09/05/06 — K-Tribe Ready for playoffs

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K-Tribe Ready for playoffs

Published in Sports on September 5, 2006 2:00 PM

The Kinston Indians (85-54) and Salem Avalanche (76-61) square off in the best of three Carolina League Southern Division Series on Wednesday night in Salem, Va.

The Indians making their Carolina League record sixth straight appearance in the playoffs. This is the K-Tribe's 15th playoff appearance in the 20 years they have been a Cleveland Indians affiliate. Kinston has advanced out of the Southern Division Series and into the League Championship series the last two years in a row, and three of the last four. Kinston last won the Carolina League Championship in 2004.

This is just Salem's third playoff appearance since 1988. Salem last appeared in the playoffs in 2001, beating the Kinston Indians two games to one in the best of three series. Salem made it to the 2001 playoffs as the wildcard, the first year the wildcard was implemented into the Carolina League Playoffs. Kinston swept both the first and second half titles in 2001, but did not automatically advance to the Carolina League Championship series because of the new wildcard rule. The Avalanche went on to beat the Wilmington Blue Rocks to capture the Carolina League Crown.

Kinston has a slight advantage in the 2006 season series against Salem winning 11 of their 20 meetings, but Salem has won seven of the last 11 games in the season series. Kinston is hitting .280 as a team against Salem this year. The Avalache is hitting .262 against Kinston this season.

Both pitching staffs have earned averages well above their season averages when facing each other. Salem's pitching staff posted a 5.45 ERA against Kinston in 20 games this season, almost two points above the Avalanches league best 3.38 ERA. The K-Tribe's staff put up a 4.63 ERA against Salem this season, more than a point above their season ERA of 3.44; the second best team ERA in the league.

Kinston will send Chuck Lofgren (17-5, 2.32) to the mound for game one against Salem's Jimmy Barthmaier (11-8, 3.62). Lofgren leads the league in wins, is second in ERA and strikeouts (125). Barthmaier is second in the league in wins, sixth in ERA and first in strikeouts (134).

"This is a match up of the two best pitching staffs in the Carolina League," said Kinston manager Mike Sarbaugh. "It should be a great series."