Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mission Notes vs. Dunedin (Aug. 27-29)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland leads the season series by a 9-6 margin and has won four of the five series this season. Each team has a series sweep with the Blue Jays winning three games on June 13-14 while the Flying Tigers returned the favor July 4-6. Lakeland has won five of the last six meetings. The July 5 game was the longest game in the minors at that point with the Flying Tigers coming out on top 2-1 in 21 innings (The GCL Blue Jays beat the Tigers 6-5 in a game that lasted 24 innings and was played over three days due to rain).

THE FLYING TIGERS (16-39, 6th place, 18.0 GB; 49-75-1 overall)
... Lakeland emerged victorious in two of the three games against Brevard County despite scoring a total of four runs in the series. The Flying Tigers have now won six of their last eight games after going 4-29 from July 10-27.

THE BLUE JAYS (23-24, 5th place, 12.0 GB; 55-72 overall)
... Dunedin lost two of three at Tampa, including the final two games of the series. The Blue Jays have now lost seven of their last nine games. Matt Dean is fourth in the FSL with 30 extra base hits, but is also fourth with 133 strikeouts. Dunedin is second in the league with 55 homers, but is greatly outdistanced by Daytona’s FSL-best 75 dingers. The Blue Jays pitching staff has a league-high 3.87 earned run average while allowing a FSL-high 554 runs. Dunedin pitchers have struck out the second most opponents (961) of any league team.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
    THU., AUG. 27 – LHP Endrys Briceno (1-2, 3.54 ERA)
... Briceno gave up one unearned run in 5.0 inning of three-hit ball in his last start on Aug. 20 vs. Dunedin (his only appearance vs. the Blue Jays). It was his first win since July 31, 2013 as he has spent most of the last two seasons on the DL following Tommy John surgery. Briceno has twice worked a season-high 5.0 innings this season and struck out a season-high four batters in his second start on July 30.
    FRI., AUG. 28 – RHP Brennan Smith (5-5, 2.96 ERA) ... Smith had his best start of the season in his last outing on Aug. 21, working 7.0 scoreless innings of three-hit ball against the Blue Jays. That game came on the heels of his worst outing of the season, a nine-hit, six-run, 5.0 inning performance on Aug. 16 against Tampa. He is 2-1 with one save and a 2.48 ERA in 10 appearances, including five starts on the road. Smith is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in three starts vs. the Blue Jays.
    SAT., AUG. 29 – LHP Jairo Labourt (0-4, 7.50 ERA with Lakeland; 2-11, 5.26 ERA overall) ... Labourt gave up six runs—only three earned—on six hits in 4.1 innings on Aug. 22 in his first start against his former teammates. He has allowed three or more earned runs in each of his five outings with the Flying Tigers. His five strikeouts on the 22nd match his Lakeland-high. Left-handed batters are lighting up Labourt for a .378 batting average.

FRANCHISE OF THE CLOSER
... Dunedin’s Wil Browning currently leads the Florida State League with 20 saves. He is attempting to become the fourth Blue Jays pitcher to lead the league in saves in the last five seasons joining Arik Sikula (31, 2014); Danny Barnes (34, 2012) and Wes Etheridge (32, 2010).

BAT CHILL
... These two clubs have not exactly been burning up the stat sheets in terms of team batting average. Lakeland, which has scored a league-low 403 runs, is 11th in the FSL with a .237 average while Dunedin is last with a .235 mark. The Blue Jays rank 11th with 72 stolen bases while the Flying Tigers are far behind with a league-low 56 stolen bases.

BEN THERE, DONE THAT ... Ben Verlander has two hits in each of the last two games (4x7) and has hits in seven of his last eight games (9x28, .321) with two doubles, a homer, and five runs batted in. Verlander also has hits in 10 of his last 12 games (14x33, .302) dating back to Aug. 13.

WHERE’S JIWAN? ... Jiwan James has not played since going 2x3 in the Aug, 21 Dunedin game.

THE Z-MAN ... Kevin Ziomek once again took over the FSL lead with five strikeouts in last night’s six-inning, rain-shortened, complete game. The Lakeland lefty held the Manatees to one run on three hits to get the win while his five Ks gave him 133 on the season to move him ahead of Daytona’s Amir Garrett, who has 131. Ziomek now sits in third place on the Lakeland single-season strikeout list, tied with Dennis Sauders (1968) and one behind Rich Lacko (1987) and Jordan Tata (2005). The franchise record 152 strikeouts was set by Bernie Beckman in 1970.

POWELL-ERFUL ... Curt Powell brings a six-game hit streak into this series, going 8x21 (.381) with three runs scored. He has a .388 batting average at Joker Marchant Stadium, but is hitting just .239 on the road.

HAPPY TO SEE YA ... Javier Betancourt went hitless in 10 at bats in the three-game Brevard County Series on Aug. 23-25 while against Dunedin on Aug. 20-22, it was a different story. The Lakeland second baseman collected six hits, including three doubles and a triple, in 11 at bats while scoring three runs against the Blue Jays.

