As for pitching, Beloit’s team earned-run average (3.88) ranked 10th in the league, while Clinton was right behind at 3.90. Beloit pitchers allowed 612 runs, Clinton’s 625. Neither team is overpowering. Beloit’s strikeout total of 943 ranked 14th in the league, while Clinton was last at 883. The one area where there is a decided edge is saves, where Beloit tied for second with 43, 14 more than Clinton.
“Their (bull)pen is pretty good,” Menchaca said. “If they take the lead, it’s going to be tough for us. We just have to make sure we score early and try not to get into their pen, and if we do get into their pen, have the lead.”
No matter how things turn out, though, it’s been an interesting journey for the LumberKings.
Only 11 players remain from the opening-day roster, and two of them are on the disabled list. Between promotions to High-A High Desert and injuries, the roster has turned over a great deal. No pitcher has spent the whole year in the rotation, and much of the team’s power has been lost.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Menchaca said. “It’s definitely a different group, that’s for sure, but as a coach, as a manager, you can’t really read into that. You have to go with what you have.”
The LumberKings did get one key player back recently. Dylan Unsworth, who had arm problems shortly after being selected for the All-Star Game and missed that game and much more, returned to the club last week and made his first start since early June.
“It feels great to be back in the clubhouse,” said Unsworth, who spent about three months in Arizona rehabbing. “The coaching staff told me just get ready for the playoffs, so I’m here now, I’m ready and I’m good to go. I’m excited.”