Tuesday, August 25, 2015

1st Place Biscuits Blog, Magic Number is 12


The Skitz won Sunday in a tight 1-0 contest and again on Monday when they posted ten runs to the Generals four.


BISCUITS MAGIC #
This brings the Magic Number to 12, any combination of 12 Biscuit wins/Bham Barons losses would send the Biscuits to the playoffs. Of course, there are 13 games left, which makes it a very close race.

CLOSER RACE IN SOUTH
Not as close as the South Division, where the MsBraves have a slim 1.5 game lead over BOTH Mobile and Pensacola, which makes it tough to even guess who will take the second half title and move into the playoffs in either division. Anyone else hoping for a three-way tie in the South Division?

NORTH DIV STILL CLOSE
The Biscuits have the advantage in the North Division, holding a slim lead is better than trailing, but the crucial final series is against second place Birmingham.

The Barons are nipping at the Biscuits heels and refuse to quit. While the 3rd place Smokies aren't eliminated mathematically they would have a very tough time sneaking past two teams, so its pretty much a two horse race between longtime rivals Montgomery and Birmingham in the final games of the year.


HYPOTHETICALS

The Biscuits trip to Mobile could be a Southern League finals preview, both teams have playoff hopes in their respective divisions and have been playing very well.


NOT HYPOTHETICAL
PLAYOFF CALENDAR
The playoffs will open on Thursday September 10th and again on Friday September 11th at Chattanooga and Biloxi, the teams that won the first half of the season.

Should the Biscuits make the playoffs they would face the Lookouts on those days, then host Saturday September 12th. We would also have a chance of hosting games on Sunday September 13 (if necessary) and Monday September 14th (if necessary). The winner of the series would then go on to face the winner of the South Division Series.

The League Championship Series would begin on Wednesday, September 16th and run daily through Sunday Sept 20.

TIMMONS SPEAKS
I asked Biscuits hitting coach Ozzie Timmons what he thought about the Biscuits playoff atmosphere. "Its electric, exciting" he replied. "You can feel it" he added, nodding towards the enthusiastic fans in the stands.

Obviously everyone is getting into the teams success, even the Tampa Rays must take notice of the first place showing. Its been a total team effort, no one player is carrying the club for extended periods and the pitching is deeper now than perhaps it ever has been.

After such a long absence from the postseason, fans are hungry for autumn Biscuits.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

first place skitz come home, what to look for, history lesson


As the Biscuits piled on runs against the Tn Smokies at an historic rate this week, it was easy to see the Biscuits as the best team in the Southern League. But it wasn't long before the Smokies were taking advantage of the Biscuit bullpen to split the series.

In all it was an 8-3 road trip, one that started with the Biscuits two games behind the Barons and ends with Montgomery in first place by two and a half games.

NOT READY TO PRINT PLAYOFF TIX... YET

I think its bad to gush too heavily on a team when it is streaking, stats and averages can be deceptive and give false indications. Yet the stats say that this team is playing about five games underneath its projections.

I'm not so sure about that, the team had endured a couple losing streaks and was due a prolonged winning streak - now we will see what is really under the hood.



The Biscuits front office seems to agree, so far they have not yet put the playoff schedule on their website. I would guess they want to wait and make sure before going all in on postseason prep.

 By Monday or shortly after, however, it could be a different story, perhaps depending on the results of Barons games just as much as Biscuits. Where once it seemed the Barons refused to lose, Bham has dropped eight of its last ten games.


EVEN GREAT SKITZ NOT PERFECT
This Biscuits team has showed us that it can lose games in large groups at times, has had trouble holding leads late in games and is prone to giving up a big hit. Our closer took time to melt down and the Smokies learned to bunt to beat Biscuits.

Skipper Brady Williams
Yet, for all its flaws, this team is hitting on all cylinders this month and are hot at just the right time. Its got all the ingredients and now Brady has gotten the recipe down pat, putting together perhaps the best batch of Biscuits in quite some time.

Three blown saves were all that kept the Skitz from a perfect 11-0 road trip, in each of the Losses the Biscuits trailed into the final inning. One game was lost on a squeeze play, both the other defeats were extra innings.


KING BISCUITS?

With nearly a three game lead in the North Division, it will be interesting to see how the Montgomery team handles its business in the last three weeks.

Can they protect a division lead? Will the Barons be able to tread water until the final week for a chance to steal their way back into the playoffs? If Montgomery makes it to the postseason, how far can they go into the playoffs?

Only time will tell.



