Osprey Preview: Game #21
Who: Missoula Osprey (10–10) at Helena Brewers (10–10)
Where: Kindrick Legion Field — Helena, MT
When: 1:05 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 263 times. Of their past meetings, the Osprey have gone 123–139 in Helena. At home, however, it’s been a far different story, as the O’s are five games over .500 and enjoy a 60–55 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 split four games with Helena, falling last night in their first visit to Helena.
With four runs in the top of the ninth inning on Saturday night, the Missoula Osprey (10–10) narrowed a five-run deficit, but failed to tie the ballgame, losing to the Helena Brewers (10–10) by a final score of 8–7 and snapping the Osprey’s season-long three-game winning streak.
Missoula sprinted in front of Helena in the top of the third when Joel Novas led off with a walk and Francis Martinez followed immediately after with a single. On the play, Novas moved all the way to third base, allowing Martinez to sneak into second behind the throw from right field. The next batter, Brandon Leyton, brought home the game’s first run on a groundout. Two batters later, Eduardo Diaz slapped a single to center field to plate Martinez. After moving to third on a single by Luis Lara, Diaz trotted home to score the third and final run of the frame on a wild pitch.
Leading for much of the evening, Osprey starter Tyler Vail controlled the game for most of its duration, including four perfect innings to begin the ballgame. The first batter of the fifth inning, Jay Feliciano, ended Vail’s bid for perfection with a homer to left field. Helena added one more run in the inning, cutting Missoula’s lead to 3–2 through five.
Two innings later in the seventh, Vail was tagged for two additional runs on a series of plays including a walk, a wild pitch, an error, and a base hit. The surge by Helena pushed the Brewers in front of Missoula by a count of 4–3, sinking the Osprey to their first deficit of the night. While Vail was assigned his first loss of the season, the right-hander turned in a season-high seven innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and one walk, while striking out four.
With Vail gone from the game in the eighth, Helena piled four runs on the board, three of which came on a bases-loaded fly ball lost in the lights. In the top of the ninth, Missoula rallied to pull within one run thanks to a two-run single by Andy Yerzy and a two-run homer by Juan Araujo. The Osprey rally, however, fell short and Missoula fell by a final count of 8–7.
The Osprey try to even the series against Helena on Sunday afternoon, handing the ball to lead starter Luis Madero. The Opening Day starter for Missoula, Madero has enjoyed steady success in 2017, posting a mark of 2–1 and an ERA of 4.24 in four starts. After lasting five innings in his first outing, Madero stacked consecutive quality starts (six innings with three runs allowed or fewer) before lasting only 5 and 1/3 innings his last time. Most recently, Madero pitched in Great Falls, taking the loss after allowing five runs (all earned) on nine hits and one walk, while striking out two.
A right-hander, Madero has thrived when using his fastball as both a primary and secondary offering. With the ability to shift speeds from as high as 93 miles per hour to as low as 86, Madero has the ability to keep hitters off balance without overusing his off-speed pitches. In his career-best seven-inning outing on June 29, Madero threw 99 pitches of which 91 were fastballs. I fact, the Venezuelan arm didn’t toss a breaking ball until the sixth inning!
At the plate, the Osprey corrected course last night by scoring seven runs one night after their bizarre two-run, 13-hit performance on Friday. Facing right-hander Rodrigo Benoit, the O’s are relieved to avoid originally scheduled Helena ace Carlos Herrera, who was promoted to Wisconsin yesterday. In Herrera’s place, Benoit expects to start for the first time after pitching six times in releif. To date, the Dominican native is 1–2 with a 5.73 ERA.
Below is the lineup the O’s will use when first pitch rolls around at 1:05 pm.