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Game #135 Preview – Dash at Frederick

Game #135 – Road Game #65
Winston-Salem Dash (42-22, 72-62) at Frederick Keys (31-35, 63-73)
Friday, September 4 – 7 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (Frederick, Md.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

The Dash wrapped up the Southern Division’s second-half championship with their 5-0 victory on Thursday at Wilmington. Winston-Salem begins the second leg of this regular season-ending road trip on Friday in Frederick.

Brandon Brennan makes his final regular season start on Friday at Frederick (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Brandon Brennan makes his final regular season start on Friday at Frederick (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Omar Narvaez – C
Michael Danner – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
T.J. Williams – DH
Brandon Brennan – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • On Thursday in Wilmington, Carson Fulmer struck out four in three frames. Brian Clark scattered five hits over his five shutout innings before Jake Cose submitted a perfect ninth. The Dash recorded their 14th shutout win of 2015, which trails only Potomac (15) in the Carolina League.
  • Not only did Winston-Salem earn its first division crown since the second half of the 2012 season, but the Dash have guaranteed that Game 1 of the Southern Division Championship Series will take place at BB&T Ballpark. This contest will start at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday before the best-of-three series shifts to Myrtle Beach on Thursday and Friday (both 7:05 p.m. starts).
  • Since becoming a charter member of the CL in 1945, Winston has qualified for the postseason 27 times. The franchise owns an even record in the playoffs (57-57), and it boasts more Mills Cups (11) than any other team in league history. The club’s last CL title came in 2003 as the Warthogs. This marks the fourth playoff journey for the club in the Dash era (2009-present).
  • For the first time since becoming the Dash, Winston-Salem has amassed seven sweeps in one half. The previous record was six, set in the first half of 2010 and matched in half one two years later. If the Dash snag at least two wins in this regular season-ending set at Frederick, they would post the best winning percentage in one half in Dash history.
  • Outfielder Nolan Earley has hit safely in six straight games and 12 of his last 15. In those 15 contests, the Anderson, Ind., native owns a .358 average (19-for-53) with 12 RBIs. Earley has logged two hits in three games in a row and five of his last eight. Since August 1, Earley is a .345 hitter after posting a .172 mark in July.
  • Winston-Salem’s bullpen has strung together 16 consecutive scoreless innings, all of which have come on this road trip. The Dash’s ‘pen amassed all three wins in the sweep of the Blue Rocks.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Friday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn App. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 7 p.m. from Maryland.

– Brian

Game #134 Preview – Dash at Wilmington

Game #134 – Road Game #64
Winston-Salem Dash (41-22, 71-62) at Wilmington Blue Rocks (22-41, 60-73)
Thursday, September 3 – 6:35 p.m.
Daniel S. Frawley Stadium (Wilmington, Del.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

The Dash and Wilmington Blue Rocks meet for the final time in the regular season on Thursday at 6:35 p.m., with Winston eyeing a series sweep. With a win and a Myrtle Beach loss, Winston-Salem would clinch its first Southern Division championship since the second half of the 2012 season.

