Augusta GreenJackets (Giants) vs. Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)
WHEN: today, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Lake Olmstead Stadium: directions
WEATHER: Partly cloudy and 79 degrees at game time with a 10 percent chance of rain: forecast
PROMOTION: Thirsty Thursday. Small drinks are $1.
TICKETS: Start at $7. 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 24-33, 6th SAL Southern; Greensboro 40-19, 1st SAL Northern
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Augusta leads 2-0.
PROBABLE STARTERS: GreenJackets RHP Kyle Crick (1-4, 4.05) vs. Grasshoppers RHP Josh Hodges (4-2, 3.50).
Well, whodathunkit? The lowly GreenJackets - who entered the series on a five-game losing streak, couldn't hit their way out of a paper bag and sat 17 games out of first place - have beaten one of the best teams in the league with their top two pitching prospects on the mound.
The hitting hasn't been all that impressive (with the exception of Ben Thomas' walk-off blast Tuesday night) but the pitching and defense have been outstanding. Lost in the shuffle of last night's ninth-inning heroics was Tomlinson's unbelievable defensive play in the outfield grass well beyond his position at shortstop. He slid to get to the ball, popped up immediately and in one motion fired the ball - on the fly - to first base for the out. I'm told Tomlinson clocked in as the fastest first-to-third base runner in the Giants organization during spring training. Looks like that speed works defensively as well.
I remember a year ago when the GreenJackets were simply awful in the first half of the season but managed to turn the ship around in the second half to win the division and make the playoffs. With the recent additions to the lineup (Jesus Galindo), better pitching (Clayton Blackburn, Chris Marlowe and the bullpen) and improved talent already here (Ben Thomas, Joe Staley, Kelby Tomlinson), this team might just repeat last year's late surge.
Manager Lipso Nava looked like a proud papa after Wednesday's win. On paper, his team has absolutely nothing to play for and the Grasshoppers have everything riding on them to clinch their division. Perhaps the no-pressure situation has helped Augusta. Either way, the team looks much better now than it did last homestand.
And now the GreenJackets have their top pitching prospect, Kyle Crick, on the mound tonight. The 49th overall pick from last year's draft will go against Greensboro's Josh Hodges, the 6-foot-7, 235-pound right-hander with two wins in his last three starts.