Saturday, May 31, 2008

Game Report: Reno at St. George (May 31, 2008)

For four innings tonight, it looked like we having a pretty decent pitcher’s duel between Devin Collins of St. George and our own Steve Russell. Collins retired nine batters without a ball leaving the infield. He got in a little trouble but pitched out of it. Russell got in some minor trouble but didn’t give up more than a single run in each inning. Through four, St. George led 3-1. Collins pitched a scoreless top of the fifth with a couple of Ks. But Russell couldn’t match it. He walked the second batter he faced, allowed a single, and then two more walks resulted in a run. Then former major leaguer Wiki Gonzales delivered a 2-run single and suddenly the Sox were down 6-1. Jeff Leonard, again with a quick hook, brought in Jesse Hall. Hall got us out of the inning but not before another run scored that left us with a six run deficit.

Devin Collins had a great outing going 6 inning giving up 2 runs on five hits and ringing up 6 batters . I think it was unexpected from most who have followed him during his career. In 44 professional games, this was only his second start. And he entered the game with three relief appearances this year that gave him a 7.11 ERA. So congratulations on a fine outing.

I couldn’t get the live audio feed via network1sports to work and after 6 complete the live stats feature died. As you know, Reno does not broadcast away games so I was pretty much stuck as far as this game went. I did try to flip over to IBN to watch the Chico game that the league advertised via an e-mail but could never get on. I retried multiple way for multiple times but nothing. So as of about 8:30PM, I guess my GBL night is over. I’ll update with a final score tomorrow when the final write up for the game comes out.

The Sox ended up losing the game 9-3 which drops their record to 1-7 as they head into a three day break before hosting Long Beach (3-2) for two, Orange County (4-3) for three and then, following a two day break, Long Beach for three more before hitting the road for a short two game series in Orange County.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Sox pitchers that came in after I lost contact with the game also couldn't shut the door as Paul Wilson gave up a run in his inning pitched while Kevin Fredrick did the same in his inning of relief. This was Frederick's first appearance of the series and only his second on the season. Not to tell Jeff Leonard how to do his job, but I think Frederick needs more work even if he is the closer for the squad. He has not been effective in his two appearances (0-1, 12.00 ERA) and the former major leaguer may need some more time throwing. Plus with the depletion of the bullpen, having a guy of his caliber not pitching is not a good idea. Again, there may be more to it such as an injury so I won't be too vociferous on this issue, I'll leave it to the manager to make that call.

That's all for the next three days. Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Game Report: Reno at St. George (May 30, 2008)

Unfortunately, the Sox one game winning streak came to a halt with another disastrous start from one of our pitchers as the St. George Roadrunners set new franchise records in most runs and hits in a game when they beat the Sox 18-5 while amassing 19 hits. Reno racked up 6 hits in the loss.

Our number two pitcher, Mike Reeves, got pummeled just like last time. Unlike last time where he gave up 7 runs in 4.1 innings, Reeves gave up 8 in just two innings. His first inning went well but things fell apart in the second when Reeves gave up 3 walks, hit one batter, and allowed a three run homerun . 11 batters would come to the plate resulting in 7 innings.

Reeves came back out in the 3rd but it was obvious that he was already done. St. George Roadrunner’s announcer John Potter noted that Reeves wasn’t fooling anyone with his pitchers. And that led to a walk and two singles and another run. Jeff Leonard had seen enough and hooked Reeves in favor of Mario Guilen. Unfortunately, Guilen couldn’t duplicate his 4 innings of scoreless relief from the other night and allowed two of the runners Reeves left on also came around to score. He was not especially effective going 3 innings giving up four runs on nine hits.

In an indication of how overworked the bullpen is, Jason Cline who started 3 games ago, came in for a relief appearance. As you’ll recall, he went 4.2 innings giving up 13 earned runs. But with three off days meaning it will be 5 days until he pitches again, it was a good strategic move by Jeff Leonard to put Cline out there and hopefully get him some more work to build his confidence. However, the Roadrunners had other ideas and continued the scoring as he went 3 innings but gave up 4 runs on five hits including a homerun. He also didn’t help his cause by throwing away what should have been a easy 1-3 putout in the 8th logging the team’s only error.
Reeves is quite the enigma. In 2005 he pitched with the Surprise Fighting Falcons. In 19 games he went 2-1 with an 8.86 ERA and 18 Ks. He was signed on June 6th and was released 47 days later.