NEXT UP
JACKSON GENERALS

The Generals were in the visitors dugout what seems like ages ago, the Mariners affiliate took three out of five games from Montgomery at the end of April. The Gens will likely find a different team than the Shaffer-Powell-Snell team they faced in the first month of the year.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The Biscuits just played six games in four days and eleven contests in ten days. Just about all of them were "high stress" games. Look for the Skitz to try to coast a little during this series against the Generals who are just 9-15 on the road in the second half. Getting players a little rest now will help the team catch its breath, the Biscuits wont get an off day until the calendar flips.


Gens lead league in fellowship
Right hander Edwin Diaz is the top prospect on the Jackson team, 3w-10L and a 4.10 era say the Seattle chain is searching for arms. Hes ranked fifth in the Mariners prospects according to mlb.com - look for him to face the Biscuits and challenge hitters with his heater.

Jordy Lara is the top ranked hitter on the Generals, though he is struggling at .236 this season. MLB.com ranks him tenth among Seattle prospects.

Jamie Schultz
Look for Jamie Schultz to pitch well at home, not only does he lead the league in strikeouts (and bases on balls) but his home ERA is just 2.18 this season.

Look for lopsided games, or so the numbers would say. The Biscuits lead the league in runs scored, the Generals are last in that crucial statistic.

Look for Tyler Smith to take a walk. The Generals shortstop is tied for fifth in the league with 59 free passes this year.

Johnny Field Jr
Johnny Field Jr is third in the Southern League in RBI's with 66. Look for Field to drive in more runs as he picks up the pace after breaking out of his post-homerun derby power slump.

Ian Miller leads the Jackson team in steals with 23, look for the speedy centerfielder to challenge Biscuit catchers while on the basepaths. Also look for him to use his speed in the spacious gaps of Riveralk stadium's outfield.

Look for Cameron Seitzer to continue to drive the ball, his .868 OPS is second in the Southern League.


HISTORY LESSON

AUGUST 23 1906
Montgomery starting pitcher Walsh shuts out New Orleans on three hits

AUGUST 23 1908
Montgomery manager pro-tem Ed Gremminger establishes a record in the Southern League with 28 out of 29 possible putouts in a 13 inning game. Both teams pitchers throw one hitters as Montgomery wins.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

1st Place Biscuits Sweep Barons, TOOTBLAN Lessons



On Monday night in Bham the Skitz took the fifth game of the series from the Barons. After knocking them around this week, the Biscuits one run lead might as well have been a twenty run lead to the Barons.

The Sox affiliate out-hit the Biscuits but left a ton of men on base and looked to be playing flat after Montgomery bumped them from the top spot.

Cam Seitzer watches 3b Patrick Leonard and 1b Jake Bauers celebrate the sweep

Faria
Again Montgomery pitching was strong, starter Jacob Faria working around ten baserunners to strike out five and allow just a pair of runs.  The duck-loving hurler seems to excel on days when it has already rained and today was no exception.

In the sixth inning, pushing his pitch count and obviously tiring, Jacob worked out of a bases-loaded jam, preserving his one run lead.

DH Cameron Seitzer
Biscuit bats were awake early, the usual suspects: Seitzer and Varona with RBI's, Tyler Goeddel with a steal and two runs scored. Scoring one in the first and two in the third was all Montgomery would need.


Brad Schrieber
The bullpen report was mostly good as we saw Jeff "Good" Ames, Mark Sappington and Bradley Schrieber come in nursing the one run lead.

Schrieber, the closer, made things interesting in the 9th by loading the bases but got a groundout to seal the win and the sweep.




TOOTBLAN LESSONS

During this series Tim Anderson was giving TOOTBLAN courses at Regions Field. No its not a new programming language, its an acronym for Taken Off Of The Bases Like A Nincompoop (see figures 1-3 in this section)

Fig.1
We have seen it repeatedly in action during this series, including on Friday when the Biscuits picked him off at first base twice and caught him attempting to steal once.

Fig.2

During this five game set the Barons prospect shortstop has repeatedly made baserunning mistake after baserunning mistake, removing himself from the bases.
Fig.3
Like A Nincompoop.

On Monday evening, down just a run, with two outs the powerful Hayes stood at the plate. But Tim Anderson again was caught napping and O'Conner threw behind him to pick him off and end the inning.


BISCUIT BUS NOW OFF TO TN
Now its on to Tennessee where await the Smokies and the final installment of the Grape Jelly Series.

Already an epic struggle so far this year, the final series now has serious playoff implications, the Biscuits face a six game visit that includes a doubleheader against the Cubs affiliate.

The Smokies are hurting abit, with Vogelbach still on rehab from his injured oblique and McKinney heading to the DL this week as well.
 
