The Syracuse Chiefs (68-52) remain at the top of the North Division in the International League, nearing 70 days in a row of being in first place. Since late July, they've been nursing between a one and two-game lead, as less than five games separate the top four teams in the division.
With each game more important than the next, the Chiefs have battled every challenge thrown their way. They're in the midst of playing 47 games in 46 days to end their season, so depth has been important these last few weeks. That same issue of depth has come into play regarding their transactions as well, as the Chiefs have lost two of their best hitters, Zach Walters and Steven Souza Jr, in the past two months. Walters was called up to Washington and then traded, while Souza was also called up, but is on the Disabled List on the Nationals roster.
Even amidst all of that, the Chiefs still remain a game ahead of Pawtucket and 3.5 games up over Rochester with less than a month to play. A big reason for that is 3B Brandon Laird, who has been one of the Chiefs most consistent hitters all season long. He's hitting .313, with 13 homeruns and 69 RBIs with some big hits to win games in the clutch as well.
"I mean I am feeling pretty good," Laird says. "Usually August is my month, actually it's my slowest month so far, but I'm feeling good in the box when I come up in situations like that. I just want to help the team win, not try to do too much, put a good swing on it and it's been working."
Laird's been applying his experience in the Major Leagues to his at-bats in the clutch, which obviously has been working out well for him. Laird made his Major League debut in 2011 with the New York Yankees, and played for the Houston Astros in 2012 and 2013.
"Playing up there, playing for New York and Houston last year, it kind of takes a little off you a little bit," Laird says. "I've been in bigger situations, but also that's the situation you want to be in, when the game's on the line you want to be in that situation to drive in that winning run and help your team win, and any way I can I'll be pleased."
Laird and the Chiefs will continue their push for a division title tonight at NBT Bank Stadium. Charlotte comes into town for a four-game series, with Syracuse's Taylor Hill taking on the Knights' Bobby Doran. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.