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Riders reflections, part six: Our final farewell

As we near the conclusion of the 2016 season, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the year that’s been. Over the last five days, we’ve looked back on different elements of the season and some of the people and moments that stand out. Click here to read previous posts.

Today, we send off the 2016 season with our final thoughts on another summer in Frisco.

walk off

NATHAN:

Well, I guess this is goodbye. But not really. I’ll be back next season so I’ll leave the teary goodbyes to Ryan and Steve, but this year has been tremendous.

Obviously we all would have liked a 76-62 record going into the final day of the regular season instead of 62-76, but there aren’t many things I would change about this season. The first 45 games of the year were incredible. This team was about as fun to watch and successful as you could possibly ask for.

I cannot thank my two partners in crime, Ryan Rouillard and Steve Goldberg, enough. They are rising stars. I feel strongly that we will all be saying “I knew him” when for both of these two fellas.

I also want to thank the front office, the coaching staff, especially manager Joe Mikulik, and the players. This was probably my favorite team to cover in my six seasons in baseball; this team was full of great guys and incredible athletes. I look forward to watching them shine brightly next season, at whatever level that may be.

Lastly, thank to all of you loyal readers. We appreciate your support of the Riders Insider Blog and of all of us.

RYAN:

The 14th season of RoughRiders baseball certainly didn’t end in an ideal way, but this has still been a really fun team to be around this season.

As I wrote yesterday, April was quite the memorable month. Not only was the on-field success memorable in the midst of the team’s scorching hot 17-4 start, but this team’s attitude throughout it all was half the fun. This team was enjoying itself to the point of doing a pregame dance every day for awhile. It was great to see that unbridled enthusiasm at the ballpark night in and night out.

This team was full of fun characters, from dance leader Shaq Matta to sunflower-seed-throwing Lewis Brinson to state-naming Ryne Slack and Joe Filomeno.

Furthermore, it was a roster with a medley of guys from a medley of places, as the Riders had representatives from the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Curacao this season.

Even through the second-half struggles, I’ve still enjoyed being around this team every day. This was my first season working in Minor League Baseball, and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the world of affiliated baseball. The players, coaches, front office staff, fans, and most notably, my fellow comrades in the booth, have made this season one I’ll remember fondly for a long time.

STEVE:

This is it. The final day of the 2016 season. Where did the time fly?

The last day of the regular season brings out a mix of emotions. In one regard, it is a happy time to celebrate a year’s worth of accomplishments! Both as a front office and on the field, the RoughRiders have certainly achieved a lot this year.

But in another way, it is a bit like graduating from school. You look around the room one last time and will likely never see everyone in the same place again. But all good things must eventually come to an end, and this is true today.

The RoughRiders will play one more game against Midland in front of the home crowd this afternoon. Thank you to every single RoughRiders fan who came out to the park this year and made the atmosphere here amazing night after night. I have yet to find a better place to watch a Minor League baseball game than Dr Pepper Ballpark.

The hospitality and professionalism shown by everyone who is a part of this organization struck me from day one. I continue to express that to people who ask about my experience working for the RoughRiders this year.

On the baseball side of things, April was an incredible month and really stood out. But even after the hot start came to an end, it was still a lot of fun working with the great group of guys we had here in Frisco this year.

We talked about some of our favorite RoughRiders games this season yesterday on the blog. As far as today goes, let’s make it another memorable one!

FullSizeRender

The 2016 Riders media relations team at Spring Training in March. (left to right): Steve Goldberg, Nathan Barnett, and Ryan Rouillard

———–

PART ONE (Wednesday): Breakout player

PART TWO (Thursday): Best single-game performance by an individual

PART THREE (Friday): Favorite pregame interview

PART FOUR (Saturday): Favorite promo night at Dr Pepper Ballpark

PART FIVE (Sunday): Favorite game

PART SIX (Monday): Our final thoughts on the 2016 season

———–

Baseball term of the day: End of the line – The pitch when the count is 2-2 because pitchers do not want to go to 3-2.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Midland (9/5)

GAME #139 (2nd HALF GAME #70)

Frisco RoughRiders (62-76 overall, 24-45 2nd half) vs. Midland RockHounds (78-61, 45-24 2nd half)
Monday, September 5 – 4:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Goldberg)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Games 2-3 of 4 (RockHounds lead 1-0)
This season: Games 26-27 of 28 (RockHounds lead 14-11)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Darin Mastroianni – CF
  2. Edwin Garcia – 1B
  3. Andy Ibanez – 3B
  4. Joe Jackson – DH
  5. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 2B
  6. Eduard Pinto – RF
  7. Luis Marte – SS
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Alberto Triunfel – LF

RHP Scott Carroll (1-1, 3.41 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Doubleheader vs. Midland (L, 5-4 – 7 innings / L, 2-1 – 8 innings)

Box Score Game 1 / Box Score Game 2
Recap Game 1 / Recap Game 2
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Manager Joe Mikulik

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

The RoughRiders lost both games of yesterday’s doubleheader against Midland…GAME ONE: Trailing 5-2 in the seventh inning, the Riders rallied for a pair of runs on a throwing error by Midland reliever Kyle Finnegan and a fielding error by Richie Martin…However, the Riders left the bases loaded to end the game…GAME TWO: FRANK LOPEZ turned in five strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits…DARIN MASTROIANNI hit the first home run for Frisco since August 24…With the game tied 1-1 in the eighth, the RockHounds broke through with a run on three two-out hits to win 2-1.

