Orioles Continue Rays Slide

June 27th, 2016

The Tampa Bay Rays extended their losing streak to 11 games after a 12-5 loss to the Orioles. The game did not begin well for Drew Smyly and the Rays when the O’s fourth hitter of the game Chris Davis popped an opposite field grand slam homerun just inside the foul pole to start the game 4-0. Smyly lasted five innings but he gave up 8 runs, including a solo blast to Jonathan Schoop in the third and a two run shot from Mark Trumbo in the fifth.

The Rays had a shot with Tyler Wilson on the mound. He gave up solo homeruns to Desmond Jennings in the second and another to Oswaldo Arcia in the fourth. The Rays assaulted him for three hits, a walk and three runs in the fifth to close the game to 6-5. The Trumbo two run homer made it 8-5 and then Dylan Bundy pitched three innings of shutout relief to preserve the Orioles victory.

The Orioles also beat up on Ryan Webb in the eighth. After he retired the first two hitters the next five Orioles got hits off him to lead to four runs. That put the game out of reach for the Rays.

Game Notes: Not impressed with either Drew Smyly or Tyler Wilson. Drew got his fastball as high as 91. He struck out six, including four in a row between the second and third innings, but he also gave up a lot of big hits. Wilson is a small righthander who sits at 88-90. Myworld can’t imagine him making another team’s starting rotation, but the Orioles are desperate for starting pitching. With the farm system bare and former O’s Jason Hamel and Jake Arriata starring for the Cubs the O’s need at least two more starting pitchers. The second half of the season may see Dylan Bundy in the rotation…The last five hitters in the Rays lineup are hitting .217 or less. The team may hit a number of homeruns, but the batting averages of the bottom of their order are abysmal. Tim Beckham, the former number one pick has finally made the major leagues but he is only hitting .190. The Rays had him at third base on Sunday where he showed his defense is limited at the position…Adam Jones did not go deep, but he finished the day 4 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored batting from the leadoff spot…Oswaldo Arcia shows no plate discipline. He went fishing, swinging and missing at a pitch in the dirt on a 2-0 count, after the pitcher had thrown five straight balls. He was a triple short of the cycle today (3 for 4), but myworld does not see sustained success unless he gets more control over the strike zone…Dylan Bundy was hitting 95 with his fastball. He struck out four in a row between the seventh and eighth innings.

Arizona and Coastal Carolina Advance to NCAA Finals

June 27th, 2016

The preseason top 25 polls did not have these two teams making it to the finals, or even appearing in their top 25 lists. Arizona at least has some history in appearing in NCAA finals, having won championships in 2012, 1986, 1980 and 1976 and finishing second in 1963, 1959 and 1956, but this was supposed to be a rebuilding season for them. For Coastal Carolina this is their first appearance in Omaha and they made it memorable by appearing in the NCAA championship.

Coastal Carolina beat TCU for the second time to qualify for the championships, getting some offensive production from Connor Owings, G.K. Young and Tyler Chadwick to beat TCU 7-5. Chadwick hit a solo shot in the second inning to give the Chanticleers an early 1-0 lead. Young added a two out two run triple in the third to up the ante to 3-0. Owings closed out a four run fourth with a two run double and Carolina had built a 7-1 lead.

The Horned Frogs pinched away at the lead, getting the score to 7-5 with the tying run at the plate and only one out, but Bobby Holmes got Michael Landestoy to ground into a double play to end the game and send the Chanticleers to the championship.

The path to the finals for Arizona was an early outburst on offense, led by the bat of Zack Gibbons, and the arm of Bobby Dalbec, who only allowed one run in his seven innings of work. Gibbons had RBI doubles in the first and second innings to fuel the Wildcats early 4-0 lead. An RBI single in the fourth gave him three RBIs in the 5-1 Arizona win.

The two teams will begin their best two out of three run to the championship today.

Coastal Carolina and Arizona Force Second Game in College World Series

June 25th, 2016

Both Coastal Carolina and Arizona avoided elimination, forcing a second game by beating the teams sitting in the winner’s bracket in the NCAA College World Series. Arizona blasted an Oklahoma pitching staff that had pitched two 1-0 shutouts in Omaha. The Cowboys trotted out six different pitchers but the Wildcats exploded for nine runs in the 9-3 win. Zach Gibbons accounted for three hits and two RBIs and Cesar Salazar scored three runs in a 2 for 2 day, slapping a single and double to go with one walk to lead the offense. Closer Cameron Ming was asked to go five innings in relief so his availability for the final game is in question.

