A final take from Eugene on Getaway Day
The season opening series for the Boise Hawks comes to a close this evening in Eugene, with skipper Mark Johnson learning a ton about his squad over the first four games of the Northwest League season. The ups and downs of minor league baseball has definitely been evident – some good, some very good, and well, some bad.
The good has to be the starting pitching – four outings, with three of the four earning quality starts. Ben Wells allowed just two runs in five innings (despite as the skipper mentioned without his best stuff), while both Yao-Lin Wang and Willengton Cruz were nearly unhittable. Cruz especially, as a devestating change-up complimented a low 90s fastball that had the Ems hitters guessing – something that Eugene manager Pat Murphy attested to in the game recap in the Register Guard.
I like the speed of this team – Reggie Golden really resembles Kirby Puckett to me (size, stature, and enthusiasm), while both Wes Darvill and Pin-Chieh Chen can flat out fly. I felt for Chen last night losing the ball in the lights – though that won’t be the last time it occurs in a Hawks game this season.
On the flipside, the bullpen has been a struggle at best. If you throw out the outings by Charles Thomas (retiring six of the seven men he faced on Saturday, fanning three), and Bryce Shafer (tossing an inning and a third scoreless), the relievers have a combined 10.80 ERA, allowing 14 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings, with an eye-popping 13 walks. You could chalk that up to the wide-eyed nature of pitching on the “big” stage for the first time – but if the team is going to be successful, this is a number that needs to change.
It was good to see the bats come alive on Monday night – after the enemic three hits on Friday and two hits on Sunday. Paul Hoilman squared up on a ball for a homer (a ball that was crushed, but died in the heavy air in Eugene), Golden roped a opposite field triple, and Chen hit a ball to the warning track for a sacrifice fly. The staff is waiting for the emergence of Willson Contreras, who is still searching for his first hit.
HIGHLIGHTS: Here are the audio highlights from Games 2-4 in Eugene – http://yotestats.i8.com/Highlights6-18-11.wmv(Saturday), http://yotestats.i8.com/Highlights6-19-11.wmv (Sunday), http://yotestats.i8.com/Highlights6-20-11.wma (Monday).
ROTATION: According to David Rosario, the Hawks rotation will remain the same to start the homestand – as Ben Wells will throw the home opener against Tri-City on Wednesday night, followed by Jose Rosario. Wang will pitch Thursday, Jin-Yeong Kim will start Friday (with Austin Reed in relief), Cruz gets the nod on Saturday, with Luis Liria on Sunday (with Kyler Burke in relief).
NO CHANGES AT PK: In their second year at the University of Oregon’s PK Park, not much has changed from my vantage point at the newest ball park in the Northwest League. Though the press box is amazing – with a phenomenal view, it is still a struggle with its configuration, to get scoring decisions and substitutions on a timely manner (which are not indicated on the scoreboard or video board). The clubhouse situation is still a mess, as the Hawks must hike at least a 1/4 mile from the Autzen Stadium visiting football locker room, around the stadium on the sidewalk of a busy street, then in the gate of the stadium (I don’t like the idea of the players having to fight through fans/etc. going to-and-from the clubhouse). A new clubhouse was said last year to be in the works in right field – but no construction is visible. The Ems, however, are able to use the spacious U of O clubhouse at the stadium (with the Coaches’ Office pictured).
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