TigsTown MLN: Dontrelle's Progress

The Flying Tigers lost significant ground to first place Dunedin this week by posting a record of 1-7. They are now in third place behind Sarasota as well with a record of 24-26. On the bright side, Dontrelle Willis continues to improve and there were several Lakeland bats that continued to thrive.

Dontrelle pitched two games this week and his outings continue to stretch out even further. In his first performance of the week, he pitched six and 1/3 innings and gave up four runs. He did, however, strike out six and walked zero batters. In his second performance (both losses), the former Major League Rookie of the Year lasted seven and 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the season in Lakeland. He gave up four runs and struck out six, while walking only two batters. The runs still seem to be an issue but the outings are still getting longer and the walks total is being reduced somewhat. He seems to be making significant progress.

The next game of the week featured possibly the four best pitchers on the Lakeland roster: Porcello, Weinhardt, Satterwhite, and Perry. Top prospect Rick Porcello pitched five innings and gave up two earned runs while striking out three. This continues his proclivity to rather short outings, despite the good performance. Weinhardt and Satterwhite then pitched the next three innings and allowed zero runs. Perry came in to close the game and gave up two runs, earning his first loss of the season. He would, however, go on to earn the save in Lakeland's lone win of the week.

Another former Major Leaguer to start in Lakeland this week was Jordan Tata. Jordan pitched five innings and gave up five runs, but only three of them were earned. He looked on spot for the first several innings until he gave up a home run. From that point on, Tata looked pretty rattled. Ramon Garcia and Derek Witt would then proceed to give up multiple runs, contributing to the Lakeland loss.

One pitcher who struggled mightily this week was Jonah Nickerson. Nickerson pitched only five innings and surrendered six earned runs. The Flying Tigers did manage to catch up and tie the game in the ninth, however, and Robby Weinhardt was brought in to hold the game. Weinhardt, who is generally flawless, struggled from the mound, giving up his first earned run in a little over twenty four innings with Lakeland, earning his first loss of the season.

Much like the starting pitching, the Lakeland offense struggled to provide this week. There were several bright spots though. The first impressive performance came from Justin Justice, who hit for power and average this week. The Lakeland outfielder batted .448 with three doubles, one triple, and two home runs. Picking up where he left off last week, Ryan Strieby batted .333 on the week with two triples and two home runs, adding to his franchise record.

While the team struggled this week, they look to rebound in this next week and possibly gain ground on the Blue Jays. The team will stay on the road to finish their series in Clearwater before traveling to Fort Myers for a three game series there as well.

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