The RailRiders assembled the fields, but you decided their victors. Through month-long online voting, the greatest of the great were decided for each of the three different SWB baseball eras. For the betting man, the no-doubt-about-it pick was Derek Jeter to claim the four-man RailRiders bracket. And the No. 1 seed did just that, routing Dellin Betances and Curtis Granderson in succession. When it came to the Yankees bracket though, a surprise was in store. While the top two seeds advanced to the final, their match-up was not close – and the high seed lost. Shelley Duncan got smoked by the only man to ever manage SWB to Governors’ Cup greatness – Dave Miley. But that was nothing compared to what fan-favorite Jon Zuber did in the Red Barons bracket. The man who once rewrote the record books at his college alma mater, Cal, roared to glory as a 14-seed in the 16-man field, taking down a virtual Mount Rushmore of Red Barons – Ryan Howard, Andy Ashby, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino in the process. While that run is remarkable, someone called it. A consultant that was heavily involved in the selection and seeding process, Scranton Times-Tribune writer Donnie Collins, predicted exactly that via Twitter weeks before voting ended.
Do not underestimate how beloved Jon Zuber was during his days in SWB. He could win this whole thing, easily. — Donnie Collins (@RailRidersTT) November 19, 2013
Donnie does a great job of covering the team through the paper, its website and this RailRiders blog. For more on the voting, check out the team’s release, visit the RailRiders, Yankees and Red Barons voting pages. How did the SWB baseball experts’ picks stack up? Check out the original selection show video, or witness the surprisingly accurate (with one notable exception) “presidential picks” video from RailRiders team president/GM Rob Crain. *******************************************************************************************************
Russ Canzler could very well be a RailRider in 2014. Well, I suppose the guy next door *could* be too, but this is grounded in a little more reality. Not only is he a talented player, the 2011 International League MVP is also once again a member of the New York Yankees organization according to Baseball America‘s transactions hawk, Matt Eddy:
You may recall that Canzler was a Yankees’ commodity last year for nearly a month (Jan. 4-Feb. 5), but was claimed off waivers the week before spring training. Canzler had been DFA’d to make room for Travis Hafner, as we profiled here on PIP. The former Hazleton Area High School star was also the subject of this outstanding feature when he came to town with Norfolk this past June. Incidentally, Canzler crushed the RailRiders. In eight games against his hometown club, Canzler assembled slashes of .364/.400/.606/1.006 including a pair of homers and six RBIs. He also becomes yet another 2013 Norfolk Tide to sign with the Yankees this off-season, joining fellow infielders Zelous Wheeler and Yamaico Navarro. Considering Norfolk finished in a tie with Rochester for the IL’s wild-card spot, signing some of the Tides’ better players might not be a bad idea. Especially if part of the goal is to assemble a competitive Triple-A unit that will likely have its share of prospect outfielders during the course of the 2014 season.
Arguably the Yankees’ best prospect outfielder might still be a few years away though. Pro scout Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com breaks down the AFL exploits of Mason Williams. *******************************************************************************************************
In other RailRiders news, catcher Bobby Wilson has signed with the Diamondbacks per Matt Eddy:
— Matt Eddy (@MattEddyBA) December 2, 2013
With the big club inking Brian McCann and trading Chris Stewart to the Pirates, the trickle-down effect will be felt in SWB’s battery. *******************************************************************************************************
Earlier today, the Yankees officially announced a multi-year deal with defensive whiz, Brendan Ryan. Might that might mean the end of the road for Jayson Nix? *******************************************************************************************************
On Jan. 8, voting results for baseball’s Hall-of-Fame voting will be announced. MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch examined two former Yankees who are on different ends of that spectrum. Right-hander Mike Mussina, who is eligible for the first time, and Don Mattingly, who first appeared on the ballot over a decade ago in 2001. Click to read more about Moose and Donnie Baseball. *******************************************************************************************************
Connecting with families is a huge part of the minor league baseball experience. And it’s not one that’s beholden to the season proper. On Dec. 14, Santa Claus will be at PNC Field for an amazing family breakfast experience. Get the details here.
