August 23rd, 2011
Unless Midland can erase an eight-game deficit and win the second-half title in the South Division, the Frisco RoughRiders and the San Antonio Missions will square off in the first round of the Texas League playoffs.
These two clubs kick off a four-game series tonight at Dr Pepper Ballpark, and it will act as a preview of that best-of-five series that is set to begin September 7. Let’s take you through some of the storylines.
1. Momentum Against the Missions?
The RoughRiders have played San Antonio tough this season, but they have only been able to muster a 10-18 mark. The Missions are the best team in all of full-season minor league baseball (86-40), so there’s no shame in that. However, to win a championship, the ‘Riders must get past them. It would be a big boost to win this series, especially because Frisco has only one series victory against the Missions in seven tries this season.
2. Ross, Hankins Face San Antonio
Ben Snyder (0-2, 3.75 ERA in 24 innings) and Carlos Pimentel (1-0, 2.70 ERA in 33 1/3 innings) have had success against the Missions this season, and they will pitch during the series. However, Derek Hankins has only seen them once (five scoreless innings) and Robbie Ross has yet to face the Missions. The Snyder-Pimentel-Hankins-Ross quartet figures to be the ‘Riders’ rotation right now, with Neil Ramirez building up strength as the club’s other starter. These four pitchers must have success to beat San Antonio.
3. Wieland Back in Frisco
The RoughRiders saw Robbie Erlin in the Missions’ previous visit to Dr Pepper Ballpark, but they missed Joe Wieland. This time, it’s the other way around. Wieland, who is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA since joining the Missions, will start Thursday. Erlin held the ‘Riders to just one run on two hits in his first game against them, and Wieland gets his chance in two days.
4. Missions’ Offense Sputtering?
San Antonio is 16-4 this month, yet they are hitting a season-low .244 as a team. Obviously, it helps that the club has a 2.17 team ERA in August, but the offense has been declining ever since its remarkable April. Take a look at the team’s batting averages by month: .315/.268/.264/.252/.244. San Antonio averages just 4.8 runs per game against Frisco, so we’ll see if the ‘Riders can continue to slow them down.
5. Ready for a Late-Season Surge?
Yes, San Antonio has been the better team over the course of 126 games. However, the ‘Riders and Missions will (likely) meet in a best-of-five series in early September. Are the RoughRiders ready to start that last-minute run and carry the momentum into the playoffs? Following an 0-4 start to the road trip, the ‘Riders bounced back with back-to-back wins. This can be a chance to carry that work into and through a series with the heavy favorite in the Texas League.
This series should be fun. We hope you enjoy! More coverage to come soon.