Thursday, June 3, 2010

Toros sweep series against Seals

The Victoria Seals wasted an amazing comeback on Thursday night and eventually fell 4-3 to the Tucson Toros in 11 innings. The Seals, who trailed 3-1 after eight innings, scored a pair of runs in the ninth after having two outs and nobody on. Sean Smith reached on a base hit and then Wilver Perez smacked a single that got by Tucson left fielder Lino Garcia. By the time Garcia retrieved the ball and got it back into the infield, Smith had scored and Perez had circled the bases to tie the game.

It was pretty clear that manager Kip Gross desperately wanted the win as he brought closer Brandon Villafuerte into the game in the 8th inning in a non-save situation and then left him in to pitch three innings. Wilver Perez continued his heroics in the bottom of the 10th when he threw out a runner at home to end the inning. But it was all for naught as Aaron Easton (2-1) gave up a run in the bottom of the 11th after Anthony Pluta and Villafuerte had provided four scoreless innings of relief.

While the Seals bullpen continues to impress, the team's hitting is anything but impressive. In fact, the Seals are last in hitting in the league with a pathetic .237 batting average (a whopping 23 points behind the league's second-worst hitting teams, Tijuana and Edmonton). They continue to lead the league in steals with 28, but unfortunately it's not possible to steal first base. Let's hope our boys can turn it around at the plate soon.

The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Seals as they start a three-game series against the Yuma Scorpions on Friday night. This will be another good test for Kip Gross' squad, as the Scorpions have the best record in the GBL (10-3) and they recently swept their series against Tucson. On Thursday night, the Scorpions trailed the Tijuana Cimarrones 12-6 in the bottom of the ninth, but they scored seven runs and pulled out a miraculous 13-12 walk-off victory. The Seals have their work cut out for them.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • Sean Smith continues to struggle at the plate -- he is only hitting .137 with a meager .228 on-base percentage. Smith has only walked twice in 51 at-bats this season, although he did draw a walk in the 11th inning of Thursday night's game. It seems like he is pressing at the plate and he probably needs to be more patient and wait for his pitch. Last season, with the Somerset Patriots in the (stronger) Atlantic League, he walked 51 times in 500 at-bats. It might be time to move him down in the batting order or give him a day or two off by moving Terrence McClain to left field and using Shane Cronin at first base.
  • Many assumed that eliminating the DH in the Golden Baseball League would lead to much lower-scoring games. Last season, the league averaged a total of 12.1 runs per game. However, after the first couple of weeks of the 2010 season, the league has still averaged 11.9 runs per game with the pitchers hitting.
  • Eri Yoshida's second start of the season will be on June 12th, exactly two weeks after her first start. It's interesting that both of her first two starts will have been at home on a Saturday night. I'm starting to wonder of Yoshida will make any starts on the road or if the Chico Outlaws will want all of her starts to be at home so that they can benefit from the increased attendance. This will be something to monitor as the season progresses.
  • Ex-Seal Austin Bibens Dirkx won his fourth consecutive start for the Tennessee Smokies (AA) on Tuesday night by shutting out the Birmingham Barons over seven innings. Bibens-Dirkx only surrendered one hit and one walk while he lowered his ERA to a minuscule 2.05. Opponents are hitting a mere .156 against him this year and he sports a ludicrous 0.77 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). In 57 innings on the hill, he has only given up 30 hits. I'd expect the Cubs to promote him to their AAA affiliate any day now.
  • Seals alumnus Isaac Hess has been rocked in this last three starts for the Guerreros de Oaxaca in the (AAA) Mexican League. His ERA has shot up to 5.06 on the season. Since being traded from the Diablos Rojos del Mexico, Hess has given up 27 hits and 10 walks in only 16 innings pitched for the Guerreros.