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Triple-A gets the short end of the stick with schedule expansion, no playoffs

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The “Final Stretch” is not a postseason tournament, no matter what you call it

Oklahomans Continue To Social Distance As State Works To Open Economy

Congratulations, Triple-A teams. Your season just got two weeks longer, but no, unlike your minor league brethren, you will not have any playoffs in 2021.

The conceit of the 10 extra games added to the end of the Triple-A schedule is that it makes up for half the games lost when the start of the season was delayed. The original Triple-A schedule was 142 games long, set to start on April 6, but in early March was postponed to start on May 6, with a 120-game schedule.

Oklahoma City will play five games at Las Vegas from September 23-27, then finish at home with five games against El Paso from September 29 to October 3. That makes for a 130-game schedule, but it’s not that simple.

Both Triple-A leagues (West and East) will crown a regular season champion, based on the best record through the 120-game schedule, which for Triple-A West ends on September 21. But they are calling those final 10 games the Triple-A Final Stretch — a trademarked phrase that sure seems ripe for a sponsor at some point — and the team with the best record in those games, among all 30 Triple-A teams, will be “awarded a prize from Major League Baseball,” per a press release this week.

“With all 30 teams participating in this Final Stretch, all Triple-A players and communities will have the opportunity to win this year’s postseason tournament,” said Peter Woodfork, MLB’s senior vice president in charge of minor league operations.

Only that’s not much of a tournament at all. It’s just all 30 Triple-A teams playing two more series. Meanwhile, Double-A, High-A and Low-A leagues will all play a best-of-5 playoff series to determine league champs. You know, like a real postseason.

Triple-A got screwed.

Player of the day

Victor Gonzalez retired all three batters he faced in a minor league rehab game for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, and could be activated off the injured list at some point during the series against the Giants that starts Monday at Dodger Stadium.

Gonzalez, on the injured list with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, induced a groundout to first base to open the fourth inning, then struck out his next two batters to finish out the frame.

“If all goes well, we’ll assess if he’s going to be back within a few days or do another rehab outing,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said earlier Friday. “We just want to make sure he feels good before he returns.

Gonzalez, who was placed on the IL on July 6, is tied for second on the team with 36 relief appearances this year.

Triple-A Oklahoma City

Kevin Quackenbush allowed his first earned run of the season, a solo, tie-breking home run in the ninth inning in OKC’s loss to the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks).

Zach Reks hit a two-run home run in the seventh for Oklahoma City in his first game back in Triple-A. Brusdar Graterol worked around a walk in a scoreless eighth inning, keeping the game tied thanks to three strikeouts. Sheldon Neuse had three hits, including a stolen base.

Oklahoma City wore throwback jerseys to honor the 89ers, which was the team name from 1962-97.

OKC plans to wear 89ers jerseys again on August 13 and September 4.

Double-A Tulsa

A four-run fifth proved enough for Tulsa to fall to the Wichita Wind Surge (Twins). Cyrillo Watson retired only one of his five batters faced, and his two singles and two walks were all cashed in during the frame.

Andre Jackson, fresh off his Futures Game appearance on Sunday, struck out five in his four innings, allowing only a solo home run to Andrew Bechtold. Jackson left leading 2-1.

The Drillers managed only five hits, one by second baseman Michael Busch, who also walked twice.

High-A Great Lakes

The threat of a flash flood suspended Friday night’s game between Great Lakes and the Dayton Dragons (Reds) in top of the fourth inning. The Loons lead 5-1, thanks to home runs by Brandon Lewis, Joe Vranesh, and Zach Ching. Bobby Miller allowed an unearned run in three innings, and struck out six.

This game will be resumed Saturday at 1:30 p.m. PT and completed to its nine-inning conclusion. Saturday’s regularly scheduled game will follow — no sooner than 4 p.m. PT — shortened to seven innings.

Low-A Rancho Cucamonga

The Quakes rode a five-run fifth and six-run eighth to a blowout of the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels). Jonny DeLuca homered, singled, scored three times, and drove in three out of the leadoff spot.

Alex De Jesus doubled twice, and Jake Vogel hit his second home run of the season. Hyun-il Choi allowed a run in four innings of relief to pick up the win. Choi struck out four, giving him 64 strikeouts against only five walks this season.

Transactions

Triple-A: Zach Reks was optioned to Oklahoma City.

Low-A: Victor Gonzalez joined Rancho Cucamonga on a minor league rehab assignment.

Friday scores

Saturday schedule

  • 1:30 p.m. PT: conclusion of Friday’s Great Lakes-Dayton game
  • 4:05 p.m.: Great Lakes (Landon Knack) at Dayton (Noah Davis)
  • 5:05 p.m.: Oklahoma City (Aaron Wilkerson) vs. Reno (Zach Lee)
  • 5:05 p.m.: Tulsa (Bryan Brickhouse) at Wichita (Chris Vallimont)
  • 6:30 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (Kendall Williams) vs. Inland Empire (Julio Goff)