Managing to take the final two games of a three-game series at Washington, the River City Rascals improved their Frontier League leading record to 52-32. Those two wins didn’t come easy for the Rascals as their pitching was dominant allowing only one run in those final two games combined.
The River City offense has been the strong point of the team as of late, but the success of starting pitcher is great to see as the regular season comes to a close very soon. With the offense not plating a lot of runs in the series against the Washington Wild Things, starting pitchers Joe Cuda and Kyle Brady were dealing in the latter two games.
Both Cuda and Brady have put together two games in a row allowing 3 hits or fewer in 5-plus innings pitched. Cuda, the winner of Game 2 in the series, has allowed six hits, struck out 15 and tossed 12 innings in his last two starts. Brady, who won the final game, has tossed two back-to-back two-hitters and went a total of 11 2/3 innings in his last two. Great starting pitching is a must for any team looking to win it all in the Frontier League playoffs.
As strong as the pitching performances were against the Wild Things, the Rascals must take note of the way they’ve been scoring runs on the road. In their last nine road games, the Rascals have scored a total of 25 runs, which only averages less than 3 runs a game. This next series against one of the hottest teams in the league, the Lake Erie Crushers, will be a true test of how well they play on the road. Especially considering this is the first matchup between the two squads all season.
Let’s look at tonight’s matchup and preview the series against the Crushers. On the bump for the Crushers is right-hander Zach Gordon (3-3, 3.82 ERA) and for the Rascals is righty Tommy Mendoza (6-3, 3.19 ERA). Gordon has been a reliable starter for Lake Erie all season. In all but one of his 11 games, Gordon has allowed two earned runs or fewer. The good news for the Rascals is his only bad outing was at home giving up six earned runs on nine hits.
Mendoza, the River City righty, had a fantastic outing his last time on the road. In a seven inning start at Rent One Park in Marion, Illinois, Mendoza surrendered one earned run on six hits with no walks allowed. On the other hand, the righty had a rough time at home against the Miners in his last start facing 18 batters through only three innings pitched. This will be a big start for Mendoza during this playoff push against an offense who’s scored 26 times in the last three games against the Grizzlies.
Games two and three will most likely see Tim Koons and Bryce Shafer take the mound to finish off the road trip. After this, the Rascals come back home for a six-game series against Washington and Lake Erie once again.