Then Reeves came to the Arizona Winter League this year and, in 7 games with 6 starts, he went 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA, 35Ks and 12 BBs. Jeff Leonard had this to say about him:

“Reeves is a great all around pitcher. He is the type of guy you want starting a game and if a game goes into extra innings, he’s a guy you can call on in a pinch to close it”

However Reeves looks more like 2005 than this past summer as his current line after two starts is 0-1 with a 24.16 ERA and 2 Ks against 6 walks. I’m thinking he is on a pretty short leash now so hopefully he steps it up. None of us like to see thee guys do poorly but this is a business and if Reeves can’t get it done, he’ll be gone soon. With a short 88-game season, guys don’t have the luxury of working through a prolonged slump.

Marc Kaiser is doing as well as expected so he is anchoring the rotation. We just need the rest of our rotation to step up. Here is that rotation if you haven’t kept up with it.
1. Marc Kaiser (1-1, 4.85, 13K)
2. Mike Reeves (0-1, 25.08, 2 K)
3. Steve Russell (0-0, 10.80, 5 K)
4. Jason Cline (0-1, 25.07, 1 K)
5. Shawn Ravens craft (0-0, 14.54, 1 K)

Two off field notes for you…first, the Silver Sox sent out a game report for last night’s game so kudos to the team who didn’t send anything out for the first two games. I know it is harder to keep up with no one from the Sox front office there but I am glad they made the attempt. The Sox get very little exposure in Reno so anything they can do to keep the team on the minds of the fans is good. The RGJ gives them no coverage on the road but the Nevada Appeal does its best to grab those game reports to put in the paper. That is something the team should leverage…maybe the stars will align and one of the rumors of the Sox moving down to Carson City will come true and they’ll already have that solid relationship with the local paper. Now don’t run with that rumor because I don’t put a lot of stock in it especially if the rumor of being the only game in town is possible in Tucson. But it is still worth mentioning so I did.
The other note came from John Potter who reported that Carlos Madrid tweaked his hamstring a couple of games ago. It is similar to the injury that put Madrid out for most of the season last year. So he is going to be out of the lineup until the team gets back to Reno and an MRI is performed. Thanks for the update, John.

The final game of this series happens tomorrow as Steve Russell goes for the Sox. After that, the Sox will have a three day break until returning home to face the Long Beach Armada. They are probably the best team on paper with 4 former major leaguers and five guys with triple A experience. In fact, all but three of their players have played in affiliated ball. They look like the Yankees of our league; now we need to see if Steve Yeager can be the Joe Torre of the GBL and manage all that experience to a league title. In any event, they will play five games in Reno over the next two weeks. In fact it is only because of a five day break that they aren’t higher in the standings.

The schedule is a little wacky like that this year. Obviously, this isn’t the major leagues so costs are always a concern. As such, the schedule is designed to cut travel costs which is a smart move considering the ever increasing price of oil. That means in some cases teams play teams outside their division more than within their own. And it leads to odd series such as LB being off for 5 days, going to Chico for 3 games, taking two games off, coming into Reno for 2 games, going to Chico for 3, then coming back to Reno for 3 over the next two weeks. And we all remember how Chico had more home games than anyone in the league because they had already made commitments to sponsors even though they had to start the league later than they wanted. But I will never be someone to blame a schedule for what happens. Just pointing out that it is a little “un-baseball like”. At the end of the day, a few extra home games of 5 day breaks won’t be that big of a deal if your team isn’t that good.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Game Report: Reno at St. George (May 29, 2008)


Sox win their first game of the season and do it in convincing fashion beating the St. George Roadrunners 15-5. The best part of this was how well things came together for the Sox.

1. The Sox offense continued to roll and racked up an amazing 20 hits in this game. Everyone but Alvarado got a hit but even he chipped in drawing three walks and scoring all three times.

2. Juan Senreiso broke out of his slump in convincing fashion with a 5 for 6 performance including a 3-run jack. This night will raise his batting average by 169 points and it redeems the faith Jeff Leonard had in keeping him as the clean-up hitter through his 2-20 start.

3. Marc Kaiser pitched a great game going 7 innings giving up three runs and ringing up six on the night. Billy Shea wrapped up the game going two innings and ending the game by striking out former major leaguer Wiki Gonzales.

There was bit of bad news...Carlos Madrid was injured sliding into second on a double. He had to leave the game so hopefully there will be an update on his condition soon. Hopefully it is a minor thing and he is back in the line-up soon.

And, before I forget, for those who haven't seen it, St. George has a "live stat" option on their website that looks like a rudimentary version of the MLB Gamecast option they have on their website. I'd love it if all teams had that but so far St. George is the only one I see with that technology. It really makes it easier to follow the radio play by play and it allows you to get caught up if you come in late or have to step away. Kudos to the St. George folks for that as well as the game notes produced for each game; both give the team a professional feel and I for one appreciate the effort.

OK, let's hope we can sustain the momentum and that this last 5 game losing streak is the longest we have to endure this season. Great win, guys!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Game Report: Reno at St. George (May 28, 2008)

Another night and another loss for the Reno Silver Sox. Boy, I am getting tired of writing that.

It looked like their fortunes were going to change when Reno got on the board first going up 3-0 and even turned a triple play during this game. But, in yet another frustrating pitching outing, Shawn Ravenscraft only made it 4-1/3 innings before getting pulled. He started out well going two innings without allowing a run. Then things went downhill quickly. In the third inning , after back to back walks followed by a throwing error by our pitcher, a series of hits led to him leaving the inning down 4-3.

The Sox would tie it at 4 in the bottom of the third but Ravenscraft was already done as he gave up a three run homerun. During the next inning, he got an out but then hit two consecutive batters. Jeff Leonard had seen enough and pulled his #5 starter in favor of Jesse Hall. Hall got out of the inning without further damage but 2-2/3 innings, 2 runs, and 4 hits later, he was lifted for Paul Wilson who was able to get Hall out of the inning. Of course, in similar fashion, Wilson gives up his obligatory runs (two in this case in 1-1/3 innings) , garnering his second loss on the season, and dropping the Sox to 0-5 where they now gain sole possession of last place in the GBL South Division.

Control was an issue all night as 5 Roadrunners were hit by pitches…3 by Ravenscraft, 1 by Hall, and 1 by Wilson. Errors, hit batsmen, passed balls and walks are killing our team. And that, along with the pitchers just not getting outs, cancels out anything the offense can do. The Sox have 38 runs in 5 games. With a team averaging almost 8 runs a game, it is pretty ridiculous that they cannot get a win. Let just hope that Marc Kaiser can right the ship tomorrow since the entire rotation is anchored by him. Kaiser (AAA) is by far the most experienced pitcher with Steve Russell as the only other guy with affiliated ball experience, albeit at the Class A level. Our other three pitchers have only pitched in independent ball.

Jeff Leonard is giving pitchers the hook a lot faster than he has during this short season. I am sure no one is as frustrated as he is. I think he showed that tonight when Wilson coughed up the lead for the last time and he got tossed for yelling at the umpire.

His guys just have not been able to get outs or go deep into the game. 6, 5, 4.1, 3 and 4.2 innings are not going to do it. With a smaller roster than the MLB (22 vs. 25), and a bullpen of just 5 guys with one of the best pitchers (Scott Schneider) on the inactive list, trotting those guys out every night and expecting them to pitch 2-3 innings a night is going to make for a long season.
And before you know it, the Sox will be out of first half contention. There are only 44 games in each half so if the Sox can’t fix things in the next two weeks or so, the first half will be lost. And that isn’t going to motivate anyone to play any harder.

