Fat Cats beat Majors, WIN SERIES 4-1!!

Game 2 - Chris Latimer slides into home, Tyler Graham leaps into the air to make a catch (Courtesy: Browns Photos)

My plan was to come home from Toronto this morning, and write a mid-series update on the Ottawa Fat Cats’ quarterfinal series against the London Majors. I expected to be writing about how the Fat Cats were one win away from tying it all up, or how we could most definitely make a comeback and overcome the odds.

I won’t be talking about any of that today, because we don’t need to overcome the odds. We don’t need to make a comeback, or win any more games at Labatt Park.

We don’t need to, because the Fat Cats upset the London Majors in 5 games. Even though Ottawa was the lower seed in their playoff quarterfinal, the Cats still finished off the the Majors very quickly. We’ve shocked the IBL world and proved all critics wrong.

The final game of this series paints a fairly accurate picture of how the Fat Cats won this series. Ottawa won the game by a score of 1-0. It was a game where we didn’t provide much offence, but our pitching bailed us out.

If this series is any indication, Manager Nelson is using a 4-man starting rotation for the playoffs, that consists of (in order): Matt McGovern, Josh Soffer, William Sebastian and Brett Sabourin. Out of these arms, Matt McGovern leads them in almost every category. 18 innings pitched, 2 wins in 2 games, 17 strikeouts and an unheard of 1.00 ERA. Josh Soffer is second in strikeouts (9) and in innings pitched (9), however his ERA is quite high (6.00) due to an off-day in game 2.

Brett Sabourin was very impressive in his only start, and Sebastian definitely passed the test in his as well. Danny Desclouds has been the only reliever to appear so far, and he has done OK.

The issue with Desclouds–and many other Fat Cat pitchers–is consistency. Desclouds is obviously an amazing talent on the mound, but his pitching can be erratic at times. When he can’t find his arm, it gets pretty ugly, but when he gets on a roll you better watch out. This is the case for other pitchers on the Fat Cats as well. We have some great, talented pitchers, but the majority of them can be fairly unpredictable.

Josh Soffer’s performance this series was a good example. He got himself in trouble in game 2, but came back 2 days later gave up a whopping 0 runs in 3 innings pitched. He seemed like a new pitcher in game 3.

Fortunately, there wasn’t much more inconsistency on the mound during this series. Ultimately, our pitching was one of the main reasons that we won this series. Our boys in the bullpen couldn’t have stepped up at a better time.

It has been said that our pitching is the reason that we performed the way that we did during the regular season. In the playoffs, our hitting had to be better, and our boys at the plate didn’t disappoint.  (Author’s note: I shied from making a really stupid, really teenager-ish rhyme in this paragraph. You’re welcome.)

In their only loss, the Fat Cats still scored 7 runs on 10 hits. We scored at least 5 runs in every game with the exception of game 5. LaDale Hayes had his batting average above .500 until game 5, and his base-running was spectacular. Mombo raised his play at the plate (4 RBIs, led the team in hits with 7), and even Chris Latimer (.333) got in on the act, and was a lead contributor in the offensive department. Our hitters didn’t only stepped up, but they exceeded my expectations.

In my mind, the third reason that the Fat Cats disposed of London so quickly is because of the home field advantage that they received. Last week, IBL Commissioner Joe O’Neill was on /A\ London to talk IBL with Norman James. When Norm asked Mr. O’Neill about home-field advantages, he said that the hardest fields to play at for a visiting team were in Toronto, London and Brantford. While those are great choices, he left out one park in particular. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.

I have no doubts that the Fat Cats have one of–if not the–hardest stadiums to play in. For most teams it’s a long, gruelling 7 hour drive to Ottawa; they have to face a Fat Cats team that knows how to play in it’s park and utilize it’s quirks to their full potential; and there’s big boisterous crowds to work against. If you want to know how hard it is to play at Ottawa Stadium, just ask Cleveland Brownlee. I couldn’t be at any of the games this weekend, but the stories that I heard about fans running onto the field in jubilation after the Fat Cats won the series proves again that we have some of the best fans in baseball, no matter what other people say.