It’s that time of year. On Wednesday, the RailRiders’ parent club, the New York Yankees, made a number of moves to its 40-man roster. The highlight name as it relates to the RailRiders – Corban Joseph, who was outrighted to Triple-A. After blazing out of the gates and for a time filling what was an otherwise never truly filled leadoff role for Dave Miley‘s club in 2013, Joseph also enjoyed a two different stints with the big league team. His time with the Yankees included playing in a pair of games as the team’s 26th man for a May 13 doubleheader at Cleveland. He played first base in the opener, working a walk in three plate appearances, and doubled for his first Major League hit in the nightcap when he played second and Robinson Cano served as the DH. Alas, he would have trouble upon his return to SWB as his average dropped to .239 after an 0-for-4, 2K showing at Durham on May 31. He later hit the DL and did not return to game action on the campaign.
No surprise, the Yankees added a number of their highly-touted prospects to the 40-man roster including their top rising star, the offensively talented catcher Gary Sanchez who is ranked as the farm’s top chip by most entities. Sanchez is still just 20 years of age and comes off a solid split season between Adv.-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton where he hit a composite .253 with 15 homers and 71 runs driven in. FUN FACTS: Sanchez is considered by many to be the top catching prospect in baseball. However, scouts would often criticize his defense. In 2013, Sanchez led the Florida State League in caught-stealing efficiency, helping to nab 46% of would-be base stealers. The league’s runner up, Clearwater (Philadelphia Phillies) receiver and Scranton native Logan Moore, cut down men at a 41% rate while Matt Koch of Fort Myers (Minnesota Twins) ranked third at 27%. Sanchez kept his clip high even after his promotion to Double-A as he and Trenton’s pitching staff combined to gun down 39% of foes with a thieving mind. If he had enough games played to qualify, that would have placed Sanchez third in the loop just behind Andrew Susac (40%) of Richmond (San Francisco Giants). Sanchez, who did not receive his promotion to Double-A until August, was signed by the Yankees at the age of 16 for $3 million. At the time, that was the record for the international signing of a non-Cuban player.
The Bombers also added outfielder Slade Heathcott and three right-handed pitchers, Jose Campos, Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell. Heathcott spent the season at Double-A, but played in just 103 games (.261/.327/.411) with 22 doubles, seven triples, eight homers and 49 driven in. He played mostly center field where he is know for giving maximum effort constantly, sometimes to his physical detriment. The left-handed bat oddly stroked better against southpaws (.298) than he did against right-handed arms (.246), but ended the year well hitting over .300 overall in both July and August. Due to his prospect status and solid conclusion to the season, he’s a name RailRiders fans should keep an eye on for possible time in SWB in 2014. FUN FACTS: A first-round pick (29th overall) in 2009, Heathcott’s decision to turn pro meant not going to LSU on a baseball scholarship in favor of a reported $2.2 million signing bonus. He was the first position player taken by the Pinstripes in the first round since 2005. The player taken after Heathcott by the Yanks that year? One of the RailRiders’ best players in 2013, catcher J.R. Murphy. The Yankees by the way were set to have the 25th-overall pick in the first round that year, but lost that choice to the Angels due to the Mark Teixeira signing. The man the Angels took with that pick? The 2012 A.L. Rookie of the Year and two-time MVP runner-up, Mike Trout.
Campos, who the Yanks netted in the Jan. 2012 Michael Pineda trade, was 4-2-2 with a 3.41 ERA in 26G/19GS for Low-A Charleston. While he mostly started, only once did he last more than four innings for the RiverDogs. However, like Heathcott, his second half was much better than his first. After the All-Star break, Campos was 3-0-2. His ERA dropped from 4.70 before the break to 2.09 after and his batting average against did the same (.267-.229). Diving a bit deeper, all six of his July outings were starts, his last nods of the season, and in those efforts he went 1-0 with a 1.44 ERA and just four walks against 18 strikeouts in 25.0 innings. FUN FACTS: The 21-year-old native of Venezuela is currently with Cardenales de Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League where one of the team’s catchers is former SWB receiver, Jesus Montero. Montero and righty Hector Noesi were dealt for Campos and Pineda.