Coastal Carolina got a complete game from Andrew Beckwith to keep their season alive in their 4-1 win over TCU. Beckwith only allowed six hits, one of them an eighth solo shot from Dane Steinhagen to account for the only Horned Frogs run. Coastal Carolina only collected four hits in the game but they made them count. Two hits in the third, one a RBI bunt single by Anthony Marks led to two runs. Connor Owings driving in the other run with a sacrifice fly. Two hits in the seventh led to two more runs, Billy Cooke driving in one run with a sacrifice fly and David Parrett driving in the fourth run with a double.

Today both teams square off to see who will meet in the best two of three championship game.

Rondon has Monster Night

June 25th, 2016

The Tampa Bay Rays signed Rondon to a $2.95 million bonus back in 2014 as a 16 year old. His first year he hit .166 in the Gulf Coast League as a 17 year old, failing to hit a homerun in 145 at bats and striking out 57 times in just 43 games. Patience pays off.

The next year he worked on his swing at extended spring training and it all seems to have paid off after the results from his second game in the Appalachian League. In the first inning he went deep for his first professional homerun, a two run shot to give his team an early lead. In the sixth he blasted a three run bomb to extend the Princeton lead over Burlington to 8-1. There was a 30 minute rain delay in the seventh, but when play resumed Princeton loaded the bases for Rondon in the eighth and he cleared them with a grand slam. That is 9 RBIs, a career high for the teenager and a number most do not reach in their professional career.

Princeton won the game 16-2.

Myworld just returned from our Pennsylvania minor league tour. In one of the games we witnessed Tyler Austin hit a solo homerun to account for the only run in a 1-0 Scranton Wilks-Barre win over Toledo. Two days later he did two better slugging three homeruns, a three run shot in the first and solo shots in the fourth and sixth to account for all the Railriders runs in an early 5-3 lead. Austin now has four homers in three days and his last six hits have gone for extra bases (two doubles prior to the homer barrage).

The Railriders tied the game but then in the ninth Donavan Solano, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez went back to back to back to give the Railriders an 8-5 win.

Coastal Carolina Advances to Final Four

June 24th, 2016

The Chanticleers are the last Cinderella team in the College World Series, advancing to the final four with their 7-5 win over Texas Tech. They get a rematch against TCU and must beat them twice to advance to the finals.

David Parrett was the big bat for the Chanticleers, driving in three runs. His single in the second drove in the first run of the game. In the fifth his single drove in two runs to give Coastal Carolina a 7-3 advantage. Bobby Holmes retired the last seven hitters to seal the win.

Stephen Smith had a clutch three run double in the bottom of the second to give Texas Tech a 3-1 lead, but it did not last when Coastal Carolina erupted for three runs in the top of the third.

Five Games, Five Days, Five Parks - Day Five Crosscutters in Overtime

June 24th, 2016

The day before it took them 13 innings before the only run was scored by Williamsport in their 1-0 win over Mahoning Valley. This night it only took them eight innings before the two teams scored their first run. It again went into extra innings, Williamsport winning in ten, 2-1.

The Scrappers started the skinny Tristan McKenzie, the Indians first round pick in 2015 in the competitive balance round. In his first start he had lost but only gave up one unearned run. In this start he did not give up any runs in less than five innings of work, taken out with runners on first and second with two out, but again the Scrappers did not score for him. McKenzie is one of those players who is so skinny he could be represented as a stick like figure. He got a lot of swings and misses with his fastball, striking out five, or one each inning he worked. Myworld did not see much of a breaking pitch.

The Crosscutters countered with Ranger Suarez. He was equally as effective, not giving up a run in five innings of work. He also struck out five, one of those in the second inning with runners on first and third with two out.

