By Josh (9 Inning Know It All):
Tonight the Spokane Indians come to Volcanoes stadium for a five game series that will play large in the playoff races in both the West and the East divisions. That is quite a statement considering the fact that both of these teams were the bottom dwellers of their divisions for the first half.
The Indians come into this series only 2 games back of the East leading Boise Hawks. The Indians has a chance to make a move for the East lead, as they played the Hawks in their previous six games but were only able to win 2 of the 6 games.
The Volcanoes sit only 3.5 games back of the Vancouver Canadians, and come of a momentum building series win against the AquaSox in Everett.
Both teams need to get a series win to keep their playoff hopes alive, because even though the second half is still early, losing this series could just be the moment that a team would look back upon and realize the second half hinged on this series.
Normally going into a series there is a feeling as to how the series will play out, but this series is different. A part of me think that the Indians could suddenly get hot and decide to start a long winning streak to push for the East lead, but the next thought has me thinking that the Volcanoes may just use the confidence that they are building to go on a winning streak of their own. This is probably one of the more evenly matched series that the Northwest League and each game is probably going to come down to a well timed hit or a missed defensive play.
Players to Watch
Kentrell Hill (Volcanoes) – Hill has been the hottest hitter for the Volcanoes over the past few weeks and is one of the hottest hitters in the entire Northwest league at the moment. If the Volcanoes want to stay in the race for a playoff spot, Hill is going to need to be the offensive spark for the Volcanoes. If he can get on base and cause some havoc on the base paths, the Volcanoes just might have a chance of putting together some rallies.
Ryan Rua (Indians) – The Indians are not a power hitting team, but Rua is tied for the team lead with 4 home runs. More importantly though is that he is batting .285 and leads the team in RBIs with 24. Volcanoes stadium is better suited for left handed hitters, but if Rua can get the ball in the air to right field he could add a few more home runs to his total.
Cody Kendall (Indians) – Normally you look at starters as being the main players to watch, but Kendall has been solid for the Indians coming out of the bullpen. In 14 games Kendall has pitched 26.2 innings and has only given up 5 earned runs. As a starting pitcher, when you know you have a guy that come in and get you out of a tight jam, you tend to pitch a little more relaxed and can come out of the game with confidence if your team has the lead.
Tyler Mizenko (Volcanoes) – Staying with the relievers are important theme, the Volcanoes will need to do whatever they can to get the ball into Mizenko’s hands with the lead in the 9thinning. That has been the biggest challenge for the team as they are often behind early in the game and are trying to play catch up. Mizenko has shut down abilities but that doesn’t do any good for a closer if you never have a chance to close a game.