#7: Fo’, Fo’, Two
You’ve already read about my #7 moment on this list – it’s Jason’s #12, a game where Mark Teahen and Jason Michaels each launched grand slams in a 10-5 win over Rochester on April 25. (Teahen also drilled a two-run single, leading to a: the Moses Mal0ne-inspired title of this post and b: the most offensively efficient Syracuse game of the season – 10 runs on three swings. That’s approximately 3.333333333 runs per run-scoring hit. Repeating, of course.)
I won’t delve into the details much, since Mr. Benetti’s already done that. But it’s worth noting something about Teahen in that game. His home run promised to be the first of many in 2012 for a former 18-home run-hitter in the major leagues. But in AAA, Teahen’s power was mainly to the gaps, not over the wall. In fact – Teahen hit just two more home runs throughout the entire remainder of the season. The second came exactly three months to the day of the first, on July 25 – and guess where it was.
Was a power surge in order? Not exactly. It took more than a month for Teahen to hit his third home run, and his first home run at Alliance Bank Stadium. Of course, it came against Rochester, the Tom Glavine to Teahen’s Mike Redmond.
But none of Mark’s home runs meant quite as much as that initial slam – the only homer that Teahen blasted in a Chiefs win. And with the way that baseball goes, next year, he’ll probably hit 20, with none against Rochester.
Thanks for pointing out something that’s always annoyed me, JB. Is it Hanukkah? Chanukah? Hannukah? None of the Above? A & B Only? At least Christmas only gets mislabeled as “XMas” occasionally, thanks to John Lennon.
Regardless, let me join Jason in welcoming all our fine readers a Happy and Healthy New Year. (Side note: why is New Year’s the only holiday that gets a “Healthy” tag? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to wish people a Healthy Halloween? Or is that just too much of a lost cause to even consider?)
#8: Nine-Win Wonders
Moment #8 of this here countdown takes place on a sticky late-June day in Durham, North Carolina, at the beginning of an eight-game road trip through Durham and Norfolk. I didn’t make the trip last season, but this year, I gladly tagged along. (That whole “gladly” part dissipated a bit two nights later with the 100-degree weather and a press box devoid of air conditioning, but that’s for another day.) And I wasn’t the only happy member of the Chiefs’ traveling party on this particular trip, since Syracuse was in the midst of a season-high winning streak – an eight-game run of wins that, as it turned out, had one more game to go.
It didn’t seem like a win was in the cards for the Chiefs until the eighth inning, though. Rehabbing right-hander Kyle Farnsworth tossed a scoreless first before previously scheduled starter Matt Torra shut down the Chiefs for 6.2 Piccaso-esque innings, striking out six while walking just one in a dominant effort. Dominant, that was, until he ran into Corey Brown in the eighth…
Thanks largely to Brown’s blast and a strong effort from starter John Lannan, the game headed to the ninth inning in a 1-1 tie. But after Brett Carroll ran for Chris Marrero, Tony Beasley had a defensive decision to make that neither Abbott nor Costello would have envied – who’d play first? Mark Teahen was DHing and Tyler Moore was up in Washington – so out came backup catcher Carlos Maldonado for the bottom of the ninth inning to man the corner.
This may not seem surprising at first, as most catchers typically have played at least a bit of first base in their lives. But Maldonado’s inclusion certainly stretched the limits of “a bit”. In 16 years and 1,245 career games in professional baseball, Maldonado’s played a grand total of eight – count ‘em, eight - games at first. That’s .006%. The man doesn’t even have his license to kill at the position.
Thankfully for “Maldy”, the action largely stayed away from his position. Outside of a harmless ground ball back to the pitcher, he could have been Peeves the Poltergeist for his two innings in the field and it wouldn’t have made a difference. But after a Carlos Rivero RBI single in the 11th inning put the Chiefs ahead, Beasley threw the DH position in the trash to go with his best defensive lineup, tossing Teahen out at first. You can probably guess what happened next – a walk, a single and a sacrifice bunt tied the game at 2. And the DH spot was due up fourth in the 12th.
Well, with runners on first and second and one out, Tony Beasley had another fun decision to make. And in the same guy that saw Maldonado play first base for the first time in a decade, Beasley sent starting pitcher Zach Duke up – in an American League game – to pinch-bunt. The decision worked out beautifully – Duke got the bunt down, Teahen was intentionally walked, and Jim Negrych had a chance to play the part of hero.
