Roughly a week ago, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans looked to be dead in the water, while the Charleston RiverDogs couldn’t seem to stop winning.
Fast-forward to the present, and the tables have turned.
The RiverDogs, the low-level Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, are still in playoff contention. But their recent seven-game losing streak brought them back to earth after winning nine of their first 13 games to start the second half of the South Atlantic League season.
Meanwhile, Myrtle Beach, the Chicago Cubs' Class A-Advanced club, has been trending in the right direction. The Pelicans won their sixth straight game on Tuesday, after starting the month with a 4-5 record. Now, they’re just five games back from a playoff spot in the Carolina League.
What went right?
The Pelicans are winning games at the plate and in the field.
Take their first game of the streak, when they won an 11-3 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers’ affiliate Carolina Mudcats.
In that game, Old Dominon alum P.J. Higgins posted four hits and three RBIs, including a sixth-inning home run.
Offense prevailed again on July 15, when Myrtle Beach won a 9-2 game over the Down East Wood Ducks, the Carolina League affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
In that outing, Dominican Republic native Aramis Ademan led the way with a couple of hits, runs, and RBIs, along with drawing a pair of walks.
The Birds pitching staff was equally potent two days earlier, when they secured a 3-2 victory over the Wood Ducks. Four pitchers took the mound, giving up just two runs while striking out 10 batters.
Despite their success, the Pelicans are still looking up at other teams ahead of them. But if they keep playing this way, they have a great chance to secure their third consecutive playoff berth.
What went wrong?
Down the coast, Charleston is also trying to get to the posteason for the third consecutive year.
It still looks promising, but the RiverDogs missed opportunities to separate themselves from the rest of the teams in the SAL's Southern Division.
Entering their recent seven-game homestand, Charleston was in first place, despite losing its last road game. However, the bad fortunes continued when they lost six of their seven games at Riley Park. They've now lost eight of their last nine.
Pitching has also been an issue for the RiverDogs. They gave up six or more runs in four of those losses, including an 11-6 loss on July 12 to the Delmarva Shorebirds.
The Charleston bats didn’t fare much better. The RiverDogs went scoreless twice during the streak and scored less than three runs on two other occasions.
Despite the skid, Charleston is still just two games back of the top spot with about six weeks to go. So it’s far from over. But righting the ship will be key if they hope to play into September, rather than sitting at home with the rest of us.