The Biscuits come back home on Sunday against the Jackson Generals. At just 16-33, the Generals are in the bottom of the division and could be eliminated from contention as early as Friday.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

SlagTown Showdown, 1st Place Biscuits, History Lesson




On Thursday the Biscuits rode up to Bham and took game one from the division leader Barons on the back of Jamie Schultz's fine start.
On Friday it was Austin Pruitt who shouldered the weight and brought eight innings of one run ball to take the W for Montgomery.
Next up in the rotation was Taylor Guerrieri.

Saturday saw the Biscuits come from behind and take an extra innings victory, stunning the largest crowd in Regions Field's short history for a share of first place in the Southern league North Division.

When the Barons hit a grand slam to take the lead in the 7th, Biscuits radio announcers were ready to hand the pennant to the other team. Yet Brady's Boys simply don't quit and on Saturday they kept playing their game and found a way to win the game and seal a series victory.
Whatever works, Brady!


ROAD TRIP
I went to the biscuits v barons game on Friday, it was my first away game of the year and also my first visit to the Bham ballpark. I have heard much about the new yard and enjoyed getting to see it in person. It is a nice ballpark, but I will always prefer our own Riverwalk in many ways. We saw some friends and enjoyed a tasty "Steel City Burger" loaded with Bacon and Egg on a ciabatta roll.

Juego
As for the game itself, Austin Pruitt took care of the Bham hitters and neutralized their top prospect in Tim Anderson - picked off twice and caught stealing.
SS Anderson

On 'Derson
In Saturdays game Anderson got himself thrown out of the game in the middle innings for arguing a 1-1 strike call.

With as much talent as Anderson brings to the team, its a break for the Biscuits when he takes himself out of a big game in such a way.


COMING UP:
Sunday is Kirsch-mas Day and the Biscuits will toss Jacob Faria on Monday. Biscuit fans have got to be feeling good about where the team is, but lurking on the schedule is a visit to the Smokies for a crucial six-game series.

For their work in this series already the Biscuits have assured themselves a life after Bham. The Barons could have turned the Skitz away with as much as a seven game advantage, but now it will take a monumental effort on the part of the Barons to get Montgomery out of town and still hold sole possession of first place.
Skitz and Barons know the feeling


REGINATTO RETURNS - AGAIN
Reginatto
Dude better wear springs in his pants as much as he bounces back and forth between Durham and Montgomery.

Leo played some third for the Bulls over the past few weeks and will come to the Biscuits as a backup now that Daniel Robertson has returned to nearly every day deployment at shortstop.

In a concomitant move, Reliever Kyle McPherson was put on the disabled list. Lets hope its not serious, Mac has been knocked around a bit in his time in the Gump but has been a fan fave.




GARTON
What I did notice in the game against the Barons was Ryan Garton looking vicious.

Its not a joke, at times this year he has looked like he was working hard at pitching to the catcher, but in Bham Garton was focused on attacking the hitter. Its a subtle difference to watch but a major difference in gameplay and result. Garton was stepping on hitters throats and not letting up.

Garton has brought down his ERA in the second half and we may be seeing the killer instinct in Ryan Garton. Once he got a hitter to two strikes, he didn't try to paint or avoid contact, he challenged the batters and overmatched them.

Listed at 5'11 170lbs, the Clearwater Kid has more oomph on his heater than alot of bigger guys who look like they throw harder - Garton is sneaky fast. The 34th round draft pick has climbed the ladder one rung at a time and improved at every level, he allows fewer baserunners now than he has in any of his pro seasons. MLB Prospect only bat .216 against him and is three times as likely to induce a ground ball than a ball hit in the air.




There is lots of history happening this week, including a bit of Barons-Montgomery rivalry!

AUGUST 16 1906
Montgomery pitcher W.Breitenstein shuts out the Atlanta Crackers on just 3 hits.

AUGUST 16 1920
Montgomery, AL
"Grey Sox Win Second From Knoxville Team - Locals Take Advantage of Visitors' Errors and Win Monday's Game -

Taking advantage of errors made by their opponents, the Montgomery Grey Sox team defeated the Knoxville Giants Monday afternoon by the score of 5 to 1. Dickey and Mason pitched good ball, but the former received poor support at critical stages of the game, while the local twirler was given jam up support whenever the visiting team threatened to score."

Burt Maxwell
AUGUST 17th 1906 
 Montgomery Pitcher Maxwell shuts out Atlanta on one hit. Montgomery squeaks out just 3 hits themselves, scoring once off Atlanta pitcher Cupid Childs.



AUGUST 18 1906
Willie Keeler strikes out for the second time in the season. Not Montgomery related, but WOW!

August 18th 1910 
The Birmingham Barons inaugurated Rickwood Field on August 18, 1910, by defeating the Montgomery Climbers in front of more than 10,000 fans.