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2007 Erie Seawolves Diary/Blog

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'Wolves' offense KOs Cats in series finale

Timely hitting sparks Erie to rout at Uht

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 11. 2007 6:00AM

After stranding a combined 25 runners in losses to New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday, the SeaWolves did an about-face at the plate.

Sunday's 13-5 pounding of the Fisher Cats before 5,494 fans at Jerry Uht Park showcased timely hitting and clutch, situational offensive production - two elements SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck was hoping would resurface with his club.

Salvaging the final game of a three-game series, the SeaWolves (32-28) strung together five-run fifth and sixth innings and were given a big offensive jolt by center fielder Clete Thomas, the team's leadoff hitter, and left fielder Andres Torres, who normally hits second in the lineup. They combined for five hits, one RBI and six runs scored.

"When you have those guys on base, they can wreak havoc," Walbeck said. "They just do a lot of good things. Having Torres in the lineup makes us so much better because he has speed and he's able to hit for power and bunt and do all sorts of crazy things. He really adds a lot to our lineup."

Thomas went 3-for-5, scored three runs and raised his average to .262. Torres returned to the lineup Sunday after missing the first two games of the series with a stomach virus and had two hits, including his league-leading seventh triple, and three runs scored.

Torres, who played with the SeaWolves in 2001, signed a minor league contract with the Tigers in February. His two-hit game on Sunday raised his batting average to .287.

"Today we looked pretty good," Torres said. "We moved runners and brought guys home, and that's what we have to do. I've been able to be pretty consistent with my hitting. I just appreciate the Tigers giving me one more shot. In February, I didn't have a job and they gave me one more chance. I've been positive and I have everything going good."

A five-run fifth put the SeaWolves up 5-1, but the Fisher Cats (31-28) tied the game with four runs in the top of the sixth.

Erie went right back to work with the bats in the bottom of the sixth. Thomas drew a walk and Torres reached first on catcher's interference to start the inning. Thomas scored the go-ahead run from third on first baseman Jeff Larish's sacrifice fly to shallow center.

"Their center fielder (Dustin Majewski) overran it," Walbeck said. "I told Clete if he catches it, tag. It was a good play on Clete's part to be ready to go there."

The SeaWolves scored the last four runs of the sixth inning with two out.

"It was a really good performance by the offense, and it's funny how this game can change in a heartbeat," Walbeck said. "The speed at the top of our order is really good and productive."

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail

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I do love the Big 3 of Miller, Trahern, & Jurrjens

Really nice. Enjoy 'em Erie, while you have them all.

any chance any of these guys will be pitching on Fathers Day in New Hampshire? (I'm going)

I'm assuming Miller will still be in the bigs, so its really Dallas and JJ...

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any chance any of these guys will be pitching on Fathers Day in New Hampshire? (I'm going)

I'm assuming Miller will still be in the bigs, so its really Dallas and JJ...

I believe JJ is still in Lakeland rehabbing his groin injury, but don't know for sure.

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Larish powers SeaWolves' road win

First baseman's 3 RBIs lift Erie in series opener

Published: June 13. 2007 6:00AM

PORTLAND, Maine -- Jeff Larish hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs to power the SeaWolves to a 4-1 win over the Portland Sea Dogs on Tuesday before 5,067 in the opener of a three-game series.

The SeaWolves (33-28) extended their winning streak to two games and their season series lead over the Sea Dogs to 3-1.

Larish, a first baseman, finished 2-for-3 with a walk and extended his Eastern League-leading RBI total to 52 with Tuesday's performance. He put the SeaWolves ahead 1-0 in the first with an RBI single, scoring Michael Hollimon.

Hollimon led off the game with a flyball single to left, stole second and moved to third on a foul flyout to first. Hollimon's single stretched his on-base streak to 26 games.

After the Sea Dogs (29-29) tied the game in the fourth inning on Jay Johnson's homer to left, the SeaWolves took the lead for good with three fifth-inning runs off Portland lefty Daniel Haigwood (1-3).

With two outs, Erie shortstop Erick Almonte worked Haigwood for a walk. On a payoff pitch, the left-handed-hitting Larish homered to center field, tying the Double-A rookie with New Hampshire's Sergio Santos for the league lead in homers with 12.

