There's no place like home.
Unless you're the Winnipeg Goldeyes and barely clinging to top spot in the American Association's North Division after a 3-1 victory over the visiting Sioux Falls Pheasants.
At one point the Fish had 4 1/2-game lead in the North, but after a recently concluded and potentially ruinous four-game confrontation with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, in which the Fish were swept away at Shaw Park, they now cling to a one-game lead over the RedHawks and are but two up on the Pheasants.
So even after Saturday night's slide-snapping win which nudged the team to 27-20, Fish manager Rick Forney was not in a talkative mood, declining invitations to speak with the media.
Not that anyone can really blame him. It's not as if his club busted out with a thunderous roar Saturday night. Three runs on a modest nine hits isn't terribly reassuring to a manger whose team has been toiling mightily to score.
Prior to the game, asked whether a shakeup to his batting order might produce sparks -- particularly from cleanup man Yurendell de Caster, who, after going 0-for-3 Saturday, is 2-for-18 since returning from the Mexican League, Forney answered with a question of his own. "Where would we move him?" asked the skipper. "Where would we hit that guy?"
That's just one problem that Goldeyes have been trying to solve as they continue their 12-game homestand, which so far has resulted in a 1-4 mark, prompting consideration as to whether home-field advantage is really that advantageous.
On the road the Fish are 15-11, a winning percentage of .577 -- almost identical to their .571 percentage on home soil, where they are 12-9.
But the numbers that are most interesting come not in the win-loss records, but in the home-away batting stats.
For starters, the Goldeyes have a batting average of .292 on the road, compared to .262 at home.
Away from Shaw Park the Goldeyes have recorded game-bests this season in a number of categories: Most at-bats (43), most runs (14), most hits (17), most RBI (17), most doubles (5), most triples (3) and extra-base hits (6).
Want one more? For the road?
The Goldeyes' longest streak for consecutive games with 10-plus hits comes in at seven, an impressive stretch that only fans in Sioux Falls And Sioux City witnessed during visits in mid-June.
These numbers would be easy to ignore had they all been compiled on one or two good road trips, so it's important to note that in fact they stretch across five different forays into enemy ball parks.
The only meaningful game-high that's been witnessed at Shaw Park this season is most home runs, four, against a RedHawks team that was struggling in late June before climbing back into the chase, thanks in good part to their four-game sweep of the Goldeyes last week.
But surely it's not time to hit the panic button just yet, for the Goldeyes remain in top spot.
Even if they should slip by season's end, losing home-field advantage for a playoff matchup may be a blessing in disguise.
Todd Privett recorded Saturday's win for the Fish, improving to 2-2 (it was his first victory since being acquired by Winnipeg) in an outing that saw the righty go 6 2/3 innings while allowing six hits, one earned run and striking out six. The two teams meet again today at Shaw Park. Game time is at 1:30 p.m.
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