The first week of July’s over, and the first half of the 2017 Eastern league season is over as well. It’s Eastern League All-Star Weekend, and here’s the state of things on the path 400 miles to Toronto and beyond.
The Fisher Cats began July like they ended June, May and April: with a string of losses.
In particular, the EL East division leading Trenton Thunder continued their dominance over the Fisher Cats this year, grabbing six wins over New Hampshire in the first nine days of the month.
Trenton’s winning streak over the Fisher Cats now stands at 14 straight games. Barring a sweep in the final series of the year between the two teams later this month, the Fisher Cats will break their worst mark ever against Trenton set in 2009, a year they could only muster five wins in total against the Thunder.
Perhaps no better moment better exemplifies the Fisher Cats’ season that the final inning of their first contest on July 2 against the Thunder. That inning saw three outs recorded by first baseman Matt Dean in what was his professional pitching debut. He went on to allow more hits in that inning (2) than he has gotten in his last ten games (1).
In between the misery radiating from the team of New Jersey’s state capital, the Fisher Cats did get some respite against the Portland Sea Dogs.
New Hampshire grabbed two out of three games at Hadlock Field, with Fisher Cats pitchers shutting out Portland over the first 19 innings of the series.
Batting: Danny Jansen – Although Ryan McBroom notched more home runs in the first half and second half of last Sunday’s doubleheader against the Thunder in Manchester, he cooled off against Trenton at ARM & HAMMER Park. Just about every Fisher Cat did at one point during the trip to New Jersey, excluding their All-Star catcher.
Jansen recorded hits in both games he participated in during the Fisher Cats’ trip to Trenton and has at least one hit in six of the seven games he’s played in so far in July.
In his 36 games since promotion from Advanced-A Dunedin, Jansen’s gotten 37 hits and leads the team in OPS at .897.
Pitching: Andrew Case – With the departure of Tim Mayza (more on that in a second), Case is now the Fisher Cats’ go-to guy in the bullpen. In addition to now being able to call himself a certified poutine expert, he’s also recorded ten outs without an earned run over three performances in the first three series of July.
The honorable mention goes to Jon Harris, who pitched a masterpiece on July 5, his only outing over the past week and change.
Who’s Here and Who’s Left
Alonzo Gonzalez went on the temporary inactive list on July 5, marking the return of Venezuelan 24-year-old Kender Villegas.
This Is the third time this year Villegas has been promoted to New Hampshire from Dunedin for roster juggling purposes, with his last trip down to the Florida State League lasting only two days.
A day earlier, a pair of righties were promoted: Griffin Glaude from Class-A Lansing and Yonardo Herdenez from Rookie-Level Bluefield.
No work so far for Glaude, Herdenez pitched four innings in two appearances against the Thunder.
The biggest change was Tim Mayza’s promotion to Triple-A Buffalo. Tied for the team lead in saves, Mayza quickly recorded two outings without an earned run for the Bisons in what may be grooming for a role as Toronto’s new lefty reliever if Aaron Loup or Jeff Beliveau fall out of favor with Jays’ management.
Oh, would you look at that: it’s more games against Portland and Trenton. With a series sandwiched in there against the Reading Fightin’ Phils.
With just under 50 games left in the season, the Fisher Cats are currently 20 games under .500, once against holding the worst record in the league.
New Hampshire native Andrew Sylvia began covering the Fisher Cats in 2010 and 2011 and has reported on a wide variety of other sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Nashua Telegraph and Patch.com in addition to thousands of other non-sports articles for over two-dozen outlets throughout New England and beyond.
He also has a Australian Rules Football fantasy team and he thinks they’re finally going to win it all this year, if only because he’s an optimistic kind of guy.