After another successful series over the weekend the Fisher Cats have a much deserved off day today. Despite ending with a tough loss Sunday afternoon the Fisher Cats took three of four from the Portland Sea Dogs in impressive fashion. Even with the 3-4 loss on Sunday they outscored the Sea Dogs 21-9 in the four game set. That leaves them with a 2.5 game lead over the second place Trenton Thunder in the Eastern League’s East Division.
Incidentally, the Thunder come to town for three games this week, starting Tuesday night at 7:05. The Fisher Cats will look to take this series and gain some breathing room just like they did against Portland, who was in second place themselves before coming to Manchester last Thursday. The Cats’ 24-13 record is the best in the Eastern League as a whole, having outscored their opponents by 35 runs on the season, third best in the league.
The Fisher Cats’ league best 5.73 runs scored per game continues to fuel their winning ways. They have an outstanding .362 on-base percentage, best in the league, and have continued to hit well sitting third in batting average(.266) and second in slugging percentage(.420). They continue to swipe bases at a higher percentage than anyone in the league and have more steals than every team except Trenton.
The pitching has had it’s struggles, they lead the league in both home runs and walks allowed per nine innings, as they currently sit ninth in runs allowed per game at 4.78. However, they held the Sea Dogs to 2.25 runs per game this past series. The pitching will certainly be put to the test against Trenton, owners of the league’s third best offense, scoring 5.31 runs per game.
There’s still plenty of optimism for the pitching staff as both Kyle Drabek and Bobby Bell turned in their best starts on the season their last times out. Drabek sparkled Saturday night holding the Sea Dogs scoreless through seven innings on just six hits, no walks and four strikeouts. It was his first start of the year without a walk and his third in a row without yielding a long ball. Bell’s start on Thursday set the tone for the series as he went seven innings allowing two runs on six hits, with just one walk against four strikeouts.
Both of those games, on Thursday and Saturday, featured Trystan Magnuson, who continues to emerge as the ace of the bullpen. He didn’t disappoint in either appearance combining to pitch three innings of scoreless relief while surrendering one hit. He walked two and struckout two as well. Magnuson now has gone eight appearances covering 12 2/3 innings without allowing a run. On the season the right hander has setback 20 hitters with a strikeout and walked only four.
Adam Calderone is the latest Fisher Cats’ outfielder to go on an offensive tear this season, following in the foot steps of Darin Mastroianni and Eric Thames. He went 9 for 16 against the Sea Dogs with a double and four home runs. That helped him drive in as many runs, nine, as Portland put up in the entire series. The offensive outbreak leaves Calderone with a triple slash line of .319/.347/.593 on the season so far, well above his career averages. The effort against the Sea Dogs led to Calderone being named the Eastern League Player of the Week.
If nothing else Fisher Cats manager Luis Rivera certainly would like to see Zach Stewart keep the good times rolling in the starting rotation with a strong outing of his own tomorrow night. Stewart’s had a tough season so far with a FIP of 6.66 only the Devil himself would envy, to go along with his 6.84 ERA.
As luck would have it he’ll be facing Trenton, the only team he’s held scoreless in an outing this year. Back on April 27th in Trenton he went five innings, striking out five, allowing a lone hit, and no walks. Bobby Bell gets the start on Wednesday night and Luis Perez will be up and at ’em on the mound Thursday morning at 11:05am to finish the series and the home stand.