Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tucson-Victoria Series Preview

With the Tucson Toros and Victoria Seals set to start a four-game series at Royal Athletic Park on Tuesday night, here's a preview of what we might see from these two teams.

Both teams sit in fourth place in their respective divisions and neither team has been playing particularly well of late. The Toros have a 10-15 record and are currently mired in a 4-game losing streak after being swept by the powerful Calgary Vipers. The Seals have lost four of their last five games to lower their record to 13-21.

Tucson brings a bunch of aggressive hitters into RAP who are clearly not afraid to swing the bat. They trail only Calgary in team batting average with an impressive .327 mark. In contrast, the Seals are last in the league with a .271 average. The Toros also have 5 of the top 19 batters in the league on their squad, lead by DH Jim Rushford. Rushford is second overall in hitting with a sparkling .398 batting average.

The Toros don't walk or strikeout much, so you can expect them to put the ball in play. And when they do put it in play, they tend to do it with authority. The Toros are 3rd in the league with a .579 slugging percentage, while the Seals are 7th best with a .486 mark. Second baseman Skip "Patch" Adams leads the Toros in power numbers with an impressive .650 slugging percentage, which includes 5 homers, 9 doubles and 2 triples.

On the pitching side of things, Tucson has struggled almost as much as the Seals. Tucson is 7th in the league with a 5.62 ERA, while Victoria sports an unsightly 6.02 mark. The Tucson pitching staff gives up the fewest walks in the league, so the patient hitters on the Victoria side would be well advised to swing the sticks a little more aggressively over the next four games than they normally do.

One area where Victoria likely holds an advantage is in the bullpen. Stud closer Javier Garcia is seven-for-seven in save opportunities for the Seals this season and opponents are batting .114 against him. In addition, relievers Roberto Sotolongo, Phil Sobkow, Graham Campbell and Ethan Katz have been part of a much-improved Seals bullpen of late. On the other hand, the Toros don't have a real closer on their team. Tom Wilhelmson leads Tucson with two saves, but he holds a sky-high 9.45 ERA and is currently on the Inactive List. The majority of the hurlers in the Toros bullpen have struggled mightily this season, so we could see the Seals score a few runs before Tucson leaves town.

Injury Notes:

  • Seals third baseman Brian Rios was pulled from Saturday’s game after suffering a minor groin pull. He sat out Sunday’s game as a precaution and is expected to return this week.
  • Catcher Josh Arhart, who has not played since June 23rd, is also due back in the Tucson series. Matt Kavanaugh filled in admirably in his absence. Kavanaugh hit .333 with 5 RBIs in five starts behind the plate to raise his batting average to .237 on the year.