Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mission Notes vs. Clearwater (April 17-19)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland continues its six-game road trip with three games at the Clearwater Threshers on Thursday (7:00 pm), Friday (6:30 pm), and Saturday (6:30 pm). The Flying Tigers swept Clearwater on April 11-13, winning 2-0, 4-2 (on a walk-off homer), and 3-0. All three games will be carried on the Threshers website. Chad Wright went 4-for-8 in two games in the series while Jeff McVaney also had four hits in 12 at bats. Curt Powell batted .429 (3x7) in two games against Clearwater earlier while Lance Durham also had three hits in 11 at bats.

THE FLYING TIGERS (7-6, T-3rd, 4.0 GB)
... Lakeland is looking to snap a three-game losing streak after being swept by Brevard County on the road. The Flying Tigers have managed to cross the plate just once in the last two games, falling 7-1 and 1-0, after losing 8-5 in the series opener. The sweep dropped the Flying Tigers to 4.0 games behind the soaring Dunedin Blue Jays who have the best record in baseball at 11-2. The staff ERA of 2.61 is third best in the league behind Bradenton (2.21) and Dunedin (1.83). The Flying Tigers have the lowest batting average in the league at .210 and have scored the fewest runs (38) of any league team. Jake Thompson has the fourth best ERA in the league at 0.48 and is tied for third with 17 strikeouts. Brennan Smith has held opponents to a .083 batting average, second best among FSL relievers.

THE THRESHERS (3-10, 5th, 9.0 GB)
... After losing nine straight, Clearwater has found the right side of the ledger, winning the last two games against Tampa, 8-7 and 4-1, to jump ahead of the struggling Daytona Cubs who are 2-11 after losing nine of their last 10 games. Brian Pointer leads the team with a .324 average and a league-high three triples. He also ranks fifth in the Florida State League with a .559 slugging percentage while KC Serma is hitting .302 on the young season. Ethan Stewart ranks ninth in the FSL with a 1.08 ERA. The Threshers are batting .222 on the year to rank 10th while the staff ERA of 4.02 is fourth highest in the league.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
    4/17 - RHP Endrys Briceno (0-0, 4.50 ERA)
... Briceno did not factor into the decision in his last start against Clearwater on April 12 despite holding the Threshers to two runs and six hits over 6.0 innings. He has spread his runs allowed over this outings, giving up just one run in each of the first three innings total and two in the fourth.
    4/18 - RHP Yorfrank Lopez (1-1, 2.70 ERA) ... Lopez has been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so far with six runs (three earned) allowed in 3.2 innings in his first start and then tossing a two-hitter over 6.1 shutout innings against the Threshers on April 13. He is holding opponents to a .216 average in his two starts.
    4/19 - RHP Edgar De La Rosa (0-3, 3.75 ERA) ... De La Rosa is looking for his first win of the season after taking the “L” in each of his first three starts. In his last start on April 14 at Brevard County, he surrendered four runs (three earned) on three hits and four walks in 3.0 innings, his worst outing of the season.

CLEARWATER PROBABLE STARTERS
    4/17 - LHP Cole Hamels (0-1, 2.70 ERA)
... Hamels, currently on a MLB rehab assignment, makes his second consecutive start against the Flying Tigers. In his previous outing on April 12, he held Lakeland to one run on six hits with six strikeouts and no walks over 6.0 innings. This is expected to be his last appearance before rejoining the Phillies.
    4/18 - RHP Colin Kleven (0-3, 8.80 ERA) ... Kleven is also making his second start against Lakeland. In his last start on April 13, he allowed three runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings – his best start of the season. He had previously allowed six runs in each of his first two starts. Opponents are hitting .348 against Kleven.
    4/19 - LHP Ethan Stewart (0-1, 1.08 ERA) ... Stewart is facing Lakeland for the first time this season. He is coming off a start against Tampa in which he gave up three runs, including two earned runs – the first earned runs he has allowed in three starts. He also walked six batters in that Tampa game – one more than he issued in his first two outings.

LONE BAT ... The only Flying Tiger that has looked forward to seeing his box score would be Chad Wright. While the rest of the hitters are struggling at the plate to find consistency, Wright has hits in each of his last five games and is 8-for-18 for a .444 clip during that span.

SHINING ON THE MOUND ... Jake Thompson was finally proven to be human as Brevard County managed to push across a run against the 6-foot-4 righthander. It was the first run allowed by Thompson in three starts this season and it cost him the game as his teammates were shutout in a 1-0 loss on April 16. The Rockwall, Texas native is 2-1 on the season with a sparkling 0.48 earned run average and 17 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched. His 0.48 ERA and 17 strikeouts are tops in the Detroit minor league organization.

FLASHING THE LEATHER
... Lakeland has backed its stellar pitching staff with a crisp defense that has posted the second best fielding percentage in the league (.976) while committing the second fewest errors (12). First baseman James Robbins has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage while leading the league with 113 putouts and 122 total chances. He has also participated in a league-high 11 double plays.

