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Friday, June 15, 2012

Beyond the Box Score II: Anatomy of a Rock Cats Loss

The Battery: Brett Jacobson and
Chris Herrmann going over
details before the game
  I stayed for all 12 innings of last night's 3-2 loss to the Akron Aeros. It was a picture-perfect night for baseball, but by hour 4 of baseball, the crowd was probably only 100 in number. If there's one takeaway from this game -- one reason New Britain lost -- it's simply a result of an almost complete failure to drive in runners in scoring position. Despite the fact that the Rock Cats tallied 14 hits in the contest, they scored only 2 runs, and most glaringly, they were 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Yes, there were some hard line drives that were caught, and some smashed grounders that just failed to make it past the Akron infielders, but mostly this team just couldn't get a base hit when it mattered.

Brett Jacobson had a solid start. He allowed 2 runs in 5 and 1/3 innings. His control was very good up until he tired. Notably, Jacobson struck out 6, including the side in the second inning. He had walked only one going into the 6th inning, but then quickly unraveled after recording one out in the 6th. After he walked two consecutive batters, that was it for him. He must have been on a pretty short leash. In all honesty, though, after looking fine in the 5th, he looked gassed in the 6th. The stadium radar gun had his fastball around 92, and I saw it register at 93 a couple times. His curveball was effective tonight, as well. Bobby Lanigan was good out of the bullpen, allowing no hits in 2 and 2/3 innings. Bruce Pugh was wild, walking 2 in 2 innings, but he didn't allow a run. Although he didn't pitch badly, Luis Perdomo took a tough loss: a single, stolen base, and another single scored what would turn out to be the winning run for Akron in the top of inning 12.

Player of the Game: Minnesota's Own
Nathan Hanson, who dramatically
raised his batting average last night
The Rock Cats' offense was a mixed bag. Let's start out with the star performer last night, Minnesotan Nathan Hanson. He was 5-for-6, and was a home run away from the cycle. Hanson is now batting a respectable .274 on the year. In the bottom of the 10th, with one out, Hanson hit a long fly ball to left field. In many ballparks this might have been a home run. At New Britain Stadium, though, where the wall is approximately 15 feet high all the way around, this resulted in a triple after it hit about 10 feet high on the wall. Hanson was at third, and represented the winning run, with only one out. Unfortunately, Chris Colabello -- who actually is leading the entire Eastern League in RBIs -- grounded out to the pitcher, and after Chris Herrmann was intentionally walked, Mark Dolenc took a called third strike to end the threat.

The other "problem" -- if you can call it that, is that, aside from Hanson's double and triple, there were no extra base hits. The Rock Cats have several players capable of hitting home runs and doubles at any given time, but the team couldn't get big hits, especially hits that would have cleared the bases, when it counted. Deibinson Romero did have 2 hits, as did Rene Tosoni. Tosoni, however, is only batting .210 thus far on the season for New Britain. Australian prospect James Beresford had a single in 5 trips, and is batting .286 on the year.
James Beresford bats in the 2nd inning

The Rock Cats finish up a week-long homestand this weekend, playing a series against the Erie Seawolves, the Tigers' affiliate. After losing 2 of 3 to the Aeros, who own the best record in the Eastern League, the Rock Cats are in 3rd place, but are just 2 games back of the Trenton Thunder, who currently sit atop the division. This would be a good weekend for New Britain to pick up some ground at home, before the team hits the road again. The weather is supposed to be great this weekend, so I would expect big crowds at the ballpark.

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