Hader's Gonna Hade - I missed this when it was announced, but congratulations to Josh Hader, who won the California League Pitcher of the Year award. No small feat for a guy who pitches his home games in the Hangar. Hader also led a contingent of four Jethawks who won postseason All-Star awards in the California League. He's joined on that list by Teoscar Hernandez, Roberto Pena, and Tony Kemp. Of the four, only Pena will be on the team's postseason roster, with the rest already having earned promotions to Double-A this season.
In winning the Pitcher of the Year, Hader ends a streak of three consecutive Modesto Nuts (COL) winning the award. He is the first Jethawk to ever win the honor.
The Neverending Storey - Former Astros reliever Mickey Storey made it into the news in a particularly Mickey Storey kind of a way recently. Storey, who was waived not once but twice by the Houston Astros in the 2012 offseason, pitched scoreless tenth and eleventh innings for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) against the Harrisburg Senators (WSN) on July 27. After the Fisher Cats went up by three runs in the twelfth, the game was called due to rain. It wasn't picked up again until August 25, when New Hampshire closed out the win against Harrisburg. Storey was the winning pitcher... a week after he'd been released by the Blue Jays. Not only did Storey's win take almost a month to complete, and not only did it come seven days after he was released by the team, it also took place over multiple states. The game began in Harrisburg and ended in Manchester, NH.
Oh, Brandon Laird - Speaking former Houston Astros, Brandon Laird stepped up in the International League playoffs for the Syracuse Chiefs (WSN). Laird was granted free agency by the Astros this last offseason, and was signed by the Kansas City Royals, who traded him to the Nationals for a PTBNL or cash. He's a guy I thought had a chance to put it all together, and his .841 OPS in the International League this season shows why. Here's hoping the young man isn't done playing in the big leagues in his career.
What Happened Was...
Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) - ValleyCats 6, Connecticut Tigers 5
Austin Chrismon's final line doesn't do justice to the role he played in this start. After allowing only one run - unearned, at that - over five innings, the wheels fell off for Chrismon in the sixth in this one. He was only able to record one out, leaving with two on. Chris Munnelly headed to the mound in relief, and immediately allowed back-to-back singles. Another run would score on a sacrifice fly, fielded nicely by the ever-fleet-of-foot Jason Martin. That would be it for Munnelly, with Angel Heredia coming in to protect the lead, which had shrunk to 6-3. A line drive single scored two more runs, after which Heredia combined with Derick Velazquez to right the ship. With Ryan Thompson warming in the pen, Velazquez struck out the side in the ninth to earn the save in the narrow 6-5 victory.
The win gives the ValleyCats the sweep in the semi-final round of the NYPL (does anyone else pronounce that "nipple"? Just me?) playoffs. They'll have two days off before they square off against the winner of Game Three between the Hudson Valley Renegades (TBR) and State College Spikes (STL).
The offense was led by Derek Fisher, who went 2-for-2 with a walk, 2 RBIs, a sacrifice fly, two stolen bases, and even an outfield assist for good measure. In the short two-game series, Fisher has gone 3-for-5 with a pair of walks, a home run, and 3 RBIs. After leaving game one early, it was good to see him come out and put together an offensive show. His line for the postseason (SSS, naturally) stands at .600/.625/1.200... that's a 1.825 OPS for those keeping score at home.
- 2B Alex Hernandez - 1/3, 2 R, RBI, BB, K
- LF Derek Fisher - 2/2, 2 RBI, BB, 2 SB, E
- 3B Nick Tanielu - 2/4, 2B, RBI
- 1B Ricky Gingras - 0/3, BB
- RF Terrell Joyce - 0/4
- DH Jamie Ritchie - 2/4, 2B
- SS Mott Hyde - 2/3, R, K
- C Alfredo Gonzalez - 0/3, R, K
- CF Jason "RallyCat" Martin - 1/3, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB
- RHP Austin Chrismon - 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
- RHP Chris Munnelly - 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
- RHP Angel Heredia - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
- RHP Derick Velazquez - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Lancaster Jethawks (A+) - The Jethawks didn't play yesterday; they continued to sit and await word on who they would play in the California League South Division finals. Late last night, they got their answer. After winning game one of their mini-series against the Lake Elsinore Storm (SDP), the Inland Empire 66ers (LAA) took thirteen innings to pull of a 5-4 victory in game two and advance to the South Division finals.
The result sets up a re-match from the 2013 South Division finals, where the 66ers beat Lancaster in five games in 2013 and went on to sweep the San Jose Giants (SFG) in the California League championship series.
The Jethawks will send Vincent Velasquez to the mound in game one a the Hangar on Saturday, September 6.