On the offensive side of the ball, most of the players are doing pretty well but Carlos Madrid (.182, 0 HR, 5 RBI) and Juan Senreiso (.100, 0 HR, 2RBI) have yet to find their groove. Of course, we know what those guys can do and Jeff Leonard must see it too since he continues to let them hit in the second and fourth spots respectively. I'm hoping to see that confidence in them pay off real soon and that we see the Madrid and Senreiso of last year who destroyed GBL pitching. Meanwhile, new addition Andre Alvarado is red hot, batting .500 in 5 games with a .857 slugging percentage.

Finally, yesterday I mentioned that Ben Deach no longer broadcasts the road trips. What that also means is that there are no game updates either e-mailed to fans or put on the website. It is a little frustrating because we aren’t getting interviews with the players or Leonard while they are on the road. So where we would know why Jeff was tossed if Ben were there, now we have to guess. And the website basically goes dormant as, again, there are no game/team updates when the team goes on the road. Hopefully this is something that get changed as the season progresses.

Alright, don't forget to root on the team as they work to erase their slow start. You can listen to game on the St. George Roadrunner's site starting at 5:45PM (Reno time) with the pre-game.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Game Report: Reno @ St. George (May 27, 2008)

Before I get to the game, I thought I would mention another change from last year: in addition to not having games broadcast on the local ESPN affiliate, Reno now doesn't send Ben Deach out for the road trips. I wrote to St. George announcer John Potter during the game and he said he found out about it today when he didn't see Ben and called to find out why. So for 44 games this year, Sox fans will have to listen to the opponent's play by play guy. That is not bad with guys like John, Rory Miller, and Jordan Moore but you do lose the personal touch for the team that Ben brought. Not sure if it was a cost cutting measure, if it is because Ben is now assistant GM, a result of Ben's new radio show on ESPN 630, or a combination thereof but it is still unfortunate all the same.

Another night and another poor pitching effort for the Silver Sox. Though the St. George Roadrunners did their best to give this game away, the 11 runs that starting pitcher Jason Cline surrendered on 13 hits in just three innings were insurmountable. Cline, only one of two left handed pitchers on the squad, was called in for relief work on Saturday where he pitched 1.2 innings and was equally shelled. He came into this game with a 10.80 ERA from that outing and then more than doubled his ERA to 25.07 with this loss.

As I said, St. George did do their best to give this game away as their pitching and defense were not much better than the Sox. The final tally for this game saw 21 runs, 31 hits, and 5 errors between the two teams. The 12 runs scored by the Roadrunners are the most they have scored in one game all season.

There were two pieces of good news for the Sox. First, Mario Guilen pitched four scoreless innings giving up just one hit in his first relief appearance. Second, the offense of the Silver Sox continues to be a bright spot with homeruns by Flowers, Hattig, and Henderson joining Guilen from Saturday to raise the team average to 1 homerun per game on the young season. And every Silver Sox player has at least one hit on the night. Unfortuantely, it is has not been enough to get around the very bad pitching as the Sox check in tied for last place with the 2007 GLB Champion Chico Outlaws with a league worst record of 0-4.

The Silver Sox will see the Roadrunners 18 times this season and one of the interesting story lines is the trade between these two teams that sent Brett Flowers and Steven Wright to Reno for Mike Done and Ryan Brown. Throw in Cody Nowlin who was traded to St. George by the Sox last season and you have the more former Silver Sox on the Roadrunners than any other team. Mike Done for his part hit a home run as did Brett Flowers so they are even there. Nowlin chipped in with a couple of hits and a run while Wright and Brown didn't play.

This was game one of a five game series. Game two sends the last starter in Reno's rotation, Shawn Ravenscroft, to the mound attempting to improve the team ERA tomorrow night at 7:05 PM local, 6:05 Reno time.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Game Report: Orange County @ Reno (May 24, 2008)

In a true case of the chicken and the egg, was Reno's pitching that horrible this weekend or was the Flyer's offense just that good? Either way you look at it, the Flyers swept the Silver Sox in the opening series amassing 27 runs on 34 hits in the three game set. Making matters worse is the fact that two of the games were 7-inning affairs (one went to an "extra" eighth inning) due to them being part of a double header. So from an ERA standpoint, the damage is even more severe. In fact, after 3 games the starters have an ERA of 10.13 and the bullpen has an ERA of 8.78. And, of course, that doesn't count unearned runs.

