Porcupine Points – July 29
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: A three-run homer by Randy Ruiz put the RailRiders ahead to stay in a five-run sixth inning en route to a 9-2 rout of the Bats last night.
RANDY DANDY: Ruiz launched his 14th home run of the season to close within two of the team’s leader in that category, Dan Johnson. Johnson has hit his 16 blasts in 104 games and 358 at-bats. Ruiz has amassed his gaudy total in just 40 games and 158 at-bats. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, Ruiz would lead the league in home run to at-bat ratio (1:11.3). The league’s overall home run leader with 28, Buffalo’s Mauro Gomez, the reigning IL MVP, paces the loop with his 1:12.29 ratio. Ruiz has three of his homers during his current five-game hitting streak in which he is connecting at a .370 rate (10-for-27) with five extra-base hits in total. He has excelled against left-handed pitching (.333/.375/.756/1.131) and on the road (.352/.370/.634/1.004).
FIVE FOR FIVE: After a five-game losing streak that saw the RailRiders score five total runs (one in each game), the team has averaged five runs even per game with 25 scored while winning five in a row.
POWER OUTAGE: Part of the RailRiders’ success of late has involved containing their foes’ power. SWB has not surrendered a dinger in a season-high-tying five straight games.
ON A ROLL: SWB’s fifth straight win has it back to .500 at 54-54. It has not owned a winning record since May 19 when it entered the day at 21-20 before dropping a 10-4 decision at Columbus. The RailRiders were in the midst of losing 12 of 13 at the time.
SCOREBOARD WATCHING: Pawtucket’s six losses in eight games and 16 over its last 22 have dramatically changed the landscape in the IL North. The PawSox now virtually share the division’s top spot and the wild-card lead with Rochester. Both Buffalo and Lehigh Valley lost yesterday, allowing the RailRiders to jump over the IronPigs and draw closer to the third-place Bisons. Buffalo now sits 3.5 games out of first, while the RailRiders stand just a half-game back of the Bisons. Before this week, the RailRiders had not been this close to the first-place spot in the IL North since they entered play on May 21 in third place and 4.0 games out. They have not been in third place or better since they entered the last day of May in third, but 7.0 games out. SWB was 14.5 games out of first after its 5-4 loss to Syracuse on June 27.
BULLISH ‘PEN: Since Yoshinori Tateyama allowed three runs in the 10th inning in a 4-1 loss to Toledo on Tuesday, the RailRiders’ bullpen has dominated. Over a stretch of six games and 32.2 innings, SWB’s relievers have allowed just 21 hits and two runs (0.55 ERA). They have also collected 43 strikeouts (11.85/9 IP) against 13 walks (3.3:1 K:BB ratio).
ON THE CHASE: Last night’s win was cemented by a scoreless ninth from Chase Whitley for the second time in as many days The Troy University product posted his ninth straight scoreless outing. He has tossed 17.1 shutout frames in that time, allowing just six hits (.107) in the process. He last allowed a run on June 27 when he resumed a suspended game at Syracuse.
OFF THE RAILS: Louisville’s Chad Reineke (8-9) took the loss last night and allowed his league-worst 18th home run of the season in the process…Fourteen of those round-trippers have come at Louisville Slugger Field…Adonis Garcia went 2-for-5 with a two-run double and a run scored…He has hit in all but two of his first 18 games with SWB…Since coming back from the bigs, All-Star outfielder Thomas Neal has gone 5-for-9 in assembling his first back-to-back multi-hit showings since July 8-9…Dellin Betances fired a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts…He has not allowed a run in 14 outings and 25 innings since suffering a walk-off loss at Lehigh Valley on June 16…Since he was moved to the bullpen in early May, Betances has posted a 4-2 record, four saves in as many tries and a 1.65 ERA…He has struck out 58 in 43.2 innings as a reliever (12/9 IP) while holding the IL to a .167 batting average.