Kane County Notebook: Cougars Playing Well

The first half of the 2008 season is nearing the end and the Kane County Cougars have begun to hit their stride as a team. A successful week has the Cougars going into next week with good momentum. David Malamut updates us on the Cougars' progress inside...

Team Update

Going into Monday, the Kane County Cougars are 5.5 games behind the Clinton Lumber Kings with 14 games to go in the first half, and they are 4.5 games ahead of Beloit Snappers for second place. The Cougars have won three in a row and six of their last 10.

The Cougars are fourth in the league in hitting with a .253 average, but the strength of the team is their pitching. The Cougars staff is first in the league in pitching with a 2.60 earned run average.

The week began with a loss to Quad City on Monday. The Cougars then took three out of four against Wisconsin, and took the first game of the series against Cedar Rapids to end the week.

Roster Notes

There were several transactions this week. Infielder Carlos Arrieche was sent to extended spring training on Friday and put back on the roster on Sunday. Shortstop Michael Richard came off the disabled list on Friday. Pitcher Ryne Tacker went back to extended spring on Sunday.

Player Highlights

Right-hander Scott Deal went back into the rotation with his start on Sunday. On Wednesday he made a relief appearance and pitched very well with two and one third innings of no-hit ball. On Sunday, he had a strong first start, going five innings and allowing four hits and three walks, plus four strike-outs.

Reliever Leonardo Espinal struggled in his one outing this week. On Sunday, he went an inning and two-thirds, and he allowed two hits and three unearned runs. The runs were unearned due to his error covering first base and missing the ball.

Justin Friend has been good coming out of the bullpen. This week, he had two saves in three appearances. He gave up four hits and no runs in two and two-thirds innings. He did not walk anyone and struck out four.

Starter Scott Hodsdon continued his turn around. On Wednesday, he went into the sixth inning for the third straight start. In this outing, he gave-up nine hits, but only one run in the win. He threw 104 pitches, 65 strikes.

There really isn't anything else that can be said about the season that right-hander Craig Italiano is having. On Friday, he went five innings, giving up one hit. He struggled with his command more than he has most of the year, as he walked two and hit two. He struck out five and earned his seventh win of the season. He hasn't allowed a run since April 21st and his season ERA is an incredible 0.65.

Right-hander Scott Mitchinson was solid again this week for the Cougars in his start on Thursday. He went seven innings, giving up two hits and one unearned run. He struck out seven, but would end up with the loss. He hasn't allowed an earned run since the 13th of May and his ERA is 1.49. Right-hander Jamie Richmond struggled a little in his outing this week. He went seven innings, but gave up nine hits and four runs. He did not walk anyone and struck out five in the win. He threw 89 pitches, 69 for strikes, and he induced 10 groundball outs. Richmond has walked only seven batters in 63 innings this season.

Catcher Jonathan Johnston had a single and a double in 16 at-bats this week. He walked three times and was hit by a pitch, but he struck out seven times. He also stole a base, his 11th of the year. On Sunday, he made two throwing errors and had a passed ball.

Infielder Larry Cobb has a three-game hitting streak including hitting his second homer of the year on Sunday. He is batting .324 for the Cougars.

Infielder Justin Frash debuted for the Cougars this week and has played in four games. He has really hit. Frash had one hit in the first and fourth games, and two hits in his second and third games. He has scored five runs, and walked three times. He has only played in the field once (third base on Sunday).

At the beginning of the week, Danny Hamblin was hitting well, but he cooled off by the end of the week. In seven games as a Cougar, he has seven walks and eight strike-outs, and he has reached base in every game. He has played third base in all but one game (Sunday), and made one error.

Infielder Matt Ray is in a slump, as he is one for his last 17. Shortstop Michael Richard is back to hitting at the top of the order after being activated from the DL. He has two sacrifice flies and three runs batted in since returning. Richard also has stolen two bases and has been caught once.

Centerfielder Corey Brown had a homer on Monday, his second in two weeks and his eighth of the season. Since that homer, he is 4-17 with four strike-outs. He had a two-hit game on Thursday and a hit on Saturday and Sunday.

Outfielder Shane Keough had a five-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday. He had two games with two hits, with a double and a triple in those games. Keough almost doubled his season total of extra-base hits this week, collecting two after entering the week with only three on the year.

Looking Ahead

Next week the Cougars continue their series in Cedar Rapids (Angels) on Monday through Wednesday. Then the Beloit Snappers (Minnesota) come to town for four games starting on Thursday.

About the writer

David Malamut has been a season ticket holder of the Cougars for the past 11 years. He has also been writing a daily website about the team for that long at http://malamut.net. David wrote a book about the history of the Cougars in 2005. Baseball In Kane County, Arcadia Publishing.

For daily updates on the Cougars, stats and game stories please go to my website, Voice of A Season Ticket Holder, http://malamut.net.

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