Greene split the season between Tampa and Trenton, starting 26 of his 27 combined appearances. The 25-year-old’s numbers improved after his promotion. With Tampa, he went 4-6, 3.60 in 13G/13GS while eating innings. He lasted six or more frames eight times. He also showed strikeout stuff with as many as 12 whiffs in a single game, a May 8 road win against Fort Myers, and 69 in total against just 10 walks over 75.0 innings. For the eventual Eastern League champion Trenton Thunder, Greene excelled to the tune of an 8-4 record and 3.18 ERA. Half of those wins came in six August starts. That included a complete-game effort in his last regular-season outing, an Aug. 31 win at Portland (Boston Red Sox). Greene posted a pair of great playoff starts, going 2-0, 1.64 with 11K in 11.0 innings and an uncanny airout-to-groundout ratio of 19:1. He was the only Thunder player to earn more than one win in the playoff run including the victory in the title-clinching game at Harrisburg. FUN FACTS: A 15th-round pick by the Yankees in 2009, Greene was drafted out of Daytona Beach Community College. He originally planned to attend the University of West Florida, the Division II power that has had 18 players drafted and won the 2011 national championship. However, Greene required Tommy John surgery in May 2008 and the Argonauts pulled his baseball scholarship forcing his move to Daytona.
Mitchell, who struck out more than a man per inning with Low-A Charleston in 2012, spent most of the 2013 season with Adv.-A Tampa. There, the Reidsville, N.C. product went 4-11, 5.12 over 24G/23GS. Walks proved a problem (3.8/9 IP) as did bad single performances. While the numbers were not pretty, consider this – 10 times he lasted five innings or more and allowed two or fewer earned runs. He gave up five or more earned runs four times, walking 13 men in 15.1 innings over those nods to skew his season significantly. On the bright side, the running theme of strong finishes fits Mitchell as well. A 16th-rounder by the Yankees in 2009, Mitchell finished the year with three Double-A starts and a 1.93 ERA in those appearances. He also walked just five while whiffing 16 over his 18.2 Eastern League innings. The EL hit a modest .208 against him. FUN FACTS: Mitchell is still just 22 years old and is coming off of just his second full season of pro ball. He was a South Atlantic League All-Star in his first with Charleston in 2012, and in 2013 started a pair of playoff games for Trenton to add to his growing résumé. While he’s known for his high-velo fastball and devastating curve, Mitchell’s wrinkle in 2013 was the addition of a cutter.
The other surprise regarding the 40-man additions revolved around a trade. The Yanks shipped right-hander Ben Paullus to the San Diego Padres in exchange for versatile infielder Dean Anna, who was added to the 40. Paullus, who had a career 5.56 ERA entering 2013, split the season relieving for Charleston and Tampa. Starting in mid-May, he served in a closing role for the RiverDogs, posting nine saves in 13 tries. He logged a 2.54 ERA in the SAL and struck out 60 men in 60.1 innings while holding the league to a .208 contact clip. However, in his six appearances in the FSL, he posted a 5.56 ERA and .300 BAA. Anna, a 26th-rounder in 2008 by the Pads out of Ball State, has been a career minor leaguer to this point and a very solid one at that. In his first season at the Triple-A level, Anna was an All-Star for Reno where he led the league with his .331 average. FUN FACTS: He started at second, short and third for the Aces and ranked among the PCL’s top five in hits (3rd, 165), doubles (2nd, 38), OBP (3rd, .410), runs scored (T-4th, 90) and total bases (T-4th, 240). Anna spent time this off-season playing for Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican Winter League where one of his teammates was Miguel Sano, considered one of baseball’s top prospects.
