At 12-27 on the year, there's not much good to say about the IronBirds, but I'm going to try

A quick look at some statistics behind the IronBirds' 2011 campaign.

July 29, 2011|BY DEWEY FOX, dfox@theaegis.com

In their six games since last week's installment, in which I pointed out that the IronBirds had been playing over .500 since a horrible 2-17 start, Aberdeen has gone 2-3 with all three losses being terrible drubbings, as the IronBirds were collectively outscored, 35-5.

That said, the two victories were impressive, and showed a club that could potentially win a lot of ballgames, especially Monday's 4-0 whitewash of Batavia, which saw a confluence of fine pitching, slick defense and timely hitting that has been all too rare this season. In any case, here's some tidbits you might find interesting, but remember, these take into account only those games played through Wednesday.

Velleggia proves me wrong, gets back in the lineup after a six-day break: Monkton native Joe Velleggia, Aberdeen's hottest bat this season, suffered what sounded like a very serious injury last Tuesday, as he had his nose and left orbital bone broken by a ball that struck him during batting practice. As Velleggia explained it Sunday night, after belting a triple and scoring a run during his first game back, a ball he'd hit during an indoor practice session rebounded off a hard surface and popped him square in his left eye. Injuries that affect vision are scary for any athlete, but I think they are a particularly frightening prospect for baseball players, especially hitters.

Former MLB stars Dickie Thon and Tony Conigliaro both had potentially great careers curtailed by broken eye sockets. Those are the two names that popped into my head when I'd heard of Velleggia's mishap, and when I wrote in last week's column that he would probably be out for a long time, I was privately thinking that he might be in bigger trouble. Turns out, a long time was six days, which is all the Aberdeen first baseman needed to return to the lineup, though he told me Sunday that he felt like he was getting punched in the face every time he sneezed. Since returning, Velleggia has collected a hit in all three games, extending his hitting streak to nine games, so it looks like he hasn't lost a step. I'm glad I was wrong.

Trent Howard looking good: The arm that took on most of the duties during Aberdeen's masterful, 4-0, three-hit shutout of Batavia belongs to Howard, the Baltimore Orioles' seventh-round pick in this year's MLB June draft. Over six innings during Monday's whitewash, Howard struck out nine, walked three and allowed just two hits, a single and a double. Since his first appearance on June 27, Howard has made his way into seven games, making five starts, and over that period he's gone 2-1 with a 2.82 earned run average, and a strikeout-to-walk ration of 4.33. The 21-year-old southpaw, who is tied with Velleggia and catcher Wynston Sawyer on my list of the IronBirds that give the best interviews, said after Monday's game that he'd finally been able to throw all four of his pitches for strikes, and that his breaking stuff was working well enough that he didn't have to rely on his fastball late in the game. If he can keep developing and keep his whole repertoire in the strike zone, he might get called up to Delmarva.

Bad in the division, OK outside of it: Now, I don't think "bad" is the proper adjective to describe the IronBirds play in the McNamara Division, where they have a record of 3-20. That's more like dreadful, or cringe-worthy. Strangely enough, once outside the confines of their home division, the IronBirds are playing well enough, with a 7-5 mark against Stedler Division teams, and a 2-1 record in games with Pinckney Division teams. It should be noted as well that Aberdeen isn't beating up on the cellar dwellers either, as they've gone 4-2 against Vermont, which is leading the Stedler Division standings by three games.

Hot on Mondays, not so much on the weekends: Looking at their record corresponding to the day of the week, the IronBirds have been playing their best at the beginning of the week, with a 4-2 record during Monday games. The only other day they're over .500 is Wednesday, when they've gone 3-2. In weekend match ups, Aberdeen is 3-9 and on Thursdays, their worst day of the week, they're 0-5.

First-inning rallies: If you break down Aberdeen's scoring by innings, there's only one frame in which they've outscored their opponents, the first, where they've put up 17 runs while allowing 13. It's at the other end of the game where the IronBirds have trouble, as they've surrendered more than twice as many runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings as they've managed to score (79-33).

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