Porcupine Points: June 27 vs Syracuse
SPLIT DOUBLE-DIP: It started so well. The RailRiders jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks in large part to a Taylor Dugas bases-loaded double, held off a rally, and used some final-frame insurance to best the mighty Syracuse Chiefs in Thursday’s doubleheader opener, 7-4. The IL juggernaut’s eight-game winning streak was snapped. The RailRiders’ had sliced into their significant divisional deficit. Then came game two. A 3-0 lead thanks to an Austin Romine bases-loaded double seemed set to deliver a carbon-copy victory. But homers by Steven Souza, Jr. and Zach Walters tied the game while chasing Nik Turley. Former SWB and New York Yankee Brandon Laird then singled home Souza in the fourth to give the Chiefs a 4-3 lead. That advantage went final.
THAT’S A FIRST: The doubleheader included Dugas’ first Triple-A extra-base hit…John Ryan Murphy‘s first passed ball as a 2014 RailRider…Scott Sizemore‘s first game at first base since May 29…SWB’s first twinbill since April 17.
FALLING FROM AHEAD: By blowing a 3-0 advantage in game two, the RailRiders tied their season-high mark for largest lead erased in a loss. The team saw a 3-0 edge in a 6-3 loss to Toledo in 10 innings on June 10; in a 5-4 loss at Columbus on June 12; and June 18 in a rain-shortened 4-3 loss at Toledo on June 18. The RailRiders have owned a lead in 19 (45%) of their 42 losses.
TOUGH TIMES: Since its May 28 win at Louisville, SWB has gone 10-18 (.357). Ten of those losses have come by one run or in extra innings.
STOP, THIEVES!: The Chiefs went 4-for-4 in stolen base tries on Thursday. The RailRiders have allowed their opponents to successfully swipe a bag in each of their last 22 tries. The RailRiders have nabbed just 21 of 107 (.196) would-be base stealers. No IL team has had more stolen base attempts or successes against it than SWB which has the circuit’s worst caught-stealing efficiency. Syracuse has allowed the loop’s second-fewest swipes (34) and has seen opponents attempt just 50 steals, also the second-lowest number in the IL.
SCOUTING SYRACUSE: The Chiefs are the hottest and best team in the IL. Winners in nine of 10 while outscoring foes 69-28, the Chiefs have gone a league-best 19-6 in June while leading the league with a .299 team batting average. Steven Souza leads the league in average (.368), OBP (.462) and SLG (.584). He has crushed this month .393/.480/.655/1.135, ranking first or second in each slash category. Laird ranks seventh with his .321 average. He has 24 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs as the team’s usual eight-hole hitter. He enters tonight on a 12-game hitting streak with slashes of .468/.490/.830/1.320, four homers and 14 RBIs. 2013 IL All-Star Zach Walters has hit .281 with 11 homers as the team’s usual second baseman. Syracuse was a league-worst 30-42 at home in 2013, but stands a league-best 27-12 (.692) at home in 2014 and an IL-best 49-31 overall (.613).
JUST-US LEAGUE: The RailRiders lead the loop in batting average (.271) and slugging (.406)…However, SWB has the IL’s lowest walk total (233, 2.6/game) and just a .334 OBP…Syracuse ranks second by fractions of a point with its .271 contact clip and second in both slugging at .403 and ERA at 3.43…No IL squad has allowed fewer homers (41) or issued fewer walks (221) than the Chiefs who have tossed a league-best 11 SHOs while getting blanked a league-best-tying twice…The RailRiders own the IL’s fourth-worst team ERA (4.44) and second-worst fielding percentage (.976) while Syracuse boasts its fifth-best rate (.981)…The RailRiders have won six of the teams’ nine clashes putting the Chiefs at 46-25 (.648) against the rest of the IL and 17-10 (.630) against the balance of the North.
OFF THE RAILS: After starting his Triple-A tenure 2-for-16, Rob Refsnyder has gone 16-for-38 (.421/.551/.658/1.209) with six extra-base hits, five RBIs, 10 walks and 11 runs scored in 12 games…Nik Turley became the 17th different starting pitcher for the RailRiders…The team has used 55 different players in total…Last year’s team used 73 players, two off the league’s single-season record set by Norfolk in 2012, and the 2013 RailRiders had 20 different starting pitchers.