Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mission Notes vs. Fort Myers (July 26-29)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland continues its eight-game road trip with a four-game series at Fort Myers July 26-29. The opener is set for 4:05 pm Sunday with the next three games scheduled for 7:05 pm. The Flying Tigers were swept by the Miracle in the first half in Lakeland. Fort Myers won the opener 5-3 and then, after a rain out, shut out Lakeland 4-0 in a game called after five innings due to rain. The two teams locked up for a doubleheader the next night with the Miracle winning the first game 2-1 in 13 innings and then taking the nightcap 7-3 in seven frames. Lakeland was outscored 18-7 in the four-games. The Flying Tigers’ team batting average of .236 is second lowest in the league while the staff ERA of 3.54 is fourth highest. Lakeland’s 326 runs scored is second lowest in the FSL.

THE FLYING TIGERS (6-21, 6th North, 12.5 GB; 39-57-1 overall) ... Lakeland had a wet time in Palm Beach as the first two nights of the series were rained out. The Cardinals won the Friday night doubleheader, but the Saturday twin bill was rained out with the games being lost to schedule. The two losses on Saturday extended the Flying Tigers losing streak to 13 games, the longest in at least the last 20 years for Lakeland. It is the longest losing streak for any FSL team since Jupiter lost 13 straight games in 2011. The Hammerheads also lost 15 consecutive games in 2010, the longest losing streak for any league team in the last 10 seasons.

THE MIRACLE (17-13, 3rd South, 4.0 game lead, 55-45 overall) ... Fort Myers split its four-game series with Tampa, including a doubleheader split on Saturday. The Miracle are 5-4 their last nine games after dropping four straight from July 12-16. Catcher Alex Swim, currently on the Disabled List, is second in the league with a .318 batting average and fourth with 106 hits while fellow catcher Mitch Garver is second in the FSL with 50 walks. Righthander Chih-Wei Hu tops the league with an impressive 2.03 ERA to go with his 5-2 record while Aaron Siegers is eighth with a 2.88 earned run average. The Miracle pitching staff has the lowest ERA in the league with a 2.57 mark. They have also struck out the third most opponents of any league team.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
SUN., JULY 26 - LHP Locke St. John (2-9, 4.85 ERA) ... St. John was charged with the loss in his last start on July 18 at Bradenton despite holding the Pirates to three runs on eight hits in 6.0 innings. He is now 0-7 over his last nine starts while allowing 31 runs in 41.1 innings for a 6.75 earned run average with 22 strikeouts and 16 walks. St. John lost his only previous start against Fort Myers on June 8, giving up four runs on eight hits in 5.0 innings with one walk and one strikeout.
MON., JULY 27 - RHP Jonathan Maciel (3-8, 5.42 ERA) ... Maciel was tagged with the loss in his last start on July 19 at home vs. Clearwater despite limiting the Threshers to a pair of runs on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He is 1-2 in his last five starts with a 3.07 ERA. During those five starts he had 19 strikeouts and six walks. Maciel took the loss in a previous start against the Miracle on June 11, surrendering seven runs on a season-high 12 hits in 5.1 innings with one walk and three strikeouts.
TUE, JULY 28 - LHP Trent Szkutnik (0-4, 6.75 ERA) ... Szkutnik worked 5.0 innings in his last start on July 20 at home against Clearwater, allowing five runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He has now given up 11 earned runs on 14 hits in 8.2 innings in his last two starts, losing both games. Szkutnik was not with the Flying Tigers for the earlier series vs. the Miracle.
WED., JULY 29 - RHP Brennan Smith (4-2, 2.54 ERA) ... Smith had his worst outing of the season in his last start on July 21 against Clearwater, giving up five runs on eight hits in 6.0 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. He had not allowed more than two runs in any of his 15 previous outings. Smith is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA in eight starts. He worked 3.0 innings in a previous start on June 11 against Fort Myers, giving up one run on four hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

BRICENO MAKES RETURN ... Endrys Briceno took the mound in game two of Friday’s doubleheader, making his first appearance for Lakeland since April 17, 2014. The righthander went on the Disabled List shortly after that start and did not return for the rest of the season and began 2015 on the DL. He was activated on July 20.

BETANCOURT’S BAT ... Javier Betancourt is 6x16 his last four games and has three games with two hits. 

JAMES GANG ... Jiwan James has hits in eight of his last nine games and is 11x40 during that stretch for a .275 average with four runs scored, two doubles, and a triple.

MANLY MARTINEZ ... Francisco Martinez has hits in six straight games and is 9x22 during that half dozen games for a .409 clip. He has scored five runs in the last four games as well. Through in a five-hit night on July 16 at Bradenton, the Flying Tigers first baseman is 14x32 for a .438 average in the last eight games. Martinez is third in the FSL with a .429 slugging percentage and 33 extra-base hits and second with 153 total bases.

