Mudcats Continuing July Turnaround
Rob McLamb | On 31, Jul 2013
The Carolina Mudcats pushed past the Wilmington Blue Rocks, 6-2, on Tuesday afternoon to complete a winning road trip and finish the month of July with an impressive 18-9 record. The Mudcats finished the first half with a 22-48 mark and began the second half losing seven of its first nine games. After its recent stretch, Carolina is 21-16 after the All-Star break and 2.5 games behind the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League Southern Division.
Pitcher Nick Pasquale personifies the improvement Carolina has made. The diminutive righty from Walnut Creek, Ca. was named the Indians’ Minor League Player of the Week on Tuesday for the week of July 22-28 when he won both of his starts and allowed only one run on right hits in 13 innings pitched. After losing his first five decisions since being promoted to Carolina from Lake County on May 13, Pasquale has posted a 3-1 record in July with a 2.78 ERA.
During the same week Pasquale was earning his Player of the Week honor from the Cleveland organization, 2012 first-round pick Tyler Naquin was given the same award from the Carolina League. Naquin went 8-for-22 during that span for a .346 batting average. He hit safely in all seven games during the week and cracked home runs in back-to-back games on July 23-24. The torrid stretch is particularly pleasing for Indians management as Naquin was cold in July prior to winning the league honor. It is not a coincidence that the Mudcats have won eight-of-10 games as the native of Spring, Tx. began to heat up.
Carolina manager Dave Wallace deserves significant credit for the squad’s turn in fortune. The balance of insuring player development while maintaining a winning atmosphere is not an easy task. The Mudcats once stood at 31 games under .500 but Wallace, a competitor who badly wants to win, has never deviated from the will of the organization nor has he let his frustrations show in a public display. His pragmatic approach is lauded by each of his players and Wallace is consistently one of the first people mentioned whenever a team member receives accolades for fine play.
The Carolina’s resurgence has a law of averages-aspect to it in that it was unfathomable that they were ever as bad as the record indicated in late-June. A team with as much talent as the Mudcats is bound to play winning baseball at some point and a team that receives no breaks for three months is due for some good fortune.
But the recent success also has its roots in the pragmatic approach within the organization. After a tough beginning to the month of June, Cleveland enters Wednesday with a six-game winning streak and a key home series with Detroit looming. While there was concern, Indians management and players never wavered. That mindset is often spoken about at Five County Stadium.
Like the Tribe, the Mudcats are entering a key stretch. Carolina has 16 of its next 26 games at home—including a key series with Myrtle Beach from August 14-16—and it will be interesting to see where they end up as the month draws to a close. The objective within the Cleveland organization is to play meaningful baseball towards the end of the season. The Cats fine performance in July has made the final quarter of the 2013 campaign worth watching.