Amarillo Sod Poodles Series Preview: May 1-3 vs. Springfield Cardinals
The Sod Poodles return home to Hodgetown after an eight-game road trip.
Amarillo (10-15) is back at Hodgetown for the first time in eight games after the longest road stretch of the year ended in a 3-5 record. The Soddies will get another shot against the same teams they just faced, as now the Cardinals and Travelers will make their way to Amarillo for the first time this season. The Springfield Cardinals are up first. Amarillo split with the Cardinals last week in Missouri.
What is the difference? Well, for one, the Sod Poodles will not have to face against possibly the best pitcher statistically in Anthony Shew. Shew was moved to Triple-A Memphis after six scoreless innings against the Sod Poodles dropped his ERA below two.
The Cardinals (8-17) come into the series in last place in the Texas League North and still have yet to win a road game, sitting at 0-10 away from Hammons Field. This is a battle of two last place teams in their divisions, looking to get something started as they both lost three straight. The Sod Poodles are 6.5 games back of the South leading Frisco Roughriders.
Game 1: (Wednesday, May 1st – 7:05 P.M. CDT) Williams Perez (1-1, 5.76 ERA) vs. Reggie Lawson (2-1, 6.61 ERA)
Here is a face that Amarillo did not see last week. Perez settled down after a rough start, as he hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in his last three appearances, including a seven-inning, one-run gem against the first place Roughriders in his last outing. Like most Springfield pitchers, Perez has been much better at home where he has a 3.00 ERA, as opposed to his 8.31 ERA on the road. Lefties have had their way with the righty as he has a 9.28 ERA against them and are hitting .381. If that continues, look for the switch hitters to take advantage of this: Buddy Reed/Rodrigo Orozco.
Lawson will get his first look at the Cardinals as he missed them the first series. As stated before, the Cardinals are a much better team at home and still winless on the road. Lawson, like most pitchers, has struggled in the newly-built Hodgetown, but after back-to-back good starts the pitcher has right-handed batters only hitting .160 against him and hasn’t allowed a home run to this point. Lefties, on the other hand, are a different story, as they are hitting .372. Considering the hottest bat in the lineup is switch-hitting Irving Lopez, it will be interesting how they attack him.
Game 2: (Thursday, May 2nd – 7:05 P.M. CDT) Evan Kruczynski (0-2, 10.97 ERA) vs. T.J. Weir (2-1, 6.43 ERA)
T.J Weir had his first rough start of the 2019 campaign as the first place Travelers tagged him for six earned runs in just four innings on nine hits after not allowing just as many hits in his previous two starts. The former reliever will get his first shot at this Cardinal team at home where he has been much better in two previous starts, as opposed to his lone road start.
Kruczynski has not been able to keep people off the basepaths, walking 17 in just five starts including five against Frisco in his last outing. This becomes even more of a problem when you struggle with RISP (29.35). The Soddies will look to jump on him like last week, taking advantage of the base runners he allows with those walks.
Game 3: (Friday, May 3rd – 7:05 P.M. CDT) Austin Warner (0-2, 6.63 ERA) vs. Jesse Scholtens (1-0, 5.73 ERA)
Austin Warner is another pitcher that the Soddies will get a second look at in 2019. Last week in Missouri, outside of a bad fourth inning, Warner dominated, only allowing five hits all night. Warner is coming off a relief appearance against Frisco where he allowed two earned runs in a third of an inning. The Cardinal is one of the best pitchers at keeping the ball inside the ballpark, but last week Luis Torrens and Owen Miller got to him. This will be tested in Hodgetown as it has been a struggle to keep balls in the yard to this point for hosts and visitors.
Scholtens will need to bounce back from his last start against the Cardinals, as he allowed six earned runs in four innings, including three of those runs coming from the long ball. Scholtens looked better in his next start against the first place Travelers, going five innings and only giving up two earned runs. All the damage that the pitcher has been dealt has come with runners in scoring position, as he has not been able to escape jams sporting a 23.14 RISP.
Players to watch
Amarillo Sod Poodles: Jorge Ona (OF)
The standout star on this team right now without a doubt is Jorge Ona. He’s hitting .367 for the year, including .424 for his last 10 games with an absolute clinic against the best rotation in the Texas League in his previous series going 7-for-17. Ona isn’t just hitting singles. He has sprayed the ball all over the field and in big spots, driving in 10 last week and vaulting himself into the top 10 in most batting categories in the Texas League so far. The Cardinals kept the beast at bay in the first set, and we will have to see if they can do it again.
Springfield Cardinals: Irving Lopez (2B)
If it isn’t broke don’t fix it, Irving was the player to watch in the last Springfield series and went on to hit .400 with a home run for the set. Lopez is a switch hitter that is currently tied for the league in the Texas League in home runs. There is a big split between the home and road numbers for Irving, but as stated before, this is Hodgetown, where the ballpark plays a significant factor when it comes to the long ball.
Austin is a self proclaimed “sports nut” who lives and breathes baseball. The Amarillo native spends his time writing and running the Painting Corners Podcast. He will be covering the Amarillo Sod Poodles for EVT this year.