Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mission Notes vs. Bradenton (May 21-24)

THE SERIES ... The Flying Tigers will face Bradenton for the first time this season, hosting the Marauders for four games May 21-24. The first two games of the series are at 6:30 pm with the Saturday game at 5 pm as the Flying Tigers stage a Sunset Celebration following the game. The finale is set for Sunday, May 24 at 1 pm.

UP NEXT ... Lakeland has Monday, May 25 as an off day before heading on the road for four games at St. Lucie, May 26–29.

LAST SEASON ... Lakeland won the season series in 2014, taking five of the eight games. The Flying Tigers won three of the four played in Bradenton while the two teams split the four games in Lakeland. Three of five Lakeland wins were by 4-3 scores.

THE FLYING TIGERS (19-20, 3rd, 4.5 GB) ... Lakeland dropped two of three games at Daytona, losing both ends of the series in 11 innings. The Flying Tigers have alternated wins and losses their last six games and are 11-6 since May 3. Although the squad was shutout in Wednesday’s game, they have posted a .282 average in the last seven games with three doubles. Lakeland is 6-12 at home this season and 3-5 vs. the South Division.

THE MARAUDERS (20-20, 2nd, 6.0 game lead) ... Bradenton lost two of its three games against Fort Myers and has now been beaten in four of its last six games. The Marauders are 14-10 on the road and 5-3 vs. the North Division. Jin-De Jhang is third in the FSL with a .336 average while Austin Meadows and Wyatt Mathisen rank 8th and 10th with .315 and .312 averages, respectively. Meadows is also tied for third with 47 hits while JaCoby Jones and Jose Osuna are third and fourth in the league with 26 and 25 RBIs. Osuna is also tied for fourth with 14 extra base hits and fifth with 67 total bases. Bradenton is the top hitting team in the FSL with a .277 batting average and has scored the second most runs. The Marauders need that offense as the team pitching staff has the second worst ERA with a 3.96 mark.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
5/21 - RHP Tommy Collier (3-3, 1.90 ERA) ... Collier, who is 8th in the FSL with a 1.90 ERA, has been tagged with the loss in his last two starts despite holding his opponents to two runs in each contest. In his last start on May 16, he worked a season-high eight innings, limiting Dunedin to a pair of runs on six hits. Collier struck out four in the game for the third start in a row. He is 2-2 with a 1.75 ERA in four home starts this season. 
5/22 - LHP Locke St. John (2-2, 3.38 ERA) ... St. John got the win in his last start on May 17 after allowing a pair of unearned runs to Dunedin. He gave up just four hits in 6.0 innings of work and struck out four while walking two. In his last three starts, Collier has allowed just one earned run for a 0.56 ERA and is 2-0 in May with a 1.29 earned run average.
5/23 - LHP Kevin Ziomek (2-3, 5.94 ERA) ... Ziomek, who is second in the FSL with 53 strikeouts, did not factor in the decision in his last start on May 18 at Daytona, marking the first time in eight starts that has happened. Against the Tortugas, he went 7.1 innings and allowed four runs on four hits. In his last two starts, he has worked 15.1 innings and struck out eight in each contest. Ziomek is 1-2 with a 2.81 ERA in three home starts while posting a 3-1 record with a 4.09 ERA in five road starts.
5/24 - RHP Jonathan Maciel (2-3, 5.53 ERA) ... Marciel worked 4.1 innings in his last start on May 19 at Daytona and did not factor into the decision, despite holding the Tortugas to three runs—one earned—on five hits. He has allowed just the one earned run in his last 10.1 innings over two starts with five punchouts and five walks. Maciel is 2-1 on the road with a 3.41 ERA in six starts while posting a 0-2 mark at home with a 13.00 earned run average in two starts. 

TOP PICKS ... Bradenton outfielder Austin Meadows and catcher Reese McGuire were both picked in the first round of the 2013 draft by Pittsburgh. Meadows was compensatory pick and was chosen ninth overall while McGuire was the Pirates’ top pick, 14th overall, in the regular draft.

ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END ... Javier Betancourt and Dominic Ficociello both saw their hitting streaks come to an end in the Daytona series. Ficociello was the first to go down as he was held hitless in the opening game of the series, stopping his streak at 12 games. He was 18x50 (.360) during his streak. Betancourt lasted until the final game of the Tortugas series, snapping his streak at 14 games. He was 20x79 for a .339 mark during the 14 contests.