That would all be the Chiefs needed in a 3-2 win. It was also the capper of their longest win streak of the season – and in typically weird fashion, Syracuse did it with a first baseman who hadn’t played the position since Year Two of the George W. Bush era and a pitcher batting in the DH spot. OMC would have been proud.
9. No One Man Should Lose All That Power
The 2012 Syracuse Chiefs had a few games postponed because of rain this season. No surprise. The Chiefs also lost a game to snow in Rochester – not a shock for an April day in Western New York. And Syracuse even had a game postponed due to cold weather, which sounds outrageous but, again, shouldn’t come as a stunning result. But on July 13, the Chiefs set a new bizarre standard for postponements.
It’s not all that uncommon to hear the words “power outage” in baseball. They’re just a pair of words that typically correspond with a lack of team offense, or an individual’s lack of home runs. Much like a pitcher’s “cheese” isn’t literally a dairy product or a “moon shot” doesn’t actually leave the planet, a baseball “power outage” doesn’t literally refer to the loss of electricity. Except, you know, when it actually does. Like on July 13.
At around 5:40, before a 7:00 game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (now RailRiders), former Chief Matt Antonelli was taking batting practice on a day where the high temperature reached 93 degrees. I was sitting in the radio press box, watching from overhead as Antonelli drilled one ball into left-center field – and suddenly, the music stopped. The video board beyond the outfield shut off as well. The Yankees turned around and started jeering at the press box, asking for someone to turn the music back on, and there was nothing anyone could do. A rolling series of power outages on the North Side of Syracuse had hit Alliance Bank Stadium, and the entire park had gone black.
The day proved to be a tricky scenario for us in the front office, since a large crowd was expected for Donate Life Night. And that crowd showed up, with nothing to do but mill about outside the stadium…
The game was also a television broadcast, with Time Warner Cable’s crew on hand. In fact, one of the crew members ended up getting stuck in an elevator when the power went down, and the fire department needed to come and rescue her. There have been better days to be claustrophobic than July 13.
The players and coaches sat in dark clubhouses and hallways, playing cards by whatever light they could find. Tanner Roark, the day’s scheduled starter, set up a table outside the clubhouse and wondered aloud why every one of his starts seemed to get pushed back for some reason or another. Had Tanner been scheduled to start today, perhaps we would have actually encountered the apocalypse.
Ultimately, the decision to postpone the game was made around 7:00, with no end to the power outage in sight. It was the right decision after a thoughtful process…and, of course, 15 minutes later, the power returned.
It feels odd to include a countdown moment that wasn’t actually a game, but July 13 was just too memorable to leave off this list, JB. Do all of your 12 memorable moments contain the proper amount of electricity?
10. In A Central New York Minute…
In the middle of June, it didn’t seem like 2012 was going to be the year of the Chiefs. At 32-37 and losers of five out of six, Syracuse was floundering with the league-leading Pawtucket Red Sox coming to town. The Chiefs were probably anticipating that visit about as much as the Griswolds anticipated seeing Uncle Eddie in the Vacation series.
You see, the first time the PawSox came to town didn’t go so well for the Chiefs. The Rhode Islanders visited Alliance Bank Stadium from April 16-19, claiming a four-game sweep in excruciating fashion with a trio of late-game wins and one 11-7 slugfest mixed in. But as the ever-calm Tony Beasley and the Chiefs’ staff knew well, everything can change at a moment’s notice in baseball. And June 18 was the start of everything.
On that Monday evening, the Chiefs used a five-run seventh inning to launch an 11-7 series-opening victory. The next night, Zach Duke squeezed out six innings of three-run ball despite 12 baserunners and no strikeouts, leading Syracuse to a 4-3 win. But Wednesday would prove to be the crowning achievement of the series – and one of the team’s finest wins of the season.
There are some people looking ahead to the End of Days at the end of this week. (By the way, I’ll bet anyone $1 million that the world doesn’t end before Christmas. Just shoot me an email and we’ll work out the details.) But on June 20, the End of Days stood on the pitcher’s mound at Alliance Bank Stadium, ready to mow down the Chiefs once more – right-hander Justin Germano. You remember him, right? You know – the guy who did THIS last year?
