Competition hots up approaching festive season
With half of the regular season played, Australian Baseball League enters a crucial phase as the league leaders seek to gain a break and others strive for much-needed wins to keep them in touch for a post-Christmas surge.
League-leading Canberra Cavalry (19-9) makes the trek to Blacktown to face Sydney Blue Sox (12-15), which has a solid record at home, while Brisbane Bandits (15-13) will have great support at Holloway as it looks to stretch its break over the visiting Perth Heat (14-14).
Down at Altona, Melbourne Aces (10-8) will be looking desperately for multiple wins over Adelaide Bite (13-14), which has battled on the road but will know just how important this series is to both clubs.
WEEK EIGHT AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE PREVIEW
9 December 2015
BRISBANE BANDITS versus PERTH HEAT (Holloway)
Friday 11 December, 6.30 AEST
Saturday 12 December, 3.30 AEST
Saturday 12 December, 6.30 AEST
Sunday 13 December, 2.00 AEST
Last series – The Heat were frustrated at home for the second time in a month as they were left scratching their heads as the Cavalry took the series. The Bandits got back on the path to righteousness as they cruised to victory against a depleted Aces outfit.
What’s coming – Brisbane are a league best 9-3 at home this season and look as good as they have in the history of the league. Perth don’t look like themselves this season, a view that has been expressed from inside and outside of the organisation. Both sides have the ultimate goal of catching the Cavalry and know that a win this series will go a long way towards that goal.
Pay attention to – Walks. The Heat have allowed 28 more walks than the Bandits through this point of the season, a stat which doesn’t bode well for the visitors. With the Bandits having an on-base percentage .048 points higher than the Heat, free passes issued by the Heat are likely to be turned into runs for the home side.
Prediction – After beating Perth for the first time ever in Perth when the sides last met, the Bandits are going to make it two series in a row against the perennial champions. Brisbane 3-1.
SYDNEY BLUE SOX versus CANBERRA CAVALRY (Blacktown Sportspark)
Friday 11 December, 7.30 AEDST
Saturday 12 December, 6.30 AEDST
Sunday 13 December, 1.00 AEDST
Monday 14 December, 10.30 AEDST
Last series – The Cavalry faced their biggest test of the season as they travelled west to take on the Heat, coming away with a 3-1 series victory. The Blue Sox travelled to Adelaide for an extended series against the Bite and were unable to get the job done, losing 4-1.
What’s coming – Another chapter in the most entertaining rivalry in the ABL. Regardless of where these teams sit on the ladder there are always fireworks. Sydney are back at home and will be looking to make up for their late collapse against the Cavalry when the sides met in Canberra earlier in the year.
Pay attention to – Extra base hits. The Cavalry have hit for extra bases 88 times this year, where the Blue Sox have managed just 47 extra base hits. To break it down even further, the Cavalry have more doubles than the Blue Sox do hits for extra bases. If the Canberra bats continue to fire as they have (they rank first as a team in runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBIs, walks, OBP, SLG%, average and OPS) then it is going to be a tough for days for the Sox.
Prediction – Canberra have barely stumbled all season and there is little reason for them to start this week. Yet another 3-1 series victory coming up for the men in orange.
MELBOURNE ACES versus ADELAIDE BITE (Melbourne Ballpark)
Thursday 10 December, 7.05 AEDST
Friday 11 December, 7.05 AEDST
Saturday 12 December, 6.05 AEDST
Sunday 13 December, 1.05 AEDST
Last series – The Bite dominated the Blue Sox taking four out of five games to solidify their playoff claim. The Aces travelled to the sunshine state and came home with their tail between their legs after losing three of four to the Bandits, including a monumental extra innings collapse in the series opener.
What’s coming – Of the three teams who have played 16 home games, the Aces have the worst record. The only team to have won less away games than the Bite this season is the Aces. This contest has anxiety scribbled all over it, so don’t be surprised to see a few booted balls this weekend. A winning series for the Bite puts them firmly in the playoff picture, while a win for the home outfit keeps the light at the end of the tunnel flickering… just.
Pay attention to – Sam Street. The Pirates prospect joins the Aces for the first time and could be a crucial cog in the bullpen entering the back half of the season. Street earned six saves in 34 relief appearances for the West Virginia Power, with a K/BB ratio of 5.53 across the season.
Prediction – The Aces have struggled mightily in four games series across the last two seasons. It’s going to be a tough ride for Melbourne, who are already four games outside a playoff place. The Bite to take the series 3-1.