Euclides Leyer tossed three perfect innings en route to a victory on Wednesday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Euclides Leyer tossed three perfect innings en route to a victory on Wednesday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Eddy Alvarez – SS
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Nolan Earley – RF
Brett Austin – C
T.J. Williams – DH
Carson Fulmer – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Three Winston-Salem hurlers combined to allow just one run on six hits in the Dash’s 2-1, 11-inning victory at Wilmington on Wednesday night. Spencer Adams tossed a career high-tying seven innings and gave up the Blue Rocks’ lone run. Euclides Leyer logged three perfect frames and whiffed five, including the first four he faced. Brad Goldberg collected his team-high 10th save by stranding a man at second in the 11th. He had a chance to lock down the save thanks to Adam Engel’s go-ahead RBI single in the top of the frame.
  • Both first-place Winston-Salem and second-place Myrtle Beach earned narrow victories, with the latter of the two nipping Potomac 4-2. Thus, the Dash’s division magic number dropped to two with five days left in the regular season. Winston-Salem leads Myrtle Beach by four games for the top spot in the second-half standings. If the Dash can earn the division crown, BB&T Ballpark would host Game 1 of the Southern Division Championship Series on Wednesday, September 9, at 6:30 p.m.
  • With a win Thursday, the Dash would clinch their seventh sweep of the second half. In the Dash era (2009-present), Winston-Salem has never amassed seven sweeps in a single half. This marks the third time that Winston has used the broom six times, joining the first half of the 2010 and 2012 seasons. Both of those clubs advanced to the Mills Cup Championship Series.
  • Not only can Winston-Salem make some history on Thursday, but the club has a chance to finish the best half in the Dash era. Winston boasts a 41-22 record, which calculates to a .651 winning percentage. Winston-Salem has clinched the fourth half in the Dash era with a winning percentage better than .600. They can post the best of the Dash era with three wins in their final five contests.
  • Following Thursday’s finale in Wilmington, the Dash head to Frederick for a four-game set to wrap up the regular season. Winston took three of four from the Keys at BB&T Ballpark last weekend. The Keys, who have been eliminated from the playoff picture, have claimed six of the first 10 meetings with the Dash at Nymeo Field.
  • Righty Frankie Montas, who pitched in Winston-Salem last year, made his MLB debut and twirled a perfect ninth for the White Sox on Wednesday in Minnesota.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Thursday’s game will be broadcast on 600 AM-WSJS and wsjs.com, along with the TuneIn App. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:20 p.m., with the first pitch at 6:35 p.m.

– Brian

Instead of choosing between dreams, Eddy Alvarez is living both

The North Carolina sun doesn’t as much shine as it does roast the landscape beneath. It’s another scorching August day in Winston-Salem, getting warmer and warmer as if somebody left the microwave on. But there’s Eddy Alvarez at home plate, early to the ballpark, taking some swings from the right side. He finishes those, grabs a new bat, morphs into a new stance and practices from the left side.

Alvarez may already have an Olympic silver medal, but he’d do just about anything to walk into a Major League clubhouse and see his name on a jersey hanging from a locker.

Baseball America calculates the chances of a signed draft pick making the majors at about 17 percent, meaning the odds are stacked against even the most talented of draftees. But what about for the 25-year-old Alvarez, who gave up baseball twice to pursue his Olympic dream of speed skating? And at what cost is a dream too expensive to believe in anymore?

(Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Eddy Alvarez quit baseball twice to focus on speed skating, but returned to the diamond in 2014. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

“It’s the dream I had since I was a little kid,” said Alvarez. “It was always to be an Olympic speed skater and a professional baseball player – And when I say professional baseball player, I mean make the big leagues.

“I don’t want that what-if factor. I’m one of those people that develop late, so what if these are my peak years in baseball? I would never know unless I put myself out there, and if I fail, I fail. But I’m definitely going to put in 100 percent, all my mind, my spirit, my soul into this game.”

Alvarez’s word should be taken seriously. After passing on a baseball scholarship to St. Thomas University (Fla.) following high school, Alvarez competed in the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships, winning a gold medal in 2009. However, he narrowly missed competing in the 2010 Olympics, and in an effort to give his ailing knees a rest, returned to baseball.

Even though he had not played baseball since graduating high school in 2008, the Miami, Fla., native immediately regained his timing, performing at an all-conference level in 2011 for Salt Lake Community College (Utah). Alvarez batted .311/.390/.478 with 16 doubles, two home runs and 46 RBIs in 63 games.

The switch to baseball, however, did not help his knees, and he underwent surgery in early 2012 to repair torn patellar tendons. Undeterred despite being immobile following the surgery for four weeks, Alvarez jumped into physical therapy, working his way back towards full strength. Less than a year after the surgery, Alvarez made the United States’ speed skating World Cup Team in December 2012. In 2014, he became the first Cuban-American male speed skater to make a U.S. Olympic team.

“It was an absolute honor,” Alvarez said. “I worked very hard for that moment and it really hit me when I was able to walk the Opening Ceremonies in the very front of the line.”

