Prior to splitting a series with the Springfield Cardinals over the weekend, the Arkansas Travelers had an eight-game winning streak that spanned winning three games at Tulsa, all four at home over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and the first game of a four-game homestand with the Cardinals.
"It was very nice," Travs Manager Tim Bogar said. "The pitchers did a great job of keeping us in the games, and our bullpen did a fantastic job. We also got some timely hits, and we are starting to get the experience to understand situations."
By winning three games at Tulsa and all four against the Naturals, the Travs captured their first series on the road and made it two in a row against the Naturals (24-19). Springfield (23-19) won, 2-1, this past Monday to salvage a split and stay within a half-game behind the Naturals in the North division.
Arkansas begins a six-day road trip to San Antonio and Corpus Christi on Wednesday and then returns home for three games apiece against those same two teams.
"We talk about it, and our goal is to win every series," Bogar said. "If we win three of the four games, we’ll win every series and have a good year. We don’t want to split."
In addition to winning on a regular basis, the Travs are starting to get more consistent. For a while, Arkansas was swinging the pendulum, winning by double digit runs and losing by one or two and losing by double digits and winning by one or two. Additionally, they were staging exciting comebacks. Last week from Tuesday through Friday, they won 4-1, 5-1, 2-0 and 7-6 before losing to Springfield last Saturday, 7-0.
"Our starting pitchers are more consistent, and we are playing defense better and hitting better," Bogar said. "They are staying in the game longer, and we aren’t having to battle back which changes everything."
Additionally, every player is contributing. Each game seems to have a different player who highlighted the game offensively or a combination of several. Randal Grichuk has been on fire hitting .333 in his last 10 games with three home runs and five doubles.
"We preach keep the line moving (when batting)," Bogar said. "With the talent we have we are doing what we need to do."
Last Friday, catcher Anthony Bemboom joined the Travs Friday from Burlington after Jett Bandy was placed on the disabled list because of an elbow injury.
"The most difficult part is he came from A to AA and doesn’t know the pitchers and staff and the hitters," Bogar said. "He is learning as he is catching but is so talented and is doing a good job of setting up the pitchers and managing the staff."
Right-hand pitcher Matt Oye was named the Texas League Pitcher of the Week for the period of May 12-19. In a 2-0 victory last Thursday over Northwest Arkansas, he threw seven shutout innings. He yielded two hits and threw five shutout frames. The victory secured a four-game sweep over the Naturals.