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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Rock Cats' June Swoon

Rocky the Rock Cat: Proud to be
an American
The New Britain Rock Cats find themselves in the middle of a tough stretch of baseball. They lost last night, 8-1, to the Altoona Curve, and only tallied 6 hits all evening -- 3 from Evan Bigley, which is good for him -- but that leaves much to be desired. Here's what I wrote for the TwinsDaily Tuesday Minor League Recap:

"The Rock Cats continued their slide in the Eastern League standings, getting hammered tonight. Logan Darnell was charged with the loss, throwing 5 innings, and allowing 4 earned runs (6 total) on 10 hits. He struck out 1. Daniel Sattler (recent St. Paul Saints signing) made his AA debut tonight. In 2 innings of work, he gave up 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 2. Blake Martin allowed 1 run in 1 inning of work, allowing no hits, but walking 3 and striking out 2.

"Like the [AAA Rochester] Red Wings, the Rock Cats only got 6 hits all evening. Top prospect Oswaldo Arcia had a debut he would probably like to forget. He was 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts. Oh well; he'll be back tomorrow and probably much better. Evan Bigley was the best offensive player tonight, going 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Bigley is likely to lose playing time to Arcia, so he is probably feeling motivated to play well when he gets the opportunity. Aaron Hicks returned to the lineup after being out about a week with an ankle sprain. He was 1-for-4. Deibinson Romero and James Beresford each singled for New Britain. Romero also had the only walk of the evening for the Rock Cats."

You can read the rest of the report here (if you are at all interested in the Twins minor league system, I highly recommend checking this report out each morning on TwinsDaily -- in just 2-3 minutes of time you can have a good overview of what's happening in the entire organization).

Now, let's take a look more specifically at what has happened in June to New Britain. In 16 games this month, the Rock Cats are 4-12. Twice they have lost six games in a row, including the current streak they are riding. In these most recent six games, New Britain has scored 10 total runs (1.66 runs per game), while allowing 28 runs (4.66 runs per game). In the earlier stretch of 6 straight losses, the numbers were somewhat similar: 18 runs scored (3 per game), and 33 allowed (5.5 per game). It doesn't take a math genius to realize that it's tough to win when you are scoring, on average, about 3 runs less than you are allowing.
Additionally, in the most recent 6-game skid, the Rock Cats have achieved double digits in hits only once, and that was in a game that took 12 innings to decide. In this same stretch, they have hit only 1 home run (Nathan Hanson), 7 doubles, and 2 triples. When this team was winning in April and May, it never lived and died by the home run, but more power would be nice. Hopefully, with the return of Aaron Hicks to the lineup after being out one week with a sprained ankle, and with the recent promotion of top prospect Oswaldo Arcia to the team, the Rock Cats will be injected with some new life.

This appears to be a stretch where both the offense and the pitching is to blame -- it's not as if New Britain is scoring 10 runs a game and losing, or as if the pitching staff is tossing 2-hitters and simply is not getting any run support. The baseball season is so long that every team is bound to have these stretches of games where the guys simply aren't getting it done on both sides.

As of today, the Rock Cats are in third place -- 5 games out of first place -- and currently are two games above .500, at 35-33. The Trenton Thunder, at 40-28, are in first place, and they come to New Britain next week (Tuesday through Friday)  for a 4-game series that represents a good chance for the Rock Cats to make up some ground that they have lost in June.

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