In the last decade the Cougars have been affiliated with the Florida Marlins for three years and the Oakland Athletics for seven years. It has been a roller coaster of a ride, but the good part is at least in the first half of most of those seasons the coaster has been going upward. Six times this past decade the Cougars made the playoffs in the first half of the season. Five of those times have been with Oakland.
The decade saw 56 former Cougars make it to the majors, from B.J. Waszgis in July of 2000, to Henry Rodriguez in September of this past season. Some former Cougars have won World Series titles (Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, to name a few). Beckett has also been named World Series MVP. There have been many all stars and award winners.
This decade began with a playoff run in the 2000 season. That season the Cougars were affiliated with the Marlins, they would make the playoffs in the second half by winning the divison. Problem was that they would be bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Wisconsin after winning the first game at home in 10 innings.
That season saw players like Chip Ambres, Matt Frick, Kevin Hooper, Matt Padgett, Luis Ugueto, Kelley Washington and Josh Wilson. Scott Goodman led the team in homeruns with 16. Padgett and David Calalhan tied for the lead in RBI's with 60.
The pitching was good. Todd Moser, Marc Sauer, Gustavo Lopez, Jorge Cordova and Joe Sergent. The Cougars also had pitching phenom Josh Beckett. He would pitch 13 games and show a few signs of what was to come. The problem was the he would spend a lot of the season on the disabled list for the first time in his career. He only went 2-3 with a 2.12 era in 13 games for the Cougars. The bullpen was good, Brandon Bowe went 7-3 with a 3.73 in 61 games with 6 saves. He pitched 80 innings, and struck out 89 while giving up 73 hits. Bryan Moore was the Cougar closer, he went 5-2 with a 3.10 era in 58 games, he would set a Cougar record with 27 saves.
On June 10th in West Michigan the Cougars were no-hit by the Whitecaps. They would lose 8-0, Beckett started the game and went 2.2 innings, giving up three runs and would get the loss. The Caps sent out Tommy Marx who had a complete game, he walked six and struck out ten for the win.
On July 13th the Cougars played the Michigan Battle Cats at home, the game would go 13 innings and four and a half hours. The Cats would win 7-6, but the Cougars had plenty of chances. They would load the bases in both the ninth and the tenth inning and would not score. There were 34 hits in the game and 27 men left on base.
In the first game of the playoffs, at home against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Cougars would win depite the umps. They left 13 men on base, the Cougar starter Gustavo Lopez was only able to go into the fourth inning because of a pulled muscle in his side.
Game two was a complete disastor as the Cougars would lose 10-1 in Appleton. Nothing went right, as this time they just couldn't get any baserunners to leave any on. Hector Henriquez had a miserable game, going 1.1 innings in relief, giving up six hits and six runs. Even though only one of those runs would be eanred.
In game three they would face Rattler pitcher J.J. Putz who threw a no hitter against the Cougars on April 29th in Appleton in the first game of a double header. In that game the Cougars did get one run, while Putz walked five and struck out four in the win.
This time the Cougars would get three runs and five hits off of Putz in six innings. The problem was that the Rattlers got five runs and seven hits off of Marc Neubauer in four and two thirds innings.
This is the first in a series about this past decade for the Cougars, please read later on in the offseason as I review the other seasons in this roller coaster of a decade.