Eddy Alvarez won a silver medial in speed skating in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. (NBC6 South Florida)

Eddy Alvarez won a silver medial in speed skating in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. (NBC6 Miami)

Alvarez did more than just lead the U.S. at the Opening Ceremonies in Sochi; he won a silver medal in the 5,000 meter relay.

“It was such a relief because all I could think about on the podium was the amount of struggle I went through with all my injuries and my career switch and all the sacrifices my parents made,” said Alvarez. “It made it worth it.”

With the silver medal around his neck, Alvarez still has a piece of unfinished business: The dream of playing in the major leagues.

“In skating, I knew that 2014 was going to be it for me, Alvarez said. “I had my heart set on trying baseball again after.”

Alvarez signed with the Chicago White Sox in June of 2014 and again seemed to immediately have his timing down. With the Rookie-Level Arizona League White Sox and Low-A Kannapolis Intimidators, Alvarez raked to a .346/.433/.500 tune, smacking five home runs to go along with 26 RBIs, 32 runs scored and 34 stolen bases in 45 games.

However, picking up baseball again after three years was not nearly as easy as the numbers made it appear. The rigors of speed skating demanded that Alvarez train his lower body constantly for years, neglecting the upper body to keep weight off. Upon his return to baseball, Alvarez struggled at first to regain his old bat speed. Looking for an edge, he turned to his older brother Nick, who played in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization from 2000 through 2006, reaching as high as Double-A. Nick has helped reinforce Eddy’s dream.

“He’s awesome to have,” said Eddy. “He has seven years of minor league experience so I’m just kind of picking his brain, (seeing) how each level is and what I should expect in certain situations.”

Eddy has taken his play to another level this season, splitting the campaign between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. His 51 steals rank fifth in all of Minor League Baseball, a skill he credits to his time in speed skating.

(Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Eddy Alvarez start switch-hitting until his second go-around in baseball. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

“It’s just watching the game, watching for certain signs, what the catcher might do, what he might not do. (It’s the) same with the pitcher, if he sometimes quick pitches or whatnot,” Alvarez said. ” You’ve got to be up-to-date on what your opponent is doing. That’s something I also did in skating very well when it came to strategy in skating. It’s just a matter of watching and learning and seizing the opportunity.”

In order to have many opportunities to swipe bases, Alvarez has had to get on base often. He credits his mental hitting approach to his brother and stolen base prowess to speed skating. However, he can tally his ability to mash against both righties and lefties because of a willingness to listen and change. Prior to his second go-around in baseball at St. Thomas, Alvarez had hit strictly left-handed. However, at the suggestion of the coaching staff at St. Thomas, Alvarez gave switch-hitting a try.

The adjustment has proven to be invaluable. In 2015, Alvarez has batted .247/.430/.340 against righties, increasing that output to .294/.464/.437 against southpaws. It’s led to a combined .296/.414/.426 line this year.

“My college coach was like, ‘You ever thought of switch hitting,’ and I was like, ‘You know, I thought about it but I never really tried it,'” said Alvarez. “So that whole year I tried switch-hitting. And last year was my second year switch-hitting and this is my third year switch-hitting. You have two sides of the brain, everything works differently, it’s like two different people hitting. ”

Part of the reason switch-hitting may feel like two different styles to Alvarez is that, to him, it is. From the left side, he uses a black bat that he holds far away from his body, arms extended with the barrel pointed towards the sky blue canopy above. However, as a right-hand batter, Alvarez uses a different natural wood-colored bat, wrapping it around his back right shoulder.

Eddy Alvarez used a different bat from each side of the plate. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Eddy Alvarez used a different bat from each side of the plate. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

The two different stances evolved out of trying to be comfortable at each side of the plate. However, while Alvarez may look different prior to the pitch, the ball in flight to home plate shows two things: the same exact approach and swing path.

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you why, I just fell into different stances and that’s where I feel the most comfortable,”  Alvarez said. “I still have the same approach (from both sides).”

Back at the ballpark, the sun starts to set in the North Carolina sky. The air is a tad cooler now, yet still relatively thick as fans stroll inside. Early work led right into batting practice, and now Alvarez is preparing for another game. It’s just one in a 140-game slog to the finish line of a long season, but who knows what impact it might have in continuing to climb higher in the White Sox system? One hit, one ground ball could make all the difference in improbably making a dream a reality.

