Erie MLN: Wrapping Up the First Half

The Erie SeaWolves concluded the first half of the season splitting a four game series with the Akron Aeros (45-45). The ‘Wolves dropped the first two games against the Aeros on the heels of a four game sweep against the Bowie Baysox (48-43).

After the Erie offense exploded against Bowie, outscoring the Baysox 37-14, Akron stymied the ‘Wolves offense in the first game. Akron's Paolo Espino and two relievers held the ‘Wolves to one run on four hits.

The second game was more of the same. Right-handed starter Alex White was dominant holding the SeaWolves scoreless over his six inning of work, showing why he was the 15th selection in the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

"He (White) is as advertised," said Manager Phil Nevin. "We got to him a bit, but the good ones reach back and put something extra on it to get out of trouble." "He has a really good split-finger and that is the pitch everyone has talked about since he was in the College World Series."

Lost in the game was the work that Erie starter Duane Below (TigsTown's No. 49 prospect) did. Below worked five innings allowing four runs (two earned) as he fell to 3-8 on the year.

"His (Below) location in the strike zone needs to improve as I'm sure he will agree with," said Nevin. "Once he improves on his location it will make his other stuff that much better, but his stuff is Major League caliber right now."

Despite dropping the first two games against Akron Erie finished on a little bit of a roll, with the thought of caring that momentum into the second half of the season. The ‘Wolves finished the first half with 38-53 record, just 10 games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern League Western Division.

Furbush Continues Roll

TigsTown's No. 29 prospect Charlie Furbush arrived to the Erie SeaWolves with a buzz surrounding his name. Maybe it was the Playstation like strike out totals that he had posted while in Lakeland, 109 in just 77 innings pitched. Or maybe it was his walk total that he had to go along with his 109 strikeouts. Furbush had allowed just 14 free passes.

After four games with Erie it is easy to see why there was such a buzz about the left-hander.

Although he is just 1-0 while with the SeaWolves Furbush has managed to continue his impressive pitching performances. Furbush made his Double-A debut for Erie at home against the Richmond Flying Squirrels on June 26. It was his most disappointing start. He allowed three runs, in seven innings of work, while striking out just four.

Furbush's last two starts are more indicative of what the Erie and Tigers faithful should be looking forward to. He picked up his first win against the Bowie Baysox last week working seven innings, allowing two runs, while striking out 11.

In his most recent outing Furbush was in a pitcher's duel against Akron left-hander Scott Barnes. Both pitchers allowed just one run a-piece, and neither factored in the decision. Furbush followed his 11-strikeout performance against Bowie with nine more against the Aeros.

"He's good," said Nevin. "When you can through all your pitches throw strikes you can succeed."

"He was able to bury the breaking ball to hitters and get swings and misses, he will do very well."

Ciriaco Sizzling

Since returning from the Disabled List TigsTown's No. 16 prospect Audy Ciriaco has been on a roll. In his last 10 games the third baseman is batting .366 (15-for-41) with four home runs.

Ciriaco was especially spectacular in helping Erie defeat the Akron Aeros 5-1 on July 11. He was a perfect 4-for-4 on the day with two triples and was instrumental in helping break open a close game. Ciriaco got the scoring started when hit his first triple of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. He scored on Rawley Bishop's sacrifice fly.

"He is healthy, but we are going to be careful with him and I may rest him every once a while," said Nevin.

Ciriaco looks to continue his hot streak into and out of the All-Star break.

"He's traditionally a second half player," said Nevin. "He makes adjustments and that is why he is successful, look at his track record from Lakeland last year."

Quick Hits

- Erie has more wins (6) in the month of July then they had during the entire month of June.

- All-Star outfielder and TigsTown's No. 47 prospect Andy Dirks collected his 100th hit of the season against the Akron Aeros on July 12. He is tied with New Hampshire's Darin Mastroianni for tops in the Eastern League.

- Thad Weber (TigsTown's No. 25 prospect) picked up his sixth win of the season against the Akron Aeros to close out the first half of the season. Weber leads the Eastern League in innings pitched with 119. The right-hander has worked at least five innings in every start this season.

- Erie starts the second half of the season against the Akron Aeros at Akron on Thursday July 15, first pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

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