THERE are three rounds left before the Australian Baseball League playoffs and apart from Melbourne’s stranglehold on top spot the postseason picture is no clearer.
On the weekend Perth notched its first series win to give it hope and Adelaide and Brisbane crashed to series losses as they failed to create a buffer on the lower-ranked teams.
Here are six things we learned from round seven of the ABL season:
1. THE HEAT ARE IN THE HUNT, JUST: Perth has been cemented to the bottom all season but recorded its first series win of the campaign against Sydney to give itself hope. The Heat sit two games behind third-placed Adelaide ahead of an away series against the Bite this weekend. A series win at Adelaide Shores would make it very interesting.
2. CANBERRA CAN PPROVE A POINT THIS WEEKEND: Canberra surrendered meekly last time it played Melbourne. In a top-of-the-table series the Cavs managed one win and just five runs at Melbourne Ballpark. Back home – and in another top-of-the-table matchup – Canberra gets another shot the the high-flying Aces. A series win would likely wrap up second spot for the Cavs and give it confidence should the two sides meet again in the postseason.
3. NOT SO UNTOUCHABLE: Brisbane’s franchise record 19 runs on the weekend showed the Aces are not entirely untouchable. Melbourne’s pitching gave up 18 earned runs in Saturday night’s loss – the same number they had allowed in their previous nine games. It was a rare poor performance but if it happens in game one of a three-game Championship Series you are in a tough spot.
4. SHAKY STARTS PROVING COSTLY: Adelaide’s starters have been giving up too many runs. Over the past 10 the Bite’s starters have allowed a league-high 6.5 runs per nine innings and recorded just two wins. Their offence bailed them out a few times over that span but can only do it so often, and against the Cavalry hit a mediocre .233 and scored only 14 runs as they fell to a series defeat.
5. SHAKY STARTS PROVING COSTLY (TWO): Brisbane also needs a lift from its starters. The Bandits starters are winless in their past nine and managing a league-low 3.2 innings per outing over the past 10 games. Ty’relle Harris has provided much-needed help in the middle relief and Ryan Searle is the best late innings pitcher in the league but Brisbane needs to find a way to get the game over to them in a winnable position.
6. BLUE SOX IN A BATTLE: After working into a position to contend for a playoff position the Sydney Blue Sox have gone 2-8 in their past 10. The Blue Sox sit two games back of third-ranked Adelaide and one back from fourth-placed Brisbane. They face the Bite and Bandits in the last three weeks of the regular season, but both series are on the road. They host Canberra in between and likely need series wins on each occasion to sneak into the postseason.
What did you learn from week seven of the ABL season? Comment below …
Follow David Penrose on Twitter at @David_Penrose