Porcupine Points – April 25
DAY BASEBALL: The process was not pretty, nor the result. Despite a picturesque day, arguably the best on the young year for the RailRiders, 10 total pitchers and 22 position players were required in a game that took 3 hours and 35 minutes to complete. The final in favored visiting Columbus as the Clippers bested the RailRiders in a back-and-forth affair, 5-4.
SAY WHAT?: The 215 minutes that passed from first pitch to final out made Wednesday’s setback the longest nine-inning game at PNC Field since Aug. 6, 2008. The man who scored the decided run for the Clippers yesterday, Matt Carson, was SWB’s leadoff man and center fielder in that 2008 loss to Pawtucket by an 11-5 score. That game needed just one more minute to finish at 3:36 and saw half of the game’s runs cross in the ninth inning. The RailRiders had played their shortest nine-inning game of the season the night before yesterday’s marathon.
PITCH BY PITCH: Fourteen combined walks did not help the pace of play yesterday. In fact, the teams combined for 371 pitches (COL 191; SWB 180). The man who endured the least labor in the effort was RailRiders’ situational lefty Josh Spence. He faced one hitter and threw two pitches (one strike). He also recorded a pair of outs thanks to a caught stealing and stranded two inherited runners.
LONE LEAD: Dave Miley’s team did not know a lead until David Adams’ two-out, two-strike bases-loaded hit up the middle plated a pair for a 4-2 advantage in the seventh. That hit came against Jerry Gil who allowed two runs on four walks and two hits over one inning. Gil (2-0) got the win.
QUICK RESPONSE: The very next half-inning when the first three reached against Cody Eppley (1-1). The second slugger, Jeremy Hermida, homered to tie the game while later in the frame a pinch-hitting Cord Phelps reached on a run-scoring fielder’s choice that pushed Carson home for the game-winning run.
ROUND-TRIPPING: The RailRiders have allowed a dozen dingers this season. Eleven (92%) of them have come at the traditional home run graveyard that is PNC Field. A Baseball America article this past March tracked the homer rate at each IL facility from 2010-12. Granted SWB played last season on the road, on a per-game basis PNC Field ranked 10th in the 14-team loop over that three-year span. It also tracked as the overall most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the IL and trailed only New Orleans of the PCL in all of Triple-A baseball.
GOIN’ SOLO: Twelve is still the magic number when speaking of how many times the RailRiders have left the yard. While their home/road splits are dead even, eight of the 12 (67%) have been solo shots.
NO SUCH RELIEF: The RailRiders’ bullpen entered yesterday without a run against it in four games and 9.1 innings. On a bullpen day, fill-in starter Ryan Pope surrendered a pair over his season-high 3.1 frames. But Mark Montgomery and Spence had logged 2.2 more shutout frames before Eppley snapped the string in the eighth. Moreover, by blowing the late lead, SWB lost a game it led after seven innings for the first time this season. The team had been 9-0.
SIMPLY THE BEST: Despite making the lone miscue in yesterday’s loss, SWB still boasts the IL’s top team fielding percentage (.981) with a league-low 12 errors in 18 games. Also, by cutting down two would-be base stealers in three tries on Wednesday, the RailRiders pace the circuit in team efficiency at thwarting thieves. Ten of the 21 (.476) men that have shown sticky fingers have been gunned down by Austin Romine (6-14) or Bobby Wilson (4-7).