The Amarillo Sod Poodles (24-24) have won five games in a row and have a chance to go over .500 for the first time all year.
The Soddies swept the Midland Rockhounds at Hodgetown in their last series. After trailing in every game, the team achieved two walk-off victories (Miller and Zunica).
That was the second consecutive meeting that the Soddies took from Midland. The finale was a tale of two halves, as the Rockhounds took a commanding lead early, jumping on Amarillo starter Lake Bachar. After a rain delay, and being down as many as eight runs, the offense came alive in the fifth and sixth inning.
In back to back innings, the Sod Poodles put up six runs with Ivan Castillo’s sixth inning, two-run single giving them the lead. Brad Zunica would put an exclamation point on the game, crushing an opposite field three-run homer to help the Soddies pull away with a final score of 13-8.
Amarillo has won eight of its last ten games and is now only three games back of the first place Frisco Roughriders (27-23).
Just last week the Soddies made their first trip to Dr. Pepper Ballpark and left with a rare road team series win. The Roughriders have still maintained the lead in the Texas League South despite recent troubles.
Here are the probable starters:
Miguel Diaz is back to starting after following Adrian Morejon’s short appearances, with both working their way back from injury. In his last appearance, Diaz was tattooed for five home runs in five innings of work. Every hit that Diaz gave up in the game was a home run. There was a silver lining though as Diaz struck out a season-high nine in the game.
Joe Palumbo showed the Sod Poodles why he’s the ace of this Riders staff in his only start against the club. Palumbo allowed five hits, one earned run, and walk in five innings pitched with Ivan Castillo doing the only damage. The Soddies can expect to see that sledgehammer of a curveball again and his consistent innings, likely going at least four innings like he has every start this year. What adjustment will the Soddies make to the pitcher who handed them their only loss in the first series?
Emmanuel Ramirez returns to action after pitching one of the best games by a starter in team history. Ramirez allowed two earned runs in 7.1 innings pitched in his last outing, while striking out seven and walking only one. The righty was economical with his pitches, using a total of 87 pitches in an eventual Sod Poodles one-run victory. This continued a trend that Ramirez has had lately, where he will be on for one start and not the next. Ramirez will have to break that trend if the Sod Poodles are going to gain ground against the first place Roughriders.
Pedro Payano was probably not a fan of the Sod Poodles in his first start against Amarillo. The Sod Poodles, in typical Amarillo fashion so far this year, failed to score in the first time through the order before a big fifth inning. With a rally lead by Luis Torrens and Rodrigo Orozco, they posted a four-run fifth and a three-run sixth against the Rangers number ten overall prospect. It was by far Payano’s worst start in 2019 so far, giving up seven runs in 5.1 innings pitched. The Sod Poodles will face Payano again in Dr, Pepper Ballpark and are hoping for the same results.
In a series where Amarillo took three out of four games, the Sod Poodles got to Arredondo early with Brad Zunica doing the most damage. Zunica launched two home runs in a Sod Poodles win against Arredondo. The former Carolina League All-Star gave up five earned runs in the outing over four innings of work, as he struggled to locate his off-speed pitches. Despite Amarillo handing him his second shortest outing of the year, Arredondo would come back and give Frisco five innings of work against Corpus for a much-needed victory. For the first time all season, the former Mexican League succeeded in not walking any hitters. That issue is something that while it is a new problem, it is still a concern for the Rangers organization, especially because coming into the season the right-hander had averaged a strikeout an inning.
Nick Margevicius is a curious case having been promoted to the big leagues without ever seeing Double-A. At the big league level in 2019 Margevicius started nine games for the Padres posting a 2-5 record with a 4.96 ERA. The former Rider standout is the first Major League player this year that the Sod Poodles faithful have seen on the roster without it being a rehab stint. In his Double-A debut, Margevicius gave up one run in two innings of work with the only run coming off a home run by Collin Theroux. WIth this being a big series, it should help to have a player with major league experience on the mound.
Players to Watch:
Frisco Roughriders: Juremi Profar (IF)
A lot like the Sod Poodles player to watch, Juremi Profar has been on fire in his last ten games. The brother of Oakland A’s infielder Jurickson Profar has hit .381 in his last ten games, boosting his season average to .326. That average puts him third in the Texas League, behind only Tulsa Drillers second basemen Omar Estevez and Corpus Christi Hooks third basemen Abraham Toro (hit .528 last week including a four-hit performance against Amarillo). When it comes to players at this level, there is usually a significant difference in their home and road splits, but Profar is hitting above .320 at home (.329) and on the road (.323). Despite his frame, Profar has shown no interest in stealing bases, taking off only one time all year and getting caught in the process.
Amarillo Sod Poodles: Owen Miller (IF)
The “best hitter on the team” according to Phillip Wellman, Owen Miller is quietly having another phenomenal season. Drafted just last year, the former third-round pick has proceeded to hit at least .300 in every level the Padres have tested him at. Add that bat to the stellar defense he plays everywhere in the infield you have a guy who has impressed in his short-lived pro career. Miller might be on his best stretch of the year so far hitting .314 and 10 RBI in his last ten games, with six multi-hit games in that stretch. The former Illinois State Cardinal will look to continue what he started in the previous series at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, going 7-for-17 (.412) with five RBI just last week off Roughrider pitching.