When it comes to playoffs, teams may go to the wire

July 17, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

With the second half in full swing in the minors, Orioles farm clubs are struggling to make the playoffs in their respective leagues.

Rochester, Frederick, High Desert and the two rookie clubs still have chances, but Double-A Bowie would need a monumental finish after falling 20 games below .500 for the first time in franchise history.

Manager Marv Foley has done a masterful job of keeping together a Red Wings team with little power and speed and spotty pitching. Rochester entered the week with a 45-43 record but only a game out of first place in the International League East.

The Triple-A Red Wings' biggest hurdle may be only 22 dates remaining at home, where they are a far better club.

Bowie has skidded to 19 games behind first-place Trenton in the Eastern League's Southern Division and has three teams to hurdle to qualify for postseason play.

With strong starting pitching and a split season, Frederick could challenge Wilmington, the first-half winner in its Carolina League division, until the wire.

High Desert also has to win the second half in the Northern Division of the California League. Bluefield and Gulf Coast are above .500 and in contending position.

The only sure thing in Maryland is the Delmarva Shorebirds, a Montreal affiliate. Delmarva captured the South Atlantic League's Northern Division first-half crown.

It doesn't appear the Shorebirds can repeat in the second half after call-ups weakened their bullpen, so they will probably have to play the second-half champ in a best-of-three series starting Sept. 3.

Going down

The promising career of shortstop Eddy Martinez has suffered a reversal.

Regarded as one of the organization's top prospects after hitting .308 in the Appalachian League last season, Martinez has been demoted to Bluefield.

"He hasn't had a full year and he's only 18, so we felt he'd be better off back there," said Don Buford, assistant director of player development. "He wasn't hitting [at Frederick] as well as we think he can.

"The Carolina League is very advanced, and he's so young. We want him to relax and play the way he can."

Martinez batted .221 for the Keys with an on-base percentage of .287. He also committed 19 errors.

On the rise

Garrett Stephenson is rising to the challenge of being the No. 1 pitcher at Rochester.

After starting the season behind Rocky Coppinger, Rick Krivda and others, their promotions and injuries forced Stephenson into the limelight.

He has responded by being named the International League Pitcher of the Week last week after going winless between May 13 and July 7.

Stephenson was 2-0 and allowed five hits and one walk in 16 innings, including a string of 15 1/3 scoreless.

Around the horn

The remnants of Bertha cost Rochester its 17th rainout of the season, ninth at home. The Red Wings have 18 doubleheaders this year. . . . Jeffrey Hammonds is warming up at the plate, going 4-for-11 over the weekend with four RBIs and his first steal. . . . Todd Frohwirth's retirement left the Red Wings with 10 pitchers and one below the roster limit. The Red Wings' 1971 Governor's Cup champions will have their 25-year reunion at Silver Stadium on Saturday, with Bobby Grich heading the alumni. . . . Bowie is within 35,000 of drawing a million fans since its 1993 beginning at Memorial Stadium. . . . Danny Clyburn, once the Eastern League's top home run hitter, has fallen to fifth after being idled for 10 days with hamstring. . . . With a victory Saturday, Rocco Cafaro became the second Baysox pitcher with at least four wins. . . . Frederick's staff started the week with 727 strikeouts and 309 walks, with Sidney Ponson at 63 and 10, respectively. . . . Rick Short had a 14-game batting streak and soared into fourth in the Carolina League batting race. . . . Chip Lawrence, son of the head of the National Association (minors) umpires, has moved from Bluefield to the Keys. . . . High Desert's Mike Berry tops the California League in batting average and on-base percentage and is third in doubles and tTC fourth in hits. . . . Greg Dean was promoted from the Mavericks to Bowie after going 3-0 with an 0.90 ERA this month. . . . Bluefield's Carlos Akins was atop the Appalachian League with a .478 batting average and had 13 steals in 26 games.

Pub Date: 7/17/96

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