How can the Erie SeaWolves lock up an Eastern League playoff spot in the first half?

Detroit Free Press

It took the SeaWolves nearly a decade to return to the Eastern League playoffs last year. The ‘Wolves went on a historic run to win the division title and come within one win of the Eastern League title.

The SeaWolves are one good week of baseball from making the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history.

The ‘Wolves play a six-game series in Hartford (27-35) this week with a 7:10 p.m. start Tuesday through Friday followed by a 6:10 p.m. game on Saturday and a 1:10 p.m. game on Sunday. The first half of the Eastern League season ends on Sunday night.

The team in each division with the best record in the first half of the season and the team with the best record in the second half each clinch a playoff spot. If the same team has the best record in both halves, the team with the next best record in the second half clinches the other playoff spot.

Erie enters the series at 34-29 with a two-game lead on Akron and Altoona in the Southwest Division. The ‘Wolves technically lead Akron (32-20) by 1½ games, but Erie holds the head-to-head tiebreaker after taking two out of three against the RubberDucks in the first series of the year.

Playoff race earlier this month: Where do the SeaWolves stack up with 18 games left in the first half?

Akron plays seven games this week against Binghamton (31-31) including a doubleheader on Friday.

Altoona (31-30) is a full two games back from Erie and has seven games this week against Bowie (27-35), including a doubleheader on Wednesday. The Curve owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against Erie.

Late start to the second half

The SeaWolves will get a rare stretch of two off days because of how July 4 falls on the calendar. Most teams in minor league baseball pay at home on July 3 or July 4 so each team can host a fireworks night. With July 4 falling on a Tuesday, the Eastern League teams will play June 28-July 3 then immediately play a series July 4-9.

With the quirk in the calendar, the ‘Wolves have June 26 and 27 off before starting a homestand against Akron on June 28. The series includes three fireworks nights on June 30, July 2 and a fireworks spectacular on July 3 billed as the biggest fireworks show in SeaWolves history.

Memorable first-half moment: SeaWolves’ Colt Keith hits beyond the cycle in historic performance at the plate

After the next homestand, the ‘Wolves aren’t home often in July as they go to Altoona July 4-9 followed by a four-day all-star break. Erie is home for a three-game series July 14-16 before going back on the road for another week.

Contact Tom Reisenweber at treisenweber@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNreisenweber

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