Week 16: Elevator Going Down
Week 16 saw Hillsboro’s (42-53) chances to catch up with Eugene pretty much disappear with a series sweep by the Spokane Indians (51-44). If Hillsboro wins their last 24 games, Eugene (57-40) would have to go 9-15 for the two teams to tie. Everett (56-39), who is percentage points above Eugene, would have to go 10-14. It doesn’t get much better than that as we work our way down.
The End is Near
Spokane would have to go 15-9 if the Hops went on a 24-game winning streak. Vancouver (44-52) would go 22-2. Tri City (37-59), the only team below Hillsboro, is five and a half games back. If Tri City wins out and goes the rest of the way undefeated, Hillsboro would need a 19-5 run of their own.
Needless to say, the Hops are getting closer and closer to mathematical elimination. The only two races going on are between Everett and Eugene, plus Vancouver and Hillsboro. The top two teams are tied, separated only by percentage points (.589 to .588). The Hops and Canadians are fighting for fourth place with fifth place being the consolation prize.
There are some highlights however. Check out Andy Yerzy and home run in the “This Week” category. Jorge Barrosa and Axel Andueza both raised their batting averages significantly. Blaze Alexander is seeking another category in which he can take the lead. All in all, bats at the plate did better than I expected when I went to look at the end of this week.
Pitching, not so good. Fielding, not so good. Scoring runs, not so good. Winning games, not good at all.
This week in Hops-Land
Team at the Plate
Last week, the Hops hit only .216, a huge drop from .257 the week before that. This week, the Hops took an even bigger jump up by hitting .262 for the week. A sure fire ingredient for success, normally.
Newcomer Elijah Greene resides at the top going 2 for 3 in his debut week. Axel Andueza came in a more veteran second with .375, going 6 for 16. .352 (6 for 17) and a lot of home runs for Andy Yerzy. Jorge Barrosa went 7 for 21 and hit .333 to up his batting average. And .318 (7 for 22) for Blaze Alexander.
Several other categories showed slight deviation that is normal. Plate appearances went from 199 to 183. Hits, 43 to 48. Triples, 1 to 1. Home runs, 10 to 8. Total bases, 85 to 76. There was a slight drop in power as 79% of the hits this week were singles. The previous three weeks went 51%, 77% and 77%.
Hops Score Less With More
Two of the big droppers were runs and RBIs, obviously two stats that go together. Runs dropped 13 runs (35 to 22) and RBIs fell nine (30 to 21). So we have more hits but less runs? One reason is less power. Doubles fell from ten last week to only one this week. Triples stayed the same with one each week. Home runs, despite Andy’s cornucopia of homers, fell from ten to eight. Not enough by itself to explain the whole drop. But, when you lose doubles at that rate, that’s a lot of runs left on base.
When Eduardo Diaz took the next step to AA Amarillo, I was happy for him. But, I knew I would miss watching his slugging at the plate. I didn’t need to worry at all. Andy Yerzy picked up where Eduardo left off and even did a bit better. Where Eduardo hit four home runs in four games before he received the promotion, Andy hit five homers the following week in that same time span.
Andy also started out with nine home runs at the start of this week. A distant second to Eduardo at 14. I was hoping Andy would catch up and maybe pass in two or three weeks. Pshaw! (pronounced “shaw”, the “P” is silent) Andy only needed four games this week, albeit not consecutive.
Blaze Alexander also had a strong week. That shouldn’t be a big surprise as the man leads the Hops in half of the categories at the plate. And is one total base from adding that to his repertoire. This week, Blaze added to his season totals with seven hits and five RBIs.
Jorge Barrosa completes the triumvirate this week. By going seven for 21, Jorge launched himself into the top spot with a .261 batting average. Lately, that top spot has been like the Top 40 on the radio. A new number one every week. I have a feeling that Jorge will be there next week as well. Since arriving, he has been one of the most consistent players at the plate and in the field. He covers the outfield with a quick jump and an instinct mixed with experience. I can understand if he knows exactly where that ball is going before it leaves the infield. In fact, I can see a commercial in his future where he is catching a pop foul near the hot dog stand with one hand and putting mustard on the dog with the other.
Team on the Mound
When the team gets swept, there are no winning pitchers to mention. But, I can still look at some of the stats to see who did well this week.
Three different pitchers escaped the week without allowing a run: Kai-Wei Lin, Liu Fuenmayor and Wesley Rodriguez. They combined for 5.1 innings of shutout ball. Blake Walston led the starters with a 3.00 ERA.
Overall, the pitching was not a strength this week. The team ERA of 7.85 easily beats any weekly ERA I have seen this year. Relief innings, normally a bastion of high heat striking out or getting quick outs suffered a 6.85 ERA. Starters did even worse with a 8.65 ERA.
Strikeouts dropped like runs and RBIs at the plate. Last week, the team struck out 57 batters this week. This week, only 42 met that fate. Strongest results this week were Austin Pope (3 Ks in 1.2 IP) in relief and Blake Walston (4 Ks in 3 IP) as a starter.
Now, let’s look at each individual game this week:
Week 16 Game#1 game rained out, to be made up 8/22
(click on Week 16 for the boxscore/click on “Hops” for the game recap)
Chris McMahon closed the last seven innings shutting out the Hops in the series opener. Only a last minute solo home run in the ninth by Andy Yerzy kept the Hops from being shut out for the game. Ronny Simon makes his Hops debut. Hops have a three game losing streak. Spokane leads the series 1-0.
