September 10th, 2011

Game 4 Preview – San Antonio at Frisco

Texas League South Division Series
San Antonio Missions at Frisco RoughRiders
Saturday, September 10 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – San Antonio leads 2-1

GAME 4 BACKGROUND:

The RoughRiders face elimination tonight in Game 4 of this South Division Series after San Antonio’s 5-3 win Friday at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The ‘Riders battled back from three separate deficits in Game 3, but Cody Decker’s eighth-inning solo shot, his second homer of the game, proved to be the difference. Frisco used five pitchers in the loss, four of whom allowed at least one run. With a win tonight, the Missions would return to the Texas League Championship Series for the first time since winning the title in 2007. The RoughRiders are 1-4 all-time when facing elimination in the postseason.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Frisco – RHP Adalberto Flores (5-4, 3.32 ERA): Flores joined the rotation late in the regular season after Derek Hankins’ promotion to Triple-A Round Rock. Tonight will be Flores’ fourth career minor league start. In his two starts thus far this season, Flores has allowed eight runs (seven earned) in seven and two-thirds innings. Against the Missions, Flores is 1-1 with a 4.96 earned run average in eight appearances spanning 16 and a third frames. Flores was a midseason All-Star in the Texas League after going 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in the first half.

San Antonio – LHP Robbie Erlin (1-0, 1.38 ERA): For the second time this series, the RoughRiders must square off with a former Frisco hurler. Erlin has shined in six starts with the Missions since the Rangers traded Erlin and Joe Wieland, who earned the Game 1 win for San Antonio, for San Diego reliever Mike Adams. The Padres’ front office has been cautious with Erlin’s pitch and inning count, which explains why he is averaging barely more than four innings per start with the Missions. This figures to change tonight, as it did with Wieland Wednesday. Overall this year, Erlin is 9-4 with a 2.99 ERA.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • San Antonio’s offense has forced Frisco’s pitching staff to work in this series. Through the first three games, the ‘Riders have had to throw 445 pitches, or 17.1 per inning. Compare that to San Antonio, a unit that has needed only 353 pitches. This calculates to 13.1 per frame.
  • In particular, Frisco’s starters have labored through their outings. The trio of Robbie Ross (6IP, 1R, 107 pitches), Ben Snyder (6IP, 0R, 100 pitches) and Carlos Pimentel (4IP, 2R, 80 pitches) have ultimately been successful. They have a combined earned run average of 1.69. However, the bullpen has been taxed because the Missions have elevated the pitch counts quickly.
  • Mitch Hilligoss has been the best hitter not only on the RoughRiders, but in the Texas League this postseason. Hilligoss paces all Texas Leaguers with a .385 batting average (5-for-13). The next highest batting average on the ‘Riders is Renny Osuna’s .250 mark.
  • Offense has been tough to come by in both divisional series here in 2011. Hilligoss is one of only three men to hover above .300. San Antonio’s Cody Decker (.364) and Blake Tekotte (.333) are the others.
  • The Arkansas-Northwest Arkansas series, which is now 2-1 in favor of the Travs after the Naturals stayed alive with a 3-1 win last night, has only featured eight runs. Through three games, Roberto Lopez’s .273 average is the best in that set.
  • Low-A Hickory’s season is done after a 2-0 loss at home to Greensboro last night. The Grasshoppers swept the ‘Dads 2-0. High-A Myrtle Beach will face elimination tonight after losing at Kinston 7-0 Friday. Triple-A Round Rock barely avoided a sweep in a 9-8, 11-inning win over Omaha. The Storm Chasers still lead the set 2-1.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele in addition to former RoughRider Robbie Erlin on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.

Playoff Perspective – Game 3

San Antonio squeaked past the RoughRiders 5-3 in Game 3 of the Texas League South Division Series to take a 2-1 advantage. Here are some thoughts after a tremendous game, but an unfortunate loss, from Dr Pepper Ballpark.

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

- Credit the Missions–they never gave up the lead and scored in five different innings. The ‘Riders battled back three different times, but the Missions kept firing away. It is tough to continue to rally back from deficits, even if a team only trails by one in all of those instances.

- Cody Decker entered Game 3 with an average of .200 (10-for-50) against the ‘Riders this season, but he was the difference in the game. Decker barely cleared the boards with a solo homer in the fourth. Four innings later, his opposite-field blast proved to be the game-winning swing.

- The heroes of the game for Frisco were Renny Osuna and Mitch Hilligoss. Osuna went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. He also drew a walk and put down a sacrifice bunt which led to a seventh-inning tally. Hilligoss went 3-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs. Hilligoss is hitting .385 (5-for-13) in this series, which is the best mark on the squad.

Carlos Pimentel gave up two runs in four innings Friday (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

- San Antonio will make pitchers work, and that’s exactly what happened to Carlos Pimentel. Like Robbie Ross and Ben Snyder did, Pimentel kept the ‘Riders in the game and avoided any big innings. However, he needed 80 pitches to get through four innings.

- The Missions’ bullpen is ridiculously good. Nick Vincent was machine-like during the eighth when he whiffed all three men he faced. Then, Miles Mikolas calmly worked around a leadoff single to post his second save in this series. We still have not seen solid arms like Pedro Hernandez, Craig Italiano and Eddie Kunz this week, so the Missions are loaded with talent for the final game or two.

- If the RoughRiders want to win this series, the bullpen will need to be awesome. Adalberto Flores, a reliever for much of the season, will start for Frisco tomorrow. This will be his third start in 2011. Game 5’s starter has yet to be announced. The bullpen has been solid this year, but this is probably the unit’s toughest assignment yet.

- Another key for the ‘Riders tomorrow night–the production of the heart of the order. As discussed yesterday, Tommy Mendonca, Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene need to produce for Frisco’s offense to really click. In Game 1 and 3, both losses for the ‘Riders, they went a combined 0-for-9. In Game 2, Frisco’s lone win in this series so far, they had five hits.

- It was another rough night for the Rangers’ farm system. Low-A Hickory’s season is done after a 2-0 loss at home to Greensboro. The Grasshoppers swept the ‘Dads 2-0. High-A Myrtle Beach will face elimination Saturday after losing at Kinston 7-0. Triple-A Round Rock barely avoided a sweep in a 9-8, 11-inning win over Omaha. The Storm Chasers still lead the set 2-1.

- No doubt, this was a tough loss for the ‘Riders. However, you know the saying–anything can happen in baseball. Frisco is still alive, but the RoughRiders must win. Tomorrow should be a nerve-racking but fun evening at Dr Pepper Ballpark. We hope you enjoy.

- Brian

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