Dye and Shelton Super-Human, Timlin and Grabow Super-Hellacious in Smithfield-Hairy Split

The Hedgehogs and Hairys met for the 2nd time in Champions’ League play Thursday night, and for the 2nd time, 1st place was on the line.  Game 1 featured two winless pitchers – Suppan and Harris.  Obviously not a marquee matchup, and not surprisingly, the offenses took center stage.  The Hedgehogs wasted no time getting to Suppan in a classic Karren inning – leadoff single, sac bunt, Shelton single, sac fly = 1-0 Hog lead.  The Hairys came back in the 2nd as Ockey took a page out of Karren’s book – Helms lead-off single, sac bunt by Woodward and then Victor Diaz came up with a huge 2-out double to tie the game.  The Hogs came right back, though in the top of the 3rd thanks to more of that sweet, sweet Hairy defense.  Cano booted a grounder to put the lead-off man on  and then, you guessed it, bunted over, ANOTHER Shelton single puts men on the corners (it should be noted that Karren was kind of getting screwed as he was hit and running both times with Shelton and both times he had to hold White at 3rd rather than having him score automatically) and then  Miller single made it 2-1.  The Hairys really opened up on Harris in the bottom of the 3rd, though – Cano got a 1-out single and then JFD (Jermaine Freaking Dye) got his 2nd hit of the ballgame – a double crushed to left center that scored Cano and tied the game.  Dye moved to 3rd on a Granderson sac fly, scored on a Helms single and then Chris Woodward came up with the big blow – a 2-out 2 run bomb that made it 5-2.  In the midst of this, Suppan did his part as he settled and retired 8 straight Hogs.  The Hairys got a cheap run in the 5th as the Hog defense “pulled a Hairy” to put lead-off man Helms on 1st.  Woodward sac bunted him to 2nd, he moved to 3rd on a McCann grounder and then scored on reliever Geary’s balk.  That’s 1 run on no hits for those of you scoring at home.  Suppan got roughed up again in the 6th as the Hogs closed the lead to 6-4 on a huge Lane 2-run double.  This game appeared to be on the familiar Ockey/Karren extra-innings highway, but Grabow and JFD had other ideas.  Grabow entered the game in the 8th with 2 outs.  Needing only 1 out to keep the Hogs in it, he instead walked pinch-hitter Cirillo and then pee’d his pants as he gave up a sickening 2-run bomb to Dye – this was a blast to dead center at Shea with a 10-mph wind blowing in.  Grabow at this point couldn’t even throw overhand, so he softball’d one to Granderson who cranked the one pitch he saw over the right-field wall.  Helms then came up and pretty much laughed in Grabow’s face as he blasted a double off the wall.  Unfortunately, he was laughing so hard that he got thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.  The Hairys insisted on letting their defense shine again in the top of the 9th as an error/passed ball combo put the lead-off man on 2nd and Ockey in hysterics.  Karren told him to shut up as he was up by 5 runs and thankfully Wickman came through with 3 quick outs to end it.  Dye reached base 5 times in this game – he was 3 for 3 with 2 walks, a double, a homer and 3 RBI.  That’s above average, son.

Game 2 featured phenom Heilman for the Hairys against Hog Walker.  The Hairys picked right up where they left off as they got to Walker right away.  Olerud and Catalanotto led off with back to back singles and were moved over by a Cano grounder to the right side.  Dye then came up and was wisely walked intentionally.  Granderson, however, took the first pitch he saw and laced a double down the line that scored two.  Heilman was cruising in this game – he had a sweet shut-out going in the 5th when, after striking out Miller, Hudson got on as Helms booted his grounder.  Heilman was obviously beside himself as he gave up a single to Lane and then Karren squeezed Hudson home and then Rodriguez single to score Lane and make it 3-2 (oh yeah – JFD went yard again for the Hairys’ 3rd run).  The Hairys worked some sick 2-out magic against Qualls in the 5th as Woodward singled and then Qualls gave up walk, double, single to make it 6-2.  Ockey was really feeling it at this point – a 4 run lead with Heilman pitching.  In the 8th, Heilman gave up a lead-off single, and with his pitch count over 100 and a 4 run lead, Ockey figured he’d better not push it and went to his pen.  Boy was that a disaster.  In retrospect, even if Heilman WAS gassed, he couldn’t have been any worse than the carnage that followed.  Downs came in and promptly gave up a single to White that put men on the corners, drilled the next batte to load them up and then 1st pick overall Chris Shelton came up HUGE with his THIRD hit of the game – a clutch 2-run single that made it 6-4.  Ockey was going for the Pepto at this point – he pretty much knew what was about to happen.  With a man on 3rd and no out, Ockey KNEW more Karren-squeeze shenanigans were in store and he did everything he could to stop it and thankfully Sullivan struck out on a fouled bunt.  Luna then popped up and Ockey thought he might escape.  He brought in Timlin to face pinch-hitting Ellison, thinking there was no WAY Timlin could blow his 3rd save in as many chances. Obviously he underestimated Timlin’s capability for disaster as the human gas-can came in with  his flame-thrower and gave up a nauseating 2-run double to tie the game.  Well, it was only tied at this point, but Ockey knew it was over.  And sure enough, in the 11th Orr and Robles hit doubles to win it.  The hero was Shelton who is starting to validate his #1 overall selection.  He was 4-5 with 2 RBI.  Throw in somemore Robles late-inning heroics (by the way, memo to you, Robles:  You are OSCAR ROBLES -not Big Papi, not Reggie Jackson – stop being clutch and start hitting weak grounders and pop-ups like you’re supposed to), terrible Hairy defense and another monumental Timlin collapse and the Hairys somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Give credit to Karren, though – he never gave up and obviously out-managed Ockey in squeezing across runs and coming up with another extra-inning victory.

