It’s coming down to crunch time for the RailRiders. After today’s game against Lehigh Valley, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has less than a month remaining before the regular season concludes. This week, the team plays seven games in five days. The RailRiders have a doubleheader scheduled at Buffalo on Thursday and will finish a suspended game from July 12 against Syracuse on Tuesday.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s matchups:
Lehigh Valley IronPigs
The short two-game set at PNC Field against Philadelphia’s affiliate concludes this afternoon with a contest at 1:05. Scheduled to pitch for SWB is Brett Marshall. Zach Miner was slated to take the mound for the IronPigs, but he was promoted to the Phillies on Friday.
Prior to Saturday’s first game of the series, the teams had split the previous six games this season, with the RailRiders winning both games played in Moosic. That also happened to be the same weekend that Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter gave the home team a boost by playing in rehab games.
Don’t forget that the closest teams in the International League geographically started a rivalry series this season, as they are playing for the inaugural IronRail Trophy, among other bragging rights.
Beginning play on Saturday, the IronPigs are the team directly in front of the RailRiders in the standings.
After Lehigh Valley leaves town, the RailRiders leave with them to cap a very brief two-game homestand in which those contests will be played in about 24 hours.
From Moosic, SWB will head north to take on the top affiliate of the Washington Nationals. On Tuesday, the teams will complete a game from July 12, which was tied at 6-6 after 11 before getting suspended at PNC Field. So like last year, the RailRiders will be the home team on the road; but for just one day. They’ll be the road team once they get to the scheduled game.The brief series concludes Wednesday.
Syracuse infielder Zach Walters has been a huge part of the team’s success lately earning the I.L. Batter of the Week for the period from July 22-28. In that period, the No. 10 prospect by Baseball America hit .522 in winning the award for the second time this season. The 23-year-old’s hot streak didn’t let up much last week and in his last 10 games prior to Friday’s contest he was hitting .382. For the season, he’s batting .262, raising his average nearly 60 points in the last two months. His 24 home runs are good for third in the league.
The RailRiders hold an 8-5 advantage in the season series, going 3-3 at NBT Bank Stadium.
After leaving Syracuse, SWB heads to Buffalo for a three-game set including a twinbill on Thursday. After Friday’s game, both teams travel to PNC Field for a two-game series over the weekend.
The Bisons started the season with possibly the most optimism in the whole league after several offseason acquisitions. They have disappointed to an extent but have been streaking of late, winning seven of 10 to start the weekend and in third place in the division.
Buffalo is led by Mauro Gomez, who leads the I.L. in homers with 28, and outfielder Kevin Pillar, who holds a team-high .321 batting average this season for the Bisons. The pitching staff has been bolstered by former RailRider Chien-Ming Wang, who is 2-3 with a 3.45 ERA since joining Buffalo.
In the season series, the RailRiders have won seven of the 11 games to date.