Pregame Meal: Thursday, August 16th

Hey ‘Cats fans! It’s good to be back after almost a week and a half away. Since the last time we sat down for a Pregame Meal, the ValleyCats have gone 7-1, to extend their league-leading record to a incredulous 41-14. Magic number down to 8, folks.

-Thanks to a little tip, we found out today that ‘Cats catcher M.P. Cokinos, on occasion, keeps his bats in a freezer before game time. I thought for sure there was some reason, or some superstition, or even some scientific evidence as to why M.P. does this, so I decided to find out for myself. Well, I really couldn’t have been more wrong. He told me that it’s just something he does once in a while, for no real purpose. Not if he’s hitting well, not if he’s hitting poorly. Just if he thinks the bat needs a good freezing. Ironically, M.P. has been red-hot recently with his chilled bat. He’s hitting .438 over his last ten games, and has an 4 multi hit games in that span, including 2 home runs.

-The ValleyCats are currently on a 5-game winning streak. That in itself is impressive, but when you take into account that this is their 4th such streak of the season, it becomes that much more remarkable. One of the previous three stopped at 5, but the other two went lengths of 11 and 7, and this one has a good shot of going farther.

-Preston Tucker was named New York-Penn League Player of the Week during the All-Star Break, and certainly backed up that recognition. Last night he had 3 RBI’s, and in just 22 games this year, he has 23 runs knocked in. He’s been the best extra-base hitter the ‘Cats have had since he joined the team. I asked him before BP if when he’s hot, does he at all alter his pre-game BP routine. He told me “Not really, it’s just a routine. If I’m feeling a good, I’ll take a few less reps, if I don’t feel good, maybe a few more.”

-Going through notes before the game today, I saw that Tri-City is 35-11 in night games, clearly very good. Then I took a look at the standings of the New York-Penn League. If the “ValleyCats At Night” were a team, they would have the second most wins in the league, just one behind Hudson Valley. I’m beginning to run out of ways to show the different ways that this team is just far superior to every other team in the league.

-Tonight’s starter for Brooklyn is Matthew Bowman, who is making his first start of the year, after pitching out the ‘pen up to this point in 2012. Bowman pitched at Princeton, so he is a Ivy League product just like ‘Cats shortstop Joe Sclafani. I asked Joe for a scouting report on the righty Bowman, and even though he told me he had never faced him, he told me Bowman has “a 90-92 fastball, and a good curve. He also throws like Tim Lincecum does.” Sclafani told me that Bowman was Princeton’s number #1 guy, so we’ll see if we can invoke “The Freak” tonight and try to shut down the ‘Cats.

-Batting Practice Hero: One more time, and I have to retire this guy. Preston Tucker put on the show to end all shows today in BP. He hit 4 straight home runs, all longer than the last, in one round. If you’ve been to the park, you’ve probably noticed the bulls-eye in deep right center on top of the hill. Tucker barely missed that. It was remarkable. His hands are so quick that once he makes contact, it’s pretty much a lock to be a line drive hit hard somewhere, and probably deep.

Tonight’s lineup:

Sclafani SS

Elkins 2B

Tucker RF

Wierzbicki 1B

Henieman C

Cokinos DH

Jean Bautista 3B

Gulbransen LF

King CF

Day RHP

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