Germano had already faced the Chiefs once early in the season, tossing seven shutout innings while allowing a mere three singles. And he’d thrown more than 20 consecutive scoreless innings against Syracuse heading into the night’s third inning – when newly signed catcher Koyie Hill took him deep for a solo home run. That wasn’t a sign of things to come, though, as Pawtucket took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning.
But Germano had to leave at some point, and the end of the seventh inning was his exit. Not coincidentally, the Chiefs’ bats soon sprung to life. With two runners on in the eighth inning, Corey Brown stepped up against Junichi Tazawa…
Syracuse would score no more in the frame, however, with Daniel Bard closing out the inning on a Mark Teahen fly out.
The Sox got another run in the top of the ninth, giving them a seemingly impenetrable 5-3 advantage with three outs to get. But a word on Bard, in case you’re not familiar with him: he’s the flame-throwing uber-prospect who shot through the Boston system a few years ago, only to lose any semblance of control this year when the Red Sox attempted to turn him back into a starter. His season fully came apart at the seams on June 3rd, when Bard gave up five runs in 1.2 innings against the Blue Jays…on a grand total of one hit. (He walked six batters and hit two others in the game.)
So Bard was shipped down to Pawtucket and returned to the bullpen, where he attempted to close out the Chiefs on this Wednesday night. But he allowed a pair of hits to start the inning – a Chris Marrero double and Xavier Paul single – before tossing a wild pitch to score Marrero. 5-4. The right-hander, however, would flip the switch right after that. He retired Carlos Rivero on a fly out and Koyie Hill on a groundout before going to two strikes on Jim Negrych, move along, nothing more to see here…and then, one pitch away from a win…this happened.
Down three runs with four outs to go, two runs with three outs to go and one run with one strike to go, the Chiefs had clawed their way back. The final obstacle? Former Syracuse hurler and aspiring app-creator Garrett Mock, he of the Bard-esque ultra-live arm and Bard-esque ultra-spotty control. Mock loaded the bases with one out in the 10th inning – but, in Mock-esque fashion, he struck out Seth Bynum and flied out Xavier Paul for a head-scratching exit.
One inning later, the Chiefs had finally had enough. With runners on first and third and one out, third baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir had a chance to be the hero.
The Chiefs had stolen a game they had no business winning, 6-5, and truly ignited a winning streak that wouldn’t end until six games later. Just like that.
(Postscript: Mitch Atkins was Syracuse’s starter in this game, just as he’s been in the other two games of my countdown so far. What the what?)
Wait, I mentioned “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”?
#11: Suspension of Belief
Today’s pick may be a bit of an oddball choice, since it involves a game where nothing of substance really happened. The game was a 3-0 Chiefs loss to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, that 2012 traveling road show of a team without a home park for the year. The game featured only 11 combined hits, 10 walks, 12 strikeouts and no home runs. On first glance, there’s nothing to see here. But on second glance, there’s everything to see. (Just like in the following video.)
Our story begins on an overcast, rainy April day in Syracuse – and yes, you should try exceedingly hard to visualize this, seeing as it never happens. How rainy was April 10? Rainy enough that after four innings, the game was called with the Yankees up 2-0. Not to worry – the homeless Scrantonians would return to Alliance Bank Stadium in three days, and the teams would surely pick it up then. Simple enough, right?
There was just one chink in that solution’s armor: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was the “home” team in the team’s next series since, again, the Yankees had no 2012 home. PNC Field underwent renovations during the course of the season, and the Baby Bombers were forced to play “home” games in Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Fargo, Allentown, Pawtucket, Batavia and Prague. (Two of those are made up. Batavia is not one of them.) The International League didn’t want to finish the suspended game – a Chiefs home game – on the same day as a Yankees home game, for logistical purposes. However, the next time the Chiefs would play Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a Syracuse home game was on July 12, the day after the All-Star Break.
So, almost three months to the start of this Syracuse/Scranton duel, the teams took the field for the top of the fifth inning with a pair of wildly different lineups. Consider the play-by-play below:
How different, exactly, was the Chiefs’ April lineup for their July one? Let’s go through April’s…
- Batting third: Xavier Paul. On July 12: A valuable bench member of the eventual NL Central-winning Cincinnati Reds.
