Lakeland MLN: In Familiar Territory

The Flying Tigers find themselves in all to familiar territory as they reach the middle of July, losers of eight of their last 12 before taking Tuesday off. At a Florida State League-worst 5-12 in the second half (42-45 overall), they are 5.5 games behind division leaders Tampa and Daytona.

After being swept in Clearwater last week, the Flying Tigers took 2-of-3 from the Threshers at home last week before dropping 2-of-3 in Dunedin over the weekend.

The Flying Tigers have had difficulty outscoring their opponents this month, allowing more than four runs (near the league average) in 8-of-12 games, losing all eight. Contrarily, they only scored four or more runs in six contests, winning three. They hit under .260 with runners in scoring position last week, leaving 42 runners on base in six games.

John Murrian took an eight-game hit streak into Monday night's 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays, snapping the streak with an 0-for-4 performance and two strikeouts. During the streak, he was 16-for-30 with three doubles and two home runs. His .556 on-base percentage and .844 slugging percentage totaled a 1.400 OPS, .625 higher than his season mark to date.

Bryan Holaday, the sixth-round draft pick out of Texas Christian in this year's draft, is off to a hot start, going 9-for-15 (.600) with three doubles and a home run in four games with the club. That equates to a 1.000 slugging percentage, and that, along with his .667 on-base percentage, gives him a 1.667 OPS. Holiday signed with the club on July 7.

With Holaday providing an offensive boost, the Flying Tigers also activated Jordan Lennerton from the temporary inactive list over the weekend. Lennerton, in 11 games in Lakeland, is hitting close to .300 with a pair of home runs and a .921 OPS.

On the mound, Adam Wilk tossed another gem, a six-inning, five-hit performance in which he allowed just one run and struck out two against Clearwater on Friday night, running his record to 6-4. His 3.02 ERA is now lowest among starters on the roster and his 104.1 innings pitched with just 12 walks are a league-best.

Meanwhile, Brayan Villarreal has been largely ineffective, allowing six runs on 11 hits in his last two starts combined (seven innings). He lasted just two innings in one of those starts, and has not lasted more than five innings in over a month. However, at 7-3 with a 3.50 ERA on the year, there's no reason Villarreal cannot return to his early-season form.

After a difficult June, July has certainly been no different. The next couple of weeks will be crucial for the Flying Tigers, for if they continue to struggle, we could find them too far back in the FSL North to make a realistic push for a second-half title in August. They are currently on pace for a 10-24 month.

The Flying Tigers (5-12) host Palm Beach (10-7) on Wednesday night to start a four-game set before traveling to Ft. Myers (7-10) for another four-game series starting Sunday. They do not play another division game until August 9.

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