Look Back Week 7: Hops Swept by Eugene
Look back week 7: With the recent two weeks of winning two series in a row, my hopes started to climb ever so slightly. Could the Hops win a series against one of the top teams? With Eugene hosting Hillsboro for a six-game stand this week, my hopes were up because significantly winning against Eugene would have been the next step.
However, disappointment loomed instead. Getting swept even by the league leader is a free fall off a pile of crumbling toasters. In other words – not fun.
The Hops weren’t out of any of the games. They lost by an average of two or three runs. You don’t even need a grand slam to make up for that. Just a base clearing double or so. Even though they tumbled, there are still foundational pieces here.
Bats Increase Presence
The offense produced better than the week before. They finished week seven with a .236 batting average for the team. True, I would like to see the team average higher than that but consider the week before. Week six resulted in a .192 batting average.
Pitching, part of the other half of the game – defense, gave up more than they should. An ERA of 9.9 for the week needs to come down. Part of this week can be attributed to playing a very good team when they are hot. But, that also re-enforces that the Hops are not on their level for that week. The week before, against Tri City, the Hops ERA was much lower at 4.07. With the sweep, no Hops pitcher added a win to their record. Instead, six losses were added to the staff’s record. Even Nick Snyder was touched for two losses. For the record, the other Hops pitchers saddled with a loss were Drey Jameson, Julio Frias, Kenny Hernandez and Kyler Stout.
However, pitching is not the problem. Some of the Hops best pitchers took a loss this past week. And I would be surprised if those same pitchers took a loss in their next game. This was just a bad week all around. Time to move on to the next week and enjoy the ride. Just remember, on a roller coaster, a plunge is always followed by a climb.
But, before we look forward too much, let’s take our usual look back at the games of the past week.
Look Back Week 7: Game by Game
Note: click on each “game#” in the header for the complete recap of that game. Click on each score for that game’s box score
The Hops managed one run for the game. Without Ricky Martinez knocking a solo shot out of the park in the third inning, they would have faced a shutout. Ems pitching gave up eight hits so where did the runs go? 15 men left on base is probably a big clue. Ems up 1-0 in the series.
Hillsboro played tough with Eugene. They stayed close and took the lead when they could. They held the lead for two and a half innings – until the bottom of the eighth, The Ems took charge and scored four runs on only two hits. How? Hops pitching also gave up three walks in the inning. Ems up 2-0.
Here, the Hops took charge. They scored five runs in the second inning and held the lead for four more innings. Trouble is, there were still three innings after that to play.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Ems outdid the Hops by sending twelve men to the plate and scoring nine runs. The Hops sent three different pitchers to the mound that inning with no luck. Again, one bad inning defined the game and chose the winner. Ems up 3-0.
It looked like the Hops were on their way to their first win of the series. The bats were cracking. The strikes hummed. But, whatever the Hops did, the Ems seem to be doing it better. The Hops had a five run inning in the third. The Ems had a four run inning in the fourth…. and fifth. The Hops Buddy Kennedy hit a solo home run in the seventh. Ems’ Diego Rincones hit a grand slam in the fourth. Last week, Buddy hit a grand slam and a double for a franchise record tying six RBIs in one game. Tonight, Diego Rincones hit a grand slam and a double for seven RBIs. Final score: Ems, 10-7. Eugene up 4-0 in the series.
The Hops’ bats scored five runs for the game. But, whatever the Hops did, the Eugene Emeralds did twice as well. The Hops lost 5-10. The Ems had enough runs to win the game by the third inning. The difference was Eugene had eleven hits consisting of three home runs, two doubles and six singles. On the other hand, Hillsboro had nine hits – all of them singles. Eugene is now on a five game winning streak. Conversely, the Hops are on a five game losing streak. Ems are up 5-0 in the series.
The week started the same way it ended: with a loss. For the first time this season, the Hillsboro Hops were swept. Even worse, all previous sweeps came in the old 76-game short seasons where series lasted either three or five games. This is their first six-game sweep.
This game was typical of the week. The final score was 7-5. Neither team had a large lead on the other and the lead was always within one swing of the bat for the team behind (if the bases were loaded). One of the biggest problems for the Hops was hanging onto a lead. Several times, the Hops would have the lead in the beginning of the game only to lose it at the end. Ems take the series 6-0.
Hops Stars for the Week
For the most part, players swung the bats well enough to raise their averages this week. Top performances feature very familiar names.
Buddy Kennedy is still blazing his way upward, batting .380 for the week. Encouragingly, there were several other Hops right behind him. Dom Canzone batted .375 going 6 for 16. Tra Holmes and Ricky Martinez stayed right with them at .363. Ricky has been hot the past two weeks batting .347 and going 8 for 23 at the plate. Ricky has raised his average significantly.
Eduardo Diaz, who is known for his power swing, surprisingly led the team in runs scored. Usually, the power hitter knocks the runs home. Andy Yerzy was active on the base paths, scoring four times. Three Hops scored three times for the week.
