27 July 2007

Chatham streaking toward final playoff spot

Photo by Jesper Redanz

By Jason Cook
GateHouse News Service

Brewster - 

Chatham A’s – Chatham has been playing inspired ball since the All-Star rosters were announced Saturday. The A’s have ripped off a five-game win streak - their longest of the season - and have outscored their opponents 28-10 over that stretch.

    The A’s started their win-streak with back-to-back shut out wins against West foes Cotuit (5-0) and Bourne (4-0).

    A’s starter Tom Milone threw a five-hit shut out and struck out 10 over nine innings of work against Cotuit, while East All-Star designated hitter Allan Dykstra smacked a two-run home run in the victory.

    Against Bourne, the A’s used a staff effort to shut down the opposing offense. Three Chatham pitchers combined to strike out 14 Braves while only allowing six hits and four walks. The A’s other starting All-Star, third basemen Jermaine Curtis, had an RBI, a walk and a run scored in the win.

    After that brief West division swing, the A’s were set to square off against East foe Harwich. The A’s responded in resounding fashion – sweeping the series 3-0 and outscoring the Mariners 19-10. Although the first two games were one run affairs, Chatham put an exclamation point on the finale, routing the Mariners 10-3. Dykstra justified his All-Star selection by going 1-for-3 with a grand slam, two walks and two runs scored.

    The A’s are 6-0-1 over their last seven and have padded their spot in second place in the East. At 43 points, the Y-D Red Sox (49 points) can see Chatham in their rear view mirror. Meanwhile, Orleans and Brewster must play nearly flawless baseball if they hope to catch the A’s.

    Chatham will head to Orleans Friday, then enjoy the All-Star game and the subsequent off day before welcoming Bourne (Monday) and Wareham (Tuesday) heading down the stretch in their quest for the playoffs.

Orleans Cardinals – For the first time this season the Cardinals offense has picked the team up when the pitching fails. Orleans scored 28 runs over a six game span, winning four of those six.
After hammering Harwich 11-1 on Friday, the Cardinals faltered against the Falmouth Commodores 4-6 on Saturday.

    Orleans pitching then shut down the Wareham Gatemen 2-1 Sunday, riding the back of starter Pat McAnaneys’ seven inning, 12 strike out performance.

    The Cardinals would get their revenge on Falmouth Monday. Orleans pitchers threw their league dominating seventh shut out of the season in a 1-0 win on Monday. The Cardinals used six different pitchers and an eighth inning homerun from their lone All-Star position player, outfielder Dennis Raben, to get the victory.

    Raben continued to be the best offensive player for the Cardinals the following night against Brewster. The power-hitting outfielder, who’ll be a participant in the homerun derby during the All-Star festivities on Saturday, went 4-for-5 to raise his season average to .298. He also knocked in his 31st and 32nd RBI in the 8-3 victory.

    Orleans has a two game home stand against East opponents before heading to the All-Star festivities. They take on Y-D Thursday and Chatham Friday.
With only nine regular season games reaming and the Cardinals holding on to third place by one point, these two divisional games could decide if Orleans makes the playoffs or not.

Brewster Whitecaps – The Whitecaps are in a fight for their playoff lives. At 17-15-3 (37 points) Brewster is in fourth place, trailing Orleans by a mere point for third place. The Whitecaps are a respectable 3-2 over their last five games. But with red-hot Chatham streaking and Orleans playing better as of late, winning three of five may not be enough.
The Whitecaps shut out Wareham on the back of All-Star pitcher Mike Colla (3-1, 1.70 ERA) and his eight innings of work.

    After dropping a game to Hyannis, the Whitecaps bounced back to beat first-place Y-D 6-1. Brewster first basemen and All-Star starter Yonder Alonso went 2-for-3 with a walk in the win.
Brewster’s All-Stars were on display Wednesday night versus Cotuit. Starting pitcher and All-Star selection Matt Couch went six innings only allowing one unearned run while striking out six Kettleers. Whitecap star Alonso (.328, 18 RBI, .470 OBP) went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI’s and a run scored.

    The Whitecaps will welcome Cotuit Friday before All-Star weekend. The Whitecaps will watch two of their players start the All-Star game – Alonso at first and catcher/outfielder Charlie Cutler in left and have three more on the bench. Only Y-D, with seven, has more All-Stars on the East roster than Brewster’s five.

Harwich Mariners- The up and down ride that has become the Mariners season took another down swing last week as the team dropped four of five games, including two blowout losses to division foes Orleans and Y-D.

    Starting pitching, once one of the teams strong suits, has faltered lately as the team has been outscored 32-13 in their last five games.

    After winning four-of-five last week, the Mariners found themselves back in the chase for the final playoff spot behind division leader Y-D. But three loses in a row, two to Y-D and one to Orleans, again put the Mariners on the outside looking in for the postseason.

    Against Chatham on Monday, the Mariners managed only five hits, including none in the final three innings, and one run off A’s starter Ryan Hinson as they lost 3-2.

    Alex Avila had the only RBI on the night, a single in the fourth inning that drove in Kent Mattes, as the team continued their struggles at the plate.

    The pitching duo of starter Kris Dabrowiecki and Danny Farquhar pitched well and kept the game close, giving up only three earned runs, one in the third and two in the fifth, but the offense couldn’t take advantage as they were shutdown by the A’s bullpen down the stretch.

    The Mariners broke a three-game losing streak on Sunday as they defeated the Cotuit Kettlers 5-3 behind the starting pitching of starter Ryan Kulik. Kulik didn’t get the decision as he left after six strong innings, giving up only two earned runs on nine hits.

    Harwich got three runs on two hits in the first inning but needed RB singles by Kyle Day and Steve Strausbaugh in the top of the ninth to put the game away.

    After their 4-1 win over Orleans last Monday, the Mariners endured a two-game layoff before losing 7-4 to Y-D on Thursday.

    Harwich followed up that loss with an 11-1 loss to Orleans on Friday and an 8-1 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday, essentially knocking the team from the playoff chase.

    As they have throughout the season, the Mariners find themselves in last place in the East with 12-22-1 record, good for 25 points, 18 points away from the final playoff spot.