Porcupine Points – August 31

8-31-13 Game Notes

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.

Lehigh Valley Walk-Off Spoils Whitley’s Dominant Start

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! -

Porcupine Points – August 30

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.

SWB Homers Three Times to Give Bootcheck 10th Win

Moosic, Pa. – The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders powered three home runs in the bottom of the first en route to a 9-2 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies) on the final home game of the season at PNC Field. Chris Bootcheck, who has been a consistent starter all season long, picked up his 10th victory of the season. The win also tied the IronRail series at seven games apiece.

J.R. Murphy began the home run fest in the bottom of the first with a solo homer with one out. It was Murphy’s sixth as a RailRider, and his second in as many nights. Ronnier Mustlier followed Murphy up with a home run of his own, and it bounced atop the walkway that stands above the bullpens in left field. Brent Lillibridge later singled, and came home when Neil Medchill homered to right field to cap the inning. RailRiders led 4-0 after one frame.

Lehigh Valley got on the board with a run in the top of the fifth. Michael Martinez hit a one-out single, then moved to second on Leandro Castro’s base hit. Steven Lerud then singled Martinez home to cut the lead to 4-1.

The IronPigs moved closer with another run in the sixth. Steve Susdorf hit a one-out double to start the rally, and came around to score when Josh Fields singled him home.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre put the game out of reach with a five-run eighth inning. Run scoring singles by Jose Gil and Bobby Wilson highlighted the frame. Two walks and a wild pitch plated the other three runs. That gave the RailRiders a comfortable winning margin of 9-2.

Bootcheck (10-7) had not won since July 13 despite solid performances, but he got elusive win number 10. He worked five and two-thirds innings, and allowed just two runs on six hits. He did not walk a batter, and struck out five IronPig batters.

The RailRiders have four remaining games on the 2013 campaign, and they’ll begin the final four-game road trip of the season on Friday night in Allentown, Pa. The IronRail series will be decided at Coca-Cola Park during a two-game series between SWB and the Pigs. Chase Whitley (3-2, 3.36) will take the mound for SWB, and he’ll be opposed by Tyler Cloyd (5-9, 4.89). First pitch is 7:05 p.m., and pre-game coverage will get underway at 6:35 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! -

Porcupine Points – August 29

8-29-13 Game Notes

TIGHTROPE WALKING: The RailRiders’ only deficit on Wednesday night was a 1-0 margin that lasted for the opening half-inning. But a dominant showing by Lehigh Valley’s bullpen, which retired 13 in a row from late in the seventh until the start of the 12th, put victory in significant peril for a squad that has struggled to manufacture runs. Then came that 12th, an extra-base hit, and some good fortune. Prospect catcher J.R. Murphy notched his third hit of the night, all for extra bases, when his double snapped the string at 13 straight set down. A Justin Friend (5-4) wild pitch gave him third and a Steve Lerud passed ball opened the door for Murphy to score as the RailRiders and Matt Daley (2-2) won, 5-4.

COTHAM CITY: Starter Caleb Cotham settled for a no-decision, but tossed another outstanding game. Two of the three runs he allowed went unearned thanks to his own errant pickoff tries. But with last night’s five frames, Cotham has made six August starts going 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in the process. He entered the month 3-5 with a 6.75 mark.

IRONRAIL TROPHY: On June 13, the RailRiders and IronPigs announced that they will be playing for the “IronRail Trophy” on an annual basis. The 16-game series between the RailRiders and IronPigs will decide the winner. The losing team’s GM will sing in a fat lady costume on the winner’s field, and a feast will be paid for by the losing team as well. The trophy will be held by the winning team, displayed for all to see. The 2013 series currently favors the ‘Pigs, 7-6. SWB owns a 54-39 lead in the all-time series dating back to Lehigh Valley’s inaugural 2008 season. Lehigh Valley has only once won a season series against SWB, and did so by the slimmest of margins when it went 9-7 against NEPA’s team in 2010. The two clubs split the season series in 2012. In the event of 8-8 ties, the club that wins the final regular-season meeting will also claim the IronRail Trophy.