RIDING TO POST-SEASON STARDOM:

Wednesday, the Texas League announced that outfielder RYAN CORDELL and first baseman RONALD GUZMAN were selected to the Texas League Post-Season All-Star team. Cordell is hitting .264 in 107 games this season with 19 homers and 70 RBI. He was the Texas League and Rangers Minor League Player of the Month for April. Cordell has been on the DL since August 3. Guzman was a .288 hitter with 15 homers and 56 RBI in 102 games with the Riders. He participated in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July and was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock on August 3. Additionally, Riders hitting coach JASON HART was named this year’s recipient of the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Coach of the Year Award.

MANHANDLED BY MIDLAND:

After a competitive first half of the season-series between Frisco and Midland, the RockHounds have dominated in the second half. Not only do the Hounds have a much better overall record than the RoughRiders now, but they have won 11 of the 13 second-half meetings. The Riders’ two second- half wins over Midland have come on June 21 and August 3.The RoughRiders have scored one run or fewer in eight of the 13 games.

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER:

The Riders bullpen has been very reliable the last few weeks, including only allowing three earned runs in the last four games (13.1 IP). In the last 14 contests, the bullpen has covered a lot of innings and has performed admirably with a 2.10 ERA (12 ER / 51.1 IP). The relievers have struck out 56 and walked 25, with six of the walks coming Wednesday. For the year, the bullpen has a 3.92 ERA with 512 strikeouts and 249 walks in 514.0 IP.

CHASING THE WRONG HISTORY:

The 2016 RoughRiders got off to one of the best starts in team history. The club had the best record through all but one of the first 45 games of the season, beginning the year an impressive 5-0, 9-1, 17-4, 21-6, and 30-13. Since then, the Riders have struggled in the win column. In fact, at 24-45, the Riders are guaranteed to finish with the worst single-half record in team history. The previous low mark was 29-41 (both halves of 2005 and the first half of last year).

POWER OUTAGE OVER:

Frisco snapped out of its extended home-run drought in the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader. In the bottom of the first inning, DARIN MASTROIANNI connected on the second pitch and drove it out of the park. It was the first home run for the Riders since JOE JACKSON’s solo homer in San Antonio on August 24. Frisco went a season-long 10 consecutive games without a long ball. The previous longest drought was seven games, set June 24-July 3.

ADIOS, AUGUST:

The RoughRiders are off to a 2-1 start in September after a rough month of August. The Riders went 7-20 (.259) last month, posting the lowest winning percentage in a month (excluding September) in team history. The previous low winning percentage was .318, set in April 2004 (7-14- 1) and April 2005 (7-15). During August, Frisco hit .231 and had a staff ERA of 4.64.

SO LONG TO THE STREAK:

The RoughRiders closed out an eight-game losing streak with a win Thursday and followed with another one Friday. The losing skid was tied for the longest of the season (May 24-June 1) and the third-longest in franchise history. During the eight games, the Riders averaged 2.1 runs per game while allowing 4.6.

OPPOSING STARTER:

Lefty Brandon Mann makes his second appearance of the season against the RoughRiders today…The 32-year-old is in his 10th season as a professional and first as an Oakland farmhand…He was originally drafted by Tampa Bay in the 27th round of the 2002 draft out of Mount Rainier High School (Des Moines, WA)…Mann has also pitched in the Dodgers and Pirates organizations, as well as the Japan Central League in 2011 and 2012…Mann reached Triple-A for the first time in his career on July 18, pitching in one game with Nashville on July 18 before returning to Midland…The southpaw did not join the RockHounds until July 4, while he served an 80-game PED suspension handed out in February…REPERTOIRE: Fastball, curveball, slider

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Midland (9/4)

GAMES #137-138 (2nd HALF GAMES #68-69)

Frisco RoughRiders (62-74 overall, 24-43 2nd half) vs. Midland RockHounds (76-61, 43-24 2nd half)
Sunday, September 4 – Doubleheader starting at 4:30 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Goldberg)
Live stats: Game 1 / Game 2
—————————————–
This series: Games 2-3 of 4 (RockHounds lead 1-0)
This season: Games 26-27 of 28 (RockHounds lead 14-11)

FRISCO LINEUP – GAME 1

  1. Darin Mastroianni – CF
  2. Edwin Garcia – 1B
  3. Andy Ibanez – 3B
  4. Joe Jackson – LF
  5. Alexeis Bell – DH
  6. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – C
  7. Eduard Pinto – RF
  8. Luis Marte – SS
  9. Alberto Triunfel – 2B

RHP Ariel Jurado (1-3, 2.84 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Saturday vs. Midland (L, 10-3)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: LHP Ryne Slack / IF Isiah Kiner-Falefa

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

The RoughRiders had their two-game winning streak snapped in a 10-3 loss to Midland last night… After falling behind early, Frisco scored a run in the third on an RBI single by LUIS MARTE and another in the fourth on an ALEXEIS BELL sacrifice fly… However, the RockHounds tallied five runs in the fifth inning to pull away…Midland’s Richie Martin tallied a career-high-tying five RBI in his second games at the Double-A level…Ben Bracewell tied a career- high by logging six innings of work…JOE JACKSON extended his hit streak to a season-long 10 games, going 1-for-4.

RIDING TO POST-SEASON STARDOM:

Wednesday, the Texas League announced that outfielder RYAN CORDELL and first baseman RONALD GUZMAN were selected to the Texas League Post-Season All-Star team. Cordell is hitting .264 in 107 games this season with 19 homers and 70 RBI. He was the Texas League and Rangers Minor League Player of the Month for April. Cordell has been on the DL since August 3. Guzman was a .288 hitter with 15 homers and 56 RBI in 102 games with the Riders. He participated in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July and was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock on August 3. Additionally, Riders hitting coach JASON HART was named this year’s recipient of the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Coach of the Year Award.

