There He Goes Again

Manager Tom Kotchman’s Orem Owlz won their ninth straight game last night,
6-2 at Helena.


It’s as inevitable as the sun rising in the east, taxes due on April 15 and the Yankees collecting future Hall of Famers.

Tom Kotchman’s Orem Owlz once again have injected themselves into the Pioneer League post-season hunt, having won nine straight to take a commanding lead in the South Division second half race.

Hand him lemons, and he’ll make lemonade. Talent-laden rosters or marginal prospects, every year he has his team molded into an unstoppable force as they approach the finish line.

Some years, it takes longer than others. This year’s Owlz were a bit of a disappointment in the first half, finishing 20-18, four games behind the rival Ogden Raptors (Dodgers affiliate). The first half winner is automatically seeded into the first round of the playoffs, facing either the second half division winner, or if Ogden wins again then they face the team with the second best overall record.

Having played eleven games so far in the second half, the Owlz are 11-1 with a four-game lead over Idaho Falls (Royals affiliate) and five over Ogden. In the overall season standings, Orem is 30-19 (.612) with a one-game lead over Ogden at 29-20 (.592). Orem and Ogden have the best overall records in the league.

With 26 games to go, obviously Orem could blow it, but Tom Kotchman history suggests that’s unlikely.

There’s also the possibility that the Owlz will receive reinforcements from the talent-laden Tempe Angels squad. Tempe finished one game behind the Scottsdale Giants in the first half, and currently trails Scottsdale by two games in the second half. In the overall records, the Giants are 32-12 (.727) and the Angels are 29-15 (.659). The Arizona League playoffs end August 31, while Orem’s regular season ends September 11, so it’s quite possible that top prospects like Randal Grichuk, Mike Trout, Fabio Martinez-Mesa and Jon Bachanov could be wearing Owlz uniforms in September.

Let’s also acknowledge the combined no-hitter three Tempe pitchers threw last night against the Phoenix A’s. Jose Perez struck out nine and walked one in the first five innings to get the win. Josh Blanco continued the no-no for three innings, and then former catcher C.J. Bressoud pitched a 1-2-3 9th to give the Arizona League team their first no-hitter … well, in my memory, and mine goes back eleven years.

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