TigsTown MLN: 'Wolves Off to Slow July

It has been an up and down season for the Erie SeaWolves and so far the month of July has been down. The 'Wolves have won only three times in 13 tries in the entire month. "It's been a little bit of the same scenario, we just can't put teams away when we need to put them away" manager Tom Brookens said.

The offense is back for the Erie SeaWolves but that hasn't translated into wins for the 'Wolves. The 'Wolves scored 30 runs in a three game stretch but they were outscored 35-30 and won only one game. "I like the way we come back and keep plugging away offensively but we need to get better defensively and we have to get better pitching wise" Brookens said. The 'Wolves rank ninth in the 12 team Eastern League with a 4.81 ERA.

Leading the way for the SeaWolves offense has been First baseman Ryan Roberson. He has 11 hits in his last seven games including two home runs and nine RBI. After a slow start to the season Roberson has been one of the SeaWolves best hitters including hitting .343 in the month of June and a .365 batting average so far in July. He leads the team with 15 home runs and with 53 RBI, he has also improved his batting average to .292 for the season. He will be one of five Erie SeaWolves players to represent the Southern Division in the Eastern League All Star game on Wednesday at Merchantsauto.com Stadium in New Hampshire.

Wilkin Ramirez has been giving opposing pitchers fits all season and this week was no different. In his five games this week he had seven hits for a .350 batting average, including two home runs and eight RBI. Ramirez was not in the 'Wolves lineup on Saturday or Sunday because he was in New York City for the Major League Baseball Futures Game at Yankee Stadium. He started in left-field and was batting third for the World Team. In his two at-bats he was 1-for-1 with a walk and he was caught stealing. He is expected to return to Erie for the finale of the series with Altoona on Monday, before traveling to New Hampshire for the all star game on Wednesday.

In all the SeaWolves will have five players taking part in the all-star game on Wednesday. Ryan Roberson and Wilkin Ramirez were the manager selections and Casey Fien and Dusty Ryan were selected by the fans. Starting Pitcher Danny Christensen was added to the roster on Friday and will play in his first professional all-star game. Dusty Ryan will get a head start on the rest of the guys by taking place in the Eastern League Home Run derby that will take place before the game. Ryan will join two members of the Bowie Baysox, outfielder Lou Montanez and third baseman Jeff Nettles, as the Southern Division representatives.

There have been a few bright spots on the SeaWolves pitching staff recently, despite the recent struggles. Josh Rainwater has been the most consistent pitcher on the staff all season. He is leading the staff in wins with a 6-4 record and he is third on the team with 51 strikeouts. In his one appearance this week he pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing only five hits and one earned run despite taking the loss in a 6-3 loss to Reading on Tuesday. Lucas French was also a tough luck loser on Sunday, pitching a seven inning complete game and allowing seven hits and four earned runs.

The most often talked about member of the SeaWolves bullpen has been Casey Fien because of his nine saves and 38 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched. Casey Fien gets the publicity but Juan Cedeno has quietly put up good numbers, he is 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA this season. He made two appearances this week, pitching 4 2/3 innings in a spot start on Wednesday and pitching four innings in the completion of a suspended game on Sunday. On Wednesday he pitched four scoreless innings and allowed only four hits in a 6-1 SeaWolves victory. On Sunday he had a 21 2/3 innings scoreless streak broken in the sixth inning of a 12-11 victory. "He's been a real positive and a plus to this ball club" Brookens said, "He's a got a good live fast ball, a good change up and a slider, he's got three good pitches" he added.

It will be a short week for the SeaWolves and the entire Eastern League with the all-star break on Tuesday and Wednesday. The 'Wolves will send Eddie Bonine to the hill on Monday to complete their four game set with Altoona. Bonine is in Erie because both Toledo and Detroit are off and the Tigers brass wanted to make sure he started on his regular day. "They just told me to go down to Erie and pitch with my regular days rest" Bonine said. "I don't know what they're going to do whether or not they are going to re-evaluate or what, I'm just going to go out and pitch" he added. Bonine was 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts with the Tigers and he was 9-2 with 4.48 ERA while pitching in Toledo this season. He is expected to be called up to either Toledo or Detroit after his start Monday.

After the all-star break the 'Wolves will head to Akron for the third time this season. The 'Wolves are 3-4 in Akron and 4-7 overall against the first place Aeros this season. The 'Wolves currently trail the Aeros by 21 ½ games in the Southern Division. RHP Josh Rainwater (6-4, 3.86 ERA) is expected to start for Erie on Thursday night. The rest of the pitching rotation is undecided.

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