A Tale of Two Lowells...and those little places in between.
Boston Red Sox fans are wondering if the team is going to trade Mike Lowell before the Saturday deadline. Pawtucket Red Sox fans are wondering if they can keep him for the rest of the season. Lowell has certainly proved that AAA can't contain him. In 5 games with the PawSox he has a .500 batting average with 4 home runs, 4 doubles and 10 runs batted in. Unfortunately, Mike Lowell is only one man and is not capable of turning around the rough ride the PawSox are on this year. They dropped four games in Columbus last weekend, five if you include the conclusion of the June 20th suspended game. Their only win over the last week came when Lowell cranked out 3 dingers against Toledo on Tuesday. They have two more to play versus the Mud Hens before they head home to face Durham on Saturday. Lowell is expected to play one last game with Pawtucket Thursday night before any decision is made on him.
The New Britain Rock Cats are happy to be leaving Trenton after being swept in three games where they collected only 5 runs on 17 hits. Our favorite "down-and-outer" Mike McCardell picked up his 12th loss of the season on Monday after allowing 4 runs in the first inning. However he looked pretty damn good after that, scattering 4 hits over 5 innings and not allowing any more runs. Overall the pitching has been good enough and at times even great. Bobby Lannigan and Kyle Gibson have both shown their immense potential. Unfortunately the hits aren't coming at the right time. Even their most consistent hitter, all-world Ben Revere, has lost his gallop, dropping 21 points on his batting average in July, knocking him down to .286.
After a rough weekend in New Britain, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats used the Harrisburg Senators as their scratching post, sweeping three at Merchantsauto.com Stadium. This helped them keep pace with Trenton, whom they trail by 1 1/2 games and who they now face for four games of the utmost importance. These two teams do play one last time in August, a three game set back in Trenton, but this series should set the tone for the stretch run. Kyle Drabek and Zack Stewart threw back-to-back gems this past week, which is a vital ingredient that the Fisher Cats will require down the stretch. There has been no word on if Travis Snyder will be getting the call up from the Blue Jays anytime soon, but New Hampshire is enjoying their time with him while they can, including his walk-off home run in the 11th inning of a scoreless game on Wednesday. Eric Thames remains hot at the plate, hitting safely in 8 straight games. Thames is currently in the Eastern League top 10 for hits, triples, home runs, runs batted in, runs, slugging percentage and OPS.
After sweeping New Hampshire into second place last week, Portland was riding high. But then they dropped 3 of 4 versus Harrisburg and it was back to reality for the Sea Dogs. Kyle Weiland has been the hot hand on the hill, going 5-1 over his last ten starts with a 2.86 ERA and 59 Ks over 56 1/3 innings of work. The bats have been hot as well, scoring 40 runs over the last seven games and helping Portland take 2 of 3 against a tough Binghamton squad. Nate Spears (10) and Chih-Hsien Chien (11) are both riding double digit hit streaks. In 13 games since being called up from Single A Salem, catcher Ryan Lavarnway is hitting .353 with 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 21 RBI and he has hit safely in 12 of those 13 games. Another recent call up from Salem, first baseman Jorge Padron, has had similar success with the Dogs, hitting safely in 11 of the 12 games he has played in and batting .313 in AA.
The Connecticut Tigers almost swept first place Vermont in a three game series last week, which would have put them only 3 games back. Despite a tough 4-3 loss in the last game of the series, the Tigers won their next three and are now only 2 1/2 games out of first. The team is even on the month with a 12-12 record, but have picked up 5 of those wins over their last 7 games. The Tigers had the honor of playing at Doubleday Field in the shadows of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York last Saturday. They took advantage of the trip, taking down the Tri-City ValleyCats 6-5 on a Ryan Soares walk-off single in the bottom of the 13th inning. Connecticut has two more to play in Staten Island before heading home for a 9 game stand that includes two doubleheaders.
Let it be known that on Saturday, July 24th, in the year 2010, the Lowell Spinners beat the Vermont Lake Monsters by a score of 11-5 to end their 11-game losing streak. Let it also be known that the following day they decided to start a new losing streak, which is now at 3 games heading into Thursday night. The good news is that they have equalled their June win total of 4 games and they have 3 more to play this month. The bad news is that they only played 13 games in the month of June, so you do the math! They currently sit 15 1/2 back of first place. Kolbrin Vitek, the 2010 first round pick of the Boston Red Sox, has struggled of late, batting .195 with only 4 RBI over his last ten games. Their team ERA is an obscene 4.99. Mahoning Valley has the second worse ERA in the New York-Penn League at 4.41.
Whoa is the Vermont Lake Monsters, whose recent struggles have allowed the Connecticut Tigers to sneak back into the race in the Stadler Division of the NY-Penn League. They've dropped five of their last seven games and are 13-12 in the month of July. Last weeks "Farming" showed us that Vermont was still holding tight with a 3.06 team ERA. This week, that ERA has ballooned to 4.09 and dropped them from 2nd in the league to 10th! David Freitas had his franchise record 21-game hit streak snapped in an 8-3 loss to Tri-City on Monday. He started a new streak Wednesday night when he went 3 for 3 and raised his season average to .390, second best in the league.