INSPIRED CELLAR-DWELLERS SURGE IN JUNE
Their best player is LF Matt Holliday (.362, 10 HR). Their best pitchers are middle relievers like Luke Gregerson and Phil Coke. And, at 27-45, they are unlikely to escape the second division any time soon.
But, with the return to action of super-closer Aroldis Chapman, Pottsylvania has mounted their most exciting run of games in nearly two years! In fact, the veterans on the Pottsylvania Creepers have quieted any talk about GM Jeff Moore playing for a number-one pick.....and they have done it against top teams!
On the road in Kansas, former St. Francis IF Todd Frazier took advantage of his former teammates, clubbing a three-run HR in the third off Travis Wood (9-2, 2.49) to send Pottsylvania to a 4-1 win in the first game of their series with the Central-leading (57-17) Kansans.
In the process, Matt Garza (2-10, 4.57) picked up his first win in nearly two months, while finally-healthy Aroldis Chapman collected his sixth save of the season.
Pottsylvania followed up that game by winning a pitcher’s duel 2-1 when pinch-hitter Anthony Gose sliced a go-ahead single off former Creepers ace Stephen Strasburg (7-4, 3.17) to make a winner of Wade Miley (5-4, 4.36). Again, Chapman mowed down Kansans bats with a 1-2-3 ninth to collect his seventh save!
With the win, the Creepers had swept St. Francis on the road and sent the Kansans to back-to-back losses for the first time in six weeks.
Pottsylvania followed that milestone by splitting games with the hot-hitting Carolina Wildcats, setting the stage for an epic series with the visiting Oakland Blaze.
The Creepers trailed 2-0 entering the eighth in the series opener against C.J. Wilson, but tied the game when Francisco Rodriguez allowed four hits in relief. In the tenth, the home-town Creepers got a walkoff RBI single from Matt Kemp off Joaquin Benoit (5-2, 4.18) to give Chapman his second win.
As epic as a come-from-behind walkoff win is, the next game was both painful but spectacular for both teams, the kind of game you hate to lose….and nearly hate to win. After rookie Chris Archer squandered a 4-3 lead in the sixth versus Marco Estrada, the Creepers bullpen put together…wait for it….12.2 consecutive innings of scoreless relief, as Pottsylvania and Oakland would play a game of ‘chicken’ that lasted 19 innings, one of the longest affairs in league HISTORY!
The whole thing finally ended up not going the home team’s way, as Freddie Freeman slashed an RBI single and the previously-hitless (0 for 7!) Pablo Sandoval added a little bleeder through the infield to score a second run in the top of the 19th….in the process victimizing Matt Garza (2-12, 5.25), thrown to the wolves after the two clubs had both used six pitchers in relief. In the process, Garza didn’t just take one for the team, he set a record of sorts, because he now has more losses (12) than the league leader in victories (Yuma’s David Price) has wins (11).
What will a game like this do to Oakland and Pottsylvania’s bullpens, and does Chapman’s return mean that Pottsylvania is capable to playing .500 ball now that they have a shutdown strikeout-collecting machine closing games?