PBN Notebook: Big Guns Pick Up The Pace

The Phillies will need almost a miracle to finish April with a .500 record, but you certainly can't blame Jon Lieber for that. Lieber has some impressive stats. Plus, Reading's Randy Ruiz finds out what it must feel like to be Ryan Howard. Scranton figures to lose an outfielder before too long, especially if injuries continue to hit the Phillies and in Lakewood, the struggles continue.

Lakewood BlueClaws

Every turn around has to start somewhere.

Consider Sean Gamble started. After a tough start to the season, Gamble has a mild three game hitting streak, going 6-for-12 (.500) in the streak. Coming into the streak, Gamble was hitting .153, but has bumped his season average to .215 on the season. Like we said, it has to start somewhere and Gamble has it well underway.

Jason Jaramillo is hitting well, too. He has hits in five of the last six games and is hitting .455 (10-for-22) during the stretch. Jaramillo went 4-for-5 in Monday's game against Lexington, scoring two runs and driving in one in Lakewood's 8-5 loss in Lexington.

This current road trip hasn't been fun for the R-Phils. After being swept over the weekend, Lakewood dropped the first game of their series with Greensboro on a 9-7 score. Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 9.68) took the loss, giving up eight earned runs in 3 2/3 innings of work. In all, Lakewood has lost six straight and nine of their last ten, standing at 3-15 on the year.

The BlueClaws have seen a number of roster moves in recent days. Chris Klemm, who was struggling at Clearwater returned to Lakewood where he hit .304 last season. Kyle Allen was on the disabled list to start the season, but was activated and assigned to Lakewood. Allen is a left-handed reliever who played at Batavia last season after being drafted by the Phillies in the 16th round of the 2004 Draft. Lakewood also added right-hander Jake Tompkins. Like Klemm, Tompkins was struggling at Clearwater, posting a 9.53 ERA with the Threshers.

Clearwater Threshers
by Holly Oswald

Like Lakewood, Clearwater has seen their share of changes over the past few days. The Phillies signed left-hander Alan Webb and outfielder Brian Sellier.

Webb is a cast off from the Padres organization and is off to a slow start with the Threshers, going just 1 2/3 innings in his first start for Clearwater on Sunday. By the time Webb, who was on a pitch count, exited his ERA was at 21.60.

The left-handed hitting Sellier spent last season at AA Mobile in the A's organization. In 130 games, Sellier hit .279 on the year. With Clearwater, he's gone hitless in his first nine at bats.

Clearwater also got Beau Richardson back from the DL, but Scott Mathieson is bothered by a swollen right elbow.

After making at least one error in ten of their last eleven games, Clearwater went errorless on Sunday and Monday, the first time all season that they've put together back-to-back errorless games.

Reading Phillies

Randy Ruiz got his season off to a late start, spending time in extended spring training, but he's making up for lost time. Ruiz has hits in each of his first five games with Reading and has four homeruns over his last two games, giving him 11 RBI over a two-game span. Ruiz came into Wednesday hitting .467 (7-for-15). In just four games, Ruiz took over the team lead in homeruns (4) and RBI (12). How ironic is it that Ruiz is a power hitting first baseman who is blocked from moving up to the next level because of another power hitting first baseman?

Chris Rojas made a gutsy start for Reading Tuesday night, just two days after his Mother passed away. When he exited, Travis Minix came on to throw three innings, allowing just one earned run. Minix has allowed two earned runs in his last 7 1/3 innings of work for Reading, good for a 2.47 ERA of the period.

Michael Bourn is showing his speed, swiping a league leading eight bases coming into play Wednesday.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons

Ryan Howard seems to have remembered how to hit homeruns. After taking a while to hit his first and then taking more time off before he hit number two on Saturday, Howard launched his third of the year in Tuesday's loss to Ottawa. Howard is still putting up massive numbers, hitting .367 with a .480 OBP. The high OBP can be attributed, at least in part, to much better plate discipline. Howard has struck out at about the same pace that he has over his minor league career - once every 3.15 at bats - but he's walking once every 4.29 at bats compared to a career average of 7.95 at bats per walk.

Chris Coste is on a six game hitting streak, hitting .381 (8-for-21) during the stretch. Coste has upped his average to .309 on the year. Coste is tied for the team lead in homeruns with Howard and John Castellano.

Brian Sanches (1-0, 0.00 1 save) threw another shutout inning on Tuesday, taking his stretch of scoreless innings to 9 2/3 innings.

Philadelphia Phillies

Aaron Fultz added another 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball to his streak Tuesday night. Fultz now has eight innings of work in a row without allowing an earned run. Still, Fultz was lifted in favor of Terry Adams with two outs in the eighth inning Tuesday rather than have him face left-handed hitting Brad Wilkerson.

Jon Lieber (4-1, 3.03) suffered his first loss of the year on Tuesday. Lieber struggled with his control, issuing four walks. Lieber had walked just two hitters in his first four outings and hadn't walked a hitter in 16 straight innings of work.

Pat Burrell and Kenny Lofton both hope to be back in the lineup when the Marlins come to Citizens Bank Park this weekend. If they're not, the Phillies may make a roster move and add either Shane Victorino (1-6-.271) or Mark Budzinski (1-4-.344) from AAA Scranton. Even if Burrell and Lofton return, the Phillies figure on adding Marlon Byrd when he's healthy. Byrd should see playing time at Scranton later this week or this weekend and join the Phillies when he's deemed ready. Geoff Geary will likely be the odd man out.

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