Much like their parent club, the Hartford Yard Goats (61-45) have been playing excellent baseball since the All-Star Break. The Rockies' Double-A affiliate is 13-5 since the Eastern League All-Star Game after going 5-1 last week (Sunday’s game was rained out). The games were mostly tight affairs as the Yard Goats’ stellar pitching staff continues to cover up for an offense that seems to be caught scoring just enough runs to get the victories. They'll need every victory they can get as the race for the Eastern League playoffs enters August and the final stretch.
Meanwhile, the stadium kerfuffle has descended into a full blown quagmire. More details can be found below, or you can read Jeremiah Rufini’s "Eulogy for a Season that Never Was" over at Bleating Hartford.
News and Notes, July 26 to August 8
|July 26||@||Bowie||W 6-5||Aug 2||@||Trenton||5:00 pm|
|July 27||@||Bowie||W 8-3||Aug 3||@||Trenton||10:00 am|
|July 28||v||Harrisburg (in NH)||W 3-2||Aug 4||@||Trenton||5:00 pm|
|July 29||v||Harrisburg, Gm 1 (in NH)||W 5-3||Aug 5||v||Binghamton (in NY)||4:05 pm|
|July 29||v||Harrisburg, Gm 2 (in NH)||L 0-2||Aug 6||v||Binghamton (in NY)||3:05 pm|
|July 30||v||Harrisburg (in NH)||W 3-2||Aug 7||v||Binghamton (in NY)||11:05 pm|
Harrisburg (in NH)
|Aug 8||OFF DAY|
|Aug 1||OFF DAY||Aug 9||@||Akron
The new approach for Ryan McMahon (no. 5 PuRP) seems like it’s paying off. The former second round draft pick went 5-for-19 last week including two home runs, five walks against just three strikeouts. He’s also playing more first base, and, lest we forget, as a true 21-year-old, he is 3.6 years younger than the average Eastern League player.
When we last checked in on Raimel Tapia (No. 6 PuRP), he was scuffling in his return from a travel heavy All-Star week, hitting just .255/.283/.353 since the break. He’s starting to show flashes of his old self, going 8-for-13 in a three game stretch with two doubles and a home run. He went hitless in the three games surrounding that stretch last week but his post-break line is now up to a more robust .280/.304/.413 in 18 games.
We heard last week that Antonio Senzatela (no. 9 PuRP) is still rehabbing that shoulder that has kept him off the field since June 15, but that manager Darin Everson "can’t say" if he’ll be back this year. That could be a manager hedging his bets on the return of a young pitcher from a tough injury, or it could be a manager sworn to secrecy. At this point it wouldn’t surprise me—and it might be best for everyone involved—if Senzatela were just shut down for the year. If he’s healthy enough to get some reps in the Arizona Fall League, I’m all for it. In any case, here’s to a speedy recovery.
German Marquez (who will soon officially be a member of that oh-so-exclusive club, the PuRPs) turned in yet another marvelous outing last week, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning for the second time this year. After a two out infield single in the the eighth broke up the no-no, Marquez allowed a single followed by a two-run triple to tie the game at 2-2. He ended up with a no decision for his efforts but the Yard Goats still won 3-2 in 10 innings.
Sam Howard (HM PuRP) turned in one of his better outings as a Yard Goat last week, throwing six innings of one run ball to get the win. He did allow nine hits and struck out only one,
Jerry Vasto made two appearances last week, earning the save both times. He allowed one run on one hit with one strikeout in two innings pitched.
Pat Valaika is slowing down a bit—kinda. Last week he had six hits in 26 plate appearances, but four of those were doubles. His full season line of .270/.317/.453 definitely warrants a promotion to Triple-A next season.
Dunkin Donuts Park Update
Countdown to Opening Day: April 2017
This stadium deal keeps getting more and more unsettling. After the announcement was made that the Yard Goats would play the remainder of the 2016 season away from Hartford, Yard Goats owner Josh Solomon sent notice to the City of Hartford that, according to the development agreement, the stadium needs to be complete and ready for play in six months’ time or else Solomon can move the team elsewhere. The city responded by saying they are doing everything they can with the developer’s surety, Arch Insurance, to resume work in order to complete the stadium.
Not to be outdone, the developer of the project, Centerplan, filed a lawsuit against Yard Goats owner Josh Solomon. From NBC Connecticut:
Centerplan alleges in a lawsuit filed July 28 that Solomon intentionally interfered with DoNo Hartford LLC’s contractual agreement with the city, in order to set up the stadium development in a way where it would fail, leaving Solomon in a position to benefit from the failure.
And so the quagmire thickens. At this point options aren’t actively being discussed about where the team could play next year, but if this doesn’t resolve itself quickly, you can be sure those discussions will come.
Despite the great run of baseball since the All-Star break, the Yard Goats still can’t seem to make up ground in the ultra-competitive Eastern Division. They still trail the division leading Reading Fightin Phils (71-37) by nine games and are still six games out of a playoff spot. If the Goats were in the Western Division, however, their 61 wins would put them 3.5 games ahead of Altoona (58-49) for the division lead.
The Yard Goats face a big three-game set this week against the team they are chasing for that spot, the Trenton Thunder (68-40), starting Tuesday. Then it’s off to Binghamton to "host" the B-Mets (49-57) for three starting Friday.
For more Yard Goats news, links, coverage and Twitter, check out the links below. If you have any questions or requests of what you'd like to see in this column, drop me a line in the comments, on Twitter (@playerTBNL), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Hartford Yard Goats