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 26, 2012 12:27 am

GreenJackets Gameday: The North surrenders

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

WHEN: today, 5:35 p.m.
WHERE: Lake Olmstead Stadium: directions
WEATHER: Sunny and 86 degrees at game time with no chance of rain: forecast
PROMOTION: Kids Eat Free Sundays. Children 12-and-under receive free food and a drink with the price of admission and get to run the bases after the game.
TICKETS: Start at $7. 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 35-27, 67-64 (3rd SAL Southern); Greensboro 30-31, 76-55 (5th SAL Northern)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Augusta leads the season series 6-0 and the current series 3-0.
PROBABLE STARTERS: GreenJackets RHP Clayton Blackburn (8-3, 2.55) vs. Grasshoppers RHP Jose Urena (8-5, 3.29).


The GreenJackets are still mathematically alive in the playoff race, though their five-game deficit in the standings with eight games to play seems fairly insurmountable. If only Augusta was located a little further north.


The GreenJackets, who compete in the South Atlantic League's Southern Division, have absolutely dominated the Northern Division this season. Augusta has a .649 winning percentage (24-13) against the boys from the North and is 15-6 since June. That includes three series sweeps. A fourth could come today when the GreenJackets try to sweep Greensboro for the second time this season. The Grasshoppers have already clinched a playoff spot as the Northern Division's first-half champions.


But, alas, the GreenJackets are in the Southern Division, where they sit teetering on the edge of elimination.


Though the playoff picture looks grim, there is still a good reason to come out to the ballpark today. There are only five home games left and this GreenJackets team has some potential big league stars in the making. That includes today's starter, Clayton Blackburn, who at just 19-years-old leads the South Atlantic League in strikeouts (137) and ranks third with a 2.55 ERA.


I don't want to put any pressure on anybody, but if Blackburn throws at least six innings without giving up an earned run tonight, his ERA will move into second place in the league behind teammate Kyle Crick.


Blackburn won't be the only quality arm fans will see at tonight's game. Greensboro starter Jose Urena leads his team with a 3.29 ERA, good for seventh in the league. Blackburn (9.9) and Urena (10.9) rank first and third in the league respectively in fewest base runners allowed per nine innings.