Thursday, September 2, 2010
Final series preview of 2010
Well, it's the season finale. Our boys of summer are putting it all on the line for the last time against the Edmonton Capitals. A few days ago, we were hoping for a meaningful series with playoff implications, but now, we realistically just want to go out with a bang. While the Seals are mathematically still alive, the Vipers have all but clinched the second half title with the magic number (combination of Seals losses and Vipers wins) down to 2, and a 4 game set with the hapless Tijuana team. All things considered though, it has been (and still is) a great season with a future so bright, we'll have to wear shades. So get out to RAP this weekend, applaud the boys and show the city why we deserve a professional baseball team.
Tale of the Tape
Victoria 22-17 (2nd place), 44-40 .524 (overall), .283 team BA (6th - tie), 4.57 team ERA (5th)
Edmonton 19-21 (4th place), 48-37 .565 (overall), .296 team BA (3rd), 4.75 team ERA (6th)
Edmonton - Who's Hot
Outfielder Larry Bigbie and Shortstop Matt Rogelstad are both hot as of late, hitting .476 and .353 respectively over the past 5 games. A number of players who have played sporadically in recent games, have chipped in with solid performances of late. On the hill, Mike Johnson has been spectacular only allowing 1 earned run over the entire month of August in about 17 innings of work. Chris Little has pitched well over his last 3 starts and is still one to watch after losing a close one to Victoria last night in his "worst" outing of the past few weeks.
Edmonton - Who's Not
The other Arreola - Darryl - has been pummeled in 2 of his past 4 starts so who knows which one will show up in Victoria; hopefully the one that seems to pitch underhand (!). Ex-MLB-er and usually heavy hitting Enrique Cruz (season average of .378) has only 4 hits in his last 26 at bats (.154) but don't count on that continuing. Other regulars, 1B Tom Collaro and SS (and often-moved...Edmonton is his 3rd team this year) Alex Prieto are regular .300 hitters but are managing .091 and .143 respectively over the past week.
Victoria - Who's Hot
Over the past 10 days, Colin Moro, Wilver Perez and Issac Hess (!) are all hitting above .400. Matt Kavanaugh has also been scorching in recent days hitting a sweet-riding .375. Wilver continues to wreak havoc on the pads and Josh Arhart was playing very well before he went down with an injury. As far as pitching goes, Brandon Villafuerte continues to be a reliable closer and starting pitchers Jeff Duda and Anthony Pluta have recently had a couple of great outings. Combined, the Seals pitching staff has an incredible 50-13 strikeout to walk ratio in the past 7 days, so Capitals hitters beware.
Victoria - Who's Not
Middle relief has been a struggle over the past few weeks with Aaron Easton and Andrew Arreola having a couple of rough outings. At the plate, the "newer" Seals acquisitions of Jerry Madueno, T-Rod and Henry Calderon have struggled of late with a combined .167 average (I know Hack, I know...where is Swinny???). Brian Rios is hitting an un-Inky like .250 lately but I expect him to bust out in his final series at home. In general, there has been a power outage from what we have been used to, with only 2 round trippers from the entire team over the past week.
Keys to the Series
If the bats of the Capitals remain cool and the Seals starting pitching remains hot, it will be a long weekend for the gang from Edmonton. With Josh Arhart back (he chipped in a single last night pinch hitting) and a hopefully appreciative home crowd, I would expect the Seals to pile up the runs. With Edmonton already out of the race and playing on the road, I'm thinking they will not put up too much resistance. While the Seals are still mathematically alive, it should give them an edge over the eliminated Caps. Conversely, if and when they are out of contention, they have to avoid a letdown and just bask in the fact that they had a very successful second half and, compared to last year, a huge improvement in all areas.
Final series at home but disappointment over playoff elimination give conflicting signals. Edmonton was red hot but have cooled down a lot lately, losing 6 of their last 8 games. A tough call, but I'm predicting Seals to take 3 of 4 while enjoying the last weekend of the summer playing professional ball.