Pregame Meal for the Road: Wednesday, July 24th
By Matt Appel (@mattappel)
Greetings from Dutchess Stadium in Wappinger Falls, NY, everyone! The ‘Cats and Renegades will go at it again tonight, after a 4-3 Tri-City loss last night. The ValleyCats trailed 4-1 going into the ninth, rallied for two, but ultimately couldn’t complete the comeback.
-The ‘Cats offense has been streaky for almost all year, which can sometimes be conducive to losing streaks. However, the pitching of this squad has not really allowed that to happen. The team is 9-2 after a loss this year, so the odds are in favor of the ValleyCats evening up the series with a win tonight. Recent history would also tell us that the ‘Cats will win the next two games as well, seeing as how the ValleyCats lost both of the first games of series play against Auburn and these Renegades on their most recent home stand, but won both sets.
-Didn’t get a chance to pass this along yesterday, but there are a few roster changes to note. INF Jose Fernandez, who has been injured for a great deal of this season, has been assigned to the GCL Astros. Catcher Brett Booth, the 34th round pick of Houston this year from Alabama (Roll Tide!), is now with the ‘Cats, after hitting .308 in 52 AB’s in the GCL. Booth is starting tonight. He came up and introduced himself to me during BP, and when I asked him if he was excited to be with the ValleyCats, he told me yes. His main reasoning? “Better than waking up at 6 AM for breakfast every day in Florida.”
-Very different looking lineup for the ‘Cats tonight. Tony Kemp leads off, which is to be expected, but for the first time this year, he is not playing second; he’s actually playing left. Kemp started off in Vanderbilt as an outfielder, so it shouldn’t be too hard of an adjustment, just as it wasn’t for his BFF Conrad Gregor. Chan Moon hits second tonight, as opposed to ninth where he usually bats. Both Adam Nelubowich and Thomas Lindauer are in the lineup tonight (Nelubowich at 3rd, Lindauer at 2nd), for the first time I can recall this year.
-James Ramsay has been on fire recently. In his last ten games, the seventh round pick of the Astros this year is 12-for-31, which comes out to .387. He didn’t start last night, but did pinch hit for D’Andre Toney in the eighth, and wound up going 2-for-2, including a two-RBI single in ninth. He now leads the team (amongst qualifying players) with a .296 average.
-Despite letting up two runs in the eighth last night, Andrew Thurman wow’d the road crowd here in relief, striking out six of the first seven hitters he faced. While statistics would suggest both him and Michael Feliz (who got the loss) struggled, both pitched well enough to win.
-Batting Practice Hero: Conrad Gregor hit a home run over the high wall in right-center today, so we’ll give it to him. This park, while having the same dimensions as “The Joe,” features higher fences in right and center, so it appears slightly harder to hit the ball out of Dutchess Stadium.
-Chris Cotton and Kyle Westwood on the mound for the ‘Cats tonight. Statistically speaking, this has been the team’s most dominating duo, as Cotton is 2-1 with a 0.73 ERA, while Westwood is 1-1 with a 1.13 ERA. Both ERA’s would be good for the current league-lead if either had enough innings. Tri-City is just 2-2 when Cotton/Westwood pitch, but all four games have been low-scoring, one-or-two-run decisions.
-The rivalry between the ‘Cats and Renegades has picked up in recent years, but I will say this: the pre-game music here at “The Dutch,” as it’s called, has been impressive. Today’s lineup featured “Stacy’s Mom”, “1985”, “Sugar We’re Going Down,” to name a few of some forgotten classics of the early 2000’s. “Nowhere Man” by The Beatles even made an appearance.