On July 18th the K-Mets had lost back to back three game series at home series to lowly Princeton and Bristol, and the first game of a series against Burlington. Their hold on a playoff spot was tenuous with Elizabethtown and Johnson City in close pursuit. They would go on to win the next two against Burlington and then go 7-2 against the two playoff teams from the East, Bluefield and Pulaski. Closing out on a hot streak they managed to overtake Greeneville for the division title in the process.
The season series went to the Astros 6-5 with 7 of the games on the Astros home field. In late June the Astros swept the Mets in a three game series in Greeneville, while in July the Mets would win 3 of 4 in Kingsport. In early August they split 4 games in Greeneville,
The Astros batters lead the APL with 304 walks, 80 more than the Mets. As a result they lead the league in OBP with a low team batting average. (.237/ .339/ .337) They struck out the second fewest times in the league and do not feature much of a running game with 31S/28CS on the season. OF Tanner Mathis lead the league in OBP with a .425 mark thanks to league leading 44 walks to go with just 14 strikeouts and just 4 extra base hits. OF Marc Wik has a similar profile with 40 BB / 26 K / 6 XBH.
Kingsport fell 3 doubles shy of the league lead (despite Dom Smith's best efforts) which was the primary contributor to their second best SLG pct and OPS of .725 (.265 / .338/ .387). Jeff McNiel finished second in the league in BA, hitting .329/ .413/ .409 on the year. Jeff Diehl hit .266/. 320/ .411 as the Mets primary RF.
These two teams were best in the league at limiting base runners as the Astros 1.23 whip and the Mets 1.24 were top two. Both teams allowed 32 home runs. Astros LHP Jordan Mills (5-1, 2.08 ERA, 2 saves) has started and relieved and could be a key long or short reliever. Gonzalo Sanudo had struck out 30 and walked 1 over 21.1 IP on his way to 11 saves, but has been promoted to Tri-City. 17 of the Astros 22 saves have graduated to higher levels so closing out games could be a concern for them.
The Mets bullpen received quality seasons from RHP Ricardo Jacquez, Robert Coles, and Luis Rengel, who each posted an ERA below 2 and struck out a batter an inning or more. LHP Alberto Baldonado contributed 41 K in 29.2 IP. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 5 games, allowing just 5 hits and 2 walks over his last 11.1 IP. LHP Yoan Gonzalez could be an interesting weapon for the Mets. The Astros lineup includes 4 or more lefties on a regular basis, and while Gonzalez has not been particularly effecting against lefties, he did hold the Astros to 1 run over 3 IP in an appearance early in the season.
Game One is tonight at 7 PM. More on this game and the rest of tonight's affiliates in action coming at 5:00 - NW