Boise’s first five-plus weeks as a Colorado Rockies affiliate haven’t provided fans much to root for at Memorial Stadium.
No matter the result Sunday in the finale of the first half of the season, the Hawks (13-24) will finish the first half under .500 for the first time since 2012 (13-25, .342).
But the benefits of the split-season format allows Boise and the rest of the Northwest League to flush their first 38 games and start fresh for the final 38 on Monday. The Hawks can still qualify for the playoffs by winning their division in the second half.
And Hawks fans can take comfort in this: Boise rallied from that disastrous first half in 2012 to go 24-14 (.632) in the second half, win its division and reach the Northwest League championship series.
Here’s a breakdown of what happened in the first half, and what went wrong. All stats are before Saturday’s game.
The Hawks rank last in the league in ERA (5.25), hits allowed (338), runs allowed (220) and strikeouts (232). They also rank second to last in home runs allowed (22) and WHIP (1.45).
If the Hawks’ staff doesn’t improve, it will become the first to post an ERA over 5.00 since Yakima in 2009 (5.18).
Boise manager Frank Gonzales said he wants his pitchers to attack the zone with more fastballs in the second half and stop trying to nibble at the corners.
“I think they’re trying to do more than they have to,” Gonzales said. “This league, you’ve got to remember there are two or three guys on every team that can really hit, and then there are a bunch of fillers.”
The blame can be split equally between the starting rotation (4.91 ERA) and the bullpen (5.76 ERA). But middle relief has particularly vexed Boise as the Hawks are only 7-6 when leading after five innings.
The few bright spots on the staff include starter Logan Sawyer, who sits 10th in the league with a 3.57 ERA, and starter Jack Wynkoop, who sports a 3.60 ERA with two walks and 15 strikeouts in 20 innings.
Boise’s gloves haven’t done their struggling pitchers many favors this season, either.
Boise ranks sixth in the eight-team league with 55 errors in 36 games. And while shortstop Carlos Herrera has shown plenty of flashes, leading the league in assists and ranging to balls few could get to, he also leads the league with 18 errors in 30 games.
“Anything that happens after the seventh inning is hugely important, as it is to any club,” Gonzales said. “But we haven’t been good with that defensively, and probably mostly with the pitching, late. We have the personnel to do it. It’s just a matter of them doing it.”
Boise’s bats cooled after a hot start. But the Hawks remain fourth in batting average (.259), tied for third in home runs (20) and fifth in runs scored (177).
Third baseman Kevin Padlo remains the largest threat in the lineup despite just turning 19 on July 15. The fifth youngest player in the league ranks sixth in batting average (.314), first in on-base percentage (.426) and third in slugging percentage (.525) after struggling to start 2015 in Low-A Asheville.
“I’m not sure what he was doing differently in Asheville,” Gonzales said. “But he’s pretty much been a model of what we want.”
Catcher Hamlet Marte, who is hitting .291 and is second in the league with 11 doubles, remains a steady bat in the middle of the lineup. But the Hawks have yet to find someone to replace the production right fielder Yonathan Daza (.418 batting average, 14 RBIs in 16 games) provided before his promotion.
THE STOLEN BASES
No one can accuse the Hawks of not trying to manufacture runs. Boise leads the Northwest League with 76 stolen bases, 18 clear of second-place Everett.
But with all those attempts, Boise also leagues the league in caught stealing (27) and ranks just fifth in success rate (73.8 percent).
Padlo leads the way with 17 stolen bases, second in the league, after entering the summer with eight career steals to his name. Shortstop Carlos Herrera has swiped 15 bags, third in the league.
Boise is well on pace to surpass Eugene’s league-leading mark of 115 steals last season. But catching the Northwest League record (Portland’s 246 in 84 games in 1976) would take some serious work.
HAWKS 5, HOPS 2
|Hernandez, G, LF||4||0||2||0||0||1||.260|
|Herrera, C, SS||5||1||4||1||0||0||.297|
|Jimenez, W, C||4||0||0||0||0||0||.269|
|Jones, W, 2B||4||0||2||0||0||1||.138|
E—Cribbs 2, Robertson. DP—Hillsboro 2. LOB—Hillsboro 11, Boise 9. 2B—Queliz, Nehrir, Mitsui, Carroll. 3B—Carroll. SF—Mundell. SB—Herrera 4, Padlo.
|Bolton L, 0-2||6.2||10||4||4||2||4||4.30|
|Kenilvort W, 1-0||2.1||4||0||0||1||1||4.22|
|Meier H, 1||1||0||0||0||1||0||4.09|
|Black S, 4||1||0||0||0||0||1||4.50|
Balk—Meier. T—3:02. A—3,428.