The day was a rainy one but it never was enough to cancel the game. I guess on the bright side, since Peccole has artificial turf, there was no mud. But I am sure it was slick all the same. Perhaps that accounts for all the errors in the two games (9 total).

I didn't attend tonight but listened to Ben Deach's online stream. I thought the game would be broadcast live in streaming video by IBN as their website stated; apparently it wasn't though it may be archived now as Ben said it would be. I haven't checked yet.

In any event, the Sox offense made each of the two games very competitive. Both saw the game go down to the wire only to be blown by the pitching efforts at the top of the next frame.

Game one saw the Sox come roaring back in the bottom of the 7th (think 9th) capitalizing on a series of errors by the the Flyers and some key hits to tie the game. Unfortunately, half an inning later, the Flyers would slam the door permenantly.

Game two saw the Reno actually have a lead going into the final stage of the game before Kevin Fredrick, one of two Sox players with MLB experience, gave up three runs before recording an out watching not only the lead evaporate but also any chance for the team to salvage a win on the homestand.

Errors and miscommunication didn't help either. Senreiso overran a ball and yet another ball dropped to the ground between two players when Guilen called off the third baseman and then couldn't get the ball himself.

However, the good news came from the team catchers, D.J. Dixon and Gilbert Guilen. In addition to outstanding production during the two games, Guilen produced the first Silver Sox Homerun of the season and Dixon provided what Ben Deach called the "hit of the year" when he capped the comeback to tie the first game of the twin bill with a clutch drive.

Due to the doubleheader, the Sox will have two games off before meeting an improved Roadrunners team in St. George for a five game series. Hopefully that will be enough for the Sox to right the ship and allow them to secure their first win on the young season.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Game Report: Orange County @ Reno (May 23, 2008)

Opening day was finally here and my family and I wouldn't miss it. That phrase takes on added meaning as it rained off and on all day leading up to the game. By the time we got to the ballpark, it had stopped though the seats were still totally soaked and the game time weather was just 50 degrees. But, it was still opening day and that is what mattered. At least to me. When the first pitch was thrown out, I counted less than 200 people in the stands. The reported attendance was 1211 so assuming that number is true, then there were 800+ season ticket holders and corporate ticket holders that were not there. Pretty sad for opening day but it is what it is. Hopefully as it warms up, more people will come out to the park.

One good thing about the lack of people was that you could hear everything coming from the field. Gary Carter, new coach of the Flyers, is very vocal and you could hear him giving instructions to the base runners and pumping up the troops any chance he got. It was nice to see a hall of fame player and, still being a fan of the game, I made sure I headed down to the OC dugout to get his autograph on my program. He was a nice guy and that autograph will end up in one of my baseball scrapbooks.

I showed up to the park hoping to listen to the game on the radio but it seems the Sox are no longer on our local ESPN affiliate. Must explain why I haven't heard a single commerical for the team. That is unfortunate because that means no one at the stadium can listen to the play by play unless they bring some internet capable device. I will say the RGJ coverage by Colby Balkenbush is better than last year but that was due to the paper having a writer who later was reassigned with no backfill. Darrell Moody of the Carson Appeal still provides the best coverage of the team with interviews and notes for every game. I check him out after each home game and I'd recommend you do the same.

Opening night started with the announcement that fireworks for Saturday would be postponed due to weather. But the season looked to be starting off great all the same as the first hitter for the Sox, Steven Wright, slammed a triple off the right field wall to start things. The Sox, sporting a new cap feauring their "R" superimposed on a baseball, looked to do their best to put the 33-42 season of a year ago behind them.

