The Appalachian League playoff picture is developing slowly.
The Johnson City Cardinals lost 7-3 at home to Greeneville on Wednesday.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Cardinals fell to 35-31 and the Astros improved to 32-32.
West Division-leading Elizabethton (37-29) won 9-8 in 10 innings over Kingsport (33-33).
Johnson City holds head-to-head tiebreakers with Elizabethton and Kingsport, but not with Greeneville.
A win in either of Johnson City’s final two games would assure it a playoff berth, and Johnson City manager Johnny Rodriguez likes the Cardinals’ chances of doing so when they start right-hander Juan Perez (5-3, 3.04 ERA) on Thursday.
“He’s been one of our better guys all year long, so why not,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve gotta get it done tomorrow.”
The starting pitching was shaky Wednesday. Right-hander Julio Mateo (1-1) allowed six runs (three earned) and three home runs in 42?3 innings.
Greeneville’s Hector Roa and Randy Cesar hit back-to-back solo home runs with two outs to build a 4-1 lead in the top of the fourth. Jacob Nottingham made it 6-2 with a two-out home run on a 3-2 pitch in the top of the fifth.
“It got away from us early, you know … three home runs, six runs,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the tale of the game. … You’ve gotta keep the ball in the ballpark.
“Our offense had opportunities. We had bases loaded three times … and we couldn’t get the big hit to get us all the way back.”
Casey Turgeon’s RBI single loaded the bases while making the score 6-3 with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Gerardo Juarez then relieved Jorge Perez and struck out Jesus Ustariz before ending the inning by getting Jose Godoy to ground out 3-1 thanks to a difficult play by first baseman Bryan Muniz.
“They made a nice play on Godoy with the bases loaded in the seventh,” Rodriguez said. “If that gets through it’s 6-3 and it really changes the game.”
Muniz also went 4-for-5 at the plate.
“Our philosophy is play hard and, basically, like it’s your last game that you’re playing,” Greeneville manager Josh Bonifay said. “Try to play the game the right way and just try to play hard. … We did a really good tonight with two outs. We made pretty good swings on pitches. …
“Juarez came in and did a tremendous job in the seventh, getting a strikeout and 3-U, which Muniz made a hell of a play diving and then coming over.”
Agapito Barrios (5-1) allowed one run in five innings for the victory.
Chris Rivera was 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI for Johnson City.
Game two of the series is tonight at 7.comments powered by Disqus