With the Angels’ organization allowing its minor league managers a vacation during the season, Travelers manager Tim Bogar took advantage of that time off. The four games after the all-star break Bogar missed because of his vacation. Once he returned, the Travs went on a six-game winning streak that started at home on July 1 and then went 5-1 on the road at Frisco and Midland to take first place in the second-half North division standings.
"I got time to decompose and got to go home and see the family," Bogar said. It was good to get back to business and come back reenergized."
During the month of July, the Travs are 6-1 with Monday’s 6-1 loss to Midland ending the winning streak. Since the all-star break which began the second half of the season, the Travelers own a 9-3 record and are 45-42 overall with a two-game lead over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
Bogar thinks he knows why Arkansas is doing so well.
"We’ve had a really good string and are pitching well and the bullpen is doing great," Bogar said. "I’ve started the second half keeping the same lineup, and the guys are more settled. By keeping the same lineup they are more comfortable and come in each day knowing where they are going to bat."
During the first half of the season, Bogar was trying to get a feel and find out what guys can do and how they respond. He said the guys have pretty much told him where they need to bat, and he has started paying attention. The main thing is Bogar wants to do what is best for them.
Until Monday’s contest, Traveler pitchers had combined to pitch 21.1 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to July 1. In a 10-0 triumph last Sunday, they had to pitch by committee. Projected starter Lay Batista had an injury which moved him to the disabled list. Arkansas had to use the bullpen for nine innings, and Mike Cisco made his first start since 2010.
"How they are pitching determines how long they pitch," Bogar said. "Cisco only threw 45 pitches. Their performance dictates how long they will pitch."
Helping the Travelers the second half is the addition of veteran outfielder Luis Montanez, who was acquired by the Angels from the independent Somerset Patriots. Picked third overall in the 2000 draft, Montanez has spent time in the Big Leagues with Baltimore and the Chicago Cubs. Since joining the Travelers on June 20, he is batting .338 with five doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs.
"He is a great addition and has stabilized the middle of the lineup and making all of us better," Bogar said. "He has lots of experience and has been successful, and the guys are learning from him. It helps he came in really hot."
Arkansas returns home for a four-game home stand Wednesday through Saturday against the Tulsa Drillers, and then go to Springfield for four games. Bogar hopes the Travelers keep doing what they have been doing to be successful.
"We are pitching well and playing really good defense," he said. "When you do that you give yourself a chance to win. The stability of the lineup is helping us perform well, and we are getting big hits when we need them."