At what price is a dream too expensive? A boy gets a wiffleball bat at three-year-old, goes roller skating at five, then dreams of playing in the Major Leagues and competing in the Olympics. Eddy Alvarez already has the silver medal. Can he live out the second dream?

– Scott

Game #133 Preview – Dash at Wilmington

Game #133 – Road Game #63
Winston-Salem Dash (40-22, 70-62) at Wilmington Blue Rocks (22-40, 60-72)
Wednesday, September 2 – 6:35 p.m.
Daniel S. Frawley Stadium (Wilmington, Del.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

The Dash lowered their division magic number to three thanks to Tuesday’s 7-3 win over Wilmington and Myrtle Beach’s 4-3 loss at Potomac. Winston-Salem can creep closer to a Southern Division second-half crown with another win Wednesday night.

Omar Narvaez matched a career-high with four hits in Tuesday's win (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Omar Narvaez matched a career-high with four hits in Tuesday’s win (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Eddy Alvarez – SS
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Omar Narvaez – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Michael Danner – DH
Spencer Adams – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Shortly after the Dash-Blue Rocks game was over, a four-run ninth-inning rally from Potomac stunned second-place Myrtle Beach, which dropped the number to three. Winston-Salem leads Myrtle Beach by four games for the top spot in the second-half standings. If the Dash can earn the division crown, BB&T Ballpark would host Game 1 of the Southern Division Championship Series a week from Wednesday (September 9) at 6:30 p.m.
  • The Dash recorded their highest single-game hit total in almost a month (16, August 9 vs. Salem). Before Tuesday’s 14-hit explosion, the Dash had only averaged 6.9 hits per game at Frawley Stadium this year, and Winston-Salem had not surpassed eight in any one matchup.
  • Omar Narvaez led the charge with four knocks, matching a career-high and a season-best by a Dash hitter. The owner of the CL’s ninth-best average (.274), Narvaez was 2-for-27 (.074) in his previous eight games before Tuesday’s 4-for-5 showing.
  • For the fourth time in the Dash era (2009-present), Winston-Salem has won 40 or more games in one half. This immediately follows the worst half in Dash history, the 30-40 start to the season. Winston is the first Carolina League team since 2008 to bounce back from 40 or more losses in the first half to win 40 or more in half two.
  • Winston-Salem sends righty Spencer Adams, the White Sox fourth-best prospect according to MLB.com, to the bump Wednesday. Adams, who will make his first High-A road start, has whiffed four in each of his first three outings with the Dash. In his last start, the 19-year-old stranded seven Keys over six innings en route to a win.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Wednesday’s game will be broadcast online at wsdash.com/broadcast, along with the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:20 p.m., with the first pitch at 6:35 p.m.

– Brian

Game #132 Preview – Dash at Wilmington

Game #132 – Road Game #62
Winston-Salem Dash (39-22, 69-62) at Wilmington Blue Rocks (22-39, 60-71)
Tuesday, September 1 – 6:35 p.m.
Daniel S. Frawley Stadium (Wilmington, Del.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

The Dash complete the regular season with a week-long road trip to Wilmington and Frederick. Winston-Salem has a magic number of five to clinch the Southern Division’s second-half title.

