GARY | The RailCats head into their final weekend of the regular season needing to win one game to reach the playoffs.
Any of the next three against El Paso will do, but the sooner the better from the standpoint of the front office, which can start selling tickets for the postseason as soon as it's official.
The RailCats were in a similar situation in 2011, when their magic number was 1 in a wild card race against St. Paul, and the 'Cats lost three straight to the Saints in the final three games to end with a magic number of 1.
Winnipeg hosts Fargo-Moorhead, needing to win all three games against the RedHawks to play the RedHawks in the first round.
The fight in the South is even more interesting. Amarillo, Laredo and Grand Prairie all have the same winning percentage heading into the final week of the season and none play each other. Amarillo holds the tie breaker in all scenarios, except if Grand Prairie and Laredo finish with the same record, in which case Grand Prairie holds the tie breaker.
No matter which team wins the South, it will host Wichita in the first two games. The only team at home for the final weekend of the regular season is Grand Prairie.
If the RailCats advance to the playoffs, they would open the postseason in Fargo-Moorhead, then play the last three games at home. Because Fargo finishes against Winnipeg, one of its closest opponents, the RedHawks don't wish to pass Fargo for a first-round game only to come back (also, there's an advantage to playing your first two at home, especially if you've had success at home where you can take a 2-0 lead and need to just win one on the road).
El Paso Diablos (38-59)
SS Maikol Gonzalez
LF Oscar Mesa
RF Wellington Dotel
DH Anthony D'Alfonso
1B Juan Apodaca
C Sergio Burruel
CF Gabriel Suarez
3B Miguel Chacon
2B Chris Canedo
RHP Jesse Estrada (2-1, 5.29 ERA)
LF Adam Klein
RF Mike Massaro
DH Cristian GUerrero
1B Reid Fronk
C Ryan Babineau
3B Brian Kolb
CF Drew Martinez
SS Zac Mitchell
2B Danny Pulfer
RHP Billy Spottiswood (5-4, 3.44 ERA)
Maikol Gonzalez opens with a 1-2 pitch up the middle for a hit. Oscar Mesa is walked on 11 pitches. Wellington Dotel flies out to right field and Maikol Gonzalez moves to third. Runners are on the corners with one out. Anthony D'Alfonso flies out to left, scoring Gonzalez on the sac fly. Juan Apodaca flies out to center. Mid 1st inning: Diablos 1, RailCats 0
Adam Klein grounds out to short. Mike Massaro flies out to left-center. Cristian Guerrero doubles off the wall in left. Reid Fronk strikes out. End 1st inning: Diablos 1, RailCats 0
Sergio Burruell is the first strikeout delivered by Billy Spottiswood. Gabriel Suarez grounds out to second. Miguel Chacon grounds out to first. Mid 2nd inning: Diablos 1, RailCats 0
Ryan Babineau singles up the middle. Brian Kolb singles over the head of the third baseman. Drew Martinez pops out foul to third base. Zac Mitchell loads the bases with a single. Danny Pulfer singles to score Babineau. An Adam Klein single scores two: Kolb and Mitchell. Mike Massaro pops out foul behind the plate. Cristian Guerrero hits a long fly ball to the left-field warning track. End 2nd inning: RailCats 3, Diablos 1
Chris Canedo singles into center field then is out at second trying to stretch the single into a double. Maikol Gonzalez grounds out to second. Oscar Mesa strikes out looking. Mid 3rd inning: RailCats 3, Diablos 1
Reid Fronk is walked. Ryan Babineau flies out to right field. Brian Kolb grounds into a double play. End 3rd inning: RailCats 3, Diablos 1
Wellington Dotel thinks he's hit a perfect bunt, except on appeal it turns out to have hit foul before it rolled. Then he flies out to center. Anthony D'Alfonso breaks his bat on a single to center. Juan Apodaca strikes out swinging. Sergio Burruel strikes out looking, his second K of the game. Mid 4th inning: RailCats 3, Diablos 1
Drew Martinez breaks a bat on a ground out to first base. Zac Mitchell also grounds out to first. Danny Pulfer flies out to right. End 4th inning: RailCats 3, Diablos 1
Gabriel Suarez grounds out to third base. Miguel Chacon singles into center field. Chris Canedo singles past first base. Maikol Gonzalez grounds into a double play. Mid 5th inning: RailCats 3, Diablos 1
Adam Klein flies out to right field on a 3-2 count. Mike Massaro pops out to short. Cristian Guerrero singles with a very shallow ball on the right field line. Reid Fronk singles to move Guerrero to third. Ryan Babineau flies out to right. End 5th inning: RailCats 3, Diablos 1
Oscar Mesa is walked. Wellington Dotel is also walked. Anthony D'Alfonso flies out to right, moving Mesa to third. A single by Juan Apodaca scores Mesa. Sergio Burruel flies out to left, too shallow to move Dotel. That'll be it for Billy Spottiswood, who is relieved by Will Krout. Gabriel Suarez pops out to second, a miracle catch by Danny Pulfer. Mid 6th inning: RailCats 3, Diablos 2
Brian Kolb doubles down the third-base line. Drew Martinez lays down a sac bunt to move Kolb to third. Zac Mitchell pops out to center, too shallow to send Kolb. Danny Pulfer breaks his bat on a single that scores Kolb. Adam Klein grounds out to second. End 6th inning: RailCats 4, Diablos 2
New RailCats pitcher is Kyle Lindquist. On the first pitch he sees, Miguel Chacon grounds out to third base. Chris Canedo strikes out swinging. Maikol Gonzalez tries -- and fails -- a bunt. 7th-inning stretch: RailCats 4, Diablos 2.
New El Paso pitcher is righty Charlie Hejny. Mike Massaro quickly doubles off the left-field wall. Cristian Guerrero reaches on a play tabbed as an error on the third baseman. RailCats have runners on the corners. Guerrero steals second. Reid Fronk strikes out swinging. There's a visit to the mound, but no one warming up to take over, so this is a defensive collective. Ryan Babineau singles between third and short to score Massaro. Brian Kolb grounds into a double play. End 7th inning: RailCats 5, Diablos 2
Oscar Mesa is walked. Wellington Dotel singles into left field, he takes second as Adam Klein throws to third to take out Mesa. The fans -- and the RailCats -- believe that Mesa was out; the umpires disagree. That'll be it for Lindquist. Matt Jernstad relieves Lindquist. Anthony D'Alfonso grounds out to short, scoring Mesa. Juan Apodaca is walked. There's a meeting on the mound while Ian Durham throws in the bullpen. Apodaca is out trying to steal second. Sergio Burruel hits into center, scoring Dotel. That'll be it for Jernstad. Ian Durham takes over with a runner on second. In one pitch, Gabriel Suarez grounds out to third. Mid 8th inning: RailCats 5, Diablos 4
Drew Martinez strikes out swinging. New El Paso pitcher is Jake Meiers. Zac Mitchell grounds out to first. Danny Pulfer hits a two-out single. On a pitch to Adam Klein, Pulfer steals second. Klein triples into right, scoring Pulfer. Mike Massaro doubles to score Klein. Cristian Guerrero grounds out to second. End 8th inning: RailCats 7, Diablos 4
Defensive changes for the RailCats: Danny Pulfer moves to first as Ryan Brockett will play second and take over in the No. 4 hole. Miguel Chacon is walked. The move to put Pulfer on first played dividends, as Pulfer makes a diving play to take out Chris Candeo, who opened with a 3-0 count. One out, one on. Maikol Gonzalez strikes out looking. Chacon takes second on defensive indifference. Oscar Mesa grounds out to short. Final score: RailCats 7, Diablos 4.