Erie MLN: The SeaWolves Slump Buster

Erie had their backs against the wall for the first time last week after dropping seven straight, and how they came out of it could have decided their fortunes for the season. They got back on track by taking three of four from Trenton.

But, if you ask the team they'll tell you it wasn't because of improved pitching or hitting, and it certainly had nothing to do with getting Ryan Strieby back in the line-up either. No, the slump buster was –ummm- women's panties.

After dropping seven straight, the team needed to do something different to get back on track, just no one would have suggested this.

Following Tuesday's 5-3 win, Zach Simons and Shawn Roof were spotted walking about the clubhouse in something that appeared suspiciously similar to women's underwear.

Then again on Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday.

Although neither player would go on the record admitting that they were, indeed, wearing panties, it's a pretty safe bet they were.

"He had a birthday a couple weeks ago and he got a care package with some underwear with camouflage print and cheetah's on them," Roof explained of he and Simons' new slump buster. "It worked the first three nights, we'll see if we need it again. I'll hang onto it for a rainy day."

"There are some things that we can't talk about on the air that we did to mix it up a little bit and it got us a win. We've been playing better since," Simons said. "Shawn has been wearing some green cheetah print underwear. Shawn has. It's all Shawn."

Whatever they were, they worked. Thanks to Simons and Roof's panties, Erie got back on track in a big way. They trumped Trenton in three straight before dropping the fourth, 10-1.

The SeaWolves, 45-38, then went into Binghamton and took two of three, making them six-for-six in series against the Northern Division.

Quite possibly, though, the biggest development this week that Erie finally got a clear picture of who they have available to them, and who they don't.

Last week saw the departures of Scott Sizemore and Jay Sborz, who were sent up to Triple-A, and Ryan Strieby, Mike Hollimon, and Max Leon due to injury.

Hollimon and Leon are still gone, but at least the team now knows who is available on any given night, which has helped them settle in and get some stability back.

"We seem a little bit more settled now with De Leon coming up here and with Strieby in left and Bourquin at first, we now have an idea. Hollimon is going to be gone, Max Leon will be out for a while, but at least we know we don't have them now," manager Tom Brookens explained.

Strieby was gone last week due to reoccurring issues with his surgically repaired hamate in his left-hand that was operated on last August. He had been experiencing pain in it throughout the first three months of the season and was finally shutdown last week and sent to New York to have it re-evaluated.

He was able to return this week after getting a cortisone injection, but an x-ray revealed that he has developed some bone spurs that will likely require surgery during the offseason.

"What's happening is that the bone spurs are growing and closing a gap in my hand and it's putting pressure on the ligaments, which is causing my pain. It could be something that could keep reoccurring, but with the cortisone shot it should stay feeling good for a while. It's something that we'll revisit in the offseason, but hopefully we can avoid it for a while," Strieby said.

Through his first seven games back, Strieby hit .370 a homer and two RBI. The home run was his first since June 3.

"I have a little bit of confidence coming back and my hand is feeling better each day, so that's good," Strieby said.

Brennan Boesch was also one of the big contributors for the ‘Wolves over the last week, batting .310 with a pair of homers.

"He's been swinging the bat well. His big thing is not swinging at so many bad pitches; he needs to stay under control. If he does that, he has a good swing, he hits the ball as hard as anyone. Right now he's seeing the ball a little bit better," Brookens said.

"It's a learning process. He needs to be a little more selective, then he'll see more strikes."

That has been one of the knocks on Boesch all along, but it appears that he's finally starting to make some progress in his pitch selection. He collected nine walks and struck out 19 times during June, his best totals this season. Although, his .294 OBP was down from the .339 he post in May.

On the pitching side of things, there were a couple of new faces toeing the rubber for the ‘Wolves, Thad Weber and Robbie Wiendhardt, who were both called up from Lakeland to fill the voids created by recent promotions.

Weber, who was recently named the twenty-fifth best prospect in the organization, hasn't enjoyed the early success that many expected after his first outing.

In his debut against Altoona on June 23, Weber looked stellar, holding the Curve to two runs over six innings, but he hasn't been the same since.

In his second start against Harrisburg he was knocked out of the game in the third-inning after facing his 17th batter and giving up his third run. On Friday, he surrendered five runs on 11 hits over five innings.

"Weber wasn't real sharp. The command of his fastball was off a little bit; his breaking ball- the command of all his pitches wasn't there. Just not real sharp for him," Brookens said. "He struggled in his last start too, he threw a lot of pitches in the third inning. Yeah, he's struggling."

Prior to joining the SeaWolves, Weber had compiled a 2.13 ERA with 40 strikeouts against just 11 walks over 67 2/3 innings.

Wiendhardt has faired a bit better in the early going and has the coaching staff excited about the possibilities.

Over his first three innings, Wiendhardt has given up one run, walked three and struck out five.

"He has a live fastball, the ball jumps at the hitters. He has a good hard slider. He's going to do really well here. He'll be working that set-up role and I expect him to do well for us," Brookens said.

Weindhardt had posted a 0.85 ERA with Lakeland to go along with 40 strike outs and 11 walks over 31 2/3 innings.

The biggest development this week for the pitching staff was the reemergence of Cody Satterwhite. Satterwhite had struggled through June, posting a 5.84 ERA with eight walks and eight strikeouts over 12 1/3 innings, but he's been stellar in his last two outings and appears to be on the right track.

In his last outing on July 2, Satterwhite threw 2 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball in a gutsy performance to secure a victory for Erie.

Trenton had managed to get two men on base, after Satterwhite surrendered a hit and walked a batter, when Jesus Montero, considered by many to be one of the best prospects in baseball, came to the plate.

Montero had feasted on the Erie pitching all week, homering three times in the four game series, but he would be sent back the dugout on strikes, the last reaching 99 on the radar gun.

"As a relieft pitcher you have to forget that. A day later, two days later, your thrown back in that fire and I think that helps. You just have to let it go," Satterwhite said. "I had a couple bad outings and now I got to learn how to pitch, and I think I learned from it."

Erie will head to Altoona on Tuesday for a three games series before playing host to Akron over the weekend.

Notes:

Erie had five players named to the Eastern League All-Star roster, Ryan Strieby, Alex Avila, Deik Scram, Josh Rainwater and Brennan Boesch. Rainwater will not be playing in the game since he was called up to Toledo earlier this week. His replacement will be selected from Erie, and will be one of Cody Satterwhite, Zach Simons, Luis Marte, or Brett Jensen. The decision on his replacement is expected to be announced early this week.


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