And Elizabethton appears to have a scheduling advantage.
The Appalachian League season is winding down with teams having 14 or 15 games remaining. And with only three games separating first and fourth place in the West, this eastern swing could have a big impact on who makes postseason play as the top two teams in each division qualify for the playoffs.
Johnson City moved back into sole possession of first place with Tuesday’s win and a loss by Elizabethton. Bristol and Kingsport are one hot streak away from shaking things up.
Like its major-league counterpart, records don’t always tell the story in the Appy League. But Elizabethton appears to have the softest schedule to finish the year. Of the Twins’ 14 remaining games, 12 are against teams with sub-.500 records.
By comparison, nine of the Cardinals final 15 games are against teams with winning records.
Elizabethton’s final road swing takes it to meet last-place Danville (20-33) for three games — the first meeting between these teams this year — followed by three at fourth-place Princeton (25-28).
In contrast, Johnson City has three games at second-place Burlington (32-22) and a four-game slate, counting Sunday’s doubleheader, against Appy League record leader Pulaski (36-17).
Kingsport will travel to face Pulaski and Danville while Bristol takes on Princeton and Bluefield (26-27).
Once the teams return home from their six-day journeys, they finish the year in the Tri-Cities area. Elizabethton will visit Johnson City twice (Aug. 21-22) before three home games against Danville and three more at home against West Division cellar-dwelling Greeneville.
Meanwhile, Johnson City wraps up the season with three at home against Bristol before visiting Kingsport for three.
The Twins have a combined record of 12-6 against Johnson City (6-3), Greeneville (4-2) and Princeton (2-1).
Johnson City has a combined mark of 10-7 against Burlington (1-2), Pulaski (1-1), Kingsport (5-1) and Bristol (3-3).
As for the Mets, they are 9-8 against Pulaski (1-2), Danville (1-1 heading into Wednesday night’s game), Greeneville (6-3) and Bluefield (1-2).