The Ogden Raptors entered Wednesday night in need of a win. The only problem: they were 0-7 at Melaleuca Field on the season.
But Ogden proved that Melaleuca Field was not a complete death trap by beating the Chukars 9-5 Wednesday night. The Raptors avoided a four-game sweep and remained a half game back of Grand Junction in the Pioneer League South Division second-half standings.
The Chukars, meanwhile, fell 3.5 games behind the Rockies. Eight games remain.
Luna’s rocky return
Chukars right-hander Alex Luna owned a league-leading 2.48 ERA in the first half. That number didn’t change for nearly a month due to an oblique injury he suffered on July 26.
Luna made relief appearances on Aug. 22 and on Friday, and he finally earned a start on Wednesday. The outing, however, was his worst of the year.
Luna allowed nine earned runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings against the Raptors (he walked one and struck out three). He hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his previous six starts.
“I felt alright, like I was back from my injury. I wasn’t thinking about that, and it didn’t hurt at all,” Luna said. “Sometimes you just don’t have your best stuff, and tonight was one of those nights. … I was leaving the ball up, wasn’t putting it where I wanted to and kinda placing it rather than throwing it.”
Luna allowed seven runs through four innings, but the bullpen remained mostly silent until he ran into trouble in the fifth. Chukars manager Justin Gemoll said Luna’s long leash was not really due to the 8.1 innings thrown by the bullpen on Tuesday night. Instead, Gemoll cited the predetermined number of pitches that I.F. targeted for Luna. Gemoll declined to give the specific number. Luna threw 77 pitches (52 strikes) in the game.
I.F.’s playoff chances are slim, but there are a couple of ways they could reach the postseason.
The first, most direct scenario involves the Chukars winning most, if not all, of their remaining games and winning the South division second-half title outright.
The second scenario requires Orem to vault into first place alone. The Owlz won the first half title, so if they win the second half, the South team with the next best overall record would make the playoffs. The Chukars currently own the division’s second best overall record.
The second scenario, however, is less likely because Orem is 2.5 games out of first place in the second half standings. So winning out is the best way for I.F. to nab the second playoff spot. Otherwise, the Chukars would need Orem to win or sweep its four-game series against Grand Junction, then they would need to lose most of their final four games against the Owlz.
Player of the game
Raptors shortstop Gavin Lux
Lux had a big night in his Ogden debut Wednesday night, going 3 for 4 with an RBI.
The Dodgers selected Lux with the 20th overall pick in June’s MLB draft, and they signed the 18-year-old for a reported $2.3 million.
The Chukars (35-33 overall, 13-17 second half) and Raptors (33-35, 16-14) continue to play each other, only in Ogden. The four-game series starts Thursday at 6:30 p.m., when I.F. righty Arnaldo Hernandez will take on 6-foot-10 righty Nolan Long. The Chukars are 0-4 at Ogden this season.