Sorry I've been away for much of the past two weeks. What's worse is I haven't been given the opportunity to see the Defenders when they are at home. The one game I was assigned to last weekend was rained out. Even when they return don't be surprised if I'm not there for half that home stand. It's not my choice, just the way the cookie crumbles in these parts.
That being said, I am looking forward to the team returning home next week. An 8-3 mark in the month of May is certainly cause for optimism. The team brought its batting average up to .233, which is encouraging. I don't have the April-May split, but I promise you May must be in the .260 ball park. If you hit .260 all year and pitch the way the Defenders do, you have a chance to see postseason play. No, I'm not calling them contenders yet. Ask me at the All-Star break.
Kyle Haines is over .300, albeit in half the at-bats as Eddy Martinez-Esteve, who is also over .300. Honestly, I never thought I would say that, but I have to give the guy props. He's worked hard this season.
Despite not having the best judgment of the strikezone and the desire to hit a homer every time up, Carlos Sosa has had a few big games to really pick up his teammates. As has Travis Ishikawa, who is more interested in playing his way to triple-A than being unhappy that he's here again. The thing with Ishikawa is that if he continues to play the way he is, he'll get to the majors because his hitting has been OK, but his glove has been spectacular.
Dave Maroul is coming around, too. He's still hot and cold, but when he's been hot, he's as tough an out as there is in the Eastern League.
The pitching staff is still hands-down the best in the league. But because the Defenders are only two games over .500, no one will give them as much credit.
I challenge anyone to find a better bullpen than the Defenders. Even with Sergio Romo hurt right now (he's been the best closer in the league) the relievers haven't missed a beat. Osiris Matos, Jason Waddell and Steve Palazzollo have shined.
The rotation lost Brooks McNiven to Triple-A, but Joey Martinez has looked downright unhittable at times. Adam Cowart has been equally impressive. He's a crafty and resilient pitcher who does exactly that, pitch.
If these guys can keep it together on both sides (maybe with a bit of a boost to the offense), maybe this will turn out to be the best season Dodd Stadium has hosted in a quite some time.
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