JACKSON JAMMIN’

Despite a shaky end to the month of August, JOE JACKSON has been a bright spot for the Riders lately. Jackson is currently on a season-long 10-game hit streak, and he has reached base in each of his last 16 games. During the hit streak, Jackson is batting .359 (14-for-39) with a home run and six RBI.

SO LONG TO THE STREAK:

The RoughRiders closed out an eight-game losing streak with a win Thursday and followed with another one Friday. The losing skid was tied for the longest of the season (May 24-June 1) and the third-longest in franchise history. During the eight games, the Riders averaged 2.1 runs per game while allowing 4.6.

ADIOS, AUGUST:

The RoughRiders are off to a 2-1 start in September after a rough month of August. The Riders went 7-20 (.259) last month, posting the lowest winning percentage in a month (excluding September) in team history. The previous low winning percentage was .318, set in April 2004 (7-14-1) and April 2005 (7-15). During August, Frisco hit .231 and had a staff ERA of 4.64.

MANHANDLED BY MIDLAND:

After a competitive first half of the season-series between Frisco and Midland, the RockHounds have dominated in the second half. Not only do the Hounds have a much better overall record than the RoughRiders now, but they have won nine of the 11 second-half meetings. The Riders’ two second-half wins over Midland have come on June 21 and August 3.The RoughRiders have scored one run or fewer in seven of the 11 games.

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER:

The Riders bullpen has been very reliable the last few weeks, including only allowing one earned run in the last two games (9.0 IP). In the last 12 contests, the bullpen has covered a lot of innings and has performed admirably with a 1.91 ERA (10 ER / 47.0 IP). The relievers have struck out 50 and walked 22, with six of the walks coming Wednesday. For the year, the bullpen has a 3.92 ERA with 506 strikeouts and 246 walks in 509.2 IP.

CHASING THE WRONG HISTORY:

The 2016 RoughRiders got off to one of the best starts in team history. The club had the best record through all but one of the first 45 games of the season, beginning the year an impressive 5-0, 9-1, 17-4, 21-6, and 30-13. Since then, the Riders have struggled in the win column. In fact, at 24-42, the Riders are guaranteed to finish with the worst single-half record in team history. The previous low mark was 29-41 (both halves of 2005 and the first half of last year).

ANOTHER POWER OUTAGE:

For the second time this season, the Riders are in a extended home run drought. Frisco has gone a season-long nine consecutive games without a long ball since JOE JACKSON’s solo homer in San Antonio last Wednesday. The previous longest drought was seven games, set June 24- July 3. Additionally, Nick Tanielu’s home run against the Riders in the third inning Friday was the first home run hit in a RoughRiders game since Beau Taylor hit one for Midland last Saturday.

OPPOSING STARTERS:

Right-handed pitcher James Naile makes the start for Midland in the first game of today’s doubleheader…Naile faced the RoughRiders on June 21 and turned in a quality start, allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings pitched…The Cape Girardeau, Missouri native has spent time at all four full-season affiliates in the Athletics farm system this season… Naile was selected in the 20th round of last year’s MLB Draft out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Andres Avila is scheduled to make his first start of the season for the RockHounds in the second game today…Avila’s most recent start came last year on April 15 for Class A-Advanced Stockton…The righty has faced Frisco four times this season and has only allowed one run on six hits in 7 2/3 innings pitched…Avila was signed by the Athletics as a non-drafted free agent on April 5, 2010.

Riders Reflections, part five: Favorite game

As we near the conclusion of the 2016 season, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the year that’s been. From now until Monday, we’ll look back on different elements of the season and some of the people and moments that stand out. Click here to read previous posts.

Today, we look back at our favorite games of the season.

NATHAN: July 23 at Corpus Christi

So it was a loss and all, but when a seven-year minor league veteran like Luis Mendez tells you that it was the best game he’s ever played in his life, you take notice.

It wasn’t hard to take notice of this one. The Riders struck early on Keegan Yuhl, who lead the league in ERA for a time this season, scoring three in the second and one in the fourth to knock him out of the game after just four innings. Frisco then lost that league when the Hooks tied the contest with three seventh inning runs off of Ryan Ledbetter. A rally off of stingy Eric Peterson and Ryan Thompson in the eighth inning put Frisco back up by two, 6-4, only to see the Hooks tie the game with a run in the bottom of the eighth (although they left the bases loaded) and a solo homer by Conrad Gregor in the ninth.

Frisco had a chance to move ahead on a single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the tenth, but Joe Jackson was thrown out at home plate on a throw by Ramon Laureano. The game stayed tied at 6-6 until Luis Marte blasted a home run in the top of the 14th inning to put the Riders ahead 7-6.

That brings us to David Perez. At the time, David was in the midst of some mighty struggles, having not worked in a week, and with his last outing coming in Corpus Christi as well: 0.0 IP, two batters faced, a four-pitch walk, and a single allowed. When Perez entered the ballgame, in the 10th, he was all the Riders had left. Frisco would have next gone to a position player.

Coming off an outing in which it looked as if the Riders coaching staff had very little confidence in him, he was brilliant. He pitched perfect frames in the 10th and 11th innings, and got out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the 12th with a 4-2-3 double play.

In the 14th, however, now with a lead, he ran out of gas. A Nick Tanieulu homer tied it up to open the inning, and, five batters later, Garrett Stubbs won it with a single.

There was so many memorable moments, and with the matchup on paper favoring Corpus Christi (Yuhl against Pena) it would have been maybe the signature win of the year for the Riders. Instead it was a heart-breaking loss, yet still, a game that a minor league journeyman like Luis Mendez could immediately appreciate.

One of the best games he’s ever played in. Sounds like a game worthy of Game of the Year in my book.

 

STEVE: May 17 at Midland

There have been many great RoughRiders games this year, but the game on May 17 at Midland definitely stood out as the best of the year.

