Batavia Muckdogs Notebook: 2012 Week 11

On the heels of an 18-2 charge over their last 20, the Cardinals' affiliate needs to make up just one more game in the New York-Penn League playoff race with five remaining.

Week 11 was the period for the Batavia Muckdogs (42-29) to prove they are a playoff team, especially facing basement-dwelling Williamsport (Phillies) and Mahoning Valley (Indians) against whom they played 19 games in total in August.

On an 18-for-its-last-20 win streak, Batavia has more than taken advantage of the matchups. Week 11 featured an active seven-game win streak and a 2.5-game gain in the division and Wild Card standings in the New York-Penn League. Despite this outstanding stretch, the Muckdogs still trail Auburn (Nationals) and Brooklyn (Mets) by one game each in the respective categories.

It has been written here all season long that the Muckdogs possess legitimate talent and their rankings within the NYPL show that. Through 71 games, the Muckdogs rank third in batting average (.260), second in slugging (.381), fourth in strikeouts (569), first in doubles (140), third in hits (635) and fourth in runs scored (317). In terms of pitching, Batavia ranks first in fewest walks allowed (131), sixth in strikeouts (548), fourth in saves (22), and fourth in earned-run average (2.92).

What this tremendous stretch of games to take themselves down to the wire for a playoff spot has shown is how well the Muckdogs fared against strong competition earlier in the season. After taking care of business against lesser opponents Mahoning Valley and Williamsport for over half of the month of August, it is easy to see now how Batavia fared against the NYPL's strongest competition amidst its many one-run losses and similarly close games. They were able to maintain second place all season long in the Pinckney Division while playing all the top teams. Unfortunately for Batavia, Auburn and Brooklyn also continued to win during this stretch, as one would think such a dominant stretch of winning would have propelled them through the standings at a greater rate.

Danny Stienstra has been the most valuable position player for the Muckdogs second-half of the season since he returned from injury rehab in late July. In the last 10 games (which includes a seven-game win streak), the 2011 12th-round pick is hitting .444/.488/.694 with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBI. In 33 total games this season with Batavia, Stienstra – who missed time with a right thumb injury – has upheld a similarly high level of production.

Washington

Other Week 11 notes:

• First baseman David Washington leads the Muckdogs in both doubles (19) and home runs (7); but he has a 72-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Patrick Wisdom has one of the most balanced K/BB on the team at 55/31. The 2012 supplemental round pick is also not far behind with five homers and 13 doubles.

Tyler Melling continues to have a successful season. With a 3-1 record and 2.14 ERA, the 24-year-old has a 43-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 63.0 innings. Needless to say he has shown an impressive amount of control on the mound.

• Starter Joey Cuda leads the pitching staff with 48 strikeouts this season, but left-hander Lee Stoppelman has punched out 47 in nearly 23 fewer innings of work. Stoppelman owns a 0.81 ERA in 33 1/3 innings and leads the team with six saves.

Apelian
Transactions

8/25 - OF Gary Apelian transferred from Batavia to Quad Cities: The 2011 27th-round pick out of junior college displays strong raw power, as seven of his 22 hits in Batavia were for extra bases. His numbers indicate that he did not perform very well in Batavia (.172/.243/.258 in 44 games) but his strong arm in the outfield and potential for power make him an interesting prospect for St. Louis. Since the promotion, Apelian is 2-for-12 with a double for the River Bandits.

8/28 - RHP Ramon Delgado transferred in injury rehab assignment from GCL Cardinals to Batavia: The 25-year-old has pitched just 5.0 innings in 2012 allowing a run and a walk with three strikeouts. Delgado played at Class AA Springfield last season and pitched a scoreless two innings with two strikeouts in his debut with Batavia Wednesday.

Coming Up

With just five games left in the regular season, Batavia needs to pick up a game on either the Doubledays or Cyclones in order to force a tie-breaker for a chance at a playoff spot. They will face Williamsport one more time Saturday looking to extend their win streak to eight games. Next is first-place Auburn, who stands in their way for a division title for a two-game set before the Muckdogs wrap up the regular season against Jamestown (Marlins).

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