Weekly Record: 1-3
Overall Record: 35-42
2nd Half Record: 4-5
Standings: 3rd, 3.5 GB
The Naturals only played 4 games this week, and lost the series at Springfield three games to one. I was hoping for a better start to the second half after the promotions of Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer brought some excitement and life to the Naturals’ rotation. However, the Naturals sit in third place and are already 3.5 games behind the 8-2 Travelers. At this point, they just have to take second place in the division to make the playoffs because the Travelers won the first half and already have a playoff spot. For this reason, it’s a best-of-three situation.
The All Star Game started the week for the Texas League. The Naturals had six players named All Stars this year. Those participating Naturals were Gabriel Cancel, Khalil Lee, DJ Burt, Gerson Garabito, Ofreidy Gomez, and Conner Greene. Burt didn’t play, as he was recovering from injury, but the other five played.
Cancel struck out and grounded out.
Lee struck out, flew out to center, and flew out to right.
Greeene took the loss in the game giving up one run on a wild pitch. He walked two and gave up one hit in his three outs of work.
Gomez had an interesting inning as well. He got the first batter to ground out and struck out the second batter. However, the second Michael De Leon reached first on a wild pitch and later scored. It’s not uncommon for a catcher who hasn’t worked with a pitcher to have issues catching them. The next batter hit a grounder to short but the the North couldn’t turn over the double play. The bonus batter, Collin Theroux, hit a two-run homer to right center. Gomez struck the next batter out giving him two in his performance.
Garabito gave up a leadoff triple. He then walked the next hitter before giving up a single allowing the run to score. After two strikeouts he was lifted getting just the two outs in the inning.
As a whole, the Naturals position players were 0-5 with two Ks, and the pitchers went 2.2 innings giving up four runs on four hits and three walks. They struck out four and gave up one home run.
All Star games are always memorable, but this might be one the Naturals in particular want to forget.
The Naturals came out winning the first game after the break over the Cardinals. Nick Heath had his best game of the second half right off the bat, going 3-5 with a home run, double, and single. He also stole his 41st base of the season, scoring two runs in the game. Freddy Fermin hit his first Double-A homer. Lee singled in this game and stole his 33rd base of the season trying to stay on pace with Heath.
Brady Singer got the win, throwing 6.0 innings giving up just one run on four hits and one walk. Singer also had six strikeouts. The pen held strong going 3.0 innings allowing just one run on one hit, one walk, and striking out six.
The Naturals currently have three catchers on their roster with Fermin, Nick Hutchins, and Meibrys Viloria. The Royals did this for a while last year, and I really don’t understand the need for three catchers at an affiliate.
New guy Tyler Zuber took the loss on Friday in walkoff fashion. Remember in the minors each team starts with a runner on second base in extra innings. The Naturals were unable to score Cancel when he got tagged out at third. The Cardinals bunted their runner to third base and scored him when a single dropped in center. It was the only hit Zuber gave up. It was also the first base runner against him. A free guy from an international tie-breaker rule that isn’t needed. If there is any condolence, the run is at least unearned.
JC Cloney started the game for the Naturals, going 5.0 innings and getting a no decision. He gave up four runs on seven hits and three strikeouts. The bullpen ended up giving up three runs, but not one of them was earned meaning the Naturals should have won this game.
Heath again had three hits including a triple and drove in three runs. Heath also gained a bag on Lee stealing his 42nd base of the summer. Lee doubled and homered. Fermin had two more hits including a double, and Taylor Featherston had two hits including his seventh home run.
Conner Greene came back from his loss in the all star game throwing 6.0 one hit innings Saturday. He walked one and had four strikeouts. Gomez then came in and threw 2.0 innings giving up three unearned runs and taking the loss. Another game the Naturals should have won. That would make them 3-0 this week instead of 1-2 at this point.
Adalberto Mondesi rehabbed with the Naturals in this game and went one for five with a stolen base. Heath continued his hot start to the second half with a walk, single, and scored the Naturals’ only run.
Mondesi went one for four in his second game with the Naturals but the Naturals could only muster one run and again took the loss. Heath added two hits and two more stolen bases scoring the only run. That makes 44 on the season. Lee was zero for three but did walk and stole his 34th base of the season. The Naturals struck out 13 times.
Jackson Kowar only threw 4.0 innings but did manage eight strikeouts. Kowar gave up four hits, three runs, two earned, and walked two. Kowar threw 89 pitches in his loss. Bryan Brickhouse threw 2.0 innings striking out four and not allowing a base runner.
The Naturals have a full week hosting the Travelers for three before going to Tulsa for four. These two teams are the two teams ahead of the Naturals in the standings. This is a big week in the Naturals’ quest for a playoff spot in the second half. A strong week would go a long way in the standings. Singer should get two starts this week while Kowar gets one. This is one reason I thought the Naturals would have a strong second half at the beginning of the season; a bump in starting pitching should only benefit any club. If Lynch wasn’t injured I think he would be in NWA as well, and those three would be getting 60 percent of the starts.