BEHIND THE DISH ... Austin Green has committed just one error in his nine games behind the plate for Lakeland and has thrown out five would-be basestealers for a .385 percentage which is tied for fourth best in the Florida State League.

KUBITZA EARNS ML HONOR ... Former Flying Tiger Austin Kubitza was named the first Midwest League Pitcher of the Week (for April 3-13). Kubitza was 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA with 16 strikeouts and two walks in 10.2 innings over his first two starts. Last year, the 6-foot-5 righty joined Lakeland on July 27, 2013 and closed out the season, going 0-1 with a 5.82 ERA in seven relief appearances and one start. Kubitza’s 0.84 ERA is seventh best in the Midwest League while his 16 strikeouts is fifth most.

THE SKIPPER ... Manager Dave Huppert, a member of the 2012 FSL Hall of Fame Class, is in his 27th season as a minor league manager and is the active winningest manager in the minors. He ranks 21st all-time with 1,816 career wins (1,816-1,668) entering this series. He has a 208-206 record in three seasons with the Flying Tigers. In 2012, he led Lakeland to the Florida State League Championship to record his fourth overall championship and his third title in the FSL. He also led the 2001 Brevard County (Brewers) to a co-championship while his 2007 Clearwater (Phillies) squad won the crown outright. In addition, he coached the Lakewood Blue Claws (Phillies) to the 2006 South Atlantic League title.

CLEARWATER PROMOS ... The first 1000 fans attending Friday’s game will receive a Jimmy Rollins Florida State League Hall of Fame bobblehead. Following the game will be a concert featuring Jamie Lynn Spears (Britney’s little sister). Saturday is Star Wars night and fireworks.

IN THE SHOW ... Nick Castellanos is hitting .233 in eight games for Detroit with one homer and four runs batted in ... Tyler Collins has played in seven games and has a .143 average.

ON THE FARM
... At 7-6 Lakeland is tied with West Michigan for best record among the four Detroit minor league teams with Erie next at 5-6 and Toledo off to a 4-9 start ... Erie’s Warwick Saupold is sixth in the Eastern League with a 0.93 ERA while Kyle Ryan leads the league with a 0.58 WHIP and a .063 opponent batting average.

UP NEXT
... After taking Sunday, April 20 off, the Flying Tigers return to Lakeland on Monday, April 21 to open a three-game set against Dunedin.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Mission Notes vs. Brevard County (April 14-16)

THE SERIES ... After a six-game homestand, Lakeland hits the road for six games. The away games start Monday at Brevard County at Space Coast Stadium at 6:35 pm. On Tuesday, the two teams do battle at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach in the inaugural Jackie Robinson Celebration Game at 6:30 pm. It’s the first game at Historic Tigertown since August 30, 2008. The series concludes on Wednesday at 6:30 pm back at Space Coast Stadium.

THE FLYING TIGERS (7-3, 2nd, 1.0 GB) ... Lakeland’s pitchers allowed just a pair of runs in sweeping Clearwater and posted a 0.67 ERA in the three-game series against the struggling Threshers. The Flying Tigers posted sandwiched a pair of shutouts around a dramatic 4-2 win in the middle game to move into sole possession of second place, one game behind the division-leading Blue Jays. Lakeland, which is 5-3 at home and 2-0 on the road, has now won four in a row and seven of its last nine games overall. The club enters this series with the second-best record in the Florida State League. The Flying Tigers have the second lowest staff ERA (2.10) in the league and have tossed a league-best three shutouts. The team batting average of .220 is 10th in the Florida State League. Jeff McVaney and Lance Durham lead the Lakeland attack with .323 and .320 batting averages, respectively.

THE MANATEES (6-4, T-3rd, 2.0 GB) ... Brevard County dropped the last two games to Dunedin scoring two runs in each of the two losses. The club has lost three of its last four contests and enters the series as one of five teams in the FSL with a 6-4 record. The Manatees are 1-1 at home this season having played eight of their first ten games on the road. Brevard County is struggling at the plate with a .216 team batting average with only one player, Tyrone Taylor at .293, hitting higher than .257 on the season. Like the Flying Tigers, the Manatees have hit one home run. Michael Reed leads the FSL with seven stolen bases while closer Tanner Poppe is tied for the league-lead with three saves.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
    4/14 - RHP Edgar De La Rosa (0-2, 2.00 ERA)
... De La Rosa is looking for his first win of the 2014 season. He has allowed five runs in two starts (only two were earned) with seven strikeouts, zero walks, and 10 hits allowed in 9.0 innings. Against Brevard on April 9, he took the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits with three Ks.
    4/15 - LHP Jordan John (1-0, 4.50 ERA) ... John was tagged for five runs on seven hits in 7.0 innings a no-decision start on April 10 against Brevard County. All five of those runs came in the second inning. In his first start on April 4 at Tampa, he gave up one run on two hits with six strikeouts in 5.0 innings.
    4/16 - RHP Jake Thompson (2-0, 0.00 ERA) ... Thompson worked 6.2 shutout innings in a win over Clearwater on April 11 with five strikeouts, two walks and four hits allowed. He has not allowed a run in 11.2 innings over his last two starts with 12 strikeouts. Including his last three starts of 2013 at West Michigan, Thompson is 3-0 record with a 0.98 ERA, 35 strikeouts, 11 walks, and 16 hits allowed in his last five starts.

