Nine after 9 for May 24, 2012

Timber Rattlers 9
River Bandits 6
Boxscore | Game Story

Drew Gagnon pitches to the outside corner in the fourth inning of the game on May 24, 2012.

  1. I’ve always used the phrase Yeoman’s Work to describe the dirty work that doesn’t get top billing but is maybe more important that the stuff that gets top billing – like offense in a 9-run, 12-hit night with a big homer and one guy with four hits and three RBI.  So, Yeoman’s Work by Tyler Cravy tonight get the #1 spot on Nine after 9.  He put in five innings of relief work and struck out eight.  Cravy came into the game when the score was tied and struck out the side in order in the fifth.  Then, after the Rattlers took the lead in the sixth he came back out and struck out three more River Bandits in the bottom of the inning.  He threw his off-speed stuff more than I have seen him in the past and his curve buckled more than a few knees.  Well done, @TylerJayCravy.
  2. Drew Gagnon threw a lot of pitches tonight.  In the first three innings, he had 55 (38 strikes).  In the fourth inning alone, he made 34 pitches (15 strikes).  All three of his walks came in that fourth inning.  For the velocity mavens out there, he reached 93 a couple of times on the stadium indicator.  But, that doesn’t mean anything if the ball is not going where he wants it to go.
  3. It was fortunate – for Gagnon – that there was a hard hit ball in the second inning.  David Medina had just tripled with one out in the inning and the Rattlers infield was playing back to get the out at first.  Virgil Hill hit a sharp grounder at Greg Hopkins at third.  Medina took a couple of steps to the plate on contact, got trapped and was eventually put out in a rundown.
  4. The Rattlers hitters took advantage of the hard infield tonight.  They swung down on the ball and several Rattlers were the beneficiaries of fortunate hops.  I can’t believe how many bad hops there are in the Modern Woodmen Park infield.  In the second inning alone John Dishon and Max Walla had key hits on high bouncers off the dirt in front of home plate.  Dishon’s second hit of the game was on a second bounce on the infield that got away from Matt Williams at short.  There were problems with the infield grass – really, really thick – in the past at this ballpark.  But the weird hops have migrated to the infield dirt.
  5. Okay, let’s talk a little offense.  Hopkins with four hits, three RBI, and a run scored.  He has run hot and cold this season.  Tonight may be the start of him starting on another tear.
  6. Yadiel Rivera struck out his first two times at the plate on a couple of bad swings.  In the fourth, he should have been at least on second base as he scalded a ball down the third base line heading for the left field corner, but Tyler Rahmatulla made a great play to snare the line drive.  Then, in the sixth, Rivera got a 1-0 pitch right in his wheelhouse and crushed it to the berm in left field for a three-run homer and a 9-5 lead.  Rivera now on a 10-game hitting streak – the first Rattler to reach double digits with a hitting streak this season –  and has matched Jason Rogers in home runs with five. Or, as he says here, “HR The Fifth!!” He’s having fun…and he’s already heard about that tweet from his teammates.
  7. Heads up base running by Dishon in the second.  Bases loaded with one out.  Nick Ramirez hits a fly ball to shallow left-center and Matt Williams – the shortstop, remember – makes a great catch, but it’s a sliding catch with his back to the infield.  Dishon tags and scores easily.  That run made it 3-0.
  8. The Rattlers do not get any of their runs in the sixth without the error by Williams.  Runner at first with one out and Ramirez sends a sharp grounder right to Williams, who proceeds to not make any play.  He just couldn’t get a handle on the ball.  That opened the door and the Rattlers walked right through to a four run inning.  Think about past Rattlers teams in that spot. Does that four run inning happen or not?  This team is playing with so much confidence right now and they are able to exploit the mistakes made by opponents – even if it’s just one mistake.  On their side, they are able to cover for miscues of their own.  Special teams do that.
  9. Speaking of special teams…The last time the Rattlers were 13 games over .500 was when they were 76-63 at the end of the 2005 season.  That team went 39-31 in the first half and claimed a playoff spot by winning the West by one game over Clinton.  That team was 27-20 after 47 games in the first half.  This team is 30-17 after 47 games.  This team leads Beloit by two games for the top spot and Kane County by five games for the wild card spot.  There are 23 games left after today.

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