Timberjack advantage evaporating
For nearly two months, the Southern Oregon Timberjacks' Northwest League tour was a joy ride.
The pitching belied a run-of-the-mill 5-plus ERA. The hitting seemed Johnny on the spot. And the Timberjacks rarely lost a series.
Now, in the heat of the first professional pennant race for many of the players, the curves are getting awfully wicked, the bumps a little more jarring and the losses more costly.
The Timberjacks led the NWL's Southern Division by 5 games over the Portland Rockies on Aug. 7. But after the Rockies' 3-2 win over the Timberjacks Thursday night at Miles Field, Southern Oregon owns a mere two-game lead. Even if the T'jacks avoid a sweep in the series finale tonight, they face an ominous five-game road trip at Boise.
Despite the loss, there was good news for the Timberjacks. Shortstop Miguel Declet returned to the lineup for the first time since Opening Night when he pulled a quadricep muscle running to first base.
DeClet aggravated the injury last month in Spokane before he could return to the lineup. The 19-year-old, taken in the 27th round of the 1997 draft, had a hit and scored a run Thursday. But his real display of talent was afield where he started two double plays and robbed the Rockies of a run with a diving stop of a ground ball up the middle in the seventh inning.