The BlueClaws riding a six game win streak remained alive for a second half title in the South Atlantic League Northern Division. With a 1-0 win Thursday night, the BlueClaws pulled to within four games of the division leading Hickory Crawdads. It may be to little to late, but the BlueClaw starting pitching has been dominant over the last six games. Antonio Bastardo got things rolling with a superb performance at Hagerstown, going six innings without allowing a run and striking out ten. Darren Byrd tossed a complete game five-hitter allowing only one run the following night. Scott Mitchinson and Carlos Monasterios threw in solid efforts against the Lake County Captains. Monasterios was looking for a complete game as he took a 5-1 lead into the ninth, before giving way to the BlueClaws closer Garet Hill who recorded his 7th save of the season. Edgar Garcia helped extend the winning streak to six games with seven shutout innings Thursday night in Lakewood. The BlueClaws will need a lot of help to reach the playoffs, but stranger things have happened.
2007 has been a promising year for BlueClaw closers. Ronald Hill started the year as the BlueClaw closer before being promoted to Clearwater. While in Lakewood, Hill recorded ten saves in 24 innings with a 2.63 ERA. R.J. Swindle took the reigns from there and picked up right where Hill left off. Swindle, signed as a free agent from the Newark Bears, picked up ten saves in 29 innings with a 0.93 ERA. Swindle, a lefty who rarely broke 80 mph was also promoted to Clearwater. Garet Hill, no relation to Ronald, is the current BlueClaw closer with seven saves in 66.1 innings and a 2.31 ERA.
Quintin Berry continued his tremendous year as the BlueClaw centerfielder, breaking Jake Blalock's single season hit record of 140 hits. Berry currently has 150 hits and may end up breaking more than one record. Berry is currently third on the all-time steals list with 55 steals, trailing Michael Bourn (58 in 2004) and Chris Roberson (59 in 2003). Berry is also third on the all time runs scored list as well with 84 runs scored, trailing leader Michael Bourn with 92. Berry was also named to the South Atlantic League post-season All-Star team as a utility outfielder.
Lack of Power:
If you're a fan of the longball, Lakewood is not the place for you. The BlueClaws currently have the fewest home runs by a full season team in Minor League Baseball with 52. The BlueClaws were the last team in the league to feature a 10 home run player as Gus Milner hit his 10th on August 22nd. The BlueClaws are also last in the league in runs scored with 611.