TigsTown MLN: Stopping the Lakeland Skid

After an early 3-2 start to the 2008 season, the Flying Tigers went 2-5 in their second week of regular season play, losing a series each to Sarasota and Clearwater. As of Tuesday morning, the team had dropped to fifth in the FSL West standings with a record of 5-7.

Top pitching prospect Rick Porcello was credited with two losses this week despite only giving up a single run in both outings combined. His 0.64 ERA for the season is still an impressive statistic nonetheless. Porcello's record, of course, should have no bearing on his eventual promotion status, as indicated by former Flying Tiger Andrew Miller who was moved up to Erie after a 1-4 record in seven starts. The 2007 1st round pick for the Tigers has looked solid to this point, maintaining proper composure in all situations.

Unfortunately, the week was not as good to the second leg of Lakeland's one-two punch. After striking out nine and failing to surrender a single run in a win against Sarasota on April 9th, pitcher Duane Below was unable to repeat the impressive outing. He would go on to face the same Sarasota team five days later, only to give up seven runs in 4 and 2/3 innings of work, taking the loss and elevating his ERA to 4.91.

The only other pitcher to notch a win this week for Lakeland was Angel Castro. The returning Flying Tiger pitched 1 and 1/3 innings in relief for Luis Marte and Matt O'Brien. Castro has appeared in relief during four total games so far this season. Freddy Dolsi registered saves and gave up zero runs in both Flying Tigers wins this week, raising his save total to three for the season. Overall, however, he is still known for giving up runs in the ninth inning, something which Tigers fans might be used to by now.

While pitching has been consistent for the most part, the offense in Lakeland provided little to no run support for the starting staff. On the offensive side of the ball, hot hitting Scott Sizemore has cooled off from his impressive .533 initial average to a disappointing .261 average for the week (while still batting .341 total).

First baseman Ryan Strieby failed to add to his first week total of two home runs, but Brennan Boesch, Jeremy Laster, Brandon Timm, and Cale Iorg all blasted shots out of the park at one point during the week. Iorg, despite a miserable start has been hitting the ball real well lately, batting 9-14 since April 11th. Also, only one of his eight total strikeouts has come in this time.

Overall, Lakeland played all but one game on the road this week. I look for the squad to return home and start playing better team ball. It will be interesting to see what kind of run support the Flying Tigers provide Porcello with in his next start. The team will play against Sarasota at home to start the week, followed by an off day on Thursday and then a home game against Tampa on Friday. The squad will then travel to Tampa and Ft. Myers.

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