Nantucket On Roll, Win 5 of 6.

The Knights took a split with the Hairys then swept the 1st place Crows at Bank One late Wednesday night.  That makes them 3-1 against 1st place teams this week.  The big difference has been the hitting, although the pitching has turned it on as well.  In the last 6 games the Knights have outscored their opponents 32-13.  And I see no reason why that should let up, pansies.

No Knight is in the top 10 in AVG, OBP, or SLG.  But that hasn’t kept the team from turning it on.  The surprise so far this season was late-round selection Travis Lee, who was picked as a late inning pinch hitter but had begun to see a few ABs in the 9th spot.  He was recently moved to the 3rd slot and has 10 hits in that 6 game span to raise his average to .366 in limited time.

If the season ended today the Knights would be tied in the Wild Card, and with such a crappy start the Knights feel they will regain a few spots in the coming weeks. 

The Knights are also thinking of moving to a 4-man rotation to give Cy Young candidate Benoit (4-0, 1.76 ERA, 27 Ks) more starts.  Benoit has allowed 14 hits in 30.2 innings and just may be able to pitch on 3 days rest for the rest of the season if that is what this team needs.  He allowed 4 runs in his first start of the season, but since then has allowed 2 runs and 9 hits in 25.1 innings, and has back-to-back complete games.  This guy is good.

Hairys Win a Couple More (Belated Report)

The anti-split Hairys were at it again last week in a 2-game sweep of the Foxes.  Game 1 was The Battle of the Aaron’s with Heilman vs. Harang.  It was really no contest as Heilman, despite finally giving up an earned run, was awesome as usual going 7.2 strong allowing 6 hits and 2 runs while walking only 1 and striking out 8.  Harang, on the other hand, was beaten like a rented mule and didn’t even make it out of the 2nd inning.  The Hairys struck early and often building a quick 5-0 lead after 2.  Granderson had a clutch 2-out 2 RBI single to start it and then the Hairys opened the 2nd with 4 straight hits to chase Harang.  RBI single by McCann and 2-RBI double by Olerud were key.  Heilman allowed only 2 baserunners through the first 4, but finally got touched in the 5th as Randa and phenom Payton singled and both advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Crosby.  That really pissed Heilman off and he allowed only 2 more baserunners the rest of the game and prevented any threat to the 5-2 lead.  The Hairys made sure, though, as they built it to 8-2 on RBI single by Cano, Granderson and Helms. 

Game 2 was closer with Loe facing off against Kenny Rogers.  The Hairys jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a solo bomb by Olerud and 2-run blast by Big Jermaine.  This guy is awesome, by the way.  Speaking of guys who are awesome, the Foxes came right back and tied the game with back to back doubles by Young and Keanrs and then a 2-run bomb by Jay Freaking Payton.  This guy is unstoppable so far.  The Hairys went up 4-3 on an RBI double by Granderson, but the game was tied right back up as reliever Claussen entered the game with 2 men on and proceeded to walk the next 2 to make it 4-4.  He then went full count on Randa and Ockey was pissed, but he came through with a clutch K to keep it tied.  It stayed 4-4 until the 8th when Jermaine to the Dye led off with a single, stole 2nd and was bunted over to 3rd.  Woodward then came through with a clutch single to give the Hairys the lead.  They tacked on an insurance run in the 9th and the Hairy pen didn’t allow a hit to preserve the 6-4 victory.  Now the Hairys get to face some human competition again as they try to keep things rolling.