Your place for Minnesota Twins and New Britain Rock Cats coverage, analysis and opinion.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Major Comeback in New Britain!

Chris Herrmann celebrates his
first inning home run.
Mauer's 2013 backup???

Unlike their parent club, the New Britain Rock Cats put up a fight after the odds were stacked against them Tuesday night and, thanks to a 5-run 7th inning, came back to defeat the Portland Sea Dogs 7-6.

The weather was not great last night, and neither were the Rock Cats for the first several innings. They were stymied by Portland starter Billy Buckner (no relation to Bill Buckner of Red Sox lore), who tossed an easy 6 innings, giving up only 3 hits while striking out 11 and walking 1. The one bright spot for the Rock Cats against Buckner was a Chris Herrmann solo home run in the 1st inning. Other than that, Buckner really challenged the New Britain hitters. In contrast, the Rock Cats did not get a good start from Logan Darnell, who lasted only 3 innings after giving up 6 earned runs on 8 hits and 4 walks. He had no strikeouts, and gave up 2 home runs. Notably, the wind seemed to be blowing out at a pretty good clip, so hard hit balls really sailed. Watching Darnell, the worst part of the night was that he simply didn't miss bats -- yes, there were some weak grounders and routine fly balls, but for the most part everything was hit hard. The Rock Cats were down 6-1 after the third inning, and things did not look optimistic.
You may recognize the gentleman
in the middle in the black jacket
as Hall of Fame member
Paul Molitor.

For the second consecutive night, however, the Rock Cats' bullpen kept them in the game. Actually, the bullpen -- called on for 6 innings tonight -- was pretty perfect. Lester Oliveros, Brett Jacobson and Deolis Guerra each tossed 2 scoreless innings. Oliveros walked and struck out 1; Jacobson walked 2 and struck out 3. And then there's Guerra, who walked 0 and struck out 5 in his 2 innings, picking up the win in relief. Guerra's ERA stands at 0.71. In 12 and 2/3 innings, he has only allowed 5 hits and 1 earned run, and has struck out 15 and walked 1 along the way.

Once Buckner left the game after the 6th inning, the tides changed. With two outs in the bottom of the 7th, New Britain completed a 5-run comeback to tie the game. 7 straight batters reached base, and here's how it played out: Pedro Florimon walk; Danny Lehmann single; James Beresford single; Aaron Hicks single to score Florimon; Chris Herrmann walk with bases loaded to score Lehmann; Evan Bigley infield single to score Beresford; Chris Colabello single to score Hicks and Herrmann. Nothing fancy -- some walks and some singles got the job done against the Sea Dogs' bullpen.

With the game tied in the bottom of the 9th, Herrmann opened things up with a single to left field. Thereafter, he was sacrificed to second by Bigley. Colabello was intentionally walked, and then Deibinson Romero popped out to catcher. But again with 2 outs, the Rock Cats came through. Nathan Hanson had the game-winning, walk-off hit to score Herrmann from second, and New Britain won!

It was quite a game. Here are just a few notes from what I observed (In full disclosure, I picked an awful time to leave -- right as the comeback, and a hard, cold and slanty rain, were both commencing):
Hicks batted leadoff tonight -- to my knowledge he had been batting 5th all season.

Chris Herrmann has some pop in his bat. His home run, though helped somewhat by the wind blowing out to right field, was smacked. He was playing left field in this game.

Paul Molitor is in town this week as a roving instructor. It was neat to see him interact with the young guys on the team. I'm sure they can learn a lot from a Hall of Famer with 3,319 big league hits.

All of New Britain's runs came with 2 outs tonight. Impressive, and great that they can score that way, but it would have been nice to see some earlier rallies.

Finally, the team is back in action at 10:35 this morning completing their homestand in a rubber match against Portland.

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