WILL TO POWER
... Will Clinard has allowed two runs in his last 16.2 innings over seven appearances with 15 strikeouts and zero walks. He has given up four runs in his last 25.0 innings with 19 strikeouts and just a pair of walks.

MAYBERRY, E.R.A.
... Whit Mayberry has not allowed a run in his last four outings and 4.2 innings and just two earned run in his last 14.2 innings with 14 strikeouts and four walks. On the season, he has surrendered just three runs in 24.2 innings with 24 strikeouts and seven walks.

SITZ TO BEHOLD ... Scott Sitz has given up three runs in his last 18.1 innings and 10 appearances with 15 punchouts and five walks.

MAKE IT MEMORABLE ... Gage Smith made his debut on Aug. 23 against Brevard County a night to remember. Coming on in relief, Smith held the Manatees to two hits in 4.0 shutout innings to get the win.

ADDA-BOY ... Adenson Verastegui has given up one run in his last 8.1 innings over five appearances with seven strikeouts and five hits.

YOU LEAD, WE’LL FOLLOW
... In the 472 innings Lakeland has played since July 1, the Flying Tigers have been in the lead for just 98 frames.

THE SKIPPER (thru 8/25)
... Dave Huppert is in his 28th season and leads all active minor league managers with a 1,903-1,773-1 record and ranks 17th among all-time minor league managers. Next up for Huppert on the all-time win list is Cal Ermer who is in 16th place with a 1,906-1,728 record from 1947-1984. Ironically, Huppert played under Ermer in 1981 when the two were with Toledo, a Triple-A affiliate at that time of the Minnesota Twins. A 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree, This is Huppert’s fifth season with the Flying Tigers and he has a 295-312-1 record at Lakeland, including a FSL championship in 2012.

UP NEXT
... Lakeland continues its six-game road trip with three games at Brevard County, Aug. 30-Sept. 1 before enjoying the final off day of the season on Sept. 2. The Flying Tigers then return to Joker Marchant Stadium for the final two home games of the season on Sept. 3-4 against Tampa. The 2015 campaign concludes Sept. 5-6 at Tampa.

FICOCIELLO HONORED
... Former Flying Tiger Dominic Ficociello was named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the week ending Aug. 23. The former first baseman was 12x30 (.600) for the week with three doubles, two triples and 10 RBI. He was batting .337 at Erie with 22 RBI in his first 29 games at Double-A.

Mission Notes vs. Brevard County (Aug. 23-25)


THE SERIES ... The last time these two teams met was on the final day of the first half. Lakeland shutout Brevard County 1-0 in ten innings in the first game of the doubleheader on June 24. In game two, the two squads were tied at 2-2 after eight frames before rains came forcing the game to end in a rare tie. Overall, Lakeland leads the series by a slim 6-5-1 mar- gin. The Manatees won five of the first seven meetings while Lakeland won the next four in a row before the tie. Francisco Martinez has 17 hits in the series, including a pair of homers, while Javier Betancourt has 15 base knocks vs. Brevard County.

THE FLYING TIGERS (14-38, 6th place, 19.0 GB; 47-74-1 overall) ... Lakeland has won four of the last five and is 5-14 since Aug. 5 and 9-32 since July 4-6. Lakeland is 3-60 when trailing after seven innings and 31-1 when leading after eight frames. The Flying Tigers have the worst record in the league when scoring first in a game (34-24) and the third worst record (26-20) when scoring last. Lakeland is 14-21 in one-run games this season and 7-10 in extra innings.

THE MANATEES (24-30, 4th place, 10.0 GB; 53-70 overall) ... Brevard County took the last two games of its three-game series at Clearwater, winning 6-5 and 5-1 after dropping the opener 11-1. The Manatees are 4-5 since Aug. 14. Garrett Cooper is seventh in the Florida State League with a .299 average and first with 32 doubles and a .443 slugging per- centage while Clint Coulter is tied for first with 14 home runs and sec- ond with 186 total bases. Coulter and Cooper ranks first and second with 44 and 42 extra base hits, respectively. Chris McFarland has 135 hits which ranks third while Omar Garcia is second in the league with 49 stole bases. Jorge Ortega, who is slated to start the opening game of this season, is third in the FSL with a 2.48 ERA while tossing a league-best five complete games, including a pair of shutouts.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS 
SUN., AUG. 23 RHP Jonathan Maciel (4-8, 5.01 ERA) ... Maciel gave up a pair of runs on seven hits in 6.0 innings in his last start on Aug. 19 at Tampa, but did not get the win. He has now allowed just the two runs in his 10.1 innings pitched over his last two starts and is 0-0 his last three outings. Maciel is 1-6 at home with a 6.32 ERA while posing a 3-2 record and a 3.90 ERA on the road.
MON., AUG. 24 LHP Kevin Ziomek (7-10, 3.70 ERA) ... Ziomek came within one strike of tossing a no-hitter in his last start on Aug. 19 at Tam- pa. He retired the first 12 Yankee hitters in a row before issuing a walk to open the fifth. That runner was erased when the next batter hit into a double play and Ziomek faced the minimum before Miguel Andujar singled on a 0-2 pitch with two outs in the seventh to break up the no-no and chase the Lakeland lefty. Ziomek has allowed just four earned runs in 27.2 innings over his last four starts with 28 strikeouts and seven walks. TUE., AUG. 25 LHP Endrys Briceno (0-3, 7.78 ERA) ... Briceno gave up one unearned run in 5.0 inning of three-hit ball in his last start on Aug. 20 vs. Dunedin. It was his first win since July 31, 2013 as he has spent most of the last two seasons on the DL following Tommy John sur- gery. Briceno has twice worked a season-high 5.0 innings this season and
struck out a season-high four batters in his second start on July 30.

