Friday, December 12, 2008

Sierra Nevada Makes Big Addition Following Up and Down June

The Sierra Nevada Goldens concluded the 1st half of the season a frustrated bunch. After opening their inaugural season with two winning months going (32-24), the Goldens sputtered in June going (13-15) versus the Platinum division, fininshing the first half with a (45-39) record.

The month of June started with Sierra Nevada trailing the Duluth-Superior Dukes by only 2 games in the Silver League's Copper Division. The Goldens sputtered out of the gate losing 5 of 7 to the struggling Sugar Creek Settlers. In a thrilling series, the Settlers managed to pull out 3 wins in extra innings & squeaked out another one-run victory by a score of 4-3. The 5th Settlers win of the series was a game where Beckett gave up 10 runs, 5 earned, in 4 2/3 innings.

The Goldens responded from adversity with an outstanding (5-2) series win against the league leading Diamond Gems. In the 1st ever netplay series for the Goldens, the hitters swung mighty bats as the Gems were handed their 1st series loss of the season. Sierra Nevada outscored the Gems 55-37 in the 7 games and the 2 losses were by a combined 3 runs. In the series, Beckett got a win while Buehrle earned a win and a no-decision which led to a win. The two have turned out to be dominant at times giving the Goldens a formidable 1, 2 punch. The story of the series were the bats. The Goldens seemed to hit clutch home runs the entire series and Jim Thome crushed a homer in each of the 1st 4 games. This series was by far the highlight of the month.

Sierra Nevada finished up the June schedule going only (6-8) in the remaining 14 games as Twin City pummeled them in 6 of the 7 contests and the Goldens took 5 of 7 versus the cellar dwelling Andover Cougars.

The month of June was all in all a big disappointment. You can point to poor fielding from Miles at shortstop while Renteria rested. Or, maybe the lineup missed Hank Blalock from the left side as he missed the month due to injury. More than anything, you need to point to the starting pitching. Mark Buehrle was the most effective going (2-1) in 5 starts with a 4.76 ERA, but Josh Beckett was (1-3) in 5 June starts, with a 6.82 ERA! Aaron Harang LOWERED his ERA this month by going (1-1) in 5 starts with a 5.40 ERA......not good for a #3 starter. Gil Meche went (2-3) in 6 June starts with a 6.02 ERA, including only going 1 1/3 giving up 5 in a loss at Andover.

Sierra Nevada is banking on Buehrle, Beckett, Harang, and Gil Meche to bounce back and pitch more as expected as they enter the 2nd half of the season and league play begins. The Goldens made a trade in hopes that they could improve their (11-12) record versus lefty starters. Carlos Beltran & Conor Jackson were acquired from the East Lyme Crush to add a stronger presence from the right side of the plate & speed and center field defense with Beltran. While Sierra Nevada was sorry to say goodbye to Marlon Byrd, Skip Schumaker, Mike Jacobs, & Yusmeiro Petit in the deal, the Goldens are hoping that these two additions in the middle & top of the lineup will help the Goldens make up ground on the Copper Division leading Duluth-Superior Dukes who sit 4 games ahead of Sierra Nevada. The Goldens also trail the San Jose Scorpions by 4 games for the final Silver League Wild Card spot.

The month of December will feature head-to-head games with San Jose, one of the two teams ahead of them in the wild card standings, and with East Lyme, Beltran's old team.