I saw something this week that I hadn't seen at this level of baseball for many years. Kolten Wong was on second base, Nick Longmire was up to bat. Nick hit a grounder deep into right field. As Wong rounded third, he was watching the Chiefs' right fielder instead of concentrating on running home. When he saw the ball coming in from right field, he was about half way between third and home. In an instant, his speed doubled and he crossed the plate a step ahead of the throw. I rarely see that kind of speed-change and at this level, I'm more accustomed to seeing players depend solely on the coaches to determine if they should head home at their normal speed. I was truly impressed.
In looking at the League standings, I noticed that the two teams that won the division titles in the first half of the season are both under .500 in the second half. Each of the division wild card teams from the first half are in contention for being in first place this half. I can't say why - it's just an observation. The Bandits are currently in first place by one game.
Wednesday, July 27: Bandits 6, Chiefs 2 at home
Kolten Wong (.299), Michael Swinson (.249), and Oscar Taveras (.389) each had two hits on the night. Ryan Copeland (3-1) allowed two runs in the top of the first inning but the batters took three from Peoria in the bottom of the frame to take the pressure off. He then settled in and one result was earning Pitcher of the Month honors from The Cardinal Nation. Dean Kiekhefer continues to show what a closer is supposed to do with two scoreless innings to finish the game.
Thursday, July 28: Bandits 3, Chiefs 1 at home
Although the Bandits' pitchers gave up a combined twelve hits, the defense held the Chiefs to only one run on the night. That gave them the lead until the bottom of the ninth when Jonathan Rodriguez hit a towering three run homer to walk off with the win. Seth Blair is still looking for his breakout night but he looked better than I had seen him pitch. He went 5.0 innings and allowed just one earned run on eight hits. Cale Johnson kept them off the scoreboard for two innings and Justin Edwards earned his second win of the year with his two scoreless frames.
Friday, July 29: Bandits 11, Chiefs 3 at home
Ronny Gil headed the hit list as the team posted fourteen hits in eight innings to complete the sweep. He's eventually going to catch the attention of someone who might promote him, but Bandits fans want him here in Davenport as long as they can have him. Trevor Rosenthal went 6.0 innings and struck out seven batters. Angel DeJesus had one of his only good outings this season allowing only two hits and striking out two in two innings. Aidan Lucas struck out two in the final inning to nail the coffin shut on Peoria.
Saturday, July 30: Bandits 4, Cougars 5 at home
Zack Russell gave up a grand slam in the first inning and the Bandits just didn't recover from that. With an extra 100,000 people in Davenport for the Bix 7 road race and the end of RAGBRAI - the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, it would have been nice to have had a better showing at Modern Woodmen Park but it just wasn't meant to be on this night. Nick Longmire and Michael Swinson each had two hits but it wasn't enough to overcome the first inning.
Sunday, July 31: Bandits 3, Cougars 1 at home
Sultry just barely touches the heat and humidity that greeted fans at the stadium for the afternoon game. Boone Whiting had a great afternoon again. He struck out seven and allowed only four hits in six full innings. Kiekhefer picked up the win on the power of a Chris Edmondson walk off homer. Kolten Wong got the team started with a homer in the first inning, then there was a long dry streak until the bottom of the ninth.
Monday, August 1: Bandits 3, Cougars 0 at home
I've said it before and I'll keep saying it - the Bandits are a better team when Anthony Ferrara is on the mound. He allowed only two hits in seven complete innings and struck out six. The defense seems to play better behind him and the team is more confident at the plate. Cody Stanley started the scoring run by driving in Wong with a line drive to center in the first frame. Taveras drove in Gil in the third and then Wong scored again in the eighth on a fielding error that allowed Stanley to reach base again.
The team now leaves for an extended road trip that starts with a four game commuter to Cedar Rapids and then four games in Beloit. As the final month of the season is now upon us, we'll see if this team has the mettle to stay in winning form for the playoffs. I'm more confident of this team than any that I've seen in Davenport for several years. Now is the time that we'll see the pay off on using the 7-day DL to rest players. As I often say, time will tell.
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