PLAYER PARADE: Last night, catcher Jose Gil became the 71st different RailRider this season. There have been 37 position players and 34 pitchers in the RailRiders colors in 2013. Last season, Norfolk set the IL record by using 75 different players, surpassing the 74 used by the 2003 Louisville Bats. The Tides also tied an IL record by using 25 different starting pitchers, and 15 different pitchers registered a save. Norfolk made 228 roster moves during the course of its 144-game season, and the Tides had just two players – outfielder Jamie Hoffmann and reliever Oscar Villarreal – remain active with the club throughout the year. By comparison, the RailRiders have seen 184 roster moves thus far, 19 different starting pitchers, and 14 different pitchers have registered a save. That does not include any moves that might be made today after press time of these notes. Only three men – Dan Johnson, Jim Miller and Bobby Wilson have been active RailRiders from Opening Day to date without interruption.

OFF THE RAILS: Last night’s win gave the RailRiders consecutive successes against divisional competition for the first time 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…With its 0-for-2 bases-loaded performance last night, the team has hit just .171 with the bases full, by far the worst such contact clip in the IL…The next-worst number belongs to Toledo (.236)…Randy Ruiz picked up an RBI with his fifth-inning fielder’s choice, but went 0-for-5 to extend his hitless streak to 17 at-bats…Ronnier Mustelier has crushed Lehigh Valley pitching…With last night’s 3-for-6 performance that included a pair of doubles, he has hit .429 (15-for-35)/.459/.629/1.088 against the ‘Pigs…Before the game, the Yankees placed Melky Mesa on the RailRiders’ DL, retroactive to Aug. 26…Mesa has not played since Aug. 22…The corresponding move added Gil, an SWB player in 2011 and 2012…Gil had been a Yankees’ farmhand from his start in pro ball in 2004-2012, but spent this season split between Double-A and Triple-A on Baltimore’s farm, along with a stint in the independent ranks with the Lincoln (Neb.) Saltdogs before he joined Double-A Trenton to add catching depth…Nine of SWB’s 16 extra-inning games have come from July 20 to date with 24 innings above and beyond scheduled play during that time.

Passed Ball Gives RailRiders Walk-Off Win

Moosic, Pa. – The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) walked off with a win in unique fashion on Wednesday night at PNC Field. They beat the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies) 5-4 thanks to a passed ball in the bottom of the 12th inning.

The 12th began with a double by RailRider catcher, J.R. Murphy. He advanced to third base on a wild pitch from Justin Friend to move within 90-feet of a walk-off with no one out. Shortly after, a Friend pitch got away from Lehigh Valley catcher Steven Lerud, and Murphy scored from third to give SWB the victory. It moved the RailRiders to within one game in the IronRail series with three left to play.

It was the IronPigs who opened the scoring in the first inning. Cesar Hernandez reached on a bunt single, and then advanced to third base when a throw from SWB starter Caleb Cotham got away at first base on a pick-off attempt. That setup a sacrifice fly off the bat of Freddy Galvis to give the Pigs a 1-0 lead.

The score was evened in the bottom of the first. With Murphy aboard at first, Ronnier Mustelier doubled to left field that moved him up to third base. Later in the inning, Adonis Garcia hit a single up the middle to drive home Murphy and tie the game at one.

The RailRiders went in front with two runs in the third. Murphy led off the frame with a home run to left field, his fifth as a RailRider. Mustelier then doubled to right-center field, and later scored when Garcia delivered another RBI-single.

The IronPigs tied the game back up with two in the fifth. Derrick Mitchell led off with a double, and moved to third on a bunt single by Hernandez. Galvis then drove home Mitchell with another sacrifice fly, and Hernandez moved to third on another failed pick-off attempt. He would score on a sac-fly by Steve Susdorf.

SWB went back in front in the bottom of the fifth. Murphy led off with a double, moved to third base on a single by Mustelier, and then scored when Randy Ruiz bounced into a fielder’s choice. That put the RailRiders in front, 4-3.

The game was once again tied in the seventh. With one out, Galvis lined a double off the left-field fence. Following an infield single by Susdorf, he scored on a base hit by Tyler Henson through the left side. The game remained 4-4 until the passed ball in the 12th plated Murphy to end the game.

Cotham worked five innings, and allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits. He left in line to win, but received a no-decision. Yoshinori Tateyama worked three scoreless innings, and Matt Daley (2-2) followed him up with two perfect frames to earn the victory.

Friend (5-4) entered the game in the 11th, but allowed the run in the 12th to pick-up the loss.

