Location: Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium (San Antonio, TX)
Series: Tied 0-0
Starting Pitchers: Robbie Ross (0-0 0.00 ERA; 1-1 2.61 ERA regular season w/ Frisco) vs. Joe Wieland (0-0 0.00 ERA; 3-1 2.77 ERA regular season w/ San Antonio)
Season Record vs. San Antonio: 13-19
Frisco Faces Former Starter: One of the big story lines in the postseason series between Frisco and San Antonio will be that of the Riders going up against their former teammates Joe Wieland (tonight's starter) and Robbie Erlin (game 3 starter). Both pitchers began the 2011 season in Myrtle Beach, the high-A minor league team of the Texas Rangers. Joe Wieland made his first AA start for Frisco on June 27th against the Corpus Christi Hooks after using his dominant command to navigate his way through the Carolina League. Wieland gave up 6 hits and 1 run over 5 strong innings with 5 strikeouts and a usual 0 walks in his Frisco debut against the Hooks. Over 7 starts for the Riders, Wieland went 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA over 44 innings. Wieland gave up 35 hits, 11 walks, and struck out 36 batters. His stay in Frisco was culminated by his July 29th start against his current team, the San Antonio Missions, when Wieland threw a no-hitter against the Missions. Wieland was traded by the Texas Rangers on July 31st along with Robbie Erlin to the San Diego Padres in exchange for major league reliever Mike Adams. A strong San Antonio Missions rotation got a lot stronger at the deadline in exchange for a stronger Texas Ranger's team.
Ross Has Been Bonafide: While there was a lot of talk about the two arms going to San Diego, and rightfully so, there is one pitcher who has been able to step up and fill the shoes of one of those two arms, at least at the AA level. Robbie Ross, the starter for Frisco against Joe Wieland in game one tonight, has been as good as any starter in the Texas League since being promoted from Myrtle Beach and yet has somewhat gone under the radar. Over his 6 starts for Frisco, Ross has compiled a 2.66 ERA with a 1-1 record and has gone 7 innings in three of the six starts. Like Wieland and Erlin, Ross has had exceptional control this year and it hasn't gone away in AA. In his 38 innings pitched, Ross has walked just 5 batters and has struck out 36. Ross also has given up 33 hits leading to a 1.00 WHIP in AA. Left handed hitters are batting just .143 against the southpaw compared to the .267 average that right handed batters have against him. Part of the reason for the success has been Ross's exceptional production when facing runners on base. When runners are on base, opponents have just a .504 OPS against Ross in the 6 starts. Granted the sample size is small, but even in high-A it was .621.
Offense Will be Key: Obviously in baseball (and most sports outside of maybe golf), you have to score more than the other team to win. And with this series, Frisco will need to score runs and plenty of them. Matchups wise Frisco probably does not have the advantage from a starting pitching standpoint as San Antonio will throw three legitimate potential major league arms in the first three games against Frisco and then also has two or three more of them that could start, but might not. Frisco has not done well against San Antonio's pitching this season as the Riders carry a team batting line of .240/.296/.356/.652 against the Missions this season. If Frisco is to advance against San Antonio, they will need to get their big bats going against the Mission's pitching. Tommy Mendonca, Jonathan Greene, and Mike Bianucci, who combined for 73 homeruns and 251 RBI this season, had just 12 homeruns and 43 RBI against the Missions this season in 32 games. Only Bianucci had an OPS above .700 against the Missions and he was the only one of the three players to have an OPS under .800 this season. Mendonca and Greene combined for 51 hits, 22 extra base hits, 13 walks, and 78 strikeouts this season against San Antonio.
San Antonio, however, has not done a whole lot better against Frisco pitching this season as the Mission's, who scored 20 or more runs three times in the month of April, hit just .237/.328/.365/.692 against Frisco this season. Frisco is also 6-6 against the Missions in their last 12 games, although most of that came without one of San Antonio's best hitters, Vincent Belnome, who was hurt during that time. Belnome hit .327/.431/.655/1.085 against Frisco during the regular season when he was healthy and the left handed hitter is back healthy again. His impact, however, may be negated as Andy Parrino is now in the major leagues. Parrino put up a 1.157 OPS, including a .484 on base percentage in 14 games against Frisco this season.
