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Baseball: Slammers pushing for big finish

Updated: September 20, 2014 6:19AM



Starting with Tuesday’s series opener against Rockford, Joliet plays 12 of its final 15 games at home, giving the Slammers a chance to boost their record and build the fan base.

“We want to win each series coming up,’’ Joliet manager Jeff Isom said. “We’ve had a long discussion with our players about that. We feel like we’ve got something to prove to the fans and prove to themselves.

“We’ve got to do some work here. I’ve told them, ‘At this point it’s turned into auditions for the 2015 season.’ We need to see guys improving, and a handful of guys who’ve been pretty good all year continue to play good baseball.’’

The Rockford series is followed by games Friday through Sunday against the Windy City ThunderBolts at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.

Then it’s three straight home series, vs. the Florence Freedom, Frontier Greys and Gateway Grizzlies, to end the Frontier League season. The final game is Sept. 4.

“We’ve got teams, besides Gateway, that are not in the playoff run,’’ Isom said. “We want to win these series. These are big series for everybody.’’

Another chance

Joliet pitcher Matt Costello said he was playing “in a pickup league at home back in Atlanta” when the Slammers signed him July 30 as a free agent.

In his first start for the Slammers, Costello earned the win Thursday with a six-inning, one-run effort against Lake Erie

“Hopefully, we can put together a respectable last 15 games, win 10 or so, finish with a respectable record,’’ Costello said.

“He’s an experienced guy,’’ Isom said of Costello. “You can call him a crafty veteran, a crafty lefty veteran. He can’t rely on his fastball — he’s mid 80s (mph), maybe upper 80s at times. He’s going to have to rely on off-speed pitches.’’

Down on the farm

Former Joliet left-hander Blair Walters has been impressive with high Class A Lynchburg (Virginia) since his contract was purchased last month by the Atlanta Braves.

Going into this week, Walters was 4-0 with a 2.79 ERA in five games. The 24-year-old former Houston Astros farmhand had allowed nine earned runs in 29 innings with 19 strikeouts and five walks.

Former Slammer Jake Sanchez is 8-1 with a 3.05 ERA with high Class A Stockton Ports (California) since he was traded in June by the White Sox to the Oakland A’s organization.

Sanchez had a 2.36 ERA in 26 innings last season with Joliet when the White Sox bought his contract.



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