- Batting fourth: Tyler Moore. On July 12: 31 games into his rookie season with Washington, never to return to Syracuse.
- Batting fifth: Bryce Harper. On July 12: Heh.
- Batting eighth: Jason Michaels. On July 12: A Syracuse coach. Just call him Bill Russell.
- Batting ninth: Chris McConnell. On July 12: Out of baseball, after being released from the Nationals’ Double-A team. We love you, Mac.
Three other starters (Corey Brown, Seth Bynum and Mark Teahen) switched positions, leaving only one starting position player in his original spot – catcher Carlos Maldonado. I might as well have thrown blotches of paint at my scorebook.
But the game’s MVP truly belonged to starting pitcher Mitch Atkins, who’s now appeared in the first two moments of my countdown. Coincidence? (Yes.) Atkins tossed the first four innings of the April game before Tony Beasley decided to send him back out to the hill. On 92 days’ rest, Atkins gamely accepted the assignment, and tossed a gem that Roy Halladay would have been proud of. He worked the full nine innings, scattering five hits and six walks to allow just three runs (one earned), while throwing a superhuman 151 pitches, 94 for strikes. That’s right – 151 pitches! After the game, Atkins was seen soaking his right arm in a bathtub filled with a mixture of herbal tea, whipped cream and unicorns. And that is moment #11 on this magical countdown.
Postscript: There may have been a chance that Atkins actually threw the 151 pitches over TWO separate days, leading to a mere statistical quirk. I can neither confirm nor deny this, however. I can also neither confirm nor deny the existence of unicorns.
Here we go again…again.
It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the start of our offseason countdown chronicling the top 12 Syracuse Chiefs moments of 2012! We’re a little bit later this year as opposed to 2011, but Jason and I have needed months and months to compile our lists from an otherwise action-packed season. (Wait, does that excuse actually work? Let’s move on before you really have time to think about it.)
(Look, over here!)
I’ll start it off, and Jason will respond in kind (or in mean, I guess) on Friday.
#12: Keep The Fat Lady On Ice
When you’re 69-73 and 14.0 games back in the division with two games remaining in the season, it’s easy to calculate that you’re not exactly post-season bound. The Chiefs weren’t a playoff team this year, and they certainly knew it before the season’s penultimate game. But in the 2012 Alliance Bank Stadium finale, Syracuse had no intention of rolling over and playing dead, despite what the first six batters might have you believe.
Mitch Atkins started on the hill on that sunny Sunday for Syracuse (selling seashells by the sea shore), and his outing against the Rochester Red Wings started off with just a minor hitch, when shortstop Eduardo Escobar singled to center field. Not to worry, though, as Atkins was facing a Red Wings team that ranked third-to-last in the International League in runs scored. What was the worst that could happen here?
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka doubles (16) on a line drive to center fielder Corey Brown. Eduardo Escobar to 3rd.
- Brian Dozier singles on a line drive to center fielder Corey Brown. Eduardo Escobar scores. Tsuyoshi Nishioka to 3rd.
- Wilkin Ramirez doubles (17) on a ground ball to left fielder Jesus Valdez. Tsuyoshi Nishioka scores. Brian Dozier to 3rd.
- Clete Thomas singles on a soft line drive to right fielder Brett Carroll. Brian Dozier scores. Wilkin Ramirez scores.
- Rene Rivera homers (10) on a fly ball to center field. Clete Thomas scores.
Ah. So that’d qualify as “worst that could happen”, then.
In the blink of an eye, it was 6-0 Red Wings. Six batters, six hits, six runs, no outs, one bullpen set in motion. If Pat Lehman ever warms up earlier in a game, it’ll be because I started. The floodgates were as open as a 24-hour Wegmans.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the blowout – Atkins settled down, retiring the next three batters he faced. Then Corey Brown and Jesus Valdez homered in the first, slicing the deficit to 6-2. Then Atkins tossed a perfect second inning before Brett Carroll doubled in a run in the bottom half of the frame. 6-3. Then Atkins mowed down the Wings in the third, and the Chiefs responded with three runs, knocking out Rochester starter Nick Blackburn – the last of which came right here.
And just like that – we were all squared away at six. Yes, Mitch Atkins ended up with the longer stint of the game’s two starters after giving up six consecutive hits to start the game. Silly Mayans.
