Augusta GreenJackets (Giants) vs. West Virginia Power (Pirates)
WHEN: today, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Lake Olmstead Stadium: directions
WEATHER: Isolated thunderstorms and 85 degrees at game time with a 30 percent chance of rain: forecast
PROMOTION: Military Appreciation Night. The GreenJackets will wear special designed camouflage jerseys that will be auctioned off and fans can 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 12-9, 44-46 (3rd SAL Southern); West Virginia 12-10, 35-57 (4th SAL Northern)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: First meeting this season.
PROBABLE STARTERS: GreenJackets LHP Adalbert Mejia (6-5, 4.69) vs. Power RHP Robby Rowland (5-2, 2.74).
The GreenJackets have benefited greatly from pitching, which has been reliable enough to come through in the close games and gets much of the credit for the team's recent success. But another strength is on the base paths, where the team ranks second in the league in stolen base percentage. Give Shawn Payne much of that credit. He's stolen 33 bases without being caught, a remarkable feat unmatched in all of professional baseball.
I spoke with Payne last night after he went 3 for 4 with a stolen base on his 23rd birthday. He told me his stolen base success comes from natural speed, of course, but also from help from the first base coach. You may have seen the team's first base coach (the job is shared between several nonplaying GreenJackets) holding a stopwatch while he stands by first. It's his job to use the stopwatch to determine the opposing pitcher's release time. That is, the time it takes for the ball to go from the pitcher's first movement out of the stretch to the catcher's mitt.
The first base coach relays the time to Payne when he reaches first. Payne told me if the release time is 1.3 seconds or below, he has a great chance of stealing second. Yes, 1.3 seconds. At this level, 1.3 seconds is considered quite good for a pitcher. In fact, it's almost exceptional. But Payne is just that fast.
I guess numbers don't lie, but the GreenJackets are sure being misleading when you take a look at the stats. Though I'm a big statistics guy, I think they can be taken out of context quite easily. So let's try a comparison instead.
There's this team in the South Atlantic League that ranks dead last in hitting (.235), runs (346), hits (688), doubles (135), home runs (32), RBI (312), total bases (953) and walks (260). It's almost embarrassing.
Then there's this team in the same league that has won a league-leading 22 one-run games, has posted five consecutive wins at home and now sits just half a game out of first place.
You may have figured it out by now, but these stats are from the same team. The GreenJackets are defying the odds with their second half run so far, though it's not that unusual. The same thing happened last year when the team claimed a second-half division title on the last day of the season. Can they do it again? They certainly have a good shot if they keep playing like they have over the first half of this homestand.
One more note: the team will wear specially-designed camouflage jerseys tonight. If they look familiar, it's because this isn't the first time they've worn them. These are the same jerseys the team wore on Memorial Day.