Osprey Preview #36 — Playoff Hunt Edition

Who: Idaho Falls Chukars (16–19) at Missoula Osprey (17–18)

Where: Ogren Park at Allegiance Field — Missoula, MT

When: 7:05 P.M. (MT) first pitch

How To Listen: ESPN 102.9 FM | MiLB First Pitch App| MiLB.com

THE MATCHUP

The Osprey host the Chukars for their final matchup of the season, a rubber match that will decide both the two teams’ current series and overall season slate. Missoula hands the ball to right-hander Jimmy Johnson for his third start of the season, while Idaho Falls turns to all-star Janser Lara. Johnson, who began the season in the bullpen for Missoula, fills in the rotation slot vacated by right-hander Luis Madero, who was transferred to Hillsboro after a strong start to the Pioneer League season. Johnson has struggled in a starting capacity, but has shown flashes of a capable innings-eater. At the plate, the Osprey have gone only 15–65 (.231) with runners in scoring position during the first six games of the homestand. If they hope to undercut all-star Janser Lara tonight, the O’s will have to capitalize on most of their scoring opportunities.

LAST NIGHT

In his first game since July 13, Gabriel Maciel mashed his first career grand slam, putting the Missoula Osprey (17–18) ahead in the fourth inning and lifting to them an eventual 8–6 win over the Idaho Falls Chukars (16–19) on Tuesday night.

For the second straight evening, the Osprey fell behind early, surrendering two runs in the top of the first before responding for a tally of their own in the home half of the second. Recently named all-star catcher Dominic Miroglio led off with a bouncer down the first base line for a double after it was deflected by first baseman Robby Rinn. The next batter, infielder Jose Caballero, reached on an infield single after chopping a high bouncer to second. With none out, Joel Novas hit into a double play, retiring Caballero, but scoring Miroglio to cut the deficit to 2–1.

Idaho Falls responded with two runs in the third, opening a 4–1 lead. The Osprey then leveraged singles from Gabriel Maciel and Keshawn Lynch as well a double by Joey Rose to score a pair and cut the deficit to 4–3. With another run in the top of the fifth, the Chukars pushed their lead back to 5–3.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Osprey surged for a massive burst, loading the bases on a walk, a single, and a hit batsman to load the bases with one out. After a pitching change that lifted Chukars’ all-star Holden Capps from the game, Maciel swatted the first pitch from reliever Christopher Marte for a towering grand slam down the right field line, giving the Osprey a 7–5 lead. In the next inning, Ernie De La Trinidad added an RBI-single to round out Missoula’s scoring.

Missoula closer Abraham Almonte faced a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the top of the ninth, allowing a run to score, but finishing out the victory with a strikeout to stranding the bases loaded and seal the win.

In the victory, Gabriel Maciel went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and four RBI to run his hitting streak to 14-games. Starter Tyler Vail evened his record a 2–2 with the win, allowing five runs (three earned) on eight hits and four walks, while striking out five.

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