Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mission Notes vs. Bradenton (July 24-27)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland captured three of the four games in the first series meeting on May 12-15 at Bradenton. The Flying Tigers took the opener by a 4-3 score in 10 innings and then shut out the Marauders 3-0 in game two. Bradenton came back to win game three 7-6 in 10 innings in the first game of a doubleheader. Lakeland capped the series with a 4-3, eight-inning win in game two of the twin-bill. Connor Harrell led Lakeland in that series with six hits while Curt Powell added five base knocks, including a pair of doubles. Josh Bell, now at AA Altoona, led the Marauders with nine hits, including three doubles and a homer for six runs batted in. 

THE FLYING TIGERS (7-24, 6th, 12.0 GB; 49-49 overall) ... After taking the opening game against Jupiter, 10-5, Lakeland dropped the final three games of the series by a combined 15-4 score. The Flying Tigers have now lost nine of their last 11 games and are 4-20 since June 26. Nine of those 20 losses were by one run. Lakeland’s 49-49 overall record drops them to .500 for the first time since starting the season 3-3 on April 9. The Flying Tigers were 18 games over .500 on June 16, but have gone 7-25 since. James Robbins is third in the Florida State League with 12 homers while Jeff McVaney is fifth with 54 runs batted in. 

THE MARAUDERS (20-11, 3rd, 2.0 GB; 55-45 overall) ... Bradenton won three of four games against Dunedin with shutout victories in each of the last two outings. The Marauders are 11-4 since July 8. Tyler Glasnow ranks second in the Florida State League with a 1.64 ERA and is fourth with 97 strikeouts. He leads the league with a .178 opponents batting average and is fifth with a 1.11 WHIP. Glasnow lost his first three starts, but is 7-1 with a 1.10 ERA in his last 12 outings since. Chad Kuhl is the FSL’s only 10-game winner, sporting a 10-5 record and a 3.34 ERA. The Marauders have scored the third fewest runs and have hit the fewest home runs of any Florida State League team. However, with the back-to-back blankings, Bradenton now has a league-leading 15 staff shutouts.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS:
7/24 - LHP Locke St. John (0-2, 7.71 ERA) ... St. John was tagged with the loss in his last start on July 18 after giving up five runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings with three strikeouts and five walks. He has allowed three runs or more in each of his three starts and has struck out three batters in each game. St. John was wrapping up his junior year at the University of South Alabama when the Flying Tigers last played Bradenton.
7/25 - RHP Tommy Collier (1-0, 6.00 ERA) ... Collier gave up four runs on six hits in 6.0 innings against Charlotte with seven strikeouts and one walk in his first start for Lakeland in 2014. He had won his last two starts at AA Erie, allowing just a pair of runs on six hits and eight walks with six strikeouts in 12.0 combined innings. Collier was 4-7 overall with a 5.88 ERA in 17 starts for the SeaWolves.
7/26 - RHP Yorfrank Lopez (5-7, 4.55 ERA) ... Lopez picked up the win on July 20 against Jupiter, snapping a three-game losing streak. In each of his last two starts, he has allowed three runs on eight hits with one strikeout. Over his last eight starts, he has a 3-4 record and a 3.27 ERA (16 ER/44 IP). Lopez faced Bradenton on May 15, giving up three runs on six hits with two strikeouts and four walks in 5.0 innings.
7/27 - RHP Edgar De La Rosa (5-8, 2.68 ERA) ... De La Rosa, who ranks ninth in the FSL with a 2.68 ERA, lost his last start on July 22 versus Jupiter, allowing three runs on six hits over 4.0 innings. He has now lost four of his last five decisions, but has allowed just eight earned runs in his last seven starts for a 3-4 record and a 2.30 ERA. De La Rosa, who is also third in the FSL with a .217 opponents average, has not faced Bradenton this season.

