Porcupine Points: August 8
MORE DOUBLEHEADER FUN: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Buffalo Bisons were first scheduled to meet on April 11 in Buffalo, but three consecutive rainouts forced the teams to play catch-up the rest of the season. The makeup games end tonight, as the two squads will play a twin bill at Coca-Cola Field. SWB owns a 14-6 record in doubleheaders, which is five wins better than Buffalo for the league lead.
LAST TIME OUT: The RailRiders and Bisons last met right before the All-Star break in mid-July. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre took two of three games, including a doubleheader sweep on July 13. Tonight’s starter, Chris Bootcheck, got the win for the RailRiders in game one, while Mike Zagurski proved victorious in game two. Buffalo bested SWB in the finale, as Ricky Romero earned his second win in a Bisons uniform. The RailRiders own the series advantage over Buffalo, 7-4.
GOODBYES ARE THE HARDEST: Last night, the RailRiders said goodbye to the Syracuse Chiefs on their 2013 regular season schedule, and SWB did so in winning fashion in a 7-2 decision. Caleb Cotham produced his second consecutive outstanding start, as he tied his season-high with seven innings tossed and allowed just two solo homers his final inning of work. The offense scored in five different innings, including a three spot in the top of the fifth inning.
TWICE IS NICE FOR DAN THE MAN: After a slow start to his season, Dan Johnson has found his swing, and that trend continued last night. Johnson hit two home runs, the first a two-run blast in the fifth, and the second a line-drive homer in the seventh. It was the first time Johnson has homered twice this season, and the first time he has homered more than once in a game since October 3, 2012, when he homered three times against the Cleveland Indians as a member of the Chicago White Sox. He became the fifth different RailRider to hit more than one dinger in a game, and the first since Fernando Martinez did so in Pawtucket on June 29.
MESA THE FRONT MAN: Since his return to SWB from the Yankees on Saturday, Melky Mesa has recorded three hits, three RBIs, and three runs scored. The move back to Triple-A has also meant a lineup swtich for Mesa, who has batted in the lead-off spot since his return. Mesa went 2-4 last night in Syracuse, and doubled twice while scoring a pair of runs. While the sample size is small, Mesa is hitting .242 (8-33) in eight games when batting first.
HOLD THE RUNS PLEASE: For the first time this season, Dellin Betances’ earned run average sits below three, as he enters today’s doubleheader with a 2.97 mark. The reason has been his move to the bullpen. Since his first relief appearance on May 10, Betances’ ERA has dropped two and a half points. The towering right-hander hasn’t allowed a run since June 16 in Lehigh Valley, and sports a 1.48 ERA as a reliever. His 63 strikeouts in 48.2 innings and .169 opponent batting average indicate Betances just may have found a future big league home in the ‘pen.
RETURN TO THE LINEUP: Last night marked the return to the lineup for super utility man, Addison Maruszak. While it did not go well for Maruszak at the plate, he played third base for just the 14th time last season, as he continues to see a lot of time at multiple positions. Maruszak went 0-4 at the dish, but when he hit the DL on July 12, he was batting .269 after a .337 (32-95) mark in June.
NOT JUST A SLICK FIELDER: With a base hit last night, defensive wizard Alberto Gonzalez has recorded hits in five of the six games this month. Not included in that sample is his game-winning base hit in the resumption of the suspended game on Tuesday, which actually counts for July 12. Gonzalez owns SWB’s best fielding percentages at shortstop and third base, and he’s tied for the best percentage at second base.