Here was the starting line-up:

CF Steven Wright
2B Carlos Madrid
RF Juan Senreiso
3B John Hattig
1B Steven Alexander
LF Brett Flowers
DH Will Henderson
C D.J. Dixon
SS Andre Alvarado
P Mark Kaiser

Unfortunately, it was all Flyers from there. Their starter, Andre Simpson, pitched 7 innings giving up just three hits and one run. While waiting for Gary to sign, I made sure to tell him as much. He seemed generally appreciative for the of the good things about indy ball I would say.

OC was running on all cylinders as they not only got the great pitching from Simpson, they also had three homeruns from Sean Lorentz, Fernando Pacheco, and Pat Breen. And actually, the final score of 7-3 could have been worse. Twice the OC had Mark Okano at third with no outs and couldn't bring him home. Once he was picked off and once the OC hitters just got rung up without moving him over.

So it wasn't a good start to the season but baseball is here and there are still 87 games to go so that is what is most important. Hopefully they work out some of the kinks too as we saw a throwing error by Alvarado that led to a run, miscommunication between Madrid and Alexander that let a foul ball fall to the ground between them, and a balk by Jesse Hall. Little things like that killed the Sox last year so hopefully this was just an off night.

I will watch tonight's game on internet TV partly to evaluate it for this blog but also because I have a sick son who probably wouldn't benefit from being out in the weather I see out my window as I write this.

As with last year, I am going to be busy for the month of June but then should be at the park for about 95% of the rest of the season. But we are going on vacation and I have an Army school to attend in San Antonio so expect to see some baseball action from San Jose, Modesto, Stockton, San Antonio and Round Rock. I still expect to do reports on the Sox during that period so please keep checking in. I hope to go to one of the Armada games in June between trips so maybe I'll see you there.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The season is finally here

Well, sorry for the lack of posts during the spring training period for the Silver Sox. Unfortunately, with the season starting earlier at Peccole than last year, I was pretty busy through spring training.

But the season is here and I'll have a full report from opening night as the Sox start the first of 44 home games this season.

Now looking at that schedule, there are quite a few double headers...6 that are scheduled so far. It looks like the team had a problem getting games on Sundays as there is only one the entire season. That probably accounts for all the double headers since there were five Sunday games in the original schedule the team had. They had a magnet schedule night to open the season but it isn't listed anymore so I assume all those things are related.

As for doubleheaders, I don't like having so many for the GBL. The reason is that the rules of the GBL indicate that the first game will be only seven innings unless it is a day night double header. Since the games start at 5 and 7, I assume these aren't day and night doubleheaders. From a statistical standpoint it is 24 lost innings or almost three games gone. But it also feels funny going to a game decided in 7 innings. For men's baseball, I really haven't seen that since little league. The GBL prices are pretty fair so I won't complain from that standpoint but you are paying full price for that 7-inning game so take that for what it is worth. And with full price being charged for each game, how many people who would normally attend two games on two nights now only attend one? They just don't seem like a good idea but since the GBL guys know this better than I, again, I have to assume they lost the use on the park on most of the Sundays during the season or they wouldn't be doing it.

The schedule also has six three day breaks in addition to the all-star break so if there is one benefit to all the double headers, the guys will get some extra rest. Maybe it will make a difference as the season wears on.

As far as the team goes, the squad looks pretty solid. We'll see how paper translates to the field starting tomorrow. But with four AAA guys (including two who also saw big league action) as well as a solid outfield of Senreiso, Flowers, and Wright, things look pretty good. We lost some speed with Victor Hall not coming back but I think the overall experience level of the team is a little better.

As for returnees, Carlos Madrid and Juan Senreiso are it. Maurice Coles, Chuck Sindlinger, Shawn Balteff, and James Johnson among others tried to come back for another season but were cut. But Jeff Leonard put his stamp on the team right away so it is clear that we are not the team of last year.

And finally, I want to applaud the Silver Sox for actually spending the money to go get two coaches. They tried player coaches last year and we saw how that went. I think this is the way to go. Let the players focus on playing and the coaches focus on coaching.

Anyway, that is all for now. See you at the yard.