Express Begin Playoff Run

Round Rock faces Omaha

Express Begin Playoff Run

The Round Rock Express start their 2011 playoff campaign against the Omaha Storm Chasers tonight at Dell Diamond. It is the Express’ first trip to the playoffs since 2006. While not as prestigious as the World Series, it’s still exciting to get another few weeks of Express baseball.

It was a relatively easy coast for the Express to make the playoffs, with their closest competition (Albuquerque) finishing 17 games back. But the coasting ends now against the Storm Chasers. Despite Round Rock having a 11-5 record against Omaha during the regular season, the quality of pitching for this series looks to be in Omaha’s favor.

For example, Storm Chaser and PCL Pitcher of the Year Luis Mendoza (12-5, 2.18 ERA) will take the mound tonight against Round Rock’s Eric Hurley (8-3, 5.55). Luckily, thanks to minor league teams’ goal to not overwork their pitchers, the Express are likely to only face Mendoza once during the best-of-five series which, if needed, will be played on five consecutive days.

But the Express didn’t get to the playoffs with their pitching. Finishing in the top five for most hitting categories, the Express have quite an edge over Omaha’s lineup, who rank in the lower half of the league’s hitting categories. It will be Omaha’s immovable pitching vs. Round Rock’s unstoppable hitting.

A few other series notes:

*Texas’s top prospect, 20 year old Martin Perez will get the start for the Express for game two in Round Rock. Though he has been a little shaky since his move up to AAA, he still has electric stuff and you should go out and check out the flame-throwing kid if you get the chance.

*Despite having a better record, Round Rock will only host the first two playoff games in the best-of-five series. Blame travel efficiency.

*If you want to watch the Express with a group of other Round Rock fans, HomeField Grill in Round Rock (2000 S. IH-35) will be hosting a watch party for each game being played in Papillion. (Omaha plays in Papillion, Neb. … don’t ask why.)

*Good news, beer lovers! Thirsty Thursday will still happen on Thursday, Sept. 8 for game two of the series. Discounted beer and soda and a playoff game? Too good to be true!

[Editor's note: The Express is partnering with the American Red Cross of Central Texas and the Dell Diamond has become a drop-off location for clothes and household items to be donated to the victims of the fires. Drop off your goods at the Express team store, the Railyard, from 10am to 4pm weekdays and during playoff games. Anyone who was displaced by the fires will be granted free admission to either PCL American Conference Championship Series game versus the Omaha Storm Chasers (proof of residency is required at the ticket booth). The Express recommends donating sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, towels, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, plastic utensils, paper plates, cups, napkins, spray deodorant, disposable razors, shaving cream, baby diapers, baby wipes, baby shampoo, and hand sanitizer.]

Vs. Omaha: Wed.-Thu., Sept. 7-8, 7:05pm. Dell Diamond, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd. edit, Round Rock, 512/255-2255. $6-30.

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