THE Sydney Blue Sox shocked some observers with an impressive start to the season but they have lost five straight to fall back in the pack.
It does not get any easier with first-placed Melbourne this weekend and a stack of away games in the season’s second half.
But the Sox pitching has impressed and will be bolstered by Todd Van Steensel from this weekend.
What’s gone right
Before the current five-game losing streak starters Craig Anderson and Luke Wilkins were amongst the league-leaders. Their numbers have climbed a bit following losses but are still strong. Wilkins has an ERA of 2.97 and gone 2-2 while Anderson has three wins in five starts and an ERA of 4.44.
What’s gone wrong
From the moment they hop on a plane the Blue Sox become a different team. They are 1-7 on the road this season after being the worst-performing side away from home last season. In comparison they are 8-4 this season at Blacktown. Sydney’s pitching unit has been stingy at home but been blown away on the road. They have allowed a league-high 11 homers on the road and been outscored by an ABL-worst 22 runs.
Import Malik Collymore batted nine in the Blue Sox season-opener against Adelaide but was quickly promoted after driving in six runs on three hits. The 21-year-old has provided a spark at the top of the order and ranks second in the league with 16 runs batted in. The Milwaukee Brewers’ prospect is hitting .311 and has stolen eight bases.
Chris Oxspring had a couple of nasty starts on his return to Sydney. Both Brisbane and Melbourne scored four earned runs off him in what turned out to be losses. His 4.2 innings against the Aces produced five runs all up from seven hits.
In a sluggish offence it is hard to pick anyone over a pitcher but the last few outings have hurt their figures. Wilkins, who has received just 2.6 runs of support per start, is unlucky to have a 2-2 record. He is 2-0 at Blacktown but battled on the road, dropping both results.
What to watch for in the second half
If the Blue Sox can get some offence the job will be made a lot easier for their pitchers. They rank fifth for runs and sixth for batting average. If they can get going perhaps that will translate into vital road wins.
How would you rate the Blue Sox’s first half of the season? Comment below.
Follow author David Penrose on Twitter at @David_Penrose