York Revolution manager Mark Mason didn't want to call the games over the last two weeks "meaningless" — despite the fact that it's been about that long since York was mathematically eliminated from the Atlantic League's Freedom Division first-half title race.
Mason believed there was still plenty of stuff the Revs' players could do to show that they wanted to be on the team and compete when the second half began. In terms of wins and losses, however, the last two weeks of the season haven't meant much for the Revs.
That's over, now.
With Sunday's 1-0, walk-off victory at PeoplesBank Park against the Sugar Land Skeeters capping the first half of the season, York, and every other Atlantic League team, will go into Monday with a fresh start. The Revs can't completely throw away the poor 28-42 mark that they put up over the season's first 70 games, because overall record is used for some tie-breaking purposes. As of Monday, however, they will be 0-0.
Atlantic League structure: With daily transactions taking place and players being signed off of rosters by major league organizations, the Atlantic League breaks its season into two halves. The two first-half division champions in the Freedom and Liberty divisions and the two second-half division champs earn automatic playoff berths for the the four-team playoffs.
So, after 70 games, records are wiped clean and teams start from scratch. That's where the league is at after Sunday's conclusion.
The question, though, is how does York flip the switch from being an afterthought for much of the first half to getting back to playing games that carry weight in the standings, and not just for the sake of "trying out some things," as Mason put it?
Gaining momentum: Well, Sunday's win was a start.
With the win on Sunday, thanks to Carlos Triunfel's sac fly in the bottom of the 10th, it gave the Revs a series sweep of the Skeeters and made York 3-1 over its final four games to close out the first half, giving it some much-needed momentum heading into the second half.
"I thought we played better over the past couple weeks," Mason said. "We made some adjustments to our roster, offensively and pitching-wise, so hopefully those will pan out. ...Now we just gotta keep building on it and keep the momentum going into the (All-Star) break."
The All-Star break will occur from July 10-13, so the Revs will have a weeks worth of games to try and string some wins together to get off to a fast start in the second half.
Righting wrongs: Two of the many difficulties that plagued York in the first half was inconsistencies with its pitching and hitting. The team began the year with decent starts from its rotation, but wasn't getting the offense to back it up. Then, when the bats would come alive, the pitching would falter, rarely syncing up for those complete, all-around performances.
Too many times, the Revs would have games where they put together double-digit hit performances, only to have one or two runs to show for it.
"There were a lot of nights when we had nine or 10 hits, but left 11 or 12 guys on base," Mason said. "But, out of those nine or 10 hits, two guys might have had six of them. ...Now I think it's more distributed throughout the lineup and I think we have more contact guys now than we had at the beginning of the season."
York also struggled in one-run games in the first half, going 10-17 in such contests, including 1-7 in the last eight, with that lone win being Sunday's victory over Sugar Land.
Mason also pointed to the team's record at home as needing work, accumulating a 16-21 mark in the confines of PeoplesBank Park.
Building off positives: If there is any positive to take out of the first half, aside from the winning run to close it out, it's the team's performance against the Lancaster Barnstormers and Skeeters. Of the Revs' 28 wins, 13 came against either Sugar Land or Lancaster, but just 15 against the other five teams.
If York can continue those performances against those clubs and then even out its records against the others, Mason likes his team's chances in the second half.
Of course, the other seven teams will feel the same way because, as of Monday, everyone will be on equal footing.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org