The SeaWolves have come upon some trying times over the last week.
To say this team has been cruising over the first three months of the season would be a false statement. They've had to overcome some major adversity – the injuries to Casper Wells, Mike Hollimon, Duane Below, and Brendan Wise, to name a few – but they managed to patch things over without so much as a hitch.
Overcoming those hurdles are usually the mark of a championship caliber team, which may have been exactly what the SeaWolves were a week ago, but the current roster turmoil has proven to be too much for them to endure.
For the first time this season the SeaWolves, 40-36, find themselves with their backs against the wall. After winning the series opener against Altoona on Tuesday, they proceeded to drop the next two, and then were swept in five straight games on the road against Harrisburg, making it a season-long seven-game losing streak.
Over the last two weeks the SeaWolves have lost their best starting pitcher, Alfredo Figaro, who was promoted to the Major League's to fill the void after Dontrelle Willis was placed on the disabled list with recurring issues involving his anxiety disorder. Figaro has since been reassigned to Toledo.
Then the injury bug hit, as they lost their best slugger, Ryan Strieby, who was placed on the disabled list with ongoing issues involving the hamate bone in his hand that operated on last August, and their team-leader, Mike Hollimon, who was held out of action all week with shoulder pain.
Then, on top of all that, the team simply hasn't played well.
They gave away Wednesday's game by committing three errors and allowing four unearned-runs, which proved to be the difference in the 8-4 result.
On Thursday, they carried a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning where Cody Satterwhite proceeded to walk in the go-ahead run.
"He didn't have command of hardly anything today. When you don't have command of your stuff it's hard to get ahead. You come back tomorrow and try to erase that," pitching coach Ray Burris said. "Yeah, he's disappointed, we're all disappointed. At least he didn't walk the ballpark."
Satterwhite, 2-5, 4.30 ERA, would leave the game after giving up five runs on four hits in 2/3 of an inning, putting Altoona ahead for good, 8-6. The outing marked his second blown save of the season.
"He struggled with his command. He couldn't get the ball to the spot where he wanted it to be. He wasn't sharp. That's what allowed them to come back and win the ball game," Brookens said. "These are Double-A players, they aren't lights out players by any stretch of the imagination." In Harrisburg the team got some pretty solid pitching, but the bats and the defense again failed them.
In the opener of the series Jon Kibler (3-5, 3.90 ERA) was able to go 6 1/3 innings while allowing only one earned run, but Harrisburg was able to cross the plate two other times on errors. Erie would go on to lose the game 3-2.
The second game saw Jonah Nickerson (4-6, 5.08 ERA) get lit up for the first time since altering his delivery last month for seven runs in six innings of work, and Ramon Garcia (6.45 ERA) continued to struggle by adding on three more runs over the final two innings of the game. Erie would lose 10-5.
Thad Weber would get knocked around in his second appearance with Erie in the early going on Sunday for three runs in as many innings, but Zach Simons, Brett Jensen and Jay Sborz would combine for six innings of two run ball in a 5-4 losing effort.
In the second half of Sunday's double-header, Josh Rainwater (2-1, 2.59) handed in a stellar start, lasting five innings while giving up one run, but Erie's bat's would be held silent over the shortened seven inning game, hanging the 1-0 loss on Rainwater.
Then, finally, Erie lost their seventh straight game by dropping a heartbreaker against Harrisburg. With the score knotted up, both teams scored in the ninth to put the game into extra-innings and Harrisburg would eventually win on an infield single in the 12th off Josh Kite.
All in all, it was the worst week of the SeaWolves season, and, unfortunately, things don't look they are going to get better in the short-term.
Strieby has been placed on the disabled list for seven days, but it appears things could stretch on much longer.
Strieby was headed to New York at the end of the last week to meet with a specialist who will determine the extent of his injuries. There is no time-table for his return at this time.
Hollimon could also be placed on the disabled list if things don't turn around for him in the next couple days.
"He can swing right-handed or left-handed, but throwing he's getting a little bit of pain in his right shoulder. If it looks like he's going to be out for awhile we're going to have to DL him and get someone else in here," Brookens said. Hollimon hurt the same shoulder last year during a spring training game in Sarasota while playing with the Tigers' major league team.
Erie will try to turn it around next week when Trenton comes to town on Tuesday, and then when they head to Binghamton on Saturday.