OPPOSITE ENDS OF THIEVERY ... The Marauders lead the FSL with 97 stolen bases, however no one on the current roster has more than 14 stolen bases. On the other side, Lakeland has swiped the fewest bases of any league team (43), led by Jeff McVaney’s 13 stolen bases. The Flying Tigers have stolen just 10 bases this half with three of those coming in the July 8 game against Brevard. 

THREE GAMES, THREE TEAMS ... Alex Burgos recently experienced a whirlwind tour of the Detroit organization appearing in games in Erie, Toledo and Lakeland in succession. On July 7, Burgos worked a game in Lakeland and four days later on July 11, earned a promotion to AA Erie. There he pitched on July 12, working 1.0 inning and recording two strikeouts with one walk and one hit batsman. A week later, on July 19, the 5’11” lefty, walked the only batter he faced in an brief appearance at AAA Toledo. Three days after pitching in the International League, Burgos came full circle, returning to Lakeland to pitch 3.1 innings against Jupiter.

A GREEN STREAK ... Austin Green brings a six-game hit streak into this series, going 8-for-21 for a .381 average and five runs batted in. He has hits in 13 of his last 15 games and is batting .353 during that stretch with four homers and 12 runs knocked in. 

MATCHING STREAK ... Jeff McVaney also brings a six-game streak into this series, going 9-for-22 (.409) with six runs scored. He has hits in nine of his last 10 games, posting a .400 mark (14-for-35) during that streak.

LAKELAND SPONSOR MAY BE BUSY THIS MORNING ... One of Lakeland’s corporate sponsors is Watson Clinic, a nearby medical facility. Today, the Watson Clinic waiting room my be full of Flying Tigers as two pitchers left Wednesday’s game with apparent injuries. Starter Charlie Gillies who is working his way back from starting the season on the West Michigan disabled list, left the game four pitches into the third inning. The 6’2” righty came off the mound shaking his arm as though trying to work out a kink. His successor, Logan Ehlers pitched 2.2 innings before pulling up when running to cover first base on a ball hit to the right side.

ROSTER SHUFFLIN’ ... LHP Ryan Longstreth was placed on the Temporary Inactive List on July 21 and reinstated on July 24 ... RHP Daryl Norris was added from the GCL on July 21 and sent back on July 23 ... RHP Tyler Clark was placed on the Disabled List on July 22 with OF Ismael Salgado added from the GCL ... In a flurry of activity on July 23, RHP Charlie Gillies was placed on the DL while Nate Fury was transferred to the GCL club. RHP Scott Sitz was added from Connecticut and LHP Tyler Ford joined Lakeland from the GCL Tigers. Buy a scorecard, folks.

FORMER FLYING TIGER TRADED ... On Wednesday, the Detroit Tigers sent former Flying Tiger hurler Jake Thompson and pitcher Corey Knebel to the Texas Rangers in exchange for closer Joakim Soria. Thompson was Detroit’s top pick in 2012 and was an FSL All-Star this season with Lakeland, going 6-4 with a 3.14 ERA before earning a promotion July 15 to AA Erie. With the SeaWolves, he was 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts. For Thompson, who won the 2014 SiriusXM Futures All-Star Game, it will be a homecoming as he hails from Dallas, Texas.

TURLEY WINS AA DEBUT ... Former Flying Tiger Josh Turley picked up the win in his Erie debut on July 19, holding the Akron RubberDucks to a pair of runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 6.0 innings.

TRAVIS EARNS LEAGUE HONOR ... Former Flying Tiger Devon Travis was named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the week ending July 20. Travis batted .435 in six games, going 10-for-23 with a two homers and a pair of doubles for five runs batted in. 

CLOSING IN ON 4000 ... Lakeland enters the Bradenton series with 3,994 all-time wins, needing seven more victories to reach 4,000. Lakeland has a 3,994-4,230 record since 1963.


