(Manchester, NH) The Reading Phillies went on a hot-streak at the right time.
Now, they look to remain on-fire, as they enter round one of the playoffs. And, just like
a professional boxer, the R-Phils are not ready to go down for the count.
The R-Phils finished the regular season in second place of the Eastern Division, and clinched a spot into the Eastern League playoffs for the first time since 2009. Reading (74-68) won their final five games of the regular season sweeping the Binghamton Mets.
Reading officially put themselves into the playoffs with a 6-2 win on Monday against the B-Mets. Tyson Brummett (4-8, 4.52) was solid over his six innings of work, and Matt Rizzotti provided the offense going 3-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.
The club rolled through the B-Mets and on to the playoffs, where they will now meet the top team in the Eastern Division the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The two teams battled in 18 games this season, and split the series 9-9.
As a team, Reading hit .292 with 15 home runs and 89 RBIs against the Fisher Cats this season. Rizzotti led the way, hitting .406 with seven doubles, four home runs and 17 RBIs. Reading's third baseman Carlos Rivero also excelled in the series hitting .367 with seven doubles, two home runs and 14 RBIs.
J.C. Ramirez (Fridays starter) and Austin Hyatt (Saturdays starter) each won three games against New Hampshire this season. Ramirez posted a 3-2 mark with a 3.23 ERA in five starts, while Hyatt went 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in three starts.
As for New Hampshire, they were led by former Phillies farmhands Travis dArnaud (Eastern League MVP), and Anthony Gose (Eastern League stolen base leader). Both players were solid against Reading this season, along with Moises Sierra, who belted three home runs against Reading and put up a .302 average in 15 games.
The two teams were set to battle for the Eastern Division crown in Manchester, NH beginning on Wednesday for game one, but inclement weather postponed that idea. Due to heavy rain, the game was postponed on Wednesday, and pushed back. The two clubs will now meet in game one tonight in New Hampshire, and game two on Friday in New Hampshire. Reading will return home, and host games on Saturday (7:05 p.m.), and Sunday (6:05 p.m.).
RHP Tyler Cloyd (6-3, 2.78) gets the nod for Reading in Thursdays opener. Cloyd, a native of Bellevue, NE, enjoyed a solid season for the R-Phils, and will face New Hampshire for the third time in 2011. The 24-year-old went 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts this season against the Fisher Cats.
Cloyd has been sharp at home this season posting an impressive 5-1 mark with a 2.34 ERA in 12 starts. On the road, where he will pitch on Wednesday, hes gone 1-2 with a 3.64 ERA (five starts). The second-half of the season was special for Cloyd, who went 3-2 with a 2.30 ERA in 10 starts.
In his first start of the year against New Hampshire (7/20), Cloyd was the hard-luck loser, after allowing two earned runs (three runs) on eight hits over six innings. Reading lost the game to New Hampshire 4-3.
10 days later, Cloyd allowed just one run on four hits over five innings to the Cats, and did not factor in the decision. Reading lost that game 3-2.
Taking the mound for the Fisher Cats on Thursday in game one will be RHP Chad Jenkins (5-7, 4.13). Jenkins, 23, went 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts this season against Reading. The Tennessee native lost to Reading on July 19, after allowing four runs on five hits in five innings.
11 days later, Jenkins was back on the mound against Reading, and beat the R-Phils after tossing six solid innings. He allowed just three runs on six hits, and fanned five batters.
Recently, Jenkins has had his troubles on the mound, and has lost three of his last four starts. He lost back-to-back-to-back starts, before a no-decision in his last outing of the regular season on September 2 in Portland.
Coverage for the first postseason game of the 2011 Eastern League playoffs begins at 6:35 p.m. on Thursday on ESPN Radio 1240 AM WIOV and readingphillies.com. Brian Seltzer will have the call for all of the action. First pitch in Manchester, NH is set for 7:05 p.m.
Phillers Rizzotti finished second in the E.L. with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs Michael Spidale finished third in batting average with .326 Hyatt led the league in wins (12), and strikeouts (171), and finished second in innings pitched (154.1) Tuffy Gosewisch set new career-highs in home runs (13) and RBIs (66)... Reading will now host game three on Saturday on Harley Night, thanks to Classic-Harley Davidson... Game four (if necessary) is now set for Sunday at 6:05 p.m. in Baseballtown.