Erie MLN: 'Wolves Hit the Skids, Again

The Erie SeaWolves have been here before. Just a week after tasting first-place the ‘Wolves have lost eight straight games, and now find themselves in fourth-place trailing the Altoona Curve by 7 ½ games. It is the second eight-game losing streak of the season for Erie. The other came right at the beginning of the season when they started off 0-8.

The recent losing streak began against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Erie was looking for the sweep of the Squirrels entering the last game of the series. The ‘Wolves were in first-place for a little over eight hours before Thad Weber took a tough 5-1 loss in finale.

The loss dropped Erie into a second-place tie with Richmond entering their series against the first-place Altoona Curve at Jerry Uht Park.

Altoona swept the four game series against Erie. The Curve dominated the first three games of the series. Erie had a chance to break the losing streak in finale on Sunday, May 23.

TigsTown's No. 9 prospect Andrew Oliver was on the mound in search of his fifth win of the season.

Oliver was impressive but could not pick up the win in Erie's 2-1 loss to the Curve. Curve starting pitcher Josh Wilson was impressive striking out 10 Erie hitters.

Erie struggled to hit against Altoona pitching, striking out 48 times in the four game series. "We went through a rut earlier in the season," said manager Phil Nevin. "You're going to have your ups and downs." "I'm not worried about these guys hitting."

Erie hit the road after the sweep and headed for Trenton. The ‘Wolves started the season off in Trenton against the Thunder. Erie entered the series with the Thunder 0-4 at Waterfront Park.

The downward spiral for the ‘Wolves continued in Trenton. They dropped the first three games of their four game series against the Thunder. A familiar theme carried on in this series. Erie struck out 31 times in the first three games of the series.

"I'm not worried about this," Nevin said. "You're going to go through stretches like this." "When we lost the first eight games of the season I told you this would happen again, I hope it doesn't get to eight, but I'm not worried."

Oliver Dominant in Defeat

Andrew Oliver has shown this season why he was a potential first round draft choice in the 2009 MLB Free Agent draft, and why the Tigers were so lucky he fell to them in the second round.

Oliver had not lost since his professional debut when he took the mound against the Curve. In his previous three starts against Altoona he was 2-0, with one no decision. He was even better this time out.

The left-hander worked 6 2/3 innings of nearly flawless baseball. He struck out nine, while only walking one Curve hitter. He cruised through the first six innings of the game, facing only one real threat. In the top of the second the Curves' Hector Gimenez reached third base after a lead off walk. Oliver buckled down and did not allow him to score.

"You have to have confidence that they aren't going to hit you," said Oliver.

Oliver made one mistake in the game, and it proved to be costly.

In the top of seventh Oliver got the first out of the inning before allowing a single to Gimenez. He then got Eastern League batting leader out on strikes for his ninth strike out of the game. Shelby Ford stepped to the plate and a battle between hitter and pitcher took place.

Ford fouled pitch after pitch off. Oliver challenged him with 94 MPH fastballs, and sharp breaking sliders, but the Curve second baseman just kept staying alive. Finally Oliver tried to throw a change-up down in the dirt, but it hung and Ford crushed it to left on to the Erie Civic Center for a two-run home run, ending Oliver's brilliant start and sending him to his second loss of the season.

"I threw pitches and he (Ford) fouled them off, so I wanted to throw a change-up down in the dirt and I hung it," said Oliver.

"He threw the ball great," said Nevin. "It was a mistake in pitch selection, he got beat with his third best pitch." "He was dominating and fun to watch."

Quick Hits

- During the eight-game losing streak the SeaWolves have struck out 82 times.

- Michael Bertram has hit safely in 27 of the last 31 games.

- Wilkin Ramirez continues to lead the Eastern League in home runs. TigsTown's No. 5 prospect has 13 home runs on the season after hitting three against the Trenton Thunder on Wednesday May 26. Ramirez has also struck out a league leading 69 times.

- Erie has fallen under .500 for the first time since May 4.

- Trenton and Erie complete their four game series Thursday. The ‘Wolves return to Jerry Uht Park to take on the Harrisburg Senators for a four game series before returning to the road for a six game road trip that starts off in Akron and then goes to Bowie.

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