Porcupine Points – August 25
EL CAPITÁN: Derek Jeter singled on a 1-for-3 night, but made one of the team’s season-worst four errors as the RailRiders fell to the PawSox in 10 innings, 5-4. Jeter went 4-for-18 (.222) with five walks (.391 OBP) in seven games as a RailRider. He also committed three errors in 17 total chances in that time.
THE FIX IS IN: The RailRiders posted their 24th fixed-seat sellout of the season last night. Seven of the fixed-seat sellouts have come with Jeter in the lineup for a cumulative paid crowd of 66,860 (9,551/game). PNC Field has 7,115 fixed seats. When factoring in the NEPA Honda Homer Zone (lawn seats) and standing-room maximums, capacity for the first-year facility is 10,000. Thursday night’s crowd brought the franchise’s season-long attendance figure over 400,000 for the first time since 2008.
A TRUE MUSTY: Ronnier Mustelier, SWB’s lone entrant into MiLB’s annual Moniker Madness contest for the best name in minor league baseball, has also been the team’s best bat of late. Last night he went 1-for-4 with a run scored. He has hit safely in 12 straight games and has multiple knocks in five of his last six. Over his longer string of success, the IL’s best active hit streak, he has hit .455 (20-for-44) with five doubles, five RBIs and six walks (.543 OBP). That makes for Triple-A’s second-best average in that time (Alex Presley, Indianapolis, .500). During his streak, his average has soared by 34 points (.233-.267) and his on-base percentage has shot up 40 points (.273-.313).
STANDINGS SNAPSHOT: Last night’s win dropped the RailRiders’ elimination number to one in the division and two in the wild-card chase. Out of town, Rochester fell to Indianapolis, 6-4. The Red Wings have lost four straight, but still lead the wild-card field by 1.5 games. Indy clinched the IL West with its win, joining Durham as cemented playoff participants. Last night also saw Syracuse drop a 5-4 decision to Charlotte to stay even with the RailRiders in the IL North’s cellar. The RailRiders have not sat in sixth by their lonesome since starting the year 1-5. Pawtucket has won six of seven and 12 of 14 to own first in the North 1.5 games.
BREAKING OUT: Addison Maruszak replaced Jeter defensively in the eighth after Jeter finished his scheduled seven innings of play. In the bottom half of the inning, he delivered a two-out, two-run double to snap what had been an 0-for-20 skid. It made for his first hit since July 9 against Rochester.
JUST (MED)CHILL: In his second career Triple-A game, Neil Medchill collected his first hit at the highest level of the minors. The Oklahoma State product connected on a two-out, two-run single that tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and forced free baseball. The former JUCO All-American at Chandler-Gilbert C.C. (alma mater of Andre Ethier) spent more than two months on the DL before becoming the RailRiders’ 70th player of the season on Thursday.
TOUGH LUCK: All-Star starter Chris Bootcheck (9-7) departed a 1-0 game and saw his final line include two scores (one earned) on three hits over 6.2 innings. Alas, he settled for a no-decision as his seventh attempt at win No. 10 fell short. Bootcheck was 9-2 at the All-Star break.
OFF THE RAILS: The RailRiders, who lead the IL with 122 home runs, have not homered in a season-high six straight games…All of the RailRiders’ eight hits last night were singles…SWB slammed 15 home runs during its five-game series at McCoy Stadium from June 29-July 3…Thirteen of the dingers came in its three wins…Jeremy Hazelbaker singled and stole a bag last night…He has hit .362 (17-for-47)/.388/.638/1.026 with six extra-base hits and nine RBIs in 11 games against the RailRiders…He has hit .252 against every other IL team…SWB and Pawtucket began the season with an extra-inning contest won by the PawSox…The final clash of the teams at PNC Field this season went the same way.