Friday, August 14, 2015
Rock Cats Blog // New Britain 5, Erie 7 [Game 17]
Box Score: http://www.milb.com/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2015_08_01_eswaax_nbraax_1&mode=gameday
As this was the third game in the series with the Erie Sea Wolves it is worth noting that we watched the second game live the night before on CPTV Sports. The Rock Cats won that game so they were up 2-0 in the series and it had a rather interesting Wynton Bernard ejection early on because when he was called out at second base he threw his helmet which is apparently an automatic bye-bye card, something I learned that night as it happened. From Thursday night I also learned that the Sea Wolves manager was a former MLB player- Lance Parrish- and so I spent Friday in the afternoon looking through my old baseball cards to try and see if I had a card of his to get him to sign and lo and behold I did, so I was looking forward to that on Saturday night. There weren't any give aways that brought us out to the game too early but we did get there a little after 6pm with the 7:05 start time. I had three cards I wanted to get signed, though one of them was the Sea Wolves pitcher who I couldn't find on Thursday night and he pitched Friday night in a fairly bad showing (Though not as bad as Tommy Collier the night before) so I wasn't too hopeful to see him.
When I went over to the Sea Wolves dug out first I spent maybe five or ten minutes there at most before I saw Lance Parrish and had him sign his card. I was pleased with this result and decided not to worry about the pitcher who I would probably never see (Spoiler Alert: I never did see him in the dug out and didn't get his card signed but by Sunday's game I just didn't care anymore) so I left the Sea Wolves side and went to the Rock Cats side to search for Abel Baker. I didn't see him and he wasn't scheduled to catch either- which is strange because he had only played one game since being back from AAA- so I went to our seats and was fine with only a Lance Parrish autographed card for this game. I also must note that while watching the Rock Cats game the night prior on CPTV Sports we learned that Jeff Hoffman would be pitching this game. Now, as the Rock Cats had a sort of rotation going with their pitchers, this was to be a Ryan Carpenter start. The only advertised promotion for this game really was a Boy Scout Sleepover so we really were just here to see Ryan Carpenter pitch.
The idea that Jeff Hoffman was starting on this night was confusing to me. If you look at the Rock Cats pitching rotation- how I had it pegged down- then you would know that if Ryan Carpenter had pitched Saturday night as planned then the following pitchers would be next in line: Bryan Evans, Harrison Musgrave, Shane Carle, Matt Flemer and then back to Carpenter. Now for those not following the Rock Cats like I do, Bryan Evans went down with an injury before his last scheduled start in Binghamton and he was replaced- that day- with Ryan Arrowood. Since that was a spot start for Arrowood, then why not have Jeff Hoffman fill the Evans spot this time around, which would have been Sunday? On top of that, Harrison Musgrave has had some tough outings, so even replacing him with Jeff Hoffman might have made more sense if they wanted to keep Arrowood in Evans' spot. But, no, they had to go and throw the whole pitching order off. If you think telling someone "Hey, you're pitching Saturday... Haha, just kidding, you're really pitching Sunday now" doesn't throw their game off then you've obviously never met a pitcher before. (Just go read some Matt Harvey interviews. And don't give me that "This isn't the majors!!" line either)
To his credit, Jeff Hoffman pitched a pretty good game. He showed he has some skills and if he is utilized in the pitching rotation for the rest of this season he could see enough starts to put some wins back on the board for the Rock Cats. He pitched his way into the 5th inning, but gave up two runs which had the Rock Cats up 4-3 after Shane Broyles came in. Broyles would earn two more runs as the Rock Cats went without offense and the Sea Wolves took a 5-4 lead which didn't seem impossible to come back from so it was really a tight game throughout. The Erie pitcher had been taken out after he gave up three runs in the first inning and for the next four inning Melvin Mercedes controlled the Rock Cats. Sam Moll was credited with a blown save as Austin House eventually came in during the top of the ninth, two more runs would score for the Sea Wolves and the Rock Cats were down 7-4 going into the bottom of the ninth. It's all one of those things that you look back at differently but the Rock Cats did put up one more run in the bottom of the ninth, so had they not given up those two runs in the top of the inning they would have been tied and had they not won it there they could have won it in extra innings.
The problem I saw tonight though was that the Rock Cats just weren't there offensively. Every batter in their line up on both Thursday and even Friday night seemed to pose a threat. There were no easy outs. If you let someone get on base, then there were good odds that the next batter could bring them home. And it wasn't like, "Oh, David Dahl's up next, he could win this game", because I didn't just feel that way about David Dahl I felt that way about everyone in the Rock Cats line up. (They also had the DH going for them, so the pitchers didn't have to hit and be the usual easy out) But something just happened on Saturday where we once saw hits strung together by the likes of Valaika, Patterson, Osborne and Wong they were just coming up empty. I want to say that the pitching rotation was what messed with this game and helped the loss for the Rock Cats, but really it was just that offensive flurry from Thursday night that was missing. And it makes me sad because right now if you look at the Rock Cats roster, they have one of the best teams with the most potential and they just got shut down. At least they were fighting right up until the very end and that made for quite an exciting game.