Osprey Preview: Game #20
Who: Helena Brewers (9–10) at Missoula Osprey (10–9)
Where: Kindrick Legion Field— Helena, MT
When: 7:35 P.M. (MT) first pitch
How To Listen: ESPN 102.9 FM | MiLB First Pitch App| MiLB.com
Since the Osprey began playing under their current moniker in 1999, they’ve squared off against the Helena Brewers 262 times. Of their 261 historical meetings, the Osprey have gone 123–138 in Helena. At home, however, it’s been a far different story, as the O’s are five games over .500 and enjoy a 10–55 lead in the all-time series played in Missoula. Last season, Missoula leveraged a 6–2 record at home against Helena to win the season series 10–6. So far in 2017, Missoula has enjoyed a 2–1 record against the Brewers, winning the two most recent match ups last Sunday and Monday.
Starting pitcher Brady Muller fired seven and two-thirds innings of dominant work on Friday night, and the Missoula Osprey (10–9) outlasted the Great Falls Voyagers (7–12) by a final score of 2–1, earning their third consecutive victory and seventh in nine games overall.
Through the first three innings, Missoula piled up seven base hits, but bounced into double plays each inning, failing to score against Great Falls starter Adam Panayotovich. Finally in the fourth frame, Andy Yerzy led off with a double before scoring three batters later on an RBI-single by Francis Martinez, his second run batted in of the year.
For the bulk of the night, the one run held up, as Muller mowed through the Great Falls lineup for seven innings, when the Osprey lineup pushed across a run of insurance on a sacrifice fly by Gabriel Maciel. The second run proved important for Missoula, as Muller was knocked from the game in the top of the eighth with two outs on an RBI-double from Great Falls outfielder Craig Dedelow. With the tying run on second base, right-hander Carlos Bustamante needed just three pitches in the process of striking out Anthony Villa to preserve the 2–1 Missoula lead.
In the ninth inning, Abraham Almonte allowed a base hit and a long fly ball to center field, but also captured a strikeout and earned his third save in as many chances. In earning his first win of the season, Muller pitched a season-high seven and two-thirds innings, allowing just a single run on five hits and two walks, while striking out four.
With the victory, Missoula pushed its overall record over the .500 mark for the first time since 2015 and won its seventh game in nine tries.
Missoula hands the ball to right-hander Tyler Vail (0–0, 10.03 ERA) for his fourth start of the season, hoping to stack another nice outing atop three consecutive quality starts from the Osprey staff. In 2017, the Osprey have won all five games in which their starting pitcher has lasted six innings or more. Vail, however, has not pitched beyond the fifth inning of any game this season, twice pitching less than five innings.
For Vail, his most recent outing was against these same Brewers on July 3rd at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field in a five-inning, seven-strikeout effort. Despite struggling to begin the season, Vail has kept a clean record at the help of the Missoula Lineup. Through three starts, Vail averages a team-high 13.0 runs of support per outing, twice lifting him to no-decisions despite strugglesome results on the mound.
At the plate, Missoula hopes to take advantage of opportunities following a game in which they went just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Despite notching 13 hits against Great Falls on Friday, the Osprey were limited to two runs in a winning effort.
Countering Vail for Helena will be right-hander Dylan File, who pitches against the O’s for the second time after first facing the O’s in a relief capacity on July 3rd. File, a former star at Dixie State in Utah, is confronted by a Missoula team that has won seven of its last nine games overall, including three in a row.