RSSInside The RailCats
GARY | The nine-game home losing streak is officially the longest in RailCats history.
The 'Cats have a legacy of not only success at U.S. Steel Yard, but success in August under Greg Tagert.
The previous worsts that the 'Cats have been at home came in 2004 (under Garry Templeton) with a six-game losing streak and in 2010 with the same fate — six games from July 5 to July 11.
The RailCats are again a game and a half back of Lincoln after a loss by both teams on Monday. The 'Cats finish their home schedule Sunday, and with six games remaining, the best the team can record in Gary is a 26-23 record. That means that the RailCats will have to win out the remainder of their home games. If so, that will also guarantee an above .500 mark for the season.
Ryan Brockett is available for tonight's game, coming off the DL about an hour before the start of the game. In his stead, Cody Bishop joins the disabled list after twisting his ankle in Sunday's 12-inning game.
GARY | The RailCats return home, to where they are sub-.500 this season, for their last home stand, a seven-game affair that starts with three games against St. Paul.
The Saints, in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, were once in the hunt — with the RailCats — for the wild-card slot into the American Association postseason. However, the only real race left in the AA is in the Central Division. The 'Cats are a game and a half back of Lincoln, which lost Sunday and has an extra game to play.
For the record, the RailCats started August 11 games over .500, and are now 45-41 going 4-11 since Aug. 1.
GARY | If you listened to Greg Tagert's postgame interview here on nwi.com, you heard him say what fans are thinking: "We're not playing good enough baseball overall to win games."
Here are other highlight's of Tagert's comments as the team has lost seven straight home games and eight of their last 10 at U.S. Steel Yard. The last win in Gary came Aug. 1 against Kansas City.
"I'm repeating the same story every night, we've given the club our thoughts and from a staff, the extra work, all those things are in place and this is a tough stretch. It's as tough as I can remember at our home ballpark.
"In this stretch, you have the loss to Winnipeg, and everything else has been three-run, two-run, one-run deficit. We know we've been playing in some tight ballgames, but overall we're making enough mistakes ourselves to lose some ballgames.
"Tough to look at the personnel we have because it's the same personnel we had when we were 12 games over .500. I'd like us to find out which club we are in these last 18. Are we the club that's 12-over .500 or are we the club that's been playing 12-under .500.
GARY | Here's why the RailCats need to win out in the American Association's Central Division to make the postseason: Because while they're tied with Lincoln for the division lead, they're four games behind Laredo and 2 1/2 games behind St. Paul in the wild card race.
The RailCats are facing one of the best relief corps in the league in the Explorers. That Geoff Broussard has a 7-1 record, and picked up his second save of the year last night against the 'Cats, is indicative of the Explorers' propensity to lose games early and rely on their relievers. Broussard has more wins than any of the team's starters, which indicates that Sioux City relies on rallying to win late.
To beat the Explorers over the next two games — and raise their home record over .500 — the 'Cats will have to score early and often.
Sioux City Explorers (37-45)
GARY | The RailCats started practice with the sun shining and the tarp off the field. They're hoping the game continues as smooth.
The 'Cats open their first of a three-game home series today against Sioux City, a team that is as much in the hunt for the Central Division title as the RailCats.
The 'Cats are hoping to turn around their home fortunes against the Xs, having lost their last five at home and six in the previous eight-game home stand.
Then, the RailCats will count on the Explorers for some help. With Lincoln right on the 'Cats' heels, Sioux City plays the Saltdogs beginning Thursday and eight more times before the end of the season.
Lincoln is tied with the RailCats for the top of the division standings, but the Saltdogs have two more games remaining (22) to the RailCats' final 20.
GARY | The RailCats haven't been swept in a series since falling to Kansas City in three straight games June 27-29, but are on the precipice with three losses to Lincoln heading into today's game.
This is the last game of the regular season that pits the 'Cats against the 'Dogs. The only other division games left on the RailCats schedule include two more series against Kansas City and a trip and a host of Sioux City.
The RailCats are two games ahead of Lincoln in the American Association's Central Division.
Lincoln Saltdogs (38-35)
GARY | Before the RailCats can start Game 3 of the four-game series against Lincoln, the two teams must first finish Monday's game.
The rain started falling between the top and bottom of the 11th inning and the delay started at 11:04 p.m. It was called at 11:21, with both teams returning today.
To recap Monday: The RailCats scored two runs in the first, added a third in the second before Lincoln scored seven in the fifth inning. The RailCats used an error to score three unearned runs in a four-run bottom of the fifth and the score knotted there. The RailCats put a runner on third in the seventh and loaded the bases in the 10th. Lincoln hasn't had a runner as far as third base since the fifth.
