20 July 2007

Teams perform ‘East Division shuffle’

 Photo by Rich Eldred

By Matt Rice and Jason Cook
GateHouse News Service

Fri Jul 20, 2007

Brewster - With the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox running away with another East Division title, the race to watch this summer is for the final divisional playoff spot.
     Three teams, the A’s, Cardinals and Whitecaps have all held the spot at various times during the summer, but none have distinguished themselves as the best of the three.
     Meanwhile Harwich, which has languished in last place throughout the season thanks to a nine-game midseason losing streak, has come-on as of late and appears to be poised for a late season run at the final spot.
     Y-D is looking to become the first team since the 2002-2003 Wareham Gatemen to win back-to-back titles, and the first team since the 1973-1975 Cotuit Kettleers to win three championships in four years.

Chatham A’s 
     Chatham has ridden the emotional high of one of the best wins in Cape League history to leap into second place in the East with 30-points.
     The A’s trailed 11-1 after six innings to the first place Y-D Red Sox last Thursday; but a huge eighth inning (seven runs) and monster games from Addison Johnson (3-for-6, four runs and four RBI), Jermaine Curtis (2-for-5 and four RBI) and Allan Dykstra (2-for-3 and three RBI) surged Chatham to a most improbable 12-11 walk off win.
     The A’s followed that game up by burying the stunned Red Sox, 11-5. Curtis (who leads the team with 15 RBI) and Zach Putnam drove in three runs each to lead the A’s to back-to-back wins against Y-D. Although Chatham dropped games on the road to West foes Falmouth and Wareham, the A’s took care of business at home against rival Orleans on Sunday, winning 5-4, marking their third win of the season against the Cardinals.
     After an off day and a league-wide rain out Wednesday, Chatham welcomed the Hyannis Mets to Veterans Field on Thursday. The last-place Mets have beaten the A’s soundly in all three match-ups so far this season, winning by a combined score of 22-11. Chatham will look to increase their lead in the final playoff spot with games against Brewster tonight on the road and Cotuit at home on Saturday.

Orleans Cardinals
     Orleans has struggled with their offensive consistency this season and as a result stands tied for third with Brewster in the East with 28 points. The Cardinals appear to be hitting the ball better - scoring 29 runs in five games – but it hasn’t translated to a significant winning streak. Orleans went 3-2 in their past five games and 4-6 over their last 10.
     Orleans out-slugged Cotuit 10-6 last Thursday and blew-out Brewster the following night 9-0 to move temporarily into second place in the East.
     On Saturday, three Cardinal pitchers combined to shut down Y-D in a 5-1 win. But even after those resounding victories, the Orleans offense sputtered in consecutive games losing by one run to Chatham (4-5) and only managing one run against the last place Harwich Mariners in a 4-1 loss on Monday.
     In typical Orleans fashion, the Cardinals couldn’t come up with that one timely hit that seems to have evaded them all season, leaving the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth innings.
Orleans leads the league with a 2.54 ERA, more than half-a-run lower than Wareham (3.14), but has struggled to the lowest team batting average (.218) and has the most one-run losses (8) of any other team in the league.
     If the Cardinals hope to make a run at the final playoff spot in the East, they’ll have to do it against the best-of-the-West, as four of their next five games are against West opponents, including two on the road Saturday and Monday against the white-hot Falmouth Commodores.
Falmouth is 8-2 over their last ten and have won seven straight. The Cardinals are 9-5 against West teams this season and shut out the Commodores 3-0 in their only meeting.

Brewster Whitecaps
     After leap-frogging into second place at the end of last week, the Whitecaps have faltered to a 1-4 record over the past five games, including losses in their last four.
In those four losses, Brewster pitchers have allowed an average of nearly 11 runs a game while the team has fallen to fourth place in the East.
Brewster has lost consecutive games to Y-D (9-2), Falmouth (14-12), Bourne (11-6) and Orleans (9-0).
     But things for the Whitecaps aren’t as bad as their recent play may suggest. They’re only two points away from the final playoff spot and the other teams in the East have also struggled in recent weeks.
     The Whitecaps will try to right-the-ship when they host Chatham tonight and travel to Wareham on Saturday.

Harwich Mariners
     The hottest team in the league right now is the Mariners. After going 4-1 over their last five games, the Mariners find themselves on the brink of vying for the final playoff spot in the East. With Y-D running away with the league with 39 points, and the other team in the division playing hot-potato with the second spot, the Mariners have slowly creeped back into the mix with their above average play.
     Over the past five games, the Mariners have averaged only three runs a game while scoring an average of more than five.
     The team is riding a four-game winning streak and will have a good chance to make up even more ground when they face both Orleans and Chatham next week.
The Mariners have defeated Orleans (4-1), Hyannis (7-5), Wareham (8-1) and Cotuit (5-4) in consecutive games.
     Harwich is still in last place in the league (23-points), but find themselves only seven points, or one good winning streak, away from the second place A’s.