September 3, 2011 - Carolina League (CarL) - Myrtle Beach Pelicans
LHP Drake Britton (1-13, 7.07) at RHP Zach Osborne (5-2, 3.68)
MAC'S CRACKS: Chris McGuiness is healthy and his return to the Pelicans could not have come at a better time. 1-for-10 in his first three games since July, the first baseman ripped a game-tying three-run homer in the sixth and an RBI single in the ninth as part of a three-hit game on Thursday. "Mac" has battled a series of ailments this year including an oblique strain that sent him onto the DL in April, a back injury that again DLed him in May, and a knee problem that removed him from action in July. In McGuiness's one healthy month of April, the left-handed first baseman batted .305 with seven runs batted in, and a .790 OPS and was named the Rangers' Minor League Defender of the Month for a perfect 15 games in the field. During his injury-plagued months of May, June, and July, though, McGuiness batted a combined .171 (19-for-111) with one homer and 13 runs batted in over just 31 games to drop his overall season average to .218 and his OPS to .618.
NICE BOOKEND: Thursday's win was the Pelicans' third in four games in Wilmington this week, handing them just their second victory in a road series in the second half. The Pelicans knocked off the Red Sox in their first road series of this half, taking two out of three games from June 26-28. Since then, the Pelicans have gone 11-20 away from BB&T Coastal Field and went 0-7-1 in eight series before this week's triumph. The Birds had a winning record against all but one team (Salem) in the season's first half but since the All-Star Break, the Pelicans are 7-11-2 in series entering this week at Wilmington after going 11-7-3 en route to the division title.
DOUBLE-DIGIT DE LOS SANTOS: Lefty Miguel De Los Santos had a rough third inning on Thursday in Wilmington and gave up four runs in six innings of work, but he maintained his propensity to rack up K's as he struck out 11 Blue Rocks. The La Romana, Dominican Republic native has 11 whiffs in three of his last five starts and has hit double-digits in four of his last six. Baseball America's tenth-ranked Texas prospect entering 2011 and a member of the Rangers' 40-man roster, Miguel struggled mightily with injuries and ineffectiveness for much of the season. Since his call-up to Myrtle Beach in late June, the southpaw has struck out 36.5 percent of the batters he's faced with a .193 batting average against, both totals are the highest among Carolina Leaguers. His strikeout per nine ratio of 13.71 during this stretch is the best in all of minor league baseball.
WHO'S IT GONNA BE\': The Pelicans have known since mid-June that they'd be headed to the 2011 best-of-five Southern Division Championship Series beginning at BB&T Coastal Field on Wednesday, September 7 and Thursday, September 8. What the Birds don't know is who they'll be playing when the postseason opens. The Winston-Salem Dash slipped back into a virtual first-place tie with the Kinston Indians after splitting a home twinbill last night against Salem. Kinston was drilled 10-0 by Frederick last night in what might be the K-Tribe's final game ever at historic Grainger Stadium. The Indians will move to Zebulon, NC for the 2012 season and are making a push to leave on a high note. Kinston (35-30) heads to Potomac for the last four games, including a doubleheader on Sunday. With a cancellation against Lynchburg last week, the Indians will only play 69 games in the second half. Winston Salem (36-31) visits Lynchburg to wrap up the regular season with a three-game set. Both the Dash and Indians have a magic number of four to clinch the second-half crown and a trip to the Grand Strand for the postseason. Up in the Northern Division, the Potomac Nationals have already punched their playoff ticket to face the first-half champion Frederick Keys, but they still have a chance to beat the Keys for the second-half crown. The Keys, with three games to play in Wilmington, hold a half-game lead and the tiebreaker over the P-Nats, who host Kinston for four. Frederick's magic number to lock down the double-half title and home field advantage against Potomac is down to three.