Erie (42-63) first opponent for the week was the Binghamton Mets (53-52). Erie entered the four game series just 2-5 against the Mets and had not won a game at NYSEG Stadium. All the games between the two teams had been close with none being decided by more than three runs. This four game series was much of the same with the exception of the Mets 13-8 victory on Saturday July 24.
Erie received three excellent pitching performances against the Mets in this four-game series, earning a split. In the opener TigsTown's No. 29 prospect Brayan Villarreal made his Double-A debut and despite taking the loss he showed why he had earned a promotion to Erie.
Thad Weber TigsTown's No. 42 prospect followed Villarreal's performance with a win in a complete-game masterpiece. Weber continued to be the workhorse of the Erie staff. The right-hander leads the Eastern League with a 139 innings pitched.
Andy Shawler closed out the series picking up the win in Erie's 4-1 victory. Shawler worked seven strong innings and has found his way into the starting rotation after some of the recent moves in the organization.
After earning a split with the Mets Erie looked to carry momentum into their three game series against the Eastern League Western Division leading Altoona Curve (60-43). Momentum was squashed right away as the Curve broke open a 2-2 tie scoring nine unanswered runs on their way to an 11-2 victory.
"Our bullpen had been a lot better recently," said manager Phil Nevin. "We've just struggled here (Jerry Uht Park) with allowing big innings."
All-Star Brooks Brown took the loss in the opener. He allowed five earned runs. It was the second time in the month that Brown has allowed five earned runs (July 16 against Akron).
"It was a tough-luck loss for Brooks," Nevin said.
Erie continued the trend for this week winning the next game after a loss. The ‘Wolves dropped the final game of the series and now wait for Binghamton to come to Jerry Uht Park for a four game series.
Marathon at the Uht
After dropping the opener of their three game series against the Altoona Curve the ‘Wolves were in need of a good starting pitching performance. Erie sent Brayan Villarreal to the mound to make his home debut. The Venezuelan right-hander was impressive working 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball. Villarreal struck out eight, while allowing just four hits.
"Villarreal set the tone tonight," said Nevin. "He was very aggressive and not intimidated by this level." "Remember he is only 21 years-old."
Altoona starter Bryan Morris was just as impressive, also striking out eight in just five innings of work.
Both bullpens dominated from there as the two teams combined to strikeout 33 times.
The game extended into the bottom of the 13th inning, with both teams still scoreless. TigsTown's No. 14 prospect Cale Iorg ended the game with a two-run walk-off home run, for his sixth home run of the season.
"It's an amazing feeling," said Iorg. "It doesn't get any better on the baseball field."
"It was a fastball up and I hammered it."
Cory Hamilton (1-1, 5.09) picked up the victory working a scoreless top of the 13th. Hamilton allowed one base hit in his inning of work, but avoided walking a batter something he has struggled with since being promoted to Erie. While with the ‘Wolves Hamilton has walked 18 hitters while striking out 13.
"When he (Hamilton) throws strikes he is pretty tough to hit," said Nevin. "His ball moves a lot, we just need him to keep it in the zone."
After the recent string of injuries that the Tigers suffered it was only a matter of time that some moves would occur within the organization. Erie has seen several players over this time leave and arrive.
Gone from the SeaWolves is TigsTown's No. 25 prospect Audy Ciriaco, No. 23 Charlie Furbush, and designated hitter/first baseman Cesar Nicolas (Nicolas has since been suspended 50 games by Major League baseball).
Arriving to Erie has been TigsTown's No. 16 prospect Billy Nowlin, and No. 29 Brayan Villarreal.
"It's a fun experience to with a new group of guys," said Nowlin. "We've seen each other around but never got to all play together."
- All-Star and TigsTown's No. 32 prospect Andy Dirks has missed time of late due to a shoulder injury. Dirks is batting .277 on the year and leads the ‘Wolves with 104 hits on the year.
- Shawn Roof was promoted to Triple-A Toledo after Wednesday's game. "It's neat to see him going up," said Nevin. "I don't know how long he'll be there, but we were kidding him about being the Mayor of Erie."