Let's start with an anecdote before I get down to the nitty gritty, as it were. Recently I was having a phone conversation with an old friend, one who now lives in one of the towns that borders the Hudson River in New York. He told me he was taking his son to see the minor league baseball team whose home field is a 30-minute drive from his house. As I'm oblivious much of the time, it didn't occur to me that he might be talking about a New York-Penn League team, but when he said, "I think they're called the, uh, ValleyCats," I lit up. Not only were they playing the IronBirds the night he planned to attend, but that was the first time the two teams had met since last year's playoffs, when Tri-City's pitchers shut down Aberdeen's lineup two nights in a row for a sweep of the best-of-three series. After five minutes of me ranting, my friend said, "yeah, it'll be nice just to see a baseball game." Sometimes I forget that people go to sporting events just to be entertained for a few hours.
Now, let's go over some numbers and figures. Here are some interesting tidbits I've been thinking about over the last week's IronBirds' schedule.
Two: That would be the number of triples outfielder Oswill Lartiguez belted in Wednesday's 5-2 victory over the Brooklyn Cyclones. Lartiguez, a righty who went to the opposite field for both of his three-baggers on Wednesday, became the fourth hitter in club history to hit a pair of triples in a nine-inning game. I've had my eye on Lartiguez since the very beginning of the season, when manager Matt Merullo, during the media day blitz at Ripken Stadium, called out the 21-year-old Venezuelan as one of the most promising players in his lineup. He's been toiling in the Orioles farm system since age 17, and I'm hoping he gets to move up the ladder at some point this season.
Number of current IronBirds who share a name with the Bad News Bears' shortstop: Two, is the number we're looking for here. You have pitcher Tanner Chleborad (awesome last name, too), and catcher Tanner Murphy. I'm glad they aren't playing the same position, because stuff like that confuses me very easily. It's bad enough that Tanner Murphy also shares a last name with another Aberdeen catcher, local guy Alex Murphy (Calvert Hall College High School alum).
95: That was the speed reliever Ivan Hernandez's fastball was touching on the Ripken Stadium radar gun Tuesday night, when he earned a save in Aberdeen's 7-6 win over Brooklyn. The only people I've seen throw as hard, or harder, this season were Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, who are both major league pitchers. The 245-pound right hander has the highest strikeouts-per-nine-innings (10.3) of any current roster member, and a really nice strike-out-to-walk ratio of 6.33.
Six: That is the number of starts it took 2013 third-round draft pick Stephen Tarpley to pick us his first victory of the season, which he did Tuesday night. I've already written about the discrepancy between the IronBirds' pitching and hitting this season, so I won't delve into that subject any further, but I figured Tarpley, a left-hander from Arizona, was going to earn a win quicker than that.
23-7: That would be how badly the IronBirds have been outscored in the first inning of their 38 games through Wednesday. A worse than three-to-one ratio is not good, I probably don't need to tell you, especially for the first inning of the game. I think a lot of the team's losses can be tied to that statistic.