Porcupine Points – August 31
WINNER TAKES ALL: Despite trailing in the series after last night’s loss, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders can still take the IronRail trophy to NEPA with a win tonight. The IronPigs hold an 8-7 series lead, but by rule, if the series finishes in a tie, the trophy goes to the team that won the last contest. That makes tonight’s game a winner takes all affair.
SAY HELLO TO MR. 72: The RailRiders will see a 72nd different player suit up in a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre uniform tonight, as Jairo Heredia was promoted to SWB from Advanced-A Tampa, bringing the roster to 25 players. Heredia was 3-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 36.1 innings in seven starts with Tampa, and has struck out a total of 65 in 65.0 innings when you include his numbers with Staten Island. Heredia was signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2006, but missed all of 2012 while recovering from shoulder surgery. The IL record for different players used in a season is 75, set by Norfolk last season.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: The RailRiders jumped out to a four-run lead after just four innings of play. Three of the runs came in the third inning after left fielder Cesar Hernandez dropped what would have been the third out. Instead, Ronnier Mustelier ended up at second base, and J.R. Murphy scored on the play. That setup a two-run home run by Randy Ruiz that capped the inning. David Adams led off with a homer in the fourth, but that would be all for the SWB scoring. Lehigh Valley plated two in the seventh on a Michael Martinez triple, and he later singled home the winning-run in a three-run ninth inning.
WHITLEY THE WIZARD: Chase Whitley was sensational last night, but did not factor into the decision. He one-hit the IronPigs during his six innings of work. In addition to issuing just one walk, Whitley did not allow a run and struck out five. Whitley closed out the season in the rotation after being pressed into starting duty on Aug. 8 in Buffalo. He made a total of five starts, and posted a 1-0 record with a 1.64 earned run average. In 22.0 innings, he allowed just 15 hits, four earned runs, and struck out 18 batters.
POWER OUTAGE OVER: It had been 73 at-bats since Randy Ruiz last homered, but Ruiz ended his drought with a two-run blast in the third inning. He last homered off Bobby Korecky in game two of a doubleheader in Buffalo on Aug. 8. Despite the lack of power over the last three weeks, Ruiz is the active leader on the club with 16 home runs and 41 RBIs.
ADONIS WILL TAKE TWO: Since his batting average dipped to .258, outfielder Adonis Garcia has recorded multi-hit games in four out of his last six games to raise the mark a modest eight points to .266. Garcia started his RailRider career red-hot, and batted .333 (28-84) in the month of July. Entering tonight’s game, Garcia is only hitting .212 (22-104) in the month of August with just five extra-base hits.
BIG BOOST TO THE ‘PEN: Right-hander Dellin Betances hasn’t just given height to the RailRider bullpen, he’s been one of the most dominant relievers since being moved out of the rotation. He hit the 60.0 innings plateau as a reliever last night, and has posted a 1.35 ERA in 32 outings. More impressive, Betances has held batters to a .163 average, which is second among all relievers in the International League. His strikeout rate has also been outstanding (12.45 per nine innings), and it ranks fifth in the IL among relievers. Teammate Jim Miller is third with a 13.2 rate per nine frames.
MUST BE THE BACON: Reigning IL Player of the Week Ronnier Mustelier has enjoyed hitting off Lehigh Valley pitching. In his 11 contests, Mustelier is batting .395 (17-43) with four doubles and two home runs. For the season, Mustelier is batting .267, and is the only active RailRider with more than eight at-bats hitting above .300 against the Pigs.