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Bearcats in the Big Leagues: No I in Team

In this week’s episode, some of the crew succeeds while their teams struggle.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Harrison

Its a tough predicament to be in when you’re playing well but your team is not. It feels good to be succeeding, but baseball is a team game so you really aren’t succeeding if your team isn’t winning. That is the situation Harrison was in this week. Even though Harrison put together a slash line of .296.333/.333 to go with four RBI in 30 plate appearances, the Pittsburgh Pirates pedaled backward. A 7-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday marked their fifth loss in a row. At 67-66, they are still in the playoff race, trailing the St. Louis Cardinals by 2.5 games for the second wild card spot in the National League. With the calendar now flipped to September, Harrison will need to continue to have weeks like he just did, but hopefully, at least for the Pirates, such efforts will coincide with a few more wins.

Ian Happ

Happ also felt the sting of having a solid individual performance go to waste. On Friday, he enjoyed one of his best games since being called up to the Double-A Tennessee Smokies, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI. However,. the Smokies lost the game, and rather handily to the Montgomery Biscuits (10-5). The result was not all that surprising considering how awful the Smokies have been this season. They have put together a record of just 57-80 through Saturday.

Luckily, the minor leagues are a bit more about developing individual players so they may someday contribute to a contending team at the MLB level, and Happ had a strong week in that regard, with Friday’s performance serving as his third multi-hit game of the week. In 63 games for the Smokies, he is batting .266/.323/.426 with eight home runs and 31 RBI. Compared to the 69 games he played in Single-A earlier this season (.296/.410/.475), the biggest takeaway is that he is getting on base at a slower clip, as he has only 20 walks in 257 plate appearances for the Smokies, which is a far drop from the 48 he had in 289 plate appearances in Single-A.

Happ has only two games left this season, as the Smokies finish out the campaign on Monday. From there he will play in the Arizona Fall League.

Tony Campana

Campana was placed on the seven-day disabled list on Aug. 24. He is batting just .204/.241/.217 for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights in 29 games and .217/.277/.232 overall this season. With just two games left in the regular season, and the Knights sitting just a half game out of first in the International League South, it remains to be seen if Campana will play again this year.

Connor Walsh

Walsh has really settled down since struggling in his first outing after being promoted to Double-A. He pitched four scoreless innings of relief across three games this past week, allowing just one hit and striking out two along the way. In five games for the Birmingham Barons, he has an ERA of 4.76, which is a marked drop from the 40.50 he was sporting after allowing three runs in 23 innings during his Double-A debut. The Barons will play two more games before wrapping up the season, with no playoffs on the horizon for the 49-88 squad.

Ryan Atkinson

There is a bit more time left for Atkinson’s first season in the minors, as the Rookie League Missoula Osprey have five games remaining on the schedule. Atkinson has done reasonably well as a starter and sometimes reliever for the Osprey, as he sports a 3.70 ERA in six total appearances. However, his 1.40 WHIP speaks to what he needs to improve on: limiting base runners.

Atkinson made two starts this week, and pitched well in one and not so well in the other. On Friday against the Helena Brewers, he only allowed one earned run, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. On Atkinson’s watch, which lasted three innings, nine batters reached base via hit (six) or walk (three) and a total of seven runs scored. Although six of those runs were unearned, the fact that he let so many batters on in such a limited amount of time did not help the cause. He pitched much better earlier in the week, spinning six solid innings in which he allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out five batters. Despite the differing individual outcomes, Atkinson was tagged with the loss in each contest.