Some rambling thoughts while wondering what the final week of the regular season will bring..... The only sure thing seems to be that Orleans will be in the playoffs. Strangely enough, the Cardinals may head to the playoffs playing worse than the other three teams who join them. It has been well documented that the Cardinals played at a torrid pace in July, finishing the month with a record of 17-5-2. However, they lost their last two games in July and now they have lost their first two games in August. Could the loss of Cole Figueroa and Rich Poythress be having that much of an effect? At the least, losing any two players at this time of year will strain a team's depth. On the mound Martin Viramontes' (Loyola-Marymount) problems continue. Viramontes gave up 5 runs in one-third of an inning in the All Star game. In his first appearance since that game, he gave up 7 runs on 10 hits in 5 innings as Orleans lost 9-4 to Chatham on Friday. Chatham beat Orleans twice this week, scoring 9 runs in each game. Orleans maintains the best record in the league despite this being their second four game losing streak of the season. They lost four games in a row between June 20-23.
Mother Nature has not smiled favorably on Chatham. The A's led Harwich 3-0 on Thursday when the fog rolled in, which forced a delay in the third inning and an eventual postponement. Saturday night the A's were scheduled to travel to Wareham but that game was rained out. This has forced Chatham into the unenviable position of having to play two split-venue doubleheaders next week. On Monday Chatham plays at Harwich at 2:00 before heading back to Veterans Field to host Cotuit at 7:00. On Thursday, the A's are tentatively scheduled to play at Wareham at 1:00 before heading back across the Cape to play at Orleans at 7:00. Chatham has put together a three game winning streak to get themselves back in the chase. It will be a tall order to overcome the difficulty of finding enough pitching to survive 7 games in 5 days.
Harwich broke their 6 game losing streak at Orleans expense with a 3-1 victory at Eldredge Park on Saturday. Brewster ambushed Cotuit, 12-4. After Saturday's results, the Mariners (40) lead Brewster (38) by two points and Chatham (36) by four points. Harwich has 5 games remaining on the schedule while Brewster has 4 and Chatham has 7 left to play. Y-D remains in last place, with faint hope of reaching the playoffs. The Red Sox have 35 pts. with only 4 games to play. Y-D ends the season playing Bourne and Cotuit, so while they are playing those games, other teams in the East will be winning.
The West is a toss-up. With Falmouth beating Bourne on Saturday, the Commodores remain in first place with 43 pts. While Cotuit was losing to Brewster, Hyannis beat Y-D 2-1 on the strength of Ben Paulsen's (Clemson) sixth homerun of the year. For the moment, the Mets have second place to themselves with 42 pts. Cotuit drops to third place with 40 pts. Bourne's playoff hopes are fading fast. The Braves have 37 pts. but lost to Hyannis on Friday and to Falmouth on Saturday, both by 3-2 scores. Bourne is facing a similar problem to what Y-D is up against. Three of the Braves 5 remaining games are against teams from the East, so even if Bourne wins those 3 games, some other teams in the West will also be winning. Wareham (31 pts.) is the only team to be officially eliminated from playoff consideration.
In cross-over games between divisions, the East leads the West 45-43-3 in head-to-head play, with 9 games left to go.
Including Saturday's 12 inning game between Falmouth and Bourne, there have been 17 extra inning games this year. This was Bourne's second loss in extras this week. They lost to Chatham 9-4 in 13 innings on Monday.
I did a double-take when reading Nate Sandals' Cape League Insider on Friday. In it, Harwich manager Steve Englert was comparing Chris Manno (Duke) to Tim Lincecum who played for Harwich in 2005. Their styles may be similar but Manno is listed on the Harwich roster at 6'3"; 170 lbs. while the San Francisco Giants list Lincecum at 5'11"; 170 lbs. Some people say 5'11" may be generous. The weight may be the same, but their build is much different. Lincecum is unique. At that size, his torque, drive and delivery separates him from almost all others. Even if Manno had a similar delivery, it is not the same as seeing it from someone 4 inches shorter.
Y-D remains first in team batting with a .271 average, but a distant last in team ERA at 4.53. The team that plays at homer-friendly Wilson Field remains next-to-last in homeruns with only 14. They continue to lead the league in stolen bases with 66.
Hyannis is last in team batting with a .229 avg. and they are a distant last in runs scored with only 130. Wareham has scored the next fewest runs with 147. The Mets are chasing a playoff spot on the strength of their pitching which leads the league in ERA at 3.02.
Hyannis' Chris Dominguez (Louisville) leads Falmouth's Ryan Jones (Wichita State) in the chase for the homerun title. Dominguez has 10, while Jones has 8.
Wareham won back-to-back championships in 2001-'02. Since then, the East has won five in a row. Of those five, Y-D has won three and Orleans has won two.
A few new players have shown up on team rosters. Infielder Mike Olt from Branford, CT. and UConn, who recently won the Homerun Derby in the NECBL, is now playing for Orleans. P.J. Jiminez is a middle infielder who has been in 3 games for Hyannis. Jiminez transferred to Liberty Univ. from Arizona Western College. Northeastern infielder David Gustafson has joined Falmouth. Jeffrey Walters (RHP; St. Petersburg College) and James Williamson (Infielder; William & Mary) have been added to Bourne's roster.