Pregame Meal: Sunday August 19th

By Matt Appel (@mattappel)

A good Sunday afternoon to you, ‘Cats fans! It’s “NFL Night” here at The Joe, as the ValleyCats and Staten Island Yankees will do work in the second of three between the two teams. Tri-City comes in with a rare two-game losing streak after dropping last night’s affair 5-2, behind the first bad performance, or at least sub-par, from Aaron West. It’s also Sunday Funday at the ballpark, and the ValleyCats are only 1-2 on Sunday home games this season. It’s up to Joe Bircher to right the ship for the home team. He’ll face Tim Flight, a fellow southpaw, for Staten Island.

-It’s frankly been very weird to see this team play like they have the last two nights. They just haven’t really looked themselves at all. It begins at the plate, where the patience has been missing over the past two ballgames. Way too many times hitters have gone down within the first two pitches of an at-bat, which doesn’t really give you a good look at what the opposing pitcher is throwing. Patience is a huge part of what Stubby Clapp preaches to his team, so the past two nights must have been a little frustrating for him as well. Additionally, the fact that in back-to-back nights, Brian Holmes and Aaron West have had their collective worst starts of the year does not help the winning cause. It’s safe to say that those two won’t have repeat outings the next time through the rotation.

-One bright spot from the last two nights is that Tyler Heineman just keeps on hitting. The ‘Cats catcher last night drove in the only two runs of the ballgame for Tri-City, and raised his league-leading average to .369. Heineman has also done a great job behind the plate the last two games, handling a lot of breaking balls in the dirt and doing his best to control the runners on the basepaths. The ValleyCats All-Star catcher is in the lineup and DH’ing tonight.

-The ValleyCats, as most teams do, play better when they play errorless ball. The ‘Cats did last night, and for only the second time in 2012, lost when that happened. The defense played solid, and in a complete 180 from the previous night, the bullpen did its job as well. Jeremiah Meiners pitched 3.1 scoreless relief after allowing an inherited runner to score in the 6th. Over the past two nights, Stubby Clapp has only used four guys out of the pen, so most of the relievers should be ready to go if need be today.

-No batting practice today, so we can’t have a Batting Practice Hero. But look for a big game from Preston Tucker, who is hitting an insane .455 against left-handed pitchers. Tim Flight, the starter for Staten Island, has been knocked around in his last two outings and for the majority of the season, so he might be in for a rude awakening from the former Florida Gator.

-Tonight’s my final game with the ValleyCats, as I head back to school this week. It was been a truly great opportunity covering this team this season, and an honor bringing all the info I can to you faithful ‘Cats fans that read ‘Cats Corner every single day, or even just occasionally. A majority of the time this season, this hasn’t even felt like work because I love doing what I do. I hope you fans have had as much fun watching this team as I have writing and talking about them. Gear up for a very exciting stretch fun, folks, because this team is the real deal.

Tonight’s lineup:

Sclafani SS

Johnson 3B

Tucker RF

Wierzbicki 1B

Heineman DH

Elkins 2B

Cokinos C

McKinney LF

King CF

Bircher LHP


“You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.”

-Roy Campanella




You have done an outstanding job here. Carry that excellence over into your classrooms and join us next year.

Matt, thanks for all the interesting info you provided. Have a great schol year!

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