THE FLYING TIGERS (60-66, 24-32 2nd Half, 8.5 GB) … Lakeland is coming off a split of a doubleheader with Dunedin taking game one, 2-1 and falling 5-3 in game two. The Flying Tigers have lost three of their last four and five of the last seven.
THE TRESHERS (69-58, 30-28 2nd Half, 3.5 GB) … Clearwater blanked Brevard County 2-0 on Thursday and have won three of the last five and five of the last seven. Three Clearwater pitchers rank in the top ten in the Florida State League in Julio Rodriguez (16-7, 2.84), Jonathan Pettibone (9-10, 3.00) and Trevor May (10-7, 3.45). The 16 wins by Rodriguez is the most for a Florida State League pitcher since Andrew Carpenter won 17 games for Clearwater in 2007. May leads the league with 197 strikeouts. It’s therefore no surprise that the Threshers lead the FSL with a 3.52 staff ERA and 1037 strikeouts. Clearwater also leads the league with a .981 fielding percentage. Darin Ruf leads the FSL with 54 extra bases hits and 38 doubles and is second with 224 total bases, fourth with a .310 batting average and fifth with 75 runs batted in.
LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS …
Fri., Aug. 26 – Victor Larez (6-3, 3.83 ERA) picked up the win in his last start on Aug. 20 in Lakeland against Clearwater, holding the Threshers to two earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts over 7.0 innings. He is 2-3 with a 4.39 ERA on the road this season while posting a perfect 4-0 mark at home with a 3.30 earned run average. Larez is 5-3 with a 3.76 in 12 starts for Lakeland and 1-0 with a 4.11 ERA as a reliever.
Sat., Aug. 27 – Mark Sorensen (2-3, 3.89 ERA) took the loss in his last start on Aug. 21 in Lakeland against Clearwater giving up seven runs (three earned) on ten hits over 4.0 innings. He has allowed 12 runs, though just four earned, in his last two starts after tossing six shutout innings on Aug. 11 against Daytona. Sorensen is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA in three road starts with a 1-3 record and a 4.00 earned run average at home.
Sun., Aug. 28 – Shawn Teufel (4-4, 3.76 ERA) was tagged with the loss on Aug. 23 in his last start on the road at Dunedin. He allowed three runs on nine hits in five innings. That start was his first since returning to Lakeland after a spot start at AAA Toledo where he got the win with six shutout innings. He is 2-4 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts with a 2-0 mark and a 2.00 ERA in 12 relief appearances for Lakeland. Away from Joker Marchant Stadium, Teufel has a 3-2 record and a 4.62 ERA while he is 1-2 with a 4.00 earned run average at home.
Mon., Aug. 29 – Jared Wesson (13-10, 4.61 ERA) took the win in his last start on Aug. 25 at Dunedin allowing one unearned run on three hits with five strikeouts over 6.0 innings pitched. The win was his 13th on the season and with his next victory would become just the fourth Lakeland pitcher in franchise history to win 14 or more games in a single season. He is 7-4 on the road with a 4.79 ERA and has a 6-6 record at home with a 4.46 earned run average.
THIS YEAR … The Threshers have won nine of the 14 games played between these two clubs this season. Wade Gaynor leads Lakeland with 15 hits in the series while Avisail Garcia and Jordan Lennerton have 14 and 13 hits, respectively. Jiwan James and Darin Ruf each have 19 hits in the season for Clearwater.
HANGING IN THERE … Lakeland still has a mathematical chance, albeit slim, to make the Florida State League playoffs. However, with any combination of three Lakeland losses and three Dunedin wins, the Flying Tigers will be eliminated from the pennant race. Fort Myers and Jupiter have already been mathematically bounced from the race for the South Division pennant.
FSL HONORS LENNERTON … Congratulations to Jordan Lennerton on being named the Florida State League Player of the Week for Aug. 15-21. The Flying Tiger first baseman/DH batted .550 on the week with four runs scored, three doubles, a home run and three runs batted in. Lennerton is the first Lakeland player to be so honored this year and the second Flying Tiger member to be recognized joining Drew Smyly who was the FSL Pitcher of the Week for June 6-12.
LUCKY 13 … Jared Wesson picked up his 13th win of the season on Thursday holding Dunedin to one unearned run on three hits over 6.0 innings with six strikeouts. The 13 victories is the most for a Lakeland pitcher since Jordan Tata finished the 2005 season with a 13-2 record. The two hurlers are the only two Lakeland pitchers to have recorded 13 wins since 1997 when Brian Powell posted a 13-9 mark.
CLOSING IN … Tony Plagman leads the Florida State League with 90 runs batted in on the 2011 season – the most for a Flying Tiger player since Ryan Streiby knocked in 94 runs in 2008 and the fourth most RBI for a Lakeland player since 1974. With 12 games left, Plagman would need to average one RBI per game to tie Brent Clevlen for the franchise record of 102 set in 2005. Next up for Plagman is Alejandro Freire’s third place total of 92 set in 1997.
STEADY GAYNOR … Wade Gaynor has hits in each of his last five games and is 7-for-18 (.389) in those five outings.
SAME FOR JONES … Corey Jones also has a five game hit streak going with seven hits in those games and is 7-for-17 (.412) in the five games. He also had hits in 10 of his last 12 games with 14 hits for a .318 mark.
FOUR HOME DATES – SIX GAMES … Lakeland has just four home dates remaining in the 2011 season, but fans will be treated to six games over those four days. Following this four-game road trip at Clearwater, the Flying Tigers return home on Aug. 30 to host the Dunedin Blue Jays in a 5:00 p.m. doubleheader. Game two on Aug. 30 is the make-up game from a July 7 rain out. The two teams play a third game on Aug. 31. Lakeland and Tampa then play an alternating home and home four-game series with the Sept. 2 date in Lakeland another twin-bill. Game two on that date is make-up of the Aug. 18 rain out.
IT’S EZero … Based on league statistics, the Clearwater official scorer could probably tuck his error stamp in his back pocket as Clearwater and Lakeland are two of the top fielding teams in the Florida State League. The two clubs feature four of the top fielding players in the FSL with the Flying Tigers’ Wade Gaynor (3B, .953) and the Threshers’ Cesar Hernandez (2B, .975), Tony Hanzawa (SS, .970) and Sebastian Valle (C, .997) all leading their respective positions.
LAKELAND IN THE FSL … As mentioned, Tony Plagman leads with 90 runs batted in, third with 214 total bases and fourth with 49 extra base hits. Plagman has also been intentionally walked a league-high six times … Jordan Lennerton is second with 89 walks (second most in Lakeland history) … Jared Wesson is second with 13 wins … Kenny Faulk is fourth with 20 saves … Lakeland is tied for third with Dunedin with a .978 fielding percentage … Wade Gaynor leads all third baseman in games played (118), total chances (362), putouts (99), assists (246), and double plays (25).SERIES SCHEDULE … All four games of this series will be played at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater. First pitch on Friday and Saturday is at 6:30 p.m. while Sunday’s game moves to 1:00 p.m. The series finale on Monday is at 7:00 p.m.