Erie designated hitter Jackson Melian followed with an opposite-field homer to right, marking the second time this season the SeaWolves have collected back-to-back homers.

SeaWolves starter Eddie Bonine (5-3) allowed three hits and one run in 62/3 innings, and relievers Danny Zell, Anthony Tomey and Alan Mills combined to shut out the Sea Dogs over 21/3 innings .

Mills, 40, a former major leaguer, inherited a closing role last week when he joined the SeaWolves. He came on to pitch the ninth and retired the Sea Dogs in order for his second save.

The series continues today with Erie right-hander Andrew Kown (1-3, 4.98) set to face Portland right-hander Charlie Zink (5-1, 2.35).

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'Wolves strike out 19 times in loss

Published: June 15. 2007 7:00AM

PORTLAND, Maine -- Swing-and-a-miss was the story of the night for the SeaWolves Thursday.

Erie batters struck out a season-high 19 times against four Portland pitchers in a 7-4 loss to the Sea Dogs before 7,005 fans at Hadlock Field.

The SeaWolves (34-29), second in the Southern Division, saw their three-game winning streak end and dropped 3½ games behind the first-place Akron Aeros, a 4-0 winner over New Hampshire on Thursday.

Portland (30-30) salvaged a win in the three-game series, which marked the conclusion of the teams' six-game season series.

SeaWolves starter Dallas Trahern(8-3) suffered his second straight tough outing and lost back-to-back starts for the first time this season. The Erie right-hander departed after giving up seven runs, three earned, and 11 hits in 32/3 innings.

Three Erie errors led to four unearned runs.

Erie catcher Steve Torrealba struck out four times, center fielder Clete Thomas struck out three times and five other SeaWolves fanned two times apiece, while two other players had one strikeout each.

Portland right-hander Clay Buchholz, one of the Eastern League's top pitchers, struck out 12 and gave up four hits and four runs in 5 ð innings. Three Portland relievers combined to throw 3 Ð scoreless innings,with seven strikeouts.

Left fielder Jay Johnson led the Sea Dogs with a 3-for-4 performance. Johnson scored twice and drove in three runs, including a two-run single in the first that put the Sea Dogs ahead to stay.

Portland built a 7-2 lead in the first four innings.

Erie designated hitter Jackson Melian drove in three runs, one with a second-inning solo homer, and was 2-for-4.

SeaWolves second baseman Michael Hollimon went 0-for-3, but drew a walk to extend his on-base streak to 28 straight games.

Erie continues its road trip Friday with the opener of a three-game series against the New Hampshire FisherCats. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

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'Wolves nearly waste big lead against Cats

Published: June 16. 2007 6:00AM

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The Erie SeaWolves hit three early-inning home runs in Friday's game at New Hampshire.

They needed all of them.

Matthew Joyce, Michael Hollimon and Kody Kirkland helped stake the 'Wolves to an early 7-0 lead, but watched the Fisher Cats nearly rally for victory. New Hampshire scored four times in the fourth inning and three more in the ninth before Erie held on for an 8-7 win before 7,331 fans at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.

The Fisher Cats trailed 8-4 when they got their runs in the ninth off relievers Randor Bierd and Alan Mills. The game wasn't decided until Mills struck out Sergio Santos with two outs and the potential tying run at third base.

Santos, who doubled in two earlier at-bats, began the night tied with Erie's Jeff Larish for second place in the Eastern League with 12 homers.

Mills picked up his third save even though he allowed one run on a hit and two walks in the ninth.

The 'Wolves looked like they'd win the series opener with ease. They scored five times in the top of the second, highlighted by Joyce's three-run homer and Hollimon's solo shot off Fisher Cats starter Russ Savickas (3-3).

Erie made it 7-0 in the third when Kirkland hit his ninth homer of the season, a two-run shot off New Hampshire reliever Sean Stidfole.

The Fisher Cats scored four times with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Ryan Patterson capped the burst with a three-run homer off 'Wolves starter Jon Connolly (3-3).

Erie made it 8-4 in the fifth on Kirkland's RBI single and protected that lead until the Fisher Cats' late charge in the ninth.

Erick Almonte had two hits and two runs scored for the 'Wolves. New Hampshire's Aaron Mathews went 3-for-4 and scored twice.

The series continues tonight at 7:05.

