The Rawhide currently tied with the Modesto Nuts for first in the Wild Card standings with one game remaining and Modesto holding the tiebreaker by virtue of their 8-7 head-to-head record thus far.
How bad have the last five games been for the Visalia Rawhide? Well, two
of those five losses came against the San Jose Giants, the team that would
eventually overtake the Rawhide and claim the division title. But even
more disturbingly, the Rawhide offense only scored three runs over those five
games. That's unheard of.
Visalia combined for 18 hits over the first four games, which averages to
just 4.5 hits per game. Then Saturday night against Bakersfield, the
offense showed signs of life with eight hits - including two from the scrappy
Elijah Rumler - but went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, stranded nine
runners total, and managed to push across just one run. Rumler actually
stranded Ollie Linton at third base after he tripled in the third and provided
the Rawhide with their best scoring chance of the day.
Part of the offense's struggles aren't the fault of the team. Sean
Coughlin's promotion to Double-A and Collin Cowgill's trip to the disabled list
left holes in the middle of the lineup. Those holes could not be
filled by newcomer Brendan Duffy, who was a top-of-the-order sparkplug for South
Bend, which wasn't a need for the Rawhide due to the presence of Linton.
David Cooper and Daniel Rodriguez - both of whom joined the team out of extended
spring training and had never before played full-season ball - are clearly
overmatched at the Hi-A level, combining for 10 hits in 88 at-bats (.115), nine
of which were singles.
The good news for the Rawhide in the second half is that despite the
promotions of Jarrod Parker, Wes Roemer, and Chase Christianson, the pitching is
still on par with the Giants' for the best in all the California League.
The offense should rebound to an extent when Cowgill returns from the DL and
could soon receive a boost from the likes of Justin Parker and perhaps a high
draft choice or two. There is also still an improbable chance of a
first-half Wild Card seeding if Visalia defeats Bakersfield and Modesto loses to
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The Visalia Rawhide lost their fifth consecutive game Saturday, and subsequently the first-half North Division title for the California League. The San Jose Giants have won four-of-five to wrest the division from Visalia, who had led all season long until their bats disappeared this week.