Road to the Governors’ Cup Begins Tonight…
WED: CHA LHP Charlie Leesman (12-10, 2.47)
@ IND RHP Rick VandenHurk (13-5, 2.95)
Charlotte Starter: The Knights will hand the ball to 2012 IL All-Star LHP Charlie Leesman (12-10, 2.47) in game one tonight. The Cincinnati, OH native finished second in the IL in ERA (2.47) and tied for third in the league in wins (12). Leesman also fared very well against the Indians this season. The 25-year-old southpaw went 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts against the Tribe this season. His win came on August 7 at Victory Field after tossing five innings of just one run ball. He was effective in his first outing against the club as well. On June 17 at Knights Stadium, Leesman allowed just one run on five hits over seven innings, but did not factor in the decision. Leesman struck out nine Indians that day, and the Knighs ended up losing the game by a score of 2-1. More information on Leesman can be found on page five of today’s notes.
Indianapolis Starter: As for the Indians, they will hand the ball to RHP Rick VandenHurk (13-5, 2.92) in game one. VandenHurk, a native of the Netherlands, won his first eight decisions of the season with Indianapolis and has been a key contributor to the club’s success. He is a tough pitcher at home, going 8-2 with a 2.53 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) at Victory Field this season. VandenHurk did not face the Knights this season, but he has faced the club before. Last season, as a member of the Norfolk Tides, VandenHurk went 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts. He struck-out 20 batters over 15 innings with the Tides over those three games. He has faced three of Charlotte’s current hitters in the past:
Tommy Manzella 0-6 (2009) with Round Rock
Drew Garcia 0-4, 2 SO (2011) with Charlotte
Greg Golson 0-3 (2011) with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
SERIES INFO: The Charlotte Knights and Indianapolis Indians will battle in a best-of-five first round playoff as both teams look to take home a Governors’ Cup. Both teams battled eighttimes already this season, with the Knights holding the season edge after winning five of the eight games. Victory Field in Indianapolis will host games one and two and the Knights went 3-1 there this season. Charlotte went just 1-3 there last year. Overall, last season, the Knights went 3-5 against the Indians. Charlotte is 43-30 all-time at Victory Field.
Vs. Indians in 2012: As a team, the Knights hit .238 with two home runs and 30 RBIs in eight games against Indianapolis this year. Only five of the 16 position players that received an at-bat against the Indians are on the current Charlotte team. Two of those players have fared extremely well, however. Both Greg Golson and Drew Garcia put up solid numbers. Golson hit .364 (12-33) with seven runs scored, three doubles, one triple and seven RBIs against the Indians in eight games. Garcia hit .300 (6-20) with three runs scored, three doubles, and two RBIs over six games.
Pitching is Key: Charlotte and Indianapolis ended the season with a tie for the top team ERA in the IL with a 3.15 mark. The Indians staff struck out 1,123, while Charlotte’s fanned 1,111.
Indiana’s Mr. Baseball: Indiana native Josh Phegley returns home to face the Indianapolis Indians for games one and two. Named Indiana’s Mr. Baseball in 2006 by the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association, Phegley was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection as a member of Indiana University’s baseball team during his Junior season. The Terre Haute, IN native enjoyed a solid month of August. He hit .304 with five of his six home runs in August. He also had 15 RBIs and 11 runs scored. Phegley will look to continue his hot-streak and look to break-out against his hometown foes. In seven games against the Indians this season, Phegley hit just .185 (5-27). In six games last season, he hit .150 (3-20) with two RBIs.
Second For Skins: Knights manager Joel Skinner led the Knights to an IL Division crown. It is his second IL Division crown as a manager. Skinner led the Buffalo Bisons to an IL North Division crown in 2000 – 12 years ago.
Elusive 80!: The Charlotte Knights earned win #80 on Monday, August 27 – just the third time in Knights franchise history that the club topped 80 wins. On Monday, September 3, the club won #83 on the final day of the regular season. The 83 wins surpassed the 1999 club that went 82-62. Only the 1993, which went 86-55, has won more games in a single-season. Both 80-win teams went on to win the Governors’ Cup. The 1993 team was led by manager Charlie Manuel and the 1999 team was led by Tom Spencer.
Last Playoff Win: Charlotte’s last playoff appearance was in 2006 and they were bounced out in the first round by Toledo, who went on to win three games to one. Charlotte’s last playoff win and only win of that series was on September 6 when they beat the Mud Hens 5-0. RHP Tim Redding was the winning pitcher of the game for the Knights. Toledo went on to win the Governors’ Cup that season.
Coincidence? The last playoff appearance for the Indians also came in 2006, however they did not win a game. The Indians had a one game “Play-In” on September 5 and lost to Toledo 4-0. The Indians last won a Governors’ Cup in 2000 under the helm of Steve Smith.
How ‘Bout a Reunion? Dallas McPherson played most of the season with the Knights but he was released by the Chicago White Sox on August 2nd. He has hit .299 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 20 games with Indianapolis. McPherson had 12 homers and 47 RBI this season for Charlotte and hit .283 last season for the Knights with 20 long balls and 69 RBI.