Jordan Guerrero has returned from the disabled list and will start Tuesday's opener (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Jordan Guerrero has returned from the disabled list and will start Tuesday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Eddy Alvarez – SS
Keon Barnum – 1B
Omar Narvaez – C
Nick Basto – 3B
Nolan Earley – RF
Michael Danner – LF
Cleuluis Rondon – 2B
T.J. Williams – DH
Jordan Guerrero – LHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Even though the Dash dropped Sunday’s regular season finale, they still finished 39-31 at BB&T Ballpark this year. In the six-year existence of the downtown facility, Winston-Salem has won 39 or more games in a season four times. The Dash boast an all-time record of 244-176 (.581) at BB&T Ballpark, which is the best in the Carolina League since 2010. Winston-Salem had won seven consecutive home games, tied for the third-longest run in the BB&T Ballpark era, prior to Sunday’s one-run defeat.
  • Winston-Salem punched its postseason ticket on Saturday, but the Dash still have a potential division title riding on this season-ending road trip. Winston leads Myrtle Beach by three games for the top spot in the second-half standings. Thus, the Dash have a magic number of five to clinch the division crown. If Winston-Salem can accomplish this, BB&T Ballpark would host Game 1 of the Southern Division Championship Series on September 9.
  • For the first time since 2012, the Dash have qualified for the Carolina League Playoffs. Since becoming a charter member of the CL in 1945, Winston-Salem has reached the postseason 27 times. The franchise owns an even record in the playoffs (57-57), and it boasts more Mills Cups (11) than any other team in league history.
  • Before Sunday, Yency Almonte had not whiffed more than seven in a professional outing. In his sixth High-A outing, Almonte punched out 12 of the 18 Keys he retired. As a result, he fell one strikeout shy of the Dash-era record of 13, owned by J.B. Wendelken (July 30, 2014, vs. Frederick). Wendelken pitched one more inning (7) on his 13-strikeout day than Almonte did Sunday. In all, Dash hurlers struck out a season-high 15 Keys.
  • The Dash are one win away from hitting 40 for the second half. If they accomplish this feat, the Dash would become the first Carolina League unit to follow up a 40-loss first half with a 40-win second half since 2008, when Winston-Salem (then the Warthogs) pulled it off (29-40 to 42-28). Winston also turned the trick in 2004 (29-41 to 45-25). The last CL unit not in the Triad to go from 40 losses to 40 wins was the Prince William Cannons (now Potomac) in 1998.
  • Jordan Guerrero has been activated from the disabled list and will start Tuesday night. Guerrero is 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA (7 ER in 41.0 IP) over his last six starts.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast online at wsdash.com/broadcast, along with the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:20 p.m., with the first pitch at 6:35 p.m.

– Brian

Game #131 Preview – Dash vs. Frederick

Game #131 – Home Game #70
Winston-Salem Dash (39-21, 69-61) vs. Frederick Keys (29-33, 61-71)
Sunday, August 30 – 2 p.m.
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Adam Engel slammed a leadoff homer and Brandon Brennan and Brian Clark combined to shut out Frederick Saturday in Winston-Salem’s 4-0 playoff-clinching victory. The Dash vie for their seventh sweep of the second half on Sunday.

Adam Engel's leadoff home run Saturday set the tone for the Dash's playoff-clinching victory. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Adam Engel’s leadoff home run Saturday set the tone for the Dash’s playoff-clinching victory. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Eddy Alvarez – SS
Jake Peter – DH
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Brett Austin – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Michael Danner – LF
Cleuluis Rondon – 2B
T.J. Williams – 1B
Yency Almonte – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • For the first time since 2012, the Dash have qualified for the Carolina League Playoffs. Since becoming a charter member of the CL in 1945, Winston-Salem has now reached the postseason 27 times. The franchise owns an even record in the playoffs (57-57), and it boasts more Mills Cups (11) than any other team in league history. The Dash will square off with Myrtle Beach in the best-of-three Southern Division Championship Series, which will begin September 9.
  • The only order of business left to be decided is where Game 1 of the SDCS will take place. For that game to take place at BB&T Ballpark, Winston-Salem must win the Southern Division’s second-half title. The Dash lead future playoff foe Myrtle Beach by 3.5 games, which means the division magic number is five. However, if the Pelicans rally to claim their fourth straight division title, all three potential SDCS games would take place in Myrtle Beach.
  • Since BB&T Ballpark opened in 2010, the Dash boast a 244-175 (.582) home record, which is the best in the Carolina League during this span. However, Saturday night marked the first time that Winston-Salem has locked up a playoff spot at BB&T Ballpark. In all, the Dash have rattled off seven straight home wins since August 20, which is tied for the third-longest in the BB&T Ballpark era (best: nine, August 2-25, 2012).
  • The Dash are one win away from hitting 40 for the second half. If they accomplish this feat, the Dash would become the first Carolina League unit to follow up a 40-loss first half with a 40-win second half since 2008, when Winston-Salem (then the Warthogs) pulled it off (29-40 to 42-28). Winston also turned the trick in 2004 (29-41 to 45-25). The last CL unit not in the Triad to go from 40 losses to 40 wins was the Prince William Cannons (now Potomac) in 1998.
  • With a win Sunday, the Dash would clinch their seventh sweep since the All-Star break, which would be the most in a single half in the Dash era (2009-present).
  • Winston has now won 39 or more home games in four of its six seasons at BB&T Ballpark.
  • The Dash finish the regular slate with a seven-game road trip (3 at WIL, 4 at FRE).