A few names that were not added to the 40 raised eyebrows as well including one SWB fans are quite familiar with – right-hander Chase Whitley. After injury forced a late start to the season, Whitley became a glue guy in the bullpen, a more-than-capable fill-in starter and one of the most positive people in the clubhouse. His name was mentioned often by scouts and swirled in the media as a possible piece in what became the Corey Black for Alfonso Soriano trade. Other notable omissions included southpaw Fred Lewis who spent time at three levels including one SWB appearance. He tossed 11 innings and did not allow a single run in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Right-handers Danny Burawa and Tommy Kahnle are hard-throwing relievers that should be appealing to teams looking for help via the Rule 5 draft. Burawa missed 2012 (torn oblique) and struggled with his command in 2013. While he went 6-3, 2.59 with Double-A Trenton, he blew five of his nine save tries and walked 42 men in 66.0 innings. Burawa did toss four scoreless innings with just one walk in the Thunder’s playoff run. Kahnle was Trenton’s stopper with 15 saves in 16 tries in the regular season. He struck out 74 men over 60.0 innings and allowed just four of his 14 inherited runners to come home. However, he also walked 45 men including a dozen over 14.2 innings in August. Kahnle made two playoff appearances, both saves, and did not allow a run.
OFF THE RAILS: No. 40 was worn by a Yankee at the end of the season…That man? Former SWB RailRider, Matt Daley…The number has also been worn as a Yankee by three other 2013 SWB players – Chien-Ming Wang (2005-09), Alberto Gonzalez (2013) and Thomas Neal (2013)…Former SWB catcher Francisco Cervelli wore it for the Yanks in 2012…Other notable names to wear the number for the Yankees - Tony Cloninger as a coach (1992-01), Gene Michael as a coach (1984-86) and Don Zimmer as a coach (1983, 86)…Thanks to YankeesNumbers.com for the jersey data.
Moosic, Pa. – The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) and PNC Field have concluded a fantastic first season for the reconstructed facility in 2013. In addition to the team’s best season at the gates since 2008, a franchise-record 61 special events beyond baseball buoyed the season-long attendance figure to 462,052.
While the RailRiders’ season concluded yesterday with a road game at Rochester, even more special events are planned. PNC Field will continue operation throughout the off-season leading up to the RailRiders’ Opening Day on Thursday, April 10, 2014.
With the ability to host events year-round, RailRiders team president/GM Rob Crain was happy with the success of this year’s turnout and hopes for even bigger numbers in 2014.
“This has been such a special year at PNC Field, not just for the team, but for the entire community,” Crain said. “From the first Opening Night, to The Office Wrap Party; from new mascots to a whole new look, it’s really been a dream come true. Now we’ll get to work on bringing even more folks out next year.”
With 435,839 fans attending games over 68 regular-season home openings, the SWB saw its best total and per-game average (6,409) since 2008. The RailRiders posted 25 fixed-seat sellouts in 2013 and had a number of other highlight numbers including:
- More kids came through PNC Field’s Family Fun Zone in 2013 than from 2007 to 2011 combined
- There were 28,442 $1 Bud Lights/Pepsis sold this season over 11 home games on Budweiser Thirsty Thursdays
- The team gave away 46,500 free items through its 18 giveaways
- 2,784 kids ate free over five Kids Eat Free Wednesday games
- Dollar Dog Nights led to 14,626 $1 hot dogs getting sold over six such dates
- The team shot off two hours and 20 minutes worth of fireworks
The RailRiders’ 2014 season begins on Thursday, April 3 when the club kicks off a seven-game road trip at Syracuse against the Chiefs (Washington Nationals). The home slate commences a week later on Thursday, April 10 when the Chiefs visit PNC Field for a four-game series and homestand. For season ticket information, call (570) 969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.
