Tuesday, July 03, 2012

NWK Bears ~ No Pain, No Gain, For Ken Oberkfell's Starting Pitchers

From the desk of:   THE BRICK CITY NINE

NEWARK BEARS:  Caleb Cuevas Just the Latest of Ken Oberkfell's Sacrificial Lambs.

There's no mistaking it; the Bears have hit lean times.  But that's no reason to start sacrificing cubbies now.  More about that later.  But they remained resilient however, enough so to earn a four game split against the second place New Jersey Jackals this past weekend.  In the process, they also managed to squeeze by the Worcester Tornadoes, and out of last place heading into Tuesday night's game against the defending CanAm Champs.

In a much needed change of scenery, the Bears migrated up to Canada, to start a four game series against the first place Quebec Capitales.  Caleb Cuevas was making his sixth start still in search of his first win against three loses.  The Capitales promptly scored two runs against him in the first inning.  In the second, Newark struck back with two runs to tie.  Danny Santiestaban scored on a fielder's choice, and Burt Reynolds singled home Juan Martinez.  After the first inning, Cuevas faced the minimum over the next two frames.

Bryce Lane scored on a wild pitch in the top half of the fourth to give Newark a 3-2 lead.  But in the home half of the frame, Quebec pounced all over Cuevas for seven runs, off five hits, including a home run.  Four runs came unearned after an error by Tucker Nathans at third, and one scored off a wild pitch.

Newark picked up two in the fifth inning.  Danny Santiestaban singled home Billy Alvino, and Tucker Nathans singled home Daryle Ward to make it a 9-5 game.  But in the bottom of the fifth, the Renegades scored their tenth run off Caleb Cuevas.

Manager Ken Oberkfell sent out his starter for a sixth inning, and Hudson Valley promptly plated their eleventh run.  To that point, Caleb's line was not pretty.  In six full innings, he allowed eleven runs; seven earned; and surrendered eleven hits, while walking two, and striking out one.  Then incredulously, Coach Oberkfell sent out his starter for yet another inning of work.  Sure enough, Caleb Cuevas surrendered another two runs in the seventh before being mercifully lifted after recording just one out.

This sort of handling of his pitchers is now beyond odd.  Ken Oberkfell's handling of his starting pitchers now borders peculiar, if not irresponsible.  Look no further than Monday night's game against New Jersey.  Coach allowed Brian Parker to surrender nine runs in 4.2 innings.  It's understandable he might be demanding of a six inning start.  But this tough love is now starting to prove highly ineffective.  If you let teams tee-off, someone is going to get hurt.  Just sayin'...   And it's not like the season hasn't been dotted with such sacrificial offerings.  They freckle the season.  I know, what else is there for a manager to do?  I get that.  But can we at least start with a little more humane treatment, and reaching for a quicker hook once in a while?  Maybe not in Brian Parker's case, but in Caleb Cuevas' outing for sure.

Let's just say, the Capitales were leading 15-5 in the eighth inning.  And thankfully, this game did eventually end.  It wasn't what the Bears wanted, nor what they needed.  Instead they travelled to the great white north and encountered more scarcity of wins.  But they are Bears.  They'll get through this.  The Worcester Tornadoes were involved in an inter-league game against the Amarillo Sox and lost badly as well.  So that's another day the Bears won't spend in last place.  And right now, you'll just have to treat it like another day in paradise.


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