Sox, Aces, Bandits hit the road for Round Three
Off to a flyer in the new season, Canberra Cavalry returns to the fort this week as host club to Sydney Blue Sox, whose fifty-fifty Australian Baseball League record thus far in 2015/16 suggests that it will be tough to beat for the Hume Highway Cup.
Suiting up for its first home series, Adelaide Bite will be keen to correct its sputtering start to the season against a Melbourne Aces outfit that overall owns a languid thirty per cent winning record on the road, while Perth – at home to Brisbane Bandits – will have its hands full against a never say die opponent that shares second placing with the Heat.
WEEK THREE AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE PREVIEW
4 November 2015
CANBERRA CAVALRY versus SYDNEY BLUE SOX (Narrabundah)
Thursday 5 November, 7.00 AEDT
Friday 6 November, 7.00 AEDT
Saturday 7 November, 7.00 AEDT
Sunday 8 November, 5.00 AEDT
Last series – The Blue Sox took both games of the Saturday double-header against the Heat to earn a split, although they’ll probably feel that they deserved more after letting a solid lead slip in the series finale. The Cavalry cemented their place atop the ABL standings with a 3-1 series victory over the Aces, a series where they trailed for only four and a half innings out of the 36 played across the weekend.
What’s coming – In terms of geography, this is the rivalry to end all rivalries and both teams will be looking to get their hands on the Hume Highway Cup for the first time this season. Sydney showed last weekend that they are capable of matching it with a league heavyweight and they’re going to need a repeat performance at Narrabundah. For Canberra it’s a case of don’t fix what isn’t broken as they look to extend their lead atop the standings.
Pay attention to – This is a series that could be decided solely on the distance both managers can get from their starting pitchers. Canberra’s rotation have worked 43.1 innings through the first eight games of the season, while the Blue Sox rotation has worked 39.2 innings in their first series. On average Cavs starters are seeing 5.1 innings of work, while the Blue Sox starters are seeing 4.2 innings. While there’s only two outs difference per start, it adds up over time and the less these sides use their pen early, the better off they are going to be at the tail end of the series.
Prediction – Canberra look to be the hot favourites at this point of the season, yet the Blue Sox are hitting their straps. A tight tussle awaits at Narrabundah with both sides walking away with a pair of wins.
ADELAIDE BITE versus MELBOURNE ACES (Norwood Oval)
Friday 6 November, 7.00 ACT
Saturday 7 November, 4.00 ACT and 7.00 ACT
Sunday 8 November, 12.00 ACT
Last series – The Aces put in three strong performances but were only able to come up with one win. The key theme against the Cavalry was a lack of run support (the Aces were outscored 27-13). For the Bite their rough start continued, losing all four against the Bandits, including two walk-offs.
What’s coming – Two sides who are desperate for their first series win of the year. Something has to give for the two teams at the foot of the standings (Adelaide 1-7, Melbourne 3-5). Will the Aces finally break their away series hoodoo? Will the Bite be able to capitalise on the opportunities they couldn’t last week (a league leading and ABL season high 37 men left on base against the Bandits)?
Pay attention to – How both teams respond when things aren’t going their way. Momentum is a funny thing and both of these teams will feel they’ve walked under a ladder and are suffering the consequences. The team who can find the way to keep their focus when they aren’t getting the breaks is going to be the happier of the pair on Sunday afternoon.
Prediction – On paper this series could be a flip of a coin. In realism Adelaide are returning to a venue they’ve lost at just eighteen times in the past two seasons (a number bettered only by the Perth Heat, who have lost just fourteen times at home in the same stretch). In that same stretch the Aces have won only twelve away games and with their starting pitching looking shallow, that record isn’t getting better any time soon.
The Bite to revive their season with a 3-1 victory.
PERTH HEAT versus BRISBANE BANDITS (Barbagallo Ballpark)
Friday 6 November, 5.05 AWST and 7.35 AWST
Saturday 7 November, 4.05 AWST and 7.05 AWST
Last series – The Bandits had their first ever four game sweep (they swept Canberra in five games in 2013) and showed that they aren’t to be taken lightly this season. The Heat fought back against the Blue Sox, taking the series finale in extra innings to earn a split.
What’s coming – A four game series consisting of back-to-back double headers on Friday and Saturday. Aside from this scheduling abnormality this series is the champions versus the challengers. The fact the Bandit are the only team without a postseason appearance is no secret and a trip to Perth will be a great test to see what they’re made of.
Pay attention to – When the Bandits score. Twelve out of their twenty-two runs against the Bite came in or after the seventh inning. Any runs are good runs but having a more balanced output is going to be vital if the Bandits are to have success in the west. The Heat like to get on top of teams early, and if the Bandits leave their run as late as they did against the Bite, it is going to be a case of so close yet so far.
Prediction – This is the series where the Bandits show they are ready to play at the main table. For seasons Bandits fans have waited for the moment they could say with certainty that they were a contender. The Bandits bats are going to continue to fire, leading them to a 3-1 series victory over the four-time champions.
Image: Australian Baseball Alumni