Friday, July 26, 2013

Good Knight

The 2013 WCL season is now more than half over, the All Star break is behind us, and the Victoria HarbourCats are returning to open a critical homestand with one of the model franchises of the league, the Corvallis Knights. Heading into tonight's action, the 'Cats are only three games out of a playoff spot while the Knights sit tied for first atop the South division ladder. If you had told me that at the start of the year, I would have taken it, but that darn 7-2 start got me all excited-like!

Corvallis is a formidable foe, and since being swept by Kitsap in late June, they have been on a sizzling hot streak, winning eleven of their past fourteen games. This is a team that knows how to win. They have two WCL titles - the last one coming in 2011 - and have been in the finals three other times in the short eight year history of the league. The success of this year's team is very evident when you break it down - they have excellent pitching and they are an absolute menace on the base-paths. Check out these quick hitters:

  • The WCL single season stolen base record is 105, and heading into tonight's game the Knights
    have swiped 94 so are on track to smash that record, potentially in this homestand
  • To put it in perspective, the next closest team is Medford with 59 while Victoria weighs in with 33. Corvallis have been caught only 23 times to Victoria's 19
  • Hard hitting fireplug Dane Lund leads the league with 18, closely followed by Grant Melker with 16 and the flake Blake "the Snake" Drake (who likes cake) with 14
  • They lead the league in ERA at 2.89 with the next closest being Medford at 3.46. Victoria's team ERA is 4.46
  • They also lead the league in WHIP (1.20), opponent's BA (.227), home runs given up (8), hits given up, runs, earned runs, shutouts, opponent slugging percentage and are second in walks surrendered
  • Other than that, they suck
 At the plate, their batting (.266) average is only slightly better than Victoria's (.257) but they are not a power hitting team at all. They will get on base and run, run, run. The HarbourCats have the edge in slugging, homers while on base percentage is dead even.

With the All Star game just behind us, here is a quick look at the Knight's selections:
  • Dane Lund - steals bases and hits for average with a .357 average and no round trippers but has struck out only six times in 115 at bats
  • Cody Lenahan - hits about .300 but leads the team in K's with 23
  • Blake Drake - lead-off hitter who also hits just under .300 with a .401 on base percentage
  • Devon Parker - a statistically "quiet" pitcher with a 4.05 ERA who just gets the job done as a starter and now reliever (probably because of his climbing ERA)
  • Brandon Choate - a stud reliever/closer who has not given up an earned run since his first appearance on June 5
  • Also keep an eye on starting pitcher Chris Bishop with his sub 2.00 ERA
As for your 'Cats, Alex Real continues to carry the offensive load with help from Alex DeGoti and Austin Russell. That said, after being shut out last night and facing such a deadly pitching staff this weekend, this could be the perfect storm - and not in the good sense. Putting on my optimist's hat, it could also be a great challenge to help wake up these bats for good.

On the mound, Conant "the Barbarian" continues to roll and Connor Russell  seems to be back in favour as a starter, having a decent outing just a couple of nights ago. It's doubtful we will see him in this series though other than in relief. Ryan Keller seems to be doing a nice job out of the bullpen lately, and his arm will be needed in the late innings to keep the starter's pitch counts out of the stratosphere. In general, the 'Cats recent pitching performances (in Kitsap) have been pretty good. As well, team errors are down with only one error in the two games down there so far. Both of these things will be key in keeping the Knights off the scoreboard. Against such a good running team, extra bases will sting you very badly.

So all that said, what can we expect at RAP this weekend? I think we'll see quick, low scoring games and the arms of our catchers being tested as the Knights try to run wild at every opportunity. Lots of sacrifices, lots of hit and runs, lots of small ball. I would like to think that this is the TSN turning point for Victoria; the point in the season where they have a good series against a solid team, and build momentum for the final chase to the playoffs. So with my heart, I say 'Cats take two of three but with my head, Corvallis leaves here winning two games. I've been told I have no heart, so let's hope the pundits are wrong.

In any case, it will be excellent weather for baseball and the boys need support, go grab your tickets and get out there, Victoria!


  1. Addendum - the 'Cats made four errors tonight and look - from the box-score - to be the victim of a PERFECT GAME. Fans, bring your noisemakers as we have to do SOMETHING to wake up the lumber.

    On the positive side, pitching was good...

  2. Yes, great job by Navilhon -- he only gave up 4 hits in 8 innings. On the downside, we just got shutout twice in a row by the worst team in the league... and we have registered a TOTAL of three hits over the last couple of games. After taking two of three from a great Wenatchee team, we lost two of three from Kitsap. The Jekyll and Hyde routine continues...

  3. This is not looking good, after listening to the Kitsap games it's hard to be positive about these next two series at home. Maybe the pitchers can hit as well as they've been pitching and we should give them a shot! What other options are left? Congrats to Spenser Watkins what a game he threw, a lifetime memory for him to enjoy....well done. Great job to Joe as well!

  4. Coming into the home stretch, it would be nice to see our players step up and make a last minute charge.

    The bats need to get H-O-T! Go Harbourcats!!

    Darth - Keep the predictions've been spot on so far!

    1. Well, I hope I am wrong this time...would love to see the 'Cats take this series.

  5. We really missed a potentially big swing this last series. With both Wenatchee and Walla Walla losing there series, what a golden opportunity we had to be right at the top again. Not to take anything away from the strong pitching of Kitsap but we should have swept...I think we just witnessed the TSN turning point of the season.

  6. The Cats have not been good on the road at all. I expect to see them come to life tonight.

  7. Same old same old, road or home. Tonight life.

  8. Pretty discouraging to be a pitcher and know you have to throw a shutout or 1 run game to stay alive and even then still take the loss.