- SWB RailRiders – All Aboard! -
Rochester, N.Y. – The 2013 season came to a tough conclusion for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) on Monday afternoon. A nine-run first inning sparked a 13-3 win for the Rochester Red Wings (Minnesota Twins) as the Red Wings clinched an International League playoff spot as the wildcard team.
The RailRiders went out in front early thanks to a lead-off home run by Corey Patterson in the first. It marked the third a RailRider had connected for a lead-off homer, and it was the second time Patterson had accomplished the feat.
The lead was short lived, as Rochester plated nine runs in the bottom of the first. With Antoan Richardson and James Beresford aboard, Eduardo Escobar began the scoring when he doubled to right-center field. It drove both runs home, and Escobar came around when Jeff Clement singled to right. Following a sac-fly by Eric Farris, and run-scoring plays by Ray Olmedo, Eric Fryer, Richardson, and Beresford, Escobar capped the inning with another two-run double.
SWB countered with two runs in the third. Addison Maruszak, Patterson, and Brent Lillibridge hit consecutive singles to load the bases. Ronnier Mustelier then singled through the left side to plate two runs. The inning came to a halt when Adonis Garcia bounced into a triple play that ended the inning.
Rochester scored three more in the bottom of the third. Escobar led off with a home run, and Farris and Olmedo later added singles that plated Chris Parmelee and Clement to push the lead back to nine.
Ryan Baker was very effective out of the RailRider bullpen, as he allowed just one run in his three innings of work. The lone run came with two outs in the eighth when Fryer hit a home run off the left-field foul pole. It gave the game its final margin of 13-3 in favor of Rochester.
Scott Diamond (4-0) allowed three runs over seven innings to earn the win. SWB starter Caleb Cotham (6-6) was handed the loss.
The RailRiders conclude the 2013 season with a 68-76 record, and finish fifth in the International League North Division. A total of 435,839 fans came out to the reimagined PNC Field. SWB will open up the 2014 regular season on the road, but will have their home opener at PNC Field on Thursday, April 10 against the Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals).
- SWB RailRiders – All Aboard! -
FINAL DAY LUCK: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is looking for its first season-ending win since 2011, when they defeated the Buffalo Bisons at the old PNC Field, 5-1. The SWB franchise closed out last year’s season in Pawtucket, and took a 6-4 loss in 12 innings to the PawSox.
STRONG DEBUT: PNC Field experienced a strong debut after undergoing a $43 million renovation. A total of 435,839 fans strolled through the gates at PNC Field, which is an average of 6,409 per contest. The SWB franchise hasn’t drawn that high since the 2008 season, when they were in the second year of as the New York Yankees top affiliate. During the final season before the renovation, SWB drew just 298,098 fans, which was 13th in the International League. PNC Field features 7,115 fixed seats, and the RailRiders had 25 fixed seat sell-outs this season.
CONTINUE THE SURGE: Caleb Cotham looks to continue his second-half surge as he takes the final turn in the 2013 RailRider rotation. While he didn’t start the season with SWB, he fought his way into the rotation after losing a spot, and has been sensational in the second half. Since the break, he is 4-0 with a 1.83 earned run average. That spans nine outings (seven starts), and 44.1 innings pitched. Cotham recorded a 7.15 ERA before the break.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: The RailRiders and Red Wings met for the first time since July 10, and the Red Wings held off a late Scranton/Wilkes-Barre rally for a 3-2 win. The RailRiders struck first in the top of the first inning, as Corey Patterson led off with a double, and would later score when Adonis Garcia grounded into a fielder’s choice. Jeff Clement singled for Rochester with one out in the fourth, and he came in to score on a triple by Aaron Hicks. Hicks scored when Ray Olmedo singled through the left side. The Red Wings added an insurance run in the eighth on a Clement single that scored Chris Parmelee. SWB cut the lead to one run when Neil Medchill singled home Brent Lillibridge, and the play put the tying run on third base. The rally fell short as Michael Tonkin converted his 14th save for Rochester.
