First Half Review
The Kane County Cougars survived the first half of the season. They would finish with a 32-37 record, and ended 11.5 games out of first and eight games out of a playoff spot.
The pitching wasn't that bad throughout the first half, as the starting rotation did have a lot of bright spots. Ian Krol, even though he is on a strict innings count and pitch count, has put together a great first half. He went 5-2 with a 1.98 ERA in 72.2 innings. Although he is only pitching five or six innings a start and going around 80 pitches each time, he has been dominant at times throughout the first half. He had 55 strikeouts and 14 walks and he gave up only one homer. He has been the most consistent starter for the Cougars in this half.
Daniel Straily also has pitched very well in the first half of the season with a 5-4 record and a 4.74 ERA. Those numbers really don't tell the whole story. He has been spectacular at home with a 1-1 record and 1.95 ERA in five games. His main problem has been on the road where he is 4-3 with a 6.41 ERA in 10 starts. Five of his six homeruns against have also come on the road. He did struggle in June though with a 1-3 record and a 7.33 ERA in five starts.
Robert Gilliam also has been good during the first half. It seems that he has alternated a good outing with a bad outing. He ended the first half with a 5-5 record and a 3.90 ERA in 15 games. He has 70 strikeouts and 30 walks in 85.1 innings. Most of his starts though have gone at least five innings and under three runs allowed.
The bullpen has had it's ups and downs this season. Connor Hoehn, Bo Schultz, A.J. Huttenlocker and Josh Lansford have all been good most of the year. Jose Guzman has been the closer but has given up a lot of hits, but somehow has wiggled his way out of a lot of situations.
Offensively, well, this team has struggled to put some runs on the board consistently. They went through a very bad stretch in May where they lost 14 out of 16 and just couldn't hit. Kent Walton, Myrio Richard, Tyreace House, Rashun Dixon, Anthony Aliotti and Max Stassi have been the best hitters this year.
After Walton came off of the disabled list, he has been a consistent threat. Richard was the only one hitting in May and has been among the most consistent Cougars this year. House and Dixon have their moments where they are spectacular but they don't come that often, especially on defense. Aliotti has been good most of the year. Stassi struggled in the beginning of the year, but leads the team in homers with nine.
Leonardo Gil was very hot for a stretch in April and into May but has cooled off some. He leads the team in runs batted in with 39. Conner Crumbliss leads the league in walks and has become a pretty good defensive second baseman. He just need to hit more.
Last Weekend In Review
This past week Stassi, Krol and Hoehn all went to the Midwest League All-Star game in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to represent the Cougars.
After the game the team had two more days off, so they didn't play again until Friday against the Quad Cities River Bandits (St. Louis). On Friday, they would come out with a win but it wasn't easy. Michel Gilmartin had a double in the second to score two runs. Dixon singled home Aliotti in the sixth and Stassi singled home Crumbliss in the eighth. Gilliam pitched into the sixth inning, giving up four hits and no runs. The trouble was in the ninth inning with Guzman on to start the inning. He would give up four hits and two runs, but the team would pull out the win, 4-2.
The second game of the series was Saturday, and the Cougars would lose 8-7, as the Bandits scored four times in the ninth inning. House drove-in two runs on singles. Crumbliss walked twice and had a sacrifice fly. Straily didn't pitch that badly, as he went into the fifth inning, giving up five hits and two runs. The biggest problem was Jose Pina in the eighth and the ninth innings. He would give up six hits and five runs. Only one of those runs would be earned. In the ninth, the inning began with a Gilmartin error. It would end after a sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded double.
The last game of the series was a marathon as the two teams went 16 innings and two position players factored in the decision. Gilmartin was a single short of the cycle, with a two-run homer in the second, a triple in the sixth and a double in the 11th. Aliotti also homered in the game. The game would end with infielder Gil on the mound. With two outs and one runner on via walk, he would walk the next three and get the loss.
This week the Cougars lost Anvoiris Ramirez and Nino Leyja to Vancouver. The team got Jason Christian back. He was a Cougars for parts of the last two seasons. He has been rehabbing a wrist injury in Arizona.
Next week the Cougars go to Clinton, Iowa, to face the Lumberkings (Seattle) for three games. After that they welcome in the Peoria Chiefs (Chicago Cubs) for three games and then the Beloit Snappers (Minnesota) come to town for three game.
About the Author
David Malamut has been covering the Cougars since 1998, with his own website, (http://malamut.net). He has also written a book about the Cougars, "Baseball In Kane County Cougars" (Arcadia/2005). For daily updates on the Cougars, go to his website (http://malamut.net) or follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/davidmalamut) for in game news and notes.