I decided to go the the Newark Bears game today, so I got to see Alex Smith and three relievers combine to pitch the Bears’ first shutout of the season instead of watching the Mets lose a 3-2 heartbreaker to the the Washington Nationals.
Smith has been the Bears’ best starting pitcher this season, but today was the first time I’ve seen him. He held the Brockton Rox to three hits (and three walks) over six innings. With the win, Smith’s record improves to 7-2 and his ERA drops to 2.93. He ranks sixth in the Can-Am League for ERA, which is remarkable when you consider how much of a hitter’s park Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium is. Smith’s victory total is tied for third best in the league.
The Bears got some bittersweet news during the game. First baseman Daryle Ward has been signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He’ll be reporting to the Double A Mobile BayBears, where he’ll be taking over for the recently-promoted Paul Goldschmidt.
Ward came out of the game just before he was due to bat in the fourth inning. There was concern in the stands that he might have been overcome by heat exhaustion, but as we saw him wave on his way off the field it quickly became clear that there was another reason for his departure.
When the team announced his signing during the next inning break, the crowd gave Ward a quiet round of applause. In 57 games for the Bears this year, Ward batted .312 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs. In the short term, I imagine that Danny Santiesteban will move up into the cleanup spot and Burt Reynolds will see some playing time at first base. However, the Bears will need to bolster their lineup in addition to improving their starting rotation if they hope to edge out Worcester and Pittsfield for the playoffs.
Do you think the Newark Bears can win a playoff spot this season?