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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:16 am 
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No Support for Ward, Chavez

The Nine coasted into Havana with a 5 game lead in the Heartland division, and apparently feeling a bit over-confident. It’s easy to understand why, of course. At 51-84, the Sugar Kings stood 33 wins below .500. Their pitching staff is in something that resembles shambles, and their offense is on the upper end of “not too good.” Yellow Springs was due to square off with this team for two games in Cuba before seeing them for two more in Ohio.

Let’s just say that the Cuban import tax apparently includes about 50% of your runs.

Perhaps it was the loss of Roberto Miranda (.299/.362/.411, 2 HR, 30 RBI), or maybe it’s the heat (Cuba is a warm place). Maybe it’s the rum that the team’s hotel had at the complimentary buffet dinner they had prepared for them upon arrival. Who can tell? But the bats were quiet in Estadia Nacional.

Game 1:

Jose Chavez (13 - 5, 4.05 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 132 K) had a strong, but oddly ineffective outing, pitching into the 8th inning, and giving up only 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 9. Normally this would be a pretty dominant line, but somehow the Sugar Kings’ inept offense managed to make three runs of those seven base runners. When Cesar Martinez (2 - 11, 4.11 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 70 K) gave up one more, it was enough for Havana to steal the game.

This is because, while the Nine’s bat banged out ten hits, they found lots of ways to not score. Double plays, caught stealings, and a general malaise when it came to baserunning all contributed.

Game 2:

At least this time it was Ignacio Rodriguez on the hill for Havana. While the star is having a bit of a hard season, he’s a top-notch competitor, and it’s obvious he came to pitch. The Nine manages only one run, and that one came on a solo homer from Juan Arevalo (.232/.304/.470, 10 HR, 25 RBI), his 10th of the year. So, no, the bats didn’t bat.

Rick Ward (9 - 13, 4.28 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 140 K) was pretty good on the hill, too, giving up only 1 earned in just under seven innings. The problem was the four UNEARNED runs the team gave up on errors by Arevalo and rookie third baseman Earl Jackson (.276/.314/.420, 7 HR, 44 RBI).

Still, Lead Extends

If there is a silver lining to this dark cloud, it’s that the Sluggers have lost three straight games while Yellow Springs was in process of losing these two, so the 5-game lead is now 5.5. “The game is weird,” manage Bret Richards said as his team got on the plane to head home. “Just when you think everything is going great, the bottom can fall out, and just when you think the bottom’s falling out, it gives you something you need.”


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