Chiefs on a roll: Five-game win streak shows Syracuse’s strengths

— After a nightmarish month of April, the Syracuse Chiefs are finally enjoying sweet dreams in May.

While the team won just eight of its 23 games in the first four weeks of the season, the Chiefs have won seven of its 13 games halfway through May.

Why the turnaround? The pitchers are throwing strikes, the fielders are catching the ball and the hitters are making contact.

Also, the Chiefs have been hosting two teams – the Durham Bulls and the Rochester Red Wings – which have also been struggling early in this 2012 International League campaign, and the home team simply asserted its superiority.

“We have to win these games,” said Chiefs General Manager John Simone. “We have to beat these teams that aren’t as good as we are.”

Last week, the Chiefs did just that. They beat Durham three out of four and then took the first three games of their four-game series against Rochester. Over those seven games Chiefs hitters slugged seven home runs and scored a whopping 48 runs.

Meanwhile, Syracuse pitchers set down the Bulls and Red Wings like striking bowling pins.

As of Monday, May 14, when Chien-Ming Wang was slated to take the mound to attempt to sweep Rochester, the Chiefs had won five games in a row.

“Our pitchers are getting ahead of the opposition hitters,” manager Tony Beasley observed, “and that keeps the hitters in a defensive position so our guys can execute their out pitches. Pitching is going to be the main ingredient in the long haul.”

Clippers sail in May 24

The Syracuse Chiefs are on the road in Ohio this week, but manager Tony Beasley brings his International League ballclub back to the North Side’s Alliance Bank Stadium at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, to face the Columbus Clippers. Games are also scheduled at ABS at 7 p.m. May 25-26, and at 6:30 p.m. May 27. In honor of Memorial Day, the May 27 game will be followed by fireworks.

Columbus is the top farm team of the American League’s Cleveland Indians while the Chiefs are affiliated with the Washington Nationals.

Field-level ticket prices at ABS range from $9 to $20, while upper-deck seats cost $8, and $4 for kids and seniors. Parking costs $5 per vehicle; 474-7833; syracusechiefs.com.

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