TigsTown MLN: LFT Endure Rough Week

The Flying Tigers endured a rain shortened week recently as the end of the season rapidly approaches with a record of 2-3. They are now in fourth place in the Florida State League West with an overall record of 28-33. The week has been hampered by injuries, but there were a few bright spots worth mentioning.

The week started off with a rough outing from pitcher Duane Below, who gave up five earned runs in only three innings of work. The Lakeland bats heated up and the bullpen combined to give up only two hits and one earned run the rest of the game to allow Robbie Weinhardt to register the win while Ryan Perry notched his fourth save of the season. Weinhardt's numbers has faltered considerably from his great start to the season, but they are still respectable. In thirty innings of work, the product of Oklahoma State has thirty-seven strikeouts and has only given up eight earned runs and seven walks. His ERA now stands at 2.40. He will still be one to keep an eye on next year in the organization for sure.

The most notable Lakeland pitching performance this week was not necessarily the best, but Freddy Garcia drew a decent amount of attention in his return to baseball after being signed by the Tigers this month. The former Major Leaguer pitched two innings while only giving up three hits and walking one batter. Early reports state that scouts were very pleased with the outing and Garcia was promoted to Toledo at this point (most likely to replace Chris Lambert who was called up to Detroit).

Replacing Freddy Garcia was Alfredo Figaro who continues to struggle in Lakeland after a stellar season in West Michigan. Figaro gave up three runs in four innings, but only one of those runs was earned. Figaro, now 0-4 on the season, walked five batters in the game, matching his Lakeland walks total from the previous four games. Needless to say, Alfredo has struggled at this level, but his success in the Midwest League leads many to believe that he will be fine in the Florida State League after he adjusts. But how long will that take?

Another important debut this week was that of Lauren Gagnier, a pitcher who has been at almost every level of minor league baseball this season thanks in part to some strange roster moves and temporary fill-in assignments. Gagnier pitched seven innings in his starting debut in Lakeland and gave up only three hits and zero earned runs while walking three and striking out two. Robbie Weinhardt managed the hold despite giving up two runs, but registered his first blown save and his second loss of the season. Regardless, Gagnier's performance was still very impressive.

The week started and ended with pitcher Duane Below, but his last outing was much better than the first. In five innings of work, Below gave up only four hits and zero runs while striking out five to register his eighth win of the season. The Lakeland bats also kicked in this game, contributing greatly to the cause (although there wasn't a necessity for a great amount of run support).

On the offensive side, several players stepped up in the absence of some prominent contributors from earlier in the season. Michael Bertram continued his offensive tear this week by going 9-22 with an average of .409. In this timeframe, the slugger had three doubles and struck out only twice. With his recent surge in activity, Bertram's average has increased greatly and he is now batting .294 on the season.

Also hitting for average this week was catcher Jeff Kunkel who batted a nice .309 with a double, taking the place of promoted James Skelton. Hitting home runs this week for Lakeland were Cale Iorg and Justin Justice. Ryan Strieby continues to lead the league with twenty-nine despite missing a considerable amount of games lately due to injury.

Regarding a lack of offense, Jeramy Laster struck out four times this week, increasing his total to 191 on the season in his chase for two hundred. We're hoping he doesn't reach that mark. The Flying Tigers will remain on the road this week for a three game series with Ft. Myers before returning home for the final series of the season against Clearwater.

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