Why Sunday is a must-win for the ‘Cats
Forget the fact that the ‘Cats had a four game lead over the Lowell Spinners and are now sitting in second place, a half a game behind. Forget the fact that the ‘Cats have lost five games in-a-row. Tonight, more than any game played this season, is the night that the ‘Cats need a victory. They need to put the past behind them and look at the big picture.
Yes, mathematically the ‘Cats can still reach the playoffs if they happen to lose tonight and fall 1.5 games behind. Can they afford that? Not a chance.
Following the game tonight, the ‘Cats return to Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on Monday for the final series of the regular season, a three-game set with the Brooklyn Cyclones. If the ‘Cats enter that series 1.5 games behind Lowell, they will need to win at least two of three from the Cyclones, and hope the Spinners lose two of three from the IronBirds in Aberdeen. That’s hardly the situation you want to present itself.
The IronBirds & Cyclones are also battling for the McNamara Division title, and a berth into the playoffs, so both of those teams will be fighting to keep their season alive.
Let’s now turn to the flipside. If the ValleyCats beat the Spinners in Lowell tonight and come back to Troy in first place with a 1/2 game lead, they will then control their own destiny. At the very worst, they will need to match Lowell’s results in Aberdeen. That’s a much better situation to be in.
Tonight, the ‘Cats have an ace in the hole, literally, in starting pitcher and league ERA leader Michael Feliz. Feliz will need to shut down the Spinners and give the ‘Cats offense a chance to score some runs and take the first lead. They can’t afford to fall behind, as the offense is already tense as it is, and they don’t need that to increase by falling behind, putting more pressure on them.
The ‘Cats defense and baserunning will also have to help out Feliz by not committing any errors or mental mistakes. Over the course of the past five days, there has been a lot of that, and they can’t afford it tonight.
Another thing to consider, who will step up for the ‘Cats and be the vocal leader of the team? They need that person now, as desperately as they need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.