Senators vs. Flying Squirrels Playoff Preview

Photo courtesy Chris Knight / The Patriot-News


UPDATE 9/7 12:45 PM – Due to the rain and flooding, Games 1 & 2 will now take place in Richmond starting on Friday. The teams will return to Harrisburg on Sunday to begin the final three games (if necessary) of the five-game series.

Game 1: Wednesday 7:00 @ Metro Bank Park
Daryl Maday (RIC) 4-10, 4.47 ERA vs. Erik Arnesen (HAR) 8-4, 2.43

Game 2: Thursday 7:00 @ Metro Bank Park
Justin Fitzgerald (RIC) 9-9, 3.51 vs. Shairon Martis (HAR) 8-6, 3.05

Game 3: Friday 7:05 @ The Diamond
Tanner Roark (HAR) 9-9, 4.69 vs. Chuck Lofgren (RIC) 3-2, 4.02

Game 4: Saturday 6:35 @ The Diamond (if necessary)
Danny Rosenbaum (HAR) 3-1, 2.29 vs. Jason Stevenson (RIC) 1-0, 1.29

Game 5: Sunday 2:00 @ Metro Bank Park (if necessary)

Five Things to Keep an Eye On

Power Surge – Crunch any set of numbers during the 21 games between the two teams this season and the Flying Squirrels are ahead in almost every statistical category. The one they lag behind the Senators (like every other team in the Eastern League) is in home runs. Despite Harrisburg finishing in the league’s bottom half in runs scored, they still managed to use the long ball to power their offense to a league-best 80 wins. That’s going to need to continue this series for the Senators to be successful. The heart of the order (Derek Norris, HR league leader Tyler Moore, and Tim Pahuta) are being relied on to go deep and drive in the majority of runs.

Jekyll or Hyde? – It’s only fitting that he finished the season with a 9-9 record as you never knew which Tanner Roark was going to show up each time he took the hill. The good one who attacked hitters and claimed the inside half of the plate as his own or the bad one who nibbled on the edges and pitched like he didn’t have a defense behind him? In five starts against Richmond, it was usually Hyde that showed up as he was 1-3 with a 6.40 ERA. The good news for Senators’ fans is that Roark’s last outing against the Flying Squirrels was seven strong innings allowing only a run and accounting for his lone win against them. Roark is scheduled for Game 3 and if the Senators head to Richmond either tied 1-1 or down 0-2 facing elimination, his start obviously becomes that much more important.

Adding Gasoline to the Fire – Flying Squirrels’ closer Heath Hembree began the 2011 season as a high profile prospect in the Giants’ organization (ranked #19 according to Baseball America and also Keith Law’s sleeper pick). Everything he has done this year at High-A San Jose and Richmond has done nothing to diminish his rising star as he has combined to save 38 games between the two levels. And while he has been impressive in his role, the Senators can draw on their experience against him on July 24th when they tagged him for four runs on a couple of walks, a Derek Norris double, and a Tyler Moore home run.

The Great Unknown – The scheduled starters for Game 4 are Danny Rosenbaum for Harrisburg and Jason Stevenson for Richmond. It will be interesting to watch both lineups square off against each pitcher as neither has faced their opponent this season. Rosenbaum was promoted a month ago and missed the Flying Squirrels in the rotation when their three-game series at Metro Bank Park started two days later. While Stevenson has only recently returned to affiliated baseball after 5+ years away and has made one start at Double-A against Altoona in their playoff-clinching victory on Monday.

A Bridge Too Far – The starting pitching has been the best or very close to the best in the league all season and Rafael Martin and Hassan Pena have been excellent in 12 appearances against Richmond so far. Therefore, the bridge between the two is going to be vitally important this series as the middle relievers and set-up guys are going to carry a huge burden maintaining leads and keeping deficits as is. Look for Cory VanAllen to bounce back against the Flying Squirrels after a season with very little success against them (8.46 ERA in six appearances).

Filibustering the Senators (stats against Harrisburg this season)

Johnny Monell – .386 / 9 RBI / 8 R / 2 HR
Juan Perez – .344 / 11 RBI /  7 R
Chris Dominguez – .306 / 15 RBI / 8 R / 3 HR

Justin Fitzgerald (2-1) – 2.57 ERA / 21 IP / 13 H / 5 BB / 15 K
Hector Correa (1-0) – 0.00 ERA / 9 IP / 2 H / 2 BB / 8 K
Alex Hinshaw (1 Sv) – 1.59 ERA / 5.2 IP / 2 H / 1 BB / 10 K

Grounding the Flying Squirrels (stats against Richmond this season)

Josh Johnson – .315 / 4 RBI / 9 R
Derek Norris – .245 / 5 RBI / 13 R / 3 HR
Tyler Moore – .230 / 8 RBI / 8 R / 5 HR

Rafael Martin (1-0, 3 Sv) – 0.00 ERA / 8.2 IP / 4 H / 0 BB / 8 K
Shairon Martis (1-2) – 3.70 ERA / 24.1 IP / 28 H / 5 BB / 36 K
Hassan Pena – 1.29 ERA / 7 IP / 4 H / 1 BB / 11 K

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