The crack of the bat goes to the usual suspects. Buddy led everyone with eight hits which supported his continuing rise in average. Dom Canzone was a short step back with six hits, including a home run.
Ricky Martinez stepped up with five RBIs with his timely hitting and runners on base. And when he didn’t have a runner ahead of him, he cracked a home run just to get himself across the plate.
This week’s power alley goes to Andy Yerzy. Several Hops smacked a double. No one made a triple this week. But, Andy was the only Hops to have two home runs for this series. Add to that a double. Andy and Ricky Martinez were the only Hops to have multiple extra base hits.
Look back Week 7: Season to Date
Not much changed since last week as far as positioning is concerned. The only change to season-to-date standings was Andy Yerzy taking the home run lead for himself instead of sharing it with Eduardo Diaz. Here is what we have for this week.
Blaze Alexander continues to lead the team in runs scored though he did slow down a bit this week. Buddy Kennedy and Tra Holmes took advantage of the opportunity and closed the gap on Blaze.
Buddy continues to lead the team in hits and RBIs by a wide margin. He has a ten-hit and five RBI lead in the respective categories. Buddy also continues to lead the team in average (.315), OPS (.881) and total bases (55).
For extra base hits, Spencer Brickhouse is now tied with Blaze Alexander for the lead in doubles (6). No triples were hit by the Hops this week so three players still lead with two. Andy Yerzy is the Sultan of Swat for the week hitting two home runs and taking the lead all to himself with six total.
Compared to Rest of League
It was good to see the Hops bats wake up a little bit this week. But, everyone still has a ways to go. The Hops team stats compared to the league leaders are:
Hops team league leading team
Runs 166 (5th) 268-Everett
Hits 280 (5th) 363-Everett
Doubles 48 (5th) 102-Everett
Triples 13 (1st) 13-Hillsboro
Home Runs 31 (4th) 46-Everett
RBIs 148 (5th) 236-Everett
Stolen Bases 115 (1st) 115-Hillsboro
Average .219 (4th) .266-Everett
OBP .303 (5th) .369-Everett
SLG .349 (5th) .460-Everett
OPS .653 (5th) .828-Everett
For those of you not familiar with the last abbreviations, they are: On Base Percentage (OBP), Slugging Percentage (SLG) and On Base Plus Slugging Percentage (OPS.
As you can see, Everett is obscenely at the top of all categories except two. The consolation prize is that Hillsboro is the only other team beside Everett to lead a category. The Hops lead two of them: triples and stolen bases. Both stats are indicative of speed. While this highlights Hillsboro’s reputation as one of the fastest minor league teams, it also shows how far the Hops need to go in the other categories.
Comparative Won-Loss Records
This is something I hinted about in Sunday’s game recap. I’ve always wondered how the spread goes if you list the league standings by win differential. For example, the games that are decided by one run as shown below. I’ve started keeping track of the different possibilities such as one-run, two-run, etc. This week, just a quick look at the one run games follows.
TEAM Hops overall record 1-run games
- Eugene 3-9 26-15 7-1
- Everett 5-6 24-16 4-5
- Vancouver 2-4 24-18 7-3
- Spokane 0-0 19-23 3-5
- Hillsboro null 16-24 2-6
- Tri City 6-5 14-27 3-6
The list above is the order of teams in the standings at the end of week 7. The next column to the right is how the Hops have fared against them. Before the sweep by the Eugene Emeralds, the Hops stayed competitive with everyone. The downside to that means that the Hops could play with the big boys as well as lower themselves to the level of the competition. The sweep tipped that boat and the Hops are now in fifth place. The third column is their current record so far.
Games Decided by One Run
But, looking at the fourth column which is each team’s record in one run games, we see something different. The order of teams is slightly off. It has been long believed that the team that wins the close games has a better chance of winning the important games in the playoffs than the team that can blow you away. The reason being, the team that blows them away can’t do that every night. More often than not, the team plays a close game more often than a blow out. And, the team that wins the close games comes to play every day.
Now, look at the one run column. Eugene is on top both overall and one-run win records. They are where they should be. But, look at the next two teams. Everett is second in the overall at 24-16 but third in one-run wins at 4-5. Conversely, Vancouver is third in overall at 24-18 and second in one-run wins at 7-3. This tells me that Vancouver should be overtaking Everett soon for second overall.
Continuing down the standings, Spokane is where it should be but the bottom two teams are not. Hillsboro is fifth in overall at 16-24 and sixth in one-run wins at 2-6 while Tri City sits at sixth overall with 14-27 and fifth in one-run wins, 3-6. Granted this is early in the season and the numbers are close to each other. But, at the current trend, I am seeing those two flip in overall standings coming soon.
However, the key phrase here is “current trend”. Teams can always start bucking the trend by getting hot or going cold. But, trends can change. So can a team’s chances. I intend to monitor this throughout the season to see if this holds up. Next week, I will try and add to that look with other perspectives.
In the meantime, don’t forget that the Hops return home tonight to host the Spokane Indians. You can watch them on MiLB.tv, listen to them on 620 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for half-inning updates. Also, games this week start at 7:05 PM.