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'Wolves roughed up by Fisher Cats

Published: June 18. 2007 6:00AM

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Everything was in place for the Erie SeaWolves to gain ground in the Eastern League's Southern Division on Sunday.

The SeaWolves' Matt Joyce went 3-for-3 with a home run and Michael Hollimon also homered.

And, the first-place Akron Aeros lost to the Portland Sea Dogs 3-1.

The 'Wolves, however, weren't able to beat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

New Hampshire scored four runs in the first inning en route to an 11-5 win in front of 6,563 fans at MerchantsAuto.com Stadium.

Erie cut the deficit to 4-2 with two runs in the fourth.

Hollimon led off the inning with his sixth home run. Jackson Melian followed with a single. Erick Almonte walked and Matthew Joyce loaded the bases on a single to center field. Melian then scored on a one-out infield single by Pedro Cotto.

A five-run seventh, high-lighted by a two-out grand slam by Ryan Klosterman, sealed the game for New Hampshire.

Erie tried to rally in the eighth when Joyce hit a home run with one out.

Kody Kirkland later singled and advanced to third on a double by Cotto. Kirkland then scored on Joel Roa's ground out to second.

Clete Thomas hit his 17th double of the season to score Cotto.

With the loss, Erie (35-31) remains 31/2 games behind Akron.

The SeaWolves return home Tuesday to begin a five-game series against the Altoona Curve. The series includes doubleheaders Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Major arms arrive for 'Wolves

Tigers' Robertson, Miner to take rehab assignments in Erie

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 20. 2007 6:00AM

Two major leaguers will be on the mound for the Erie SeaWolves this week.

With Triple-A Toledo on the road and Single-A West Michigan on its three-day Midwest League All-Star break, the SeaWolves became the affiliate of choice for a couple of major league rehabilitation assignments.

Detroit Tigers left-hander Nate Robertson has been assigned to the SeaWolves for a rehab start Thursday in a doubleheader against the Altoona Curve at Jerry Uht Park.

Robertson is 4-6 with a 5.07 ERA in 12 starts with the Tigers this season. He is the second Tigers pitcher assigned to the SeaWolves for rehab duty this week, joining right-hander Zach Miner, who is scheduled to make either two or three one-inning relief outings during Erie's eight-game homestand.

Robertson, 29, has been on the Tigers' 15-day disabled list since June 7 with a tired arm. He is eligible to be activated as early as this Friday and likely will make just the one start with Erie.

"I'm sure I'll get pretty vivid instructions and will follow those to the tee," SeaWolves pitching coach A.J. Sager said. "Other than that, I'll talk to Nate, and I'm sure he probably wants to be treated like every other pitcher. If I see something, I'll tell him, but I'm sure I'll get pretty explicit directions on pitch count and what to look for to make sure he's not favoring anything."

Robertson threw a lengthy bullpen session Saturday in Philadelphia and a shorter bullpen session Monday in Washington.

Erie hosts Altoona on Thursday at 12:05 p.m. Robertson is scheduled to start the first game of Thursday's doubleheader.

"You try and treat him like another pitcher, but you understand where he's been and what he's accomplished," Sager said. "Sometimes, they have a better feel for how to get out of a situation if they get into one than what you can tell them. You take some of that stuff into consideration for sure."

Miner, 25, also was placed on Detroit's 15-day disabled list on June 7 with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. Miner, who has split the season between Triple-A Toledo and the Tigers, threw a seven-minute bullpen session on Friday and a 10-minute bullpen session on Sunday.

"Both of my bullpens went well and it doesn't hurt anymore," Miner said. "The next step is getting in some games. I don't anticipate feeling anything. My shoulder feels pretty good now and it didn't get sore after I threw the bullpens."

The Tigers wanted Miner to throw one inning of relief in Tuesday's doubleheader against the Altoona Curve, take two days off and then throw one-inning outings on Friday and Saturday against the Trenton Thunder.

But with Tuesday's doubleheader being rained out, Miner will throw one inning of relief in today's doubleheader and likely throw another inning on Saturday, SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck said. Miner's rehab duty this week could be reduced to two outings instead of three.

Miner is 0-1 with a 2.38 ERA in five games, including one start, with Detroit this season. He was 1-4 with a 5.07 ERA in nine games (eight starts) with Toledo.

