Josh Rainwater had his best pitching performance of the season, throwing eight strong innings allowing only three hits, three walks and striking out a season-high nine Akron batters. "It seemed like everything was working tonight" Rainwater said. "They (Akron) are probably the best hitting team in the league and he shut them down, that probably says even more about what he accomplished tonight" SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said.
It was the first time that he struck out nine batters since July 28, 2007 in a victory against Clinton and just two shy of his career of 11 which he has done twice, once in 2004 and once in 2005. Rainwater leads the 'Wolves pitching staff with six victories after improving his record to 6-3 with a 4.10 ERA. He also has 50 strikeouts in only 68 innings, Lucas French and Danny Christensen lead the team with 52 strikeouts but they both have over 100 innings pitched.
The 'Wolves were able to avoid the sweep at home against Akron on the strength of the victory in the series finale but they couldn't avoid their second sweep of the season at Prince George's Stadium against the Bowie Baysox. It was the second time this season the SeaWolves have been swept in Bowie. The Baysox are currently in second place in the Southern Division, trailing the Akron Aeros by 4 ½ games. The series sweep dropped the SeaWolves into a tie for fifth place in the Southern Division 19 ½ games behind.
The bullpen had been one of the biggest strengths of the pitching staff in recent weeks before they crumbled on the road in Bowie. Angel Castro suffered a loss, after being recalled from Lakeland recently, and Danny Zell suffered his second loss of the season in Bowie as well. Before the road trip the bullpen had been outstanding. It has been an up and down battle with the bullpen all season and it appears that trend is continuing. "We are much better in the bullpen than we were in the beginning of the season" Brookens said, before the trip to Bowie.
The SeaWolves did get some good news off the field this week when it was announced that four players would represent the team in the Eastern League All Star game that will take place on July 16 at Merchantsauto.com Stadium in Manchester, NH. Relief pitcher Casey Fien and Catcher Dusty Ryan were selected by the SeaWolves fans to represent their team and Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez and First Baseman Ryan Roberson were manager selections. It will be a busy week for Ramirez who will play for the World Team in the Futures game that will be held on July 14 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Roberson started the season extremely slow but he has picked up his production since early June. He has hit safely in 27 of his last 30 games and his 13 home runs ties him with Dusty Ryan for the team lead. His batting average has been hovering around .275, good for fourth on the team behind Jeff Frazier, Wilkin Ramirez and Will Rhymes and he also leads the team with 44 RBI.
Wilkin Ramirez has been another guy that has really played well after a short stint with the Toledo Mud Hens. Ramirez is hitting .297 with 12 home runs and 37 RBI. He has also looked much more comfortable in the outfield, making diving catches when necessary and putting his strong arm display whenever possible.
As is evident Ramirez has an opportunity to be a superstar if he can put all his tools together. "We like Wilkin a great deal because he has all the tools, I think he has a chance to be a star player" Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski said during a recent visit to Erie. "He can hit for power, he can run and he's young" Dombrowski said, adding "He's a five tool player and those type of players don't come around very often but he needs to continue to develop".
The SeaWolves will try to rebound on the road with a three game series with the Reading Phillies. It is the first trip to Reading for the SeaWolves this season. They swept Reading at Jerry Uht Park in Erie back at the end of May.
The 'Wolves and Phillies will meet a total of 13 times this season. After completing the three game set in Reading the 'Wolves will return home to face the Altoona Curve. It will be the final series of the season between Erie and Altoona. The Curve lead the season series 8-6 including a 5-2 in Erie. Josh Rainwater will try to follow up his strong performance against Akron with a victory in reading on Tuesday.