Heading overseas

No, I’m not joining the House of Lords just yet. But I will be traveling to London for the next 10 days.

Unfortunately, that means fewer Revs’ updates here — although I’ll try my best to provide a few fresh posts while I’m away. In the meantime, though, you can follow all of the Dispatch’s Revolution coverage over on the Dispatch Web site.

Also, you’ll be able to follow the upcoming War of the Roses series with Lancaster over at Barnstormin. And for great daily Atlantic League coverage, check out Atlantic League Baseball News.

Talk to you all very soon.

Game 89: Newark 7, York 3

With the opportunity to take its first series ever against Newark, disaster struck for the York Revolution.

The Bears scored seven runs in the worst first inning in Revolution history to key a 7-3 win Thursday afternoon at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium. Wayne Franklin allowed three straight singles to start the first and then lost control of the strike zone. He walked Keith Reed and Willis Otanez with the bases loaded to force in two runs and Raul Gonzalez followed with a grand slam to force Franklin from the game in the shortest start in York history (1/3 of an inning). The lefty also was dealing with an apparent hand injury.

Dan Foli came on for the Revs (9-10, 39-50) but Newark (8-11, 47-42) scored one more on a throwing error to cap all the offense it would need. On the bright side, Foli pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, Matt Trent also held Newark at bay for two innings and Saul Solveson wrapped up the game with three scoreless frames of his own.

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Game 88: Newark 5, York 1

The York Revolution’s surging offense finally met its match.

Newark’s Mike Bumstead recorded his Atlantic League-leading 11th win Wednesday evening, pitching eight innings and scattering six hits in the Bears’ 5-1 victory over York at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark, N.J. Bumstead, who brought a 5.60 ERA into the start, carried a shutout into the ninth inning before surrendering a long solo homer to Chris Ashby.

Newark jumped on York starter Dave Gil (pictured) in the second inning. Former Revolution infielder Vic Gutierrez hammered a three-run double that gave the Bears (7-11, 46-42) all the offense they would need. Jose Herrera also launched his second homer in two days — a two-run shot in the bottom of the seventh off Gil. Gil allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in seven innings of work. He also committed a costly throwing error in Newark’s three-run second.

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No “what ifs” for Ashby

Editor’s Note: This story appeared in Wednesday’s Dispatch.

The whole ordeal started as one large experiment concocted by Tracy Woodson, Chris Ashby’s manager in 2003.

Woodson’s Double-A Carolina pitching staff was in dire need of some rest. A playoff spot was already locked up. So why not ask the catcher with the cannon for an arm to try his luck at pitching?

So Ashby took the mound and disaster struck immediately. He loaded the bases in his first outing courtesy of two walks. Woodson cringed. But Ashby struck out two straight batters to escape the situation unscathed.

And Woodson’s go-to reliever was born.

Ashby pitched in eight other games that year and recorded a 2.21 ERA — even posting 5 2/3 innings and only allowing one run in Carolina’s final game of the regular season. The performance led Ashby, then 28, to report to the Florida Marlins’ minor league spring training the next year with plans of splitting time as a position player and pitcher.

It was like reliving Little League all over again.

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Game 87: York 12, Newark 8

The wait for the first grand slam of the season was a long one for the York Revolution. 

Eighty-seven games to be exact. 

But Chris Ashby made sure it was one to remember. 

After squandering a four-run lead in the sixth and a two-run advantage in the eighth, Ashby came to the plate with the bases loaded, one out and the Revs trailing by a run in the ninth. He responded by launching a long grand slam just inside the left-field foul pole at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium that propelled the Revs to a thrilling 12-8 comeback win Tuesday night over Newark. 

Ashby, now on a 13-game hitting streak, finished with a Revolution season-high six RBIs and could’ve had more. He was denied another RBI on a single in the second when Kennard Jones was thrown out at home plate. But York (9-8, 39-48) battled back to get its first win of the year at Newark (1-4) and only its third win there all-time (3-11). 

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McCurdy thrives in closer’s role

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran in Tuesday’s Dispatch.

Nick McCurdy does not have Mariano Rivera’s cutter.

Or Billy Wagner’s fastball.

Or even Trevor Hoffman’s signature change-up.

In fact, McCurdy is nowhere close to your typical closer. He’s never held the job full-time before this year. And after starting games in his two years at Oklahoma State, the most saves McCurdy had registered in any of his six professional seasons was a whopping three.

But all these nuggets of information just make McCurdy’s story more intriguing. He’s been the York Revolution’s most consistent reliever all season and a dominating closer — and he’s done it in relative anonymity.

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Revs ‘fishing’ for late-season pitching help

Editor’s Note: This column originially ran in Monday’s Dispatch.

Ninety-seven runs scored and a team batting average of .389 over the last 11 games — just the latest absurd numbers from the York Revolution’s dynamite offense.

But what about the pitching?

There’s no doubt this is the million-dollar question for York — not to mention for every other team in the Atlantic League right now. And after starting the year with seven former major leaguers on the pitching staff, the Revs are in a precarious situation when it comes to the men who take the mound each day.

The pitching staff took a huge hit Saturday night when opening-day starter Aaron Myette (pictured) said goodbye to the Revolution, partly because of a nagging ankle injury. While Myette left the club tied for the league lead in losses (seven), he was an innings eater (912/3 innings ranked second on the Revs’ staff) and was also capable of the occasional gem.

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