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Red Wings Report: Abrams' Call-Up and the End of the Losing Streak
Dan Glickman writes about baseball at The Baseball Continuum and the Rochester Red Wings, particularly at Pickin’ Splinters. He’ll provide weekly updates on the AAA Nationals affiliate during the second half of the 2022 season and potentially beyond.
There were two major news stories for the Rochester Red Wings this past week. The first was the end of the team's nightmarish and honestly-inexplicable 19-game losing streak, and the other was the promotion of C.J. Abrams to the Nationals. I'm covering both of them this week in the Red Wings Report, starting with the Abrams news. Others have said plenty on Abrams and his place on the Nationals in general, so I won't go over that again. Instead, I'll just go over my side of the story.
Abrams to the Nats: How I Got It (Sort Of)
This is a particularly notable thing for me because I, in a way, broke the story. I didn't exactly break the story, though. At no point did I come out and outright say that the Nationals were calling up C.J. Abrams. Others nationally and/or in the Capitol Region were the ones who got that official word. However, I did get the information that basically all-but-said that to the point where any reasonable person could have drawn the correct conclusion.
A bit of behind-the-scenes stuff here: the Rochester Red Wings provide people in the press box with pre-printed scorecards with the lineups already there. If there's a late lineup change, they'll let everyone know so they can manually change it. That's what happened with Abrams on Sunday. Given his prospect notability and the fact he was a key part of the Soto/Bell trade, the question of why he wasn't playing instantly became the most important thing about the day as far as the Nationals were concerned. That close to game time, the most likely explanations for the change were a call-up or some sort of health issue. A scan of the dugout with the press box's binoculars also didn't show him, so that also eliminated the minuscule chance that a player of Abrams' caliber had simply been benched but was still available to pinch-hit.
It wasn't until after the game that more details became available during the post-game Zoom call with Red Wings manager Matthew LeCroy. By this time I'd seen the reporting about Luis Garcia's injury, so I was increasingly sure that it was all related to that, so I simply asked if it Abrams' benching was a directive from the Nationals. LeCroy said that there was and, more importantly, he said that roster moves were probably coming.
I tweeted that out and included it in my Pickin' Splinters story and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Losing Streak Ends
The other big story was that the Red Wings finally won a game. Three, in fact. The streak had gone 19 games, and was approaching the longest minor league losing streak of this century, which happened in 2002. Finally, on Thursday, it came to an end. It came to an end partly because of CJ Abrams, who caused havoc on the basepaths. It came to an end partly because the Norfolk Tides didn't catch an easy fly ball into foul territory and later in the at-bat Jake Noll hit a home run. It came to an end partly because Logan Verrett pitched well. It came to an end because Adrian Sanchez had a clutch hit. Honestly, it ended because it had to end.
And thank goodness it has. Now other things can be focused on at the ballpark.
Cade Cavalli had his best start of the season on Saturday. In seven innings of work, he gave up three hits, an earned run, and two walks while striking out 11 on 96 pitches, 64 for strikes. Outside of a shaky first inning, he was nearly perfect. If he keeps that up, the calls for bringing him up to the big club will grow louder and louder.
A big loss for the Red Wings came in Saturday's win when Jake Noll was hit in his hand by a pitch. It's since been revealed that he suffered a fracture in his finger, and so he'll likely be out the rest of the year. It's a disappointing end for Noll, a grinder with some pop who has had a down-year this season but still played his heart out and had a flare for the occasional clutch hit (such as the home run on Thursday).
The Red Wings did a good job of holding off Orioles prospect Gunnar Henderson (recently named the top prospect in baseball by Baseball America) during the six-game series. At least, they had. Before Sunday's game, they'd held him to 4-20 (.200 BA) at the plate, striking him out 10 times. Then on Sunday he went 3-6 with a gigantic home run. Still, a good performance by the Wings keeping him in check for most of the series.
One of the weird things about the minors are the themed uniforms. So, when Cade had that start on Saturday, he was wearing Yoda across his chest. As one does.
The Red Wings are now on a long road trip until August 30.