Porcupine Points – August 20
DEADLY DEBUT: Who is Perci Garner? The RailRiders found out last night. Reigning IL Pitcher of the Year Tyler Cloyd got bumped so he could start today’s tilt for the big league Phils against Colorado. In a corresponding move, Garner, a 2010 second-rounder who was struggling as a repeater at High-A Clearwater, got the call. And boy did he deliver. He had been 0-5 in his last six starts for the Threshers with a 6.21 ERA. On Monday night, he changed velocities with ease while filling the zone with strikes en route to a win in his first career outing above the Advanced-A level. Garner allowed just two runs while striking out seven.
DAS BOOT: Garner’s counterpart, IL All-Star Chris Bootcheck (9-7), was once again denied win No. 10. The veteran right-hander battled, but suffered his fifth loss in six starts. After going 4-0, 3.52 in four starts before the All-Star break, Bootcheck has gone 0-5, 4.86 in six nods. The team has averaged just 1.8 runs/game of support for him in that time. His last win was on July 13, a seven-inning complete game at Buffalo.
STANDINGS SNAPSHOT: Last night’s loss lowered the RailRiders’ elimination number in the division to five and eight in the wild-card chase. The RailRiders entered today 9.5 games out in the North Division they won a season ago. It is their largest hole since the a six-game win streak in early July turned a 12.5-game margin into a six-game deficit. Thanks to Syracuse’s 6-2 defeat of Indianapolis, the RailRiders are just 1.5 games out of last place. They have not sat in sixth place since starting the year 1-5.
WHO’S HOT?: Ronnier Mustelier has hit safely in eight straight games, connecting at a .379 (11-for-29) rate with three doubles, three RBIs and five walks (.471 OBP)…Dan Johnson has a five-game string of success, hitting .381 (8-for-21) with three extra-base hits, three RBIs and six walks (.519 OBP)…In 15 games since rejoining the team from the big leagues, Melky Mesa has hit .339 (21-for-62)/.364/.613/.977 with nine extra-base hits and 17 RBIs…He has served as SWB’s three-hole hitter in eight straight games and is a .343 hitter since the All-Star break.
WHO’S NOT?: In eight games since returning from the big leagues, Brent Lillibridge has hit .167 (5-for-30) with 10 strikeouts…After connecting at a .333 clip in July, Adonis Garcia has hit just .186 in 16 games this month…Last night he became the RailRiders’ 17th different DH this season…Addison Maruszak is hitless since July 9, going 0-for-20 in that time with five strikeouts…Since returning from his third stint this season in the bigs, David Adams has gone 2-for-22 (.091) with seven strikeouts…The slump has lowered his overall contact clip to .280, the lowest it has been since April 17…J.R. Murphy was a .297 stick at the close of July, but has hit .164 (9-for-55) in 14 August affairs…Alberto Gonzalez went 0-for-4 with a strikeout last night to dip his batting average below the Mendoza line for the first time since a June single at Durham on June 3 lifted him to .200 even…He is 0-for-13 with five strikeouts since hitting his lone SWB homer off of Jason Berken on Wednesday…He was a .234 hitter going into the All-Star break, but has hit just .165 since the league’s three-day vacation.
IRONRAIL TROPHY: On June 13, the RailRiders and IronPigs announced that they will be playing for the “IronRail Trophy”. The 16-game series between the RailRiders and IronPigs will decide the winner. The losing team’s GM will sing in a fat lady costume on the winner’s field, and a feast will be paid for by the losing team as well. The trophy will be held by the winning team, displayed for all to see. The 2013 series currently favors the ‘Pigs, 6-4. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre owns a 52-38 lead in the all-time series dating back to Lehigh Valley’s inaugural 2008 season. Lehigh Valley has only once won a season series against SWB, and did so by the slimmest of margins when it went 9-7 against NEPA’s team in 2010. The two clubs split the season series in 2012. In the event of 8-8 ties, the club that wins the final regular-season meeting will also claim the IronRail Trophy.