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Sunday’s game will be available on WMYV-TV (My 48) in the Winston-Salem area. A full channel guide is available here. on wsdash.com/broadcast, along with the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 1:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 2 p.m.

– Scott

Postgame audio – Saturday’s clinch

Playoff Social MediaThe Dash have clinched a playoff spot thanks to their 4-0 win over Frederick on Saturday night. Winston-Salem will meet Myrtle Beach in the Southern Division Championship Series, which will take place September 9-11.

Here is some postgame audio from manager Tim Esmay and outfielder Adam Engel, along with the final play-by-play call on the Dash Baseball Network:

– Brian

Game #130 Preview – Dash vs. Frederick

Game #130 – Home Game #69
Winston-Salem Dash (38-21, 68-61) vs. Frederick Keys (29-32, 61-70)
Saturday, August 29 – 6:30 p.m.
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Carson Fulmer and Jake Cose each fired three scoreless frames Friday to propel the Dash to a 6-3 victory. With a win and a Carolina loss on Saturday, Winston-Salem can punch its first playoff ticket since 2012.

Carson Fulmer has allowed just one run in his last 12 innings. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Carson Fulmer has allowed just one run in his last 12 innings. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Omar Narvaez – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Michael Danner – DH
Brandon Brennan – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • With nine games remaining on the schedule, the Dash own a magic number of two to clinch a postseason spot for the first time since 2012. As a result, Winston-Salem can clinch a playoff spot on Saturday with a win over Frederick and a Carolina loss at home against Lynchburg. The Mudcats have lost back-to-back games to the Hillcats and are now seven games behind the Dash for the final Southern Division playoff spot.
  • Since BB&T Ballpark opened in 2010, the Dash boast a 243-175 (.581) home record, which is the best in the Carolina League during this span. However, the Dash have never guaranteed themselves a playoff spot at BB&T Ballpark. In 2010, Winston officially clinched a postseason berth while riding the bus back to the Triad after a series at Wilmington. Two years later, the Dash clinched the division on the second-to-last day of the first half with a win at Wilmington.
  • The Dash also have a division title on their radar, and their magic number is down to six. Winston-Salem increased its lead on Myrtle Beach in the race for first place to 3.5 games thanks to the Dash’s win and the Pelicans’ 3-2 loss at home to Wilmington. If the Dash clinch the division crown, Winston-Salem would host Game 1 of next month’s Southern Division Championship Series. If the Pelicans rally to claim their fourth straight division title, all three potential SDCS games would be at Myrtle Beach.
  • Right-hander Matt Heidenreich, who pitched for the Dash for most of the 2015 season, has won the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Year award, the CL office announced Saturday. Heidenreich becomes the first Winston-Salem hurler to earn the circuit’s top pitching honor since 1986. Heidenreich still leads the Carolina League with 12 victories. The Coronado, Calif., native also places in the top five on the circuit in earned run average (2.76, 3rd), WHIP (1.16, 4th) and opponent batting average (.254, 5th).
  • The Carolina League released its Year-End All-Star roster on Saturday, and a league-leading five Winston-Salem players made the team: right-hander Matt Heidenreich, outfielder Adam Engel, catcher Omar Narvaez and infielders Jake Peter and Trey Michalczewski.
  • The Dash are two wins away from hitting 40 for the second half. If they accomplish this feat, the Dash would become the first Carolina League unit to follow up a 40-loss first half with a 40-win second half since 2008, when Winston-Salem (then the Warthogs) pulled it off (29-40 to 42-28). Winston also turned the trick in 2004 (29-41 to 45-25). The last CL unit not in the Triad to go from 40 losses to 40 wins was the Prince William Cannons (now Potomac) in 1998.
  • During his six-game hitting streak, Michael Danner is hitting .474 (9-for-19).
  • On Friday, the Dash moved to 29-13 (.690) in second-half games decided by three runs or less. This includes a 15-2 (.882) mark in one-run tilts.
  • Engel (62) and Eddy Alvarez (51) are third and tied for sixth, respectively, in MiLB in steals.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Saturday’s game will be available on wsdash.com/broadcast, along with the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:15 p.m., with the first pitch at 6:30 p.m.