Set to come up in the bottom of the 11th is Drew Martinez, Josh Romanski and Ryan Babineau for the RailCats.
11th inning (bottom)
GARY | The RailCats are hoping to turn around their fortunes with a mess of moves before the start of Monday's game against Lincoln.
The 'Cats activated Zac Mitchell from the disabled list and signed Jose Garcia, who last played in Joliet in the Frontier League.
To make space, relief pitcher Barry Fowler was placed on irrevocable waivers and Derek Smith was moved to the inactive list.
The inactive list is a guaranteed 30 days off of the roster, meaning that the injury that Smith suffered Sunday while running the bases is extensive. The earliest Smith could return to the RailCats is the postseason.
Mitchell returns from a knee infection that forced him to miss the All-Star game.
GARY | The RailCats will need two four-game series to right the ship of the regular schedule.
Thanks to the American Association all-star series, the two-day event that started the week, the RailCats had two options of how to schedule games.
Some teams, manager Greg Tagert said, took Wednesday as an off day and started this week's series on Thursday to run a four-game stretch Thursday through Sunday as normal. Because the 'Cats were already at home, they opted for a secondary plan.
The RailCats played Kansas City on Wednesday through Saturday and then Lincoln on Sunday through Wednesday to return to the typical three- or four-game schedule.
The two series mark the first back-to-back four-game series the RailCats have played this season.
GARY | As expected, the RailCats signed Bishop Noll grad and former Whiting resident Andy Loomis to a contract, anticipating making him a closer.
To free up space, Miles Walding has been placed on the disabled list, giving the RailCats just four infielders to play the four positions (Zac Mitchell is still on crutches).
Loomis was a 16th round pick in the 2008 draft by the Florida Marlins and has been in the Baltimore Orioles organization since 2012 (he also spent a season in A-ball with the Phillies). He reached as high as Triple-A with the Orioles, until he was sidelined with Tommy John surgery last August.
Kansas City T-Bones (34-36)
GARY | The RailCats enter the second game of the four-game stand against Kansas City enjoying a win Wednesday and a loss by the Lincoln Saltdogs.
Lincoln, sitting second in the Central Division, fell to Grand Prairie and dropped to five games below the RailCats in the division race. KC is seven games behind the 'Cats in the Central.
Kansas City T-Bones (33-36)
3B TJ Mittelstaedt
GARY | The RailCats return from their two-day all-star break with the biggest of big homestand series at U.S. Steel Yard.
The 'Cats open with four games against Kansas City beginning today, and the T-Bones are in third place in the Central Division, six games behind the RailCats.
After K.C. leaves, the RailCats welcome Lincoln for four games. The Saltdogs are four games behind the 'Cats in second place in the division and play against Grand Prairie prior to making the trek to Gary.
Before the game, the RailCats placed second baseman Zac Mitchell on the disabled list, activating Kagen Hopkins. Mitchell was slated to play in the all-star game Tuesday, but didn't appear. Hopkins will start in place of Dustin Crenshaw, who will start tomorrow instead. Crenshaw pitched in Tuesday's all-star game.
GARY | The RailCats haven't lost a series since dropping three straight to Kansas City June 27-29.
In the last month, the 'Cats have recorded a sweep, two series ties and five straight series wins.
To keep that streak alive, the RailCats will have to knock off Winnipeg in a rubber match of the three-game weekend series that will take both teams into the all-star break.
Winnipeg remains in first in the North Division, two games ahead of St. Paul that ended its eight-game winning streak with a loss to Fargo-Moorhead on Saturday.
The RailCats remain in first in the Central Division, four games ahead of Lincoln, which beat Kansas City 3-1 on Saturday.
GARY | The RailCats and Winnipeg Goldeyes remain No. 1 in their respective American Association divisions, but neither is safe.
The RailCats have the benefit of Kansas City and Lincoln (the Nos. 3 and 2 teams in the Central) playing against each other this weekend, so Lincoln fell five games back with a loss last night as Kansas City is seven games behind the RailCats for first.
In the North, the Goldeyes suffered more than a loss at the hands of the RailCats on Friday as St. Paul and Fargo-Moorhead (Nos. 2 and 3 in the North) are also playing each other and St. Paul extended its winning streak to eight games, having won nine of the last 10.
The RailCats will send Stephen Bougher to the mound against Winnipeg tonight. The righty is 2-1 at home with a 2.06 ERA and has lasted at least seven innings in his last two starts at U.S. Steel Yard.