Of course, the Chiefs needed to do more than just tie the game, or else I wouldn’t be writing about this. Valdez and Chris Marrero knocked in seventh-inning runs, and Wilkin Ramirez’ eighth-inning home run wasn’t enough for Rochester, as the Chiefs won, 8-7. Turns out any comebacks in the season’s first 142 games were just appetizers for a hearty, medium-rare main course in Game #143. Now that’s going out in style.
So in case you were thinking “well, this season wasn’t that memorable” – that comeback ranks below 11 other moments for me. Beat that, Benetti.
Before you know it, it’ll be baseball season again in Syracuse…in fact, we’re just four months and a few weeks away from Opening Day 2013. Yes, that sounds like a long period of time, but once this whole Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus thing gets finished, it’ll zip right by.
But we’re not past looking back to last season, and that’s why Jason and I are getting ready for our second annual list of last year’s Top 12 memorable Chiefs moments. Last year’s list starts right here – and you can access all entries under the “Inside The Chiefs Blog Archive” drop-down menu on the right side of your screen.
This season’s list might be a little trickier to compile than last season’s, since nobody threw a perfect game or hit four home runs in one game in 2011. But 2012 still featured dramatic moments all around in its 144-game span, and we’d like you to help us pick them out. Shoot us an email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
We’ll be starting the segment up within the next week. Until then, we look forward to hearing from you.
We’re less than a month away from the end of Syracuse’s 2012 season, but there’s still plenty of reason to come stop by Alliance Bank Stadium this year. Take today for example: the Chiefs and Buffalo Bisons will go at it in a Triple-A battle of the Nationals and Mets. For any Chiefs fans in the area, or any fans of the big league Mets, today’s twin bill features a number of juicy storylines. Let’s take a look at the two games through four intriguing players – that just so happen to have something in common…
Duke’s the Game 1 starter for Syracuse, and there’s reason to believe that the International League All-Star will submit another brilliant performance tonight. Duke, who’s tied for the league lead with 11 wins, has simply dominated the Bisons this season. He tossed seven shutout innings against Buffalo in a May 1 win, and threw six scoreless frames against the Bisons on July 4. Why has Duke been so successful against Buffalo? The Bisons are a very patient team, second in the league in walks and first in strikeouts, and Duke prides himself on throwing strike one. Get ahead of hitters and work from there – that’s more or less Duke’s philosophy.
Though the Chiefs are nine games back with 30 games to play, Duke still has plenty left to pitch for. At 11-5 with a 3.78 ERA in 21 starts, he’s already showed that he can have success in the International League, consistently giving the Chiefs a solid start. He’s thrown at least six innings in eight consecutive starts and at least 5.2 innings in 13 straight starts. There are ramifications for Duke here for the future, as he’s with Washington on just a one-year deal. Can he still be effective in the majors? He’s held lefties to a .255 average this year and posted an ERA in the threes in the last three months. Another good start could go a long way toward solidifying a return to the major leagues for the former National League All-Star.
Buffalo’s Game 1 starter is an appetizing one. Wheeler – perhaps the Mets’ best overall prospect – will be making his Triple-A debut tonight. The 22-year-old righty-hander was 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA in 19 starts with Double-A Binghamton. He throws in the high 90s with a sharp curveball, named the best curve in the Mets’ organization by Baseball America. Wheeler was acquired by the Mets last season in a one-for-one swap with the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran. Considering Beltran didn’t re-sign with the Giants, and likely wouldn’t have re-signed with the Mets – consider this a potentially huge win for New York.
While the big league club’s started to slip, hopes are high for Mets fans now. Vaunted prospect Matt Harvey has recently gone up to the major leagues and tossed a few great starts, while Buffalo right-handers Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia still have tremendous potential. But it may be Wheeler who’s the most anticipated of anyone, and he could provide the foundation of a future rotation of aces for the Mets. And the beginning to the final step before the majors starts today in Syracuse.
Walters, a 22-year-old middle infielder, is one of the newest Chiefs, after being added to the roster on Friday. He’s jumped through the Nationals’ system this year after starting the season with Advanced-A Potomac. Walters was also part of a one-for-one trade last season, coming over to the Nationals from Arizona in exchange for starting pitcher Jason Marquis. (Marquis didn’t re-sign with Arizona and likely wouldn’t have re-signed with Washington…so, much like the Wheeler deal, this could end up being a steal.) He’s a switch-hitter with a solid glove and some pop in his bat, smacking 19 doubles and 11 home runs in 99 games so far this season.
