on in the fifth with a Mora single, Nunley RBI double, Alfaro RBI single, O'Dell single, and then finally Bullock popping out foul to keep it at 5-2. What was up with the offense? They were suddenly exciting!

Also still exciting and totally not dead yet were the Loggers, who hit not one, but TWO triples in the bottom 5th. Hyland got on with a three-bagger, scored on a groundout by PH Jon Berntson in the #9 hole, and then Diaz hit another triple with two outs, but was left on by Jeff Rinehart. The Loggers were back on the corners with nobody out in the bottom 6th after a Young double and Mesa single, and things got dicey now, because those were the tying runs. Anderson got to see Ferrer, a right-hander, who flew out to Alfaro in shallow right, but that was it. Josh Boles came on for Amador, who was not pinch-hit for as a counter-move, and walked to load the bases. Then Phil Hyland hit a grand slam on an 0-2 pitch.

That got the Loggers fans chirping, while the Raccoons felt a giant hole open underneath their paws. No-no-no-no! This was supposed to be the game to fortify first place before things got tough again next week! Well, tough luck, Boles had blown it. The team, out-hitting the Loggers 12-7, now trailed 7-5 thanks to a lack of homers. It only got worse. Matt Nunley drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, was thoroughly ignored, and instead Jeff Rinehart hit a 440-footer off Nick Derks in the bottom 7th, 8-5. Top 8th, leadoff pinch-hit single by Tim Stalker off Travis Feider, who was replaced with righty David Warn. Spencer hit into a fielder's choice, and Jamieson grounded to short for what looked like a mood killer, but Ferrer misfired the ball and the error brought up the tying run with one out. Warn lost Mora on balls, and that brought up Harenberg, who had no home runs on the week, and this was the PERFECT spot. And he hit a 1-1 pitch into a double play. That was that, except that Phil Hyland hit a 450-footer off Steve Costilow in the bottom 8th. 9-5 Loggers. Jamieson 2-5, RBI; Mora 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Nunley 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Alfaro 2-4, BB, RBI; Stalker (PH) 1-1;

We out-hit them 13-9. We also left 13 on base. They left NOBODY on base.


In other news

September 7 – Only five games are on in the Continental League, but of those two go extra innings, and see both teams tally runs in an add-on frame but play will continue for another hour. Falcons and Knights both score two in the 10th, but it takes the Knights 14 innings to win 8-7, while Thunder and Bayhawks both plate one run in the 13th, but it takes Oklahoma City 18 innings to secure a 5-4 walkoff win.
September 8 – SFB LF/RF/1B Jon Correa (.285, 13 HR, 54 RBI) is out for the season with a pretty bad concussion.
September 8 – The Wolves break out for seven runs in the sixth inning against the Scorpions, which is not nearly enough to put a chink in the armor for Sacramento. The Scorpions score five or more runs in an inning three times in the game and run away in a 17-7 rout.
September 9 – OCT SP Mike Homa (14-9, 4.07 ERA) could face a year on the sidelines with undisclosed elbow ligament damage.
September 11 – SAC C David Drews (.309, 28 HR, 94 RBI) drills a walkoff home run in the 11th inning for the lone tally in the Scorpions' 1-0 win over Dallas.
September 11 – IND SP Brian Leser (2-7, 4.20 ERA) retires after several setbacks in his recovery from a torn rotator cuff. The 32-year-old right-hander went 73-77 with a 4.18 ERA in a 10-year career playing for four different teams.
September 11 – WAS 3B David Flournoy (.284, 10 HR, 47 RBI) retires due to the ill effects from a severe concussion. The 27-year-old from Colorado was only allowed a 3-year career, batting .278 with 29 HR and 165 RBI between Oklahoma City and Washington.
September 12 – The Indians not only get crushed 12-0 by the Canadiens, but also are held to two base hits by 30-year-old VAN SP Warren Polito (15-10, 2.96 ERA).
September 13 – A home run by RIC C Matt Dehne (.243, 9 HR, 63 RBI) is all the scoring in the Rebels' 1-0 win over the Cyclones.

Complaints and stuff

Philosophical question – are four walks by a struggling reliever in the bottom 12th the only way for the Coons do win a do-or-die game? Take into consideration that they can't even win a game in which the Loggers leave nobody on base. But we ARE in first place, even if it smells in first place, and even if the Titans are our next opponent. After that, the Falcons for four, including a makeup for a postponement earlier this season.