Miner also is eligible to be activated from the Tigers' disabled list on Friday, but believes that will happen after the Tigers complete a three-game weekend road Interleague series against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

"I think the plan right now is for me to be here for a few days," Miner said. " They told me the plan two days ago (Sunday) that I would be going to Erie. It's the first time I've been to this city and hopefully I'll have a good experience."

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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Rain washes out 'Wolves

Published: June 20. 2007 6:00AM

Tuesday's Eastern League doubleheader between the SeaWolves and Altoona Curve at Jerry Uht Park was postponed because of wet grounds.

The doubleheader, scheduled to begin at 5:05 p.m., was called at 6:15 p.m. after crews worked for more than an hour trying to clear water off the field after a second line of thunderstorms hit the area.

Erie and Altoona were scheduled to play doubleheaders Tuesday and today, followed by a 12:05 p.m. game on Thursday. The series now has been reduced to four games, with doubleheaders scheduled for today at 5:05 p.m. and Thursday at 12:05 p.m. Erie's scheduled starters in today's 5:05 p.m. doubleheader against Altoona are right-handers Andrew Kown (2-3, 4.35) and Randor Bierd (0-0, 3.38).

The game in this series that was lost to the rainout has been rescheduled as part of a doubleheader at Jerry Uht Park on Aug. 31, at 5:05 p.m.

Erie has yet to play Altoona at home this season. The SeaWolves' season-opening three-game series against the Curve April 5-7 was snowed out.

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Utility player gives 'Wolves split in DH

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 21. 2007 7:00AM

Staying mentally sharp is a difficult challenge for any utility player who, on average, might only get an opportunity to play every four or five days.

Pedro Cotto knows that role well.

The SeaWolves first baseman/left fielder started the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Altoona Curve and delivered a two-out, tying RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.

Erie won the game 4-3 in the eighth inning on a wild pitch to salvage a split and break a three-game losing streak before 3,345 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

Altoona won the opener 4-1 behind a solid outing from left-hander Josh Shortslef and first baseman Steven Pearce's three-run homer.

"It's tough at times playing every four or five or six days with your timing and your hitting, but the last game we played in New Hampshire (on Sunday), I felt good and I came into this game more confident," Cotto said.

Trailing 3-1 and facing the prospect of a sweep, Erie (36-32) rallied in the seventh inning of the nightcap against right-hander Chris Hernandez.

A walk, single and sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third.

Steve Torrealba pulled Erie within 3-2 with an RBI groundout to short. With two out and Jackson Melian on third, Cotto tied the game with a clutch RBI single to right. He finished 2-for-3 with a double.

"When I saw that situation with two outs, I was thinking it was my turn to be the hero," said Cotto, a Puerto Rican native who entered the game hitting .214 with seven RBIs in 24 games.

His teammates made sure he was the center of attention afterward.

As Cotto, 25, talked to reporters in a hallway outside the SeaWolves clubhouse following the second game, Torrealba snuck up and shoved a shaving-cream pie in Cotto's face.

"That was crazy," Cotto said, laughing.

Having a utility role with limited chances to contribute affects players in different ways.

Erie manager Matt Walbeck, who managed Cotto at West Michigan last season, believes Cotto has been able to keep himself mentally prepared when his opportunities materialize.

"Some guys respond to it better than others," Walbeck said. "Pedro can sit on the bench for five days or more and put a good swing on the ball. With Pedro, he's always ready. He does a lot of work in the cage and focuses."

Erie won the second game in the eighth inning against Altoona right-hander Jason Roach. Andres Torres led off with a walk, went to second on Michael Hollimon's sacrifice bunt and moved to third on a passed ball.

With the bases loaded and one out, Roach threw wildly past catcher Dave Parish, allowing Torres to score the winning run on the wild pitch.

Pearce's three-run homer off Erie right-hander Andrew Kown in the first inning of the opening game put the Curve (34-33) ahead to stay.

Kown, a middle-inning reliever moved to the rotation a couple weeks ago, gave up two singles before Pearce drilled a three-run homer off Tullio Arena in left-center.

After the shaky start, Kown (2-4) settled down and allowed an unearned run in the fifth.

Shortslef (2-6), a member of the Pirates' 40-man roster, allowed five hits. He lost his shutout in the seventh on Erie catcher Joel Roa's two-out RBI single to left.