An 11:00 start time meant an early rise in West Texas. In addition to a large number of fans at Security Bank Ballpark for an education day, Yu Darvish was also making a Major League rehabilitation start that afternoon for the Riders. That added even more hype to the day.

Darvish dazzled the crowd for the first five innings, striking out six batters and allowing just one unearned run in the first. Frisco jumped on top early with three runs in the first inning and tacked on additional runs in the third, fourth, and fifth to lead 6-1 when Darvish departed.

However, the RockHounds fought back with four runs in the sixth inning to cut Frisco’s lead to one. After Juan Grullon and Jose Valdespina stopped the bleeding for the next two innings, Midland pushed across the tying run with two outs in the ninth inning.

With a runner on second, Matt Chapman hit an absolute blast to left field that would have easily left the yard the night before, when the wind was blowing out to left. But on this day, it was gusting in the opposite direction and the ball bounced off the wall for a double. Instead of a walk-off win, Midland had to settle for a 6-6 tie. We headed to extras after a Beau Taylor strikeout to end the inning.

After three scoreless frames, Lewis Brinson put the Riders back on top with a solo home run to right field with two outs in the top of the 13th. But in the bottom of the inning, down to their final out again, the RockHounds tied the game back up on a solo shot, courtesy of unlikely hero Wade Kirkland (who would not hit another home run until August 11). Kirkland was not even in the starting lineup that day; he pinch-ran for power-hitting first baseman Viosergy Rosa in the 11th inning but was left stranded on base.

Two innings later, with the bases loaded and two outs in the 15th, Ryan Cordell hit a pop up into shallow right field that appeared to be the third out of the inning. However, Franklin Barreto dropped the ball and two runs scored. Ronald Guzman followed with a two-run triple to add insurance to the lead.

Preston Beck, who came in to pitch the 14th inning, stayed on in the 15th to finish out the game and earn the win. Kirkland did his best to rally the ‘Hounds again, as he connected on a two-out RBI single, but Beck struck out Chapman, who represented the tying run with two runners on, to finally put an end to the ballgame.

Final score: Frisco 11, Midland 8
Game time: 5 hours, 2 minutes (longest game of the 2016 season)
Attendance: 8,488 (largest crowd for a 2016 road game)

MORE FROM THE BLOG: Check out this game by the numbers

 

RYAN: April 29 vs. Corpus Christi

The guys took my two favorite games of the year, but the one on April 29 was a fun one, too. Trailing 7-3 entering the eighth, the Riders scored five runs to take the lead and knock off the Hooks 8-7. The early scoring came from a Zach Cone RBI double and a two-run triple from Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Chris Gimenez tied the game with an RBI single, and Ryan Cordell capped the rally with an RBI single to right field.

To add to the excitement, Corpus Christi worked a two-out rally, loading the bases against reliever Cody Palmquist. The righty, making his Double-A debut, struck out J.D. Davis to cap the thrilling win.

Frisco followed that one up with a three-run ninth inning rally the very next night to come away with a walk-off win against the Hooks.

It was a great way to cap a fun month of April, in which the Riders went 17-4 (.810), the best single-month winning percentage in team history. It seemed that this team could do no wrong for those first 21 games. Unfortunately, that magic didn’t carry over into the final months of the season, but those last few days of April were certainly memorable.

———–

PART ONE (Wednesday): Breakout player

PART TWO (Thursday): Best single-game performance by an individual

PART THREE (Friday): Favorite pregame interview

PART FOUR (Saturday): Favorite promo night at Dr Pepper Ballpark

PART FIVE (Sunday): Favorite game

PART SIX (Monday): Our final thoughts on the 2016 season

———–

Baseball term of the day: Glory time – A period late in a game during which a relief pitcher can earn a potential save.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Midland (9/3)

GAME #136 (2nd HALF GAME #67)

Frisco RoughRiders (62-73 overall, 24-42 2nd half) vs. Midland RockHounds (75-61, 42-24 2nd half)
Saturday, September 3 – 7:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Goldberg)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 1 of 4
This season: Game 25 of 28 (RockHounds lead 13-11)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Darin Mastroianni – CF
  2. Edwin Garcia – 1B
  3. Andy Ibanez – 3B
  4. Joe Jackson – LF
  5. Alexeis Bell – DH
  6. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 2B
  7. Eduard Pinto – RF
  8. Luis Marte – SS
  9. Kellin Deglan – C

RHP Reed Garrett (3-7, 5.14 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Friday vs. Corpus Christi

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Bob Hards – Voice of the Midland RockHounds

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

The RoughRiders stormed back with five late runs to defeat Corpus Christi in the series finale Friday night…Trailing 5-2 entering the sixth, the Riders scored twice in the inning and put up two more in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead…ALEXEIS BELL gave the Riders the lead with a two-out, two-run single to right-center field…Frisco capitalized on a trio of Hooks errors between the sixth and seventh innings to plate a total of four runs, one earned.

RIDING TO POST-SEASON STARDOM:

Wednesday, the Texas League announced that outfielder RYAN CORDELL and first baseman RONALD GUZMAN were selected to the Texas League Post-Season All-Star team. Cordell is hitting .264 in 107 games this season with 19 homers and 70 RBI. He was the Texas League and Rangers Minor League Player of the Month for April. Cordell has been on the DL since August 3. Guzman was a .288 hitter with 15 homers and 56 RBI in 102 games with the Riders. He participated in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July and was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock on August 3. Additionally, Riders hitting coach JASON HART was named this year’s recipient of the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Coach of the Year Award.

SO LONG TO THE STREAK:

The RoughRiders closed out an eight-game losing streak with a win Thursday and followed with another one yesterday. The losing skid was tied for the longest of the season (May 24-June 1) and the third-longest in franchise history. During the eight games, the Riders averaged 2.1 runs per game while allowing 4.6.