The RailRiders close out the home portion of their schedule on Fan Appreciation Night on Thursday at PNC Field. It’s a Thirsty Thursday presented by Budweiser, which means Bud Light and Pepsi products will be just one dollar for the first two hours after gates open at 6 p.m. A post-game fireworks show presented by Jack Williams & Kumho Tires will follow the final out. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m., and Chris Bootcheck (9-7, 3.71) will take the mound for SWB.

- SWB RailRiders – All Aboard! -

Stoneburner Stifles PawSox in SWB Win

Pawtucket, R.I. – A night after Brett Marshall turned in a fine starting performance, right-hander Graham Stoneburner followed suit to help lead the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) to a 2-1 victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox (Boston) on Tuesday night. Stoneburner tossed six innings and allowed one run on just two hits.

Stoneburner (4-5) has been up and down between SWB and Double-A Trenton, and he’s also been in and out of the rotation. Tuesday marked his first win since he beat Pawtucket on June 29. After allowing a home run to Jeremy Hazelbaker in the third, Stoneburner retired the final 11 batters he faced.

Hazelbaker’s home run came with one out in the third inning. It was his 11th of the season, but Hazelbaker’s fourth against the RailRiders. In 13 games, Hazelbaker drove in 10 runs against the RailRiders.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre got on the board and leveled the game in the top of the sixth. Corey Patterson led off with a walk, and proceeded to move to second when J.R. Murphy recorded a base hit through the left side. Patterson moved to third and Murphy to second thanks to a passed ball by Dan Butler. Ronnier Mustelier then grounded out to short to drive home Murphy for the tying run.

The RailRiders went in front in the seventh. David Adams started the rally with a single to center field. He moved up to third base when Adonis Garcia reached on an error by second baseman Brock Holt. That setup Neil Medchill, who delivered a single up the middle that drove home Adams and gave SWB the 2-1 lead.

Dellin Betances replaced Stoneburner to start the seventh, and he followed up Stoneburner’s performance with an electric save. He struck out three, and only allowed a base runner to reach second on one occasion as he picked up his fifth save of the season.

Brock Huntzinger (2-2) relieved PawSox starter Steven Wright, and picked up the loss. He allowed an unearned run on two hits in his one inning of work.

The RailRiders now return to PNC Field to play the final two games of their 2013 home schedule. They’ll welcome in the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies) to renew the IronRail series, with SWB trailing, 7-5. Kids eat free on Wednesdays at PNC Field thanks to Minooka Subaru and all kids 12 and under will receive a voucher for a free hot dog, chips, and soda. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. with Caleb Cotham (6-5, 4.82) taking the mound for the RailRiders.

- SWB RailRiders – All Aboard! -

Porcupine Points – August 27

ELIMINATION DAY: There are tough losses, and then there’s what happened to the RailRiders on Monday night at McCoy Stadium. Corey Patterson bombed a first-inning solo homer to stake his team to a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the frame, RailRiders starter Brett Marshall allowed a leadoff hit that made contact with Addison Maruszak’s glove at second base. Marshall then retired 17 in a row en route to seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball. In that time, he struck out a career-high-tying nine and put his team in prime position to win. Then came the ninth. Following a perfect eighth, lefty reliever Cesar Cabral loaded the bases with nobody out. Jim Miller was then given the nearly impossible task of solving that jammed riddle. He gave up a run on a Ryan Lavarnway sac fly that advanced both lead runners and set the stage for Mark Hamilton. The PawSox cleanup man delivered.  He lashed a single to right that scored Jackie Bradley, Jr. and handed the RailRiders both a walk-off loss and the formal death of their playoff aspirations.

THE BIG PICTURE: Sunday’s setback officially eliminated the RailRiders from repeating as IL North champs. Last night’s loss meant not only no chance at a wild-card berth, but coupled with Syracuse’s 15-5 domination of Rochester, it also dropped the RailRiders into sixth place. SWB had not sat in last by itself since starting the year 1-5. The franchise has not finished in last since 1998. The team had only missed the playoffs once (2011) since becoming a Yankees farm club in 2007. The 2011 team still finished with a winning record (73-69) in third place. Pawtucket has won eight of nine and 14 of 16 to own the North by 3.5 games. Rochester has dropped six straight and ownership of the wild-card lead thanks to Norfolk’s 13-1 pounding of Gwinnett.

