Any team that scores only 12 runs in seven games is going to have a hard time piling up wins. The week started with a 17 and 2/3 inning scoreless streak until Kody Kaiser hit a home run to break the shut out in the bottom of the ninth. The home run seemed to break the Flying Tigers out of the slump, since they proceeded to score nine runs in the next two games as well as collecting two wins.
It didn't last.
Lakeland traveled down south to Brevard County, where bats go to die. The Brevard County Manatees boast the Florida State League best team ERA with 2.16 and have surrendered a league low three home runs. The Flying Tigers didn't even put a dent in their armor.
In the three games against the Manatees the Flying Tigers scored only two runs. In five games this week the Flying Tigers posted only three runs. It's a tall order to expect your pitching staff to keep you in games with such little run support.
Thad Weber has been up to the challenge. Weber is currently standing second in the Florida State League with an ERA of 0.75. Against Tampa this week Weber threw seven shut out inning and only allowing two hits. Weber pounded the strike zone with his fastball. His fast ball was sitting at 88-91 mph occasionally hitting 93mph. He worked his fast ball well on both sides of the plate which set up his slider and change up. All six of Weber's strike outs came by either his slider or his change. The most impressive part is five of the six strike outs were looking.
Andrew Hess battled admirably in his two starts for the week. Hess was saddled with two losses though he was a victim of few runs in support and poor defense. In his first start against Tampa Hess had to battle through four errors in the field and zero runs in support.
Every game that Chris Carlson starts at first seems to be an adventure. He had two errors in Hess's start and both came on routine throws to first that were dropped when Carlson had to find the bag. Hess played through and pitched well. For the week Hess only allowed three earned runs in 11 innings of work. His fastball isn't over powering though he has been locating it well to draw contact and hope for the best.
The Lakeland Flying Tigers promoted Jordan Newton to help resuscitate the offense. With Jeff Kunkel's promotion to Erie the Flying Tigers added Jordan who has some life in his bat. In his first start Newton batted third and when he hasn't been behind the dish he has worked regularly as the DH. The results have been promising, he went 7-for-24 this week and four of his seven hits were for extra bases. He definitely has the skill in the batters box, in West Michigan so far this season Newton's OPS was 1.188. He even had a 26 game hitting (last season in WM to this season with the FSL) streak going from last season before it was snapped against Tampa.
Behind the plate is where Newton has his problems. He allowed two passed balls. He does possess a decent arm. Newton had a busy week trying to throw out runners going 3-for-14, though not a great percentage, Brevard County has been running all over the Florida State League this season with 52 stolen bases.
The Flying Tigers desperately need Kody Kaiser's bat to wake up. Kaiser has been moved around the line-up hoping for a spark to happen though he hasn't been able to find it. It looks like he's been trying to force the issue lately, striking out swinging at balls outside of the zone. Kaiser struck out 13 times in just 23 at bats this week. When he does make contact there are good results. When he jumped on a hanging slider in the bottom of the ninth against Tampa, and pulled it down right field for a bomb to break up shut out shows you some of the potential he has. We just don't get to see it enough.