ADIOS, AUGUST:

The RoughRiders are off to a 2-0 start in September after a rough month of August. The Riders went 7-20 (.259) last month, posting the lowest winning percentage in a month (excluding September) in team history. The previous low winning percentage was .318, set in April 2004 (7-14-1) and April 2005 (7-15). During August, Frisco hit .231 and had a staff ERA of 4.64.

MANHANDLED BY MIDLAND:

After a competitive first half of the season-series between Frisco and Midland, the RockHounds have dominated in the second half. Not only do the Hounds have a much better overall record than the RoughRiders now, but they have won eight of the 10 second-half meetings. The Riders two second- half wins over Midland have come on June 21 and August 3.The RoughRiders have scored one run or fewer in seven of the 10 games.

HOME IS WHERE THE BATS ARE:

In the month of August, Frisco’s scoring numbers were starkly different between home and road games. In 11 home games, the Riders averaged 4.6 runs per game, batting .272 as a team, and hitting .294 with runners in scoring position. By contrast, the team averaged 2.3 runs per game, hitting .203 as a team, and .191 with RISP in 16 games away from Dr Pepper Ballpark.

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER:

The Riders bullpen has been very reliable the last few weeks, including only allowing one unearned run over 4 2/3 innings last night. In the last 11 contests, the bullpen has covered a lot of innings and has performed admirably with a 1.90 ERA (9 ER / 42.2 IP). The relievers have struck out 48 and walked 21, with six of the walks coming Wednesday. For the year, the bullpen has a 3.94 ERA with 504 strikeouts and 245 walks in 505.1 IP.

Riders Reflections, part four: Favorite theme night

As we near the conclusion of the 2016 season, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the year that’s been. From now until Monday, we’ll look back on different elements of the season and some of the people and moments that stand out. Click here to read previous posts.

Today, we look back at our favorite theme nights this year at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

STEVE: Salute to Top Gun Night (June 24)

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Of all the theme nights, Salute to Top Gun Night stood out to me. The flight-suit-inspired uniforms were top-notch, and the players were introduced by their flight call signs.

The graphics at the ballpark that night were very impressive, and I loved the teaser video earlier in the week leading up to the event. Take a look:

Of course, the night would not have been complete without a large dose of the Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”. The song was stuck in my head throughout the entire next day!

Overall, Salute to Top Gun Night was a very well-done night of fun at Dr Pepper Ballpark, and it was definitely one of my favorite theme nights this year.

NATHAN: State Fair of Texas Night (September 2)

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From the moment the RoughRiders announced 8-bit and Arcades Night with Game Boy inspired uniforms, I was pretty sure that it would be my favorite promotional night of the year. And it was awesome. I even bought one of the uniforms.

It held the top spot for me until last night.

State Fair of Texas Night was a home run. I thought the uniforms looked tremendous.

The game experience reeked of the State Fair in the best way possible. You could smell the bubbling hot oil, the funnel cakes, and the fried cookie dough, courtesy of “Fried Jesus,” Abel Gonzalez Jr.

The former voice of Big Tex served as the guest public address announcer for the night, and he was fantastic. Nearly every PA read began with “Howdy folks,” in true Big Tex style. Being introduced as “The Voice of the Riders” by Big Tex is a career highlight. Bravo marketing team!

RYAN: Salute to 8-bit and Arcades Night (July 8)

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When I look back on this season, the night I’ll remember most in 8-bit and Arcades Night, but not necessarily because of the scheduled events.

As you might remember, that was the night after the tragic shootings of five Dallas police officers in downtown. The folks in the front office did a great job of coming together quickly to properly show support and sympathy for those affected by the tragic events of the night before. The Riders wore Dallas PD caps that night (and wore DART hats the next day during BP) and donated the proceeds from the 8-bit jersey auction to the Assist the Officer Foundation. Between the auctions and other fundraising that weekend at Dr Pepper Ballpark, the Riders raised more than $30,000 for the Assist the Officer Foundation.

Beyond the amazing work of the Riders’ front office to pay tribute to the victims, the other thing that stands out about that night was that the Riders still followed through with the events of 8-bit and Arcades Night, helping lighten the mood a bit in a time of sadness.

It was one of the more emotional nights of the year, and the main reason I’ll remember July 8 is because it brought the community together and gave the folks of the DFW area a chance to honor the victims, while also having a little bit of fun.

———–

PART ONE (Wednesday): Breakout player

PART TWO (Thursday): Best single-game performance by an individual

PART THREE (Friday): Favorite pregame interview

PART FOUR (Saturday): Favorite promo night at Dr Pepper Ballpark

PART FIVE (Sunday): Favorite game

PART SIX (Monday): Our final thoughts on the 2016 season

———–

Baseball term of the day: Torpedero – Spanish for “shortstop”

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Corpus Christi (9/2)

GAME #135 (2nd HALF GAME #66)

Frisco RoughRiders (61-73 overall, 23-42 2nd half) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (82-54, 35-31 2nd half)
Friday, September 2 – 7:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Rouillard)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 4 of 4 (Hooks lead 2-1)
This season: Game 32 of 32 (Hooks lead 19-12)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Darin Mastroianni – CF
  2. Edwin Garcia – 1B
  3. Andy Ibanez – 3B
  4. Joe Jackson – LF
  5. Alexeis Bell – DH
  6. Eduard Pinto – RF
  7. Luis Marte – SS
  8. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – C
  9. Alberto Triunfel – 2B

LHP Jack Snodgrass (3-1, 2.79 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Thursday vs. Corpus Christi (W, 3-0)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: IF Edwin Garcia

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:
The RoughRiders snapped their eight-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over the Hooks…CONNOR SADZECK ended a streak of seven straight winless starts, working 5 2/3 shutout innings with three hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts…Sadzeck exited with the bases loaded in the sixth, but RICHELSON PENA struck out Chase McDonald to extinguish the threat…The Riders scored all three of their runs in the fourth inning, with only one coming in earned against Hooks starter Francis Martes.

