At Midpoint, Crabs Finding Their Groove

At the halfway mark of the 2010 season the Crabs appear to be firing on all cylinders, especially on the mound.

By Ray Hamill

At the halfway mark of the 2010 season the Crabs appear to be firing on all cylinders, and with a pivotal weekend series on the way, the timing couldn't be better.

After securing a three-game series sweep over the Nevada Bighorns last weekend, the Crabs improved to 22-3 on the season, the team's best mark in several years.

But that comes as no surprise to manager Matt Nutter and head coach Robin Guiver.

"We've got guys out there who are serious about baseball and that's always good to see," said Nutter, whose team has now won 10 straight. "To me this team is just deep. There are no weak links, we're just solid all the way through."

The pitching in particular has been consistently impressive for the Crabs, who now have a staff ERA of just 2.30 compared to their opponents' 6.28.

Led by second-year Crabs players Chris DeBoo and John Austin as well as newcomer Esteban Guzman - who between them have started 14 of the team's 25 games and have yet to post a loss - the staff has also held visitors at the Arcata Ballpark to a lowly .201 average at the plate.

"The guys we knew we had coming back from last season have been everything we thought they would be," said Guiver. "And the other guys have come in and all been awesome."

For Nutter and Guiver about the only problem right now is finding enough innings to go around.

"It's a great problem to have," said Guiver. "All the guys who have gotten starts have done well and I don't see a drop off at all."

Guiver, however, cautioned that much of the impressive pitching statistics have to do with some stellar defense, while the hitting has steadily improved over the past month as the incoming players adjust to the wood bats and get back in the swing of things after a few weeks off from the game.

"We're starting to show some power at the plate and starting to get things going," said Guiver. "A few of the guys are starting to show some pop."

Jeff Johnson, a sophomore out of Ohlone College, leads the team with five home runs despite missing this past weekend with a jammed thumb. Johnson, who is batting .377, second best among every-day players, will likely be held out of the midweek series with the Nor Cal Longhorns, but is expected back for this weekend's key league series at Redding.

"We have a few guys still working some things out, but every time they go out there, they're getting better," Nutter said.

A total of 10 every-day players, in fact, are batting .300 or better, led by Blake Gibbs out of Oregon State (.410).

Out of the bullpen, meanwhile, Nutter and Guiver have been calling on Derrick Dingman and James Chamberlain to close out games, while Jesse Moore is an impressive 3-0 in four relief appearances and is yet to allow an earned run.

"If we get into the late innings leading, it's pretty much a lock," said Nutter. "The pitching has been everything we expected."