Baseball: Slammers hope for good turn at home in second half of Frontier League season
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media July 14, 2014 9:28PM
The Slammers traded Marquis Riley to Southern Illinois in exchange for pitchers Matt Crim and David Kubiak. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 16, 2014 6:20AM
The second half of the season for the Joliet Slammers could be more about schedule than statistics.
Although the Slammers have struggled in the Frontier League West Division, 30 of their remaining 45 games are at home, where they have a winning record.
Can the Slammers take a favorable schedule that includes 10 of 15 series against losing teams and turn it into a dramatic run to the playoffs?
“Not that it gets any easier, but you look at the schedule from a standpoint of wins and losses, we’ve got the Frontier Greys, Windy City and Traverse City to finish up July,’’ Joliet manager Jeff Isom said. “We’ve got to win games, bottom line.’’
History and mathematics indicate that a 20-31 record at the All-Star break isn’t likely to blossom into a postseason berth, but the Slammers continue to make roster moves to try to strengthen an inconsistent pitching staff.
Marquis Riley, a 2013 All-Star and .300 hitter, was traded over the weekend to Southern Illinois for starting pitcher Matt Crim and reliever David Kubiak.
Crim, a 26-year-old left-hander, had a 4.42 ERA in six appearances this season with Southern Illinois.
The Slammers’ team ERA of 4.84 is next-to-last in the league, ahead only of the Frontier Greys (15-37) with a 5.41 ERA. Opponents are hitting .278 with a .411 slugging percentage against Joliet.
Joliet’s team batting average has climbed to .255, sixth in the league behind River City (.291), Normal (.288), Rockford (.266), Schaumburg (.261) and Evansville (.260).
Recently acquired rookie infielder Jake Gronsky is 7-for-16 (.438 average) in four games with the Slammers.
The Slammers’ attendance figures have improved from the past two seasons at Silver Cross Field.
Joliet climbed above the 2,000 mark per game a few weeks ago and is averaging 2,065 fans a game. The way Grant DeBruin sees it, the Slammers need to make a second-half run to keep filling the seats.
“If you’re not in position to go to the playoffs, fans don’t turn out,’’ Joliet’s All-Star third baseman said. “You always want to play in front of a crowd. That gets us pumped up, makes us want to play better when we have people in the stands.’’
Joliet was 22-29 at the 2013 All-Star break, two games better than this season, and finished 38-57.
Circle the date
The team’s second-half promotion calendar includes a Girl Scout & Family Sleepover on Saturday, Cancer Survivors Day on Sunday and Military Monday on July 21, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11.
A Back-to-School/Spikes’ Super Students event is scheduled for the Aug. 10 game against Southern Illinois.