BEST WEEK EVER: Ronnier Mustelier, SWB’s lone entrant into MiLB’s annual Moniker Madness contest for the best name in minor league baseball, has also been the team’s best bat of late. And for his efforts from Aug. 15-21, he was named the IL’s Batter of the Week on Monday. Last night he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout to snap the league’s then-top active hitting streak at 13 games. He had multiple knocks in six of seven at the close of his run. Over his longer string of success, he hit .458 (22-for-48) with six doubles, five RBIs and seven walks (.527 OBP). That made for Triple-A’s second-best average in that time (Alex Presley, Indianapolis, .500). During his streak, his average soared by 37 points (.233-.270) and his on-base percentage shot up 45 points (.273-.318).

SHUT OUT STARS: Earlier today, the IL announced its year-end All-Star squad and superlatives. No RailRiders made the squad that was highlighted by former indy baller Chris Colabello of Rochester who claimed both MVP and Rookie of the Year honors. In his second season after seven years in the indy ranks, the first baseman leads the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. Durham’s J.D. Martin, who leads the league and has set a franchise single-season record for wins, took Most Valuable Pitching accolades. Martin’s skipper, former SWB player Charlie Montoyo, was named the IL’s Manager of the Year. His Bulls boast Triple-A’s best record entering today. The rest of the squad: C Tony Sanchez, Indianapolis; 2B Cesar Hernandez, Lehigh Valley; SS Zach Walters, Syracuse; 3B Cody Asche, Lehigh Valley; OF Nick Castellanos, Toledo; OF Billy Hamilton, Louisville; OF Joey Terdoslavich, Gwinnett; DH Mauro Gomez, Buffalo; Reliever Jairo Ascencio, Norfolk; and UTIL Vince Belnome, Durham.

OFF THE RAILS: The RailRiders, who lead the IL with 124 home runs, have slammed 17 home runs during their seven games at McCoy Stadium…Thirteen of the dingers have come in their three wins…Last night’s loss cemented a losing season for the RailRiders…Even if they win out, the best they can do is finish at 71-73…Brett Marshall‘s career-high-tying nine strikeouts came one year to the day from the last time he turned the trick…That transpired in a team 3-2 win for Double-A Trenton at Akron (Cleveland Indians)…Former RailRider Thomas Neal notched a pinch-hit single that game for Akron and Davis Stoneburner, brother of today’s SWB starter Graham, doubled off of Marshall…Trenton’s starting lineup included six 2013 RailRiders: Adonis Garcia, J.R. Murphy, Zoilo Almonte, Luke Murton, Addison Maruszak and Kevin MahoneyMark Montgomery got the win while Ryan Pope logged a save.

Red Sox Rally to Spoil Marshall’s Gem

Pawtucket, R.I. Brett Marshall gave the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) seven shutout innings, but the Pawtucket Red Sox (Boston) scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to walk-off with the 2-1 win on Monday night.

Marshall was phenomenal, as he allowed just two hits and did not walk a batter. He tied a career-high with nine strikeouts, and retired 17 consecutive batters after allowing a single to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the bottom of the first. Marshall hurled 93 pitches, 63 of them for strikes. It was exactly one year ago on Monday night that Marshall had last struck out nine batters, when he did so against the Akron Aeros (Double-A/Cleveland Indians) as a member of the Trenton Thunder.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre received it’s only run of the game in the top of the first. With one out, Corey Patterson homered to right-center field. It was Patterson’s fifth home run as a RailRider, and it gave Marshall an early lead.

Marshall settled into a grove as he allowed just two base runners following the first inning. The lead remained slim for the RailRiders, and the PawSox rallied for the walk-off win in the ninth. Jeremy Hazelbaker started the rally by drawing a walk off Cesar Cabral. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a double that moved Hazelbaker to third, and then Brock Holt was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ryan Lavarnway hit a sacrifice fly to right field to tie the game, and it was won when Mark Hamilton singled through the right side to drive home Bradley Jr.

Allen Webster was matched up well with Marshall, but like his SWB counterpart, he earned the no-decision. Webster went eight innings, and allowed just the Patterson home run and one other hit. He walked three, and struck out five batters. Jose De La Torre (4-1) worked a scoreless top of the ninth to pick-up the win.

Cabral (0-1) tossed a scoreless eighth, but he failed to record an out in the ninth. He allowed two runs on one hit in the loss.

With the loss, the RailRiders were eliminated from playoff contention. They have dropped the first two games at McCoy Stadium, and they’ll look to salvage a game in their three-game series with the PawSox on Tuesday night. Graham Stoneburner (3-5, 4.98) will look for win number four when he ascends the mound on Tuesday night against Steven Wright (7-7, 3.76).

