Fisher Cats unfazed by brief dry spell
The Eastern League Playoffs are just around the corner and it looks like the playoffs are coming to New Hampshire. Still, did this week hold a playoff preview or just another regular season series between two of the league’s top contenders? Either way, here’s a recap of the past week and more for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
New Hampshire still hasn’t officially clinched a playoff berth just yet, but time is slowly running out for all of the Fisher Cats’ divisional rivals outside of the Trenton Thunder (or, for last Friday only, the Trenton Pork Roll.). So, Fisher Cat fans may have reason to worry after a poor series in New Jersey’s capital this weekend.
The Fisher Cats lost three of four, including two walk-off walks surrendered in both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader.
New Hampshire left Trenton on Sunday with their divisional lead intact, but for Fisher Cats manager John Schneider, the important thing is just getting a berth in the postseason.
The Fisher Cats do have the best away record in the Eastern League at this moment, so it’s understandable why ceding home-field advantage to Trenton is not a major issue.
“To me, as long as you punch your ticket into the dance, you’re doing alright,” Schneider said. “We’ll cross that bridge when and if we get there, but for me, the adrenaline and the atmosphere of the playoffs, it doesn’t really matter where you are.”
New Hampshire and Trenton could be locked in as playoff foes as early as Thursday depending on their results and results by Binghamton and Reading.
This season on the base paths, New Hampshire’s erred away from caution. They’re second in total stolen bases and they share the league lead in times caught stolen. The Fisher Cats try to push the envelope when the ball’s in play as well. While that’s served them well often, that approach came back to hurt them last Wednesday against Altoona.
A botched safety squeeze read by Connor Panas in the fifth and misread dash for the plate by Forest Wall in the eighth cost New Hampshire would could have been two runs in what turned out to be a one-run loss.
Along with the stolen bases lead, New Hampshire leads the league in doubles, runs scored and is in spitting distance of the league lead in triples. Nights like Wednesday and the infamous July 7 loss that ended with an out at home appear to be an occasional byproduct of that exciting and generally successful approach.
“I’m never going the fault the guys for being aggressive, it’s something we live and die with,” said Schneider. “As long as we have that mindset instilled, I’m totally okay with them making aggressive mistakes as long as we talk about it afterward and correct it.”
Bo Bichette now has 38 doubles this year, breaking a franchise record set by Mike McDade in 2011. However, that’s not all. Cavan Biggio has a realistic shot of breaking the franchise RBI record set by Eric Thames in 2010 (104). After Sunday’s game against Trenton, Biggio’s on track for 108 RBI by the end of the regular season.
Biggio has a shot of surpassing the Fisher Cats single season record for home runs, 27, set by Thames (2010) and Chip Cannon (2006). Home run number 25 and 26 came on Thursday against Altoona, with the second providing New Hampshire its second walk-off homer this season.
Following the Trenton series’ conclusion, Biggio retains his league lead over Akron’s Bobby Bradley, who leaves Sunday with 24 dingers.