2017/18 ABL R5 – Melbourne v Sydney
15 Dec 2017 19:00 AEDT
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Game 1 – Friday, 7:00pm
Fifth-placed Sydney (5-10) will aim to end an eight-game losing streak when it travels to Melbourne (8-7) for a four-game set beginning Friday night.
The Blue Sox have gone 1-10 since sweeping Adelaide on Opening Weekend to fall down the standings nearing the midway point of the season.
They face an Aces side three-games ahead of them and with a chance to create an even bigger gulf between fourth and fifth.
Melbourne and Sydney square off in eight-straight games either side of the Christmas break, making it a crucial series.
A year ago the Blue Sox lost seven of eight in the same period to fall out of contention after a 9-7 start.
Sydney’s 5-10 record this time around makes it even more crucial as they aim to stay in the top-four race.
Sox manger Tony Harris has made some changes to the starting rotation in a bid to end their losing run.
Kyle Glogoski replaces Trevor Foss on the roster and will start game one while Todd Grattan is slated to make his first ABL start in game four.
Craig Anderson will work out of the bullpen, barring any late changes to the rotation.
Sydney’s offence has been hitting the ball but last week failed to deliver with runners in scoring position.
The Sox had six more hits than the Bandits as they fell 4-0, but went 8-for-37 with runners in scoring position.
Melbourne’s offence also had some issues against Canberra in round four.
The Aces scored four runs on 18 hits across the opening two games and left 35 runners on base across the series.
Melbourne has also made changes as it looks to find a winning formula for its starting rotation.
Josh Tols is slated to make a start in place of Hei Chun Lee.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
SOX – Chiang Chih-hsien: The Taiwanese infielder has been a sensation for Sydney, sitting third in the ABL with a batting average of .414. Chiang drove in five runs against Brisbane last round, going 9-for-15 with a home run.
ACES – Delmon Young. The former big leaguer had his best weekend in an Aces’ jersey yet in round four. Young went 8-for-17 against Canberra, hitting a grand slam in game four on Sunday. He only stuck out once after entering the round ranked ninth in the ABL with 14 strikeouts.
Aces 3-1. Melbourne has a chance to break the playoff race wide open with eight-games against Sydney. The Aces enter this weekend three games ahead and could create a healthy buffer over their NSW rivals with 16 games to go.