Plays of the Month: July
Harrisburg enters the final 35-game homestretch of the season in a tie for first place with Altoona. So as we begin August, let’s take a look back at July and some of the Senators’ best plays of the month. As always the choices were tough, but somebody had to make them. Here are the Top 5:
5. July 21 & 22 vs. Richmond: Pleffner plays pinch-hit hero two days in a row
Since the Nationals promoted Drew Ward to Harrisburg, Shawn Pleffner has found playing time more difficult to come by. The left-handed hitting first baseman is making the most of his opportunity though as he slashed .419/.513/.677 in the month of July including two big pinch-hits that made the difference against the Flying Squirrels.
4. July 7 vs. Erie: Lucky number seven for Soto
After going more than a decade without a seven-RBI game by a Senators player, Soto’s big night at the plate marked the third time it happened in the span of two weeks. Isaac Ballou and Wilmer Difo both hit grand slams on their way to the total and Soto was no different as he hit two home runs to reach seven runs batted in. Baseball is still weird.
3. July 26 vs. New Hampshire: Perez becomes Senators’ unlikely power source
It took the Senators 14 innings to score a run against the Fisher Cats in their doubleheader, but Stephen Perez made it count for a 1-0 win in the nightcap of the twinbill. Leading off the bottom of the seventh inning, Perez smoked a belt-high change-up onto the rightfield boardwalk to give the Senators the walk-off victory. A day later, Perez would hit another long ball, his fifth of the season, and a new career high.
2. July 18 at Erie: Mapes shoulders the load in complete game victory
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Senators headed to division-leading Altoona for an important five-game series in four days. Injuries to Greg Ross and Boone Whiting along with a spot start in the doubleheader forced manager Matt LeCroy to stretch the Senators’ bullpen thin to the point of breaking. When the team headed to Erie on Monday, Tyler Mapes gave LeCroy exactly what he needed as the right-hander delivered a nine-inning complete-game victory, his third of the season, to save the beleaguered bullpen.
1. July 10 vs. Akron: Rickles’ blast walks it off to send the Senators into All-Star break
It’s no surprise that we like walk-off home runs (see #3 above), but it’s especially fun when the game is in extra innings and looks like it will go on forever. We also really like it when the home run comes from someone you would least expect, like the backup catcher. That’s exactly what happened to send the Senators winners into the All-Star break as Nick Rickles absolutely crushed the game-winning homer.