Do things get any easier for the Kane County Cougars? They seem to keep having players get injured. In addition to the players who entered the week injured, third baseman Jason Christian is now on the disabled list with a separated left shoulder, and outfielder Chris Berroa is missing time with a quad injury. Infielder Nino Leyja was taken out of the game on Sunday with an arm injury and the guy who replaced Christian on the roster, pitcher Murphy Smith, got hit by a liner on the right arm Sunday and was taken out of the game.
Despite those injuries, the Cougars remain in second place in the second half, three games behind Cedar Rapids. This week the Cougars offense stopped hitting for awhile and paid for it on the scoreboard. They would go 2-4 in the six games, and they lost the series in South Bend.
On Monday in the series finale against the Great Lakes Loons, the Cougars would get stomped on. They lost 8-0 and did not look good. Mathieu Leblanc-Poirier went four innings, giving up 10 hits and seven earned runs. He walked four, threw two wild pitches and hit a batter. A bright spot would be Matt Fitts, who came in relief of Poirier. He went three innings, only giving up a hit and a walk. The Cougars only came close to scoring once when Nino Leyja led off the third with a triple to right. One out later, Carlos Arrieche would reach on a force play at home, effectively ending the threat.
Like many teams in the minors, the Cougars had Tuesday and Wednesday off for the Major League All-Star game. On Thursday the Cougars began a six game road trip out East, the first three in South Bend. If you thought the game on Monday was brutal, then this game was a bad horror movie, as they would lose 11-0. You do have to give the South Bend pitcher credit though. Taylor Sinclair threw seven innings of three-hit baseball. And the South Bend bullpen then pitched two perfect innings. The Cougars would strike out nine times and walk once. Shawn Haviland was ineffective, as he went four innings, giving up nine hits and six runs. The bullpen wasn't much help either: Brett Hunter, Josue Selenes and Daniel Thomas combined for four innings, giving up six hits and five runs. Hunter would walk four in two-thirds of an inning.
Showing some fight is still left in them, the Cougars shutout the Hawks 3-0 on Friday. Jeremy Barfield had two hits and drove in a run. Franklin Hernandez also had an RBI. Kenneth Smalley pitched well. He went six innings, giving up two hits and three walks. He would strike out six Hawks and get his eighth win of the year. Matt Fitts pitched two innings, giving up only one hit and Justin Murray pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
The Cougars would lose again on Saturday in South Bend, this time 5-2. Leyja and Stephen Parker had the RBIs in the game. Chad Lee made his second start as a Cougar and lasted five innings. He would give up five hits and five runs. Scott Deal though came in and finish off the game. He went three innings, giving up only one hit and one walk.
Grand Rapids, Michigan, would be the next destination on the Cougars long, strange bus trip through the East, this time their opponent was the West Michigan Whitecaps. The first game of the series was on Saturday. The Cougars would go back to their ways in South Bend, as they lost 7-1, managing only a run in the ninth when Dusty Coleman drove home Leonardo Gil with a ground out. The big story was that the Cougars wasted another good outing by Anthony Capra. He went six innings, giving up three hits and one earned run. He did not walk anyone and struck out nine. Daniel Thomas came in and pitched two innings, and he gave up five hits and five runs with three walks and two strike outs. He walked three Caps intentionally because of runners on base.
The bats came out of hibernation for at least one day, on Sunday, as the Cougars would win 7-4. Barfield hit a two-run homer and Leonardo Gil, David Thomas and Arrieche also drove home runs. Leyja, Gil, Barfield and Coleman each had two hits.
Coming Up Next
The Cougars are back to only eight healthy bodies, so hopefully someone will get healthy soon. The Cougars finish the series against the Whitecaps (Detroit) on Monday and they are off on Tuesday. Then they come home to face the Fort Wayne Tin Caps (San Diego) for three games. The Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati) then come in for three game. After that they go on a 10-game road trip to Cedar Rapids (Los Angeles Angels), Lansing (Toronto) and Wisconsin (Milwaukee).
About the writer
David Malamut has been a season ticket holder of the Cougars for the past 13 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 David's website, Voice of A Season Ticket Holder, http://malamut.net. You can also follow the Cougars on my twitter page, http://twitter.com/davidmalamut. Or follow my blog http://davidmalamut.blogspot.com