RIDING TO POST-SEASON STARDOM:
Wednesday, the Texas League announced that outfielder RYAN CORDELL and first baseman RONALD GUZMAN were selected to the Texas League Post-Season All-Star team. Cordell is hitting .264 in 107 games this season with 19 homers and 70 RBI. He was the Texas League and Rangers Minor League Player of the Month for April. Cordell has been on the DL since August 3. Guzman was a .288 hitter with 15 homers and 56 RBI in 102 games with the Riders. He participated in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July and was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock on August 3. Additionally, Riders hitting coach JASON HART was named this year’s recipient of the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Coach of the Year Award.

SO LONG TO THE STREAK:
The RoughRiders closed out an eight-game losing streak with last night’s win. The skid was tied for the longest of the season (May 24-June 1) and the third-longest in franchise history. During the eight games, the Riders averaged 2.1 runs per game while allowing 4.6.

ADIOS, AUGUST:
As the RoughRiders turn the calendar to September, they hope to bounce back from a rough month of August. The Riders went 7-20 (.259) last month, posting the lowest winning percentage in a month (excluding September) in team history. The previous low winning percentage was .318, set in April 2004 (7-14-1) and April 2005 (7-15). During August, Frisco hit .231 and had a staff ERA of 4.64.

HOME IS WHERE THE BATS ARE:
In the month of August, Frisco’s scoring numbers were starkly different between home and road games. In 11 home games, the Riders averaged 4.6 runs per game, batting .272 as a team, and hitting .294 with runners in scoring position. By contrast, the team averaged 2.3 runs per game, hitting .203 as a team, and .191 with RISP in 16 games away from Dr Pepper Ballpark.

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER:
The Riders bullpen has been very reliable the last few weeks, including 3 1/3 scoreless innings last night. In the last 10 contests, the bullpen has covered a lot of innings and has performed admirably with a 2.13 ERA (9 ER / 38.0 IP). The relievers have struck out 42 and walked 19, with six of the walks coming Wednesday.  For the year, the bullpen has a 3.97 ERA with 498 strikeouts and 243 walks in 500.2 IP.

CHASING THE WRONG HISTORY:
The 2016 RoughRiders got off to one of the best starts in team history. The club had the best record through all but one of the first 45 games of the season, beginning the year an impressive 5-0, 9-1, 17-4, 21-6, and 30-13. Since then, the Riders have struggled in the win column. In fact, at 23-42, the Riders are guaranteed to finish with the worst single-half record in team history. The previous low mark was 29-41 (both halves of 2005 and the first half of last year). Frisco is on pace to finish 25-45 in the second half.

REELING IN SUCCESS AGAINST THE HOOKS:
The Riders have struggled much of the season series against Corpus Christi, losing 14 of 16 to the Hooks at one point. However, Frisco has won six of the last 10 games against Corpus Christi. In that stretch, the Riders are averaging 5.5 runs per game and hitting .268 as a team.

ANOTHER POWER OUTAGE:
For the second time this season, the Riders are in a extended home run drought. Frisco has gone seven consecutive games without a long ball since JOE JACKSON’s solo homer in San Antonio last Wednesday. That ties the season’s longest drought, also set June 24-July 3. Additionally, the Riders have gone four consecutive games without allowing a home run, one off tying the season-high, set July 31-August 4. Beau Taylor’s home run on Saturday is the only home run hit in a Riders game during the last seven contests.

MENDEZ MAKES THE MAJORS:
The Texas Rangers are expected to recall former Riders left-handed pitcher YOHANDER MENDEZ prior to today’s game against the Astros. The 21-year-old will be seeking his Major League debut. He began the season with Class A-Advanced High Desert before vaulting up the ranks. He joined the Riders May 20 and, after a spot start with Triple-A Round Rock on July 5, was promoted back to the Express on August 3. He has a combined 12-3 record with a 2.19 ERA this season, leading the Rangers farm system in wins and ERA, while ranking fourth in strikeouts (113). He becomes the 10th former Riders player to make the big leagues this year and the third from this year’s squad, joining MATT BUSH and JOSE LECLERC.

OPPOSING STARTER:
Cuban-born righty Rogelio Armenteros makes his third start with the Hooks and his first against the RoughRiders. The 22-year-old was promoted to Corpus Christi from Class A-Advanced Lancaster on August 18. He made his Double-A debut August 21 with seven shutout innings against Arkansas and followed it up with one run in six innings Saturday against San Antonio. With Lancaster, he was 6-4 with a 4.18 ERA in 19 outings. He also made four appearances with Class-A Quad Cities to begin the season. Armenteros made his stateside debut last season but began his professional career in 2011 (age 17) with Industriales de Habana in the Cuban National Series. REPERTOIRE: Fastball (90-92), slider, curveball, changeup.

Riders Reflections, part three: Favorite interview

As we near the conclusion of the 2016 season, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the year that’s been. From now until Monday, we’ll look back on different elements of the season and some of the people and moments that stand out. Click here to read previous posts.

Today, we look back at our favorite interviews of the season on the Dr Pepper Pregame Show

RYAN: Luis Mendez (June 16)

Sometimes, an interview goes a whole different direction than what you had planned, but those are some of the best. In this case, a simple question about working the kid’s camp that day led us to a discussion about being a leader and a role model, among other topics.

Mendez was always a fun one to talk to and his sentiments in here about having fun are sincere. He was always smiling and I could tell how much he loved the game. It was great to see him get the call-up to Triple-A yesterday.

