Minor Issues: Blood, Dogs, and the “Unstoppable” Crosscutters

LEHIGH VALLEY IRONPIGS (43-58)

“Human growth hormone is another performance-enhancing drug so it’s great to get it out of baseball so everyone is on a level playing field,” said Ironpigs manager Dave Huppert, reading reading directly from an index card.

But the Ironpigs aren’t too keen on having their blood shipped to Utah, and not just because of the homesickness involved.  The HGH testing being tossed on minor leaguers isn’t up for negotiation, thanks to none of them technically being in the Players Association.  Already randomly urine tested, players seem to think of the tests as garnish for a dinner of lies.

“We’re the guinea pigs. They don’t really care about us until you get on the 40-man roster or when you’re in the big leagues,” leaked Andy Tracy, but nobody listened, because who cares about Andy Tracy?  He’s not even on the 40-man roster.  Why’s he even speaking out of turn in public?  Somebody break that guy’s knees.

Outside the world of illegal performance enhancers, hopefully, Brandon Duckworth stood on the mound in Indianapolis on Thursday and struck out 11 batters in 5 2/3 innings as the Pigs won.  Remember Brandon?  They did “The Duck Pond” for him and dressed up like giant ducks.  Not the most creative player-centric fanbase, but it got the job done.  Don’t remember him whiffing that many dudes though.

The Pigs fight off the Norfolk Tide and Durham Bulls this week at home.

TOP PERFOMER: Dom Brown is hitting .347 with 33 hits and 19 RBI in 25 games.  He is also our only Major League ready prospect.  He also just stole three bases while you weren’t looking.  It’s your fault .  Why the hell do you blink so much?

READING PHILLIES (49-50)

The R-Phils are in the middle of a muddled campaign for a .500 record.  It’s not going great.  At least, not too many times in a row.

They dropped six straight, which anyone unfamiliar with baseball could tell you is just a hideous thing to do to yourself.  This was followed by a mini streak in which they picked up five of six; not a fantastic recovery, but a blatant statement that they were, in fact, alive.

This was followed by a 12-1 erasing at the hands of the Akron Aeroes as they brutalized Reading starter Yohan Flande, who spent most of the post game wondering how exactly he gave up 12 hits and nine runs in less than six innings.  Most of this blame went to the Aeroes’ dominant and apparently magical starter, Alex White, who was the Indians’ No. 1 draft pick in 2009.

“He had good stuff.”  –Reading CF Michael Spidale

“He had pretty good stuff.”  –Reading manager Steve Roadcap

No word-a-day calendars in that locker room.

TOP PERFORMER:  You could make an argument that Vance Worley’s mad dash to the Show and immaculate performance nabs him this honor, but he was downgraded to Triple-A after playing show-and-tell for the ML Phils Saturday.  So tough shit, everyone who thought that.  But dry your eyes, because 1B Matt Rizzotti’s SLG is at .638 in 66 games.  I expect you’re puking out of the awesomeness I just stuffed you with, so collect yourself, and let’s ride on down to the Single-A’s.

LAKEWOOD BLUECLAWS (18-10)

Unlike the other teams being listed here, Lakewood’s actually in first place, aided by a masochistic win against the Delmarva Shorebirds Saturday.  Through 18 torturous innings, the BlueClaws fought off the second place team trying to nip at their heals from three games back in the standings.

Claws starter Jonathan Pettibone gave up three hits and two runs, then felt as though that was enough, and retired 13 straight batters.  If it weren’t for a ML Phillies-style flabbergasting in the 9th in which the Shorebirds scored five runs with two outs, Pettibone’s outing wouldn’t have been so readily forgotten.  They pulled out the 8-7 win in an unscheduled double header anyway.

Getting the start Monday in the first game of a double-header is Mike McGuire, some guy who the Phillies released after the Spring and has been tooling around with the Independent Sussex Skyhawks, one of the least pronounceable team names ever conceived; moreso when the speaker is heavily intoxicated.

The Claws are also going to retire Ryan Howard‘s number.  They just don’t know when.

TOP PERFORMER:  Pettibone, because his start was so sneakily supreme.

Pettiboned. Knew it was coming.

CLEARWATER THRESHERS (49-51)

Yet another Phillies affiliate flirting with .500, and getting a drink thrown in its face, is the Clearwater Threshers, who ask the question, what helps stimulate attendance better than breasts?

Yes, the Threshers are proud to announce the opening of the 97X Cool Tub.  Grab your 8-20 closest friends who enjoy a good game of Single-A baseball and cheering for players they’ve never heard of, and enjoy two hours of free food or something.

This, combined with the July 31 game at Roger Dean Stadium against the Palm Beach Cardinals that will be crawling with dogs in mid-heart stroke, proves that it’s going to be one hell of a summer, Thresher-style.  Hell yes.

The reason we’ve just spent a few paragraphs talking about Threshers promotions is because the Threshers really sucked this week, putting an exclamation point on their season series against the Charlotte Stone Crabs by losing both games of a double header.  They are 0-8 against Charlotte this season.

So, keep an eye out for Pitch for Pink, a breast cancer awareness night August 6th at Bright House Field.  Because the Threshers aren’t giving you a whole lot else to look forward to.

TOP PERFORMER:  Well, let’s just say its Jesus Sanchez, whose 8-5 record in 18 starts is better than whatever drivel Phillippe Aumont is offering.  He’s got an ERA enough under 3 (2.69) to nod at, and he’s got a CG under his belt.

WILLIAMSPORT CROSSCUTTERS (22-15)

C Jeff Lanning thundered a three run dinger in the first inning to take 4-1 lead against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.  The Cutters found the game prematurely ended by the weather, but as beat writer John. J. Vitale writes, “The Williamsport Crosscutters can’t be stopped.”

“… at least not by another New York-Penn League team.”

Thank you for clarifying that, John.

The Cutters have won 14 of their last 17.  Their highest SP ERA is 3.66 (Mario Hollands).  Their lowest SP ERA is 0.99, belonging to Eric Pettis, who is also 5-0 in as many starts. 2B Cesar Hernandez is hitting .295, with 14 H and 15 RBI in 36 games.

But, the wins just have to keep on coming when you play in a division where nobody loses–the three teams behind Williamsport are 1, 2, and 3 GB, respectively.  The fourth place State College Spikes come into town and could tickle uncomfortable at the Cutters’ lead this week.  But, then again, the Spikes are in the New York-Penn League, so clearly, it doesn’t matter.  The Cutters can’t be stopped.

TOP PERFORMER:  Freaking Eric Pettis, man.  Freaking Pettis.


Topics: Clearwater Threshers, Lakewood BlueClaws, Leigh Valley Ironpigs, Reading Phillies, Williamsport Crosscutters

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