Things in Blue Sox camp have been quite lively over the past week, with the Blue Sox traveling to Canberra for their first ABL match-up of the year, and a 2-game exhibition against Team New Zealand. The boys played a total of 5 games in 4 days, winning 4 of the games (2 wins Vs. Canberra and 2 wins Vs. New Zealand). The Blue Sox completed the pre-season with a record of 3-2 and sitting on a 2-1 record in the ABL. Blue Sox ace, Chris Oxspring, took home the honour of Pitcher of the Week in the ABL for his performance in week 1, getting the win Vs. the Cavalry in 7.1 innings with 7 strike-outs.
The Blue Sox now prepare to welcome the Brisbane Bandits to town for their first ABL home stand of the season. Brisbane, along with Canberra and Sydney, make up what is unofficially considered the “north” division of the ABL. Each team will have 3 series’s Vs. the other 2 squads, while they only have a home-and-away series with the teams from the “south” division; Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. This is put in place in an effort to drive rivalries and marketing opportunities. Brisbane will travel to Sydney again for the last week of the regular of the season, January 24, 25, 26 and 27.
The Blue Sox pitching rotation will look very similar to the past 2 weeks, with the starters likely to be Chris Oxspring, Vaughn Harris and Craig Anderson. Matt Williams has been anchoring the bullpen as the closer, and will likely see the 9th inning again this week with normal closer Dae-Sung Koo on loan to the Perth Heat for the Asia Series in Korea. Though the bullpen will still feature hard-throwing Tyler Herr and Todd Van Steensel. If the Blue Sox take the lead into the 6th or 7th inning you can expect them to be lights out.
Coming across the diamond, the Blue Sox will be missing 1st baseman/DH Boss Moanaroa, who is traveling with Team New Zealand for the next 2 weeks as part of the World Baseball Classic. The Blue Sox should have no problem filling the gap with import James Robbins. Look for hot-hitting Zach Penprase to possibly make the move to the top of the line-up, to open up JD Williams to see more fastballs in the 2-hole. Though keeping JD in the lead-off spot really puts the speed threat on base early for Penprase or Klein to drive him home and get the Blue Sox out to an early lead.
This will be the first test for the Bandits in the 2012/2013 season, and it certainly will not be easy. The team will be missing 3 of their players who are joining Boss with Team New Zealand, creating possible holes in the rotation and batting order.
The Bandits are coming into the week with 10:1 odds to win the championship, while the Blue Sox odds have increased from 4:1 to 3.60:1 according the http://www.sportsbet.com.au. With chances of rain through-out the weekend, look for errors from both sides. The weather does not play into the Bandits hand, with starting pitching, speed, and home field advantage being on the Blue Sox side. Expect the Sox to take 2 out of 3, or sweep the series.