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The Crushers Notebook: 5/28/13 to 6/2/2013

The Crushers Notebook: 5/28/13 to 6/2/2013
June 3, 2013
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After struggling to the tune of a 3-6 start to the season, the Crushers managed a .500 week, taking two of three from Florence and one of three from Joliet over the weekend. The team is now 6-9 on the season, but is still trying to find a level of consistency.

The offense has started to come around. After scoring more than three runs just twice in their first nine games, they scored at least five runs in four of their six games this week, and hit double figures in each of their victories over Florence.

While the starting pitchers have not had their best stuff, they have managed to bear down and keep their team in games. The bullpen, however, continues to give up runs regardless of which pitcher trots out to the mound.

Manager Jeff Isom and pitching coach Chris Mongiardo are still trying to find consistent arms in the back end of the ‘pen. Isom had mentioned Jordan Wellander and Doug Shields as guys who have impressed him in relief outings, but they both struggled in their appearances over the weekend against Joliet.

Who’s Crushin’ it?

Kevin Berard
6 G, 7-22, .318 BA, ..920 OPS, 3 R, 1 HR, 7 RBI 

After a strong week, the speedy super-sub is second on the team with a .317 batting average and tied for second with eight RBIs. While he’s not one of Isom’s nine everyday starters, he played in every game this week and kept Guantlett Eldemire out of the lineup for back-to-back games against Florence. Last Thursday he hit his first career grand slam in the fourth inning against Florence to give the Crushers the lead for good.

Daniel Bowman
6 G, 8-24, .333 BA, .968 OPS, 4 R, 4 RBI, 8 2B

Bowman has played in all but one game in right field and is becoming a force in the middle of the Crushers order. He is hitting .304 on the season and leads the team in RBIs with 10. With first basemen Russ Moldenhauer being moved to second in the order, Bowman took on a more important role in the heart of the lineup in the last week.

Andrew Davis
6 G, 8-23, .348 BA, .994 OPS, 6 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI

The Crushers main stay at third base is back for more in the team’s fifth season. He leads the team in hits (19), runs (14), and home runs (three). On Wednesday morning he hit a monster home run to straight away center, which cleared the wall by an estimated 30 or 40 feet. His average was only at .250 for the week after the series against Florence, but against Joliet, Davis was 5-11, good for a .456 average.

Who’s Getting Crushed?

Juan Sanchez
6 G, 3-19, .158 BA, .503 OPS, 5 K, 2 E

The former shortstop of the Nashville Sounds, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, was never known for his hitting, but has especially struggled out of the gates this season hitting just .170 to begin the year. Sanchez made it to Triple-A because of his superb glove, but the exceptional defender that he is expected to be hasn’t shown up yet. He has six errors on the season, and two over the past week as his struggles in the field continued.

Guantlett Eldemire
4 G, 2-15, .133 BA, .388 OPS, 9 K, 1 E

Eldemire’s line on the season is still strong; he’s hitting .313 with a .365 OBP, but over the last week he has really struggled. The hot play of Berard kept him out of the lineup for back-to-back games against Florence, which may have contributed to his poor performance the rest of the week. Regardless of the cause, Eldemire needs to get it going again as he is the spark at the top of the Crusher’s lineup.

The Bullpen
15 IP, 5.97 ERA, 0-1, 12 R, 12 BB, 3 WP, 3 HBP

It’s not just one guy. Almost everyone in the bullpen is struggling right now. The combined ERA is skewed because it does not account for the infinite ERA of newly acquired Ricky Bowen, who did not record an out but walked three and allowed a run in his first appearance with the club. It also factors in the third of an inning pitched by Spencer Clifft in which he allowed just one unearned run. Without including Clifft, the ERA of the bullpen over the last week is a full run higher at 6.97.  Isom and Mongiardo continue to plug in anyone with an arm into a late-inning role; however, no relief pitcher has yet to step up and claim one.

Comings and Goings via I-90

In an effort to add depth to their struggling bullpen, the Crushers added right-handed reliever Ricky Bowen and released second baseman JC Figueroa. Infielder Anderson Hidalgo’s activation off the suspended list made Figueroa expendable. Hidalgo and Max Casper will split time at second base.

In regards to local traffic, relief pitcher Michael Jahns was placed on the seven-day disabled list, while Devyn Rivera was activated by the club. Jahns had accumulated a 15.42 ERA in just two appearances. Rivera pitched four innings in Sunday’s game against Joliet, giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits, striking out five.

Also, right-hander Spencer Clifft was moved to the bullpen after one start against River City. Matt Smith, who had accumulated two saves in the closer’s role, moved to the starting rotation and pitched six shutout innings, striking out five and earning the victory in Friday night’s game against Joliet.

Notable Numbers

2: The number of times Crushers utility infielder Max Casper was hit by a pitch in last Wednesday’s game against Florence

170: The listed weight of Casper. Although he is the smallest player on the team he looks like he weighs less than that. “He’s a little guy,” Isom said. “But he’s a guy who’s not afraid to get hit. He’s gonna try to get on base anyway he can.” Casper has played in four straight games since the release of Figueroa.

7.5: The number of errors short stop Juan Sanchez has averaged per year in eight seasons at the position in the Milwaukee’s Brewers organization. Already accumulating six in his first 15 games with the Crushers, Sanchez is on pace for 38 this year, which would be more than half of his 60 total career errors at short stop.

What’s your name, again?

For Wednesday’s game against Florence, the Crushers designated hitter was Ricky Lizcano. On Thursday, he was replaced by Ricardo Lizcano. Why the name change? Crushers’ Director of Promotions Kate Walsh had the answer. “I made a mistake on the lineup card because I call him Ricky,” she said. “His baseball name is Ricardo.”

What’s next

The Crushers are traveling to Traverse City, Mich. to take on the Beach Bums (8-7) on the heels of a two-game losing streak. From there, they will continue their road trip against the Washington Wild Things (10-5).

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