SCRAPPERS NOTEBOOK | From Cafaro Field
Progress slowed: Because of the strong storms that moved through the area before the game, the first pitch didn't take place until 7:52 p.m., 47 minutes after the scheduled start. The game then lasted 3 hours, 1 minute.
Conditions: After the storms hit the area, fog rolled through the outfield during the game at Cafaro Field. It hung mostly above the left-field wall and was never a factor.
Sleeping in: Good thing the Scrappers had Wednesday off. They didn't arrive in town from Lowell, Mass., following their series with the Spinners, until 9 a.m. "Most everybody just slept on their day off," Scrappers manager Chris Bando said. "It was definitely a needed day off."
We did what? Bando didn't realize that his pitchers totaled 17 strikeouts against New Jersey until he was told after the game. "Our pitchers did? That's amazing," Bando said. "I would have never guessed that. Guys are putting them away with two strikes." Starter Keith Ramsey had 10 strikeouts, Michael Hernandez had three and Kevin Martin four. "The thing about strikeouts is you throw good pitches to get ahead in the count early," Ramsey said. "Mike and Kevin did a fantastic job of coming in with the lead and shutting the door."
Whoops: In the third inning, Scrappers first baseman Bill Peavey thought he tagged a New Jersey baserunner straying from first. After making the tag, on the throw from Ramsey, Peavey started the ball around the infield, thinking the out was made. But the baserunner was ruled safe, and fortunately for the Scrappers, Peavey's throw hit second baseman Shaun Larkin in the leg, preventing the ball from rolling into the outfield.
Unhappy coaches: Trying to score from second on Eider Torres' single up the middle, Scrappers baserunner Ben Francisco was thrown out at home in the first inning. Third base coach Willie Aviles and Bando both argued the call, saying Francisco brushed a corner of the plate. Bando argued another play in the second inning in which New Jersey's Tyler Durham doubled down the left-field line. Bando thought the hit was foul.
Ready for the road: The Scrappers aren't getting too comfortable at home. After home games tonight and Saturday against New Jersey, they head back on the road for an eight-game trip. Mahoning Valley will play two games at Batavia, three at division-leading Auburn and three at Oneonta. The Scrappers have one final home series -- Sept. 2-4, against Jamestown. "We'd like to have a longer stretch at home," Bando said, "but that's the way this thing is. We're professional bus riders."
Playoff race update: With Auburn beating Aberdeen 4-2 Thursday, the Scrappers remain three games out of first place in the Pinckney Division. They did gain a 1/2 game on Williamsport, which was rained out at Tri-City. "We just need things to fall in place," Peavey said. "A couple of Auburn losses and some Williamsport losses, and we're right there."
-- Brian Richesson