Friday, August 8, 2014

HarbourCats defeat guarantees second consecutive losing season

Military Night meets Christmas in August!
I remember in school learning that the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales converge at -40 degrees. That is, -40°C is the same temperature as -40°F. While I have experienced -40°C temperatures in the middle of winter in Central Canada, I never thought that I'd have to endure those conditions in Victoria. In August. But that's exactly what happened on Friday night when the HarbourCats decided to combine Military Night with Christmas in August. The promotion was so thoroughly executed that the team even imported frigid temperatures for full effect. Thanks, HarbourCats!

Luckily Friday night's game, won 13-12 by Kitsap, was played in a brisk 4 hours and 7 minutes. That's right folks, a nine inning game took 4 hours and 7 minutes to play. Given the frigid conditions, it's no surprise that the players had trouble gripping the ball, leading to a total of 25 runs, 27 hits, 23 walks (!!) and 4 errors on the night.

The only Victoria pitchers who were even close to being effective were Dallas Patterson and Carson Schneider. Patterson, a Victoria native who was making his HarbourCats debut, held the BlueJackets to only one run on three hits and no walks in 2 1/3 innings and was headed for the win when he left the game. The soft-tossing junkballer threw an array of Frisbee tosses that baffled a number of Kitsap hitters, reminding more than one oldtimer in the crowd of Mark Eichorn in his prime. He was also the only Victoria pitcher who didn't issue a walk on the night (Lombana walked 4 in 2 2/3 IP, Peabody walked 4 in 2 IP, Ryan walked 3 in 1 1/3 IP and Schneider walked one in 2/3 IP). 

Preston Ryan was handed his sixth loss of the season in an outing that can charitably categorized as unfortunate. We don't need to go into the details, because Ryan has given us his all this summer and he deserves to be cut a little slack. Let's hope he has a short memory with respect to this particular outing. In case you are wondering, Ryan does not lead the league in losses -- that distinction belongs to Klamath Fall's Jordan Kron who has lost a staggering 8 of the Gems' 52 games. Carson Schneider came in and mopped up in the ninth with an effective 2/3 of an inning, but it was too little, too late.

Hunter Mercado-Hood
On the positive side, Hunter Mercado-Hood went four-for-six with three RBI to close in on the all-time WCL record for most RBI in a season. He now has 43 on the year, but he still trails Kevin Kline (45 RBI) and Vince Fernandez (44 RBI) with two games left to play. Mercado-Hood now has an astounding 15 RBI in his six games against Kitsap this season. HMH's four hits also pushed his batting up to the .373 mark, good for second place in the batting race. He trails Klamath Fall's Steven Packard by 34 percentage points, but given how HMH is hitting he still might have a shot at the batting title as well.

Gabe Clark went 0-for-6 on the night and he remains in a three-way tie with Kevin Kline and Andrew Mendenhall for the league lead in home runs with eight. The all-time WCL home run record is nine for one season.

Home plate umpire Dan Rogers had a rough game calling balls and strikes. His inconsistent strike zone angered many hitters and just about every bench jockey in the Kitsap dugout. Rogers ejected Kitsap head coach Ryan Parker in the top of the 5th inning and then tossed Kitsap coaches Kevin Frady and Bryan Kepner in the bottom of 8th inning. Both Frady and Kepner will be given automatic suspensions. In his usual post-game press release, HarbourCats GM Jim Swanson reported that Kitsap's bus driver Steve Cook took over the coaching duties in the bottom of the eighth. Yes, that's right: The BlueJackets' bus driver helped coach his team to a come-from-behind victory in the 9th inning.

Dan Rogers' movable strike zone even aggravated the mild-mannered Gabe Clark, although Clark's protestations we so polite that he might end up being granted Canadian citizenship automatically when he leaves the country on Monday. I think I even heard Clark use the words "sorry" and "please" while he "tore a strip" off the umpire.

The Kitsap bench was vocal for most of the evening, although the volume did increase with each ejection. The BlueJackets did seem pretty fired up for a relatively meaningless game, but that shouldn't be surprising given that Victoria has handed them their asses on a plate in their previous six meetings and were outscored by a margin of 63-13.

Andreychuk's 1st triple may have been lost in a snow drift
The night was full of odd occurrences, such as Griffin Andreychuk hitting a triple in two consecutive at-bats, Danny Collier diving for two balls that landed (what seemed like) 10 feet from his outstretched glove and Jake Lesinski throwing the ball into centre field on at least three stolen base attempts without being charged with a single throwing error. Some joker in the crowd quipped that Lesinski was trying to perfect the 2-8-5 putout on the runner at first base, but none of the basestealers would oblige by trying to advance to third.

The defeat guarantees that the HarbourCats will finish the summer with a losing season. With a mark of 24-28 this summer, the franchise now has an all-time record of 46-60 (.434). Let's hope that the organization is willing to make the changes necessary to turn things around in time for Opening Day next June. We certainly have our opinions on what those changes should be, so stay tuned to the blog in the upcoming weeks for more of our thoughts.

In the meantime, enjoy the last couple of games and the fireworks on Saturday night. The cold weather that rolled in at 7:30 PM on Friday will be gone by noon on Saturday, so conditions should be perfect for the rest of the weekend.

1 comment:

  1. I think that Preston Ryan deserves a lot of kudos after being asked to throw 153 pitches in less than a week! These coaches are arm killers! No wonder everyone left, self preservation. Seeing Nelson get another start makes me sick to my stomach, really. Take a look at how Preston has done when they gave him proper rest. I love the Harbourcats, but the coaches are a joke! They coach like little league dads.