18 September, 2006

IRBL: 7 is a magic number

Meanwhile, the Mariners (my International Replay Baseball League entry) leads the AL West by 4 games with 10 left to play. All of sudden, this light hitting bunch have a magic number of 7.

The next series is a 5 game home set against the Angels, our closest competition. Taking 3 out of 5 would give the M's at least a tie for the division.

This club is held together with string and candlewax. Big stick for this team? Try Jack Wilson (.281/.321/.454). Chad Tracy and Aaron Boone both have 20 homers. In fact, we've got a remarkable 8 players with double digit dingers. Then again we've also got a couple of top notch double killing leaders - Boone (23) and Marcus Giles (20). All in all, the Mariners are 11th out of 14 in hitting - .254/.319/.391.

Our strength has been pitching though as the season has worn on, the Mariners have slid down the rankings to sixth. Anchoring the staff have been a trio of veterans - Scott Elarton (18-9, 3.57 ERA, 1.22 WHiP), Mike Mussina (13-12, 3.81, 1.29) and Pedro Astacio (9-8, 3.53, 1.14). The bullpen is deep with contributions from Jeff Farnsworth (29 Saves, 1.13, 0.74), Todd Jones (7 SV, 5 Holds, 1.31, 0.85), Danys Baez (7 Saves, 8 Holds, 3.72, 1.44), Matt Miller (7 Holds, 2.92, 1.22) and Brian Shouse (14 Holds, 4.88, 1.41).

Whatever it is - luck, brilliant management, chutzpah, team chemistry or a collection of 1s and 0s in the right order - the Mariners tonight sit atop the AL West with an 82-70 record closing down on an unlikely playoff spot. It has helped playing in the IRBL's weakest division, but it has been a dogfight all season long.

If we can get past the Angels in the upcoming series, the Mariners look certain to play against the Tigers (97-50) in the first round of the playoffs. The Tigers pwn the M's with a perfect 9-0 record.

Fingers crossed.

14 September, 2006

UEFA Cup: Slavia Prague 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1

An encouraging result for Tottenham in their long awaited return to European football. Okay, it wasn't the Champions' League (grumble) and it wasn't Barcelona (sigh). But, job done.

Jermaine Jenas scored a fine goal midway through the first half after a powerful run from Didier Zakora. Tottenham cruised through the first half, took the foot of the gas in the second, were always comfortable, but conceded too much possession. A better team would have punished them.

Still, 1-0 in the away leg. That's what counts.

Top performances from Zakora (more Viera than Murphy) and Michael Dawson (stout in defence). The lean, mean Mido machine (welcome home, BTW) had the occasional deft touch. Jermain Defoe looked poor. His confidence seems shot to pieces and he's unlikely to keep his starting place on this evidence.

Top marks to the visiting hordes who made a noise throughout.

Bottom marks for Channel 5's amateurish coverage and the chocolate brown strip. Worst. Strip. Ever.

12 September, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches - Playoff edition

Alexander Smit started game 3 of the Beloit Snappers first round playoff series against the Peoria Chiefs last Friday. The series was tied with Peoria taking game 2 by a score of 6-1 after Beloit had taken the opener 2-0.

In his last start of the season Smit had gone down 3-0. Friday night he again went 7 innings, this time allowing two runs whilst scattering just three hits and 4 walks. Smit struck out ten batters. Three Snapper pitchers preserved a 4-3 which took them into the second round against Kane County.


The win last Friday turned out to be Smit's last appearance as Kane County tattooed Beloit 8-3 and 15-3 to take the series.

So, that's about it for Alexander Smit's 2006 season. It started in the Netherlands with the Dutch WBC squad, via practice in Florida, games in Puerto Rico, the Beloit bullpen, a surprise role in the rotation and finally a September evening in Peoria.

02 September, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches - Summer turns to Fall

Friday night saw Alexander Smit start his final regular season game for the Beloit Snappers. Smit went 7 full innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks with 10 strikeouts. Unfortunately, Peoria Chiefs starter Mitch Atkins was tossing 7.2 innings of 5 hit shutout ball against his teammates. Peoria won the game 3-0, handing Smit only his second loss of the season and his first loss as a starter.

Smit finishes the season with a record of 7-2 and an ERA just under 3. In 34 appearances - 13 of them starts - he pitched 108.1 innings, giving up 77 hits and 53 walks for a WHiP of 1.20, whilst striking out 141.

A season that started out as a rough ride in Arpil and May smoothed out in June and beyond with Smit picking up an award or two and praise along the way. Who knows what might have happened if he hadn't got a chance to join the rotation through injury back in June.

Beloit will open up the Midwest League playoffs on Wednesday 6 September at home to Peoria. Smit figures to pitch the second game of the three game series.

Box/Game Summary/Game Log