400 Miles to Toronto: Home Runs Make The Difference Versus Dogs and Ponies

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400 Miles to Toronto: New Hampsire Fisher Cats Column

June’s over, and it’s time to look back at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ latest series against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and Portland Sea Dogs. As of June 30, 2017, here’s the state of things on the path 400 miles to Toronto and beyond.

Quick Recap

Eight games, three wins. The Fisher Cats will end the month of June with only one series win following a 2-2 outcome against Binghamton and a near sweep in Portland over the past week.

While there may be less obvious factors separating those wins from those losses, one was clear. In the wins on June 23, June 25, and June 29, the Fisher Cats had at least one longball.  In the losses, opposing pitchers kept New Hampshire’s lineup within the park.

That might be bad news if the trend continues, since New Hampshire’s 53 home runs so far this year is third to last in the league, behind only Richmond (43) and Binghamton (41).

Who’s Hot

Batting: Gunnar Heidt, Ryan McBoom Richard Urena. Heidt, along with McBroom and Danny Jansen, made it onto the 2017 Eastern League Eastern Division All-Star Team this week and his send off in New Hampshire’s win against the Rumble Ponies on Sunday might have clinched those honors.

There he went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, a homer and a walk. He was quiet against Portland, but added a run in the Fisher Cats’ Thursday win. He’s now tied with McBroom for the team lead for home runs at nine.

McBroom also struggled against Portland, but got his first home run in over a month on Thursday, and he reached base safely in each of the Binghamton games.

Unlike McBroom and Heidt, Urena had four hits against Portland and also contributed three against Binghamton.

Pitching: Justin Shafer: Although Conner Greene’s fastball reaching into triple digits over several occasions raised enough attention to also earn him an All-Star nod, like the rest of New Hampshire’s starters this season, he’s been inconsistent. Last week was no exception.

Although he did earn a win on the June 25 contest against the Ponies, he’s allowed three runs or more in six of his last ten appearances.

Instead, the bullpen remained as the staff’s strength in the Binghamton and Portland series, with Shafer leading the way.

In 3 2/3 innings of work against Binghamton and Portland, Shafer allowed just one hit with no runs, striking out three and walking two.

Dusty Isaacs also got the nod to the All-Star team, but it’s hard his recent strong run was stopped on Thursday. There, he could only get one out before leaving, giving up four hits and three runs to Sea Dogs batters.

Who’s Here and Who’s Left

There were no roster moves over the last week, with the newest Fisher Cat, Daniel Young, making his debut on Friday.

In that game and a loss against Portland on Monday, he was solid if not spectacular, allowing two hits and no runs with a strikeout over two innings of work.

What’s Next

The ‘Cats are back in Manchester for an Independence Day Weekend set against Trenton. They’ll see Trenton again later next week after another trip to Portland. And then, it’s the All-Star break, with this year’s festivities coming to Manchester on July 11 and 12.

Despite their record, still the worst in the Eastern League, the Fisher Cats stand only eight wins away from their 500th franchise win.