Cats blow lead late, drop series to lowly Cardinals

[Carlos is back with another addition to the site. I’m actually going to be adding him as a contributor to the Litter Box in a couple of weeks.. stay tuned for that.]

It was an eventful game at Ottawa Stadium today, as the Fat Cats took on the visiting (yet playing as the home team) Hamilton Cardinals in the rubber match of this weekend’s three-game set. The two teams split the first two games, with Hamilton winning the opener and Ottawa winning yesterday’s contest in a rain-shortened blow out.

Despite Cardinals starter Martinow’s struggles, reliever Zach Pearson was excellent, going 5 complete, giving up just one hit while walking one and striking out two. Fat Cats flamethrower Matt Hummel started for the Fat Cats, and put in another solid performance over 7 complete, giving up just one solitary run on three hits while fanning 5 Cardinal hitters.

The Fat Cats opened the scoring in the top of third, as DH Brandon Huffman scored 3B Cody Mombourquette and C Pat Gagnon on a long double to left field. The Cards would respond in the bottom half, as 3B Anthony Rizquez scored an unearned run on an error by Fat Cats third basemen Cody Mombourquette, and the score was 2-1 through 3 innings.

The Fat Cats would put up two runs in both the 5th and 6th to take a commanding 6-1 lead into the bottom of the 8th. With Hamilton down to their final six outs, manager Tim Nelson called on inconsistent left-hander Tyler Durward to pitch the eighth. Durward promptly walked the first two batters of the inning, who both scored on a single by Chike Springer and a double by Colin Porter respectively. The floodgates opened up with a Ryan Taylor double which plated Zack Ranta and Colin Porter, cutting the FatCats lead to 6-5. Ryan Taylor would also score in the inning on a fielder’s choice, tying the game at 6.

The game would settle down as it went into extras, with relievers Josh Soffer (Fat Cats) and Zach Pearson (Cardinals) working very effectively into the extra frames.

Finally, in the bottom of the 13th, after 3 and a half hours of baseball, Cards’ SS Chris Redfern drove in the winning run with a single to center field, scoring C Tim Black.

My Take

Bringing in Durward and leaving him in for that long was a bad move by Tim Nelson and I think highlights this team’s biggest hole, its pen. The Fat Cats had this game and gave it away with six outs left. Kudos to the Hamilton Cardinals for coming up here and winning the series, taking the rubber match today. After seeing their scores early in the year, I thought they would be cellar-dwellars, but they certainly had more resolve than a cellar-dwellar this weekend. I was impressed by how their hitters dragged out ABs, really made the Fat Cats pitchers work for outs on Saturday and today.

Fat Cats

Brutal series loss against a team sitting near the basement. Fully expected a series win. With a hungry Maple Leafs team looking to climb the standings, and a BayCats team which is a perennial contender, rolling into town next weekend, the ‘Cats will really need to get things together. They now sit at 5-7, and sit dangerously close to the bottom of the league, with more Games Played than anyone else, with the exception of the Cardinals. They’ve got to bounce back next weekend.

Cardinals

A surprise series victory. The Cards are 4-8, and will definitely be in a dogfight for those last few playoff spots in the next month or so. I’m expecting them to make it based on what I saw at Ottawa Stadium this weekend, but their starting pitching was unspectacular to say the least. Their ABs were nose-to-the-grindstone if you know what I mean, and I think that they should be able to win at least two of their four games next weekend (@ Kitchener will be a close one with evenly matched teams, they should win v. London though the Majors have overachieved this year, @ Burlington is the type of game they have to win to make the playoffs, and v. Brantford will be tough as always).

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