Both the Titans and Elks had walkoff wins on Sunday. Boston beat New York in 14, while the Elks blew up a 3-1 Indians lead with two homers in the ninth, including a 3-run walkoff shot by Tim Campbell, a 26-year-old rookie that was a fourth-rounder in 2021. It's his first career dinger. Just be glad it didn't come off Snyder on September 29…

Down the stretch – games remaining per team – strength of schedule – playoff chance as divined by BNN:
POR (82-60): CHA (4), VAN (4), BOS (3), IND (3), NYC (3), SFB (3) – .499 – 47.9% (+17.6%)
VAN (82-60): NYC (4), POR (4), BOS (3), LVA (3), MIL (3), TIJ (3) – .533 – 22.6% (-0.6%)
NYC (81-61): IND (4), VAN (4), ATL (3), MIL (3), OCT (3), POR (3) – .491 – 27.7% (-17.9%)
BOS (78-65): OCT (4), ATL (3), IND (3), MIL (3), POR (3), VAN (3) – .497 – 1.8% (+0.9%)

The Elks now have the worst strength-of-schedule, but they also have the most games left with direct competition, so they are now most in control of their own fate. But both us and them still play all three of the direct competitors; the Crusaders and Titans are done with one another.

We have secured a 10-5 record against the Crusaders this season, giving us our first winning season against them since '21.

What is funny about Rico Gutierrez' shutout barrage against the Loggers is that he has FIVE shutouts against them, and he never seems to strike out many. Those two were the fewest he ever had in a shutout, but he also whiffed more than six only once in a Milwaukee shutout; eight in a game this July, the front end of his back-to-back shutouts then.

Fun Fact: Nick Brown had 18 shutouts in his career (all with the Raccoons), and Kisho Saito had 17 shutouts with the Coons (and 20 in his career). Between them and while wearing the brown cap, they have a grand total of one shutout against the Loggers.*

That is actually true (but beware the brown cap condition and Saito's days with the team that shall not be named right now), and Brownie has the lone Loggers shutout in question, a 4-hitter in the penultimate game of the 2006 season, yet Rico has five against them. The Loggers!

*There are two Saito shutouts unaccounted for in the achievements tab on the BNN page compared to his career totals, which puzzles me, but I also can't find one for him in all of my data of things of the past. Maybe an OOTP 12 problem?
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Raccoons (82-60) vs. Titans (78-65) – September 15-17, 2026

Future games with the Crusaders and Elks notwithstanding, this was probably the Raccoons' biggest call of all in the remaining 20 games. Their struggles with the Titans of recent years were profound and lasting, and they had not even come close to winning a season series for five years. They also would not win this one, having already lost nine games to the Titans in '26. The thing was to not lose any more than that now that every ****ing game counted. For the Titans, who ranked fourth, 4 1/2 games out, in the North and were also fourth in both runs scored and runs allowed, this series was their prime chance to get back into the thick of it, while at the same time the Crusaders and Elks were playing each other, and by the time this series started on Tuesday had already been in a bench-clearing brawl on Monday that led do ejections and suspensions.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (10-5, 2.67 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (9-8, 3.79 ERA)
Rin Nomura (7-4, 2.82 ERA) vs. Matt Rosenthal (8-9, 4.51 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (15-5, 3.45 ERA) vs. Alberto Molina (3-8, 3.92 ERA)

The Titans had lost Dustin Wingo and Jeremy Waite to injury, weakening their rotation. There was skip potential as far as Rosenthal was concerned, which would bring Guillermo Regalado (12-10, 3.02 ERA) into the series. Regardless of that potential move, all their starters on deck were right-handers.

Game 1
BOS: CF W. Vega – C Leonard – LF Kuramoto – RF Braun – 1B Elder – SS Spataro – 2B Jam. Wilson – 3B Corder – P Shepherd
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Delgadillo

The Raccoons scored first, right in the opening inning in which Shepherd walked Tim Stalker, who advanced on Mora's groundout to Jay Elder, then was driven in by Kevin Harenberg's single up the middle. Gerace also singled after that, but Terry Kopp, who looked more than just lost this month, struck out. Harenberg would add on with a solo homer in the third inning, his first in two weeks, and the Coons were eager for more of that. All in all, Harenberg now had 30 home runs this season. Meanwhile, neither pitcher was very sharp from a command standpoint. While Delgadillo held himself to merely throwing lots of balls and needing 40 pitches for one run through the order, Shepherd actively walked people, including Delgadillo on four pitches with two outs in the bottom 4th. Nobody had been on base at that point, but Jarod Spencer singled, and Stalker drew another walk, Shepherd's fifth in the game, to load them up for Abel Mora, who grounded out to Elder on the first pitch he got…

