Monday, August 31, 2015

Fierce Activity in Final Lap, Field Injured

The league standings are very close in the South Division but not so much in the North. While the Mobile BayBears losses to the Biscuits this weekend have dropped them a few games back, they are trying to make it a three team contest in the South.

The BayBears are doing their best to catch the top two teams, Pensacola holds a slim half game lead over the MsBraves with just seven games remaining in the schedule.

Its anyones guess as to who takes the crown, Mobile goes to gets a chance at Pensacola in head to head action that will help decide who takes the title in the South. The Braves, also a factor, are on the road to Jacksonvile to face the last-place Suns and could have the advantage in the race.

In the North, the Biscuits have a commanding six game lead over Bham and the Smokies with seven games to play. What looked like a series for all the marbles will likely just be a tune up for playoff bound Biscuits and playing out the string for the Barons.

The Barons radio announcer said that the team considered anything less than playoffs a failure after their 16-3 start to the second half, but the Slagtown Nine could suffer even further embarrassment as the TnSmokies have a chance to sneak past them into second place.

The Biscuits could clinch their playoff spot as early as Monday, could even take the second half title with a loss should Bham lose another game. Usually I post up a much more in depth article here on Monday mornings, but this time we will wait until the shoe falls on the playoff berth.

Thats right, Biscuits fans, with one more win we will read the words we have been waiting to see since we were swept out of the 2012 playoffs - the Biscuits are in the postseason. The next blog post will likely come after Montgomery has punched its playoff ticket.

Word came in that Johnny Field Jr is wearing a cast on his injured wrist and is done for the year. Its a blow to the Biscuits, who have just three outfielders on the roster even with Field. Much has been said about Johnny being in the homerun derby and how his power numbers have fallen off since, but he has been a steady defender in left field and will be tough to replace.

Assuming we do get a replacement. While Durham and Port Charlotte are way out of contention, its not a lock that we will get anything more than Hector Guevara.

In the interim, Leo Reginatto has been playing left field. A versatile player, Reggie is making his first appearance in the outfield since 2013 when he played six games in left.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Biscuit Bus to Mobile, Skitz-Gens Recap

And so the Biscuit Bus heads south to Mobile, the Skitz fresh from a series win at home against the Generals and now with just ten games left on the schedule with a slim three and a half game lead over the Bham Barons.

But lets not get too far ahead!

Biscuits return from the 11 game roadtrip that saw them turn the tables on the league, a sweep of the Barons put them in first and a series split against the Smokies made for an 8win/3Loss road trip. Coming home in first place the team expected a heroes welcome, but was feeling left out in the cold when there was no big promotion or pomp for their valiant takeover of first place.

When I quizzed folks about it, I was told that the front office was superstitious about being in first place. They don't want to jinx anything.


Biscuits clinch 2006
As a fan, I am not sure I go for that. Sure, its not a mathematical lock but after so many years of being in fourth and fifth place, the Biscuits should make hay while the sun shines.

The benefits of touting a good team go beyond this homestand or this season - its a chance to change the city perception that the Biscuits suck. A perception that has been mostly accurate since 2007 ended.

So, I'm not saying hang banners or print t-shirts. I am saying the Biscuits have got to put the playoff dates on the team calendar so fans can plan to follow their postseason Biscuits, just to get things started and acknowledge the teams efforts. They need to show the fans they are planning for big things so the fans can be excited.

And excited fans have turned out, this week we saw bigger crowds than late-August Biscuits have drawn in recent seasons. Montgomery supports a winner, like most placed do. Its the most exciting time for Biscuit fans in a decade and perhaps the biggest series in recent memory upcoming with divison rival Birmingham.

Speaking of following the postseason Biscuits, there will be one fewer way to keep up with the playoff action. Chattanooga, the first half champs in the North division and the Biscuits first round opponent should they make it, don't have cameras. The Lookouts don't broadcast on MilbTV, so there will be no video looks at the first round until they get to Montgomery.

Also, should the second round be against Mobile, the BayBears also have no cameras and don't offer video to MiLBtv. Its entirely possible that there would be no way to see playoff Biscuits except when they are at home, where most of their fans already will be in attendance!