– Scott

Game #129 Preview – Dash vs. Frederick

Game #129 – Home Game #68
Winston-Salem Dash (37-21, 67-61) vs. Frederick Keys (29-31, 61-69)
Friday, August 28 – 7 p.m.
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Spencer Adams twirled six innings of two-run ball, and Trey Michalczewski and Michael Danner each contributed two-run doubles to lead the Dash to a 5-4 series-opening victory on Thursday over Frederick. Winston-Salem heads into action Friday with a magic number of four to earn their first playoff berth since 2012.

Trey Michalczewski slammed a two-run double in Thursday's 5-4 win. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Trey Michalczewski slammed a two-run double in Thursday’s 5-4 win. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Brett Austin – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Michael Danner – DH
Carson Fulmer – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • With 10 games remaining on the schedule, the Dash own a magic number of four to clinch a postseason spot for the first time since 2012. Any combination of Dash victories or Carolina losses that equals four would punch Winston-Salem’s ticket to the postseason. The Mudcats, who are six games back of Winston-Salem in the second-half standings, dropped an 8-2 home tilt to Lynchburg, who scored seven in the ninth.
  • The Dash also have a division title on their radar, and their magic number is down to eight. Winston-Salem increased its lead on Myrtle Beach in the race for first place to 2.5 games thanks to the Dash’s win and the Pelicans’ 3-2 loss at home to Wilmington. If the Dash clinch the division crown, Winston-Salem would host Game 1 of next month’s Southern Division Championship Series. If the Pelicans rally to claim their fourth straight division title, all three potential SDCS games would be at Myrtle Beach.
  • The Dash are three wins away from hitting 40 for the second half. If they accomplish this feat, the Dash would become the first Carolina League unit to follow up a 40-loss first half with a 40-win second half since 2008, when Winston-Salem (then the Warthogs) pulled it off (29-40 to 42-28).
  • With the Dash closing in on a postseason berth, righty Carson Fulmer, the White Sox first-round pick in June’s MLB Draft, will take to the hill for his seventh High-A and eighth professional start. Fulmer has worked exactly three innings in each of his last four outings, and the former Vanderbilt star has permitted just two runs on four hits combined in those outings. When Fulmer takes to the hill, Winston-Salem boasts a 6-0 record.
  • Thanks to Thursday’s 5-4 win, Winston-Salem moved to a remarkable 15-2 in one-run games during the second half. Overall, the club’s mark in one-run contests is 22-13 (.629), which is the third-best mark in High-A. Only Palm Beach (27-13, .675) and Daytona (27-14, .659) of the Florida State League have a better such record. Since the All-Star break, Winston-Salem is 29-13 (.690) in games decided by three runs or less.
  • With his two-inning save on Thursday, Brad Goldberg assumed the team lead in saves with nine, one more than now-Birmingham righty Peter Tago. Michalczewski became the third Carolina Leaguer to 70 RBIs. He is tied with Lynchburg’s Clint Frazier for the most RBIs among active CL hitters. Adam Engel ripped off his 60th stolen base, which places him third in all of Minor League Baseball.
  • Infielder Eddy Alvarez, who is tied for fifth in the Minors with 51 stolen bases, will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury suffered Monday at Myrtle Beach.
  • During his five-game hitting streak, Michael Danner boasts a .533 average (8-for-15) with four RBIs, including two on Thursday night.
  • Winston-Salem improved to 6-8 against the Keys this season. That mark still represents Winston’s worst against a team in the CL in 2015. In fact, only the Keys and Nationals have a winning record against the Dash this year. The Dash finished 6-7 against the P-Nats.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Friday’s game will be available on wsdash.com/broadcast, along with the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 7 p.m.