UP NEXT ... The Flying Tigers hit the road for four games at Palm Beach May 28-31, before returning for another eight-game homestand with Fort Myers August 1-4 and Dunedin Aug. 5-8. Lakeland will close out the season with just eight home games over the final three weeks.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mission Notes vs. Jupiter (July 20-23)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland swept Jupiter in four games on the road May 27-30 winning the first two games by one run and game three by two runs, before hammering the Hammerheads 12-2 in the finale. Chad Wright led Lakeland in the series with eight hits while five other Flying Tigers each had five base knocks. This four-game home series gets underway Sunday at 1:00 pm. Game two is Monday at 6:30 pm with game three Tuesday at 10:30 am as the Flying Tigers welcome area summer campers in a Parks and Recreation Day. The series finale is Wednesday at 6:30 pm.

THE FLYING TIGERS (6-21, 6th, 11.0 GB; 48-46 overall) ... Lakeland snapped a six-game losing streak with a 9-4 win at Charlotte on Saturday. Lance Durham homered and singled to drive in four runs to lead the Lakeland attack as eight of the nine Flying Tigers in the line-up all got base hits. Lakeland had ten base hits in the game for the first time in the nine games. In that stretch, the Flying Tigers hit just .207 with 27 base hits—11 doubles, 1 triple and 6 homers. Lakeland has the second lowest team batting average (.245) in the Florida State League while the staff ERA of 3.32 has dropped to sixth in the league. The Flying Tigers’ defense remains atop the FSL standings with a .980 fielding percentage and a league-low 72 errors.

THE HAMMERHEADS (5-22, 6th, 15.5 GB; 32-64 overall) ... Jupiter lost 12-7 at Dunedin Saturday despite out-hitting the Blue Jays 14-13. The loss was the Hammerheads’ third in a row and gives them a 10-39 record since May 23. Viosergy Rosa, who has played in more games (95) than any other FSL player this season, is second in the league with 63 runs batted in. Jupiter’s team batting average of .260 is tied for fifth best in the league while the staff ERA of 4.45 is second highest in the FSL. The Hammerheads have been charged with the second most errors in the league. However, Colin Moran tops all league third baseman with a .971 fielding percentage.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS:
7/20 - RHP Yorfrank Lopez (4-7, 4.60 ERA) ... Lopez has dropped his last three starts giving up a combined 13 runs—12 earned—on 21 hits with nine strikeouts and six walks. In his last start in the first game of a doubleheader at St. Lucie on July 14, he tossed 6.0 innings in a complete game, giving up three runs on eight hits. Over his last seven starts, he has a 2-4 record and a 3.16 ERA. Lopez has not faced Jupiter.
7/21 - RHP Kevin Eichhorn (5-2, 2.40 ERA) ... Eichhorn, who is sixth in the league with a 2.40 ERA, has not pitched since July 8 when he gave up one run on five hits in 5.0 innings in taking the win against Brevard County. He has allowed just three runs in his last 10.2 innings over his last two starts and has 11 starts in which he has held opponents to two or fewer runs. Eichhorn beat Jupiter on May 28 after giving up one run on four hits over 7.0 innings with four strikeouts and two walks.
7/22 - RHP Edgar De La Rosa (5-7, 2.52 ERA) ... De La Rosa, who ranks eighth in the FSL with a 2.52 ERA, lost his last start on July 17 at Charlotte, allowing three runs on seven hits over 7.0 innings. He has now lost three of his last four decisions. De La Rosa, who is also second in the FSL with a .211 opponents average, had given up just two earned runs in 31.1 innings prior to the July 17 outing. In a previous outing against Jupiter on May 29, he picked up the win by holding the Hammerheads to one unearned run on five hits in 7.0 innings with four strikeouts and one walk.
7/23 - LHP Locke St. John (0-2, 7.71 ERA) ... St. John was tagged with the loss in his last start on July 18 after giving up five runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings with three strikeouts and five walks. He has allowed three runs or more in each of his three starts and has struck out three batters in each game. St. John was wrapping up his junior year at the University of South Alabama when the Flying Tigers last played Jupiter.

DRUMMIN’ ALONG ... Calvin Drummond has allowed just three runs in last his last 16.1 innings over 12 appearances. He has struck out 23 in those 16.1 innings, but has also walked 10 batters.

AWESOME AUSTIN ... Austin Green has had hits in 12 of last 14 games (15x44) for a .341 clip.

MOVIN’ MAC ... Jeff McVaney is 7x21 (.333) his last six games.

ROCKIN’ ROBBINS ... James Robbins has hits in 11 of last 13 games (14x46) for a .304 mark, but has knocked in just five runs in the 13 contests. He is one of three players tied for second in the Florida State League with 12 home runs.

NON-JOLLY JULY ... Lakeland has managed a 3-13 record in July and just a .204 batting average in the month after going 10-13 in June with a .248 mark. The Flying Tigers are 13-26 since going 19-10 in May.

MOYA NAMED ASG MVP ... Former Flying Tiger Steven Moya was named the Eastern League All-Star Game MVP. Moya, playing for Erie and the West Division, belted a grand slam in the fifth inning to lift his squad to a 5-2 win over the East. He finished the first half of the season leading the Eastern League with 22 homers and was second with 75 RBI.

PAIR OF FORMER FLYING TIGERS MAKE MLB DEBUTS ... Former Flying Tigers Drew VerHagen and Curt Casali made their Major League debuts on Friday. VerHagen, who pitched during the 2012 and 2013 seasons for Lakeland, started for Detroit Friday and struck out four in 5.0 innings, but gave up three runs on five hits in getting the loss. Casali, who played for the Flying Tigers in 2012, started behind the plate for the Tampa Bay Rays and wasted no time in getting his first big league hit, singling in his first at bat.

BIG FINISH ... Daytona and Fort Myers battled for 17 innings on Friday night before Rock Shoulders hit a walk-off grand slam to give the Cubs a 11-7 win over the Miracle. The two pitching staffs combined for 39 strikeouts, one shy of the Florida State League of 40 set in a 29-inning game between Miami (Orioles) and St. Petersburg (Cardinals) on June 14, 1966. (On a side note, the manager of the St. Petersburg club in that game was Sparky Anderson, who would go on to win World Series titles with Cincinnati and Detroit.)

FSL QUICK HITS ... The grand slam by Daytona’s Rock Shoulders on Friday was his second of the season and the 23rd bases-loaded homer in the FSL this season. Adam Brett Walker has had three of Ft. Myer’s league-high seven grand slams. Lakeland’s James Robbins and Lance Durham have each hit one grand slam this season ... Brevard County’s Victor Roache is the only player in the FSL to hit three homers in one game this season, going yard thrice on May 4 ... The Manatee’s Tyrone Taylor and the Cubs’ Albert Almora have each hit for the cycle this year ... Lakeland’s Curt Powell is one of three players in the FSL to have five hits in a game twice this season. Daytona’s Almora and Tampa’s Jake Cave are the others ... There hasn’t been a no-hitter in the FSL since Daytona’s Matt Lossen kept Dunedin hitless in a 9-inning win on July 8, 2013. The Miracle’s Jose Berrios came the closest this season, throwing a one-hitter over seven innings on June 1 against Tampa. 

CLOSING IN ON 4000 ... Lakeland enters the Jupiter series with 3,993 all-time wins, needing seven more victories to reach 4,000. Lakeland has a 3,993-4,227 record since 1963.

UP NEXT ... Lakeland concludes an eight-game home stand by hosting Bradenton for four games May 24-27. The Flying Tigers then hit the road for four games at Palm Beach May 28-31, before returning for yet another eight-game homestand with Fort Myers August 1-4 and then Dunedin hitting town Aug. 5-8. Lakeland will close out the season with just eight home games over the final three weeks.