THE THRESHERS (2-4, 3.0 GB) … Clearwater dropped two out of three to Dunedin to start the season and is coming off two straight losses to Tampa after downing the Yankees in the series opener. Each of the last two games were of the one-run variety, including a 2-1 loss in 12 innings last night at home on Wednesday. The Threshers are sixth in the FSL with a .259 team batting average and 8th in the league with a 3.57 staff ERA. Cameron Rupo leads the Threshers with a .357 average while Cody Asche and Kyle Lafrenze both are hitting .300
LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
4/12 – Kevin Eichhorn (0-0, 0.00) … making his second start … allowed just one unearned run on six hits over 6.0 innings in first outing vs. Tampa on Apr. 6, but did not factor into the decision … struck out four and walked one.
4/13 – Brian Flynn (1-0, 0.00) … making his second start … tossed 6.2 shutout innings in first start vs. Tampa on April 7 … held Yankees to four hits while striking out three and walking none.
4/14 – Mark Sorensen (0-0, 1.29) … making his second start … worked longest outing for any Lakeland pitcher this season in first start vs. Brevard County on Apr. 9, going 7.0 innings … allowed one run on two hits while striking out two and issuing zero free passes … did not factor into the decision.
THE SERIES … Tonight opens a six-game road trip for Lakeland – three in Clearwater and three at Brevard County. Game one of the Clearwater series is set for 7 pm with Friday’s and Saturday’s games getting underway at 6:30 p.m.
LAST SEASON … The Threshers thrashed Lakeland for 13 wins in the 18 meetings between the two clubs in 2011. Clearwater won the last five meetings and seven of the last eight match-ups.
FIRST ROUNDERS … Thresher pitcher Jesse Biddle was the Phillies’ first round draft pick in 2010 out of high school while rightfielder Anthony Hewitt was Philadelphia’s top pick in 2008, also out of high school
MLB REHAB … Philadelphia’s Jose Contreras is currently in Clearwater on a major league rehab assignment (elbow).
HEY CUZ … Clearwater outfielder D’Arby Myers is a cousin of NBA great Shaquille O’Neal.
DO I KNOW YOU FROM SOMEWHERE? … Thresher outfielder Brandon Tripp is a former member of the Tigers’ organization, having signed with Detroit as a minor league free agent in 2010. He played in the Florida State League in 2009 for Jupiter and is in his second season in Clearwater.
1-ADAM-15 … Clearwater pitcher Adam Morgan leads the FSL with 15 strikeouts.
ATOP LOOKING DOWN … Tyler Collins’ hot start (12 hits in his first four games) has left him with a .542 batting average – the highest in the Florida State League. Collins also leads the league with 13 hits and 16 total bases and is second with a .393 on-base percentage. Nick Castellanos is eighth at .391 while Avisail Garcia is ninth with a .381 mark.
TORRID START … Tyler Collins knocked out three base hits in each of his first four games and was 12×17 during those games for a .706 clip. He scored five times, drove in a pair of runs, and hit three doubles in the first four games.
UNDER THE TAG … Daniel Fields and Avisail Garcia are tied for second in the league with three stolen bases.
STREAKING … Nick Castellanos and Daniel Fields have each hit safely in each of the first six games. Castellanos, batting .391, has had three games with two hits and has scored in four of six games and driven in one run in four games. With a .360 average, Fields has one game with two hits and collected three hits, including a home run and double, in last night’s game. He, too, has driven in runs in four games.
NEED TIMELY ONES … Getting on base hasn’t been a problem for Lakeland as the Flying Tigers have out-hit their opponents in four of their five games so far in 2012. The problem has been hitting when those runners get into scoring position. In the opening game of the Brevard series, Lakeland was 3×17 with runners on second or third base and left 13 runners stranded. The next night, the team was 4×11 with runners in scoring position (RISP) and stranded five. In the series finale, the Flying Tigers were 0×7 with eight left hanging. Overall, in the Manatee series, Lakeland was 7×35 (.200) with RISP and left 21 men on base and lost all three games. However, against Tampa, they were 7×38 (.138) with 23 LOBs and won those three games.
SWING AND A MISS … Lakeland whiffed 13 times against Brevard County on Wednesday (on the flip side, the Flying Tigers pitching also struck out 13), marking the third time this season, the team has had 12 or more strikeouts in a game.
REUNITED … Pitcher Patrick Cooper, who picked up a save against Tampa on Apr. 6 in his only appearance for Lakeland in 2012, earned a promotion to AA Erie on Wednesday. Added to the roster is Luis Sanz. Fans checking the Flying Tiger roster may say, “how can Luis Sanz be added to the roster when he’s already here?” as catcher Luis Sanz started the season in Lakeland. Well, this Luis Sanz is Luis Angel Sanz, a pitcher. The established Sanz is Luis Alberto Sanz, a pitcher. The dueling Sanz’s are brothers.
CLOSING IN ON 1700 … Flying Tiger manager Dave Huppert is in his second season with Lakeland and his 24th season as a minor league manager. He brings a 1,675-1,538 record into the Clearwater series.