Shortslef was pulled for right-hander Matt Peterson, who recorded his 14th save by striking out SeaWolves center fielder Clete Thomas with runners on second and third to end the game. Peterson is tied for the league lead in saves with Bowie's Jim Hoey.

Detroit Tigers right-hander Zach Miner threw a scoreless seventh inning for Erie in the opener. Miner, who is scheduled to make two or three one-inning relief appearances this week for Erie, struck out two and gave up two singles.

Notes: SeaWolves first baseman Jeff Larish, the Eastern League RBI leader with 53, sat out Wednesday's doubleheader and has been sidelined the last three games due to sickness. Larish, who is second in the league with 12 homers, also missed Sunday's game at New Hampshire. "He's got some kind of virus and we may miss him for another couple days," Walbeck said. ... Wednesday's doubleheader was the first of five this season between Erie and Atloona. The teams will play another doubleheader today at 12:05 p.m. at Jerry Uht Park. Erie and Altoona will play a doubleheader on Aug. 18 at Blair County Ballpark and have back-to-back doubleheaders scheduled for Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at Jerry Uht Park. ... Erie's starters today are right-handers Nate Robertson, making a major league rehab appearance, in the opener and right-hander Dallas Trahern (8-3, 3.46) in the second game.

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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SeaWolves Notebook

Published: June 21. 2007 7:00AM

Detroit Tigers lefty Nate Robertson will be on a 75-pitch count in his rehab start today for the Erie SeaWolves in the first game of a 12:05 p.m. doubleheader against the Altoona Curve at Jerry Uht Park.

Robertson has been on the Tigers' 15-day disabled list since June 7 with a tired arm and is eligible to be activated from the disabled list as early as Friday. Robertson is expected to rejoin the Tigers in Atlanta in time for Friday's game.

Robertson was scheduled to report to the 'Wolves on Wednesday night.

Another major league pitcher is on his way to Erie. Detroit Tigers right-hander Roman Colon is scheduled to report to the SeaWolves today or Friday for a rehabilitation assignment. He joins Robertson and Detroit right-hander Zach Miner, both of whom are with Erie on rehab assignments.

Colon, who was rehabbing from neck surgery in September, was recalled by the Tigers from a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on June 13. He was assigned to Toledo on May 27 and went 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in six relief outings.

SeaWolves lefty Jon Connolly will make a spot start for Triple-A Toledo on Friday, when the Mud Hens open a weekend series against Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field.

Connolly is 3-3 with a 4.29 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) with the SeaWolves this season. He will be making his second spot start for the Mud Hens this season. He was promoted to Toledo on May 17 and threw a seven-inning complete game that night in a 1-0 home win against Louisville.

Erie manager Matt Walbeck said on Wednesday he did not know how long Connolly's stay with Toledo would be.

Toledo left-hander Ian Ostlund was placed on the Mud Hens' disabled list earlier this week with a left foot fracture.

Ostlund has split the season between the SeaWolves and Mud Hens. He was 2-1 with a 3.57 ERA in 14 relief outings and 172/3 innings with the Mud Hens.

Former SeaWolves pitcher Wilfredo Ledezma was acquired by the Atlanta Braves from the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday for Macay McBride in a swap of left-handed pitchers.

Ledezma is 3-1 with a 4.79 ERA in 23 games out of the bullpen this year. The 26-year-old went 15-18 with a 5.15 ERA in 33 starts and 73 relief appearances during five seasons with the Tigers.

Ledezma went 10-3 with a 2.42 ERA in 1112/3 innings with Erie in 2004. Ledezma started in 16-of-17 games with the SeaWolves and had two complete games and one shutout.

McBride, 24, selected by the Braves in the first-round of the 2001 amateur draft, was 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 18 relief appearances with Atlanta this season.

The Tigers acquired right-hander Anastacio Martinez from the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later and assigned him to Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday.

Martinez was 2-3 with a 4.73 ERA with Triple-A Columbus. He appeared in nine games (five starts) and struck out 28 in 321/3 innings. Martinez was 0-2 with a 4.88 ERA in six April games with the Harrisburg Senators.

-- Ron Leonardi

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Robertson throws gem in rehab start for 'Wolves

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 22. 2007 7:00AM

Before he went on the disabled list June 7 with a tired arm, Detroit Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson could sense the movement on his pitches flattening out as every outing became a grind.

