Three All-Stars and the league's leading hitter, to be exact.
Alden Carrithers, Rawley Bishop, Kody Kaiser and league strikeout leader Charlie Furbush all packed for Double-A Erie last Wednesday as their Flying Tiger teammates prepared for what would be a rough week.
Lakeland finished the first half with a 7-4 win against Daytona last Wednesday, but still ended tied for second place with Tampa and Clearwater, four games behind first-half division champion Dunedin. After coming as close as 0.5 games of the Blue Jays in May, an 8-12 slump to finish the first half put the crown out of reach.
Having won back-to-back games just three times in June, the Flying Tigers start the second half 1-4 and in last place, 3.5 games behind division-leading Daytona.
After a 3-1 win at Brevard County last Thursday, it turned into a marathon week, as the next three games were decided in extra innings. The final two games of the Brevard series both ended with the Flying Tigers falling 3-4 in 11 innings. A walk-off single provided the fatal blow in the first game and a wild pitch by reliever Erik Crichton allowed the game-winner to cross the plate in the following game.
Hosting Tampa Sunday night would be no easier.
Adam Wilk had an average performance, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings. Trailing 5-0 in the bottom of the seventh, the Lakeland offense came alive, scoring three in the seventh and one in each of the next two innings to tie the game, pushing them to their third consecutive extra-inning affair.
Still knotted at five in the top of the 14th, the Flying Tigers simply ran out of pitching, so outfielder Brent Wyatt took the mound. A Gustavo Nunez error allowed a runner to not only reach base, but advance to second. Wyatt surrendered his only hit to the following batter in the form of an RBI double that gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead.
After failing to score in the bottom of the 14th, the Flying Tigers dropped their third consecutive extra-inning contest.
They also fell to 9-18 on the year in one-run games.
After rain delayed Monday night's game, Tampa once again came to town. With Lakeland still within striking distance in a 1-0 game heading into the seventh inning, righty Robert Waite took the mound in relief, surrendering four earned runs on four hits in just 0.1 of an inning. After not allowing an earned run in May, Waite has given up eight runs on 14 hits in just 11 innings in June for a 6.55 ERA—almost four runs above his season ERA of 2.67.
Lakeland would go on to lose the game, their fourth straight, 5-0. It's the fourth time the Yankees have shut out the Flying Tigers this season.
As with any harvest, a new crop springs, and Brandon Douglas is emerging as the player many thought he could be after just 16 games with the Flying Tigers. He went 10-for-18 for the week and slugged .573 over those five games. He's currently second on the team in hitting (minimum 50 at-bats) at .291 behind Francisco Martinez.
Recently promoted Samir Rijo is off to a good start in a Flying Tiger uniform as well, hitting .364 with a pair of doubles, slugging .545 and boasting a .962 OPS in his three games with the club.
As a whole, however, the offense struggled last week. Despite averaging almost four runs per game, they were a combined 14-57 with runners in scoring position, leaving 50 runners on base during the week.
Having already fallen to 9-16 in June, the Flying Tigers travel to Tampa Wednesday evening for a double-header to close a month they would surely like to forget. After that, their next 12 games will be split between Clearwater and Dunedin, two teams they have seen little of to date.
2B Alden Carrithers, OF Kody Kaiser and 1B Rawley Bishop assigned to Erie SeaWolves from Lakeland Flying Tigers
RHP Wilsen Palacios assigned to GCL Tigers from Lakeland Flying Tigers
Carmelo Jaime assigned to Lakeland Flying Tigers from Connecticut Tigers
3B Bryan Pounds activated from the 7-Day disabled list
LHP Charlie Furbush and OF OF Ben Guez assigned to Erie SeaWolves from Lakeland Flying Tigers
OF Samir Rijo assigned to Lakeland Flying Tigers from GCL Tigers
RHP Robert Waite assigned to Lakeland Flying Tigers from Erie SeaWolves
RHP Jared Gayhart assigned to Lakeland Flying Tigers from Erie SeaWolves
RHP Lester Oliveros assigned to Erie SeaWolves from Lakeland Flying Tigers
RHP Miguel Mejia assigned to West Michigan Whitecaps from Lakeland Flying Tigers.
Bryan Pounds assigned to Erie SeaWolves from Lakeland Flying Tigers?
OF Alexander Moreno assigned to Lakeland Flying Tigers from GCL Tigers