Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suns' Title Hopes in Own Hands

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suns' Title Hopes in Own Hands

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT, The Times-Union

When the Suns complete their four-game series with the Birmingham Barons tonight, they will have 20 games remaining in the first half of the Southern League season. Awaiting the Suns over the next 21 days are five four-game series against fellow Eastern Division clubs

The Suns, 26-23 and just two games out of first place after Saturday night's 3-2 win over the Barons, basically control their own destiny. Before the half ends on Thursday, June 17, they'll play a four-game set against last-place Greenville (which starts Monday), then take on title contenders Tennessee and Chattanooga, and will meet contender Carolina in home-and-home series.

But to capture the title, the Suns need to reverse a May trend (10-17) and revert to their play in April (16-6). Here are 10 keys for the Suns' title quest:

-- Reggie Abercrombie's bat must come alive. He's made good strides the past couple of weeks after starting 2 for 20. Abercrombie has the ability to generate enthusiasm and excitement among teammates with his skills.

-- At least two starting pitchers have to put together three or four strong starts in a row. Ryan Ketchner, though now on the disabled list (strained oblique muscle), could be one. Derek Thompson or T.J. Nall also are candidates.

-- Wilkin Ruan must get on base more often. One of the league's fastest players, he can cause a pitcher to lose concentration when he's on the bases. He's hitting .215 and his on-base average is around .250.

-- Brennan King needs to stay healthy. The Suns must have his glove at third base every day. His value in the field and his improvement at the plate (hitting .286) is a steadying influence.

-- The Dodgers are convinced 20-year-old James Loney is their first baseman of the future, though he's been a singles hitter so far. …

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