The Crushers Notebook: 6/4/13 to 6/10/2013
The Crushers managed another .500 week after dropping their first two games in Traverse City. From the sixth through the eighth they recorded a season high win streak of three, counting their final game in Traverse City and their first two in Washington. They are now 9-12, still in last place in the East Division.
The offense showed much more consistency this week than they have all season long. The Crushers scored at least five runs in four of their six games. In the other two, they managed just one run combined, but those games were against two of the Frontier League’s dominant starting pitchers in Traverse City’s Jake Sabel and Washington’s Shawn Smith.
Aside from the first and last games of the road trip, the starting pitching was magnificent. Alex Kaminsky allowed just one run in seven innings in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Jake Sabel and Traverse City. Dave Middendorf recorded 10 strikeouts in the 5-2 victory over Traverse City on Thursday, and Matt Rein pitched eight innings of one-run ball on Friday’s 9-1 victory over Washington. Matt Smith also pitched six and two-thirds innings in Saturday’s 6-5 victory.
The Bullpen had its best week of the season, and it seems manager Jeff Isom finally has a sense of which relievers he can trust and wants to use in the late innings. Dale Dickerson has emerged as the team’s closer, and Jordan Wellander as the primary set up men. The bullpen had previously been the team’s biggest question mark, and it remains a concern even with success this week. The team’s relievers will need to show they can maintain consistent success coming out of the ‘pen in tight games.
Who’s Crushing it
All stats include the June 2nd game against River City
6 G, 8-22, .364 BA, .417 OBP, .781 OPS, 2 RBI
The Minnesota native is now finding a home in the Crushers regular lineup, and he is taking advantage of his opportunities. He played at second base or short stop in five games this week, six of the last seven, and has not disappointed. Casper finds ways to get on base at the bottom of the order, which has been beneficial for those at the top of the lineup. His .417 OBP is second on the team over the last week, behind only Anderson Hidalgo.
7 G, 9-24, .375 BA, .900 OPS, 1 2B, 1 3B, 5 R
Manager Jeff Isom loved that he was able to bring Quiles along with him from the Brewers’ organization to Lake Erie, and Quiles showed why with his bat over the last week. His .375 average led the team and provided him with plenty of opportunities to score as his five runs were good for second on the team behind only Russ Moldenhauer. Quiles’ .900 OPS was tied for the team lead with Seth Granger, but Quiles managed that number with 10 more at bats than Granger.
Dale Dickerson and Jordan Wellander
5 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 BB, 7 K, .067 OBP against, 0.00 ERA
The pair of righty relievers have emerged as the top two options in the back end of the bullpen, and both pitched brilliantly this week. Dickerson has emerged as the team’s closer and he recorded two saves during their three-game winning streak. The only base runner allowed came off of a walk from Wellander, which can be easily overlooked thanks to his 1:2 strikeouts to batters faced ratio. The duo faced the minimum 15 hitters and struck out 7 of them, good for a rate of 47 percent.
Who’s Getting Crushed
All stats include the June 2nd game against River City
2 G, 1 GS, 3.2 IP, 9 R, 6 H, 4 HR allowed, 22.09 ERA, 0-1
Longfellow was the team’s opening day starter, but in a week with solid to great starting pitching, Longfellow was the only one of the five to struggle. He lasted just two-thirds on an inning in the first start of the road trip, giving up six runs on four hits. He did not make his next start as he was replaced in favor of Devyn Rivera, who has been a starter throughout his entire baseball career. Longfellow instead came pitched three innings in relief, where he was not much better, giving up three runs on two hits and a walk. Manager Jeff Isom said it is “up in the air at this point” whether Longfellow will return to the starting rotation or stay in the bullpen.
7 G, 4-22, .182 BA, .399 OPS, 5 K
Eldemire appears in this group for the second straight week, After having a good start to the season, the center fielder has underwhelmed and been replaced at the top of the lineup by Kevin Berard. In the five games he started this week, Eldemire was slotted in the ninth spot in the lineup and will likely stay there until he gets back on track. His .182 batting average was identical to his slugging percentage, also at .182 for the week.
2 g, 0-6, .000 OBP, 2 K
Lizcano may be running out of chances with Jeff Isom. He only played twice this week, and that’s because regular DH Anderson Hidalgo was out of the lineup with a bruised quad after being hit by a pitch on Friday. Lizcano has struggled to hit the ball all season, and the backup outfielder has a team low .167 batting average on the year. To further document his struggles, Lizcano has more strikeouts, 14, than his 13 combined hits, walks, and RBIs!
The Crushers as a team hit three home runs this week, and all of them came off the bat of first baseman Russ Moldenhauer. He now owns a team high four home runs, and also a team high 15 RBI after driving home nine this past week. Moldenhauer easily had the highest slugging percentage last week at .679, .179 points higher than Emmanuel Quiles and Seth Granger, who were at .500 for the week.
Walking the Dog
That’s not what Ricky Bowen was signed here to do, but the reliever does have six walks in just three games since joining the team two weeks ago. Bowen averages two walks per appearance, and has double the number of walks as outs recorded, as he has only managed to get through one inning in his three appearances. Even as the rest of the bullpen continues to improve, Bowen has yet to make progress since replacing JC Figueroa on the roster.
Look at it this way
Last week Juan Sanchez appeared in the Who’s Getting Crushed section for his hitting, but also because of the high number of errors he has made at short stop. Sanchez had two more this week, and now has eight on the season, more than his career average at short stop. Despite this, Jeff Isom defended his short stop. Isom said Sanchez’ large number of errors can be attributed to the fact that he is such a good defender that he can get to balls that most short stops in this league can’t get to, which puts him in situations where he may make more errors than usual. Despite the eight errors, Sanchez does have a team high 51 assists.
Credit where credit is due
Last week, the entire Crushers bullpen joined Sanchez in Who’s Getting Crushed, but the group has rebounded nicely now that guys like Dickerson and Wellander have stepped up in the back end and everybody knows their role. The group dropped their ERA by more than a full run from two weeks ago to last week, from 5.97 to 4.89. That number should only improve as the core group of Dickerson, Wellander, Brian Duffy, and Doug Shields continue to grow more confident.
He’s been everywhere, man
Kevin Berard has taken over as the team’s full time leadoff hitter, but Jeff Isom would not commit to one position for the dynamic speedster. Berard has played 3 games at second base, 3 games in left field, and one game in right field for the Crushers in the past six days (he moved from left field to second base in the middle of Tuesday’s game against Traverse City).
The Crushers return home and will take on the Evansville Otters and Rockford Aviators in a pair of three-game series. Evansville (14-6) is in first place in the East Division, five and a half games up on the Crushers. Rockford (3-17) is in last place in the West Division and owns the worst record in the league. Alex Kaminsky will be on the mound to open the home stand on Tuesday night, and Anderson Hidalgo will be back in the lineup, fully recovered from his bruised quad.
Rockford’s ace Drew Rucinski earned his first victory of 2013. The right-hander from Broken Arrow, OK tossed a season-high 8.1 innings and struck out a game-high 11 batters in his shutout effort. Rucinski struck out five straight batters and seven out of eight during the middle three innings of the game.
Read more: http://www.rrstar.com/updates/x1466762488/Drew-Rucinski-powers-Rockford-Aviators-to-victory#ixzz2W0vsmrUm