Osprey Preview: Game #27 — Osprey at Chukars
Who: Missoula Osprey (14–12) at Idaho Falls Chuckars (11–15)
Where: Melaleuca Field — Idaho Falls, ID
When: 4:00 P.M. (MT) first pitch
How To Listen: ESPN 102.9 FM | MiLB First Pitch App| MiLB.com
Since the inception of the Missoula Osprey in 1999, they’ve met up with the Idaho Falls clubs, under a multitude of different monikers, at total of 125 times, going 66–59. Since the club took on their current designation a the Chukars in 2004, the series has been about as balanced as possible, as Missoula owns a 46–44 lead in the true “Osprey” vs. “Chukars” series. On the road, the O’s have gone one game under .500 throughout the series history, posting a mark of 31–32, including a 1–3 mark in 2016. Overall last year, Missoula took three of seven games against the Chukars, dropping the season series with Idaho Falls for the third time in the last seven years.
With a season-high five homers and another team-wide outburst at the plate, the Missoula Osprey (14–12) slugged their way past the Idaho Falls Chukars (11–15) by a final score of 15–11 on Saturday night at Melaleuca Field. The win pushed the Osprey to a season-high two games above .500 and into a first-place tie for the first time in 2017.
For the fourth consecutive evening, the Osprey raced out to an early lead, plating a pair of runs in the top of the second on a two-run double by Francis Martinez. The double was Martinez’s first of two, bringing his total to three doubles in his last two games and six RBI in the same span.
After Idaho Falls tied the game at 2–2 in the bottom of the second, the Osprey charged back in the third on a two-run blast by Joey Rose to right-center field, his third homer of the season and the first of five for Missoula on Saturday.
Leading 4–2 upon entrance into the fourth frame, the Osprey doubled their total to take an 8–2 lead after Will Gorman singled home a run, Jose Caballero scored on a throwing error following a stolen base, and Keshawn Lynch hit an opposite field two-run homer, his first blast as a professional.
Following the bottom of the fourth in which the Chukars scored three runs of their own to cut the Missoula lead to 8–5, the Osprey added three more runs on a pair of homers, first a solo shot by Dominic Miroglio and second on a two-run long ball by Jose Caballero. For each player, the home run was his first as a professional.
Again Idaho Falls responded in the bottom of the frame, plating a pair of runs in the fifth to chop Missoula’s lead to 11–7. In the top of the sixth, however, the Osprey cemented their final total for the evening, adding four runs on an run-scoring double by Joey Rose and a three-run homer by Juan Araujo. While Idaho Falls rallied to score four runs in the bottom of the eighth, the Osprey enjoyed enough distance between themselves and the Chukars to clinch a 15–11 victory.
With the win, the Osprey have matched their season-best with a three-game winning streak and have claimed a share of first place for the first time since Opening Day. For the second consecutive night, the Osprey leveraged multi-hit games from six different players to win and continue to demonstrate the potency of their lineup.
The Osprey return to action for their eighth consecutive game away from Ogren Park at Allegiance Field, handing the ball to left-hander Franklyn Soriano. Expecting to make his sixth start of the season, Soriano’s performance has vacillated between the two polar extremes — tremendous success and tremendous struggle. The left-hander’s two most recent performances serve as evidence of his hot-and-cold start to 2017, with his best performance coming two starts ago against Great Falls and his worst just five days ago against Helena.
At his best, Soriano is thoroughly capable of dominating Pioneer League hitters, as illustrated by his six-inning, eight-strikeout performance against the Voyagers on July 5. When he falls short of his best stuff, Soriano is liable to struggle, specifically with keeping the ball in the park. In his most recent outing at Kindrick Legion Field in Helena, the portsider surrendered two homers in the first inning and recorded only two outs before being lifted.
The formula for success is constant for Soriano, who is not blessed with impressive velocity on his fastball. Rather, his fastball is most effective when used as a secondary offering that complements his slider. In order to manipulate counts so that he can use his fastball sparingly, Soriano must locate his slider and other off-speed pitches early in counts so that his fastball becomes more dangerous. When he’s ahead in counts, he is dangerous.
Specific to Sunday afternoon’s ballgame, Soriano will be battling a strong wind blowing straight out to center field. After surrendering two homers in his first start and four overall, the Dominican hurler will be wary of allowing fly balls, as there’s a definitive boost swirling through the air at Melaleuca Field.
For the Osprey lineup, the outward blowing wind is a welcome feature to a series of playing conditions that include a cloudless sky and pleasant temperatures. After hitting a season-high five home runs on Saturday night, the O’s might see more of the same, providing Mother Nature feels so inclined as to boost the ball beyond the fences.
First pitch is at 4 pm. The Mission Paint Pregame Show starts at 3:45.