The Scrappers finally pushed across their first run in the eighth inning, gift wrapped by the Crosscutters infield. First shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa had a ball slip out of his glove after he ranged left to reach the ball. A wild pitch advanced Gabriel Mejia to second. It appeared he was picked off when he broke for third and the pitcher had yet to pitch the ball. Randy Alcantara stepped off the mound and threw to third. Third baseman Lucas Williams ran Mejia back to second, tossed the ball but too high for the second baseman to catch it. Mejia advanced to third where he scored on a Alexis Pantoja infield in single that skirted past the glove of Gamboa.

The Crosscutters rallied in the ninth off Scrappers closer Henry Martinez, Jesus Alastre rolling an infield single to third and Lucas Williams lining a single up the middle for a hit. Darick Hall struck out but Luis Encarnacion was able to coax a walk on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Arquimedes Gamboa atoned for his error with a fly ball deep enough to right field to score Alastre.

The Scrappers handed the game to Williamsport in the bottom of the tenth after a two out throwing error by Jonathan Laureno put Jose Antequera on second, where he scored on a Jesus Alastre single.

Williamsport Musings

The city was built by the lumber industry. In the late 19th century they were known as the lumber capital of the world. That lumber would be transformed into baseball bats if they didn’t use aluminum bats in the Little League World Series. Now, many television sets are tuned into Williamsport to watch 12 year old kids compete in baseball.

At one point in the city’s history they had more millionaires per capita than any place in the world. The high school team nickname was the Williamsport Millionaires to reflect that. That is not so anymore now that the lumber barons have few trees to chop.

Williamsport native Joe Lockard, stationed in Oahu is said to have warned his superiors of an impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Those superiors dismissed his readings, stating they were American B-17 bombers coming from the mainland.

The top employer for Williamsport is another health industry, Susquehanna Health, further evidence that our economy is geared toward our population not staying well. Sickness or staying healthy seems to drive many municipalities. The second biggest employer is the State Government, further evidence there is very little manufacturing industry driving our cities.

The only famous person of note is Mike Mussina, unless you include the name of Carl Lutz, who invented Little League baseball in Williamsport.

Game/Stadium Notes: Bowman Field is the second oldest minor league park in the country, built in 1926. Except for a modern scoreboard in right field Bowman Field would look like any pony league field, with the card board fences stacked up in the outfield. They are doing some construction on the first base side of the dugout to enhance the stadium…The original Little League field is across the street from Bowman where they played the first Little League World Series with mostly United States teams from 1947-1958. A game was being played there when myworld stopped by. You can still play baseball there, but the field is like a grandfather with hip and joint pain when compared to the newer fields on the other side of Williamsport…During each inning a couple round boys on each side of the field walk up and down the first and third base side of the field holding up a sign telling the fans what inning it is. Of course these round or inning boys are sponsored…There was a 45 minute rain delay. Tires were used to hold down the two tarps that covered the field…The bleacher seats are covered which is nice during a drizzle. It would probably provide some shade during a day game…They advertised a Dominican Plate at a local hotel with the food served by some of the Dominicans on the team. The Crosscutters roster is filled with Dominican players…It is a long trek from the dugout to the on deck circle. The person myworld feels sorry for is the bat boy, who must pick up the bat, run to the dugout to return the bat and then run about twenty yards to the home plate area where he waits to retrieve foul balls or another bat…The retired numbers of 59, 41 and 36 appear in the centerfield area. The lettering was too small to make out the names, but myworld will research that later…Logan Ice has one of the cooler names in baseball. He went 0 for 4 with three whiffs so his bat was as cool as his name. Emmanuel Tapia also struck out three times…The only real impressive player, hard to rate players on one game in rookie ball, is left fielder Enmanuel Garcia for his numerous defensive plays out there. He looked like a player who could play centerfield.

Williamsport Little League Museum

June 23rd, 2016

Myworld is in Williamsport to watch the Williamsport Crosscutters play on the fifth day of our Pennsylvania tour. It is still a couple weeks away from the Little League World Series but myworld stopped by the museum and the field to see them prepare for the event. The museum is a worthwhile visit if you happen to find yourself in Williamsport. Watching them prepare the field for the big televised event that will be overflowing with spectators, cameras and players is fascinating. There is a lot of work that goes into trimming those hedges from the bushes that the cameras will pan so millions can see in the television screen “Little League World Series”.

