|Target Field probably feels pretty far away|
for the struggling Joe Benson
Game 1: New Britain 0, New Hampshire 3
The story of the first game of this day on which the Rock Cats and Fisher Cats played two 7-inning double headers is that hits came at a premium for Hardware City. Chris Herrmann, playing left field today, was 1-for-3 with a double, his 11th of the season, and new Rock Cat Matt Rizzotti, demoted from AAA, had a single in 3 at-bats. That was it. 2 hits all afternoon. Steve Hirschfeld took the loss, and is now 2-4 on the season. But he pitched pretty well -- 6 innings, 3 runs, 3 strikeouts and 2 walks. He did, however, allow 8 hits and 2 solo home runs, which is what did him on this day when the offense couldn't muster anything. Blake Martin pitched a scoreless final inning.
Game 2: New Britain 6, New Hampshire 3
The Rock Cats salvaged a split of the double header tonight. Logan Darnell was decent on the mound, going 6 innings, giving up 3 runs. Importantly, though, he walked 1 and struck out 8. He did allow 2 solo home runs. Daniel Turpen picked up the save, tossing a scoreless 7th, allowing no hits and walking 1. New Britain had only 5 hits in this night cap, and Estarlin De Los Santos did the most damage, with a 3 run home run and a double. Matt Rizzotti also had a double, and Nathan Hanson and James Berersford each had singles. Joe Benson was 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts and a walk, and Aaron Hicks was 0-for-3 with three Ks.
You have to be worried about Benson at this point. He's 2-for-24 (.083) since joining the Rock Cats, with 7 strikeouts and only 2 walks. The move to AA was supposed to accomplish at least a couple things: to get Benson's swing back; and to restore his confidence. So far it's failed on both counts. Yes, it's only been 6 games, but Benson has been worse in New Britain than he was in Rochester. When I attended last Thursday's game, where Benson was 1-for-4 with a walk, I remarked that 2 of his 3 outs were hit very hard. I wanted to chalk up that performance to bad luck. But there's only so much bad luck you can have. It should be noted that Benson played right field in the second game, and sat the first game, so it's not as if he is taking away playing time from Hicks.
Benson, and the rest of the team, will get an opportunity for a series win this morning at 10:35 eastern time, when they face the Fisher Cats in the rubber match. The Rock Cats do a lot of "Baseball in Education" days, where school groups attend day games -- hence the early start. Righty David Bromberg starts for New Britain; hopefully he's having his morning coffee right about now.
The Rock Cats are 23-15 on the season, in a dead tie with the Reading Phillies for first place. The Trenton Thunder, at 19-17, are the only other team in the division that is above .500. Reading is off today, so a New Britain win would move them into sole possession of first place.