Well, bright sides; Delgadillo had a 2-hitter through five, fanning four, and didn't issue a walk until he lost Willie Vega in a full count with one out in the sixth. Vega, who had 29 steals, did not get a good jump and was stranded on groundouts by Keith Leonard and Yasuhiro Kuramoto. But the Raccoons showed no offense, either, and the 2-0 lead was quickly put to the test by the Titans, whom you could never, ever count out, not down by two, and not down by four-and-a-half. Adam Braun hit a leadoff double past Gerace in the seventh inning, and then Keith Spataro's terrible bloop fell for a single in front of Abel Mora to place the tying runs on the corners with one down. At this point the Portland pen got involved against left-handed batter Jamie Wilson. Brotman came out rather than Kearney because we knew a pinch-hitter was coming, and it was none less than Adrian Reichardt, but loading the bags was prohibitive with Adam Corder looming behind. Billy Brotman got Reichardt on a run-scoring groundout, then walked Corder and threw a wild pitch to Gus Gasso, who ended up grounding out to Spencer at 3-1, stranding runners in scoring position. Brotman got the left-handed bats in the 1-2 spot to begin the eighth, however, and after that the Coons went straight to Snyder in the hopes of a 4-out save. The effort began well with a K to Kuramoto. The Coons failed to tack on, so Snyder remained without a cushion in the ninth, which Adam Braun began with a deep drive to right, but Terry Kopp was watchful and made the catch just short of the track. Elder struck out, but Snyder walked Rhett West before left-hander Giovanni James pinch-hit in the #7 hole, only to ground out on the first pitch by Snyder. 2-1 Critters! Harenberg 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Delgadillo 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, W (11-5);

I started holding my breath in the sixth. I am now slightly blue in the fa- (falls off the couch)

Game 2
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS Spataro – RF Braun – CF Reichardt – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – 1B Gasso – C A. Arias – P Rosenthal
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – C O'Dell – 3B Nunley – RF Alfaro – P Nomura

Nunley started double plays in both of the first two innings, a basic 5-4-3 in the first inning that wrapped up Vega and Spataro, then a 5-3 special in the second that saw him shagging a Rhett West line drive to find Adrian Reichardt 50 feet off the base and with no chance to get back. Matt Nunley turned a total of four plays for six outs in the first three innings, everything hit his way being sucked up mercilessly, but Rosenthal singled to centerfield with two outs in the third before Nomura lost Vega to another walk, which was weird given that Vega was the only left-handed batter in the lineup. Spataro struck out, though, ending the inning without anybody bothering Nunley again, who in turn ended up the first batter scoring a run in the game. He opened the bottom 3rd with an infield single. Alfaro struck out, but Nunley was bunted over by Nomura, then came home on a single to left-center by Jarod Spencer. Unfortunately the Matt Nunley Show was not enough to keep Nomura afloat, as he issued yet another leadoff walk in the fourth (to Braun), then got bombed with an impressive shot by Rhett West, who put Boston 2-1 on top. Nomura lost Corder to another walk before wiggling out against Gasso and Arias, and even this early, there were right-handed relievers stretching in the Coons pen.

Before any rash decisions could be made, the bottom 4th saw Abel Mora homer off Rosenthal to tie the game at two, and the Coons also saw Harenberg and Nunley drive the ball hard, but without success. Adrian Reichardt was hurt on a play to retire Brett O'Dell. It looked like a shoulder injury, and maybe season over for the annoyingly brilliant centerfielder. Fernando Rodriguez replaced him. Bottom 5th, Omar Alfaro hit a leadoff single and was bunted over by Nomura, not yet knocked out by the Titans. Spencer singled to center, but Alfaro was held for fears of Rodriguez' arm, parking him at third base. It was probably the right move; while Tim Stalker fell to 0-2 against Rosenthal, he then flicked a soft single into shallow left to break the 2-2 tie. That run was all the Coons got in the inning despite a walk to Mora that loaded the bases. Harenberg struck out looking in a 3-2 count, and Gerace bounced out to Gus Gasso to strand a full set. Terry Kopp batted for Nomura with two down in the bottom 6th, hitting the second consecutive single of the inning, joining Alfaro on the bases, and bringing up Spencer, who hit a looper to shallow center. Rodriguez rushed in, then pulled up, and still was undone by the the ball that bounced once, then went under his glove and deeper into the outfield. The error allowed Alfaro to score, 4-2, before Stalker popped out to Gasso to end the inning. But at this point, the Titans didn't know it yet, but they were dead. The Raccoons pen was on fire in a good way right now, and they were going to go to work on Boston. Kevin Surginer allowed a single in the seventh inning, but struck out two to keep the Titans at bay, and that Corder single was the Titans' final base runner of the game. Josh Boles, Ricky Ohl, and Jonathan Snyder were perfect down the line to claim the second game of the series. 4-2 Coons! Spencer 3-5, 2 RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1; Alfaro 3-4; Kopp (PH) 1-1; Nomura 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, W (8-4);

…and then the baseball gods threw a wrench into the Coons' well-churning gears. Rico Gutierrez came down with the flu before his start on Thursday and was a scratch. Mark Roberts was brought on and would pitch on regular rest thanks to the off day on Monday.

