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Rafters remain in race, gear up for final two games

Rafters remain in race, gear up for final two games

Rafters remain in race, gear up for final two games

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Center fielder Kenny Wilson and Salt River wasted no time Tuesday in jumping on right-hander Michael Lorenzen and Glendale. Wilson hit a triple and a home run in his first three at-bats as the Rafters scored seven runs in the first four innings.

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After taking the early lead, Salt River cruised to a 7-2 victory against Glendale at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. It extended its winning streak to five games and remains a half-game behind first-place Mesa in the Arizona Fall League's East Division with two games to play.

Wilson finished the game 2-for-5 with two runs. It was his second game in a row with a home run. He is 6-for-15 with five runs in his last three games.

"I feel like I've played good," Wilson said. "I got off to a really hot start in first week. A couple games after that, I started to feel it a bit. For most part, I think I've done pretty well."

Wilson said he has been working to cut down on his strikeouts this fall. He whiffed 59 times in 60 games during the regular season and has struck out 28 times in 21 games in the AFL.

Though Wilson struck out twice Tuesday, he also sparked Salt River's offense. He led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple off Lorenzen and scored when Andy Burns, his fellow Blue Jays farmhand, followed with a double. The Rafters scored two more times in the first inning.

Lorenzen, the Reds' No. 6 prospect, continued his disappointing fall. He allowed four runs on six hits in three innings. His ERA rose to 11.42, the highest in the league. He has struck out just five batters and walked 12 in 17 1/3 innings.

After Lorenzen left the game, Salt River broke it open with three more runs in the fourth. After Derrick Chung, another Blue Jays farmhand, led off the inning with a single, Wilson hit a two-run home run.

It was a good day for all of the Blue Jays prospects who saw action. Wilson, Burns and Chung combined for five hits and five runs. Right-hander Drew Hutchison was the beneficiary of the Rafters' early offense. He allowed one run on four hits in four innings.

Wilson said he is enjoying playing with his Toronto teammates this fall.

"I'm around some familiar faces," Wilson said. "Burns, I've played with him. This is my first time with Derrick Chung. He's fun to watch and Burns is fun to watch. Everyone knows about what [right-handers] Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman can do. Those guys are unbelievable to watch. And Drew is pretty unbelievable too."

Salt River has trailed Mesa in the division throughout the fall, but the Rafters have managed to stay in a race that now appears to be heading down to the wire. Salt River will play its final two games against Peoria, while Mesa faces Glendale. The division winner will meet Surprise -- which clinched the West Division on Monday -- in Saturday's championship game.

Wilson said the Rafters don't want their season to end Thursday.

"We're not looking at the end," Wilson said. "We want to win the championship. We want to be in that game. We're not looking toward the offseason just yet. We'd like to bring a championship to the Rafters."

But regardless of how the season ends, Wilson said he is glad he had the opportunity to play in the AFL.

"I'm having a great time out here," Wilson said. "They do a really good job taking care of us. I've never had so much fun playing baseball."

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }