Laredo Lemurs-Wichita Wingnuts Prepare for Pre-Playoff Battle
When Tim Brown takes the mound for the Wichita Wingnuts tonight against LHP Casey Harman, the game will have very little bearing on the pennant races. While mathematically the Lemurs could still take the South Division of the American Association, the reality is that if the Wingnuts win three of the eight games between the two teams, they are the division winners. The magic number is five with just 13 games left for Laredo and so it is extremely unlikely that they can come back. That much is established.
What else is established is that Laredo is going to enter the playoffs as the Wild Card team. They have a 7.5 game lead over Lincoln and an 8 game lead over St. Paul. If the Saltdogs are going to make the playoffs it is going to be as the Central Division winners, and the only way the Saints are going to catch up is if Wichita sweeps all eight games from Laredo. That means that it is incredibly likely that the Lemurs will make the playoffs as the Wild Card participant.
Knowing this, it is easy to see why both teams will want to make a statement to the other about who is really the better team entering the post-season. Both have a very strong case to make.
The Lemurs are just coming off a streak where they won 10 in a row. Since the All-Star break they are tied for the hottest run in the league at 16-4. Their only four losses have come at the hands of the Grand Prairie AirHogs. Otherwise they have cruised through the likes of Amarillo, Kansas City and most recently Grand Prairie. They have proven that they have the ability to get hot, and that they are just as talented as any other team in this league.
There is no doubt that the Lemurs are tough, and that they have the right stuff to be considered serious contenders for the championship. They have the huge run they are on, they dominate teams, and they find a way to win each and every night. The problem is that so does the other team on the hottest streak since the All-Star break – the Wichita Wingnuts.
The Wingnuts are also 16-4 since the All-Star break, and it can be said that their competition has been a bit more challenging. While they swept Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Prairie, they also took four of six from Lincoln, and two of three from both Winnipeg and St. Paul. They have played strong defense, had great pitching performances, and scored a ridiculous amount of runs. They are coming off a three-game sweep of Lincoln where they scored 41 runs, including nine against All-Star game winner Marquis Fleming.
The two teams are very evenly matched in many ways. Laredo is the league leader, as a team, in hitting at .304 with Wichita close behind at .302. The Lemurs are first in home runs, the Wingnuts are third. Wichita is first in runs scored and Laredo is second. On the mound Wichita is first in team ERA at 3.72 while Laredo is third at 3.94. The Wingnuts have a WHIP of 1.38, the Lemurs are at 1.44.
These games may not mean anything in the standings, but both of these teams are looking to make a statement that they are really the best team in the South, and probably the best team in the league. If one of the teams were to win six or seven of these games it would probably give them a great deal of confidence and cast some doubts in the minds of the other. Time to play ball!!
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA