The minor league playoffs continued on Friday, with the Double-A Midland RockHounds needing a win to keep their postseason alive. They entered down 2-0 in the best-of-5 Texas League Championship Series, but managed to beat former A’s star Brandon McCarthy to force a fourth game on Saturday. They still need to win two more on the road to earn their 4-peat title, but if anyone can pull it off its these magical Hounds.
Here’s a closer look.
Midland RockHounds vs. Tulsa Drillers (Dodgers)
League: Double-A Texas League
Best-of-5 Championship Series
Hounds trail series 1-2
Not only were the Hounds facing elimination, but they had to do it against an MLB star in McCarthy. The 34-year-old has struggled for most of his Dodgers career, but he was good in 16 starts this year before being felled by blister issues.
Undaunted, Midland managed to scratch out a couple runs against the big leaguer. In the 4th, Max Schrock doubled and made his way around on a couple of productive groundouts; the RBI went to (say it with me everybody) Viosergy Rosa! In the 6th, Jorge Mateo tripled and came around on a groundout by Schrock.
Max Schrock, 2B: 1-for-4, 2B, RBI, run
Jorge Mateo, SS: 1-for-4, 3B, run
Sheldon Neuse, 3B: 2-for-3, BB
Viosergy Rosa, 1B: 0-for-3, BB, RBI
That turned out to be enough offense on this night, because the pitching staff spun a shutout. Heath Fillmyer faced big rallies in a couple innings but tiptoed through five scoreless frames, and then the bullpen did the rest. Sam Bragg, Tyler Sturdevant, and Kyle Finnegan combined for 4 ip, 0 runs, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 2 hits.
Heath Fillmyer: 5 ip, 0 runs, 4 Ks, 3 BB, 3 hits, 84 pitches (49 strikes)
Midland will try to even the series up in Game 4. The starter hasn’t been announced yet,
but next in line should be Joel Seddon. The swingman came up big in the Division Series, leading the Hounds to a Game 5 victory. (Update: D’oh, forgot about Grant Holmes.)
Note on McCarthy starting: I’m personally not a fan of this move, because I think the Double-A players should be competing for the Double-A title. After watching our guys fight so hard to get to this point, it felt like seeing the other team use a video game cheat code.
Nothing in baseball means anything unless we take it at least minimally seriously. There has to be something sacred about a championship elimination game at any level, or else don’t bother having playoffs and giving out rings. McCarthy got some rehab in already and isn’t currently a part of any MLB postseason plans, so what’s the rush to get him one more outing? It seems to me he was the functional equivalent of a ringer, and that’s super lame. Fortunately, it didn’t end up mattering because Midland won anyway and is probably all the better off thanks to the experience.