Revs’ 1st-half title chances begin (and possibly end) this weekend
Time is running out for the York Revolution to catch the Lancaster Barnstormers in the race for the first half Atlantic League Freedom Division title. But you can’t say the Revs haven’t been trying their hardest to make up ground as of late.
After starting out 10-17, York has gone 17-9 since then to improve to 27-26. But Lancaster just hasn’t been losing. With a 3-2 victory over Bridgeport on Thursday, Lancaster increased its lead over York to six games in the division (York had off Thursday). At 33-20, Lancaster owns the league’s best record. And the Barnstormers have achieved that mark by winning 18 of their last 23 games.
The division rivals will meet up Friday night at Sovereign Bank Stadium in the first of a three-game series this weekend. It will be the first of two series remaining between the clubs before the All-Star break. Both teams have 17 games left in the first half, and seven will be between the pair – three this weekend in York and four next weekend at Lancaster.
Both teams should feel pretty good coming in. Lancaster is on a four-game winning streak after taking four in a row from Bridgeport. York is a on a three-game winning streak after taking three of the final four against Sugar Land. Bridgeport and Sugar Land, though, are tied with the league’s worst record at 22-31. So, while Lancaster and York have been beating up on the bottom dwellers, this weekend’s series will feature much different competition on both sides.
While York has been powerless to stop Lancaster from winning when the two aren’t matched up, the Revs will finally have an opportunity to move closer to the first-half division title beginning this weekend. Then again, things could always go south, too. A three-game sweep by York, and the Revs would sit three games back of Lancaster with 14 games to play. Should the opposite happen, though, the Revs’ first-half title chances would pretty much be over.
Etchebarren out?: Before we go over the offensive/pitching numbers for both clubs, I just wanted to point out that Revolution manager Andy Etchebarren will likely not manage this weekend’s series against Lancaster. Revs’ pitching coach Mark Mason had said Wednesday night that Etchebarren told him he’ll most likely watch this weekend’s games on the TV in his office, if he comes to the ballpark at all. Etch’ is still recovering from back surgery he underwent on Tuesday morning to repair a herniated disc and two bulging discs. Apparently the surgery was more intensive than originally thought and Etch’ needs a little bit more time to recover. Etch’ will likely miss York’s next series at Bridgeport, too, being that he’s not allowed to travel because of the surgery. Mason will continue to serve as the team’s interim manager in Etch’s absence.
With all that being said, here’s a look ahead to the series this weekend (Note* all stats are through Thursday):
Lancaster: The Barnstormers will enter the series at or near the top of the league in several offensive categories. Lancaster is first in the league in hits (528), batting average (.292), slugging percentage (.442) and total bases (800), second in runs scored (241), home runs (52) and stolen bases (51). They are tied for fourth in the league in doubles (96) and triples (10). Despite all the hot hitting and scoring, Lancaster is somehow last in the league in RBIs (218) and walks (154). For what it’s worth, the Barnstormers league the lead in being caught stealing (20) and have the fourth-most strikeouts (338).
Lancaster’s best hitters are Blake Gailen, Jaime Pedroza, Terry Tiffee, Adam Godwin and Fernando Lentini (OK, pretty much half their lineup is solid at the plate). Godwin’s .350 batting average is tops in the league, while Lentini’s .335 average is fifth among all players (Lentini’s 18-game hitting streak was broken Thursday night against Bridgeport when he went 0-for-4). Gailen’s 10 homers is tied with York’s Michael Hernandez and Chris Nowak for third-best in the league. Tiffee and Pedroza each have nine homers, which is tied with two other players for sixth-most in the league.
York: The Revs enter the series first in the league in runs scored (297) and homers (62), second in RBIs (253) and slugging percentage (.433), third in total bases (770), and tied for fourth in triples (10). York is also fifth in the league in hits (473) and sixth in doubles (91). For what it’s worth, the Revs have the least amount of strikeouts in the league (311) and their 24 stolen bases are the second-lowest amount among all teams. While York is fourth in the league in batting average (.266), it’s important to note that the Revs are batting .290 in their last 25 games, while averaging 6.24 runs during that stretch.
The Revs’ best hitters are first baseman Chris Nowak, third baseman Ramon Castro and outfielder Brandon Haveman. Their hot hitters are another thing. While Haveman, Castro and Haveman have been on a tear at the plate over the last few weeks, others have been hitting well at the plate recently, too. Scott Grimes has been solid since returning from injury a few weeks ago and moving from the lead-off spot to the No. 2 spot in the lineup after Haveman. Second baseman Andres Perez (.312 batting average, 15 doubles, 21 RBIs) is also three games removed from hitting for the cycle in game one of a double-header against Sugar Land on Tuesday. Nowak and Hernandez each have 10 homers, which sits them in a tie for third in the league. Castro’s 42 RBIs leads the league. Haveman has the team’s best batting average, hitting .346 in 29 games since coming to York after being released by Lancaster.
The Barnstormers’ pitching is tops in the league in runs allowed (179), hits allowed (445) and walks issued (135). Lancaster is also holding opponents to a league-best .247 batting average while owning the league’s best team ERA mark (3.49). Their 342 strikeouts is fifth.
Revs pitchers have walked just 173 batters (first league) while striking out 333 (third), but have surrendered 226 runs (fourth) and 496 hits (sixth) while allowing opponents to bat .271 against them (sixth). York’s 4.46 team ERA is fourth in the league. However, York pitchers have been hot as of late, having allowed just 21 earned runs in their last 92.1 innings (2.05 ERA).
Friday, GAME ONE, 6:30 p.m.: York LHP Chris Cody (4-5, 4.15 ERA) vs. Lancaster RHP Mark Brackman (2-3, 4.93 ERA)
Saturday, GAME TWO, 6:30 p.m.: York LHP Matt Chico (0-1, 11.25 ERA) vs. Lancaster LHP John Halama (5-3, 2.49 ERA)
Sunday, GAME THREE, 5 p.m.: York RHP Corey Thurman (6-1, 4.03 ERA) vs. Lancaster RHP J.D. Durbin (3-4, 3.97 ERA)