Well, its over. The eight game road trip and all intra-divisional play for 2006. Wings completed their 8 game roadtrup by slaughtering the 1st place Charlotte Knights 11-2, and splitting the 8 game season series 4 games apiece. The Red Wings last 16 games have all been against Southern and Western Division foes. They split the home half 4-4, going 2 and 2 against Louisville and Charlotte; and then they split the road half 4-4, going 2-2 against Durham and 2-2 against Charlotte again. Thus over the last 16 games the Wings have basically marked time, winning 8 and losing 8.
But that’s not bad. Because with today’s win coupled with Scranton’s loss, the Wings and Scranton are once again tied for 1st in the I.L. North. (Technically, the Red Barons have a .001 lead because they have 2 games in hand on the Wings, but for now, who’s splitting those hairs.)
The Wings appear to be getting healthy and strong as the season winds down. The next 28 games will be broken down as follows: 3 vs Pawtucket; 4 vs Buffalo; 2 vs Ottawa; 3 vs Syracuse; 2 vs Scranton; 1 vs Syracuse (!); 3 vs Ottawa; 4 vs Pawtucket; 4 vs Buffalo; and finally 2 vs Scranton, 6 home games and 12 road games.
There are several teams still in the wild card hunt. Toledo, Louisville, Ottawa, Buffalo, and Pawtucket all have a shot at post season along with Rochester and Scranton. Charlotte has all but clinched their spot in the IL playoffs.
In this afternoon’s game, Scot Baker got the start for Rochester and he was sharp today, pitching into the 8th inning, allowing only 2 runs on 8 hits, walking one and striking out 6. He improved his record to 4-2 with a sparkling ERA of 2.86. The game was actually pretty close until the 7th inning when the Wings scored twice to open up a 5-2 lead. They then added a run in the 8th and blew it open with 5 in the 9th, capped by Glenn Williams 3 run homer, his 6th of the season. Alex Romero had 3 hits and upped his BA to .250, the highest it has been all season. Garrett Jones doubled home a run for his 74th RBI of the season.
It was a strange series. The first game was close followed by 3 blowouts.
Manager Stan Cliburn explained before the game that Erubiel Durazo asked for his outright release when he was told that he would be platooned. Durazo didn’t meet expectations of the team and never really contributed much.
Terry Tiffee fouled a ball off his foot Saturday night. He sat this one out as a precaution, but should be back in the lineup on Monday. Lew Ford was moved to DH Saturday after the 2 ½ hour rain delay because the field was very soggy and Cliburn didn’t want to risk an unnecessary injury to the rehabbing Lew Ford.
Wings have a full complement of 24 players now. SS Gil Velazquez has been activated but for the past week has not started any games. He has appeared as a pinch hitter and a pinch runner.
And props to Jason Bartlett for his first professional 5-5 game. If there is a better 9th place hitter in all of baseball, I’d like to meet him.