Inland Empire Notebook

With players coming and going in recent weeks, the Inland Empire 66ers have been plagued by inconsistency over their last 20 games. InsidethePark's Jonathan Bianchet recaps the 66ers recent 4-4 week and breaks down the key stats in this week's Inland Empire Notebook.

The last week of Inland Empire 66ers baseball had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster, enough to make a person sick and concerned about the team.

An offense plagued by inconsistency caused the 66ers to lose control of first place in the California League's Southern Division.

While the Lancaster Jethawks have tallied eight-straight wins, the 66ers have been struggling at the plate and have played uncharacteristic .500 baseball over their last 20 games, falling back of Lancaster by a game-and-a-half.

Even though the team went 4-4 over the last week, and scored 36 runs on 72 hits, lack of consistency has haunted them. Of those 36 runs, 28 of them – and 47 of the hits - were scored in three of victories.

In their losses, Inland Empire managed just six runs on 22 hits. The 66ers have scored three runs or fewer in eight of the last 13 games and have lost eight of them. The reason? A lack of clutch hitting when runners are on base.

During their last eight losses, Sixers' batters have hit just 15-102 with men on base for a .147 batting average. In the games Inland has won throughout the last two weeks, they have hit nearly .500 with runners on base.

On the basepaths, the 66ers had problems, particularly in one game that they could have won. On Friday May 28, Inland was caught five times on the bases in a 2-1 loss to High Desert, the team with the worst record in the Southern Division. The five players gunned down took the 66ers out of potential run-scoring innings in T.A. Fulmer's last start with Inland Empire.

Since starting pitchers Rich Dorman and Fulmer have been bumped up to Double-A San Antonio, left-handed ace Bobby Livingston has struggled at a time when the team needs him he most. In his last three starts, Livingston is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA, moving his season ERA closer to three at 2.69.

Eighteen-year old Felix Hernandez went 1-1 during the week, with two quality starts and 15 strikeouts. Hernandez was the best pitcher for the week on a pitching staff that has seen its league leading ERA move up 3.80 and into second best in the league.

With just 16 games remaining in the first half of the season, the 66ers will have to return to their April form when they won 15 of 22 games. The good news is they play 12 of their last 16 games at home in Arrowhead Credit Union Park, where they have been a league best 18-7.

Notes: Juan Gonzalez's 12-game hitting-streak was snapped last night in a 9-0 defeat to Ranch Cucamonga. Gonzo went 0-4 on the night as the Quakes Steve Shell struck out nine in seven innings. This season, however, has been a break out year for Gonzalez. He is batter over .330 with 69 hits, second in the California League… Rene Rivera has been in his worst hitting slump of the season. With a 0-3 effort last night, Rivera is now just one for his last 22… The one and two men in the 66ers lineup have been the highlight of the last week. Entering play last night, Gonzalez and Jesus Guzman were hitting .448 and .429 respectively… The shutout last night marked the third time the 66ers have been shutout this season and their second in the last 10 games… In the last three games in the Ranch Cucamonga series, 66ers' hitters have 17 hits, all of them singles… RHP Aaron Taylor make a rehab start last night. He went one and a third innings, giving up two earned runs while striking out two.

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