Following Tuesday night’s game, the RailRiders will return home to PNC Field for their final two games of the regular season at home. First pitch on Tuesday night in Pawtucket, R.I. is slated for 7:05 p.m. Pre-game coverage 6:35 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! -

Porcupine Points – August 26

8-26-13 Game Notes

A LEAD LOST: With their playoff pulse barely registering, the RailRiders leapt out to a 5-1 lead at McCoy Stadium on Sunday night. But abundant run-scoring chances fell short as they left the bases loaded in the third, fourth and fifth. That opened the door for an opportunistic PawSox team to score five unanswered runs, including a go-ahead homer by Brock Holt at the start of the seventh. Factor in a scoreless ninth from closer Anthony Carter and the night added up to a 6-5 RailRiders’ loss. The RailRiders outhit the PawSox 14-6, but left 15 men on base and went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. It marks the RailRiders’ second-largest lead blown in a loss this season, trailing only the five-run advantage squandered at Toledo on May 15.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: With last night’s loss the RailRiders have been officially eliminated from repeating as IL North champs and now face an elimination number of one in the wild-card chase. Their next loss, or Rochester’s next win will cement a postseason-free campaign for just the second time in the era of SWB’s Yankees’ affiliation. Rochester fell to Indianapolis yesterday in 10 innings, 8-5. The Red Wings have lost five straight, but still lead the wild-card field by a half-game. Last night also saw Syracuse drop a 3-1 decision to Charlotte to stay even with the RailRiders in the IL North’s cellar. The RailRiders have not sat in sixth by their lonesome since starting the year 1-5. SWB has not finished in last since 1998. Pawtucket has won seven of eight and 13 of 15 to own the North by 2.5 games.

HELLO MR. WILSON!: Bobby Wilson’s impactful swings continued last night. Despite playing for just the second time in nine days and the sixth time since July 30, Wilson posted a pair of hits including a go-ahead two-run homer in the second inning. He finished with three RBIs in total thanks to a bases-loaded walk in the third. Wilson has hit .215 and boasts just 43 hits in 62 games played, but has hit seven homers and owns 37 RBIs. He has a nearly even walk (32) to strikeout (35) ratio this season and is the only one of the RailRiders four different catchers to post a winning record. The team is 29-28 with the current back-up, Wilson, as the starter, but has losing marks when Jeff Farnham (6-8), J.R. Murphy (24-28) or Austin Romine (5-8) have gotten the nod behind the dish.

BEST WEEK EVER: Ronnier Mustelier, SWB’s lone entrant into MiLB’s annual Moniker Madness contest for the best name in minor league baseball, has also been the team’s best bat of late. And for his efforts from Aug. 15-21, he was named the IL’S Batter of the Week today. Last night he went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. He has hit safely in 13 straight games and has multiple knocks in six of his last seven. Over his longer string of success, the IL’s best active hit streak, he has hit .458 (22-for-48) with six doubles, five RBIs and seven walks (.527 OBP). That makes for Triple-A’s second-best average in that time (Alex Presley, Indianapolis, .500). During his streak, his average has soared by 37 points (.233-.270) and his on-base percentage has shot up 45 points (.273-.318).

DAN THE MAN: Dan Johnson delivered three hits, including his team-leading 26th double and team-best 69th RBI. Johnson also worked his league-leading 92nd walk of the campaign. He has hit .337/.461/.590/1.051 in 24 August games played.

OFF THE RAILS: The RailRiders, who lead the IL with 123 home runs, had not homered in a season-high six straight games before Wilson’s blow last night…SWB has slammed 16 home runs during its six games thus far at McCoy Stadium…Thirteen of the dingers have come in its three wins…Bryce Brentz was activated off Pawtucket’s DL yesterday and played for the first time since July 5…The 2010 first-rounder (36th overall) bashed a two-run homer in his second plate appearance…It made for his first round-tripper since a July 2 loss to SWB when he hit a solo shot off of SWB All-Star Chris Bootcheck…He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee less than six weeks ago…Ballots for the IL’s year-end All-Star team were due to the league office today…After going 0-for-3 with the bases loaded last night, SWB has hit .174 with the bases full (21-for-121)…No other team has hit less than .238 (Toledo) with the bases juiced.

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