The Express have been in playoff mode for most of the season. Now, they’re also in the driver’s seat.
Round Rock has gotten used to looking up at the San Antonio Missions in the PCL American Southern Division, but have won six of their last 10 games to overtake the Missions — who are 2-8 in their last 10 — for the playoff spot.
As of Tuesday morning, their lead over San Antonio is 2.5 games with just 15 games left in the regular season.
“It’s one of those things where you’d love to be 10 games up and kind of costing, but it kind of keeps us pushing every day,” Express manager Mickey Storey said. “It’s good for the ball club and good for the environment. I want to work for everything and work for every inch.”
Round Rock hasn’t advanced to the PCL postseason since 2015 when it advanced to the finals and lost in five games.
The Express start a four-game series against the New Orleans Baby Cakes on Friday before the Mission come to town beginning Monday in a potential winner-take-all four-game series. It’s the last regular-season home series in Round Rock.
Round Rock has 12 wins so far in August and has won three of four series. The Express split a four-game set on the road against Albuquerque earlier this month. San Antonio only ended an eight-game skid with an extra-inning win on Saturday.
The Express started their most recent run with a massive 20-12 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas on Aug. 7 when second baseman Alex De Goti hit for the cycle, finishing 5-for-6 with two home runs and six RBIs. The Round Rock offense continued to dominate, beating El Paso 12-11 and falling 15-12 in the final two games.
The Express then split a four-game series with the Albuquerque Isotopes and took three of four from the Oklahoma City Dodgers at home.
On Monday night, Round Rock withstood a late rally to hold off the Memphis Redbirds for a 5-4 win in the series opener. Framber Valdez (5-2, 3.25 ERA) allowed four runs on four hits across 7.1 innings.
The regular season concludes on Labor Day and the playoffs begin two days later on Sept. 4. The winners of each division will face off in the conference playoffs before the PCL Championship Series begins on Sept. 10.
The 2019 PCL Champion will face the winner of the International League in the National Championship Game, a one-game, winner-take-all contest on Sept. 17.
“San Antonio has done a heckuva job of pushing us to our very max,” Storey said. “It’s going to come down to the wire, I’m sure of it.”