Yan Finishes Strong: Johan Yan faced 4 batters in the last game on Monday and threw first pitch strikes to all four of them. With the four, Yan extended his consecutive first pitch strikes to 20 straight batters. In 19 appearances for Frisco, Yan went 0-0 with 2 saves and a microscopic 0.34 ERA. His WHIP with Frisco is 1.01 this season as well. Overall for the season, Yan finished 5-3 in 45 appearances with a 1.06 ERA. He gave up 51 hits, 22 walks, and struck out 66 batters over 68 innings pitched.
Frisco Faces History: The San Antonio Missions come into the playoffs after finishing the season with 94 wins. Not only were the wins the most by a team in the Texas League this year, but they were the most wins by a team since the Texas League went to a 140 game schedule in the early 1960s. That is an impressive win total for a major league team and probably good enough to get a team to the postseason most of the years. In the minor leagues, 94 wins is off the charts good.
2011 By the Numbers
509,331: The number of people to attend a Frisco RoughRider's home game this season. Once again, Frisco led the Texas League and AA baseball in attendance.
39,474: Pitches Seen by both Frisco and their opponents combined.
8,023: Strikeout total in the Texas League in 2011, which is a league record.
2,236: Pitches that Renny Osuna saw in 2011, which was the most on the team. Osuna averaged 3.91 pitches per plate appearance.
1,031: Amount of homeruns hit by the Texas League, which is the second most in the history of the league.
431: Amount of wins by the Texas Ranger's minor league system this year.
347: Hit total that Renny Osuna has in his career for the Frisco RoughRiders.
321: The amount of strikeouts by Jonathan Greene and Tommy Mendonca this season, the most by teammates in the history of the Texas League.
77: Total Starts that Frisco received from their starting pitcher with a game score of 50 or above this season.
56.1: Percentage of times that Tommy Mendonca swung at the first pitch in 2011, a team high.
20: Extra base hit total by catcher Elio Sarmiento, which is a career best for the switch hitting catcher.
19: The run total by Frisco on July 22nd against the Corpus Christi Hooks. The game featured 24 hits by Frisco, including 8 homeruns, both of which were franchise highs for a single game. Tommy Mendonca was the story of the game with 3 homeruns himself.
14: Number of strikeouts by pitcher Robbie Erlin, a Frisco RoughRider's single game record, on June 26th.
7: Winning streak total by the Round Rock Express (April 16th-22nd) and the Hickory Crawdads (June 11th-18th), the longest by a Texas Ranger's affiliate this season.
5: Amount of splash balls hit at Dr. Pepper Ballpark this season, which is by far the most in team history for a single season. It also is the amount of months that Frisco had with a winning record. After the 8-14 start in April, Frisco didn't seem to be heading very far, but they quickly turned it around with an 18-10 May and finished with a .602 winning% from May 1st to the end of the season.
2: Number of no-hitters or perfect games by a Frisco pitcher this season. Martin Perez threw a rain shortened 5 inning perfect game on April 19th and Joe Wieland mastered the San Antonio Missions for a no-hitter on July 29th.
5/12: No, that's not 5/12ths, that is 5/12 as in May 12th the day that Leonys Martin made his AA debut for Frisco when the outfielder went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, a RBI, and a stolen base. He finished with a .348/.435/.571/1.007 batting line for Frisco in 29 games before being promoted to AAA and eventually the big leagues. He was an impact bat for Frisco and gave the Rider's a big jolt when they needed it most.
A special thanks to any blog followers from Possum Trot, KY!
Station to Listen to the Game on: 1630 AM (KKGM)
Follow the Game Online at: http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/scoreboard/league.jsp?sid=milb&lid=109
Follow Us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/pressboxchatter
Follow the Extra Bases Live Blog throughout the Game at: http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/multimedia/page.jsp?ymd=20100305&content_id=8685092&vkey=multimedia_t540&fext=.jsp&sid=t540
And Check Out the Riders Insider Blog for more Frisco RoughRiders info: http://ridersinsider.mlblogs.com/
- By Michael Damman