You may remember that the league took control of the Roadrunners a couple of weeks ago and the team is spending the remainder of the 2010 season as a traveling road show. To pare down expenses, the league gutted the roster and brought in 21 new players from the independent New York State League and the upstart Peach State League. To the surprise of many, the Roadrunners contain a nucleus of quality players and are definitely competitive in the GBL. However, they were swept in their recently-completed four-game set against the powerful Calgary Vipers and their Achilles heel was exposed: the St. George pitching staff gave up a total of 41 runs in the series.
Tale of the Tape
Victoria 16-14 (2nd place), 38-37 .507 (overall), .279 team BA (9th), 4.83 team ERA (6th)
St. George 7-16 (5th place), 22-46 .324 (overall), .289 team BA (6th), 6.37 team ERA (9th)
St. George - Who's Hot
Third baseman Mike Castellano is hitting .474 since joining the team. First baseman Matt Huggins has a .379 average with 7 RBIs in his first 7 professional games and he has also chipped in with some outstanding defense. I wouldn't be upset to see the Seals sign him in the off-season. Shortstop Jason Cramer is also hitting .333. Todd McGee (0-1, 3.38 ERA) is the sole pitcher on the Roadrunners staff with an ERA under 6.00. His only start was on August 13th at RAP and it's likely that he'll start this Friday or Saturday night against the Seals.
St George - Who's Not
Right fielder Chris Brown is hitting .063 in his first six games with the team. Other than Todd McGee, every other pitcher on St. George is struggling. In fact, seven of their pitchers have an ERA over 10.00.
Victoria - Who's Hot
Isaac Hess has been dominant in his last three starts, recording a 2.04 ERA while striking out a whopping 31 batters and only walking five. He set the franchise record for strikeouts in a game (13) in his last start and he finally looks like the same pitcher who tore up the GBL in the first half of 2009. Chris Bodishbaugh has only allowed one earned run in his last 20 1/3 innings pitched, while Aaron Easton hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 11 appearances spanning 11 2/3 innings. Terrence McClain is hitting .377 with 1 homer and 10 RBIs in his last 13 games and Wilver Perez has a .385 batting average with 9 steals in his previous 9 games.
Victoria - Who's Not
Andrew Arreola has been in a serious funk of late. In his last 5 starts, he has a 10.80 ERA and he has given up 30 hits in 16 2/3 innings pitched. In his last 18 games (47 at-bats), Matt Edgecombe is hitting a paltry .149 with 0 homers and 2 RBIs and the light-hitting Jerry Madueno has an .077 batting average in his last 9 games. Second baseman Henry Calderon is only hitting .217 since joining the Seals on August 11th, but he hit .308 in 61 games with St. George earlier in the year.
Keys to the Series
Can the 9th-best hitting team (Seals) score enough runs against the 9th-best pitching staff (Roadrunners)? If some of the slumping Victoria hitters can start producing, I like Victoria's chances in this series. However, Victoria has to start playing better fundamental baseball. They can't afford to give their opponents an extra two or three (or five!) outs per game by not making the routine plays in the field. In addition, the team needs to do a better job running the base-paths. Perez, T-Mac and Arhart have been running into too many unnecessary outs of late. And for Pete's sake, can we have a moratorium on suicide squeezes?!?!
This is going to be a close series, but I'll predict that the Seals will take two out of three from St. George.
Seal Blubber Bits
- ESPN's Jim Caple has published an excellent article on the Victoria Seals. Included in the piece are a few of the outstanding photos taken by team photographer Jonathan Howe. Caple also made some general comments on independent baseball and the GBL.
- Desperation Time: If the Vipers go 9-8 in their remaining 17 games, the Seals will have to be victorious in all 14 of their final games to win the North Division second-half title. The Seals desperately need to sweep the Snakes in their four-game series in Calgary August 26-29.