OKC Dodgers Game Notes - September 30, 2023
Norfolk Tides (2-1/90-59) vs. Oklahoma City Dodgers (2-0/90-58)
Triple-A National Championship Game
Pitching Probables: NOR-RHP Justin Armbruester (3-4, 4.70) vs. OKC-RHP Yency Almonte (MLR)
Saturday, September 30, 2023 | Las Vegas Ballpark | Las Vegas, Nev. | 9:05 p.m. CT
Radio: 94.7 FM The Ref, 947theref.com, iHeartRadio; Video: MLB Network, MiLB.tv
Today's Game: The Pacific Coast League Champion Oklahoma City Dodgers play their final game of the 2023 season when they meet the International League Champion Norfolk Tides in the 2023 Triple-A National Championship Game at 9:05 p.m. CT at Las Vegas Ballpark. Both teams are making their first-ever appearance in the event.
Last Game: Michael Busch and Jonny DeLuca both homered and Gavin Stone recorded 10 strikeouts in the Oklahoma City Dodgers' 5-2 win against the Round Rock Express Wednesday night at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark as the Dodgers clinched the 2023 Pacific Coast League Championship. In Game 2 of the PCL Championship Series, the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run homer by DeLuca out to the deepest part of the ballpark in left-center field. The Express cut OKC's lead in half in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Blaine Crim. A three-run homer by Busch in the fifth inning out to left field pushed the Dodgers' lead to 5-1. The Express tacked on a run via a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to trim the lead to 5-2. Starting pitcher Gavin Stone escaped a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the first inning and went on to notch 10 strikeouts over 6.1 innings. He allowed two runs and four hits with two walks before Ricky Vanasco and Wander Suero combined for 2.2 scoreless innings to close out the Dodgers' win as they swept Round Rock in the best-of-three series.
Today's Probable Pitcher: Yency Almonte joins OKC on a Major League Rehab Assignment and is scheduled to open tonight's bullpen game...Almonte has pitched in a MLB career-high 49 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers this season before suffering a right knee sprain and being placed on the LAD Injured List Aug. 12. So far this season, Almonte is 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA and 49 strikeouts over 48.0 IP...He last pitched Aug. 11 against Colorado, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk with three strikeouts at Dodger Stadium...Almonte split the 2022 season between Oklahoma City (14 games) and Los Angeles (33 games) after signing with LAD as a minor league free agent in March 2022. In 33 relief appearances with LAD, he compiled a 1.02 ERA over 35.1 innings...He was originally selected by the Angels in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Fla...Almonte has made 196 career ML appearances and owns a career 4.51 ERA...Tonight will be his first start/opening assignment since 2018 while with Triple-A Albuquerque.
About the Tides: The International League Champion Norfolk Tides, Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, won Game 3 of a best-of-three series Thursday night with a 7-0 shutout win against the Durham Bulls at Harbor Park. It's the sixth Triple-A title in franchise history but the first since 1985 as a New York Mets affiliate. After dropping Game 1, the Tides rebounded with back-to-back wins in elimination games to punch their ticket to Las Vegas...Norfolk won the IL first-half title at 48-26 and then went 42-33 in the second half. Norfolk finished the regular season with a 90-59 record, joining the OKC Dodgers (90-58) as the only two MiLB teams to reach 90 wins during the regular season...The Tides feature baseball's top overall prospect Jackson Holliday, who at 19 years old is in his first full season of pro ball and is rated No. 1 overall by both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. The infielder attended Stillwater High School and is the son of seven-time MLB All-Star and current Oklahoma State volunteer assistant coach Matt Holliday and nephew of Oklahoma State Head Baseball Coach Josh Holliday. He was selected with the first overall pick of the 2022 MLB Draft...Infielder Connor Norby led the IL with 164 hits, 273 total bases and 104 runs scored, while his 40 doubles tied for first in the 20-team league...Norfolk has served as the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate since 2007...Between 1988-91, the then-Oklahoma City 89ers and then-Tidewater Tides played each other as part of the Triple-A Alliance, which was an interleague partnership between the American Association and International League...The Tides are managed by Buck Britton, who played for the OKC Dodgers in 2015 when the team went 86-58 - the previous best season in the Bricktown era until this year.
Put a Ring On It: The Dodgers swept the best-of-three Pacific Coast League Championship Series, 2-0, this week to win Oklahoma City's first league title since 1996 and fifth league title in the franchise's history after the team also won PCL titles in 1963 and 1965 and American Association titles in 1992 and 1996 as the Oklahoma City 89ers. It's just the second time ever and first time since 1963 OKC won a league title while playing on its home field...The 2023 PCL Championship Series featured the top two teams in the overall 2023 PCL standings after the Dodgers won the PCL's first-half title in June with a 50-23 record and Round Rock won the PCL's second-half title Sunday with a 45-30 record. The Dodgers finished the regular season 90-58 for the best record in the PCL, while the Express finished in second place overall with an 89-60 record...The 2023 season marked the fourth time OKC played in the PCL Championship Series since 1998, having previously suffered defeats against Vancouver in 1999 (3-1), Sacramento in 2008 (3-1) and El Paso in 2016 (3-1)...This is also the Los Angeles Dodgers' first Triple-A championship since 1994 when the Albuquerque Dukes won the PCL.
Triple-A Title Trek: Oklahoma City is making its first appearance in a Triple-A National Championship Game and first in postseason interleague competition during the franchise's Bricktown era (since 1998) and Pacific Coast League history (1963-68; 1998-2023)...However, the Dodgers' home stadium, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, hosted the first three single-game format Triple-A National Championship Games from 2006-08 in what was then known as the Bricktown Showdown. The IL's Durham Bulls won the 2022 Triple-A National Championship Game over the PCL's Reno Aces, 10-6, but the PCL owns a 9-6 record against the IL in Triple-A title games since 2006, with the PCL winning two of the last three and six of the last nine Triple-A National Championship Games.