Where does Walters fit in the Nationals’ future plans? He’s looked at as a potential Steve Lombardozzi-type, providing some help for middle infielders Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Of course, a 22-year-old switch-hitting shortstop with pop doesn’t need to be relegated to backup status. Walters has already exceeded expectations this season, and it should be fun to see if he can continue to do so with Syracuse. Plus, the youth movement’s already been good to Syracuse this year, thanks to the 15-game hitting streak of Triple-A rookie Eury Perez.
26 years old might be the outside edge of being considered a “prospect”, and Lutz reached that mark two months ago. But just because he’s hit that magical number doesn’t mean there’s no future for Lutz. On the contrary, the infielder is a powerful bat whose best days seem to be ahead of him. In 47 games this season, Lutz has posted a slash line of .325/.429/.556 thanks to 11 doubles and 8 home runs. The right-handed hitter who made his major league debut this season (1-8 in four games) has always hit when healthy – but it’s the latter concern that’s often been the problem. Over the last three seasons, Lutz has played just 72 games (in 2010), 63 games (2011) and 53 so far in 2012. In those 188 games, he’s smashed 39 home runs. If he stays healthy, Lutz is a definite corner infield option for the Mets in the future.
From 22-year-old Eury Perez to 39-year-old C.J. Nitkowski (just promoted minutes ago!), there are plenty of reasons to come check out the Chiefs and Bisons today. But we’ve given you at least four, a group of Zach(k)s that likely have big league years galore to come. So catch ‘em while they’re still here.
We’d love to hear from you here on our blog with potential ideas. Shoot us an email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evening, Chiefs fans. Syracuse is back in town today to begin a four-game series with the Norfolk Tides after dropping three out of four games in Pawtucket. The Chiefs lost their first four games against the Tides this year down in Norfolk, but the four losses came by a combined five runs – so either way, you’ll want to stay tuned until the final out.
Let’s take a look now at the Tides – the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles – before their lone visit to Alliance Bank Stadium this year.
Catcher: Luis Exposito, Ronny Paulino, Chris Robinson
40-man member Exposito, who’s just recently been activated from the Disabled List, is an intriguing 25-year-old player who was claimed off of waivers from the Red Sox this season. He’s got a strong arm and is a plus defender, but there’s work to be done offensively – he’s hitting just .267 with no home runs and seven walks in 28 games this season. Paulino, a 31-year-old major league veteran, was recently sent down to Norfolk after big league backup Taylor Teagarden’s activation from the DL, while the 28-year-old Robinson likely provides mostly organizational depth at this point.
First Base: Joe Mahoney
Mahoney, a 6’6″, 25-year-old first baseman, just made his big league debut with the Orioles 13 days ago, but he was quickly sent back down to Norfolk. At .259 with only six home runs in 92 games, he’s likely not a big league offensive player yet, but he’s the only active infielder on the 40-man roster and he’s played regularly for the Tides this year. Baltimore’s survived with basically-average first base play this year from swing-hard-and-maybe-make-contact titans Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds, who have combined for 23 home runs and 170 strikeouts on the season.
Second Base: Bill Hall, Carlos Rojas
Speaking of strikeouts…Hall, who started the season in the majors before being designated for assignment, has been the ultimate king of whiffs this year. He’s punched out 91 times – to just 13 walks – in 56 games with the Tides. Hall does have 11 doubles and 11 home runs in 56 games with Norfolk, however. Rojas, a .222 hitter with one extra-base hit in 35 games, is a 28-year-old who likely provides organizational depth. Unfortunately for the Orioles, neither of these two appear to be the answer to their major league problems. Robert Andino, who’s posted a .230/.292/.325 slash line, has been the regular second baseman this year. Former All-Star Brian Roberts is currently on the DL – and even when he’s been off it, he’s been slowed down to the tune of a .182 average in 17 games. And right now – with both Andino and Roberts on the DL – it’s Steve Tolleson, up from Norfolk, who’s become the starter.
