TigsTown MLN: LFT Over-shadowed by Zoom

Lakeland endured a tough stretch of games this week, going 2-5, making their record 32-33 on the season. Despite the rough week, the club still maintains the fourth spot in the FSL West.

In a game overshadowed by the return of Detroit Tigers pitcher Joel Zumaya, Jonah Nickerson pitched 5 and 1/3 innings while giving up six runs (with only three of them being earned). Nick Martin closed the inning before Zumaya would enter the game. The Major Leaguer looked trim compared to usual and was throwing in the high 90's consistently according to the stadium's radar gun. He even reached 101 at one point and there was some movement on his fastball. Unfortunately, Guillermo Moscoso blew the save as Lakeland lost 10-8. James Skelton had the hot bat of the night, going 3-4 with two doubles, three runs, and two walks as well.

The following night would see an excellent performance from Matt O'Brien who pitched seven innings and surrendered zero earned runs. Pedro Cotto hit a home run to right field, which was the second home run he had hit in less than a week. Interestingly enough, it was also the second home run of his career. Lakeland salvaged the last game of the series against Sarasota, winning 6-1.

Lakeland then traveled to Daytona for a four game series in which former Major League pitcher Jordan Tata would pitch the first game. Tata struggled greatly, as he pitched only 2/3 of an inning yet gave up seven earned runs. The Flying Tigers were then placed in a hole and never managed to produce enough offense to recover, losing 13-3. However, Ryan Strieby hit his eighth home run of the season with a solo shot in the fifth inning.

Daytona's offensive outpouring continued the next night, as they rolled over Lakeland with a score of 12-4. Ramon Garcia started for the Flying Tigers and gave up eight earned runs in 4 and 1/3 innings pitched (there were also four unearned runs). On the bright side, Zumaya pitched a hitless inning and struck out one in his last rehab appearance for Lakeland. Rick Porcello, the Tigers' top draft pick would start the next night, giving up two runs in 4 and 2/3 innings while striking out five.

Porcello was in line to register the win before Nick Martin blew the save, registering a walk which would advance the tying run from third base. The game ended up going thirteen innings, with Daytona finally winning 4-3. On the offensive side, Cale Iorg batted 2-4 with an RBI and a run. During the game, some words were exchanged with Jeramy Laster on third base and both benches cleared. Thankfully, there were only verbal altercations, as no one touched a member of the opposing team.

Lakeland snapped their three game losing streak the next night, as Duane Below pitched five innings while giving up only one run and striking out five. Fellow starter Jonah Nickerson pitched the next four innings, registering his first save of the season. The Lakeland offense stepped up on the night, allowing team to register a 7-2 win. Jeramy Laster went 2-5 on the night, with both of his hits being home runs. Newcomer Luis Salas also batted 2-3 with a double, a triple, and three RBIs.

The Flying Tigers opened their series with the Brevard County Manatees Monday night, losing 4-1 while only registering four hits. Matt O'Brien pitched seven innings and gave up three earned runs. He was then relieved by Guillermo Moscoso who was announced to be celebrating a one year marriage anniversary. Moscoso celebrated by pitching one inning of hitless baseball, striking out all three batters faced. Luis Salas batted 1-2 on the night.

In addition to a good night at the plate on Monday night, Luis Salas is hitting an impressive .308 with four RBIs since joining the team on June 3rd. Salas is realistically the only Flying Tiger who had a good week at the plate. Jeramy Laster still leads the league in home runs with thirteen, but he also leads the league in strikeouts with 91. Brevard's Stephen Chapman is second on the list with only 74.

James Skelton walked twice on June 3rd before proceeding to get hurt on the 4th, which raised his walk total to 32 (fourth best in the league). Lakeland will play three more games at home against Brevard before the All-Star break which will give non-participating players three days of much needed rest. This break should also help the team in regards to health, as several key players, including James Skelton and Scott Sizemore have been hurt recently.

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