When myworld played Little League it was always a thought that if we made the All Star team we could compete against other Little Leagues and appear in the World Series. As a kid there was no thought process of where the event was or how difficult it would be to get there. Myworld never got there. Until now. Another bucket list fulfilled, but we still want to come back when they are playing games.

Some of the facts you get from visiting the museum:

Little League was begun by Carl Lutz in 1939 in Williamsport. They have only been playing the Little League World Series at their current park since 1959. Prior to that they played the first World Series at their old park at Original Field, which is nearby the Crosscutters stadium.

In 1950 Panama was the first country outside the United States to participate in the Little League World Series. In 1957 Monterrey, Mexico was the first non-United States team to win the World Series. They were led by pitcher Angel Macias who pitched the first and only perfect game in Little League World Series history.

Maria Pepe is given credit for allowing girls to play Little League. She played for her New Jersey charter back in 1972 and Little League was going to revoke that charter if they continued to have her play. The National Organization for Women (NOW) challenged that decision, girls were allowed to play and in 2004 she threw out the first pitch at the 2004 Little League World Series.

Some celebrities noted for playing Little League:

Vice President Joe Biden played for the Green Ridge Little League of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Other celebrities who have played Little League include Tom Selleck, George W. Bush, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Dick Vitale, Dan Quayle, Governor Chris Christie, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Bruce Springsteen and Kevin Costner. Those are names of individuals who appear on the Wall of Fame. There are more but you have to go there to see the rest. Or google Little League World Series and a Wikipedia page will update you with the names.

Arizona Eliminates Gauchos from CWS

June 23rd, 2016

The clock turned midnight for UC Santa Barbara. After eliminating Louisville and Miami from the College World Series they were eliminated by Arizona. JC Cloney pitched seven innings of five hit shutout ball and steady bullpen mate Cameron Ming finished the game off with two shutout innings in a 3-0 Wildcat win. Arizona scored all their runs in the third inning, Ryan Aguilar driving in the first run with a sacrifice fly and Jared Oliva finishing the inning off with a two run homer. Arizona gets a rematch with Oklahoma State and must beat them twice to advance to the finals. The Cowboys beat the Wildcats 1-0 in the finals of the winner’s bracket.

Five Games, Five Days, Five Parks - Day Four Tyler Tater Only Run in Railriders Victory

June 23rd, 2016

The pitchers dominated in the game tonight. Chad Green of the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders threw 95 mile per hour heat tacking up swings and misses to the tune of nine strikeouts in seven innings. His fastball lost a tick or two in the later innings but the only hits he gave up were the two singles to Tyler Collins in the first and third innings. Tyler Austin, whose prospect status has disappeared provided the only run of the game when his blast bounced onto the walkway in left field that straddles the bullpen area, taking one hop and hitting the scoreboard. It was all the Railriders needed in their 1-0 win over the Toledo Mudhens.

Lefty Chad Bell pitched well for the Mudhens. He didn’t allow a run in his six innings of work, giving up just three hits. Preston Guillmet served up the Austin homerun to take the loss.

Logan Kensing faced three Railriders in the eighth inning and struck all three hitters out. The Railriders rallied against Diego Moreno with a walk and single putting runners on first and third with only one out. Dixon Machado hit the ball hard but right at the third baseman, who easily turned two to end the threat. Gonor Mullee closed out the game for the Railriders, retiring the side in order, the last two on whiffs.

Scranton Facts

There is not a city named Scranton Wilkes-Barre. The name is a combination of two city names located close to each other, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Scranton is the larger city, the sixth largest in Pennsylvania.

Scranton could be the most powerful city in the world. Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States was born in Scranton and Hilary Clinton spent her childhood here, with her father buried in Scranton. Don’t know if the two ever crossed paths while living in Scranton.

Scranton was built on iron and steel. When that production moved overseas the city stopped growing. In 1962 a retailer named Thrif D Discount Center opened in Scranton. This was the beginning of the Rite-Aid drugstore chain.

Wilkes-Barre

This is the 13th largest city in Pennsylvania. It was built on coal. When coal was replaced as an energy source the city downsized with it.

There is no person that catches my eye that was born in Wilkes-Barre. It is the birthplace of Planters Peanuts Co.

Legend has it that Babe Ruth hit one of the longest homeruns ever in an exhibition game here. It was measured at 650 feet. It was witnessed that the ball was still rising as it cleared the 400 foot fence. Don’t know if they measured it where it stopped or where it landed.

