Porcupine Points: June 19 at Toledo
MOTHER NAUGHTY BY NATURE: A 48-minute delay preceded play, but the RailRiders claimed a 3-0 lead early in Toledo. Alas, Mother Nature’s prosperous path led to a doomed finish. A Manny Pina home run gave the Mud Hens a one-run edge and driving rains spoiled a bases-loaded comeback threat as the RailRiders lost a rain-shortened contest at Fifth Third Field Wednesday night, 4-3.
BILL ME: It spoiled a solid showing by Bruce Billings (4-3). The Opening Day man tossed seven innings for the third time this season, struck out a season-best seven, and retired the last 10 he faced. He also allowed the four scores and took his second straight loss. At home, Billings has gone 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, a .191 batting average against and no home runs. On the road, he is 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA, a .339 batting average against and five home runs allowed.
CURSES, ZOILED AGAIN: The RailRiders loaded the bases with three-two out walks in the eighth, but rains forced the tarp to unfurl with Zoilo Almonte at the plate and an 0-1 count on the board. After a 1:05 delay, the umpires called the contest over. That snapped Almonte’s hitting streak at 15 games as he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. It was the IL’s top active hitting streak and one of the loop’s top five on the season. The string’s early stage was disrupted by a nearly month-long stay in the bigs. Despite that, he leads the team in home runs (10) and RBIs (35). During his hitting streak he went 21-for-62 (.339) with four home runs, 12 RBIs and eight runs scored. Almonte and Rochester’s Chris Parmelee now share one of the league’s five-best hitting streaks this season. Kevin Pillar’s 18-gamer with Buffalo is the current gold standard with Adonis Garcia‘s 17-gamer tied for second. Garcia’s was the SWB franchise’s best in half a decade.
SEVENTH HEAVEN: Billings authored the team’s seventh start of seven innings or more. The 4-3 final that lowered Billings’ record to 4-3 brought the team’s mark in games where its starter goes at least seven innings to…4-3.
FALLING FROM AHEAD: By blowing a 3-0 advantage, the RailRiders tied their season-high mark for largest lead erased in a loss. The team saw a 3-0 edge evaporate in a 5-4 loss at Columbus in last Thursday’s road trip opener. That came the night after a 3-0 lead led to a 6-3 loss in 10 innings versus Toledo in last homestand’s June 10 finale. The RailRiders have owned a lead in 15 (41%) of their 37 losses.
BEST IN THE WEST: Today’s contest concludes a stretch of 24 straight games against non-divisional foes with the bulk of them coming against the IL West. The team is 10-13 through 23 games on this run and 13-10 against IL West teams on the year. When SWB returns home, it begins the second half of its 144-game schedule and plunges back into IL North play against Pawtucket. Two-thirds of the team’s remaining 72 contests will pit it against its Northern brothers.
OFF THE RAILS: The RailRiders have allowed a homer in a season-worst 10 straight games…Despite that surge, SWB pitching has only surrendered 43 total taters, the IL’s third-lowest sum (Pawtucket 36; Syracuse 39)…Toledo’s Mike Hessman, who stands one home run shy of snapping a tie with Buffalo legend Ollie Carnegie for the most home runs in IL history, has yet to face the RailRiders this season while he mends a wrist injury from a collision at home plate, oddly enough, in Buffalo…The RailRiders have lost six of their last seven one-run games…They are guaranteed to endure a losing road trip and to return home to NEPA with a losing record…Wednesday marked SWB’s first rain-shortened game since an Aug. 15, 2012 doubleheader nightcap at Pawtucket was called after four-and-a-half innings due to rain and lightning…The result that Wednesday night was a 5-2 PawSox win…Billings delivered the RailRiders’ first start of seven or more innings since Zach Nuding lasted eight innings in a May 24 win against Rochester…Antoan Richardson notched his team-best 18th stolen base…He ranks second in the league and has not been nabbed in his last 41 attempts going back to last May.