STEVE: Ryan Ledbetter (June 24)

At the end of June, a Ledbetter arrived in Frisco. It was Ryan Ledbetter, who, as we later found out in the interview, is a few minutes younger than his twin brother David.

Ryan was very enthusiastic about joining the RoughRiders. He was open about discussing his journey through the farm system and shared stories about being drafted by the same team as his twin brother.

The interview stood out to me as well because, like in the case of Luis Mendez, Ledbetter was always smiling. You could see his passion for the sport coming out in the way he talked, which also helped enhance the interview overall.

NATHAN: Mike Daly (August 18)

This was pretty easy for me. When Mike talks: I listen. This guy has so much knowledge about the Rangers organization and comes from a player development perspective that really matters. As the head honcho of the minor league system, pretty much all developmental reports and player movement goes through Mike. He knows the system from top to bottom like very few others do.

Additionally, Mike is one of the positive people you’ll ever meet. His outlook on the Rangers players, and life in general, is extremely optimistic and energetic. He’s a joy to be around and a joy to listen to. Enjoy!

———–

PART ONE (Wednesday): Breakout player

PART TWO (Thursday): Best single-game performance by an individual

PART THREE (Friday): Favorite pregame interview

PART FOUR (Saturday): Favorite promo night / giveaway at Dr Pepper Ballpark

PART FIVE (Sunday): Favorite game

PART SIX (Monday): Our final thoughts on the 2016 season

———–

Baseball term of the day: Invisible man – A sportswriter when things are going well for the home team and nothing negative is being written.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Corpus Christi (9/1)

GAME #134 (2nd HALF GAME #65)

Frisco RoughRiders (60-73 overall, 22-42 2nd half) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (82-53, 35-30 2nd half)
Thursday, September 1 – 7:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Rouillard)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 3 of 4 (Hooks lead 2-0)
This season: Game 31 of 32 (Hooks lead 20-11)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Darin Mastroianni – CF
  2. Edwin Garcia – 1B
  3. Andy Ibanez – 3B
  4. Joe Jackson – LF
  5. Alexeis Bell – RF
  6. Luis Marte – SS
  7. Carson Blair – DH
  8. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 2B
  9. Kellin Deglan – C

RHP Connor Sadzeck (9-8, 4.33 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Wednesday vs. Corpus Christi (L, 4-2)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Hitting Coach Jason Hart

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:
The RoughRiders let a pair of leads go in a 4-2 loss to Corpus Christi Wednesday night…SCOTT CARROLL delivered another solid start for the Riders, allowing one run across five innings…Relievers DAVID PEREZ, RYNE SLACK, and JUAN GRULLON each gave up a run in one inning of work, helping the Hooks grab a 4-2 edge.

RIDING TO POST-SEASON STARDOM:
Yesterday, the Texas League announced that outfielder RYAN CORDELL and first baseman RONALD GUZMAN were selected to the Texas League Post-Season All-Star team. Cordell is hitting .264 in 107 games this season with 19 homers and 70 RBI. He was the Texas League and Rangers Minor League Player of the Month for April. Cordell has been on the DL since August 3. Guzman was a .288 hitter with 15 homers and 56 RBI in 102 games with the Riders. He participated in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July and was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock on August 3. Additionally, Riders hitting coach JASON HART was named this year’s recipient of the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Coach of the Year Award.

ADIOS, AUGUST:
As the RoughRiders turn the calendar to September, they hope to bounce back from a rough month of August. The Riders went 7-20 (.259) last month, posting the lowest winning percentage in a month (excluding September) in team history. The previous low winning percentage was .318, set in April 2004 (7-14-1) and April 2005 (7-15). During August, Frisco hit .231 and had a staff ERA of 4.64.

HOME IS WHERE THE BATS ARE:
In the month of August, Frisco’s scoring numbers were starkly different between home and road games. In 11 home games, the Riders averaged 4.6 runs per game, batting .272 as a team, and hitting .294 with runners in scoring position. By contrast, the team averaged 2.3 runs per game, hitting .203 as a team, and .191 with RISP in 16 games away from Dr Pepper Ballpark.

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER:
Although the bullpen got tagged for three runs last night, Riders relievers have still been a bright spot on the current eight-game losing streak. In the eight contests, the bullpen covered a lot of innings and has performed admirably with a 2.56 ERA (9 ER / 31.2 IP). The relievers have struck out 36 and walked 16, with six of the walks coming last night.  For the year, the bullpen has a 4.00 ERA with 494 strikeouts and 242 walks in 497.1 IP.

TIME TO END THE STREAK:
Last night’s loss was Frisco’s eighth straight, tying a season-long skid, previously occurring May 24-June  1. Making the current slide even tougher to swallow is that Frisco has led in five of the eight games, lost three games by two runs, and lost two in extra innings. Of the RoughRiders’ 42 second-half losses, the club has led in 20 of them, and 20 have been decided by two runs or fewer.

CHASING THE WRONG HISTORY:
The 2016 RoughRiders got off to one of the best starts in team history. The club had the best record through all but one of the first 45 games of the season, beginning the year an impressive 5-0, 9-1, 17-4, 21-6, and 30-13. Since then, the Riders have struggled in the win column. In fact, at 22-42, the Riders are guaranteed to finish with the worst single-half record in team history. The previous low mark was 29-41 (both halves of 2005 and the first half of last year). Frisco is on pace to finish 24-46 in the second half.

REELING IN SUCCESS AGAINST THE HOOKS:
The Riders have struggled much of the season series against Corpus Christi, losing 14 of 16 to the Hooks at one point. However, Frisco has won five of the last nine games against Corpus Christi. In that stretch, the Riders are averaging 5.8 runs per game and hitting .267 as a team.