CHANCE TO PLAY SPOILER: While the RailRiders are headed home for the off-season following today’s contest, they can play spoiler to Rochester’s playoff hopes. After Norfolk beat Durham last night, the Red Wings remain one game back of the Tides for the wild card spot in the International League playoff chase. With a win today, the RailRiders would eliminate their division foe from the race, but the Red Wings need a win and a Norfolk loss.
MASHING MUSTY: Ronnier Mustelier picked up last week’s IL Player of the Week Award, but had a 13-game hitting streak snapped on Aug. 26. He started a new one on Aug. 28, and has now hit in five straight (9-22, 2HR, 3RBI, 4R). His batting average dropped to .233 on Aug. 11, but now stands at .273.
FINISHING STRONG: Despite picking up the loss last night, Graham Stoneburner has finished his season strong. He allowed just two runs on six hits over five innings of work last night, and it was just one start after he held Pawtucket to one run on two hits over six frames. Stoneburner tossed 18.2 innings down the stretch for SWB, and conceded just eight earned runs. For the season, Stoneburner finishes 4-6 with a 4.57 earned run average.
Rochester, N.Y. – A night after clinching the inaugural IronRail trophy, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) opened a two-game series with the Rochester Red Wings (Minnesota Twins) trying to play playoff spoilers. The Red Wings entered Sunday night one game behind Norfolk for the wildcard spot, and they moved to within a half game with a 3-2 win over SWB.
The RailRiders entered the top of the ninth trailing by two runs. Michael Tonkin was brought in to close, and he gave up a one-out free pass to Brent Lillibridge. Ronnier Mustelier then singled through the right side to move Lillibridge to third and put the tying run on base. One out later, Neil Medchill followed with a base hit to right-center field that plated Lillibridge, and moved Mustelier to third. With the tying run at third, Tonkin recorded a strikeout to end the game.
Despite the loss, it was the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre offense that broke through first. Corey Patterson led off the game in the first with a double down the right-field line. He moved to third on a base hit by Mustelier, and then scored when Adonis Garcia reached on a fielder’s choice.
Rochester went in front for good with two runs in the fourth. Jeff Clement hit a one-out single to left, and came around to score when Aaron Hicks tripled to right-center field. Garcia broke in on the ball hit by Hicks, and it sailed over his head. One out later, Ray Olmedo singled through the left side to drive home Hicks, and put the Red Wings in front, 2-1.
An insurance run that proved to be decisive was added by Rochester in the eighth. Chris Parmelee tripled to right-center field. He would score when Clement singled to center field.
Starter Pat Dean (3-2) got the win after allowing one run in seven frames. Graham Stoneburner (4-6) took the loss. He allowed just two runs on six hits in five innings of work.
The RailRiders will now wrap-up their season on Monday afternoon. They’ll try to finish with a 69-75 record when they send Caleb Cotham (6-5, 4.66) to the mound. Cotham has been dominant since the All-Star break. He’s posted a 4-0 record with a 1.83 earned run average in nine outings. He’ll be opposed by left-hander, Scott Diamond (3-0, 2.12). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m., and pre-game coverage will get underway at 12:35 p.m. on NEPA Sports Radio – The GAME, Northeast PA’s largest sports radio network: 100.7 FM, 1340 WYCK-AM, 1400 WICK-AM, 1440 WCDL-AM and 106.7 FM.
- SWB RailRiders – All Aboard! -
Allentown, Pa. – The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) claimed the inaugural IronRail trophy as they defeated the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies) on Saturday night, 3-2. Trailing 8-7 in the season-series, the RailRiders captured the final game between the two clubs of the season to bring the trophy to NEPA.
For the sixth time this season, the RailRiders hit back-to-back home runs. With one out in the top of the fourth, Ronnier Mustelier slammed his sixth home run of the season to left field. Randy Ruiz followed up with a round tripper of his own. It landed on the left-center field lawn. It was Ruiz’s 17th of the season, and he leads all active players on SWB.