– Scott

Game #128 Preview – Dash vs. Frederick

Game #128 – Home Game #67
Winston-Salem Dash (36-21, 66-61) vs. Frederick Keys (29-30, 61-68)
Thursday, August 27 – 7 p.m.
Debbie D. Harllee Ballpark (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

After Wednesday’s series finale between Winston-Salem and Myrtle Beach was cancelled, the Dash begin their final homestand of the regular season on Thursday against Frederick.

Keon Barnum's 64 RBIs rank in a tie for the fourth-most in the Carolina League. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Keon Barnum’s 64 RBIs rank in a tie for the fourth-most in the Carolina League. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Brett Austin – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Michael Danner – DH
Spencer Adams – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Even though the Dash did not play Wednesday, they still saw their magic number decrease from eight to six. The cancellation prompted a dip because it was the Dash’s second and both Winston-Salem and Carolina, the other team still in contention for the final Southern Division playoff spot, have clinched winning records in the second half. Also, the Mudcats dropped a 5-0 decision at home to Wilmington. Thus, any combination of Dash wins or Mudcats losses that equals six would give Winston its first playoff berth since 2012 and its fourth in the Dash era.
  • Not only do the Dash possess a five-game advantage on Carolina, but they also enjoy a 1.5-game lead on Myrtle Beach for the top spot in the Southern Division’s second-half standings. If the Dash clinch their first division crown since a second-half title in 2012, Winston-Salem would host Game 1 of next month’s Southern Division Championship Series. If the Pelicans rally to claim their fourth straight division title, all three potential SDCS games would be in Myrtle.
  • The Dash have 11 regular season games left, and eight of them come against Frederick, who faces an elimination number of seven in the Northern Division race. No team has had more success against Winston in 2015 than the Keys, who have claimed eight of the first 13 meetings. This marks just the second set at BB&T Ballpark. In early July, the Dash claimed a walk-off win in the opener before losing the final two contests.
  • While as many as four playoff home games are possible, the Dash do conclude their home portion of the 2015 regular season with this four-game set. It has been another successful year on the field and at the box office. Winston-Salem has already clinched its fifth winning home mark in six tries at BB&T Ballpark. Since the downtown facility opened in 2010, the Dash own a 241-175 (.579) home record, which is the best in the CL during that span. The Dash are also averaging 4,347 fans per game, which is the second-highest average in all of High-A baseball.
  • The Dash have wrapped up their intradivision games for 2015, and the club owns the second-best divisional record in the CL (39-32), behind only Myrtle Beach (40-29). On the flip side, the Dash are 27-29 against the Northern Division. Over the previous two seasons, the Dash were 51-69 (.425) within Southern Division play.
  • At the All-Star break, Winston-Salem was a league-worst 30-40. However, the Dash enter Thursday’s action with a 66-61 overall mark, second-best on the circuit. A big key has been Winston-Salem’s work in games decided by three runs or less. This half, the Dash are 28-13 (.683) in such games, compared to 18-25 (.419) in the first half. Since the break, Winston is a league-best 14-2 in one-run contests (7-11 in the first half). The Dash’s bullpen has converted 28 of its last 30 save chances, with Tuesday’s blown save representing the team’s first since June 30.
  • This marks the second time in the Dash era (2009-present) that Winston-Salem has had two games canceled. The inaugural Dash club in 2009 lost a pair of games in June. Winston has not has more than two games canceled in a single season since 1995.
  • Dash speedsters Adam Engel (59) and Eddy Alvarez (51) are tied for third and tied for fifth, respectively, in stolen bases in all of Minor League Baseball.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Thursday’s game will be available on 600 AM-WSJS and wsjs.com, along with the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 7 p.m.

– Scott

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