WILD AND CRAZY GAME ... Lakeland turned down the Tortugas, 8-5, on the road Tuesday in game that had some strange happenings. Daytona led 1-0 thru four innings while the two teams combined for 11 runs in the next two innings. The Flying Tigers committed a season-high five errors that led to three unearned runs. Tim Remes had four hits—two more than he had in his first three games played—and was credited with an unassisted double play on a strike out and batter’s interference. To cap it off, home plate umpire Joe George ejected three participants, including Flying Tigers’ DH, Bobby Borchering.

HANDY HANOVER ... Tyler Hanover is 5x10 in his last three games played. In the middle game of the Daytona series, he had two doubles and drove in three runs.

PICKET FENCE ... Jiwan James has one hit in each of the last six straight games and in 12 of the last 13 games. His six-game hit streak is the longest active streak on the Flying Tigers. (Editor note: Jared Reaves has an 11-game hit streak going, but he is currently on the disabled list.)

FRANKLY FRANCISCO ... Francisco Martinez has hits in six of his last seven games and is 10x26 during that stretch for a .385 clip.

ROSTER MOVE ... Infielder Curt Powell was promoted to AA Erie on Tuesday with David Gonzalez coming up from West Michigan. Powell was second in the Florida State League with a .342 for Lakeland and had hits in 27 of his 33 games played this season, including 11 games with two or more hits. Gonzalez, who played five games for Lakeland in 2014, was hitting .286 for the Whitecaps and recorded nine multi-hit games.

THE SKIPPER (thru 5/20) ... Flying Tigers manager Dave Huppert ranks 17th among minor league manager in terms of wins and has a 1,890-1,757 record entering today’s game. Huppert now trails Cal Ermer who is in 16th place with a 1,906-1,728 record compiled from 1947-1984. Huppert is a 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree and is back for a 28th season as a minor league manager. He is in his fifth season with Lakeland and has a 282-295 record, including a FSL championship in 2012. 

Evan Chambers Memorial Game ... At Sunday’s series finale, the Flying Tigers will be celebrating the life of Evan Chambers, a former Lakeland High School standout and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect who died in his sleep on December 2013. There will be special pre-game ceremonies and well as the 7th inning stretch led by former Dreadnaught teammates. Chambers was a third-round pick of the Pirates in 2009 out of Hillsborough Community College.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mission Notes vs. Daytona (May 18-20)

THE SERIES ... The Flying Tigers head East on I-4 for their first road trip against the newest FSL club, the Daytona Tortugas, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The three-game series gets underway Monday at 7:05 pm with Tuesday’s game also a 7:05 pm start. The finale on Wednesday is a 10:35 am start as the Tortugas host area school kids in an Education Day game.

UP NEXT ... Lakeland returns to Joker Marchant Stadium for four games against Bradenton May 21-24.

EARLIER THIS SEASON ... The Flying Tigers, then in sixth place in the North Division, entertained the division-leading Tortugas on May 5-7 and won both ends of the three-game series by scores of 7-0 and 6-1. Daytona took the middle game 3-2. 

THE FLYING TIGERS (18-18, 3rd, 3.5 GB) ... Lakeland took two of three from Dunedin over the weekend and has now won five of the last six games and 11 of their last 16 games and the club is now 7-12 at home and 11-6 on the road. The Flying Tigers have hit 20 homers on the season, third most in the FSL and have stolen just 18 bases, fewest in the league. The five-man rotation of Kevin Ziomek, Jonathan Maciel, Ryan Longstreth, Tommy Collier, and Locke St. John, has combined to allow just three earned runs (six overall) in 38.0 innings in the last six games for a 0.71 ERA. 

