What a week the Arkansas Travelers have had.
Not only did they flirt with winning the first half of the North division, the Travelers also competed against former Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt last Friday. Oswalt is doing a rehab stint with the Tulsa Drillers before hopefully being called up by the Colorado Rockies.
Ending an eight-day road trip at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals last Tuesday with a 3-2 victory, the Travs returned home last Wednesday with a half-game lead over Tulsa and began a five-game stretch against the Drillers. They had a doubleheader last Thursday to make up a contest rained out in a home stand earlier in the season. Arkansas went 2-3 against the Drillers to pull to within a half-game of the Drillers.
Sunday and Monday, the Travelers finished the first half of the season hosting the Naturals. Two victories would have given Arkansas a great shot of finishing as first-half season champions. However, they lost in 13 innings, 3-2, last Sunday and again 5-2 last Monday. They really needed to win both Sunday and Monday against the Naturals. Tulsa ended as first-half division champions even though its final two contests against Springfield were rained out. With the rainouts, two Arkansas victories would have made a big difference.
“I told the guys we were in every game except against Corpus Christi three weeks ago,” Travs Manager Tim Bogar said. “We played hard and played good and bad and just came up short. It’s disappointing because we are a good team and have a lot of talent. We have to clean up some things and do what we do best. It’s just the way the game is, but we happen to be in a pennant race.”
Bogar wonders what would happen if the season wasn’t broken into two halves. He believes the Travelers are the best in the North and just is curious if they played a full season. But, like he said, on the flip side everyone starts over at 0-0.
The second half of the season began Tuesday. The Travelers started it off with two games hosting the Naturals on Tuesday and Wednesday and then travel to Springfield for four games before the all-star break.
“We had some things happen tonight (Monday) that we can correct tomorrow so we’ll know what to do the next time,” Bogar said. “We’ll go back to developing, and we need to clean up the little stuff. I think the big thing is the mental side is huge.”
A teammate of Oswalt’s at Houston, Bogar enjoyed seeing his friend pitch last Friday. He said it was fun to watch him and said Oswalt made the pitches he needed to make. He just hopes the Travelers learned from the experience.
First baseman C.J. Cron and catcher Jett Bandy were picked to start the all-star game Tuesday, June 25, at Arvest Ballpark in Northwest Arkansas.
Second baseman Taylor Lindsey and outfielder Randal Grichuk were voted as reserves for the North team along with four pitchers—Brandon Hynick, Lay Batista, Kevin Johnson and Mike Piazza.