Clip Files for September

Drew Pomeranz


The Clips accepted their anticipate fate to start the month, enduring a 5-0 beatdown at the hands of Margaritaville, but managed to go 11-4 against their other opponents (4-1s vs. Boulder and Satellite Beach and 3-2 vs. Tatooine) to post their seventh consecutive double-digit win total month at 11-9. … The Clips now stand 86-54, ensuring their seventh straight season with a winning record, the longest such active streak in the league. … After the Margaritaville whitewash, the Clips won their first four games against both Boulder and Satellite Beach before suffering Game Five losses to ruin the chance at sweeps. Then the Clips won the first three against Tatooine before dropping the last two. … Drew Pomeranz lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth in the opening game against Satellite Beach, as Jose Altuve landed on a HR 1-4, flyout 5-20 chance and picked a 2. In the very next game, Jhoulys Chacin held the Brawlers hitless until one out in the seventh as well. … Satellite Beach was held to 30 hits in the series, scoring seven runs in Game Three but being limited to one or two runs in each of the other four games. … Pomeranz went 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA on the month, allowing just 14 hits in 25 1/3 innings. … Applegate’s series win over Boulder was highlighted by a Game Four comeback from a 4-1 deficit in the late innings, scoring two in the eighth and two in the ninth. Down 4-3 with two outs in the ninth, the Clips’ Jose Martinez lashed a two-run double on a DO 1-12, flyout 13-20 roll to drive in what proved to be the tying and winning runs. … Martinez was also a hero in Game Four against Satellite Beach, hitting a walkoff homer in the ninth off the first pitch thrown by Brawler reliever Anthony Swarzak. … Xander Bogaerts led the Clips’ offense in September at .338 while smacking nine doubles. … Aaron Judge scored 17 runs but drove in just five while hitting .200 and only two homers. He stands at 34 for the year and needs 18 homers in his final 20 games to tie his real-life total of 52. … By 0.01, Applegate leaped ahead of Margaritaville into first place in the team ERA standings after 140 games, 3.96 to 3.97.

Gopher Holes for September

The Gophers enter the final month of the season taking dead aim at one of the two remaining wild-card playoff berths, but it won’t be an easy chore with six other teams still very much in the running.

Coming off an 11-win September that featured a 4-1 series victory over front-running Margaritaville and a 3-2 triumph over the contending Beach Bums, it was the cellar-dwelling Hypnotoads and Tree Huggers who prevented the Gophers from making a real move in the standings.

First it was middle nephew Jason who guided the lowly Toads to a 3-2 series victory over Uncle Dave, posting solid victories in Games 2-4 while limiting the Gophers to just five runs in the three middle games. Then eldest nephew John opened Bushwood’s final series of the month with three narrow victories. Fearing a season-wrecking sweep, the Gophers needed a game-winning two-run homer from Joey Gallo with two outs in the ninth inning to salvage Game 4, then squeaked out another 4-3 triumph in the finale to avert disaster, conclude a thrilling series and earn a winning month.

Of course, the highlight of the month was the four wins vs. Margaritaville that only served to slow down Grid’s march to the division title. Jacob deGrom got things off on the right foot against the slugging Volcanoes, twirling a phenomenal two-hit shutout in Game 1, while notching 12 strikeouts. Parker Bridwell and Taijuan Walker continued to hold the Volcanoes in check (with great assistance from the bullpen) in subsequent 4-2 and 4-3 victories. In a sensational pitchers duel between Dinelson Limet and Yu Darvish, the Gophers lost a 1-0 heartbreaker in Game 4. In the finale, Bushwood rallied from an early 5-0 deficit to post a thrilling 6-5 victory, with Paul Dejong‘s two-run double in the seventh providing the winning runs.

Likewise, the series vs. the Bums included some rare feats, including three 10-inning games in a row, the Gophers blowing a 8-1 lead in the eighth inning of a 9-8 loss and the never-before-seen-or-heard-of accomplishment of blowing an 11-run lead in the eighth inning and then getting up off the mat to win it in 10, 13-12. (Yes, that all really did happen in this series, and if you don’t believe me, then just ask Mark Gergel.)

Believe it or not, the exact same bullpen that gave up zero runs in 19 innings vs. Margaritaville turned around and gave up 15 runs in 19.1 innings vs. the Bums. Go figure.