Starting Pitcher Jacob Faria pitched a gem, seven shutout innings allowing just two hits and striking out 11. Faria gave the bullpen a much needed break and spent the afternoon dealing strikes.

After the long roadtrip, a quiet game was just what the Dr. ordered and Faria delivered.

Biscuits scored just once and made it hold up, Patrick Leonard scoring from first on a Cameron Seitzer double in the 6th inning.

Bullpen Report: Ryne Stanek came on with two strong innings to grab a save, his first of the season.
Ryne Stanek


After taking rest on Sunday the Biscuits broke out the sticks on Monday.

Starting pitcher Jamie Schultz gave the Generals another tough day, striking out ten in six innings and allowing just three hits. Hey, thats why he is leading the league in punchouts!

The Skitz scoring was many and often.
It started in the 1st inning when Patrick Leonard scored on a Varona sac fly. Add two in the second inning, a run in the 4th inning, another pair of runs in the 5th and cap it off with four insurance runs in the 7th inning and this one was all Biscuits.

Bullpen report: Kyle McPherson had two great innings and looks to be getting back on track, throwing strikes and attacking hitters.

In the 9th Mark Sappington got two quick outs and then was brutally peppered with five seeing-eye singles that added up to four runs on five hits and a walk.

It was a bizarre sight, as not one of the hits he gave up would have broken a pane of glass but they all landed just past outstretched gloves, eluding the final out. Eventually Sappington rared back and punched out the final hitter on three pitches to put an end to another strange game.


Austin Pruitt was on the hill and he had his good stuff going, frustrating Generals hitters by throwing eight innings of two hit ball and striking out eight. Pruitt walked none and was in charge all night long and at just 94 pitches probably could have come back for the 9th.

Jake Bauers drove in Cameron Seitzer on a sac fly in the 4th inning for the first run. He must have enjoyed it, because in the 6th he did the same thing, driving in Cameron for the games second run. Varona would score on a wild pitch later in the inning and it was all Montgomery would need.

Bullpen Report: Brad Schrieber struck out three men in the ninth, allowing one hit and looks to be back in fine form. Schriebs picked up his 8th save on this night.


Extracurricular: The BBQ fest was probably a one time thing, they had different styles available throughout the park. However it cost us the Grilled Cheese Cart, which now looks to be a BBQ sandwich kiosk!

Taylor Guerrieri was the starting pitcher, which is Cajun for "Gets Five Innings" and indeed the prospect hurler went five.

While the top prospects jersey reads "Guerrieri" it is surely pronounced "Houdini". In the top of the first the Generals had men at second and third with no outs and failed to score.

Such was the theme of the game for Taylor G, pitching in traffic in multiple innings but never allowing a runner to cross the plate until he wore down in the 5th. His final line was 2 earned runs on 6 hits, no walks and five strikeouts.

Bullpen Report: Jeff Ames was "Good" Ames, striking out two and allowing just one walk in two innings.
Matt "Big Show" Lollis was excellent, walking one and getting a double play in his one inning.
Ryan Garton worked two innings and his sixth win with two strikeouts.

Biscuits scoring was early and late, three doubles in the second inning gave Montgomery a pair of runs. The big blow would come in the 10th inning when Leonardo Reginatto would foul away five two-strike pitches before launching a two run, walk off homer onto the train tracks beyond left field.


Angry and determined not to be swept, the Generals mustered a charge and took out their frustration by scoring in five different innings.

Starting pitcher Chris Kirsch struck out four but was unable to get out of the fourth inning, chased by a pair of homers and six earned runs. The lefthander simply seemed to have a bad day and the Generals didn't miss, swinging angry and often.

Patrick Leonard
Biscuit runs were there, just not enough. In the first inning the Skitz took the early lead on a Patrick Leonard RBI double. In the fifth inning, though they were down seven runs, the Biscuits plated a pair of runs when Tommy Coyle doubled in a run and was driven home himself by Leonard.

Bullpen Report: Mortensen was thrown into the fray in the 4th, the Canadian Biscuit taking one for the team. Morty surrendered three earned, walked five and struck out three while eating 3.2 innings in a selfless effort to save his teammates. Kyle McPherson worked the final two innings, getting three K's.
Jake Bauers watches the Generals skipper argue

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.

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.

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?

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.


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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 - 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. 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.


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.