Porcupine Points – August 1
LAST TIME OUT: For the third time in as many days, the RailRiders outhit their foes, but fell by a narrow margin. On Wednesday afternoon, home runs carried the host Indianapolis Indians to a 3-1 defeat of SWB. The RailRiders have lost three in a row for a .500 showing through six games on their eight-game road trip.
ON SCHEDULE: Today, the RailRiders announced their 2014 regular-season schedule. The season begins on Thursday, April 3 when the club kicks off a seven-game road trip at Syracuse against the Chiefs (Washington Nationals). The home slate commences a week later on Thursday, April 10 when the Chiefs visit PNC Field for a four-game series and homestand. Rivalry games fill a big portion of the 2014 schedule as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will play a total of 16 games against its two biggest rivals. The RailRiders will host the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies) for year two of the IronRail Series at PNC Field with games from April 18-21, June 30-July 1 and Aug. 31-Sept. 1. The Pawtucket Red Sox (Boston Red Sox) will come to PNC Field twice for series from June 20-23 and July 25-28. The RailRiders will release the full promotional calendar including giveaway dates, theme nights and more for the 2014 season at PNC Field at a later date.
SIMPSON SIR, SECTOR 7G: Home runs were a rarity in several ways for the pieces involved in yesterday’s round-tripper puzzle. Starter David Huff suffered the loss thanks to just three runs allowed in seven innings of work. All three came courtesy of the long ball. Huff, who had allowed two homers on the season, surrendered a pair on the day. The first was bashed by Lucas May, who was hitting .200 even with just one home run in 39 games played on the season entering play. Conversely, Indianapolis starter Graham Godfrey began the day with a 1-2 record and a 7.29 ERA in five home appearances (four starts). In just 21 innings at Victory Field, he had allowed eight home runs while the league hit .318 against him. He fired six scoreless innings of four-hit ball to earn his eighth win. SWB had not surrendered a dinger in a season-high seven straight games until May and Andrew Lambo went yard yesterday. The last homer had come when Toledo’s Nick Castellanos took Chris Bootcheck deep on July 23 in a doubleheader nightcap.
BULLISH ‘PEN: Since Yoshinori Tateyama allowed three runs in the 10th inning in a 4-1 loss to Toledo on July 23, the RailRiders’ bullpen has dominated. Over a stretch of nine games and 37.2 innings, SWB’s relievers have allowed just 24 hits and four runs (0.96 ERA). They have also collected 49 strikeouts (11.7/9 IP) against 16 walks (3.06:1 K:BB ratio).
JUMPING JULY: The RailRiders, for now, own a 15-13 record in July. A suspended game from July 12 against Syracuse will be completed on Tuesday. No matter how that 2-2 draw through 11 innings plays out, SWB is still guaranteed a winning record in July. Only five other IL teams can join in that claim. Only Columbus (2.54) and Durham (2.73) posted a better ERA on the month than SWB (2.92). The RailRiders led the league with 30 homers on the month. Half of the league failed to hit 20.
RANDY DANDY: Randy Ruiz singled to spark his team’s run-scoring rally in the ninth that stalled Indianapolis’ bid for a shutout. The single extended Ruiz’s hitting streak to eight games. His 14 homers have him within two of the team’s leader in that category, Dan Johnson. Johnson has hit his 16 blasts in 107 games and 369 at-bats. Ruiz has amassed his gaudy total in just 43 games and 170 at-bats. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, Ruiz would lead the league in home run to at-bat ratio (1:12.14). The league’s overall home run leader with 28, Buffalo’s Mauro Gomez, the reigning IL MVP, paces the loop with his 1:12.57 ratio. Ruiz has three of his homers during his hitting streak in which he is connecting at a .410 rate (16-for-39) with seven extra-base hits in total. He has excelled against left-handed pitching (.348/.388/.761/1.149) and on the road (.373/.388/.639/1.027).
SENT FROM ABOVE: Since coming back from the bigs, All-Star outfielder Thomas Neal has gone 8-for-21 (.381). Before this modest surge, Neal had not logged a hit since July 12. He was 0-for-9 in games before and after the All-Star break and spent a week in the big leagues without seeing game action thereafter.