Porcupine Points – August 21
ON THE CHASE: Much of the talk heading into last night’s series finale in Allentown centered around rehabbing big leaguer Jonathan Pettibone. But while Pettibone delivered a quality start, usual SWB reliever Chase Whitley stole the show en route to a 3-1 win for the RailRiders over the IronPigs. Whitley (3-2), who had three career starts entering 2013, started for the third time this campaign and posted a win with his longest career outing. The former Troy University star allowed one unearned run over five frames with no walks and four strikeouts. He also lowered his starting ERA to a sparkling 0.75.
JETERMANIA: With just six home games remaining on their regular season, the impetus to be a part of the historic inaugural season at the new PNC Field has been kicked up a notch. Derek Jeter will begin a minor league rehab assignment with the RailRiders starting Thursday, Aug. 22.
BULLISH ‘PEN: Behind Whitley, Dellin Betances and Jim Miller combined on four innings of one-hit, shutout relief. Both men have dominated since rough beginnings to the year. Betances had a 6.00 ERA as a starter, but has owned the IL since moving to the bullpen in early May. In that role, he is 4-2 with four saves in as many tries and a 1.36 ERA. He has struck out 69 men in 53 innings (11.72/9 IP) while holding the league to a .167 average. Moreoever after averaging 6BB/9 IP as a starter, that number sits at 3.9 in relief. Miller, who had an ERA over 40 following two tough appearances against Pawtucket to begin the year, has dominated since (2.03 ERA, .203 BAA). Last night, he earned his team-leading fifth save. He ranks third among IL relievers with 13.3K/9 IP and has held lefties to a .144 average with 49 strikeouts in 97 at-bats. Lefties hit .136 against him in the big leagues last season with Oakland.
STANDINGS SNAPSHOT: Last night’s SWB win and Rochester’s 5-1 loss to Louisville maintained the RailRiders’ elimination number in the division at five and eight in the wild-card chase. Thanks to Syracuse’s 3-2 defeat of Indianapolis, the RailRiders also remained just 1.5 games out of last place. They have not sat in sixth since starting the year 1-5. Pawtucket’s third straight win and ninth in 10 games, however, lowered the RailRiders’ elimination number in the wild-card chase to seven. SWB is looking up at five teams in that chase (Pawtucket, Norfolk, Buffalo, Lehigh Valley and Columbus).
WHO’S HOT?: Ronnier Mustelier has hit safely in a personal season-high-tying nine straight games, connecting at a .424 (14-for-33) rate with three doubles, four RBIs and five walks (.500 OBP)…That makes for the IL’s top average and second-best OBP in that time (Darin Mastroianni, ROC, .556)…Dan Johnson has a seven-game string of success, hitting .400 (10-for-25) with three extra-base hits, three RBIs and six walks (.516 OBP)…In 16 games since rejoining the team from the big leagues, Melky Mesa has hit .323 (21-for-65)/.357/.585/.942 with nine extra-base hits and 17 RBIs…He has served as SWB’s three-hole hitter in nine straight games (10 total) and is a .329 hitter since the All-Star break after entering it at .245.
WHO’S NOT?: In eight games since returning from the big leagues, Brent Lillibridge has hit .176 (6-for-34) with 11 strikeouts…After connecting at a .333 clip in July, Adonis Garcia has hit just .186 in 16 games this month…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 3-for-27 (.111) with eight strikeouts…The slump has lowered his overall contact clip to .277, the lowest it has been since April 17…J.R. Murphy was a .297 stick at the close of July, but has hit .186 (11-for-59) in 15 August affairs…Alberto Gonzalez went 1-for-4 last night to bring his batting average back up to the Mendoza line at .200 even…He is 1-for-17 with five strikeouts since hitting his lone SWB homer off of Jason Berken exactly one week ago…He was a .234 hitter going into the All-Star break, but has hit just .169 since the league’s three-day vacation.
ROSTER MOVES: Earlier today, the Yankees announced several SWB moves. Infielder Brendan Harris has been released, right-hander Preston Claiborne has rejoined the team after serving as the Yankees’ “26th man” yesterday and right-hander Graham Stoneburner has returned from Double-A Trenton.