Augusta GreenJackets (Giants) vs. Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets)
WHEN: today, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Lake Olmstead Stadium: directions
WEATHER: Sunny and 88 degrees at game time with no chance of rain: forecast
PROMOTION: Sparkling Saturdays. Enjoy a postgame fireworks show.
TICKETS: Start at $9. Call the box office at (706) 922-WINS or visit GreenJacketsBaseball.com.
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1340 AM WYNF
IN-GAME UPDATES: On Twitter (@BillyByler) or receive text alerts on your phone.
STANDINGS: Augusta 21-25, 6th SAL Southern; Savannah 28-19, 3rd SAL Southern
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Season series tied at 7; Augusta leads current series 2-0.
PROBABLE STARTERS: GreenJackets RHP Kevin Couture (2-2, 1.61) vs. San Gnats RHP Rafael Montero (3-2, 2.64).
GreenJackets manager Lipso Nava held the little white paper bag up like a trophy. The contents of the bag, a bottle of perscription pills that made up his monthly blood pressure medication, was actually the price he's had to pay for the way his team has been winning.
"This is it right here," he said with a smile. "I picked it up today."
Obviously, Nava is pleased that his team is once again winning after coming into the current homestand on a five-game losing streak. But the way the GreenJackets have won over the past two nights hasn't been easy on Nava's ticker. Both were one-run wins, one in extra innings, that came because a poor-hitting team was saved by stellar bullpen pitching.
That bullpen, which has thrown 11 consecutive scoreless innings over these two games, took a hit last night when closer Cody Hall was taken out of commission due to an oblique strain. Nava said the South Atlantic League's saves leader will sit out five to seven days, so he plugged Derek Law into the closer role Friday night.
Law entered the game with the best ERA among the team's relievers and he lowered it even more with two shutout innings. He walked one and retired the other six batters he faced.
Kevin Couture, who was a reliever to begin the season, will get the start tonight. Since moving into the starting rotation earlier this month, the Southern Cal product has allowed just one run in nine innings. He took a tough-luck loss his last time out, giving up a run on three hits and three walks over four innings.
Montero, a 21-year-old Dominican, has already faced Augusta three times this season. He's 1-1 with five earned runs over 16 2/3 innings pitched. He threw a one-hit, six-inning shutout in Savannah six days ago to get a win off the GreenJackets.
How about a few quick numbers to start your weekend? Including the two wins this series, the GreenJackets are now 9-3 in one-run games this season, the second-best record in the league behind Charleston (10-3). Of those nine wins, five have come against Savannah.
One quick note about Friday's game. Starter Kyle Crick nearly slipped and fell on the infield grass trying to field one of Savannah's many infield singles. At least two other players slipped on the infield grass in the game, but Crick's was the worst, creating a three-foot long divot about 15 feet in front of first. Fortunately, Kelby Tomlison was there to pick up the unearthed patch of grass and replace the divot. Tomlinson told me the infield has changed a bit lately and feels more like a fairway on a golf course, so he thought it was fitting.
I had a chat with GreenJackets groundskeeper Zach Baker after the game, and he said the infield was aerated last week. Baker annually fights a losing battle to grow grass under a scorching Augusta summer sun. Much of the outfield is already fried, but the infield still looks thick and green. Baker said the aeration may have thinned out the infield a bit, which could lead to some slipping on nights when condensation settles on the grass.