GARY | After winning five straight series, the RailCats return home from Sioux City with their first series tie since June 30-July3.
The tie, courtesy of back-to-back losses to the Explorers, comes at the same time that Lincoln won four games in a row. The Saltdogs turned their six-game deficit in the American Association's Central Division into a four-game deficit.
The RailCats, 9-10 against the Central Division this season and 2-1 against Lincoln, play the Saltdogs Aug 3-6 at U.S. Steel Yard, after the All-Star break.
Not far behind Lincoln is Kansas City, a team that comes to Gary twice more -- including after this weekend's series against Winnipeg -- and the RailCats head to Kansas City one more time in August. The T-Bones are seven games right now behind the RailCats and three games behind Lincoln in the AA Central.
Against the Goldeyes, the RailCats are facing a team that is sitting atop the Northern League's North Division standings, two games ahead of the St. Paul Saints.
GARY | Should the RailCats sweep the weekend series against Amarillo, it will be the second sweep in four series, the last against Fargo-Moorhead.
As it is, this series win -- secured Saturday with a 9-2 victory -- will be the fifth straight.
On Saturday, the RailCats added coach Joe Beck to the coaching staff and will put him at first base. Keaton Willis, who had been the first base coach, remains on the staff as the strength and conditioning coach. Beck has previously coached with third base coach Dennis Pelfrey and pitching coach Chad Rhoades.
Amarillo Sox (19-40)
son aGARY | Morgan Coombs was slated to start Friday's series opener against Amarillo, but instead was placed on the disabled list before the game with Travis McGee added to the roster.
Coombs felt discomfort during his last start in Winnipeg last weekend.
McGee pitched for the RailCats earlier in the season, working four innings and picking up a suspended game in June. He had an ERA of 2.57 in his total seven innings with the 'Cats in his first stint in Gary.
The rookie has been in Windy City since his release from the RailCats roster, appearing in two games.
Coombs holds a 5-4 record with 4.32 ERA in 14 starts. He is in his third season with the RailCats, starting 21 games with a 6-9 record in 2012, and starting 16 games with a 6-3 record last season.
GARY | The RailCats have a quick turnaround, back at the ballpark nearly 12 hours after they left Tuesday.
With Tuesday's game running 2 hours, 55 minutes, including a 49-minute rain delay, 8-minute injury delay and three ejections, the game didn't end until after 11 p.m.
Today's game is an attraction to young day campers and area retirement communities and senior groups.
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (27-31)
GARY | The RailCats haven't lost to Fargo-Moorhead since Sept. 4, 2013, when they dropped the first of the American Association semifinals to the RedHawks.
Since then, the 'Cats have won seven straight games, including three in the postseason and three last week in North Dakota.
The season series continues with today's game against the RedHawks at U.S. Steel Yard, the RedHawks' only trip to Gary this season.
The tarp came out after 6 p.m., thanks to rain that blew through the area, but by 6:35, the tarp crew was sprinting to take it off and dry the field.
GARY | The RailCats open their week of games with the announcement that the team will send five players -- and a manager -- to the American Association All-Star game in two weeks in Winnipeg.
Zac Mitchell was named to start at second base, Danny Pulfer will start at third and Drew Martinez will start in the outfield. Craig Maddox was picked as the backup catcher and Dustin Crenshaw is one of nine pitchers named to the team.
Greg Tagert will manage the team after winning the 2013 American Association Championship.
The RailCats return from a six-game road trip with a 5-1 record and have won six of their last seven games. The team plays its next six games at home, with a Thursday break in between.
GARY | The St. Paul Saints hold the season series record against the RailCats 4-2.
But the 'Cats are hoping to salvage the weekend series at U.S. Steel Yard with a win Sunday and win their first series outright since June 23-26 against Sioux Falls.
Conversely, the RailCats hold the offensive advantage over the Saints, 27-25, thanks in part to a 14-5 win on May 18 and a 7-1 win on Friday to start the weekend stretch.
St. Paul Saints (24-22)
GARY | The RailCats opened their second game of the three-game homestand with a trade.
The 'Cats sent righty reliever Coleman Stephens to Amarillo in exchange for righty reliever Ian Kadish.
Kadish played 49 games last season for the Lansing Lugnuts as part of the Toronto Blue Jays organization. He was 5-4 with a 3.36 ERA.
Kadish was signed as a free agent by the Blue Jays in 2011, with the Midwest League the highest level he reached.