IN THE PEN ... Will Clinard has tossed back-to-back games with 3.0 shutout innings and has allowed just two runs over his last 14.0 innings and six relief appearances. Tyler Ford is perfect over six relief outings, having tossed 13.0 shutout innings with 16 strikeouts and just two walks. Whit Mayberry has given up just one earned run as a Flying Tiger over six relief appearances and 15.0 innings while striking out 15 and walking five. Scott Sitz has not given up a run in his four outings since returning to Lakeland. He has tossed 9.0 shutout innings with seven hits allowed and eight strikeouts and three walks (two of them intentional).

STREAK SNAPPED ... Newcomer Gabe Hemmer suffered his first loss as a member of the Flying Tigers uncorking a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth, allowing the Cardinals a walk-off win in game one of Friday’s doubleheader. He entered the game with 10.2 shutout innings in four trips.

INSIDE THE SKID ... During Lakeland’s 13-game losing streak, the Flying Tigers have been outscored 63-25. Opponents have had eight games with double-digit hits during the last 13 games and have posted a .294 batting average while Lakeland has managed just one game with 10 or more hits and has batted .195 during the losing streak.

THE SKIPPER (thru 7/25) ... Dave Huppert ranks 17th among minor league manager in terms of wins with an 1,893-1,755-1 record entering this series. Next up for Huppert is Cal Ermer who is in 16th place with a 1,906-1,728 record from 1947-1984. A 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree, Huppert is in his 28th season as a minor league manager. This is his fifth season with the Flying Tigers and he has a 285-294-1 record at Lakeland, including a FSL championship in 2012. 

UP NEXT ... Lakeland’s next home game is July 30 as they open a four-game series with Charlotte.

CHARLOTTE GATORS? ... The Charlotte Stone Crabs took their sea-life theme to a new level Friday morning as a 10-foot alligator wandered onto the Charlotte Sports Park field and settled in the visitors’ dugout. Animal control officials rounded up the unwanted intruder and the dugout was safe for the next sea creature—the Daytona Tortugas.

RAIN, RAIN ... The FSL got in every game of the first half. From Thursday to Saturday, the league had five games cancelled due to rain and two other games end in tied scores after being stopped by rains.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mission Notes vs. Palm Beach (July 22-25)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland opens an eight-game road trip with four games at Palm Beach on July 22-25. The first three games get underway at 6:35 with the finale Saturday at 5:35. All games can he heard on the Cardinals website. Palm Beach swept Lakeland in four games in the first half on May 13-16 and outscored the Flying Tigers 22-1, posting three shutouts.

THE FLYING TIGERS (6-19, 6th, 11.5 GB; 39-55-1 overall) ... Lakeland is coming off being swept by Clearwater in three games and has now lost 11 games in a row and has dropped its last four series. The 11 game skid, which began on July 10, is the longest for Lakeland since at least 1995. The Flying Tigers have now lost 13 of their last 14, and 19 of the last 23 games. Lakeland has the second lowest batting average (.237) in the league and has scored the third fewest runs (323). The staff earned run average of 3.56 is fourth highest in the FSL.

THE CARDINALS (18-8, 1st, 2.0 game lead, 50-46 overall) ... Palm Beach won two of its three games at home against Bradenton, winning the opener 3-2 and the finale 7-4 while dropping the middle game 5-3. The Cardinals are 5-1 their last six games and are 14-5 since July 2. C.J. McElroy is fourth in the FSL with 25 stolen bases while Luke Voit sits atop the league with 50 walks and is third with a .370 on-base percentage. Rob Kaminsky has a 2.13 ERA which is second in the Florida State League while Trey Nielsen is fifth with a 2.80 mark. Alex Reyes has struck out 96 opponents for the second highest total in the FSL. Palm Beach has the lowest batting average (.233) in the league and has scored the fewest runs (317) of any team. On the mound, the Cardinals pitching staff has the third best ERA (2.67) of the 12 league teams.

INSIDE THE CARDINAL ROSTER ... Pitcher Rob Kaminsky was St. Louis’ top pick in the first round of the 2013 draft and was the 28th overall pick while fellow hurler Josh Lucas is a 2009 graduate of Lakeland High School. Pitcher Robby Rowland is the son of former Detroit Tiger Rich Rowland

