With our second week complete and unencumbered by the rain, we have gotten our site all polished and brand new and welcome the addition of pitching stats this year. Before we give you the recaps – we just want to explain the categories in case it wasn’t obvious to everyone.
W – Wins
L – Loss
S – Save (Saves are only possible if a pitcher comes in with the lead at less than or equal to 3 runs, and they hold it)
IP – Innings pitched (each out is 1/3 of an inning)
K – Strikeouts
Balls – Balls Thrown
Strikes – Strikes Thrown
ER – Earned Runs
HA – Hits Allowed
BBA – Walks Allowed
HRA – Homeruns Allowed
GBO – Ground Ball Outs
FBO – Fly Ball Outs
ERA – Earned Run Average (This is normalized for 7 innings i.e. let 1 run in and pitch 1 inning your ERA is 7.00)
WHIP – Walks + Hits/IP – essentially the number of baserunners allowed per inning pitched
So now that we have these, hopefully the pitchers in the league can get a feel for how they’re doing game to game, and it’ll make our year end awards that much more fun. On to the recaps!
DO ALL CHAMPSI’s PITCH?
Lions 10 vs. Eagles 7
Our first game of the day featured the Najaf Lions taking on the Samarra Eagles. This one started off with us seeing Riaz Champsi on the mound. Champsi who pitched last year in the playoffs had varying bouts of success but is determined to make a return to the mound this year and solidify it as his primary position. In the first inning, with the Eagles scoring a quick 4 runs, including an inside the park HR from Raheel Rawjani – you could point to the fact that maybe pitching wasn’t the best place to be. However, the next 5 innings would tell a different story – where the Lions defence would just completely shut down the Eagles – holding them to 5 innings without a run crossing the plate. The Eagles order really needs to figure out what it’s doing, pitching is one thing but this is slow pitch softball if you’re only putting up 7 runs in a game, you’re not going to win many of them.
The Lions just kept chipping away until putting up a big 5-run inning (capped off by back to back HRs from Asad Hussain and Mohammed Abdalla) in the 6th gave them the a commanding 10-4 lead. Normally, that’s not a word I would use – commanding – but with the ineptitude of the Eagle’s bats it seems appropriate. On their last chance, the Eagles put up another 3 runs in the top of the 7th and we saw captain Asad Hussain go to his reserve Ace – Tarik Kamel. Not many teams can go to a pitcher like Kamel when they need a save but the Lions have that in their back pocket. Tarik came in and promptly shut the door on what was a burgeoning rally. He faced 3 batters, and needed just 9 pitches to crush their hopes.
WE DON’T NEED RUNS!
Lions 7 vs. Wolves 5
So in the previous game we ended off saying that if you think that scoring 7 runs is going to win you a game, you should think again. The Lions on the other hand, figured it best to test that theory. In what turned into another pitching duel as both teams were pretty silent with their bats. For the Wolves, this is their first game of the season as the previous week was rained out. Their bats didn’t seem to have slept in as they were missing for this the first game of their double header. This game was pretty well even through 5 innings, with the Wolves never really having a lead until the 6th. They took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the inning and watched it disappear, one walk at a time.
Now, we’re not one to criticize a pitcher that ends the day with a respectable 5.25 ERA, but, Ali Merali, while you’re watching walk after walk happening – don’t you look around and see that at SS you have probably one of the best pitchers in the league in Mikael Ratansi standing behind you – maybe you call his number and let him see if he can get the ball onto the field so the defence can shut it down. We’ll question that one for some time, but the final outs were never even made – the Wolves ran out of time before they could get back up to bat and this one ends with a 7-5 loss. It’s a heartbreaker for the Wolves who let this one get away from them. They’ll be looking forward to a rematch.
Meanwhile for the Lions, they’ll take the 2 win day, knowing that their defence and combination of Riaz Champsi and Tarik Kamel pitching is enough to get them wins. However, they’ll want to figure out what they can do to get a few more runs on the board – 17 for the day across two games was enough today, but it might not always be.