Game 3
BOS: CF W. Vega – 1B Elder – LF Kuramoto – RF Braun – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – C Leonard – P A. Molina
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – C O'Dell – 3B Nunley – RF Alfaro – P Gutierrez

Mark Roberts was on regular rest, but not on regular routine, which included three each of lines of coke and Vietnamese hookers the night before every start of his, and was thus understandably wonky in the early going. He scattered four hits in the first three innings, but the Titans didn't get onto the key part of the scoreboard, and Roberts seemed to find his groove as innings went on, whiffing six by the end of the fourth inning. The Coons were doing even less against Molina. Spencer had reached on a leadoff single in the first, but had been left on with three unproductive groundouts, and Harenberg hit a 2-out single in the fourth. In between, they had nothing. Thus there was no lead that could be blown when Roberts crapped out in the sixth. Kuramoto hit a leadoff jack to give Boston a 1-0 lead, but between West, Corder, and Spataro they got another three hard base hits, two of them for extra bases, and scored another two runs to supply Molina, who was their last line of defense. If they were to fall back 7 1/2 with only 16 games to play, even the four-time champions would be dead, and even if they could only claw their way back to 5 1/2, it was still a near-impossible task.

The Coons got a third base hit, not in the same inning, but in the game, on a Spencer double in the bottom 6th, but again no clutch bat would come up anytime soon, leaving Molina 3-0 on top. If anybody thought that this was not enough of a lead, Molina had an answer that was not related to suffocating the Raccoons. Steve Costilow loaded the bases in the eighth before he arrived at Molina with two outs. The Titans did not send a pinch-hitter, but why would they. Molina killed the Coons with a bases-clearing double into the leftfield corner, his first three RBI of the season, and then Willie Vega singled home another run against a murdered Costilow, just when he had built the slightest bit of credit. Nick Derks ended that inning as we had arrived at garbage time on this Thursday, retiring Jay Elder. Was that it? Down 7-0, the Coons saw Nunley ground out to begin the bottom 8th, after which Alfaro singled and Terry Kopp – having entered with Derks in a double switch at Gerace's expense – homered to right. At this point, it was a rather academical homer, leaving the Coons down by as many runs as they still had outs to waste – five. Then Spencer singled. Stalker walked. Mora hit an RBI single. What was up with Molina? Just as the tardy Titans got their pen stirring, Harenberg flew out to left, and Jamieson grounded out in the #5 hole, ending the inning down by a slam still. Molina was not back for the bottom 9th, but the Coons were. O'Dell singled off Harry Merwin. Nunley singled off Harry Merwin. Runners on the corners with nobody out, and power coming … errr… yeah, Omar Alfaro had no homers on the season, but maybe in the future, who knows? Here, Alfaro walked in a full count, and now the tying run was up with nobody out for Terry Kopp! Teetering Terry hit a ball in the gap in left-center and was blatantly ROBBED by Kuramoto, holding him to a sac fly, which was damaging Merwin's stats, but not advancing our cause. Spencer hit into a double play to end the game. 7-4 Titans. Spencer 3-5, 2B; Kopp 1-1, HR, 3 RBI;

Well, that was dispiriting! More of that, please…

Okay, quick overview; the Elks took three of four from the Crusaders and were the new leaders in the North, half a game over the Coons. We both now had struggling South customers to deal with on the weekend while the Crusaders suddenly were rather distant, three games out. The Titans trailed by six with a magic number of 11. Both East Coast teams now had to deal with the Thunder in the next two sets, so that could work against them…

Raccoons (84-61) vs. Falcons (61-83) – September 18-20, 2026

This was a 4-game set starting with a double-header on Friday, the opener of which was a makeup game that had been rained out in Charlotte earlier and for which the Falcons would officially be the home team. They had the absolute worst pitching in the league, ranking last in starters' ERA, bullpen ERA, and runs allowed. They were sixth in runs scored, with a -149 run differential. They were also eliminated from mathematical contention and had only personal honor to fend for anymore. The Coons were 4-1 against them this season.

Projected matchups:
Kyle Anderson (9-6, 3.88 ERA) vs. Rafael Cuenca (1-1, 3.71 ERA)
George James (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Doug Moffatt (7-18, 4.72 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (11-5, 2.62 ERA) vs. Jesus Chavez (11-6, 3.84 ERA)
Rin Nomura (8-4, 2.83 ERA) vs. Jim Bryant (5-12, 4.76 ERA)

More right-handed opposition!

Here, Gutierrez' runny nose undid our plan for the double-header, which would have seen Roberts going ahead of Anderson. Instead we now had to pair Anderson with the rookie James, who had been recalled after the end of the minor league season (Coons' affiliated had not won nothing at all), because Delgadillo couldn't go on two days' rest. In fact, Delgadillo and Nomura would still be on short rest where they were right now, and the Raccoons might have to insert Alvin Smith (2-3, 3.15 ERA) instead.

