The Flying Tigers (19-18) have fallen to fourth place after winning just three of last week's seven games. Despite their recent struggles, Lakeland is only three and a half games behind the first place Tampa Yankees.
Despite Lakeland's inability to regularly win games, several individuals have consistently shined on the field lately.
Closer Tyler Clark -- 0.66 ERA -- notched his ninth save and sixth win this past week. Over two appearances, Clark tossed a combined 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief striking out seven. Clark hasn't allowed an earned run since June 3rd, he's stranding 92.3% of his inherited base runners and he has struck out 57 batters over 40 2/3 innings this season.
Third baseman Wade Gaynor has certainly done his part too. The 24-year-old has reached base safely in 18 straight games. Gaynor is 17-for-64 (.266) with nine walks during that span. A twelve game hit streak, four homers, a double and 12 RBIs are also the fruits of his labor during this impressive streak.
Outfielder Tyler Collins had a big series in St. Lucie this past week. The 22-year-old went 7-for-16 during the four-game series against the Mets. Collins slugged his team high 28th double and 52nd RBI of the season. Flashing his sneaky speed, Collins also recorded his 13th, 14th and 15th stolen base. Collins is batting .291 with a .368 on-base percentage over 371 at-bats this season.
24-year-old Luis Angel Sanz turned in back-to-back gems in his two starts last week. Tuesday Sanz held the Yankees to a run off three hits and a walk over seven innings. Last night, Sanz tossed seven innings of shutout ball in a no-decision. The Venezuelan native is a perfect 4-0 with a 1.45 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP over his last five starts--a span of 31 innings.
Stroud Hits DL
Last Wednesday in Tampa right-hander Brian Stroud was removed after just three innings due to some shoulder discomfort. Unfortunately, Stroud has since been placed on the 7-day DL.
"It's just a little discomfort in my shoulder that has really affected my control and velocity my last three starts," Stroud stated.
Stroud believes that the injury occurred on July 15th during his five inning shutout win in Palm Beach against the Cardinals.
The past couple months, the former West Michigan Bronco has quietly been a solid contributor to the backend of Lakeland's rotation. Prior to the injury, Stroud posted a 1.41 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over six consecutive starts.
Thankfully Stroud doesn't anticipate a lengthy absence, which is great news for Lakeland as they prepare for their playoff push.
"I'm going to take a week off and rehab and hopefully only miss no more than 2 or 3 starts," declared Stroud.
Albuquerque Begins Rehab
Meanwhile, in sunny Florida one of their most productive relievers last season is inching closer to his big league return.
After undergoing surgery in the offseason to stabilize a non-displaced stress fracture in his right elbow, Tigers reliever Al Albuquerque began his rehab assignment in Lakeland this past week.
Albuquerque made his 2012 debut last Tuesday against Tampa. Working with his infamous fastball/slider combo, Albuquerque quickly retired the first two batters on called third strikes. The rest of his evening wouldn't go so smoothly though as the Yankees began a two out rally. A solo home run, two consecutive singles and some mayhem on the base paths brought in two runs, promptly ending Albuquerque's evening.
Albuquerque has since logged 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, striking out four over his last two appearances. Pitching on consecutive days will be Albuquerque's next hurdle in his rehabilitation.
Tonight, Shawn Teufel takes the hill for the Flying Tigers in game two of their four game set with Bradenton. Teufel was roughed up for seven earned runs off nine hits and a walk in his last start.
Friday Lakeland welcomes the Clearwater Threshers four a three-game weekend series. The Threshers and Flying Tigers have split their previous ten match-ups this season.
After 21 straight days, the Flying Tigers will enjoy a much needed day off on Monday.