Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Will the real Victoria HarbourCats please stand up?

Through their first 14 games, the Victoria HarbourCats looked like a team destined for the playoffs in their inaugural season, but it may be time to reassess their prospects after the last five road games. The ‘Cats lost their fourth game on the current road swing, this time dropping an 8-1 decision to the red-hot Wenatchee AppleSox on Wednesday night. Connor Russell got the start and he did his best to limit the damage, but the big AppleSox bats still got to him for seven earned runs in his six innings of work. Will Ballowe mopped up for Victoria by pitching two scoreless innings, keeping his season ERA at 0.00 in his seven innings over four appearances.

David Schuknecht hit a solo shot on Wednesday
On the plus side, the HarbourCats only committed one error on the evening, but they have still made 16 errors in their last six games. That number has to come down if this team is going stay in the playoff hunt over the next five weeks. Coming into tonight’s game, the HarbourCats were 10th in the league in fielding percentage (.953), ahead of only the last-place Kelowna Falcons. The HarbourCats are a skilled but inexperienced team compared to most squads in the West Coast League, so a certain amount of growing pains has to be expected in the first half of the season. Unfortunately, the defensive lineup has been juggled on a nearly nightly basis, so it has been difficult for the young players to settle into a routine in the field.

Victoria, with its 11-8 record, currently sits in a three-way tie for first place in the North Division with Wenatchee and Walla Walla. If you had told me that fact at the beginning of the season, I would have been ecstatic. However, there are some troubling numbers in addition to the fielding statistics. The HarbourCats are 10th in the league with an anemic .242 batting average, but are still 5th in the league with a solid .349 on-base percentage. With below average team speed, the HarbourCats aren’t a team that can win a lot of games by manufacturing runs -- walks and timely hitting seems to be their recipe for success. On the pitching side, the ‘Cats are 7th in the WCL with a 4.05 ERA and 5th in the league with a 1.31 WHIP. Unfortunately, none of these numbers will strike fear into the hearts of opponents.

Put it all together and it’s possible that this young team might be headed for a .500 season and a third or fourth place finish instead of a run at the league championship. Unless of course their recent struggles are just a temporary funk that the team rolls out of when they return to Royal Athletic Park on Friday. In either case, come on out to the ballpark to see how this all plays out. It’s probably going to be a wild ride to the finish.

  • Logon Lombana (0-0, 8.10 ERA) gets the start for the HarbourCats on Thursday night in the series finale in Wenatchee.
  • David Schuknecht hit his second homer of the year on Wednesday night and chipped in with a bunt single to raise his average to .325.
  • Alex Real had a pair of hits in Wednesday’s game and he now sits second in the league batting race with a .373 mark.
  • Chris Lewis had three singles on Wednesday night. Look for a big second half from Mr. Lewis.
  • Victoria now has a 4-6 record on the road to go with a 7-2 record at Royal Athletic Park.

No comments:

Post a Comment