Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mission Notes vs. Tampa (Sept. 3-6)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland closes out the 2015 season with a four-game series against Tampa with two games at home (Sept. 3-4) and the final two games of the season at Tampa (Sept. 5-6). These two clubs have split their 16-game season series with the Flying Tigers winning the last two games. The Yankees have taken seven of the eight games played at Joker Marchant Stadium while the Flying Tigers have won seven of the eight played at George Steinbrenner Field.

THE FLYING TIGERS (19-42, 6th place, 19.0 GB; 52-78-1 overall) ... Lakeland won the first two games of the Brevard County series, taking a doubleheader on Aug. 31, 2-1 and 3-1, while losing game three, 5-2. The Flying Tigers have gone 9-5 the last 14 games after posting a 4-29 record from July 10-27. 

THE YANKEES (31-33, 3rd place, 8.5 GB; 52-78 overall) ... Tampa was swept in three games at Dunedin being outscored 15-7 in the series and is 5-8 since Aug. 19. Abiatal Avelino has hits in nine of the last 10 games and has gone 14x40 (.350) with eight runs scored since Aug. 20 while ranking third in the league with 38 stolen bases. Ericson Leonora is tied for second in the FSL with 13 homes, one behind the leader, Andrew Pullin of Clearwater. Gabriel Encinas is third in the league with 112 strikeouts while Chaz Hebert is tied with a FSL-best two complete games. The Yankees have perfect symmetry in the runs department, scoring 500 times while allowing 500 opponents to score. Tampa has stolen the second most bases (148) of any Florida State League team.

THU., SEPT. 3 – RHP Brennan Smith (5-6, 3.08 ERA) ... Smith gave up three runs on seven hits in his last start on Aug. 28 with three strikeouts and one walk in taking the loss at Dunedin. In his last two starts, he has allowed just the three runs on ten hits in 12.0 innings pitched. Smith is 1-6 over his last nine starts. He struck out a career-high 10 batters on July 11 and then recorded six straight games with four strikeouts before whiffing a combined five batters over his last two outings. Smith is 0-1 in two appearances vs. Tampa.
FRI., SEPT. 4 – LHP Jairo Labourt (0-5, 7.45 ERA with Lakeland; 2-12, 5.35 ERA overall) ... Labourt is still looking for his first win as a member of the Flying Tigers and is 0-5 his last five starts. In his last outing on Aug. 29, he gave up four runs for a fifth time with Lakeland while matching his career-high of nine strikeouts. He last faced Tampa on Aug. 27 and took loss after allowing five runs on six hits, including a pair of homers, in 5.0 innings.
SAT., SEPT. 5 – RHP Jonathan Maciel (5-8, 4.68 ERA) ... Maciel picked up the win in his last start on Aug. 31 at Brevard County, limiting the Manatees to one run on seven hits in 6.0 innings. It was his second consecutive start of six innings and his second start with one run allowed. Maciel is 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA on 13 road starts while posting a 1-6 record and a 5.83 earned run average in 11 home starts. He is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in three starts vs. Tampa.
SUN., SEPT. 6 – LHP Kevin Ziomek (9-10, 3.51 ERA) ... Ziomek has won his last three starts by holding each opponent to just one run while recording a total of 16 strikeouts in the three games. He has worked at least 6.0 innings in each of his last six starts and is 4-1 with a 1.35 ERA and 40 strikeouts and 18 hits allowed during those half dozen games and 40.0 innings pitched. Ziomek is 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts vs. the Yankees.

STARTS AND ENDS WITH A “K” ... Kevin Ziomek leads the Florida State League with 140 strikeouts as well as 148.2 innings pitched. The 140 Ks is seven more than Amir Garrett of Daytona who is in second place with 133 strikeouts and is the second most strikeouts ever recorded by a Lakeland pitcher.  Bernie Beckman set the franchise record with 152 strikeouts in 1970. Ziomek is gunning to be only the second Lakeland pitcher to league the league in strikeouts, joining Duane Below who became the first with 126 punchouts in 2008.

A HANOVER HI-LITE ... Tyler Hanover has hits in his last four games and in seven of his last eight outings, going 9x24 (.375) during that stretch. He is batting almost 100 points better on the road (.297) than at home (.200).

REAVES A-ROLLIN’ ... Jared Reaves has hit safely in six straight games going 8x22 (.364) with four runs batted in.

VERILY-VERLANDER ... Ben Verlander is going out in style with hits in four straight games (4x11) and seven of his last eight games (11x27, .407). He has also had at least one hit in 12 of his last 14 contests (16x48, .333). 