Not even two home runs by Andy Yerzy could break the losing streak. Now at four games and counting, Yerzy brought home all three Hops’ runs and gave his team the lead on two occasions. However, Andy did not have a third home in him to put it into extra innings. Nor did anyone else. Jorge Barrosa accounted for the other score by tripling before Andy’s first homer. Four game losing streak. Spokane leads the series by 2-0.
Dark Spots: Spokane scored eleven runs. Hops didn’t get first hit until the fifth inning. Score already 8-0 by the third inning. Starting pitcher makes his Hops debut, does not make it past the second inning. Top three Spokane batters (Blomgren, Bernard and any one of three others match the entire Hops team in hits (8). Five game losing streak. Spokane leads the series 3-0.
Bright Spot: Andy Yerzy hit his fourth home run in three games. Now sits one behind (13) departed Eduardo Diaz (14).
Game goes back and forth with eight lead changes and ties. Starts with power (five home runs for both teams) and ends with clusters of singles. Six game losing streak. Spokane leads the series 4-0.
The Hops either led or were tied most of the way. They had the lead 6-5 in the sixth inning with two outs. Granted, they still had the seventh to play. Reminder: games of a double header are seven innings unless extra innings. So, up steps Ezequial Tovar for Spokane with the bases loaded. Moments later, he hits a three-run double. Final score: 8-6. The Hops were that close to breaking the losing streak. Losing streak is now seven. Spokane leads the series 5-0.
Week 16 Game#1 (rainout makeup) Hops lose 2-9
This game was lost in more ways than one. Six errors match six unearned runs. Eleven Spokane hits vs six Hillsboro hits. Spokane’s Noah Davis pitching a complete game. A sad ending to a six game sweep for the second time this season. The Hops started the week a half game behind Vancouver for fourth place and three games behind Spokane for third. They fell to fifth place, one and a half games below Vancouver for fourth and nine games behind Spokane for third. Spokane wins the series 6-0.
The Season so Far:
At the Plate
Two players have made strides this week. As mentioned above, they are Jorge Barrosa and Andy Yerzy. Barrosa (.261) has been trending upwards at a steady pace and has now taken over the top spot in batting average from Cam Coursey (.254). Axel Andueza (.246) is next in line and is another Hops that has been steadily rising.
Andy Yerzy’s five-boom week launched him to the top spot in two categories. The first is home runs. Recently promoted Eduardo Diaz left with his name in the top spot with 14 homers. Andy has now joined him at 14 and is the current active leader for the team.
The other category is total bases. Again Diaz left with his name on top (98). He’s still there but two active Hops are just one (97) behind him and are the active leaders: Andy Yerzy and Blaze Alexander. Andy is also on top of a third one, RBI (39).
Blaze Alexander Continues Monopoly
The Hops shortstop, Alexander, has added one more category to lead the team. He now owns games (77), At Bats (282), runs (44), hits (59), walks (34), and total bases (97 co-lead). In the process, he also gained the active spot in triples (2) with Eduardo’s promotion.
On the Mound
The Hops have lost a lot of quality pitchers this season. Most of the higher performances are of players no longer active in a Hops uniform. But, that does leave a challenge to those who remain: catch up and pass them. Take the record for themselves. The closest challengers are Nick Snyder, Blake Walston, Justin Vernia and Mailon Arroyo with two wins apiece. Their challenge? Brandon Pfaadt with five.
In strikeouts, the active leader is Blake Walston (49) chasing Drey Jameson (77), The leaders in holds (Nick Snyder-7) and saves (Yaramil Hiraldo-7) are both still active and have no one to chase.
Week 16 Transactions
Only one transaction to report for this week. That’s OK, the dust is still settling from last week (10).
8/17 CF Elijah Greene assigned to the Hillsboro Hops
The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Green as a free agent and immediately assigned him to the Hillsboro Hops. A graduate of Cal-Poly, he was not drafted. Signed as a free agent with the California Angels in 2020. Played 66 games in the Angels organization including 62 for the Inland Empire 66ers as their High A affiliate. The Tri City Dust Devils are now the Angels High A team. Before being released, Greene played four games for the Rocket City Trash Pandas, the Angels AA team.
Elijah was released six days before being signed by the Dbacks. His strengths are hitting (59 hits in 66 games) and some speed. He has hit 13 doubles. Stole eight bases but caught stealing on five others. Power is not a strength. He has one home run in his pro career. In those 66 games, Greene has walked 45 times but also struck out 64 times.
Week 17 (next week)
Coming off of the wrong end of a sweep, it is easy to feel there is nowhere to go but up. That could be positive or negative. And, with Vancouver coming to town, everything that has gone before or will come after will not make a difference. These two play each other tough. With the exception of the earlier sweep by the Indians, these two teams have played it close.
This is also part of the final homestand. The Hops will be in Hillsboro for the next two weeks. After that, they will end the season on a two week road trip. One caveat: one of the road trips is against the Vancouver Canadians who share Ron Tonkin Field with the Hops. So, if you can’t make it to a home game, try to make a road game. Then you can say you have followed the team on the road.
If you can’t make any of the “home” games the next four weeks, you can watch it on MiLB.tv, listen on 620 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for half inning updates. You can find my Twitter handle below.