The RailRiders extended their lead to 3-0 in the top of the fifth. Jose Gil led off with a base hit, then moved to second on a single by Addison Maruszak. He later advanced to third, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brent Lillibridge.
Lehigh Valley plated their only two runs in the sixth inning. Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis began the inning with a single and double respectively, and both came home on a single up the middle by Josh Fields.
Brett Marshall was a late scratch, and Yoshinori Tateyama was pressed into starting duty. It was his first start stateside, and he stifled IronPig hitters over three innings. He gave way to David Herndon (1-0), and he proceeded to toss two perfect innings to record the win. Jairo Heredia made his Triple-A debut the day he was added to the SWB roster, and he worked the final four innings.
The RailRiders and IronPigs tied their season-series at eight games apiece, but the tie-breaker goes to the team that was victorious in the final matchup.
Raul Valdes (4-5) started the game for Lehigh Valley, and he received the loss. The left-hander allowed three runs (two earned) in seven innings.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre now travels to Rochester, N.Y. to play the final two games of their season. Sunday’s game against the Red Wings is set for a 6:05 p.m. first pitch, and Graham Stoneburner (4-5, 4.65) will take the mound for the RailRiders. He’ll be opposed by Pat Dean (2-2, 2.18). Pre-game coverage will get underway at 5:35 p.m. on NEPA Sports Radio – The GAME, Northeast PA’s largest sports radio network: 100.7 FM, 1340 WYCK-AM, 1400 WICK-AM, 1440 WCDL-AM and 106.7 FM.
- SWB RailRiders – All Aboard! -
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.
Allentown, Pa. – The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) raced out to a 4-0 lead on Friday night, but the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies) rallied and won in a walk-off in the ninth, 5-4. Despite the loss which gives the Pigs a one-game edge in the IronRail series, the RailRiders can claim the trophy with a win in the season finale between the two teams on Saturday night.
Chase Whitley was dominant from the start, and he worked six scoreless innings. Whitley conceded just one hit, and only issued one walk. He struck out five, and induced nine groundball outs to just three fly-outs. Despite his solid outing, Whitley did not factor into the decision.
The RailRiders gave Whitley the lead in the top of the third. J.R. Murphy reached on an infield single with two outs, and Ronnier Mustelier hit a fly-ball to left field that was misplayed by Cesar Hernandez. Murphy scored on the play, and the error kept the inning alive. With Mustelier aboard at second, Randy Ruiz made the IronPigs pay when he homered to left-center field. SWB led 3-0 after three innings.
The lead was extended in the fourth. David Adams led off with a solo home run to left field. The homer was Adams’ fifth with the RailRiders; he also owns two in the big leagues with the Yankees.
Whitley was making just his fifth start since being moving from the bullpen, and he was lifted before the seventh. Cesar Cabral allowed a lead-off triple to Freddy Galvis to start the frame. One out later, Josh Fields singled to right to drive Galvis home. A single by Tyler Henson moved Fields to second, and Michael Martinez then capped the inning with a triple to right field. It scored both Fields and Henson to cut the SWB lead to 4-3.
The IronPigs continued their rally and won the game in the ninth. Steve Susdorf led off with a single and moved to second when Fields doubled. Leandro Castro was brought in to run for Fields, and Henson proceeded to hit a sacrifice fly to left field that plated Susdorf to tie the game, and move Castro to third as the winning run. Martinez finished up his big night with a walk-off base hit to right field that drove home Castro.
Mauricio Robles (2-2) tossed a scoreless ninth for Lehigh Valley, and he was handed his second win of the season.
Matt Daley (2-3) was inserted into the game in the ninth, and picked up the loss for the RailRiders.
