Results tagged ‘ Telvin Nash ’

Down to the Wire

It’s amazing what a difference one day makes.

24 hours ago, the ValleyCats trailed Connecticut by a half-game, had two more games remaining with the league-leading Brooklyn Cyclones and had to hope Connecticut lost at least one to Aberdeen, which they had not done in four tries. The ‘Cats had been struggling to get hits and were in danger of wasting a tremendous effort down the stretch by the league’s second-best pitching staff.

Last night, Tri-City racked up a season-high 15 hits in their biggest game of the season, beating Brooklyn in an 8-7 slugfest while the Ironbirds finally downed Connecticut. The ‘Cats regained the Stedler Division lead and can clinch the division this afternoon with a win or a Tigers loss. My playoff odds are almost an exact reverse of yesterday’s, giving the ValleyCats a 72% chance of playing baseball next week.

The playoffs will begin on Tuesday. The Stedler Division winner will host Batavia at 7 pm, then go on the road to face the Muckdogs on Wednesday and (if necessary) Thursday. Whoever wins that will take on the winner of the other series (Brooklyn vs Williamsport or Jamestown) in the championship, which begins on Saturday 9/11.

Up and down the lineup, the Tri-City bats came through last night. The two newest ValleyCats – Telvin Nash and Austin Wates – only had one hit apiece, but they were big ones. Nash led off the third inning with a fly ball over the fence in left-center, and later that frame Wates homered off the hitters’ background in center field. Wates’s first homer of the year was crushed; the wind blows out hard here on the shore, but MCU park is huge – the fence is about ten feet high and 415 feet away where Wates’ homer left the park. That was only the second homer hit off the backdrop in center field – the first came from Vermont last week.

Chris Wallace and Adam Bailey each went 3-for-5, and both have really carried the lower half of this lineup down the stretch. Wallace came through with three huge hits in the home series against Hudson Valley last week, and Bailey has 12 hits in his last six games, including a walk-off single to plate Wallace in the final game of that Hudson Valley series. Bailey was again the hero in the top of the ninth inning last night, bringing Tyler Burnett home from second with a one-out single with the eventual game-winning run.

Burnett and Jacke Healey each had two hits, as well as Ben Orloff, who reached safely in four of his five plate appearances.

We saw another well-played game last night, as neither team committed an error for the second consecutive night. Part of that is generous scoring – I would have called one of last night’s hits an error, and you could have made a case for a couple more – but both teams have still been very solid defensively.

So the ValleyCats have a couple ways to clinch the division tonight. It would be nice if Aberdeen could take out Connecticut in the afternoon and remove all suspense, but the ValleyCats could earn it themselves regardless if they beat Brooklyn.

Two of the best starting pitchers in the NYPL take the mound tonight, as Cyclones starter A.J. Pinera and the ‘Cats’ David Martinez rank fifth and sixth in ERA, respectively. Darrell Ceciliani returns to the Brooklyn lineup tonight after missing a few games to injury. VCN will have coverage of tonight’s game and the division race, and hopefully we can continue to bring you baseball next week.

Kevin Whitaker

Roster Additions

The ValleyCats got some help from Greeneville today: outfielder Telvin Nash and pitchers Garrett Bullock, Ryan Cole and Brian Streilein have been promoted to Tri-City. The four reinforcements will help the ValleyCats, who currently lead the Stedler Division, for this week’s pennant chase and hopefully a playoff series or two. Greeneville finished its season last night with a 31-35 record.

Nash, who was drafted out of high school in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft, led Greeneville at year’s end with a .515 slugging percentage and .863 OPS. The left fielder slugged 25 extra-base hits in an even 200 at-bats and should provide pop for a ValleyCats offense that has struggled occasionally of late. Regular playing time may be hard to come by for Nash in Tri-City, which starts four outfielders most nights (including Austin Wates at DH), but he becomes the top pinch-hitting option in games he does not start and offers more flexibility to give a regular some rest. Nash torched lefties to the tune of .300/.345/.588 this season and was named Greeneville’s MVP. Two Greeneville players have joined the ValleyCats this season – Marcus Nidiffer and Chris Wallace – and both have made major contributions already.

Bullock posted a 1.26 ERA in 43 innings at Greeneville, leading Astros relievers in both categories. The lefty was signed by Houston as an undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest last summer but has made great strides in his second season. He will add balance to a Tri-City pitching staff that leans heavily to the right – Bullock joins only Alex Sogard, Travis Blankenship and Adam Champion as left-handed options. He should be more than just a one-out matchup specialist, however; the southpaw was slightly better against lefties but held opposite-handed hitters to just a .250 batting average this season, and got more than three outs in 16 of his 21 outings this year. Bullock allowed earned runs in each of his last two outings, but allowed none in his previous 26 innings, and has fanned 40 batters with 14 walks.

Cole, who ranked second among Greeneville pitchers with a 2.83 ERA, is one of two righties joining the ValleyCats’ bullpen. Houston’s 34th-round draft pick is from the general area, calling North Syracuse home and playing his college ball at St. John’s. His August ERA jumped a bit to 4.05, but his peripherals generally held constant, except for a slight uptick in walks that he appears to have corrected. Cole held batters to just a .222 average this season, fanning 28 with eight walks. He had a very pronounced platoon split, allowing righties to hit just .184 while lefties were 100 points higher.

Streilein is also from the northeast; he hails from Point Pleasant, NJ and attended Villanova. He was drafted by Houston in the 37th round of this summer’s draft, and has allowed a .293 batting average and a 5.06 ERA this season. But he certainly has the stuff to make hitters look foolish; he fanned 35 batters in 32 innings, while allowing eight walks (four of which were intentional). Streilein also forces batters to pound the ball into the ground – a 2.81 GO/AO ratio, which led the team – and converted each of his last four save opportunities.

To make room for Nash, the ValleyCats placed Kik Hernandez on the DL. None of the pitchers have been added to the active roster yet.

In more promotional news, it appears that Ben Heath will finish the season at AA Corpus Christi.  That represents quite a rise for the catcher, who was drafted in the fifth round this summer and began the season in Tri-City.  For frame of reference, nobody from the 2009 draft reached AA until J.D. Martinez was promoted two months ago.  Heath, who led the ValleyCats in homers when he was sent to Lexington in early August, hit a terrific .290/.405/.551 with four homers and two triples (!) in less than a month in A-ball.
Kevin Whitaker
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.