RANK AND FILE ... Francisco Martinez is ranked in the top five in the Florida State League statistical rankings in: total bases (2nd, 195); extra-base hits (T-4th, 41); at bats (5th, 492); and doubles (5th, 28).

LEAGUE-LEADER ... Jiwan James remains tied with Fort Myers’ Jason Kanzler for the league lead with eight triples. James is attempting to become the first Lakeland player to lead the FSL in three-base hits since Curtis Granderson who had 10 triples to top the league in 2003. The modern day Lakeland record for triples is 14 set by Tarrick Brock in 1994. The FSL record is held by Pete Rose who hit an amazing 30 triples for the Tampa Tarpons (Reds) in 1961.

WHY TO GO, WHIT ... Whit Mayberry has not been scored upon in his last 7.1 innings and six outings. 

SITZ TO BEHOLD ... Scott Sitz has allowed just three runs in 11 appearances and 20.0 innings since July 9 for a 1.35 ERA during that span.

DEUCES WILD ... Lakeland was held without a double in its last game, snapping a streak of seven straight games with at least one two-base hit. The Flying Tigers amassed 17 doubles in a five-game span from Aug. 27–31, including a season-high eight on Aug. 27 at Dunedin. 

BULLISH-PEN ... Flying Tigers relievers have combined to hold opponents to seven runs in the last 13 games and 37.0 innings for a 1.70 ERA since Aug. 19. Five of those seven runs came in one game on Aug. 27 at Dunedin. Toss out that game and the staff would have a 0.57 ERA in that stretch.

$1 MONDAYS ARE A HIT ... Lakeland had 21 games this season with 1,000 or more fans in attendance—the most in the last at least the last seven seasons—with seven of those games coming on $1 Mondays. The Flying Tigers are on pace to finish the season with an attendance of 61,820 which would be the fourth highest in franchise history. The 981 average attendance this season would rank fifth best since 2009.

YOU LEAD, WE’LL FOLLOW ... In the 522 innings Lakeland has played since July 1, the Flying Tigers have been in the lead for just 110 frames.

THE SKIPPER (thru 8/29) ... Dave Huppert is in his 28th season and leads all active minor league managers with a 1,906-1,776-1 record and is now tied for 16th overall with Cal Ermer who compiled 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. Huppert picked up his 1,900th win on Aug. 21 when Lakeland topped Dunedin, 4-1. A 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree, This is Huppert’s fifth season with the Flying Tigers and he has a 298-315-1 record at Lakeland, including a FSL championship in 2012.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mission Notes vs. Brevard County (Aug. 30-Sept. 1)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland holds a 8-6-1 advantage in this series with wins in six of the last eight meetings. These two teams met on the final day of the regular season for a doubleheader with Lakeland winning game one 1-0 in 10 innings while game two ended in a 2-2 tie when rains hit in the top of the ninth inning. The Flying Tigers have won three of the five series this season. Francisco Martinez has a team-high 18 hits and nine RBI in this season series, including a pair of homers, while Javier Betancourt has added 15 hits, including one round-tripper. 

THE FLYING TIGERS (17-41, 6th place, 19.5 GB; 50-77-1 overall) ... The Flying Tigers have now won seven of their last 10 games after going 4-29 from July 10-27. Friday night’s loss was the 40th of the second for Lakeland, marking the second consecutive season the club has dropped 40 or more games in the second half. Last season, Lakeland finished the second half with a 20-50 record. The Flying Tigers are 17-22 in one-run games; 7-10 in extra inning games; and 9-16 in shutout games.

THE MANATEES (25-34-1, 4th place, 12.0 GB; 54-74-2 overall) ... Brevard County played to a 4-4 tie with Clearwater last night as the game was called after five innings due to heavy rain. It was the second tie of the season for the Manatees which matched Lakeland in an eight-inning game on June 24 in the final game of the first half. Brevard County had lost three straight prior to the tie scoring just two runs in the three losses. Clint Coulter is tied for second in the FSL with 13 homers, just one behind the leader. Should he win the FSL homer battle, he would be the first Manatee to do so in franchise history. Omar Garcia has swiped 53 bases this season (just five fewer than Lakeland has a team), but is a distance second to Jupiter’s Yefri Perez who has stolen 67 bases—the most in the league since Brevard County’s Eris Farris recorded 70 steals in 2009. Jorge Ortega sits atop the FSL with a 2.40 ERA and has a minor league-leading six complete games (the Manatees have 14 complete games).

