Sunday, June 29, 2014
Kitsap series preview
The BlueJackets are having some struggles of their own as they try and snap a four game skid this evening against the surprising Yakima Valley Pippins. It is possible that tomorrow night may see two teams meet with a combined fifteen losses without a win. The good news for one of them is that somebody has to rack up a few wins and both are probably looking at the other hungrily as a ladder out of the baseball doldrums.
Tale of the Tape (prior to Sunday's games)
Victoria: 5-12 (.294), 4th in West Division
Kitsap: 8-8 (.500), 3rd in West Division
Victoria: .231 ave. (12th in WCL), .317 SLG (11th), .322 OBP (12th)
Kitsap: .275 ave. (5th in WCL), .379 SLG (4th), .374 OBP (4th)
Victoria: 4.61 ERA (8th), WHIP 1.48 (8th)
Kitsap: 5.55 (9th), 1.68 WHIP (9th)
Who to Watch - Victoria
Oregon State’s Gabe Clark has lived up to promise and sports a .368 average in his first five games with the 'Cats. Clark also has two homers which is second on the team to Alex DeGoti. I'm sensing at least one Pembroke Poke from "the Gabe" this series.
Nathan Lukes and Hunter Mercado-Hood continue to climb the average ladder with both lads now hitting above .300 (.317 and .310 respectively). Prior to last night's nailbiting loss to Cowlitz, HMH had three multi-hit games in a row which Lukes has matched in his last three games while riding a four game hitting streak. Hopefully their bats stay hot for the Canada Day weekend (and beyond!) and it becomes contagious to the lower order hitters.
Pitching-wise, the 'Cats starters have actually been doing OK with two Alex's - Rogers and Garcia - both having good outings their last two starts and been unlucky not to have a couple of wins under their belts. Both have identical 1-1 records with very good ERA's of 1.96 and 0.81 and Rogers leading the team with a stellar 0.89 WHIP. Right behind him is another unlucky starter in Mikey Wright with a .96 WHIP in his three starts. The key to this series on the bump will be the relief pitching. Victoria needs a couple of relievers to step up with some solid performances to preserve leads, stop the bleeding, close games or all of the above. Sixteen different 'Cats have seen action so far this year so hopefully this experience will begin to show.
All that said, the fielding needs to stabilize and help out the pitching staff too. Same old story, but if Victoria can keep the errors down I really believe they can turn it around and start winning some games.
Who to Watch - Kitsap
While Victoria languishes near the bottom of most team offensive categories, the Kitsap bats have some pop. Centre fielder Daniel Woodrow sits second in the league with a .389 batting average and looks to be a solid singles hitter who gets on (.459 OBP) and can also swipe a base or two. Joining him in the top 10 (8th) with a .354 average is first baseman Austin Bush who also sports a lofty .458 OBP. Four other regulars have batting averages of .295 of above so 'Cats pitchers will need to be sharp or they'll be looking at a few double digit games here.
On the mound, big Josh Moss leads the Kitsap starters with a very respectable 2.45 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in three starts and 18 1/3 innings of work this year but the 'Cats may avoid him - at least in Victoria. The BlueJackets are trying out some new starters as they try and reduce opponents runs against. Reliever Tanner Howell has a pretty decent 0.93 ERA and seven K's in his nine and two thirds innings of work, but also has nine walks. After that, there are a lot of high ERA's so it may be just the tonic that Victoria needs to get their sticks going again.
The numbers show a matchup of good Kitsap hitting against (statistically) weaker Victoria pitching and some inconsistent 'Cat bats similar B-Jacket arms. This is a tough one to call, but I'm going against the numbers and with the hometown team riding the Canada Day patriotism and taking two of three, regardless of what happens later today. I think the HarbourCat bats will heat up deeper in the order with a clutch hit here or there, and as long as the starting pitching holds true, they just need the bullpen to start mopping up. I'm thinking we'll see lots of base runners, high scores and a bit of chaos on the base paths and in the field.
Look for a highly entertaining series with games that may be a bit longer than usual but with the weather looking summer-Victoria-Awesome, whatever happens fans will not be disappointed. So put on the maple leaf face tattoos and come on out. This series is particularly loaded with promotions like fireworks, skydivers, free hot dogs and even a dash of Elvis - how can it NOT be a blast??
Former Victoria HarbourCat third baseman Dylan LaVelle will make his return to Royal Athletic Park in the Kitsap series. LaVelle, who hit .201 in 42 games with the 'Cats last summer, is playing both shortstop and third base for the BlueJackets this season. Fans may remember LaVelle's difficulty catching foul pop-ups last year, so it will be interesting to see what happens if LaVelle has to range into foul territory to make a play at RAP this week.