Rosemont, Ill. – Following their first sweep in franchise history, the Chicago Dogs continue their five-game homestand Monday night with the first game of a four-game home-and-home series with the Gary SouthShore RailCats.
The two teams, who have met eight times already this year, will play their second four-game home-and-home series in as many weeks, with the first two games in Rosemont, and the final two in the form of a July 4 doubleheader in Gary.
Monday’s game will feature First Responder’s Night on a Mustard Monday at Impact Field, and Tuesday’s game will feature a special Independence Day themed post-game fireworks extravaganza. Tickets to both games are available in line at the Impact Field ticket office and online at www.thechicagodogs.com/tickets/
Chicago enters the series riding their first three-game winning streak in franchise history thanks to a weekend of stellar pitching. The Dogs staff limited the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks to just five runs in the series, and for the first time in staff history, a Dogs starter earned a win in three straight contests.
The Dogs are now 10-9 at Impact Field this year, and have won ten of their last 13 home games.
Despite finding themselves in first place in the American Association’s Northern division with a record of 22-18, Gary has played below .500 over the past month, with a 13-14 record in their last 27 games. Gary is 6-2 against Chicago this year, and 16-16 against the rest of the league.
The RailCats have struggled at the plate for the better part of a month as well. In 18 of their past 27 games the RailCats have scored three runs or fewer. Gary is averaging just 1.6 runs per game in those 18 contests. The RailCats have been able to tread water however, by averaging 9.0 runs per game in their other nine contests during that stretch.
Gary ranks in the bottom third of the league in batting average (.262), on-base percentage (.333), and slugging percentage (.373). The RailCats have drawn the fourth fewest walks in the league with 127, and are tied with the Texas AirHogs for the fewest home runs hits with 15. Gary hit five home runs in 13 games in May, and just six home runs in 26 games in June. The RailCats have homered four times over their past two games, however, entering Monday’s series opener.
Gary is the definition of a pitch-to-contact team on the mound. The RailCats have walked the fewest batters in the league with 98 bases on balls issued, and have also struck out the fewest number of hitters, with just 241 punch outs. Furthering their efficiency, Gary has plunked the fewest batters in the league, at just ten, and has issued the second fewest wild pitches, at 14. The RailCats enter the series with the fourth lowest earned run average in the league, at 3.94.
For Chicago, the offense continues to be the main catalyst since June 1. The Dogs are hitting .268 as a team in 29 games since June 1, and have lifted their overall team average to .253 after it sat at .231 when the month began. Chicago scored 17 runs in their three-game weekend series with the RedHawks, matching their highest run output in a three-game span in franchise history.
Chicago has been paced by Treysen Vavra all year, who with a four RBI game on Sunday, has now hit .412 in 68 Impact Field at-bats. Vavra is sixth in the league overall with a .338 batting average. Vavra’s seven home runs are tied for 8th most in the American Association and his .977 on-base plus slugging percentage ranks him 7th.
The quartet of Edwin Arroyo, Vavra, Joe Benson, and Dalton Blaser, which hit in the two through five spots in the Dogs order Sunday, has had a monster week at the plate for the Dogs. Over the past seven Chicago games, the quartet has gone a combined 35-107 (.327) with two home runs, 14 RBI, three doubles, one triple, and six walks.
The Dogs bullpen excelled throughout the month of June after a rocky May. Chicago relievers posted a 3.03 ERA in the month, after pitching to a 5.01 ERA in May. The Dogs pen has allowed just three earned runs over their past 19.2 innings.
For the first time this season, the Dogs rotation has begun to string together strong outings as well. The Dogs have received a quality start in four of their past six games after receiving just six quality starts in their first 35 games. Dogs starting pitchers have allowed 13 runs over 39 innings during their current six-game stretch, good for a 3.00 ERA.
The Gary offense is paced by the league’s third leading hitter, D.K. Carey. and its 19th leading hitter Andy Paz. Both Carey and Paz have tormented Chicago pitching this year, as the two are a combined 19-41 (.463) against the Dogs this season with one home run, 17 RBI, nine doubles, and ten walks. The two combined have posted a .547 on-base percentage in match-ups against Chicago this summer. Gary as a team has hit .274 against Chicago on the season.
Chicago will send left-hander Scott Barnes to the mound for game one Monday. Barnes last pitched Wednesday against Gary, allowing one earned run in six and one-third innings. Barnes tossed his first four innings scoreless in Wednesday’s start. The Dogs will turn to newly-signed southpaw Evan Smith in game two, as he makes his 2018 debut. Gary has not announced a starting pitcher for any of the games in the series.
Monday’s contest is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. while Tuesday’s game has a special start time of 6:05 p.m. Game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader at U.S. Steel Yard is scheduled for 5 p.m. All games of the series will be broadcast at www.thechicagodogs.com/broadcasts/