To stretch the pen, the Raccoons also called up 23-year-old Jonathan Fleischer, a right-hander that had been a garbage pile pickup three years ago and had since risen to AAA, although he had pitched to a 7.71 ERA with ill control. He had already been on the 40-man roster, though. One final callup was Juan Magallanes, who had ended the AAA season with a .400 OBP and there had to be some value in that. His big league slash in '26 read .122/.178/.122 though…

Game 1
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Gerace – RF Kopp – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Anderson
CHA: 3B Czachor – SS Bowman – RF Kok – LF Banfi – C A. Gonzales – 1B Greenwald – CF Camps – 2B Pelles – P Cuenca

The Raccoons got a quicker start than usual in their own park thanks to being the "road" team in this series opener. Spencer hit his 200th base knock of the year, a leadoff single, and Mora drew a walk to put two on for Harenberg, who popped out, but Justin Gerace split Barend Kok and Juan Camps for a 2-run triple to put Anderson ahead, only for the starter to almost blow it right away. He walked Ryan Czachor to begin his outing, then allowed an RBI double to Sean Bowman. Strong plays by Nunley and Mora retired Kok and Luigi Banfi and allowed Anderson to escape from a messy first inning. Maybe this would be one of those high.scoring games… Nunley hit a leadoff single in the second, Tovias walked, and they were bunted over well by Anderson. Spencer grounded to the right side, pulling Russ Greenwald fairly deep, and his throw to Cuenca was late, giving Spencer an RBI infield single. And Cuenca continued to get nobody out. Stalker hit an RBI single, 4-1, and Mora walked. Harenberg missed a slam by not-much-at-all, hitting a 2-run double off the top of the wall in leftfield, 6-1, and then Gerace walked onto the open base before Kopp lined to Bowman for a double play, Harenberg being tagged out on a false start. Cuenca was batted for in the bottom 2nd, and Anderson appeared not far behind him; ex-Coons Russ Greenwald and Ruben Pelles had base hits in the inning, and Danny Munn crashed a pinch-hit homer to get the Falcons back to 6-4. He made it through another four outs before Greenwald got the score to 6-5 with a 2-out RBI single, scoring Alfonso Gonzales, in the bottom 3rd, then was yanked.

Oh the royal goodness of getting six early in the first heat of a twin-bill, with uncertainty in the rotation and probably your long man getting a spot start, and then your starter lasts two and two thirds while bleeding a handful. Jonathan Fleischer made his major league debut right here, allowed a single to Juan Camps, but Greenwald was of the slow sort and had to park at third. Pelles grounded out, keeping the Coons afloat for the moment, 6-5. They added to the lead in the fourth, which Spencer began with another single. He was on third base with two outs, at which point Harenberg was walked intentionally so the Falcons could stick to right-hander Joel O'Brien against the switch-hitting Gerace, who rapped a ball up the middle and into centerfield for an RBI single. Kopp struck out to end the top 4th. The bottom 4th saw one reliever (Fleischer) issue a leadoff walk to another (O'Brien), but Czachor hit into a double play. It was a mad sort of excitement that got only better once RAIN got involved in this makeup game in the wrong place.

Fleischer walked Bowman before the game went to a rain delay that lasted an hour. On the other end, Josh Boles picked up an 0-1 count against Barend Kok and got him to lift out carefully to Gerace to end the inning. Singles by Nunley and Alfaro (pinch-hitting for Boles) put runners on the corners, and Spencer hit a sac fly to bring home the Critters' eighth run, but even up 8-5 the Raccoons were in a terrible spot, running out of pitching fast, especially if they wanted Alvin Smith to start a game on the weekend. Delgadillo had tossed 100 pitches on Tuesday – how was short rest going to affect him? And Nomura? Was Rico good to go on Sunday? Woe us!

For the moment, the Raccoons committed to burning Kevin Surginer for the weekend. He was put into the bottom 5th to go as long as possible, but he was beaten up for two runs on four hits right in the bottom 5th, and the worst thing was that former Raccoons were at the forefront of doing the damage here, as Greenwald and Pelles just kept raking away at Coons hurlers. Kevin Harenberg got those runs back with a 2-run BLAST (estimated at 445 feet) as this madhouse continued, 10-7 in the sixth. His victim, right-hander Jason Sherman, also surrendered a solo homer to Terry Kopp in the same inning, and it was still not enough. Surginer kept getting butchered and put four more Falcons aboard in the bottom 6th. A run was in, the bags were teeming with the tying runs, and Billy Brotman had to come out to see after Greenwald with one out. There was a full count, there were anxiously closed eyes in my office as well as in the dugout where Kevin Surginer (1.1 IP for 6 H, 1 BB, and an as of yet undetermined amount of runs) covered his face with his cap. Then Greenwald smacked the 3-2 into play, right at Spencer, to short, to first – DOUBLE PLAY!!