Stephens played in 10 games for the 'Cats this season, including eight relief outings. He was 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA and spent eight days on the DL from June 16-24.
GARY | The RailCats are celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks, reduced tickets for veterans and active military, and outfield running.
The 'Cats hopped off a bus as soon as it returned from Sioux Falls after Thursday's 11-7 loss. Though they hold the No. 1 spot in the American Association Central Division, the RailCats' lead is three games over Kansas City and the 'Cats are 5-5 over their last 10 games.
St. Paul Saints (23-21)
2B Sam Maus
GARY | The tarp hasn't seen the field at U.S. Steel Yard for hours and the RailCats played a simulated game as well as took batting practice to open the final pregame of their home stand.
The 'Cats entered this seven-game stint at home playing almost .500 ball, having won four and lost five since a winning streak of seven straight opened June.
The RailCats lost their first home series against Lincoln, dropping a Friday game 7-4, then splitting a Sunday doubleheader. A loss to Sioux Falls -- for the first time this season -- opened the series against the Canaries, but the RailCats won the last two games: 8-3 and 9-6.
Sioux Falls Canaries (14-24)
GARY | The RailCats are finally able to take some batting practice thanks to a break in the clouds. The tarp was on the field at 4 p.m., but was extracted at 4:38 so that the team didn't miss a third straight day of BP.
The RailCats have lost to Sioux Falls just once this year -- on Monday -- and hold a 6-1 record against the Canaries. The four-game series that ends Thursday is the third of four times the two teams meet this season. The final meeting will be July 1-3, next week.
Prior to the game, the RailCats announced that they've traded first baseman Jeremy Hamilton to Lincoln for future considerations. The team then signed infielder Adam Humes, a Frontier League player last season.
Hamilton leaves tied for a team lead in doubles with 10. (He is tied with Craig Maddox.)
Humes played in Florence in the Frontier League last season and in McAllen of the United League. He played in college at Northwood University in Texas and summer wood bat in the Alaskan Baseball League.
GARY | The tarp came off the field in time for the RailCats to take batting practice.
That's good news for the hitters, who left nine on base Monday night in a 6-3 loss. Prior to the Monday game, manager Greg Tagert said that his catchers -- Craig Maddox and Ryan Babineau -- are typically most disappointed when batting practice is missed.
The 'Cats were planning to work on bunting drills with the pitching staff Monday as well as use the time to work on defensive drills with Ryan Brockett, who is coming off of a head injury after taking a line drive to the cheek bone last week.
Brockett has been activated from the DL today, his first day available, and is expected to be in the lineup tonight.
As of 5:20, it looks like BP has been scrapped for light outfield tosses, but not actual BP as the field is still being cleaned, dried and chalked. The inside batting cages will take a beating for the second day in a row.
GARY | The RailCats held an on-field team meeting at their usual "batting practice" time, but the field at U.S. Steel Yard remains tarped.
The new tarp for the infield is larger than the old, grey one. This is white and covers more area, stretching farther into foul territory and behind home plate.
The previous tarp was given an appropriate send off after Sunday's doubleheader, as the grounds crew filled it with water and invited fans to use it as a slip-and-slide.
In his pregame interview session, manager Greg Tagert said that the RailCats batters are most frustrated when batting practice is called for rain. The tarp went on the field at about 1:30 and stayed on through BP, though there was no rain between 4:30-5:30, when the 'Cats would have been hitting.
GARY | The RailCats head into today's doubleheader in a tough pitching conundrum.
The 'Cats were only able to use Stephen Bougher for two innings in Saturday's rain out. Neither pitcher gave up a hit in the first two innings, but Lincoln starter Nick Green walked two RailCats.
The RailCats left two on through two innings before the deluge began and forced the rainout.
A reminder: the two games will be seven innings each in regulation, though in the previous two doubleheaders played at U.S. Steel Yard this year, both first games have gone extras.
Today's lineups for Game 1:
GARY | Thanks to the rainout Tuesday, the RailCats are back in the position of playing a doubleheader, something that tends to force readjustments to the four-man rotation.
With last week's doubleheader against these same Sioux City Explorers, the RailCats were already planning to use a fifth man to the rotation this week, reentering Coleman Stephens into a spot start.
Stephens will instead start today in the second game of the DH. Pursuant to American Association rules, both games will be seven innings.
The lineup won't change from Tuesday's already posted order.
GARY | The RailCats are hoping to knock off the doldrums from the one-game hiccup, but to do so, they'll need Mother Nature to cooperate.
Staring at the radar, the RailCats could either be dumped on with rain in the next half hour to hour (it's 4:30 right now), or miss the weather anomalies all together.
