The El Paso Chihuahuas will never forget their first trip to Albuquerque in April. They won't forget it because they were swept by the Isotopes from April 15-18.
That point was a high water mark for Albuquerque and a low point for El Paso. Since then the two teams have battled it out for second place in the Pacific South Division.
Currently, the Chihuahuas (44-47) lead the Isotopes (41-50) by three games. It's a moot point, however, as only the first-place team reaches the playoffs, and El Paso is nine games behind Las Vegas (53-38), a team that just split a four-game set with Albuquerque.
The Isotopes and Chihuahuas are fairly similar teams. Albuquerque has a slight edge in team ERA (5.19 to 5.39), batting average (.277 to .273), home runs (27 to 24), on-base percentage (.346 to .344) and slugging (.448 to .441), while El Paso has the edge in pitchers' strikeouts (653 to 632) and offensive runs scored (478 to 434).
The Chihuahuas' rotation has been shaken up before the series, with Donn Roach (2-1, 4.15 ERA) moving up a day to Monday's series opener. It remains to be seen what that will do to the rest of the series.
Prospect Matt Wisler (5-4, 5.63) is still slated for Wednesday and lefty Juan Oramas (4-4, 5.95) for Thursday. Wisler was ranked No. 2 among San Diego Padres prospects before the season by Baseball America, though he has been roughed up in 12 starts at Triple-A.
Former Astro Hector Ambriz (2-2, 2.93, 9 saves) is the de facto closer. The rest of the bullpen has struggled this year, though former New Mexico Lobo lefty Bobby LaFromboise (1-0, 4.58, 3 saves) has held his own at times.
Rocky Gale (.300/.345/.364, 23 RBI) has taken over at catcher with Adam Moore on the disabled list. The ultra versatile Cody Decker (.273/.350/.491, 12 HR, 44 RBI) can catch as well as play first base and third base.
Prospect Jace Peterson (.304/.421/.513, 2 HR, 25 RBI) has split time at second and shortstop. He is back after going 5-for-50 in his Major League debut with San Diego.
The other infielders include veterans Tyler Greene (.313/.360/.443, 3 HR, 27 RBI) and Chris Nelson (.300/.425/.500, 2 HR, 14 RBI), plus Jonathan Galvez (.311/.377/.503, 7 HR, 27 RBI) and Jake Lemmerman (.205/.323/.359, HR, 10 RBI). Lemmerman is a former Dodgers farmhand.
Former Isotope Alex Castellanos (.249/.331/.394, 5 HR, 27 RBI) has alternated between second, third and the outfield. The other outfielders are veteran Jeff Francouer (.295/.324/.482, 15 HR, 54 RBI) and youngsters Reymond Fuentes (.210/.313/.300, 9 RBI) and Rico Noel (.235/.308/.268, 15 stolen bases).
All four games this series will be at 7:05 p.m. These are the final meetings of the season of the season between the two teams.