Rest and rehab were prescribed. They seemed to be just what the 29-year-old left-hander needed.

Making a start Thursday for the Erie SeaWolves on a major league rehab assignment, Robertson threw six hitless innings and faced just one batter over the minimum in a 12-3 win over the Altoona Curve in the opening game of a doubleheader at Jerry Uht Park.

Erie (38-32) completed the sweep with a 2-1 win in the second game before a crowd of 3,456.

Working on a 75-pitch count, Robertson threw 72 pitches, including 45 for strikes, before leaving.

He made no attempt to lobby to pitch the seventh, although he admitted he didn't realize how close he was to the no-hitter because he had forgotten that minor league doubleheaders are seven-inning games.

"There were pretty strict orders, and unfortunately, when you have something going on that's pretty special, it doesn't pertain to my situation," Robertson said.

Robertson struck out six, walked one and allowed only two Altoona baserunners.

Curve second baseman Jason Bowers reached first leading off the fourth inning on a fielding error by Erie third baseman Kody Kirkland, and Altoona third baseman Neil Walker drew a one-out walk in the fifth inning.

"My top priority was making sure I felt good first and foremost," Robertson said. "I wanted to mix in all my pitches and try to keep the ball down. More importantly, I was monitoring the action of the pitches."

Robertson coasted through the first four innings, throwing only 42 pitches and not more than 12 in any inning.

His 22-pitch fifth inning, in which he struck out side, cost him a shot at finishing the game, even though he had an eight-pitch sixth inning.

"There was a workload he wanted to get in and we weren't sure he was even going to go out for the sixth because he had a long fifth inning," SeaWolves pitching coach A.J. Sager said. "It's nice to get no-hitters, but there are bigger fish to fry for him and that's why he's here."

Robertson showed good command with all of his pitches: a two-seam and four-seam fastball, slider and changeup. Altoona hitters rarely made good contact.

"He was able to locate his fastball on both sides of the plate, but more importantly, he was able to throw low, inside strikes to right-handers and keep them honest," SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck said. "It's unfortunate we couldn't have gotten that full no-hitter, but what an experience for everybody here to see him pitch like that. He could have gotten a lot of major league hitters out with that stuff today."

The SeaWolves staked Robertson to an 7-0 lead in the first three innings. Erie made it 12-0 with five fifth-inning runs.

"It was pretty easy out there for me," SeaWolves right fielder Matt Joyce said. "I got a little bored with Nate pitching. I'm just standing there, watching him, and I became a little tranced. He was fun to watch. He hit his spots, threw down in the zone, changed speeds and did everything. Detroit will be happy to have him back."

SeaWolves lefty Danny Zell came on to pitch the seventh and had two outs before Altoona first baseman Steven Pearce ended the no-hitter with a line-drive double down the left-field line. Zell then gave up an RBI single to Walker on a popup that was lost in the sun and dropped in short right field and a two-run homer to right fielder Adam Boeve.

Robertson spoke to reporters between games outside the SeaWolves clubhouse. He planned to catch a flight late Thursday afternoon to Atlanta, where the Tigers begin a three-game Interleague series against the Braves today.

Robertson threw bullpen sessions with the Tigers in Philadelphia on Saturday and Washington on Monday. He is eligible to be activated from the Tigers' disabled list today.

Three-fifths of Detroit's starting rotation is set with right-handers Justin Verlander and Jeremy Bonderman and lefty Kenny Rogers.

When Robertson is activated, Detroit's other two starting spots will be up for grabs among Robertson, right-hander Chad Durbin and lefties Mike Maroth and rookie Andrew Miller.

"My opinion is I come down to Erie and I get a good outing in and feel good," Robertson said. "I don't think there is anything holding me back. I speak my peace and I ultimately respect the decisions that are made with me. I throw a bullpen (for Detroit) on Saturday and hopefully come off the disabled list right then."

Robertson said there was never a point during his stay on the disabled list where he was concerned that his arm troubles might have been something more serious than fatigue.

"I know what hurt is," he said. "Hurt is when you're on the surgery table getting cut open, so that's why it was really difficult for me to take this. You have to monitor what the action of the pitch is doing. The action of my pitches from the beginning of the season were different from what it was in May. The only thing you can say about that is there is something that is flattening out and there is a reason for that, and that's where the whole tired arm thing comes from. They put me on the disabled list and wanted what's best for me and the organization."