Game and Stadium Notes: The ballpark does not have a lot of personality to it. PNC was built in 2013 so it is a new park. History can build personality, but it doesn’t appear they wanted to bring any of the history of the old park to the new park. PNC has all the bells and whistles of a modern park, with a nice scoreboard, a kids fun zone and a couple bar areas in the outfield where the adults can spend money on expensive alcoholic beverages. There are no statues of great players or plaques recognizing the achievements of great players, at least what I could find…The food choices are not as varied as Reading but they have nachos and tacos, pannini sandwiches, sausages, hamburgers, Texas style barbecue in right field and chicken tenders. Myworld tried the pierogis, a staple in Pennsylvania. We’ve had better in Pittsburgh at the Pirates park…It is best to buy tickets on the third base side. You are looking into the sun for the first three innings on the first base side…In the fourth inning they have a legend’s race with Thurman Munson, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Billy Martin. Joe won the race tonight. Billy Martin never wins…Streamed along the right field fence PNC has an International League scoreboard in addition to a major league scoreboard…The town of Hazelton, which is as far from Scranton as Wilkes-Barre, likes to point out that Joe Maddon, the manager of the Cubs was born in Hazelton…There is a walk ramp that passes the bullpen area in left field. Tyler Austin hit a homerun to score the only run of the game tonight. The ball landed on the ramp passing the bullpen, bounced up and hit the scoreboard…The stadium has a nice backdrop with the trees and the hill. The restaurant Non’Nos sits atop the hill looking down at the ballpark…Mark Teixeira made a rehab start in the game at the DH spot. He singled his first time up, grounded out and walked…Aaron Judge seems to have trouble making contact at pitches thrown near the knees. At 6′8″ he has a large strike zone. His last two at bats he swung and missed at three pitches travelling near the knees…Chad Green had a lot of swings and misses to his 95 mile per hour fastball. The Yankees briefly called him up and he struggled in two appearances. The Yankees acquired Green from the Tigers in the Justin Wilson trade…Jacoby Jones has trouble making contact on balls with a break. He struck out in three of his four at bats. Anthony Gose struck out all three times he batted. After Diego Moreno had thrown six straight balls to start his appearance Gose had a check swing strike on a pitch that appeared to be out of the strike zone. Two more pitches and he was a strikeout victim for the third time. If he continues to have at bats like that myworld would predict his return to the major leagues is doubtful…The Railriders shift against Dean Green paid off when Green lined one to the shortstop who was playing on the first base side of the base…Nick Swisher does not have a lot of speed to be playing outfield. Tonight he was playing right field and Judge was playing left.

Gators Eliminated from CWS; TCU Advances

June 22nd, 2016

There were two college world series games in the second bracket played last night, one in the losers round and the other in the winners round. TCU beat Coastal Carolina 6-1 to advance to the winners round. Brian Howard quieted the Carolina bats until the sixth inning when he gave up a run. A walk put the tying run at the plate and brought in Ryan Burnett, who got the last out of the sixth inning and was perfect the last three innings, retiring all the hitters he faced to cinch the win for TCU.

Luken Baker was the big bat for TCU with a 3 for 3 day, tagging a ball over the left field fence to lead off the second to score the first run for the Horned Frogs. TCU would never look back, taking advantage of two Coastal Carolina errors to score three unearned runs. They will wait in the winners bracket for the game between Coastal Carolina and Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders eliminated the Florida Gators with a 3-2 win. Davis Martin quieted their bats to three hits in his seven innings of work. Eric Gutierrez slugged a two run homer in the fourth and the way both pitchers were working it appeared the score would hold up. Texas Tech scored a critical insurance run in the ninth after a throwing error allowed a run to score. Peter Alonso hit a two run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Hayden Howard to close the gap to 3-2. A two out single by Jonathan India could have gotten another rally started but he got greedy attempting to take second base and he was thrown out by left fielder Tyler Neslony to end the game.

TCU and Oklahoma State sit in the winners slot in the two brackets. The winner of the UC Santa Barbara/Arizona game will play Oklahoma State and must beat them twice to advance to the finals. Coastal Carolina and Texas Tech will do battle to see who will match up against TCU.