For some minor league teams, August signals the stretch run for a division championship and the pursuit of a playoff berth.
Although the New Orleans Baby Cakes (40-69) are planted in last place in the Pacific Coast League's American Southern Division, plenty remains at stake.
It would take a total collapse for the Cakes to finish with the worst record in franchise history (41-110 in 1944, when they were the Kansas City Blues) or the second-worst (44-102 way back in 1905). By the same token, it would take something of a hot streak to avoid the worst mark since the franchise moved to New Orleans from Denver. The 1999 Zephyrs went 55-85.
“We don't think about it unless (a reporter) brings it up,” Cakes manager Arnie Beyeler said.
Starting at 7 p.m. Thursday against El Paso, New Orleans will play 20 of its final 33 games at home, including 16 of 29 in August, with the final four coming the first week of September. The Cakes are 22-28 at home compared to 18-41 on the road. They are on an eight-game losing streak after dropping all of their games at Fresno and Sacramento on their recent trip.
Beyeler said he doesn't know whether playing at home will give his team the boost it needs to make a run.
“I hope so,” he said. “But we'll be playing in the hottest place in the league to end the season. We opened up playing in the cold. We're pretty light right now with players, so guys have to step up. That's the bottom line.”
Right-hander Zach Lee, who is slated to start the series opener for El Paso, committed to play football and baseball at LSU in 2010. He enrolled in summer school and was to begin preparing as a quarterback but, drafted 28th overall out of McKinney (Texas) High School by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Lee used his enrollment as leverage to land a better deal, leaving LSU after signing. … Near the start of the just-completed road trip, the Miami Marlins called up catcher/first baseman Tomas Telis, infielder Mike Aviles and reliever Hunter Cervenka, taking away two experienced hitters and a strong reliever. They were replaced in the lineup by outfielders Chris Parmelee and Dexter Kjerstad and pitcher Omar Bencomo. Parmelee played 63 games with the PCL's Nashville Sounds this season but was signed by the Marlins as insurance at first base after an injury to slugger Justin Bour. Kjerstad was drafted by Cincinnati in the 50th round out of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2010, and Bencomo was promoted from Double-A Jacksonville.