The RailRiders will go for the IronRail trophy on Saturday night when the match-up with the IronPigs for the last time in 2013. Brett Marshall (7-10, 5.13) is coming off a seven-inning, shutout performance in Pawtucket, and he’ll take the mound for SWB. First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m., and pre-game coverage will get underway at on NEPA Sports Radio – The GAME, Northeast PA’s largest sports radio network: 100.7 FM, 1340 WYCK-AM, 1400 WICK-AM, 1440 WCDL-AM and 106.7 FM.
- SWB RailRiders – All Aboard! -
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: After a a 78-minute rain delay pushed back the start of the final home game at PNC Field, the RailRider offense proved to be unphased by the game-time rain, as they pounced on Lehigh Valley with a four-run first inning that was the result of three home runs. J.R. Murphy began the homer parade with his second round tripper in as many games, and Ronnier Mustelier followed with a home run that sailed over the left-field bullpens. With Brent Lillibridge aboard at first base, Neil Medchill capped the inning with his first home run at the Triple-A level. The offense went quiet until the eighth inning, when they added five more runs. Two walks and a hit batter aided run-scoring singles by Jose Gil and Bobby Wilson. The eighth-inning burst gave the game its final margin of 9-2 in favor of SWB.
FINALLY DOUBLE-DIGITS: All-Star right-hander Chris Bootcheck earned his ninth win of the season on July 13, his final start before tossing two scoreless frames in the Triple-A Mid-Summer showcase. He proceeded to make seven starts without a victory, until last night. Bootcheck was lifted with two outs in the top of the sixth, and his bullpen held the lead to ensure his 10th triumph in his final scheduled start of the campaign. Bootcheck last posted double-digit wins in 2004 when he was with the Triple-A Salt Lake City Bees in the Angels system. That year he won 11 contests, and hurled 163.1 innings.
BACK-TO-BACK JACKS: Murphy and Mustelier combined to go back-to-back last night in the bottom of the first. It marked the fifth time this season that two RailRiders have hit consecutive home runs. Murphy was a part of the last occurrence on Aug. 13, when he and Corey Patterson both homered at PNC Field against the Charlotte Knights.
NO MORE DAN THE MAN: SWB’s leader in home runs and runs batted in, Dan Johnson, was granted his release from the New York Yankees organization prior to the start of yesterday’s game. Johnson was signed by the Baltimore Orioles earlier today, and is expected to join Triple-A Norfolk with an eye on making the September roster for the Orioles. Johnson blasted 21 home runs and drove in 69 while posting a .379 on-base percentage.
SECOND WIND: On Aug. 19, it appeared fatigue was beginning to set in for prospect catcher J.R. Murphy. His batting average had dropped to .259, its lowest point with significant at-bats since he was promoted to SWB on June 13. Since that 0-4 performance against Lehigh Valley, he has hit safely in seven of the past eight games (11-32, 2HR, 5RBI, 6R). His batting average now stands at .271 with the RailRiders, and he’s combined to hit 12 home runs between SWB and Double-A Trenton. Murphy played as the DH for just the second time with SWB last night.
SURGING TOWARDS THE BIGS: With another scoreless performance last night, right-hander Jim Miller brought his earned run average below two since his rough pair of outings to begin the season. Miller has posted an ERA of 1.97 since April 7, and has a strikeout rate of 13.5 per nine innings. Miller spent most of last season in the bigs with Oakland, and may very well be on his way to another big league stint. Miller has not allowed an earned run out of the ‘pen since July 26 when the RailRiders were in Louisville.
OFF THE RAILS: The RailRiders have now won three games in a row against divisional competition. Prior to the recent success, they hadn’t won consecutive games against divisional foes since sweeping a July 13 twinbill at Buffalo in the final series before the All-Star break…The team went 24 straight divisional games without consecutive wins…SWB spoiled a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity in a scoreless sixth last night…Ronnier Mustelier has crushed Lehigh Valley pitching…While he only went 1-4 last night, that included a solo home run in the first inning., He has hit .410 (16-for-39)/.452/.627/1.119 against the ‘Pigs.