Porcupine Points – April 10
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: The RailRiders did not know a deficit on their series with Rochester until the latest of stages last night. In the middle match of their three-game set, the visiting Red Wings grabbed their first lead in the ninth when reigning IL Player of the Week Chris Colabello homered off of Mark Montgomery (0-1). His third homer of the year proved the difference in a 2-1 SWB loss.
SEVENTH HEAVEN: SWB starter Vidal Nuno sizzled in his second start of the year. The lefty tossed a career-high-tying seven frames and yielded just one run on three hits while walking none and whiffing six. But the single score came on a long ball as well in the form of Brandon Boggs’ second of the season. Opponents have gone just 6-for-42 (.143) against Nuno, but five of those hits have gone for extra bases including two homers. Fellow southpaws are 1-for-14 against the RailRiders’ Opening Day man.
THAT’S A START: RailRiders’ starters entered the series with a 6.06 ERA and seven walks over 16.1 innings. Chris Bootcheck, making his first minor league start since June 30, 2011, bucked that trend considerably on Monday. Featuring a strong breaking ball, the tall right-hander scattered five hits over five scoreless frames and did not yield a single walk while whiffing four. After Nuno’s effort on Tuesday, SWB’s starters have allowed just one run and no walks over 12.0 innings on the series for a 0.75 ERA.
NO SUCH RELIEF: Through six games, the now 1-5 RailRiders have been outhomered 7-1 with five of the round-trippers coming against relievers in 26.2 innings. All of the homers the relief corps has surrendered have come in the eighth inning or later. While the starting staff boasts a 3.81 ERA, the relievers have combined to post a gaudy 7.09 mark.
STRUGGLING SLUGGING: Extra-base hits continue to elude SWB. Addison Maruszak‘s seventh-inning double was the lone such hit last night. Through six games, just seven of the RailRiders’ 41 hits have gone for extra bases. That adds up to the IL’s worst slugging percentage at .255. Only one team in all of full-season MiLB (120 teams) has a worse such number at the start of the day – Low-A Dayton in the Midwest League (Reds, .239).
IT FEELS LIKE THE ROMINE: The only multi-hit effort on the SWB side of yesterday’s ledger came courtesy of catcher Austin Romine. The ranked prospect singled twice and scored the team’s lone run. He has played in each of the team’s six games, hitting a team-best .389 (7-for-18) with three walks for a .476 OBP. He has posted multiple hits in back-to-back games for the first time since July 26-27, 2012 while rehabbing with Advanced-A Tampa. He had never before turned the trick at the Triple-A level.
RISPY BUSINESS: The RailRiders (0-for-7) and Red Wings (0-for-4) combined to go 0-for-11 with men in scoring position last night. SWB has gone a collective 13-for-62 (.210) with runners in prime real estate, good for fourth-worst in the IL.
WALK ON: Corban Joseph drew two of the team’s four walks last night. The RailRiders own the IL’s third-worst team batting average (.209) on the exceedingly young year, leading only Toledo (.197) and Columbus (.208). However, no IL unit has drawn more walks (37) than SWB. In fact, the average total for the other 13 clubs is a slim 22. Those free passes help elevate the team’s OBP to .336, good for seventh in the 14-team loop. In all of full-season MiLB, only Double-A New Hampshire (Blue Jays, 42) has drawn more walks than Butch Wynergar‘s disciplined disciples.
RUBBER OR GLUE?: Tonight, the RailRiders play their first rubber match of 2013 as they seek their first series victory at the new PNC Field. SWB was 3-1 in rubber matches last season. The lone loss came in the final game of the regular season and proved an omen. The 6-4 loss in 12 innings to Pawtucket on Sept. 3 was followed by a Pawtucket playoff series defeat of the club as the PawSox were en route to claiming the Governor’s Cup.