I was in Harrisburg today for the Senators game against the Reading Fightin’ Phils, the AA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

I knew I would be missing Anthony Rendon as today was a day off from his rehab assignment, but I knew that I would likely see Brian Goodwin, a center field prospect working his way back to AAA after a shoulder injury last year. However, there was something puzzling — and strangely familiar — about the line-up that manager Brian Daubach ran out today.

A third of the line-up had a place on the 2013 Senators — Goodwin was the starting centerfielder, Rick Hague was the starting second baseman, and Brian Jeroloman was the back-up catcher (behind Sandy Leon) who suffered an horrific plate collision in the Eastern League Division Series that year.

Taking the mound for the Senators today was Paolo Espino. Against him for the Fightings was Tom Windle.

Like my write-up of Denard Span’s rehab appearance, I’m largely going to forgo a blow-by-blow account of the game. Rather, I’m going to touch on a couple of points of interest.

However, here’s the quick summary of the game. Harrisburg scored first in the bottom of the third on some small ball play (a walk, a sac bunt, a ground out that advanced Jeroloman to third, a line drive that scored the runner). Reading tied it up in the top of the fifth with a solo shot from their catcher, Gabriel Lino, and they tacked on two runs in the top of the sixth with a homer by first baseman Brock Stassi and an RBI by Tony Thomas that scored Gustavo Pierre. The Senators tied it up in the eighth thanks to a bases-loaded single by Goodwin. The Fightings retook the lead in the top of the ninth when Paul Demny gave up a home run to Gustavo Pierre, and the Senators went without much fight (except for an ejection) in the bottom half of the inning. Final score: Reading 4, Harrisburg 3.

Brian Goodwin

It was great to see Goodwin back on the baseball field.

As best I can tell, he had all of one defensive chance in the game, a flyout by Fightings shortstop Greene (no first name, sorry; I didn’t catch it, and he’s not listed in the Senators program book) in the game’s second at-bat.

At the plate, Goodwin struck out in his first at-bat in the bottom of the first.

In his second at-bat, in the bottom of the third, Goodwin made contact and fouled the ball off twice, took a ball on a stolen base attempt by Tony Renda that put him in scoring position with two out, and then struck out.

In his third at-bat, in the bottom of the sixth, Goodwin looked somewhat lost at the plate. He was way in front of Windle’s pitches, and struck out on the at-bat’s seventh pitch.

His fourth at-bat, in the bottom of the eighth, drove in two runs. He made solid contact and drove that ball with authority up the middle through the infield into center.

My impression of Goodwin (small sample size, admittedly) is that his timing’s not there and his swing is off.

I saw the suggestion on another Nationals fan site that he’s close to moving on to Syracuse, and I think that would be a mistake at this point. Moving Goodwin now (or within the near term) would complicate Syracuse’s outfield and possibly keep Michael Taylor from playing every day. It would probably be better to leave Goodwin in Harrisburg until Taylor returns to DC as both would be able to play regularly, and Goodwin could work on getting his rhythm back after his injury last summer.

Managerial Decision-Making

After seeing three games in person, I have come to the conclusion that Senators manager Brian Daubach has zero faith in his offense’s ability to score runs.

The Senators gameplan really seems to be:

  1. Man gets on base via hit or walk
  2. Sacrifice bunt him over to scoring position
  3. Hope for the best
  4. ???
  5. Profit!

To be fair, in the third inning, that made sense. Jeroloman got on base with a walk, the pitcher, Espino, came to bat. A sac bunt is what you expect.

In the eighth inning, however…

Rick Hague gets on base. Jeroloman gets on base. The pitcher’s spot is up, but Sammy Solis isn’t going out to hit. Instead, Daubach sends up a pinch hitter, Stephen Perez, to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Perez who, right now, has a batting average below .150. To sacrifice bunt.

Perez was unable to lay down a sacrifice bunt. He popped the first back over the screen. He popped the second up and Reading’s catcher almost had it. He then fouled off a pitch, and was rung up on a called third strike. The at-bat, frankly, was wasted.

Let’s look at who Daubach had off the bench besides Perez. (I am assuming that he did not have Anthony Rendon off the bench. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rendon weren’t even in the dugout.) He had Shawn Pleffner. He had Adrian Sanchez. And he had Matt Skole. In this situation, men on first and second, no outs, down by two runs, I think I would have turned to Skole first, Pleffner as a second choice. No sac bunts, just try to put the ball into play from the start.

The next at-bat loaded the bases, Tony Renda struck out, and with the bases full and Brian Goodwin at the plate, things didn’t look promising for the Senators. This is a script I’ve seen before in the previous two games — get men on base and not bring them in. Fortunately, Goodwin made solid contact and brought two runs in, which was not at all the outcome I was expecting.

Then, with two men on base (Derrick Robinson on second, Goodwin on first), Kevin Keyes struck out to end the Senators’ threat in the bottom of the eighth.

Skole, by the way, did come into the game as a defensive replacement at first in the ninth inning, and he would have been the fifth batter in the bottom half of the inning had the inning gone that far.

Sammy Solis

Espino was removed from the game in the fifth inning:

He was replaced by Derek Self, who let in an inherited runner in the fifth and gave up a home run in the sixth.

In the seventh, Sammy Solis came on.

At bat in that picture is Reading’s Tom Windle.

I cannot tell you how excited I was to see Solis pitch. This guy’s career has been derailed by injury after injury, and just to see that he was pitching, it was a joy to see him take the mound. (I know, I’m repeating myself here.)

Solis faced seven batters across his two innings. He gave up a single to the first batter he faced. Five of his outs were all contact-induced. Four of those outs were ground balls that didn’t leave the infield.

He was efficient. Nineteen pitches altogether, with just eight in the seventh inning. (And the seventh was the inning where he allowed a baserunner.)

I know the Nationals had drafted him as a potential starter, but he may have a role going forward as a left-handed bullpen arm.

The Phillies Prospects

Reading’s starting, Tom Windle, went seven innings and allowed just one run. In the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth, he only faced three batters. I don’t know that he’s great, but he certainly kept Harrisburg’s bats silent.

First baseman Brock Stassi went 2-4 with a single and a home run.

Reading batting practice

Final Thoughts

Let me be clear. I’m not annoyed now, and I wasn’t then. I saw an autographing happening and had the thought, “Hey, I can get my program signed!” Especially since several of the Senators’ players looked like they were bored out of their skulls. But, I’m only on a 13-game plan, and that wasn’t enough to get an autograph. Rules are rules, those are the breaks, and you don’t know until you hop in line.

I recognized the accent of the woman at the concession stand. She was from New Zealand, not Australia, and I told her I hoped she had a good ANZAC Day. (Friday and Saturday the 100th-anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign was commemorated in Turkey.) She was quite chuffed.

I enjoy watching the scouts. They have a specific area at Metro Bank Park. The one with the radar gun was clocking all of the Nationals pitchers.

Scouts

No “God Bless America” this week. I was inwardly pleased about that.

I keep looking at the Hoffman Ford sign above the Senators’ team store (see the Sammy Solis picture above), and I think how awesome it would be if the Senators put seating on top of the team store. Two seating sections to the right (from my perspective) of the foul pole, one to the left. Kinda like Wrigleyville, except the team would control those seats. Call it “Ollieville,” after Ollie’s Bargain Outlets.

My next game is this Saturday. I’ll be visiting family in Lynchburg, and we’re planning to see the Lynchburg Hillcats (High-A, Cleveland Indians) take on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High-A, Chicago Cubs). And then, Sunday, May 10th, when the Altoona Curve return to City Island.

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