Porcupine Points: May 31 at Indianapolis
NOT-SO-GREAT EIGHT: An eight-run fifth inning proved the difference as the RailRiders lost their series opener at Indianapolis on Friday night, 11-6.
ON THE OFFENSIVE: Offensive issues were had by the RailRiders as well, with 14 men stranded and a 5-for-21 showing with men in scoring position.
DOWN & UP: The RailRiders fell into a tie for fourth place in the IL North with Friday’s loss, but leapt into first in the league in team batting average at .269. The RailRiders rank fourth in slugging (.395) but have the loop’s second fewest walks (156) and stand seventh in on-base percentage (.334). The contact clip and power numbers have surged on this road trip. Through five games, the team has gone 77-for-205 (.376) with 23 extra-base hits. Last night saw the team log 13 hits including five doubles.
FA SO DE LA: Joel De La Cruz (1-3) lost for the second time in as many starts. He won his Triple-A debut at Norfolk May 4 and the team won his second start, a solid no-decision versus Durham May 9. Since then, the team has gone 1-3 in his last four nods despite a solid 3.74 ERA in that time. Last night he was tagged with a season-worst-tying five runs (three earned) in a season-low four-plus frames.
INHERITANCE TAX: De La Cruz departed a 3-3 draw only to see two of his hand-me-down men cross during Diego Moreno‘s roughest outing as a RailRider. The former Pirates farmhand had not allowed an inherited runner to cross since he was in the Pittsburgh chain with Advanced-A Bradenton on Aug. 21, 2011 – a span of 33 appearances. On the season, the RailRiders’ bullpen has allowed 24 of 62 inherited runners (39%) to eventually cross. Moreno was charged with six runs, five hits and two walks on his own line. He threw 30 pitches (17 strikes) in one inning as his ERA rose from 2.76 to 5.71.
LONG TIME, FIRST TIME: At 3:40, last night was SWB’s longest nine-inning game since a June 9, 2012 loss to Louisville in Rochester also took 3:40. Starter Dellin Betances took the loss in the 9-5 game. Corban Joseph and Doug Bernier knocked in two runs apiece. SWB’s has not played a longer nine-inning game since taking 3:41 to win at Indianapolis in 2010, 10-7. The game started on May 20, endured a 1:50 delay and was suspended before its May 21 conclusion. The franchise’s all-time wins leader, Kei Igawa (33), got the win in relief of an ineffective Ivan Nova. Jonathan Albaladejo earned the 13th of his franchise record 43 saves that season. He also owns the career saves mark at 54.
PACK ‘EM IN: Last night’s crowd was also the largest to see the RailRiders play this season. Victory Field boasted a paid attendance of 11,744, surpassing the 10,011 that saw the RailRiders face the Bulls in Durham on April 26.
BACK IN THE SADDLE: Joseph singled twice, walked once and drove in a run. He did not play for more than a week before starting in Tuesday’s win at Louisville. He has played in each of the team’s last four games, going 7-for-14 with two extra-base hits and six RBIs.
UNDER MY PIRELA: Jose Pirela went 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI, a walk and a run scored. The usual second baseman has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games. In that time, he has posted slashes of .411/.476/.518/.994. That makes for the fourth-best average in Triple-A over that time. His .306 average ranks sixth in the IL and ties him with Charleston’s Aaron Judge for fifth on the Yankees’ farm.
IT’S GONNA BE MAY: At 16-13 in May, the RailRiders have locked up their first winning month since July of last season (16-13). One more win would mean the franchise’s best month since a 22-9 August in 2012.
OFF THE RAILS: Kyle Roller leads the Yankees’ farm with his composite .338 average…With two errors last night, the RailRiders’ league-high total rose to 53…SWB ranks last in IL fielding percentage (.972)…Former New York Yankee/RailRider Cody Eppley (1-1) got the win last night for the Indians.