MAPLE LEAF MASHER:
Over the last 24 games, the Riders have hit just 11 home runs as a team. Five of those have come off the bat of KELLIN DEGLAN, including a grand slam. On August 3 against Midland, he had his first two-homer game since June 24, 2014 with Class-A Hickory. Deglan has hit nine long balls this year, which leads all players on the active roster. Those homers have come in surges, though. The Canadian catcher went homerless in the months of April and June but hit two jacks in May, two more in a six-game span in July, and this stretch of five in 13 games played in which he has hit .237 (9-for-38) with a double, five HR, and 14 RBI.

ANOTHER POWER OUTAGE:
For the second time this season, the Riders are in a extended home run drought. Frisco has gone six consecutive games without a long ball since JOE JACKSON’s solo homer in San Antonio last Wednesday. The Riders’ longest home run drought of the year is seven games (June 24-July 3), part of a stretch in which the Riders homered once in 11 games.

OPPOSING STARTER:
Francis Martes, the new top prospect in the Houston farm system, makes his sixth appearance against the RoughRiders this year. The RoughRiders have given Martes his two roughest outings of the year, touching him up for 10 earned runs in 3.0 innings, good for an ERA of 30.00, in those two appearances. However, Martes has turned in quality starts in each of his last three outings against the Riders, posting a 2.75 ERA in those outings. The righty out of the Dominican Republic was named Texas League Player of the Week this week following seven shutout innings with three hits against Midland on Friday. He brings a streak of six straight quality starts into tonight’s contest. Martes came to the Astros from the Marlins organization in a multi-player trade at the 2014 deadline. REPERTOIRE: Fastball (mid-90s), curveball, changeup.

 

Riders Reflections, part two: Best single-game performance by an individual

As we near the conclusion of the 2016 season, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the year that’s been. From now until Monday, we’ll look back on different elements of the season and some of the people and moments that stand out. Click here to read previous posts.

Today, we look at the best single-game performance by an individual from the 2016 season.

NATHAN: Isiah Kiner-Falefa (April 14 vs. Northwest Arkansas)

At first, I almost thought it was a joke. Leading off, catching: Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The RoughRiders everyday third baseman was going to catch, and he was going to do it, in a game, for the first time in his life.

The date: April 14, 2016.

We, of course, had to find out more. What is going on? Is Deglan hurt? Can Burg not catch? Is it, maybe, just a joke?

Sure enough it was serious. And this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill “let’s get this guy some more versatility,” either. This was and is a serious project.

As we would later find out, a certain member of the Rangers player development staff (the name now escapes me) started working Kiner out behind the plate during instructs and then again in Spring Training. All of that makes Kiner’s debut behind the dish on April 14, slightly less dazzling, but, still, the 21-year-old had never caught more than four or five innings at a time, and on this day, he caught all nine. And caught rather well, I might add.

He was the talk of the ballpark the next day. Staff, fans, players, coaches: you name it. Everyone was talking about Kiner’s catching debut. He put down the signs for a brilliant Frank Lopez outing and 7-3 RoughRiders win. He threw out Raul Mondesi trying to swipe a bag (he had come into the game 4-for-4 stealing bases), his first professional caught stealing but not the last.

Offensively, he added a single, a walk, and a run scored.

It’s been a fun year watching the 5’10”, 180 lbs Hawaiian-born natural middle infielder squat behind the plate. He’s done better back there than anyone could have expected, and it all started on April 14.

STEVE: Victor Payano (May 3 at San Antonio)

In one of the best individual performances of the 2016 season, Victor Payano struck out a career-high 13 batters in a dominating May 3 win over the San Antonio Missions. The southpaw struck out the side in the fifth and recorded two strikeouts in five different frames.

Payano held the Missions scoreless in 6 2/3 innings, did not issue a walk, and surrendered just four hits. The RoughRiders went on to win the road game 3-0.

In addition to being a career-high, Payano’s 13 strikeouts were also the most by a Riders pitcher since Robbie Erlin fanned 14 batters against Corpus Christi on June 26, 2011.

Later in the series, Connor Sadzeck struck out nine batters en route to a 6-1 victory. Frisco swept the series, its second straight sweep against San Antonio, and struck a total of 41 batters in the four-game set.

RYAN: Lewis Brinson (July 11 vs. Northwest Arkansas)

Let me start by saying I weighed a lot of options among the best hitting performances of the year. There have been a handful of two-homer games and four+ RBI contests, but I ultimately went with Lewis Brinson’s performance in the series finale against the Naturals.

On that Monday afternoon at Dr Pepper Ballpark, a 15-9 win for the Riders, Brinson went 4-for-6 with a homer and two runs scored. As it stands, the performance was pretty impressive. However, I think one of the reasons this one ultimately got my vote over some of the other candidates is because it capped off a wildly impressive series for the former Riders outfielder. In the three games against the Naturals, he combined to go 7-for-14 (.500), homering in all three games and scoring five times. He is the only Riders hitter to homer in three consecutive games this season.

As you probably know by now, Brinson is tearing it up with Triple-A Colorado Springs, now hitting .425 with the Sky Sox after going 4-for-5 last night. In 19 games, he’s already hit four homers and driven in 20 runs.

———–

“Riders Reflections”

PART ONE (Wednesday): Breakout player

PART TWO (Thursday): Best single-game performance by an individual

PART THREE (Friday): Favorite pregame interview

PART FOUR (Saturday): Favorite promo night / giveaway at Dr Pepper Ballpark

PART FIVE (Sunday): Favorite game

PART SIX (Monday): Our final thoughts on the 2016 season

———–

Baseball term of the day: Keystone hit – A synonym for a double

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary