Born in Ohio and raised in the South, I'm a diehard Cleveland sports fan. I pass on NASCAR, play any sport but soccer and can't understand why the NFL is so undervalued in the Southeast. My favorite sport is basketball. I was a sports writer at the Columbia County News-Times from 2005 to 2007 before becoming Minor League Sports Writer at the Augusta Chronicle in December 2007.
Posted August 24, 2012 01:25 am

GreenJackets Gameday: Still alive

Augusta GreenJackets (Giants) vs. Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)

WHEN: today, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Lake Olmstead Stadium: directions
WEATHER: Sunny and 81 degrees at game time with no chance of rain: forecast
PROMOTION: Team Photo Giveaway Night.
TICKETS: Start at $8. Call the box office at (706) 922-WINS or visit
IN-GAME UPDATES: On Twitter (@BillyByler) or receive text alerts on your phone.
STANDINGS: Augusta 33-27, 65-64 (3rd SAL Southern); Greensboro 30-29, 76-53 (t4th SAL Northern)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Augusta leads the season series 4-0 and the current series 1-0.
PROBABLE STARTERS: GreenJackets RHP Danny Sandbrink (0-0, 2.25) vs. Grasshoppers LHP Andrew Heaney (0-1, 6.75).


The casual fan will take a look at the South Atlantic League's Southern Division standings and see that the GreenJackets are 5.5 games out of first place with 10 to play. That doesn't sound very promising. But there's another way Augusta can get into the playoffs, and it may be a bit more likely to happen.


Asheville is just 3.5 games out of first place. The Tourists are already in the playoffs because they won the first-half division title. What happens if the first-half champ is also the second-half champ? The second playoff spot goes to the team in the division with the next best overall record. That title goes to Lexington (67-61) right now, but Augusta (65-64) sits just 2.5 games back. Basically, the GreenJackets need to catch Lexington and Asheville needs to catch Rome. Both are possible. Probable? I doubt that. But it's more likely to happen than making up 5.5 games with 10 to go.


Jeff Arnold reminded me after last night's game that crazy things can happen, including last year's improbable, last-day playoff clincher. The 2011 GreenJackets entered the final game of the regular season 1.5 games back, but made up the deficit thanks to a win and a doubleheader loss from the first-place team. A comeback this year would be even more remarkable. The 2011 GreenJackets were just one game out of first at this point in the season.


Tonight's match up has the potential to be quite the pitchers' duel. Danny Sandbrink will make his Lake Olmstead Stadium debut for Augusta. He performed well a level above the South Atlantic League this year, posting a 2-0 record and 3.57 ERA (mostly as a reliever) for San Jose in the hitter-friendly California League. But he was sent to the GreenJackets earlier this month and has been plugged into the starting lineup. He gave up one earned run on four hits and no walks over four innings six days ago in Charleston, S.C.


The bigger name will come out of the Greensboro dugout tonight when Andrew Heaney gets the start. He was the Miami Marlins' first-round pick (ninth overall) in this year's draft. 


One last thing: the GreenJackets are seeking input from their fans on how they can improve. They've set up a basic survey online for fans to take. You can find the survey here.