SUN., AUG. 30 – RHP Jonathan Maciel (3-2, 3.90 ERA) ... Maciel held the Manatees to one run on four hits and four strikeouts in his last start on Aug. 24. In his last three starts, he has given up three runs in 16.1 innings with eight strikeouts and six games (five coming in the Aug. 13 game at Daytona). Maciel is 1-6 with a 5.83 ERA in 11 home starts, but 3-2 with a 3.90 mark in 12 road games. He has made five previous starts vs. Brevard County and is 0-2 with a 6.93 ERA with 15 strikeouts and three walks in 24.2 innings..
MON., AUG. 31 – LHP Kevin Ziomek (8-10, 3.60 ERA) ... Ziomek tossed a six-inning complete game vs. Brevard County in a rain-shortened game on Aug. 25. In that contest, which was his only other appearance against the Manatees, the lefty struck out five to take over the FSL lead with 133 Ks. In his last five starts, he has surrendered just five runs in 33.2 innings with 33 strikeouts and seven walks to post a 3-1 record. 
TUE., SEPT. 1 – LHP Endrys Briceno (1-2, 3.42 ERA) ... Briceno left his last start after 3.1 innings with four walks and two strikeouts on Aug. 27 at Dunedin. The Blue Jays tallied three runs—one earned—on a pair of hits and one hit batsman. He has allowed just the one earned run in 8.1 innings over his last two starts. Briceno is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in three home appearances, but 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA in three road games. He has not faced Brevard County this season.

DOUBLE DOWN ... Lakeland has had 12 doubles over the last three games. It all got underway in the first game of the Dunedin series when Ismael Salgado, Raph Rhymes, Curt Powell, Grayson Greiner, and Ben Verlander all collected a two-base hit. The next night, Greiner picked up his second double while Javier Betancourt and Brett Pirtle got into the act with their own two-baggers. The fun continued last night as two of Francisco Martinez’s four hits were doubles. Jared Reaves and Tyler Hanover added doubles as well to give the Flying Tigers 12 doubles from 10 different players in the three-game Dunedin series.

BAT CHILL ... Lakeland, which has scored a league-low 418 runs, is 11th in the FSL with a .238 and has a league-low 58 stolen bases.

YOU LEAD, WE’LL FOLLOW ... In the 499 innings Lakeland has played since July 1, the Flying Tigers have been in the lead for just 101 frames.

BEN THERE, DONE THAT ... Ben Verlander has hits in nine of his last 11 games (13x41, .317) with three doubles, a homer, and seven RBI, and has had at least one base hit in 12 of his last 15 games (17x56, .304) since Aug. 13.

BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL ... Curt Powell saw his eight-game hit streak come to a close with an 0x4 last night. He was 11x29 (.379) during the streak with four runs scored. 

THE Z-MAN ... Kevin Ziomek, which is slated to start on Monday in game two of this series, once again took over the FSL lead with five strikeouts in his last outing, six-inning, rain-shortened, complete game on Aug. 25. 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 (Garrett is also scheduled to start on Monday). Ziomek now sits in third place on the Lakeland single-season strikeout list, tied with Dennis Saunders (1968) and one behind Rich Lacko (1987) and Jordan Tata (2005). The franchise record 152 strikeouts was set by Bernie Beckman in 1970.

WILL TO POWER ... Will Clinard has allowed three runs in his last 19.2 innings over eight appearances with 18 strikeouts and one walk. He has given up five runs in his last 28.0 innings with 22 strikeouts and just three walks.

MAYBERRY, E.R.A. ... Whit Mayberry has not allowed a run in his last five outings and 5.2 innings and just two earned run in his last 15.2 innings with 15 strikeouts and four walks. On the season, he has surrendered just three runs in 25.2 innings with 25 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 punch outs 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. He had his second outing last night at Dunedin, he worked 3.0 innings with four strikeouts and zero walks and allowed one unearned run on two hits.

THE SKIPPER (thru 8/29) ... Dave Huppert is in his 28th season and leads all active minor league managers with a 1,904-1,775-1 record and ranks 17th among all-time minor league managers. He picked up his 1,900th win on Aug. 21 when Lakeland topped Dunedin, 4-1. 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 296-314-1 record at Lakeland, including a FSL championship in 2012.

UP NEXT ... Lakeland will have Sept. 2 off before returning 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.

RAIN EFFECT ... The FSL has had ten games canceled this season due to rain while four others have ended in ties.