Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tijuana series preview

It’s time to say “Hola!” to the GBL’s other expansion team, the Tijuana Cimarrones (“Rams”). The Cimarrones and the Seals are set to start a five-game series at Royal Athletic Park Wednesday night and it should be a fun weekend for the hometown fans. Unlike the upstart Maui squad, the Tijuana team has had a rocky start to its inaugural season. Not only do the Cimarrones have the worst record in the league (5 wins and 28 losses), but multiple sources have reported that the players have not yet been paid in 2010. To add insult to injury, Tijuana had to forfeit a home game last Thursday when all of their equipment was stolen and they couldn’t field a team. Perhaps the RAP hecklers should go easy on our Mexican visitors this weekend.

Tale of the Tape

Victoria 14-19 (.424, 4th in North Division), .262 team batting average, 5.56 team ERA
Tijuana 5-28 (.152, 5th in South Division), .245 team batting average, 8.47 team ERA

On paper, the Seals are definitely the better team. Of course, the Seals haven’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut this season, but they seem to have turned the corner after scoring 26 runs against Calgary in their last four games (all wins). Tijuana is the only team to lag behind Victoria in batting average and runs scored.

The Seals pitching staff is 8th in the league in team ERA, but they limited the Vipers to only six runs in their three-game sweep of Calgary last weekend. Tijuana’s pitching is simply abysmal – they lead the league in both walks (160) and home runs allowed (50).

Tijuana – Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Third baseman Kit Pellow, who spent parts of the last two seasons with Calgary, has an eight-game hitting streak going. In those eight games, he’s hitting .467 with 2 homers and 10 RBIs. Infielders Mark Samuelson and Eric Scriven are hitting .350 and .333, respectively, since joining the team in mid-June. On the other side of the coin, catcher Carlos Dominguez is only hitting .158 since he joined the Cimarrones in the middle of this month (as you might expect, the Tijuana roster has had a ton of turnover this year).

On the pitching side, only starter Cesar Martinez (1-0, 2.31 ERA) and relievers Andrew Demott (1-0, 1.23 ERA) and Julio Santana (0-2, 3.24 ERA) have shown that they can get GBL hitters out with any regularity.

Victoria – Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Josh Arhart is riding a seven-game hitting streak, batting .500 with 3 homers and a whopping 16 RBIs in those games. Wilver Perez is 7-for-15 with 6 steals in the four games that he has played since returning from his three-game suspension and he now leads the league in steals with 23. Brian Rios sports a nifty .374 batting average and he is also on a seven-game hitting streak; “Inky” has notched a hit in 15 of his last 16 games. Not everyone on the Seals is swinging a hot bat. For instance, Mike Mooney is only 1-for-17 since his impressive first weekend with the team. Chris Van Rossum is 3-for-33 with 10 strikeouts in his last 12 games.

Hard-luck pitcher Jino Gonzalez (0-4, 4.62 ERA) has been Victoria’s best starter of late. He has a 2.25 ERA in his last three starts. Anthony Pluta (1-0, 2.96 ERA) has posted two impressive starts in a row and he’ll be one to watch on the weekend. Brandon Villafuerte has had four good outings in a row to recover from a rough patch. On the negative side, the pre-season ace of the staff, Jason Kershner, has a 7.67 ERA in his last five starts.

Keys to the Series

About the only thing that can derail the Seals in this series is overconfidence. They are clearly the better team on paper, but as we all know baseball is played on grass. One thing that will be interesting to watch is how many steals Victoria racks up this weekend. The Seals lead the league with 71 stolen bases and the Cimarrones are dead last with only 15.


The crowds will be larger, the beer will be cold and it will be a lot of fun to be at Royal Athletic Park this weekend. I’m expecting that feel-good buzz to permeate the old ball yard like it did for most of 2009. I’m predicting that the Seals will take 4-of-5 from Tijuana, but one word of advice: don’t leave any of these games before the final out is made. No lead will be safe in this series, so stick around and witness what will likely be a ton of offense.