Here are some of the memorable moments and performances of the 2007 season along with player reports:
Most Memorable Moments:
1. Ryan Howard's Return to Lakewood:
Ryan Howard returned to FirstEnergy Park for the first time since playing the 2002 season in Lakewood. Howard, on a rehab assignment, gave the fans exactly what they came to see. Howard strolled to the plate for his 2nd at bat of the game and did not disappoint launching a 3 run homer over the left center field fence propelling the BlueClaws to a 7-4 victory.
2. Kyle Drabek's Debut:
The much anticipated BlueClaw debut of the Phillies 2006 1st round pick came during the 2nd game of the season in which Drabek entered the game in relief. Drabek showed the fans why he was a 1st round selection, striking out the side with a mid 90's fastball and a sharp breaking ball. Unfortunately Drabek's season ended early with an injury, but he certainly showed glimpses of a promising future.
3. Playoff Push:
The BlueClaws put forth a gallant effort in attempting to defend their 2006 second half title. The BlueClaws reeled off six straight victories in their attempt to catch the division leading Hickory Crawdads only to fall short in the end. BlueClaw pitching dominated the opposition en route to the six straight wins.
4. Cardenas Represents the USA
Adrian Cardenas represented the Phillies organization and his country in the Major League Baseball Futures Game at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco. Cardenas made good in his only at bat of the game with a single to left off fellow South Atlantic Leaguer Pedro Beato.
5. Jason Donald's Grand Slam
Jason Donald's 1st home run of the season came in dramatic fashion as the BlueClaws trailed the Lake County Captains 4-1 in the ninth. Donald cleared the bases with a grand slam giving the BlueClaws a 5-4 lead in which they held on for the win.
The Not So Memorable:
1. Rough Start to the Season
The 2007 season didn't start on a good note as BlueClaw starter, Carlos Monasterios was roughed up by the Greensboro Grasshoppers who went on to score 9 runs in the top half of the first. Monasterios hit the showers early on opening day failing to get out the first inning.
2. Drabek's Injury
After looking like a future Major Leaguer, Kyle Drabek was put on the DL with inflammation in his right elbow. Drabek came back, but with a noticeable lack of velocity before Tommy John surgery sidelined the young right-hander for the season.
3. Back-to-Back Walk Off Losses
The weather played a factor early in the season for the BlueClaws, setting them up with an unscheduled doubleheader at West Virginia. The BlueClaws lost both games at the hands of the Power in walk off fashion. The BlueClaws held a 5-2 lead late in the first game before the Power came back for a 6-5 win. West Virginia followed up that effort winning game two with a game winning walk off single in the ninth for a 3-2 win.
4. Strange Schedule
The 2007 SAL schedule provided the BlueClaws with weather issues, long bus rides and a stretch where the BlueClaws faced the same three opponents for two whole months. The BlueClaws had ten home dates in April including the season opening three-game series. Lets just say the April weather in New Jersey isn't all that conducive to baseball. Long bus trips aren't uncommon to Minor League baseball, but traveling to Lake County Ohio three straight weekends is a bit absurd. Not to mention long trips south following home games with no off days scheduled prior to the next game.
5. Dubee's Return
Depending on how you look at it, the return of Michael Dubee wasn't all that memorable for his former teammates. Dubee, who was traded to the White Sox for Tadahito Iguchi, came back to Lakewood playing for the Kannapolis Intimidators. Dubee came on in relief and shut his former teammates down, tossing 4 innings of scoreless baseball with five strikeouts en route to his fifth win of the season.