By the seventh, the Raccoons had to remove Abel Mora from the game with a herniated disc in his back, which was not the sort of news we were hunting for right now. Magallanes took over in centerfield. Can we at least get this game over with, any which way? Probably not. Nunley hit into an inning-ending double play in the top 8th, then the Coons brought in Steve Costilow in the bottom 8th, which led nowhere nice. Czachor homered, 11-9, and then he walked Bowman. Ricky Ohl came on as the saloon door to the pen kept swinging back and forth. While Ricky kept the Falcons from scoring another run, there was still another inning to play and Greenwald and Pelles would be part of it. Greenwald grounded back to the pitcher Ohl for the first out, Camps grounded out to Bullock at third base (long story, longer than the one already compiled on this game…), but Pelles doubled past Jamieson in rightfield to bring up the tying run in PH Chris Mendoza, a left-hander, who singled, and now they were on the corners for Ryan Czachor. Ricky, there is nobody left in the pen except a sad sack o' baseballs. Would ya PLEASE? K to Czachor, game over. 11-9 Raccoons…! Spencer 4-5, 2 RBI; Harenberg 2-4, BB, HR, 2B, 4 RBI; Gerace 2-3, 2 BB, 3B, 3 RBI; Nunley 2-5, 2 RBI; Alfaro (PH) 1-1; Brotman 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; Ohl 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, SV (8);

This game, including the rain delay, took 5:20 to complete. And guess what, boys! Put a new shirt on, and then we'll play another one under the lights and late in the night!

The Coons stuck to George James for the nightcap, and their pen was almost completely burned out. Only Snyder, Kearney, Derks, and the aforementioned Alvin Smith had not been used in the first game.

Game 2
CHA: 1B Greenwald – SS Bowman – RF Kok – LF Banfi – CF McClenon – 3B Burns – C Sigala – 2B Simko – P Moffatt
POR: 2B Spencer – CF Jamieson – LF Gerace – 1B Harenberg – RF Alfaro – SS Gerster – 3B Bullock – C Burrows – P James

Barend Kok's 20th homer of the year put the Falcons on top 1-0 in the first inning, which was not yet the worst that could happen. It did not *really* matter whether James gave up a run or three or four; foremost the Raccoons needed length to somehow keep the staff in shape. Even saying that, between games the Raccoons had ordered several pitchers not on the major league roster to end their post-AAA season holidays and get to the nearest airport immediately… And moving through the lineup quickly worked well for James until the fourth inning when he issued back-to-back 2-out walks to Joseph McClenon and Kyle Burns, which was just going to undo any and all strategies how we could pitch this game with only four arms. Jairo Sigala grounded out to Bullock, but the Coons were in trouble. This was true in more ways than one; Doug Moffatt retired the first ten Critters before walking Matt Jamieson in the bottom 4th, and still held them hitless through four.

James threw 63 pitches through five, which was a controllable situation, then had a full count and a 2-2 count against Kok and Banfi to begin the sixth. Both reached. This was not a controllable situation. The Coons wiggled out with only one run across on Burns' run-scoring groundout, putting Charlotte up 2-0, and the Coons found no way to Moffatt. Gerster hit a single in the bottom 5th. James hit a leadoff single in the bottom 6th. Nothing led them anywhere. Bottom 7th, leadoff walk to Harenberg, which meant we had Alfaro on no home runs, and then three batters of .200 or worse to do dam- OH, ALFARO!! DEEP DRIVE TO RIGHT and OUTTA HERE!!!! OH, OMAR!!!

With the game tied and everybody in the park having gone nuts by now, Butch Gerster and Daniel Bullock hit singles off Moffatt. Still nobody out. Burrows was tasked with a bunt, dropping down a beauty that Geoff Simko then threw over the head of Greenwald. That was a 2-base error that gave Portland a 3-2 lead, two in scoring position, and STILL nobody out with the top of the order coming up behind James, who was now hit for with Matt Nunley against Moffatt who suddenly was careening towards his 19th loss of the year. Nunley grounded out to Greenwald, poorly, keeping the runners on, but Jarod Spencer was not going to be denied now and knocked an RBI single to centerfield. Jamieson plated a run with a groundout, with Spencer going to second, and from there he scored on Gerace's single. George Barnett replaced Moffatt at this point and got Harenberg to ground out, but look at the carnage! Born out of nothing, a 6-spot!! Now let's get the pen involved! And specifically, Nick Derks. The Falcons were going to come up right-left-right in the eighth, making a move to Kearney not much more advisable than using Derks here. Bowman flew out to center on a 3-1 pitch to begin the inning. Kok flew out to Gerace in the shallow gap. And Luigi Banfi struck out! Oh guess what, this has worked so well, let's put him in the ninth, too! Why was the image of Nick Lester flashing up in my head right now? Derks works – PERIOD. After a 4-pitch walk to McClenon and Burns' sharp single, the Coons were left scrambling for Jonathan Snyder with nobody out. A Harenberg error on Sigala's grounder loaded them up and carted up the tying run in Mendoza, who hit in the #8 hole now. Full count, grounder to short, 6-4-3, **** that runner scoring – ONE MORE. Danny Munn grounded out, ending a wild, wild night. 6-3 Furballs. Alfaro 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Gerster 2-4; James 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, W (2-0);

The Elks lost their only game (what a lazy bunch), so the Coons turned a half-game deficit into a full-game lead on this busy Friday.

