For the first time in five seasons — and just the 10th time since 1994 — the Salt Lake Bees are headed to the playoffs.
The Bees clinched the Pacific North Division title and a spot in the Pacific Coast League postseason by finishing the five-month-long season with a regular season record of 78-66. Starting Wednesday night, the team will face the Las Vegas 51s (81-63) in a best-of-five series with two home games, tonight and Thursday at 6:35 p.m., and will then travel south for up to three more contests as necessary.
Salt Lake, which amassed a 6-10 record against Las Vegas, are led by two individuals who have been praised by the league: PCL Manager of the Year Keith Johnson, who, in his third season with the team, is taking the Bees to the playoffs for the first time, and All-PCL Team selection Efren Navarro, who recorded a .326 batting average and a .408 on-base percentage for the season.
The Bees will have Matt Shoemaker on the mound to start. Shoemaker is 11-13 this season with a 4.64 earned run average, recorded a PCL-best 160 strikeouts, and, for the second season in a row, also led the league in innings pitched with 184 1/3.