The combination of consistent pitching, improved hitting and a true home field advantage has propelled the Cats second round of the playoffs. They still await their opponent, however who ever it turns out to be, the Fat Cats will be in tough. If Burlington comes back to upset Toronto, we’ll play the Brantford Red Sox; and if they can’t pull off the dramatic upset, we’ll face off against the Barrie Baycats.

Ottawa went 2-3 against both of our potential opponents. Against Brantford, our wins have come while our arms were hot. If we can get McGovern in more than 2 games, and our other pitchers are still game, then we have a good chance against the Sox. Of course, our bats need to be alive as well.

Currently, I’d rather play Barrie, because of the way that Ottawa played against them during the 3-game series at Ottawa Stadium earlier this summer. The Cats played their hearts out against the Baycats, and almost swept them. However, my opinion may change if the Kitchener Panthers can come back against the Red Sox in their series, and make it go the distance. They certainly have the potential to do so.

This is the first time that an Ottawa baseball team has made it past the quarterfinals since the Lynx did it in 2003. Ottawa sports fans and media have been put on notice. Everybody that I’ve talked to–baseball fan or not–knows that the Fat Cats are moving on. The Fat Cats made the front page of the Ottawa Citizen’s sports section this morning, and the TEAM 1200 has said on air that they will be tracking the Cats for the remainder of their playoff run. Baseball fever has hit the capital, and the Tylenol isn’t helping.

Once the 2nd round schedule is out, I’ll post it here. Buckle your seat belts, folks!

    • Pierre
    • August 3rd, 2011

    Too bad you couldn’t attend Michael.

    Most likely schedule is first two games this weekend in Barrie. Toronto should win their series, as early as tonight. Even if they win tomorrow, I think the team will want to play this weekend. Which means games 3, 4 and 5 Tuesday to Thursday nights. As luck would have it, I’ll be in TO on Tuesday.

    Good post by the way. Nitpicking: the Lynx in 2003 lost the first round (semi-finals). Last and only time they won a series was in 1995 when they won the IL championship.

    If the media has joined the bandwagon, that’s great. Maybe we’ll see more at the park next week.

    Against Barrie this year: 0-2 in Barrie, one close 2-1 game early in the year when the team has not hit its stride, they got shutout 6-0 in the other game. 2-1 in Ottawa, all three games decided by one run.

    Agree Tim will likely go with McGovern, Soffer, Sebastian and Sabourin. That basically only leaves Desclouds in the pen. LaDale Hayes did warm up on Sunday so we might see him pitch. But looks like it’s up to the starters and go deep.

    • Hi Pierre… thanks for the comment and compliment 🙂

      As for the 2003 stat, I referred to the Baseball Cube, where it said that the Lynx lost in the semis that year: http://www.thebaseballcube.com/teams/teamPage.asp?T=10337

      I would think that the IBL would do their best to keep play at Ottawa stadium on weekends. The only time that we had games during the week this year, were on holidays.

  1. I was at games 4 and 5. Terrific baseball, and a big crowd at the Monday game. Not to get too far ahead of things, but if the Cats have a good playoff run, what happens to home games scheduled during “Ottawa Midway Magic” August 19-28? http://midwaymagic.ca/

    • That is a very good question… I would assume that Midway Magic would take place in the parking lot of the Stadium? If that’s the case, it would only take up part of the lot, right? Or is it bigger than I’m thinking…

      In a worst case scenario, we’d likely have to play the finals at a different baseball venue in Ottawa, or have to play all the final games on the road.

    • Pierre
    • August 5th, 2011

    >> As for the 2003 stat, I referred to the Baseball Cube, where it said that the Lynx lost in the semis that year

    Yes, they lost in the first round which was a semi-final. You original said they made it past the first round, implying they won the series.

    As for the finals, let’s wait to see if were going to get by the Baycats. No word yet as to when the games will be scheduled. If it goes seven games, the seventh could be on the 14th, assuming no rainouts and starting tomorrow, a big if right now. So yeah, our home games during the finals could fall as the Midway starts.

    Actually, this could be good and bring people to see the games, maybe a cross-promo of some sort. But first things first, need to win against Barrie and that won’t be easy.

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