The Playoff Picture (as of September 11)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — The Quakes begin tonight their five-game series with the Lake Elsinore Storm for the California League South Division title. Games #1 and #2 are in Lake Elsinore, Games #3 and (if necessary) #4 are in Rancho Cucamonga, and (if necessary) Game #5 is at Lake Elsinore. Garrett Richards will start tonight for the Quakes, with the Padres’ Chris Young making a rehab start for Lake Elsinore. The Angels announced last night that Joel Piniero will make a rehab start with the Quakes in Game #2 Sunday night. It doesn’t seem right that rehabbing major leaguers should be eligible for minor league playoff games.

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Kernels were eliminated last night, as they lost 6-2 to Clinton. The game was delayed nearly an hour due to rain, and announced starting pitcher Stephen Locke was scratched due to a bad back, so Tyler Kehrer took the start. Kehrer didn’t get out of the first inning, giving up three runs on two hits and three walks while recording only one out on a strikeout.

OREM — The Owlz lost Game #1 of their Pioneer League South Division playoff series, 2-1 to Ogden. Kole Calhoun hit a solo homer in the first inning to give the Owlz an early 1-0 lead. Heath Nichols pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings and A.J. Schugel tacked on another inning-and-a-third. In the top of the 9th, Justin La Tempa gave up a one-out two-RBI single that gave the Raptors the lead. The Owlz got the tying run to third in the bottom of the 9th, but pinch-hitter Kaleb Cowart grounded out to end the game.

I’m a bit surprised that Cowart, one of the Angels’ first-round picks last June (#18 overall), wasn’t in the starting lineup. Cowart was assigned to Orem on the last day of the regular season after playing with Tempe. The Angels did something similar last summer with Mike Trout, who joined Cedar Rapids at season’s end after playing with Tempe in his first pro year. Trout had only a token appearance in the Kernels’ 2009 post-season. I guess the feeling is that the players who earned the post-season should be the ones who take the field, but minor league rosters turn over so much that the post-season roster often has little in common with the roster on Opening Day. If it were me, I’d want Trout or Cowart in the lineup because he improves my chances to win.

So the Owlz are down 1-0 in their best-of-three series. They must win tonight and tomorrow at Ogden, or they’re eliminated. Donn Roach (4-1, 6.04 ERA) is the announced starter for Orem.

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