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

http://goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070622/BASEBALL01/706220445/-1/SPORTS

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SeaWolves notes

Published: June 22. 2007 7:00AM

SeaWolves right-hander Dallas Trahern pitched a seven-inning complete game in Erie's 2-1 win over Altoona in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader.

Trahern (9-3), who leads the Eastern League in wins, had lost back-to-back outings. He relied on his defense to secure the win.

Erie right fielder Matt Joyce, who has been solid in the field all season, threw out Altoona second baseman Jason Bowers at the plate to end the game. Bowers tried to score from second base on shortstop Brandon Chaves' line single. Joyce fielded the sharply hit ball and threw a strike to catcher Joel Roa, who tagged Bowers as he tried to go around him.

"He hit it pretty well, so it got to me pretty quickly," Joyce said. "I tried to slow it down and make a good throw and I did."

"Their guy hit it pretty well and when it got to Joyce, I was pretty confident he was going to throw him out," Trahern said. "Matt's got a strong arm and a quick release and he's been doing that all year."

Trahern carried a 2-0 lead into the seventh, but Bowers' two-out RBI double spoiled the shutout.

Detroit Tigers lefty Nate Robertson and SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck were teammates with the Tigers in 2003.

That was Walbeck's last season as a major leaguer and Robertson's first season with Detroit.

"It was kind of funny to come here and have him as a manager," Robertson said Thursday after his rehab start for Erie against Altoona in the first game of a doubleheader at Jerry Uht Park. "He's going to be a great manager all the way through."

SeaWolves reliever Anthony Tomey was promoted to Triple-A Toledo after Thursday's doubleheader. It is Tomey's third call-up to the Mud Hens this season. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in 14 relief outings with Erie this season. He is scheduled to report to Toledo today, along with Erie left-hander Jon Connolly, who will make a spot start tonight for the Mud Hens.

Erie designated hitter Jackson Melian went 1-for-4 in the opener of Thursday's doubleheader, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. He did not play in the second game. Melian entered the doubleheader sixth in the league with a .316 average.

Detroit Tigers right-hander Roman Colon joined the SeaWolves on Thursday for the start of his rehab assignment. Colon, who underwent neck surgery in September, recently completed a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo.

-- Ron Leonardi

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Thunder crack 'Wolves

Trenton takes advantage of shaky start by Jurrjens

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 23. 2007 6:00AM

Velocity hasn't been a problem this season for SeaWolves right-hander Jair Jurrjens.

Consistently locating his fastball and learning how to grind out games when he is struggling and doesn't have his best stuff continue to plague the right-hander, however.

Friday's four-inning outing in a 9-6 loss to the Trenton Thunder before 4,870 fans at Jerry Uht Park mirrored how his season has gone.

One good start, the next one sub-par, and just a lot of inconsistency.

"If you don't throw strikes, you're going to get hit, and they hit me really hard tonight," Jurrjens said. "I left some pitches high, some hits found holes, and when I made a mistake, they hurt me. I'm still throwing 95, but my command is not so good, unlike last year."

Making his second start since rejoining the club after a two-week rehabilitation stay in Lakeland, Fla., Jurrjens gave up six runs, eight hits and three walks in four innings.

Jurrjens (2-3, 3.80) was sent to extended spring training three weeks ago to rehab a strained groin. He rejoined the club last week and threw six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision at New Hampshire on June 16.

"When you struggle, you need to keep fighting and come back," Jurrjens said. "My mental outlook is strong and I'm staying positive. The consistency is the thing I'm trying to find and that's what's making it more frustrating. I want to be consistent. One day I have my stuff, another day I don't. I just need to learn how to pitch when I don't have my stuff."

The SeaWolves (38-33) committed four errors, two of which led to three unearned Trenton runs in the seventh and a 9-6 Thunder lead.

Trenton's Joba Chamberlain, rated the New York Yankee's fifth-best minor league prospect by Baseball America, improved to 2-0 in his third start with the club since his promotion from Single-A Tampa June 12.

Chamberlain, 21, struck out nine, walked three and gave up five runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings. He will represent Team USA at the annual All-Star Futures game July 8 in San Francisco.

