Porcupine Points: May 8 vs. Indianapolis
LAST TIME OUT: The RailRiders claimed a season-best fourth straight win on Wednesday morning in a 3-1 clipping of the Indianapolis Indians. Starter Brian Gordon (2-2) efficiently tossed a career-high-tying seven innings on 85 pitches (55 strikes) and the bullpen did its job as the RailRiders climbed over the .500 mark for the first time since they were 10-9.
CHANGING IT UP: Jose Ramirez made one mistake, a bruised batter, in a scoreless eighth inning that included a strikeout. It marked the 2014 debut for the highly-ranked prospect who is blessed with the “Best Fastball” and “Best Changeup” on the Yankees’ farm per Baseball America.
DALEY DOUBLE: Closer Matt Daley logged his fourth save of the season and his second of the series with a scoreless ninth. He faced the minimum, but issued a leadoff walk to Chris McGuiness. The former Bucknell star also posted another strikeout. He has 21 whiffs on the season in 13.2 innings. That ranks him third among IL relievers with his 13.83 K / 9 IP rate.
IN HIS WHEELHOUSE: Zelous Wheeler‘s seventh-inning single set the stage for the insurance run he later scored and stretched his hitting streak to 10 games. The team’s best active string of swinging success has seen Wheeler hit .375 (15-for-40) with four doubles, a homer, five RBIs and 10 runs scored. Wheeler was 1-for-3 yesterday with a bases-loaded walk.
WHO’S ON FIRST?: Usual outfielder Ramon Flores started at first base on Wednesday. While it was his first foray at the position this season, it is something he has done before. He played first base 22 times in 2010 with most of those games coming in the Rookie GCL. In 2011, he saw action at first in 23 games with Low-A Charleston and added a pair of games at the position in 2012 with Double-A Trenton. It marked Flores’ first start at first base since April 17, 2012.
IT FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: The contest included another 2014 first for the RailRiders. Manager Dave Miley used a pinch hitter for the first time this season when NEPA’s own Russ Canzler hit for Corban Joseph in an eighth-inning left-right switch against southpaw Andy Oliver. Canzler walked to load the bases and Wheeler followed with a free pass of his own to make it 3-1.
WHY SO SERIESOUS?: The SWB franchise already has its first series win against Indianapolis since 2010. Tonight, it looks for its first sweep of the Tribe since that same prior set – a four-game run in Moosic from June 12-15. The then-SWB Yankees took the finale 4-1 behind starter Ivan Nova‘s eight innings of work, a perfect ninth by closer Jonathan Albaladejo and a four-RBI day from Reid Gorecki. Albaladejo earned his 22nd save in that Tuesday tilt. He went on to set the franchise record with a league-best 43 on the year, 17 better than Lehigh Valley’s runner-up, Scott Mathieson. SWB won the IL North by 11.0 games with its 87-56 record, but fell to the wild-card and eventual Governors’ Cup champion Columbus Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. The Clippers later defeated the Tacoma Rainers in the Triple-A National Championship Game with a man who later started for the RailRiders, southpaw David Huff, getting the win.
OFF THE RAILS: Tonight’s starter, Zach Nuding, made his 2014 Triple-A debut on Saturday against the same club that he saw in his outright Triple-A debut last season, the Norfolk Tides…Brian Gordon had gone seven innings three times before in his pro career with the most recent outing before Wednesday coming on June 1, 2011 at Gwinnett…He struck out a career-best 11 men that day while pitching for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs…Zoilo Almonte doubled in his team-best 22nd RBI on Wednesday…That total ranks him second on the Yankees’ farm…Double-A Trenton’s Kyle Roller has 23 RBIs and nine home runs.