One of the most inescapable parts of the holiday season is annual unboxing of every Christmas song you've ever heard. From the parades to the malls to every other radio station, our Decembers are soundtracked by Bing and Mariah and 15 new versions of that Wham song whose lyrics still don't make sense (isn't giving your heart to someone special where the problem started last Christmas, George Michael?).
We here at the Delmarva Shorebirds decided to get in on the fun this year and put out our own Christmas song that would pay final homage to the historic 2019 season at Perdue Stadium. A few days ago we sent some team representatives to the famous Brill Building in New York to solicit the very best songwriters. Once security had thrown us out, we realized we needed a different approach. So in the spirit of Bob & Doug McKenzie before us, we decided our way forward was retooling a beloved holiday standard to fit our own ends. The Bill Nighy character from Love Actually would approve.
So here it is, the song you'll be hearing on Q105 every 43 minutes through December 25…presenting "The Twelve Days of Shoremas!"
On the 12th Day of Shoremas, the Shorebirds gave to me…
Twelve Pitching Feats
Pitching was the name of the game in 2019. The Shorebirds had a stable full of aces at Arthur W., finishing the year ranked in the top 10 across all of full-season Minor League Baseball in 12 different pitching categories. Delmarva led the minors in wins (90), saves (53), shutouts (20), fewest hits (898), and batting average against (.205), and made impressive leaderboard appearances in stats like ERA (3.00), WHIP (1.18), and strikeouts (1,389). The Shorebirds' arms set the South Atlantic League record for strikeouts in a season and helped earn first-year pitching coach Justin Ramsey both SAL Coach of the Year and Orioles' Cal Ripken, Sr. Player Development Award.
A far cry from the 21-inning games of yesteryear, the Shorebirds took the Spinal Tap route and only went 11. Delmarva's longest games this season were a pair of 11-inning affairs, both of which came with happy endings. Andrew Fregia's walkoff single in the bottom of the 11th lifted the Shorebirds to a 2-1 win over Kannapolis on April 17; Cowboy's heroics came in the midst of a 10-game winning streak and capped a perfect season-opening seven-game homestand. Flash forward three months to Delmarva's 100th game of the year, a Sunday afternoon showdown at West Virginia on July 21. Jaylen Ferguson tagged a go-ahead RBI single into center to score Alexis Torres, and Ruben Garcia locked it down in the bottom of the 11th to preserve a 3-2 win over the Power. That win was the Shorebirds' 69th of the season, surpassing their 2018 total with a month and a half to spare.
Video: Fregia wins it in 11th
At no time did Delmarva flex its offensive muscle more than on April 24 against Asheville. With one run home already in the bottom of the third, J.C. Encarnacion came up and slashed a two-run double to flip a 3-2 hole into a 4-3 lead. A few minutes and half a dozen runs later, Encarnacion came up again, this time pegging a sharp grounder that bounced off the second base bag and into center for another RBI single. That brought home the Shorebirds' 10th run of the inning, all but assuring the W in a 15-7 laugher. The win was Delmarva's 10th straight at home to begin the year, a number they'd stretch to 12 in a row with a pair of wins over Augusta later in the week.
Video: Encarnacion puts stamp on 10-run 3rd
After clinching the first half Northern Division title with ease, the Shorebirds seemed destined for a second-half hangover in their post-break debut at Greensboro on June 20, falling behind 11-2 after six. But oh how the tables turned: a four-run seventh bled into a four-run eighth, cutting the deficit to one run. In the top of the ninth, Cadyn Grenier led off with a walk and took second on a passed ball. Cody Roberts came up next and pounded a flyball deep to left center. Center fielder Fabricio Macias fell down making the catch, and Grenier turned on the jets to score all the way from second on the sac fly and tie it at 11-11. Edison Lantigua played the extra-inning hero in his team debut, singling home the winning run in the 10th as the Shorebirds stunned the Grasshoppers 12-11. The victory set the tone for another stellar half-season that saw Delmarva go 42-27 and tie Hickory atop the North.
"Here's the story…of some pleasant players…" (Sorry, mixing up our parodies.) The 'Birds sent a Bunch of eight to the 60th Annual SAL All-Star Game in Charleston, West Virginia. Pitchers Grayson Rodriguez, Zach Matson, Ofelky Peralta, and Drew Rom joined catcher Daniel Fajardo, shortstop Adam Hall, outfielder Doran Turchin, and DH Seamus Curran at Appalachian Power Park, by far the largest team contingent in the league. Rodriguez was voted the game's starting pitcher for the Northern Division, while Turchin picked up game MVP honors with a bases-clearing double in the bottom of the eighth to power the North to a 5-2 win. Florence Henderson would've been proud.
Seven Wild Parties
*in our best Bill Hader voice* This club has everything: diamonds, bats, flying buckets of Gatorade, even a giant orange bird! Perdue Stadium became the Peninsula's hottest party seven times in 2019 thanks to game-winning, game-ending hits. The first became the stuff of legend: J.C. Encarnacion's grand slam to beat Lakewood 7-3 on April 13 in a game where the Shorebirds had been no-hit with one out in the ninth. Each night a different hero arose: Encarnacion was soon joined by Daniel Fajardo, Andrew Fregia, Alexis Torres, Ben Breazeale, and Cadyn Grenier. Jaylen Ferguson made it Lucky No. 7 on June 13 with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to beat Hickory 5-4. Club Walk-Off was the focal point in a year that saw Delmarva pick up 20 wins in the team's final at-bat. Your move, Seacrets!
We'll share the second half of our holiday ditty next week on Around the Roost. For now, time to rest up the singing voices and fend off a few cease and desist orders from Tin Pan Alley.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.