Wednesday, August 28 - 7:05 p.m.
Lexington Legends (35-29, 68-64)
Christian Binford (132 IP, 2.32 ERA, 2.41 FIP, 24 K%, 4.5 BB%, .317 BABIP)
Augusta GreenJackets (40-23, 78-54)
Kendry Flores (135.2 IP, 2.65 ERA, 2.63 FIP, 25.4 K%, 3.2 BB%, .272 BABIP)
If you're going to have a potential playoff-clinching game, you might as well have one of the best pitching matchups of the season to go with it.
Kendry Flores vs. Christian Binford is a rematch of an Aug. 21 game that went 12 innings and was won by Augusta 2-1. Flores struck out a career-high 15 and allowed one run in eight innings to further solidify his name at the top of the South Atlantic League's best pitchers this season. Binford allowed one run in seven innings to keep the GreenJackets honest.
It would be tough to top that game, but these two pitchers are capable, and a playoff berth is on the line this time. With a win, the GreenJackets clinch the second-half title in the Southern Division.
Binford ranks second in the SAL in ERA and first in FIP. The 20-year-old has allowed five runs in 12 innings against the GreenJackets this season, although the first start came in early April. He has a 50 percent ground ball rate and a line drive rate below 20 percent, so he avoids hard contact and gets a lot of grounders while recording a very solid strikeout percentage.
Flores seems to be getting better with more innings pitched. After going just six innings and keeping his pitch count in the 80s in his previous start, a fresher Flores put up a career outing against Lexington last time out. He has allowed just three runs in 20 innings against the Legends this season, recording 23 strikeouts.
Flores ranks third in ERA and second in FIP in the SAL, both one spot behind Binford. The numbers speak for themselves regarding the importance of this matchup.
A second-half title would cap a rollercoaster ride of a season for Augusta. The GreenJackets finished the first half five games out and were out by six earlier in the second half. They were 16-18 through July 29 before a six-game sweep of the Charleston RiverDogs the following week sparked what has become a 24-5 run, including an 11-game winning streak. They are currently on a six-game winning streak, as well.