Saturday would see Alvin Smith, panically spared usage for the last few days after the Gutierrez nose developed, make his second spot start of the season.

Also, the Coons deposited Abel Mora on the DL. He was out for the season, depressingly. He was put on the 60-day DL to open a room on the 40-man for Juan Barzaga, a 30-year-old swingman that had gone 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA in St. Pete this season. He was added to further bolster our scorched bullpen. Barzaga was 1-2 with a 4.21 ERA in 28 major league appearances from 2023 to 2024.

Game 3
CHA: 1B Greenwald – SS Bowman – RF Kok – LF Banfi – CF McClenon – 3B Burns – C Sigala – 2B Simko – P J. Chavez
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – LF Gerace – 1B Harenberg – CF Jamieson – RF Alfaro – 3B Nunley – C O'Dell – P Smith

After Spencer – now with a 12-game hitting streak after a single – and Stalker reached, Gerace and Harenberg couldn't put anybody across, but after Jamieson walked, Omar Alfaro pulled through with a 2-run single up the middle for a quick lead. But the fans would not be treated to a quick'n'easy one here (and why start now?). Alvin Smith was neck-deep in trouble as early as the third inning after a Greenwald single, Bowman reaching on another Harenberg error (eh, as long as he keeps dingering…), and then a walk to Kok. One out, Banfi popped out on the infield, and then McClenon went down on strikes. PHEW. But the Falcons were on base all the time, stranded two more runners in the fourth, and we were anxiously eyeing that bullpen. Bowman hit a leadoff double in the fifth, was on third base after Kok grounded out, and then Smith reached back and whiffed both Banfi and McClenon. While that was one way to keep the Falcons off the scoreboard, it was sure exploding his pitch count. He reached 100 through six – and that was going to be it. The rest would have to be guesswork once more.

Meanwhile, Jesus Chavez had not conceded another base hit to his former team after the first-inning damage, so this was also a developing situation. The next base hits was Alfaro's, of all people, a 2-out single in the bottom 6th with Gerace and Harenberg on board after Chavez had issued a pair of 1-out walks. Gerace scooted around and scored, 3-0, with Nunley then popping out on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. And now what? Kearney was in for the seventh, but walked two left-handers en route to loading the bases with two outs and Burns due up. Ricky Ohl appeared by default, threw a wild pitch, then allowed a 2-2 drive to deep, deep right and ohmy****inggodwillsomeonepleasegobackandmake-ALFARO HAS IT!! LEAPING AT THE WALL, he brings it in!! Inning over!! OH MY GOD. That was not the last amazing catch in the game. Magallanes had entered with Ohl in a double switch, but lasted longer than Ricky in the game. Ohl had walked Pelles with two outs in the eighth. With Greenwald up, we wanted a lefty, so brought in Billy Brotman, who had nothing better to do than to allow an absolute rocket to center, where Magallanes sold out with total disregard for life and limb and made an AMAZING catch! That was another inning ticked off in the usual Coons way, easy and steady, all the way. (coughs) Portland added a run in the bottom 8th, Nunley singling home Gerace with two outs, before Brotman returned to finish the game. The fewer pitchers used, the better, I decreed. A grounder to Harenberg and two to Nunley ended the game. 4-1 Furballs!! Alfaro 2-3, BB, 3 RBI; Smith 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K, W (3-3); Brotman 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, SV (6);

Where did Omar Alfaro come from, and can he please stay exactly where he is right now?

Game 4
CHA: 3B Czachor – SS Bowman – RF Kok – CF McClenon – C A. Gonzales – LF C. Mendoza – 1B Burns – 2B Simko – P Bryant
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Stalker – CF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Alfaro – 3B Nunley – LF Kopp – C Tovias – P Delgadillo