BREVARD COUNTY PROBABLE STARTERS
    4/14 - RHP Tyler Wagner (2-0, 0.87 ERA)
... Wagner worked 5.1 innings with six strikeouts while holding to Lakeland to a three hits and one run in a 4-1 Manatees win on April 9.
    4/15 - RHP Damien Magnifico (0-0, 4.22 ERA) ... Magnifico tosed 5.0 innings in a no decision at Lakeland on April 10. The Flying Tigers rang up four runs against him on five hits.
    4/16 - Jed Bradley (1-1, 7.71 ERA) ... Bradley did not face Lakeland in the first series. In his first outing, he was tagged for seven runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings against Daytona, but came back with 5.0 strong innings at Dunedin on April 11, holding the Blue Jays to one run on four hits with six strikeouts.

WRIGHT THERE ... Chad Wright has gone 5-for-10 (.500) his last three starts with three runs scored.

WALK-OFF HOMER ... Austin Green picked a perfect time to hit the team’s first homer of the year, driving a pitch over the left field wall in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Lakeland to a 4-2 win over Clearwater in front of 4,010 fans on Saturday night. It was Green’s third homer of his career and it gave the Flying Tigers their second walk-off win of the season. It was the first walk-off homer for a Flying Tiger since Steven Moya luanched a solo shot on June 13, 2013 to defeat Bradenton.

DURHAM STREAK ... Lance Durham enters the series with hits in his last four games, going 5x15 (.333) with three runs scored. His .469 on-base percentage is fourth best in the league.

TWO-TIMING McVANEY ... Jeff McVaney has had two hits in a game four times this season and has hit a double in five of his last seven games. Since going 0-for-3 in the season opener, the Flying Tigers outfielder is 10-for-28 (.357) with seven runs driven in. His five doubles on the year is tied for second most in the Florida State League.

CURT WELCOME ... Newcomer Curt Powell has hits in both of his games played since joining Lakeland on April 11 and is 3-for-7 (.429) in those two games with a run scored in his first game on April 12.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES... In his last outing of 2013, Kevin Eichhorn was tagged for seven runs on ten hits in a 5.0 inning start in a loss at Tampa. This year, he has been lights out, not allowing a runner to cross home plate in 8.1 innings over two long relief outings. He has struck out seven and has not walked a batter in the two games. Eichhorn is one of eight pitchers, including teammate Jake Thompson, having not allowed an earned run through at least 8.0 innings of work. His 0.48 WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched) is third lowest in the FSL.

MAKING IT COUNT
... Guido Knudson has picked up a win and two saves in his three relief appearances so far this season. He has racked up ten strikeouts in 4.2 innings including eight punch outs in his last 3.0 innings out of the pen. His 19.29 strikeouts per nine innings is best in the league. He has also not allowed a base hit through 13 opponents’ at bats this season over 4.2 innings.

TOP TWO FIELDING TEAMS ... Brevard County leads the Florida State League with a .984 fielding percentage with a league-low six errors while Lakeland is second with a .980 mark and just eight errors.

ROSTER MOVES ... Infielder Brandon Loy has been promoted to AA Erie to take the roster spot vacated when Devon Travis was placed on the disabled list with a right oblique strain. To take Loy’s place on the Lakeland roster, infielder Curt Powell, a former 21st round pick by Detroit in 2013, was added to the roster from West Michigan.

THE SKIPPER ... Manager Dave Huppert, a member of the 2012 FSL Hall of Fame Class, is in his 27th season as a minor league manager and is the active winningest manager in the minors. He ranks 21st all-time with 1,816 career wins (1,816-1,665) entering this series. He has a 208-203 record in three seasons with the Flying Tigers. In 2012, he led Lakeland to the Florida State League Championship to record his fourth overall championship and his third title in the FSL. He also led the 2001 Brevard County (Brewers) to a co-championship while his 2007 Clearwater (Phillies) squad won the crown outright. In addition, he coached the Lakewood Blue Claws (Phillies) to the 2006 South Atlantic League title.

UP NEXT .
.. Lakeland continues its six-game road trip with three games at Clearwater Threshers on Thursday (7:00 pm), Friday (6:30 pm), and Saturday (6:30 pm). After taking Sunday, April 20 off, the Flying Tigers return to Lakeland on Monday, April 21 to open a three-game set against Dunedin.