After falling to Sioux City on Monday, the RailCats -- the best team in the American Association's Central Division -- are hoping to redeem themselves against the Explorers, who jumped from last overall to second-to-last with the win.
As the Xs are divisional foes, the 'Cats need all the wins they can muster within the division, especially early. The Kansas City T-Bones, who sit behind the RailCats three games back in the Central, didn't play yesterday and are on a two-game winning streak, having won six of their last 10.
At 5:06, the tarp comes out, interrupting batting practice.
GARY | Nursing a seven-game winning streak, the RailCats face a Sioux City Explorers team that has lost eight in a row (including four to the 'Cats).
In addition, the Explorers are losing players as quickly as games. The Xs are down to just three infielders after Sunday's retirement of third baseman Mark Sobolewski. Sioux City has just 20 players on the roster, scrambling to fill in the two openings while in the midst of a six-game road trip.
Earlier Monday, RailCats pitcher Dustin Crenshaw was named the American Association's Pitcher of the Week.
Crenshaw made two starts last week, a seven-inning complete-game win over Sioux City and a seven-inning one-run win over Sioux Falls. The righty has allowed three earned runs in his last four starts and has 19 strikeouts with five walks all season.
GARY | The RailCats are riding a six-game winning streak, the longest of the season and the longest since last year's eight ni a row to end June.
The 'Cats hope to close out their second straight series sweep against Sioux Falls with the Sunday matinee.
Sioux Falls Canaries (6-16)
CF Drew Muren
GARY | The RailCats return home having won four games in a row and five of their last seven. The winning streak is the longest of the season for the 'Cats.
The RailCats played the Canaries on their season-opening road trip, winning both teams in Sioux Falls.
Against the Siouxs this season (Falls and City -- also the next two home opponents) the RailCats are undefeated.
Thanks to the four-game winning streak, the RailCats lead the Central Division by 2 1/2 games over the Kansas City T-Bones and -- at 12-8 -- are two games back of overall American Association leader Wichita (15-7).
"I thought of all the games, (Thursday) was certainly the most impressive win, just because of withstanding the little challenge that a club is going to make at you in a game you could have easily lost," manager Greg Tagert said before Friday's game. "We left the bases loaded a couple times, we hadn't made an error all season, we made three in that game, a couple breaks finally fell Sioux City's way and you're thinking in the dugout, 'we'll take 3-1 on this road trip.' But we pulled it out with a pretty gutty effort, and that was something I was pretty impressed with the club about."
GARY | The RailCats have hung the buntings and massaged the field prepping for today's opener against Wichita.
Coming in with a 3-3 record, the 'Cats face the Wingnuts which old a 5-2 record.
Festivities for opening day include a ring presentation to celebrate the 2013 American Association Championship, a national anthem sung by Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison, and eventually a baseball game.
The stadium includes the addition of a new digital, LED scoreboard which was only recently installed. Among the benefits of the new board is immediate video-audio recognition and a better picture. The 'Cats front office staff is eager to sell more commercials on the board and translate that into dollars.
To incorporate the full pregame festivities, the game time has been pushed to 7:30 instead of 7:10.
You should read the release first and then the explanation later. Here's the release that came from the Frontier League on March 31, announcing a "groundbreaking" rule change. (Hint, read carefully)
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — The Frontier League of Professional Baseball announced today an industry leading rules change designed to speed the pace of baseball games and add to the excitement enjoyed by fans.
“We are Happy to announce the approval of this innovative decision by a 4/1 vote of our rules committee,” said League Commissioner Bill Lee. “While all of the owners in the league still need to confirm this amendment at the annual meeting in April, we’re confident we have the votes to take a leading role in putting Frontier League fans first in professional baseball.”
Beginning with the 2014 season, each turn at-bat will begin with a 1-1 count already in place. The proposed rule change is intended to speed the pace of play and deliver more excitement for fans. “Fans don’t want to watch hitters take pitches, they want to see the ball in play and action on the field,” declared Kyle Kreger, General Manager of the Normal CornBelters and a member of the rules committee. “Red Sox/Yankees games have become notorious for being four hour marathons, that’s simply too long to be of interest and enjoyable to the average fan.”
Not everyone is sold yet however, Jamie Bennett, manager of the defending champion Schaumburg Boomers and the manager’s representative on the rules committee is in the minority opposing the rule. “As a former pitcher, I know first-hand the need for a pitcher to be able to manipulate a pitch sequence to Fool a batter with an out pitch,” Bennett explained.
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