Pirates minor league report: Playoff fever strikes West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — While Pittsburgh is catching pennant fever, the same feeling — but to a lesser degree — is surrounding the clubhouse at Class A-affiliate West Virginia.
Entering play Saturday night, the Power had a second-half mark of 30-16, good for a 3 1⁄2-game lead in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division.
Each division winner from both halves makes the postseason.
Power manager Mike Ryan believes that being in the thick of a playoff chase is helping his team surge through the wear and tear of a 140-game schedule, the longest season many of the Power's players have experienced.
“These games meaning something has really helped as far as putting aside the fatigue feeling because there's excitement and you've got some adrenaline,” Ryan said. “Sometimes that limits the tiredness feeling. It's a good situation to be in.”
It's not just that the Power are sitting atop their division. They're doing it in style.
Much like the Pirates have defended their home turf (41-20 at PNC Park), West Virginia is doing the same. With a 5-4 win over Lakewood last Sunday, the Power extended their home win streak to 13 games, a team record.
After starting July by losing their first six games, the Power have gone 24-9 to surge to the top of the standings.
“It was just a matter of time,” Power third baseman Eric Wood said. “We have so much talent, it was just a matter of time before we started performing. And now it's all coming together.”
The home win streak record isn't the only one that has fallen recently.
In Wednesday's start at Delmarva, Tyler Glasnow's 12 strikeouts gave him 140 for the year, breaking the team's single-season strikeout mark of 135 by Will Inman in 2006.
But aside from those 12 punch-outs, Glasnow's evening was pretty forgettable, after three singles and a home run in the first inning allowed Delmarva to jump out to a 4-0 lead en route to a 7-1 win.
His six hits and four runs allowed in five innings were the most he has surrendered in his past 10 starts.
Left-hander Tom Harlan picked up the first save of his professional career in a 9-7 win over Delmarva on Monday after entering with two outs and the tying run at the plate.
Also in Monday's game, right-handed shortstop Chris Diaz smacked his first home run of the season and just the second of his career. His only other came in a game at Batavia on Aug. 7, 2012.
Ryan Pritt is a freelance writer.