Porcupine Points – August 26
A LEAD LOST: With their playoff pulse barely registering, the RailRiders leapt out to a 5-1 lead at McCoy Stadium on Sunday night. But abundant run-scoring chances fell short as they left the bases loaded in the third, fourth and fifth. That opened the door for an opportunistic PawSox team to score five unanswered runs, including a go-ahead homer by Brock Holt at the start of the seventh. Factor in a scoreless ninth from closer Anthony Carter and the night added up to a 6-5 RailRiders’ loss. The RailRiders outhit the PawSox 14-6, but left 15 men on base and went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. It marks the RailRiders’ second-largest lead blown in a loss this season, trailing only the five-run advantage squandered at Toledo on May 15.
PLAYOFF PICTURE: With last night’s loss the RailRiders have been officially eliminated from repeating as IL North champs and now face an elimination number of one in the wild-card chase. Their next loss, or Rochester’s next win will cement a postseason-free campaign for just the second time in the era of SWB’s Yankees’ affiliation. Rochester fell to Indianapolis yesterday in 10 innings, 8-5. The Red Wings have lost five straight, but still lead the wild-card field by a half-game. Last night also saw Syracuse drop a 3-1 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. SWB has not finished in last since 1998. Pawtucket has won seven of eight and 13 of 15 to own the North by 2.5 games.
HELLO MR. WILSON!: Bobby Wilson’s impactful swings continued last night. Despite playing for just the second time in nine days and the sixth time since July 30, Wilson posted a pair of hits including a go-ahead two-run homer in the second inning. He finished with three RBIs in total thanks to a bases-loaded walk in the third. Wilson has hit .215 and boasts just 43 hits in 62 games played, but has hit seven homers and owns 37 RBIs. He has a nearly even walk (32) to strikeout (35) ratio this season and is the only one of the RailRiders four different catchers to post a winning record. The team is 29-28 with the current back-up, Wilson, as the starter, but has losing marks when Jeff Farnham (6-8), J.R. Murphy (24-28) or Austin Romine (5-8) have gotten the nod behind the dish.
BEST WEEK EVER: 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. And for his efforts from Aug. 15-21, he was named the IL’S Batter of the Week today. Last night he went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. He has hit safely in 13 straight games and has multiple knocks in six of his last seven. Over his longer string of success, the IL’s best active hit streak, he has hit .458 (22-for-48) with six doubles, five RBIs and seven walks (.527 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 37 points (.233-.270) and his on-base percentage has shot up 45 points (.273-.318).
DAN THE MAN: Dan Johnson delivered three hits, including his team-leading 26th double and team-best 69th RBI. Johnson also worked his league-leading 92nd walk of the campaign. He has hit .337/.461/.590/1.051 in 24 August games played.
OFF THE RAILS: The RailRiders, who lead the IL with 123 home runs, had not homered in a season-high six straight games before Wilson’s blow last night…SWB has slammed 16 home runs during its six games thus far at McCoy Stadium…Thirteen of the dingers have come in its three wins…Bryce Brentz was activated off Pawtucket’s DL yesterday and played for the first time since July 5…The 2010 first-rounder (36th overall) bashed a two-run homer in his second plate appearance…It made for his first round-tripper since a July 2 loss to SWB when he hit a solo shot off of SWB All-Star Chris Bootcheck…He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee less than six weeks ago…Ballots for the IL’s year-end All-Star team were due to the league office today…After going 0-for-3 with the bases loaded last night, SWB has hit .174 with the bases full (21-for-121)…No other team has hit less than .238 (Toledo) with the bases juiced.