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
   WED., JULY 22 - LHP Kevin Ziomek (5-8, 4.17 ERA) ... Ziomek lasted just 2.0 innings in his last outing on July 17 at Bradenton after allowing six runs—two earned—on six hits with one strikeout and two walks. The 2.0 innings is his shortest outing of the season. Ziomek, who is fourth in the FSL with 91 strikeouts, is 1-3 in his last five starts. During that stretch, he has given up 16 runs—10 earned—on 33 hits with 20 strikeouts in 27.0 innings. He has walked seven batters in his last three starts. Ziomek took the loss in his earlier start against Palm Beach, allowing four earned runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings with eight strikeouts.
   THU., JULY 23 - LHP Locke St. John (2-9, 4.85 ERA) ... St. John was charged with the loss in his last start on July 18 at Bradenton despite holding the Pirates to three runs on eight hits in 6.0 innings. He is now 0-7 over his last nine starts while allowing 31 runs in 41.1 innings for a 6.75 earned run average with 22 strikeouts and 16 walks. St. John lost his season debut on April 13 against the Cardinals surrendering four runs on five hits with one strikeout and four walks.
   FRI., JULY 24 - RHP Jonathan Maciel (3-8, 5.42 ERA) ... Maciel was tagged with the loss in his last start on July 19 at home vs. Clearwater despite limiting the Threshers to a pair of runs on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He is 1-2 in his last five starts with a 3.07 ERA. During those five starts he has 19 strikeouts and six walks. The Cardinals plated five runs on eight hits in 5.0 innings against Maciel in his only previous start against Palm Beach on April 15.
   SAT., JULY 25 - LHP Trent Szkutnik (0-4, 6.75 ERA) ... Szkutnik worked 5.0 innings in his last start on July 20 at home against Clearwater, allowing five runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He has now given up 11 earned runs on 14 hits in 8.2 innings in his last two starts, losing both games. He was not with Lakeland when the Flying Tigers faced Palm Beach in the first half.

INSIDE THE SKID ... During Lakeland’s 11-game losing streak, the Flying Tigers have been outscored 58-22. Opponents have had seven games with double-digit hits during the last 11 games and have posted a .300 batting average while Lakeland has managed just one game with 10 or more hits and have batted .197. The Flying Tigers starting pitchers have a 5.14 ERA during the skid, while the bullpen has a 3.69 earned run average. Overall, the staff has a 4.53 ERA in the last 11 games.

ZEROS IN THE PEN ... Tyler Ford has been untouchable since joining Lakeland in late June. In six appearances out of the bullpen, Ford has worked 13.0 scoreless innings and allowed just 10 hits while striking 16 and walking only two opponents. His longest outing of 3.1 innings came on July 5 at home vs. Dunedin. Gabe Hemmer has also been perfect with 10.2 shutout innings in fourth relief outing since becoming a Flying Tiger earlier this month. His debut of 4.0 innings was the longest of his Lakeland stint so far. Scott Sitz in his third stint this season with Lakeland and has not allowed a run in four outings this month over 9.0 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. 

FRANKLY FRANCISCO ... Francisco Martinez has hits in four straight games (6x15) and is 11x25 over the last six games for a .440 clip with three runs scored, one double and three runs batted in. He is third in the FSL with 32 extra base hits, tied for third with 149 total bases, and fourth with a .426 slugging percentage.

TWO-FERS ... Javier Betancourt has had two hits in each of his last two games and is 4x9 in those two games with a pair of runs scored and a double. Curt Powell was 2x2 in last night’s game and also had a double. Raph Rhymes had two hits—both doubles—in Monday’s contest and has scored two runs in the last two games. 

LOTS OF TRIPS FOR LITTLE ... Ben Verlander had nine plate appearances in the last two games and came away with just two at bats. He walked twice and was hit by a pitch while popping up once on Monday. On Tuesday, he drove in a pair of runs with sacrifice flies and walked two more times, once with the bases loaded for another RBI, In his only at bat be grounded into a force out and eventually came around to score.

THE SKIPPER (thru 7/21) ... Dave Huppert ranks 17th among minor league manager in terms of wins a 1,893-1,753-1 record entering this series. Next up for Huppert is Cal Ermer who is in 16th place with a 1,906-1,728 record from 1947-1984. A 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree, Huppert is in his 28th season as a minor league manager. This is his fifth season with the Flying Tigers and he has a 285-292-1 record at Lakeland, including a FSL championship in 2012. 

UP NEXT ... The Flying Tigers continue their eight-game road trip with four games at Fort Myers on July 26-30. Lakeland’s next home game is July 30 as they open a four-game series with Charlotte.

A LOOK INSIDE THE ORGANIZATION ... The Detroit Tigers (MLB) are in third place in the American League Central Division with a 46-47 record. Toledo (AAA) is in last place in the International League West Division with a 42-55 mark while Erie (AA) is also on the bottom looking up at the rest of the Eastern League Western Division with a 37-58 record. Lakeland (High-A) is in the cellar of the Florida State League North Division at 6-19 (39-55-1 overall). West Michigan (Low-A) is sitting atop the Midwest League Eastern Division with a 16-9 record (49-45 overall) while Connecticut (SS) is in third place in the New York-Penn Leaguer Stedler Division at 14-16. In the Gulf Coast League, the Tigers (R) are in first place with a 12-11 record.