The Bats finally woke up…
Falcons 6 vs. Wolves 27
When a team gets only 5 runs in a game, they’re usually going to react in one of two ways – complete and utter implosion and letting the defence fall apart in the next game – or they react the way the Wolves did by scoring 27 runs, while playing solid defence and letting only 6 runs cross the plate. As mentioned, it seemed the Wolves bats slept in, but they arrived just in time for this one. This was a beating and a half. To be fair to the Falcons, they had only 8 players, and the substitute they got as a non-fielding catcher was overthrowing the pitcher with regularity.
That said, the 4 HRs by the Wolves – including 2 by Muzammil Jaffer, 1 by Umair Ali, and 1 to go with hitting for the cycle by Ali Merali, whose 1 HR was actually a grand slam – weren’t going to be stopped by any kind of defence. The Wolves were relentless, with every single player on the roster recording a minimum of 2 hits and at least 1 run scored. Also every player, not named Kabir Molu, also recorded an RBI in this game. This team was nearly blemish free on offence, with the only mark coming in the 3rd inning when Mikael Ratansi struck out on a foul ball.
There was a brief moment in the 5th inning when it seemed like the Falcons had stopped the bleeding holding the Wolves to no runs, but that was promptly followed by a 6 run mercy inning in the 6th. This whole game happened so fast, the Falcons didn’t know what hit them. Even Khalil Sivjee came in and attempted to pitch them out of a jam, but ended up getting no outs, and ballooned his own ERA to a historic mark of infinity (stats show 14000 because infinity broke the system).
All in all, an amazing display from the Wolves, who are slowly showing that they have what looks like a championship pedigree. Seems Ali Merali and Imran Virji know what they’re doing when it comes to building teams.
Welcome to the dinner table
Falcons 19 vs. Bucks 20
The Falcons were eager to move on from their previous game, and one player in particular that wanted to move on more than most was Ali Manek. While the Wolves hit 4 HRs as a team against them in the one before, Ali Manek hit 4 HRs in this game by himself. However, all of this in a losing cause, the most notable event though was right when this game started off.
With the Falcons just recovering from the beating they took, Altaf Champsi back to the pitching mound to take on the Bucks lead off hitter in Imran Nasser. Imran who we got plenty of good shots at last year for not having the strength to put the ball out of the park. On the first pitch of the AB puts the ball in the front yard of some poor unsuspecting homeowner to lead this off with a solo HR. Then to make sure it wasn’t some kind of fluke does it again to close out the 5th inning with a mercy. So needless to say – Imran is now welcomed back to the Nasser dinner table.
The Falcons actually played this one very well, just looking at it from a statistical perspective, they were getting runs in every inning and if it wasn’t for some costly errors in the field, they probably would’ve won this one. Last minute coaching decisions on walking Hussain Habib paid off for the Bucks who squeaked by with the win.
Sacrifice Fly RBI from 1st…?
Tigers 9 vs. Bucks 16
The final game of the day featured the Bucks taking on the Tigers. With the Bucks putting on an offensive exhibition in the game before, we wondered how much they would have left, and how ready would the Tigers defence be. With a runner on first, Ali Raza Nasser hit a deep fly ball to centre field, where the the centre fielder – Mahmood Kara – showed off his ball tracking and leaped to steal a sure HR away. The Tigers rushed towards him to celebrate the catch. However, a patient Imran Nasser calmly rounded the bases and scored on this – the strangest sacrifice fly we’ve ever almost seen (but mostly heard about – last time I leave the field for ice cream).
This game was close for a while, with the teams tied after 3 innings, and the Bucks holding only a 2 run lead going into the final inning. The Tigers pitching from Ali Jessa was solid, but seemed to fall apart with their defence as some costly errors allowed the Bucks to score 8 runs in the unlimited inning. The Tigers tried to put up a fight, but ultimately fell short.
Biggest take aways for the Tigers is the play of Mehdi Nasser – who in the outfield would catch anything and everything around him. Then at the plate led off and hit 3 for 4. In fact, a lot of the Tigers had decent days at the plate, leading us to believe we may have underestimated them a bit in our power rankings. Maybe we’ll move them up, but that update will be something we save for Saturday.