Postseason Points: With Wednesday's victory, Oklahoma City won its first playoff series overall since the 2016 American Conference Finals when the Dodgers defeated Nashville, 3-2. Oklahoma City is in the midst of its first postseason appearance since the 2018 season and entering 2023, OKC won 10 PCL division titles and three PCL conference titles during the Bricktown era (since 1998) before winning this season's PCL first-half title and PCL Championship...During the Bricktown era, OKC is now 19-35 in playoff games. Tuesday night's Game 1 victory was Oklahoma City's first Game 1 win in a playoff series since 1999 against Omaha at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. OKC had lost the first game of each of its last 12 playoff series entering Tuesday. With Wednesday night's win, the Dodgers swept a playoff series for the first time during the Bricktown era...Following Wednesday night's win, Oklahoma City is now 4-4 in potential series-clinching games (2-2 at home) during the Bricktown era and improved to the team's first 2-0 start to a postseason series for the first time in 14 postseason series...OKC is 2-2 in winner-take-all games during the Bricktown era.
I Love the 90s: The Dodgers finished the regular season with 90-58 record overall and with the most wins for an Oklahoma City team in a single season during the Bricktown era (since 1998). Their 90 wins are the second-most wins in OKC's Triple-A history (since 1962) behind only the 1965 Oklahoma City 89ers, who finished 91-54...OKC's 90 wins tied for the most in the Minors this season with tonight's opponent Norfolk (90-59) and the Dodgers are just the second Pacific Coast League team since 2006 to notch at least 90 wins, joining the 2017 Memphis Redbirds (91-50). They are also just the fourth PCL team over the last 23 seasons to reach 90 wins...The Dodgers finished in first place in the overall PCL standings, marking the fourth time that has happened during the team's Bricktown era (also 2005, 2013 and 2015). The Dodgers held at least a share of first place in the league standings for all but seven days this season, first from April 1-Aug. 25 and again from Sept. 2 to the end of the season...This season's OKC squad became the fastest PCL team to reach 50, 60 and 70 wins since at least 2005, as data from 2004 and earlier is not available. They also became the second-fastest PCL team to reach 75 wins (117 games) since at least 2005, with the 2017 Memphis Redbirds doing it two games earlier (115 games). The fastest PCL team to reach 80, 85 and 90 wins was also the 2017 Memphis Redbirds, who reached the 80-win milestone in 121 games (80-41), the 85-win mark in 133 games (85-48) and the 90-win mark in 140 games (90-50).
M-V-B: Michael Busch hit a three-run homer and went 2-for-4 Wednesday, as he has now hit safely in each of his last 11 games between the regular season and postseason. During the streak, Busch is 15-for-41 (.366) with seven extra-base hits, 11 RBI and 10 runs scored and he has homered in four of his last six games. His homer in the fifth inning was his 28th of the season in Triple-A and 30th of the season overall including his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He finished the regular season with a team-leading 27 home runs - the eighth-most homers hit by an OKC player in a single season during the Bricktown era. During the regular season, he led the PCL in SLG (.618) and OPS (1.049) and ranked among the league's top-five qualified players in AVG (2nd, .323), OBP (3rd, .431), homers (4th, 27), extra-base hits (5th, 57), RBI (T-5th, 90) and total bases (T-5th, 241)...Busch was named the 2023 Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the 2023 Dodgers Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America.
How He Drew It Up: Drew Avans went 2-for-4 Wednesday and scored a run. In the postseason so far, Avans is a team-leading 6-for-8 with a walk, three RBI and two runs scored. He has reached base in seven of his first nine postseason plate appearances...On Tuesday, Avans' four hits tied his season-high mark set June 11 in El Paso. His three RBI marked his highest RBI total since that same June 11 game when he collected a season-high five RBI...Avans finished the 2023 regular season tied for fifth in the PCL with 95 runs scored and tied for ninth with 77 walks. His 95 runs were the fifth-most by an OKC player in a season since 1998 and his 77 walks were sixth-most by an OKC player in a season since 1998...He led OKC with 129 hits in 129 games during the regular season. His games, hits, runs, walks, doubles, home runs and RBI totals were all career highs.
Road Dogs: Although the Dodgers will technically be the home team tonight, the Dodgers finished with a 48-27 record on the road this season, setting a single-season Bricktown-era record for road wins as well as notching the most road wins across the Minors in 2023. Their 48 road wins are the most by any PCL team since 2005 and the 2023 Dodgers are the first team in all of the Minors to win 48 road games in one season since High-A Lake Elsinore in 2010 (48-22)...OKC went 5-1 in the team's six games at Las Vegas Ballpark during the regular season.
Around the Horn: Starting pitcher Gavin Stone earned the win in Wednesday's title-clinching game, allowing two runs and four hits, including a home run, over a season-high 6.1 innings with two walks and 10 strikeouts. It was Stone's third double-digit strikeout game this season with OKC....The Dodgers held Round Rock to a total of five runs and nine hits during their two-game series, as the Express went 9-for-64 (.141) with 26 strikeouts (13 in each game). Going back to the regular season finale, the Dodgers have allowed a total of seven runs (five earned) and 14 hits over their last three games...The Dodgers used 80 different players during the 2023 regular season, with 29 position players and 51 pitchers. Only Drew Avans and Ryan Ward remained on the active roster all season.
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