Shortstop: Blake Davis
J.J. Hardy’s started 90 games for the Orioles this year, though the position’s not necessarily set in stone for Baltimore – he’s hitting just .217 on the season. But Davis, at .247 with two home runs in 75 Triple-A games, is likely an “in case of emergency” option. The real long-term option here is likely in Double-A – uber-prospect Manny Machado. The 20-year-old who was the #2 pick in the 2010 MLB draft is having a solid offensive season, batting .257 with 23 doubles and eight home runs, though he’s committed 17 errors. But Machado’s likely still in need of some seasoning at the lower levels before coming to Norfolk.
Third Base: Brandon Waring, Zelous Wheeler
Neither the 26-year-old Waring or the 25-year-old Wheeler is much of a prospect at this point, and neither player has ever appeared in a major league game. Luckily for the Orioles, there’s no shortage of potential third-base options up in the major leagues, with Reynolds, Tolleson, Wilson Betemit and Ryan Flaherty all able to play the position if needed.
Outfield: Xavier Avery, Led Ford, L.J. Hoes, Jamie Hoffmann, Nate McLouth
Avery’s the only 40-man roster member here, and the speedy 22-year-old has already been up in the major leagues a few times this year. He wreaked havoc against the Chiefs in his only game versus Syracuse this year, collecting two hits and two walks while stealing a base and scoring a run. But it’s Ford, the former Minnesota Twin, who’s been the team’s offensive standout this year. He’s hitting .340 in 54 games with a colossal .964 OPS, and though Ford’s 35, those kind of numbers seem certain to catch someone’s eye, whether it be Baltimore or not. Hoes, a 22-year-old prospect, has also opened some eyes with a .314/.371/.444 line in his Triple-A debut season. And then there’s McLouth, with an asinine .746 slugging percentage in 59 July at-bats, along with a former major leaguer in Hoffmann – so yes, this is a fairly stacked group.
However, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have a firm grasp on two of the major league club’s starting outfield spots, with Steve Pearce and Davis also getting their fair share of playing time. So outside of an injury, that group’s likely to stay the same, and it seems logical that 40-man member Perez would be the first guy to go up.
Starting Pitchers: Jake Arrieta, Jason Berken, Dana Eveland, Steve Johnson, Brian Matusz
Four of these five starters are members of the 40-man roster, with the exception being Dana Eveland, who was designated for assignment just six days ago. Tonight’s starter, Matusz, has more than double the amount of major league starts to minor league starts in his career – but at 5-10 with a 5.42 ERA, he’ll be making his third Norfolk start of the season tonight. Johnson’s back here after making his major league debut a few days ago, while Arrieta’s down with the Tides after a 3-9, 6.13 record in 18 Baltimore starts this year. It’s a trio of likely future contributors for the big club – but for now, it’s time for extra seasoning.
Relief Pitchers: Tim Bascom, Greg Burke, Pat Neshek, Zach Phillips, Miguel Socolovich, Oscar Villarreal, Pedro Viola
Hey, remember that note about all those starting pitchers on the 40-man roster? You know, the one from six lines ago? Well, a whopping one member of the Tides’ relief group is on the 40-man – IL All-Star Socolovich, who just pitched in his first two ever big league games on the 14th and 16th. There likely won’t be too much of a concern for Baltimore, though – Kevin Gregg’s 3.90 ERA represents the worst mark in a completely stacked major league bullpen. Outside of Socolovich, another former Twin has excelled here, in Neshek. The submarine-throwing right-hander’s posted a 2.48 ERA in 32 games, striking out 44 batters to just seven walks in 40 innings.
That’s all for today’s version of Triple-A Trickledown. Hope to see you at the park tonight for Breast Cancer Awareness Night, tomorrow for fireworks, or on Sunday or Monday for some more Chiefs baseball.
Good morning, Chiefs fans…and what a good morning it is. Syracuse is over .500 for the first time since April 16, 2011. Here are some more nuggets to brighten your day…
*The box score from the last time Syracuse was over .500.
*Why Jim Thome’s 13th walkoff home run was more valuable than the others.
*Newsday looks at the 25-year anniversary of groundbreaking sports talk radio station WFAN.
*Bill Murray’s brilliant acceptance speech for the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame.
*The NY Times tackles our current generation gap.
Hope to see you out at the park today for a slightly earlier start time than normal, as the Chiefs and G-Braves tangle at 5:00 PM. If you can’t make it, catch the game on The Score 1260 at 4:45.