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Aviators top 10: Triple-A Final Stretch more of a reach

1. Bonus baseball

These 10 games that were added to the end of the season this week will help Triple-A clubs recoup gate receipts from the COVID-shortened 2021 schedule. But giving a trophy to the team with the best winning percentage over the “Triple-A Final Stretch” makes about as much sense as those MLB All-Star uniforms.

2. On the other hand …

Aviators president Don Logan suggested the addendum is a much better idea than MLB All-Star uniforms. “COVID year, post-COVID, there’s no bad ideas,” Logan said. “You just try to come up with something that creates interest. We didn’t have an all-star game, we don’t have playoffs. The teams that play well during the season in theory should prevail.”

3. OKC is OK

Probably the best thing about the Triple-A Final Stretch is that the Aviators will be playing five home games against the Oklahoma City Dodgers, giving local Dodgers fans a chance to scout the parent club’s stars of the future before they become such — especially with new call-up rules limiting September MLB rosters to 28 players instead of 40.

4. Frankly speaking

The A’s sent Frank Schwindel back to the Aviators on Monday. The first baseman’s cup of Oakland coffee consisted of 20 at-bats, three hits, three RBIs, a double — and a home run in his first A’s at-bat.

5. Man for two seasons

Here’s a fact about Cody Thomas you may know if you follow the local sports briefs: He was named the current Triple-A Player of the Week after batting .478 (11-for-23) with nine extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and four multiple-hit games. Here’s another fact about Thomas you may not know if you didn’t grow up near the Will Rogers Turnpike: He went to Oklahoma on a football scholarship and made three starts at quarterback before becoming a backup for Baker Mayfield.

6. Thomas stays hot

The opener of a six-game series at Las Vegas Ballpark against the struggling El Paso Chihuahuas was easier than playing against Kansas for Thomas, who hit two solo home runs in a 6-1 victory Thursday giving him a leg up on another Player of the Week laurel.

7. Digging the long ball

Despite hitting 106 homers in their first 62 games, the Aviators rank just third among the 10 Triple-A West clubs in round-trippers. Reno leads with 110, followed by Salt Lake with 107. Omaha leads Triple-A East with 109.

8. Seven strong ones

Aviators starting pitcher Daulton Jeffries went a team-long seven innings Thursday, holding El Paso to a run and three hits. The right-hander retired 16 consecutive hitters during one stretch in lowering his ERA to a closer-to-respectable 5.25.

9. Beck defies odds

Last week in this space it was noted that Austin Beck had three hits for the Aviators and all were two-run homers and that was a streak that was sure to end. Perhaps not. Beck was sent to Single-A Lansing Thursday with the streak still intact.

10. Aviators quick quiz

What canine shagged the bats of two competitors in this week’s Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star Game: A: Snoopy. B: Snoop Dog. C: Three Dog Night. D: Finn. (The correct answer is Finn, the Aviators’ bat dog, who teamed with the two-time reigning Derby champion Pete Alonso with the 2018 Las Vegas 51s and Matt Olson with the 2019 Aviators.)

By Ron Kantowski

2-sport star Cody Thomas hits his stride with Aviators

Before his professional baseball career, Thomas was a two-sport athlete at Oklahoma, playing both baseball and quarterback for the Sooners’ football team.