TigsTown MLN: Erie on a Skid

The mood at Jerry Uht Park in Erie, Pennsylvania was a somber one this week. The SeaWolves came home from a 2-6 road trip hoping to turn things around against the Northern Division leading Trenton Thunder and the Southern Division leading Harrisburg Senators, the Thunder and Senators lived up to their billing.

The 'Wolves dropped four straight to the Thunder, including a 6-0 rain shortened game on Wednesday. They followed that up by losing all three games to Harrisburg including a 9-0 loss on Saturday night.

The 'Wolves were winning games earlier in the season based on a powerful offense that was leading the Eastern League in runs scored and batting average. This week the team went into an offensive slump that has seen them score only 17 runs in seven games this week. The SeaWolves struggles have come against some outstanding pitchers for the opposition.

"I'm not trying to make excuses as to why we're not winning but I think between Trenton and Harrisburg, we've seen some pretty good, strong arms" SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. The Trenton Thunder lead the Eastern League with a 2.83 ERA and boast some of the leagues best starters with Daniel McCutcheon (4-2, 2.15 ERA), Jason Jones (5-0, 2.36 ERA) and another highly touted prospect George Contos (1-4, 3.38 ERA). It didn't get much easier against Harrisburg who used a couple of young prospects, Jordan Zimmerman and Cory VanAllen who were recently called up from Single A. VanAllen shut down the SeaWolves hitters allowing only two hits in seven shutout innings. "He's probably the best left-hander I've seen pitch in this league so far" said Brookens.

The 'Wolves offensive problems started when Freddy Guzman was called up to Triple A Toledo. Guzman was one of the offensive leaders on the team and it seems they are struggling to replace him in the lineup. "I think we miss him to a certain degree. Freddy had a good start here in Erie and he was a spark plug for us, he stole a lot of bases" Brookens said "but he's not here so we need someone to step up". The recent offensive woes have dropped the 'Wolves to third in the league with a .270 batting average and they are now second in runs scored with 203 behind the Harrisburg Senators who have scored 207. The 'Wolves were averaging over six runs a game before this recent slump that has seen them average only 2.43 runs a game.

While most of the SeaWolves hitters have struggled, Wilkin Ramirez continues to excel. He is hitting .317 and leads the team with eight home runs. Ramirez has an amazing combination of power and speed, leading the team with ten doubles and he is second behind Freddy Guzman in triples and stolen bases. He has swiped 11 bags while only being thrown out three times. Despite his lofty offensive numbers Ramirez does lead the team in strikeouts. He also continues to work on the defensive part of his game, as his four errors are more than any other outfielder on the team.

The 'Wolves pitching and defense have been a concern all season and it has been magnified by the lack of offensive production. In the recent season long seven game losing streak the 'Wolves were outscored 47-18 contributing to their 5.14 ERA that is third worst in the league. The starters are 6-13 on the season and were 0-6 this week. John Connolly struggled in his first two starts after returning from Toledo. He allowed 22 hits and 12 earned runs in two losses. In his four starts with Toledo he was 0-3 with a 5.04 ERA. Luis Marte has been called up from Lakeland to try to help out the pitching staff. Marte was 3-2 with a 1.98 ERA and 41 strikeouts in his seven starts in Lakeland.

The seven game losing streak is the longest of the season for the 'Wolves and they have lost 11 of their last 12. They find themselves in fifth place in the Southern Division and they are eight games behind the division leading Harrisburg Senators. After seven home losses the 'Wolves fell to 5-12 at home while they are 10-9 on the road.

The team will welcome a day off on Monday before heading on the road to take on the Bowie Baysox and the Binghamton Mets. It will be the first time the 'Wolves return to Bowie since sweeping a four game series to open the season in early April. It's the first time they travel to Binghamton, but they lost 2-of-3 to the Mets in their first home series of the season. The B-Mets outscored the 'Wolves 39-30 in the three game set at Jerry Uht Park.


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