While the teams in Major League Baseball plow through a full 162-game schedule to determine playoff spots, teams in the minor leagues can get their slate wiped clean at their season's midpoint.
The Rome Braves will jump at the chance to take advantage of that opportunity Thursday as they begin the second half of the South Atlantic League season.
Rome puts behind an up-and-down first half of the season that saw the team finish with a 30-39 record and seven games out of first place in the Southern Division by welcoming the Hagerstown Suns to town for four games to start a seven-game homestand.
A few of the Rome Braves spent some of the three-day break between halves in Charleston, West Virginia as part of the SAL All-Star Game festivities.
Rome pitcher Jose Montilla came on for the Southern Division in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game with two outs and two runners on and was able to get out of the jam as the next batter grounded into a force out.
The right-hander threw the next inning as well and finished with no hits, no walks and a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings.
Rome second baseman Greg Cullen and catcher Logan Brown started the game for the Southern Division, with Cullen drawing two walks and both going 0-1 at the plate.
The Northern Division won the game 6-2 thanks to a five-run rally in the bottom of the eighth.
Outfielder Trey Harris was also selected to represent Rome in the All-Star Game but was promoted to High-A Florida, where he has excelled with the Fire Frogs. The Powder Springs native has hit .364 since joining the team on June 4, including three doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs.
Rome finished the first half of the season fourth in the league in team batting average (.245) and third in team ERA (3.32).
Among the players who have been with the team since the start of the season, Brown led with a .301 average, while Justin Dean was next with a .286. The outfielder has been on the injured list since May 26 however.
First baseman Griffin Benson hit .216 but leads the team with six home runs and 33 RBIs.
Catcher Hagen Owenby has a .348 batting average, having gotten 23 hits in 16 games since rejoining the team on May 26, while outfielder Jeremy Fernandez played just 12 games at the end of the first half but amassed a .278 average.
On the mound, Rome’s Jose Olague worked to bring his ERA down to a 3.33 at the end of the first half that led to a 5-4 record. He walked 11 and struck out 42 in 70 1/3 innings.
Oldavi Javier went 2-3 with a 3.95 ERA, while reliever Dilmer Mejia has a 3-1 record with one save and a 1.42 ERA in 38 innings.
Thursday is Hairband/Mullet Night with $5 box level seats for fans wearing a hairband or a mullet. There are also the regular Thursday game deals of Thirsty Thursday — $2 16 oz. domestic draft beer and fountain drinks — and Wing Night — 10 wings for $5 in the third-base concourse.
Friday’s game is the team’s Austin Riley bobblehead giveaway for the first 1,000 fans through the gates. The 2016 Rome Braves alumnus has been a big hitter in Atlanta’s lineup since being called up from Triple-A last month.
Saturday is Beach Night as Rome players and coaches will wear beach-themed jerseys to be auctioned off as part of a silent auction during the game with proceeds benefiting the Atlanta Braves Foundation. There will also be a post-game concert near the right field picnic pavilion.
Sunday is Family Fun Day with a $50 package available that includes four tickets, four hamburgers or hot dogs, four sodas, four hats and free Kid Zone wristbands. Kids also get to run the bases following the game.
On the air
All Rome Braves games can be heard on 99.5 FM WGJK. Games against Hagerstown start at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.