As a result, the Gophers find themselves in the middle of a group of seven teams contending for the final two wild-card spots. With the loser of the Westbound Division race between Applegate and Superior pretty much assured the first wild card, the following teams all remain in the hunt for the two other wild cards entering October play. They are: South Grand Prairie (78 wins), Satellite Beach (76), West Atlanta (75), Bushwood (75), Destin (74), Bismarck (72) and Dyersville (72). SGP is also still within striking distance (three games) of front-running Savannah in the Southbound.

Though facing dwindling usage situations at several positions, the Gophers look forward to the challenge of the October slate, featuring the Volcanoes again along with division foes Bismarck, East Cobb and Tatooine. “It’s October, and it’s all hands on deck,” said Gophers skipper Dave Renbarger. “The way I look at it, the playoffs have already started. It’s win or go home starting right now.”

Lava Flow for September

Ah September …

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
(The Volcanoes beat the Bombers (4-1) and the Paperclips (5-0); the Volcanoes lost to the Gophers (1-4) and to the Treblemakers (2-3))

it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
(The Volcanoes scored 28 runs against the Bombers and 42 against the Paperclips; the Volcanoes scored 10 runs against the Gophers and 25 against the Treblemakers)

it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
(Charlie Blackmon had 7 RBI against the Bombers and 7 against the Paperclips; Blackmon had 2 RBI against the Gophers and 4 against the Treblemakers)

it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
(Alex Claudio had an ERA of 3.38 against the Bombers and 0.00 against the Paperclips; Claudio had an ERA of 13.50 against the Gophers and 13.50 against the Treblemakers)

it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
(The Volcanoes outhomered the Bombers 9-5 and outhomered the Paperclips 7-4; the Volcanoes were outhomered by the Gophers 6-1 and outhomered the Treblemakers 7-6)

we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
(The Bombers batted .238 against Ervin Santana and the Paperclips batted .176 against Santana; the Gophers batted .286 against Santana and the Treblemakers batted .571 against Santana)

we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way
(The Volcanoes converted .700 of their fielding x-chances against the Bombers and .963 of their chances against the Paperclips; the Volcanoes converted .682 of their fielding x-chances against the Gophers and .679 of their chances against the Treblemakers)

— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Gopher Holes for August

After their 4-16 fiasco in July, the Gophers bounced back with 12 much-needed wins in August to rekindle wild-card hopes in Bushwood.  Those hopes, however, will require a big finish by the Gophers in September and October, as Bushwood enters the final two months four games behind the wild-card threshold in a multi-team race.

Nonetheless, optimism returned to Bushwood in August, primarily on the strength of a 5-0 sweep of Tatooine and a 4-1 outcome vs West Atlanta.  Series vs. Satellite Beach (1-4) and Superior (2-3) did little to help the Gophers’ cause.

Bushwood’s bats were booming against the Rebels, with the Gophers scoring 45 runs in the sweep.  The only close game was a 6-5 10-inning affair.  Against the Crush, the script was flipped as all five games were decided by one run and the Gophers won four of them despite scoring just 16 total runs in the series.  The only loss was a 1-0 setback that saw Luis Severino outduel Yu Darvish.

For the season, the Gophers have enjoyed near-flawless defense at the key positions of second base and shortstop.  Dustin Pedroia (1e4) and Scooter Gennett (3e13) have committed a grand total of two errors at second (one apiece).  At short, Paul DeJong (3e17) and Adeiny Hechavarria (1e7) have divided playing time almost equally and combined for just eight miscues (six by DeJong).

In reviewing the 2018 draft board, it could be concluded that the Gophers went 5-for-5 on their first five choices last March, based on the 120-game stats.  Top pick Ryan Zimmerman (No. 13 overall) has 36 homers and 96 RBIs to rank among the league leaders in both categories.  Next came DeJong (at No. 35 the first of Bushwood’s three third-round selections), and the shortstop is hitting .332 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs.  Catcher Austin Barnes came next at No. 39 and has been a perfect complement to Buster Posey behind the plate, hitting .265 with a .384 OBA.  The Gophers snagged reliever Yusmeiro Petit next at No. 43, and the righty has become one of the best closers in the league with 18 saves and a 2.24 ERA.  Finally, Gennett somehow fell to the Gophers in the fifth round at No. 69 overall.  Scooter is hitting .307 with 15 homers for Bushwood this year while leading the NL in real-life hitting for the Reds.

September looms as a critical month for the Gophers, who certainly need a winning record to remain in the hunt.  And things started off on the wrong foot as the cellar-dwelling Hypnotoads just took 3 of 5 from Bushwood in early September play.  The front-running Volcanoes, the wild-card contending Bums and the rebuilding Tree Huggers round out the slate for the month.