STRUGGLING STAFFS ... Lakeland is 10th in the league with a 3.56 staff ERA while Brevard County is 11th with a 3.58 mark. The Manatee staff has thrown an amazing minor-league best 11 complete games—five more than any other Florida State League staff.

FLYING Z ... Kevin Ziomek leads the FSL with 128 strikeouts on the sea- son. The 128 Ks also moved Ziomek into fourth place on the Lakeland all- time strikeout list. The southpaw now trails Jose Lima, who is third with 132 punchouts. The Lakeland record of 152 was set by Bernie Beckman in 1970. Ziomek is shooting to become just the second Lakeland pitcher to lead the league in strikeouts since Duane Below became the first with 126 in 2008. Ziomek also is tied the league lead with 24 games started and 136.1 innings pitched.
CURT-SEE ... Curt Powell has had two or more hits in nine games since July 30 with a high of three base knocks on Aug. 10. He has a lofty .387 (48x124) home batting average while just a .239 mark on the road. Pow- ell posed a .342 average before the All-Star break, and is hitting .289 since, including a .353 batting average in August.

SERIES-LY SPEAKING ... Javier Betancourt went 6x11 in the recent Dunedin series and scored in each game. Last night, the Lakeland second baseman doubled and tripled and drove in one run. Betancourt has hits in 15 of his last 18 games, going 25x68 (.368) with eight runs scored.

MARTINEZ ... Francisco Martinez is third in the FSL with 185 total bas- es. He has hits in each of his four previous games (6x15) before going 0x3 in last night’s contest. In his 23 starts at first base, Martinez has a .286 average, nine points better than his .277 mark at third base and 36 points better than his .250 average as a DH.

UP AND DOWN ... Over the last 15 games, Jiwan James has had at least one base hit in each odd-numbered game. He was hitless in evened num- bered games before getting two hits on Friday. He is 16x34 (.471) in the odd games with five multi-hit games and 2x25 (.080) in the even games. James is hitting just .211 at home, but bats .288 on the road, and has post- ed a season-high monthly average of .303 in August.

BATTLIN’ BEN ... Ben Verlander has hits in eight of his last nine games (8x30, .268), including the last five straight (5x18, .278). On Wednesday, he had a game-winning RBI in game one of a doubleheader while Friday night, he clubbed a two-run homer in Lakeland’s 4-1 win. He began the 2015 campaign with a .313 average in April, but has not topped .206 in any month since.

YOU LEAD, WE’LL FOLLOW ... In the 448 innings Lakeland has played since July 1, the Flying Tigers have been in the lead for just 92 frames.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL ... Although he gave up a two-run double to the first batter he faced in 3.2 innings of relief last night, Will Clinard settled down and struck out the next five batters before finishing with a career-best seven punchouts. He has now allowed just two runs in his last 16.2 innings over seven appearances.

MAYBERRY E.R.A. ... Whit Mayberry has not allowed a run in his last four outings and just two tallies in his last 14.2 innings and nine outings with 14 strikeouts and four strikeouts. His season ERA has dropped to 1.09 over his 13 appearances with 24 strikeouts in 24.2 innings with just seven walks.

THE SKIPPER (thru 8/22) ... Dave Huppert is in his 28th season and leads all active minor league managers with a 1,901-1,772-1 record and ranks 17th among all-time minor league managers. Next up for Huppert on the all-time win list is Cal Ermer who is in 16th place with a 1,906- 1,728 record from 1947-1984. Ironically, Huppert played under Ermer in 1981 when the two were with Toledo, a Triple-A affiliate at that time of the Minnesota Twins. A 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree, This is Huppert’s fifth season with the Flying Tigers and he has a 293-311-1 record at Lakeland, including a FSL championship in 2012.

UP NEXT ... Lakeland has Aug. 26 as an off day and then plays at Dunedin Aug. 27-29 and at Brevard County Aug. 30-Sept. 1 before taking Sept. 2 off. The Flying Tigers’ final two games of the season take place Sept. 3-4 against Tampa before concluding the 2015 campaign with a pair of game at Tampa Sept. 5-6.