Halfway through their season, the Eugene Emeralds are, well, halfway there.
The Ems have strong hitting but struggle with runners in scoring position. Eugene has good pitching, but no consistent pitchers. They perform well against the lowly Northwest League teams, so-so against the so-so teams, and poorly against the good teams.
Still, the 17-22 Ems defy explanation. Like any minor-league club, they haven’t been consistently good or bad all season.
The Ems won the front end of a twi-night doubleheader — which started at 6:05 — 6-2 over the Tri-City Dust Devils.
Heading into the double bill Monday night, after Sunday’s game was rained out, the Ems were third in the league in hitting, with a .266 team average. Top slugger Greg Sain led the NWL in extra-base hits and slugging percentage. Sain also took over the home-run crown with his ninth blast of the season Monday night.
Ems shortstop Jason Bartlett, meanwhile, was second in the league in hitting with a .346 average and was second in on-base percentage.
Needless to say, the Ems have had no problems getting on base. However, the Ems have a habit of stranding runners when they get on the basepaths. Eugene stranded five runners in the top half of Monday’s doubleheader.
The Ems have also been weak on the mound. Eugene is sixth of eight teams in pitching in the NWL and tops the list in such categories as home runs allowed.
None of the statistics deter the fans, however, as the Ems obviously make an impact as the only professional sports team in Eugene. The Ems are second in the league in attendance and trail only Spokane in that category. In 17 home games the Emeralds average 3,840 fans per game.
In the end, the Ems’ record speaks volumes about the team. Eugene was last in the league heading into Monday’s games, but trailed Everett by a mere half-game. With series against Everett and Vancouver — the second-place team in the NWL’s west division — the Ems have a chance to climb back into the hunt for a division title.
The Ems play Tri-City again tonight at Civic Stadium at 7:05 before taking an off day and then heading to the Tri-Cities for a five-game series.