Perhaps the initial excitement of the New Britain Rock Cats’ hot start to the 2011 season was a bit premature as the team struggled this past week in their home series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and on a road trip to visit the Portland Sea Dogs. The Rock Cats troubles lay mostly with some quiet bats and some below average performances on the mound. Nevertheless, since it is clearly too early to get overly excited about a hot start, fans likewise should not get too discouraged after a stretch of rough play.
The Rock Cats started off the week dropping a 7-3 decision to the Fisher Cats where right fielder Evan Bigley collects two hits and an RBI. An unexpected day off followed on Tuesday as Mother Nature washed away the second game of the series theoretically leaving the Rock Cats a day to regroup and try to split the shortened series. Unfortunately there was no such luck as the Rock Cats fell again, 6-2. Bigley and fellow outfielder Joe Benson each collected two hits and third baseman Ray Chang knocked in both runs for the Rock Cats. However it was not enough to overcome a rough outing by Deolis Guerra who only made it through three innings while surrendering all six runs on nine hits. The outing skyrocketed Guerra’s earned-run average, previously a 1.80, up to 5.54 and handed him his first loss of the season.
The schedule then took the Rock Cats up to Portland, Maine where they dropped another opener on April 21. The bats continued to have much of an impact as the Sea Dogs pulled away, 5-1. The sole run came off of a Chris Parmelee home run in the fourth inning while pitcher, Bobby Lanigan, struggled on the mound surrendering five runs in just four innings and also gave up eight hits and three walks. The Rock Cats then took the field on Friday looking to put an end to their week of bad play where their efforts finally materialized with a 9-7 win. The slugfest included exceptional performances from Chang, Benson, and outfielder Yangervis Solarte who all tallied multiple RBI performances. The rain must have followed the Rock Cats up to Maine as the team was denied the opportunity to play the series’ rubber game but hence preserved a solid ending to an otherwise week of down play.
After taking a day off for Easter, the Rock Cats get another crack against the Fisher Cats, this time on the road for a four game series beginning April 25, before returning home to take on the Harrisburg Senators in a weekend battle in New Britain. Overall, the Rock Cats are still looking improved from last season and a good sign of the teams’ strength could be on display this week as fans get their first opportunity this season to see how the team responds to their first bit of adversity.