THE TORTUGAS (22-15, 1st, 1.0 game lead) ... Daytona dropped two of three at Clearwater over the weekend and is 4-2 the last six games, but 6-7 the last 13 outings. Philip Ervin is tied with two others for the FSL-lead with eight homers and also leads the league with 32 runs scored—six more than the number two player. He is third with 68 total bases and is fourth with a .486 slugging percentage. Alex Blandino is ninth in the FSL with a .321 average and tied for fourth with a .400 on-base percentage. Sebastian Elizalde is tied for fourth with 23 RBI. Closer Zack Weiss is fifth in the league with five saves. The Tortugas have hit a league-high 25 home runs and have struck out a league-worst 312 times.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
5/18 - LHP Kevin Ziomek (4-3, 3.46) ... Ziomek, who is third in the FSL with 45 strikeouts, tossed 3-hit ball over 8.0 shutout innings with eight strikeouts and no walks in his last outing on May 13 at Jupiter. That game is the third in which the 6’3” lefty has recorded eight strikeouts. Ziomek has won his last two starts and is 4-1 in his last five with a 1.37 ERA in the four wins. His one loss in that period came on May 2, a game in which he was tagged for seven runs in 5.1 innings at Tampa. He is 3-1 on the road in 2015. Ziomek did not pitch in the earlier series with Daytona.
5/19 - RHP Jonathan Maciel (2-3, 5.94) ... Maciel allowed six hits in 6.0 scoreless innings in his last start on May 14, a win at Jupiter. In that game, he struck out for a second straight game while walking three. He has won two of his last three decisions and has a 0.75 ERA in those two wins. Maciel is 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA in five road starts this season and 0-2 with a 13.00 ERA in two home starts. He has not faced the Tortugas.
5/20 - RHP Ryan Longstreth (2-2, 2.60) ... Longstreth pitched in just 3.0 innings against the Tortugas on May 4, leaving the game with an injury that landed him on the DL. He has allowed one run on four hits and three strikeouts in that game. Longstreth returned from the disabled list for his last start on May 15 against Dunedin and picked up his second with 5.0 shutout innings. He held the Blue Jays to four hits with four strikeouts and two walks. This is just his second road start (1-0, 0.00 ERA). His other five starts came at home where he is 1-2 with a 3.32 earned run average.

HOPING FOR A LUCKY 13 ... Dominic Ficociello went 3x4 on Sunday and now has hits in each of his last 12 games for a .360 mark, going 18x50 with seven RBI since May 5. He is tied for second in the FSL with 44 hits. Javier Betancourt also brings an 12-game hit streak into this afternoon’s game, having gone 16x50 (.320) with six runs scored and nine runs batted in since May 5. The dual 12-game streaks are the longest active streaks in the FSL. Betancourt is the second toughest batter to strike out in the FSL with one strikeout per 17.63 plate appearances. He has whiffed just once in his last 78 at bats and just eight times all season. Betancourt has also hit safely in 12 straight road games. Last season, three Flying Tigers batters reached double digits in hit streaks: Harold Castro (18 games, 7/23–8/14); Connor Harrell (14 games, 8/1–17); and Curt Powell (11 games, 5/10–21).

THE POWERFUL POWELL ... Curt Powell went 1x3 on Sunday with a pair of runs scored and has now had hits in 23 of his last 29 games, posting a .347 average (33x95) since April 17. During that stretch, Powell has scored 21 times while plating 11 runs. He has had six doubles and a pair of triples while drawing 12 walks. Powell ranks second in the FSL with a .345 batting average and is also second with a .429 on-base percentage. He has scored in six straight games. Powell is batting a crisp .387 at home and .296 on the road.

FIVE IN SIX ... The Flying Tigers batted around in the sixth inning on Sunday, sending 10 men to the plate, and scoring five runs in the process. The five runs in the sixth inning Sunday equals the total number of runs Lakeland had scored in the sixth inning in the entire season.

WALKING ON SUNSHINE ... Wednesday’s game will be the third time  in the six-game series these two clubs have met with 10:30 am first pitch times as Lakeland hosted back-to-back Education Days on May 5 and 6, making up an earlier postponed day game.

THROWING ZEROS ... Matt Crouse tossed two scoreless innings Friday and has not allowed a run in five appearances since joining Lakeland from AA Erie on April 27 ... Julio Felix has not been scored upon in 8.0 innings over three appearances, picking up wins in two of those three games ... Slade Smith has tossed 7.1 scoreless innings in his four appearances since being added to the roster from AA Erie on May 1.

FLYING HIGH ... Francisco Martinez is 7x13 (.538) his last four games with three runs scored. He is batting .206 in 17 road games while posting just a .161 mark in 15 home contests ... Jiwan James has hits in 11 of his last 13 games, going 14x51 (.275) with seven runs scored ... Bobby Borchering is 6x23 (.261) his last six games with a three runs scored, two doubles, a homer, and two RBI ... as a team, the Flying Tigers are hitting .311 in the last four games with 10 or more hit in three of those four contests.

HUPPERT RANKS 17th ALL-TIME (thru 5/17) ... Flying Tigers manager Dave Huppert has moved into sole possession of 17th place for wins by a minor league manager and has a 1,889-1,755 record entering today’s game. With Friday night’s win, Huppert broke a tie with Bruno Betzel (1927-56) for 17th place and now sets his sights on Cal Ermer who is in 16th place with a 1,906-1,728 record compiled from 1947-1984. Huppert is a 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree and is back for a 28th season as a minor league manager. He is in his fifth season with Lakeland and has a 281-293 record, including a FSL championship in 2012.