The Falcons did a good job of wearing Delgadillo quickly. McClenon and Mendoza both drew walks in long plate appearances in the second, and Kyle Burns chipped in a single. A run scored on Geoff Simko's groundout, and Bryant ended the inning lining out to Spencer, but that was 44 pitches, we still had a dozen tired relievers, and – worse – were now 1-0 behind, and 2-0 after the third and McClenon's 2-out RBI double to plate Czachor. The Coons had no hits until Matt Jamieson hit a double up the leftfield line with one down in the fourth inning, a situation in which Harenberg chopped a ball back at Bryant so hard the pitcher could not defend himself before it bounced into his leg, then away from every conceivable defender. Harenberg was given an infield single and the tying runs were on the corners for Alfaro, who walked, filling them up for Nunley, always a double play threat. Matt never put the ball in play, instead laying off a junk 3-2 fastball far outside for a bases-loaded walk. Barend Kok then failed to catch up with a Terry Kopp drive that fell for a 2-run double, and the score was flipped! The Falcons walked Elias Tovias intentionally to get to Delgadillo, who batted of course with three on and one out in the fourth. Bryant was clearly off the rolls now. He could not find the zone anymore, walked Delgadillo, and now it was 4-2 for Spencer, who was hitless in the game, poked at a 3-1, and managed to drop it in front of McClenon in centerfield for an RBI single and a 13-game hitting streak. Stalker's groundout brought across the sixth and final run as Spencer took out Simko at second base after Czachor had made a great play that would allow them to turn two, and with that it was 6-2 and Jack Sander and his 5.87 ERA replaced Bryant in time to strike out Jamieson to end a 6-run nightmare for the Falcons.

Delgadillo had thrown 71 pitches through four, then had run the bases, so the Coons were far from out of the woods (and thinking about it, weren't the woods very cozy and nice to live in?), but he got through the fifth in order, although this already required Jamieson absolutely robbing Czachor of extra bases in deep center. Bottom 5th, Tovias singled home Alfaro, who had doubled, for an extra run, making this a 7-2 game. The Coons managed to squeeze Delgadillo through seven before Harenberg opened the bottom 7th with a single off Barnett. Bullock ran for Harenberg to avoid an injury, which was a sudden panic we had. Alfaro hit into a double play, and right there I had a hunch that now we had gambled away the baseball gods' goodwill by chickening out of Harenberg running the bags in a 5-run game. Delgadillo was wrung out for 108 pitches and 7.2 innings in the end, a job VERY well done, after which Kearney took over and got Kok to ground out to end the eighth, and also retired the 4-5-6 batters, including the right-handed batting Gonzales, in the ninth. 7-2 Raccoons! Harenberg 2-3, BB; Carmona (PH) 1-1, 2B; Delgadillo 7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, W (12-5) and 0-2, BB, RBI;

In other news

September 14 – The Canadiens are dealt a terrible blow as LF/RF Alex Torres (.293, 23 HR, 96 RBI) is rendered out for the remainder of the season thanks to a fractured shoulder blade.
September 15 – SFW SP Pat Okrasinski (10-13, 3.80 ERA) unwraps a 2-hit shutout of the Scorpions, claiming the W in a 5-0 Warriors victory.
September 20 – LVA OF Danny Serrano (.350, 9 HR, 71 RBI) has a new hitting streak, 20 games, after landing a single in the ninth inning in a 4-3 loss to the Canadiens. Serrano already had a 39-game hitting streak this year.

Complaints and stuff

I feel… (smacks his dry mouth) … somewhat drained after this week. It was… how do you say… ehm… "intense".*

Truth be told, while we won plenty this week, not a single win was easy. No 7-0 laughers. The one game where we put up six early, Kyle Anderson put up five early, and that was the worst game of all. A win is a win, but there can be easier ones… And I mean, look at the pen. We carry SEVENTEEN pitchers by now, and we still hardly made it through the week! However, Delgadillo's gem on Sunday actually puts us back in a good spot. Only Kearney pitched along with Yusneldan on Sunday, and thus we are well set up to receive the Baybirds starting on Monday.

Gonzalez, Gomez, Mora – all done for the year. That the team is still standing is a bit of a miracle. But it looks like Alberto Ramos WILL be back for the final week, so we gotta feast on that for now.

And while I do feel like the 4-team race is over and it is a 2-horse dash now, for completeness' sake, here are all the four teams left standing in the North:

Down the stretch – games remaining per team – strength of schedule – playoff chance as divined by BNN:
POR (88-61): VAN (4), IND (3), NYC (3), SFB (3) – .505 – 85.7% (+37.8%)
VAN (86-63): POR (4), BOS (3), MIL (3), TIJ (3) – .527 – 13.7% (-8.9%)
NYC (82-67): IND (4), MIL (3), OCT (3), POR (3) – .495 – 0.5% (-27.2%)
BOS (81-69): ATL (3), IND (3), MIL (3), VAN (3) – .456 – 0.1% (-1.7%)

85%?? I wonder what they are smoking at BNN. I want some. Regardless though of what next week brings, the real games are on in the final week. Elks and Crusaders, both on the road.

Fun Fact: There were nine games played in the Continental League alone on this busy Friday including three makeup games.

It sure felt like the Coons played all three of those makeup games!

*I actually sweat through a set of clothes while playing this week. God, I handle pressure so well!
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Portland Raccoons, 49 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
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Resident Mets Cynic

Westheim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 11:57 AM   #2632
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I meant to write this during the July games, but there is just something about this team i REALLY like.....a LOT.

I feel this is the year man, good luck!

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UltimateAverageGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
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Westheim (Yesterday)


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