The Richmond Flying Squirrels appear headed nowhere off the field with regards to the ongoing drama in Virginia’s capital city about replacing the aging Diamond. On the field, they are 27-26, 6 games out of first place in the Eastern League’s Western Division, have won three in a row, 7 of their last 10, and sit 2 games out of a playoff spot.
Yes, the same Richmond Flying Squirrels who not long ago went through the misery of a 15-game losing streak.
On April 13th, Richmond defeated Altoona in a rout 10-3, in the opener of a 3-game series. The next day, the game was rained out, and on the 15th, the Squirrels lost to Altoona 3-0, kicking off a losing streak that reached 15 games. It got so bad that team front office man Todd Parnell pledged to abstain from showering until the team won a game. That losing streak put the team at 3-17 after 20 games, by far dead last in the league. They broke their losing streak on May 4th, defeating that same Altoona squad by a score of 5-1, the first of 6 straight wins.
Since that hellish losing streak, they have gone 24-9, and are now just 2 games out of a playoff spot.
What has fueled this squad’s turnaround? SS Rando Moreno is batting .331 in 40 games, and has increased his batting average by 16 points in the last 10 games. 2B Kelby Tolmlinson is batting .421 over the 5 games, .359 in the last 10 games. On the mound, RHP Joe Biagini is 4-3 with a 1.82 ERA in 9 starts, and has 35 strikeouts to only 12 walks. posting a 1.03 WHIP. Returning LHP Jack Snodgrass won 4 games for Richmond before he was promoted to AAA.
Should be an interesting summer for the Giants AA affiliate.
Since moving from New York to San Francisco in time for the 1958 season, the San Francisco Giants have been, well, not inept, but highlights have been few and far between. Oh sure, they have had great players like Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, and other notable names. In 1989, they got swept in a World Series that was best known as the Earthquake Series. In 2012, Matt Cain joined a very exclusive fraternity by throwing one of only 23 Perfect Games in baseball history, and first in franchise history.
But in terms of winning, the Giants were not doing so. From 1958, the first year in San Francisco, until 2009, the franchise had only 7 playoff appearances. Think about that for a minute, 7 in 52 seasons, and only three of those resulted in pennants (1962, 1989, 2002).
Times have drastically changed in the City by the Bay. In this decade, the Giants have won three World Series titles, generating talk of whether of not the Giants have become a modern dynasty. At the same time, Minor League Baseball returned to Virginia’s Capital City, Richmond, in 2010, with the new Richmond Flying Squirrels, San Francisco’s Double-A developmental club.
Baseball fans in Virginia’s Capital have watched with pride as several former Flying Squirrels have gone on to stardom 3,000 miles away in San Francisco and help resurrect the Giants franchise.
1B Brandon Belt and SS Brandon Crawford both played for the inaugural Richmond Flying Squirrels squad of 2010. 2B Joe Panik (2013) completes 3/4 of the Giants starting infield that played here. OF Matt Duffy (2014) batted .332 in 97 games before bypassing Triple-A and going to the Giants, and at 23, was the youngest player on the Giants World Series roster.UTIL Andrew Susac (2013) batted .256 with 46 RBIs in 84 games with the Squirrels before debuting in San Francisco in 2014. On the mound, P Hunter Strickland (2014) recorded 11 saves for the Squirrels before heading west, and in the NLDS, he recorded the save in an 18-inning game against Washington-at 6 hours and 23 minutes, the longest playoff game in baseball history.
With the slew of players heading west from Richmond, who could be next? I like 2 names. OF Jarrett Parker (2014), a Stafford-native, hit .275 with 12 HR, 58 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases in 100 games with Richmond before actually getting promoted to San Francisco, where he sat in the dugout for one game, before getting sent down to Triple-A, where he hit .278 in 24 games. I also like SP Jack Snodgrass (2013-2014). Snodgrass has won 23 games while posting a 3.64 ERA at Richmond. Conventional wisdom says he will be at Triple-A to start 2015, but with the Giants rotation having some question marks after Madison Baumgarner, Snodgrass might get a chance to break camp with the big club.