Porcupine Points – August 14
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: On the day he turned 34, veteran outfielder Corey Patterson proved fairly giving. The birthday boy delivered a solo homer on a three-hit day with two runs scored, and managed to swipe a base in the process as the RailRiders beat the Knights, 7-1.
BACK-TO-BACK JACKS: Patterson’s seventh-inning blast off Simon Castro was promptly followed by catcher J.R. Murphy‘s fourth home run of the season and his first since July 3. It made for the RailRiders’ fourth set of back-to-back home runs on the season. Addison Maruszak had been involved during each of SWB’s first three consecutive clouts. On June 4 against Syracuse’s Jeff Mandel, Melky Mesa went yard before Maruszak did the same. Josh Bell set the stage for Maruszak against Brandon Workman at Pawtucket on June 30. Most recently, it was Maruszak first and Patterson second off Lehigh Valley’s Tom Cochran on July 7. Despite a 50-66 home-road split of taters on the season, the three of the RailRiders’ four back-to-back performances have come at PNC Field.
LET’S GET HIM ON: Murphy reached base five times in five plate appearances. In addition to his homer, he hustled to beat out a throw from Marcus Semien after the Charlotte shortstop errantly bobbled his fielding attempt. Starter Erik Johnson (2-1) hit Murphy with his first pitch of the third inning. In the fourth, Murphy delivered a two-out RBI single that scored Brent Lillibridge. After his homer in the seventh, Murphy rallied from down 0-2 in the count to work a walk that loaded the bases against Tony Pena, Jr. in the eighth. After dipping down below .270 for the first time since his first week at Triple-A, Murphy has hit safely in four straight games, going 6-for-14 (.429) with three extra-base hits, three RBIs, two walks and three runs scored. The spurt has lifted his season-long contact clip by 13 points (.268-.281). The RailRiders’ primary catcher caught Steve Tolleson stealing. Murphy cut down Charlotte’s second-leading steals man during his first-inning try at second base. Tolleson had not been nabbed since June 21 at Indianapolis.
C.C.: Caleb Cotham (5-5) leveled his record with five innings of five-hit, one-run ball for his second win in as many starts and his third straight winning decision. After failing to post a monthly ERA below 5.71 between May, June or July, Cotham is off to a fantastic start this month. In three starts, he is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA. While he only has five strikeouts over 18 innings on the month, he has also issued just three walks (1.5/9 IP) and has seen his groundout-to-airout ratio improve to 1.69 on the month. The team now has a winning record when Cotham gets the nod (7-6). His ERA, which peaked at 11.34 after a May 25 home loss to Durham, was at 7.49 following a tough loss at Pawtucket on July 3. Last night’s effort lowered it to 5.63 on the year, the best it has been since he suffered a rough setback in his second Triple-A start at Toledo on May 14.
NEW TO THE FOLD: Former Philadelphia Phillies hurler David Herndon made his RailRiders debut with 1.1 innings of scoreless and hitless relief. A fifth-rounder by the Angels in 2006, he was a Rule 5 pick by the Phillies in 2009. He made 92 appearances for the Phils from 2010-11, but needed Tommy John in 2012. Last night marked just his ninth career Triple-A appearance.
PLAYER PARADE: Herndon became the 69th different man to play for the RailRiders this season. There have been 35 position players and 34 pitchers in the RailRiders colors in 2013. Last season, Norfolk set the IL record by using 75 different players, surpassing the 74 players used by the 2003 Louisville Bats. The Tides also tied an IL record by using 25 different starting pitchers, and 15 different pitchers registered a save. Norfolk made 228 roster moves during the course of its 144-game season, and the Tides had just two players – outfielder Jamie Hoffmann and reliever Oscar Villarreal – remain active with the club throughout the year. By comparison, the RailRiders have seen 168 roster moves thus far, 20 different starting pitchers, and 12 different pitchers have registered a save. That does not include any moves that might be made today after press time of these notes. Only three men – Dan Johnson, Jim Miller and Bobby Wilson have been active RailRiders from Opening Day to date without interruption.