"He had very good stuff and throws really hard," SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck said. "I think once he gets command, which he will, he's going to be very productive."

Given a comfortable 6-1 lead in the top of the third, Chamberlain gave up four runs in the bottom of the inning, the last three coming on left fielder Jackson Melian's homer to right.

Melian's homer was his sixth and extended his hitting streak to 14 games.

Notes: Detroit Tigers reliever Roman Colon pitched two scoreless innings on Friday in his first rehab appearance with the club. Colon, a right-hander who joined the SeaWolves on Thursday, threw the eighth and ninth innings. He allowed two hits and walked one. ... The four-game series continues today at 7:05, with Erie right-hander Eddie Bonine (5-4, 4.26) set to face Trenton right-hander Brett Smith (6-2, 1.99). Smith's 1.99 ERA ranks second in the league.

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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Bonine helps 'Wolves shut down Thunder

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 24. 2007 6:00AM

Aside from a minor jam in the fourth inning, Erie SeaWolves right-hander Eddie Bonine was in complete control.

Bonine retired the Thunder in order in six of his seven innings, recording 15 of the 21 outs on ground balls, in a 7-2 win before 4,724 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

The SeaWolves (39-33) evened their four-game series against the Thunder (47-25), a 9-6 winner over the SeaWolves in Friday's opener.

"I did a better job of keeping the ball down and working ahead and I thought the guys made some great plays and played some really good defense behind me," Bonine said.

Bonine (6-4) threw 91 pitches, struck out two, walked none and shut down the Northern Division-leading Thunder on three hits.

"He pitched down, his sinker had good movement and I thought his change-up was as good tonight as it's been all year," SeaWolves pitching coach A.J. Sager said. "He got a lot of easy outs."

Had the SeaWolves not have had to throw Detroit Tigers right-hander Zach Miner in the eighth inning for his scheduled rehab appearance, Erie manager Matt Walbeck said he would have kept Bonine in the game.

"He got ahead of hitters and pitched inside," Walbeck said. "He moved their feet, he got them off the plate and he was very sharp with his command and threw his off-speed pitches for strikes. He could have gotten a lot of guys out tonight."

Miner threw the eighth inning, allowing one run and two hits, and completed his rehab stay with Erie.

Miner, who has been on the Tigers' 15-day disabled list since June 7 with elbow tendinitis, was set to throw two innings or 30 pitches on Saturday. He threw 24 pitches in the eighth.

Miner threw a scoreless inning for Erie on Wednesday in a doubleheader against Altoona. Miner said he will report to Detroit today and await a decision by the Tigers on his status.

SeaWolves designated hitter Jackson Melian extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a first-inning RBI single.

Melian added a third-inning solo homer.

Erie center fielder Clete Thomas went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a solo homer, three stolen bases and two runs scored.

After the game, Erie backup catcher Joel Roa was assigned to Single-A Lakeland.

His roster spot will be taken by catcher Nick Trzesniak, whom the Tigers recently signed to a minor league contract.

Trzesniak, 26, a No. 1 draft pick by the Padres in 1999 (51st overall), played five games in May and June with the Oklahoma RedHawks, the Texas Rangers' Triple-A Pacific Coast League affiliate. He spent spring training in the Florida Marlins organization and played with an independent team before signing with the Rangers. Trzesniak is expected to join the SeaWolves today.

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail

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Larish lashes back

SeaWolves slugger halts slump with winning homer

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 26. 2007 6:00AM

It was a Jerry Uht Park homer in the truest sense, a high fly ball that just landed inches beyond the short left-field porch in front of Tullio Arena.

Still, the two-run, eighth-inning opposite-field homer that slumping SeaWolves first baseman Jeff Larish delivered to beat the Trenton Thunder 5-4 on Monday was one he'll take.

"Hey, if it goes over the fence, it goes over the fence - I don't care where you hit it, that's fine." Larish said.

The win, before a Buck Night crowd of 5,587, capped a 6-2 homestand and kept the second-place SeaWolves (41-33) three games behind the first-place Akron Aeros in the Eastern League Southern Division.

"That homer couldn't have happened at a better time for Jeff or the team," SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck said. "Our backs were against the wall, and speaking of walls, that homer just scraped the back of the left-field wall. It barely got out."

Larish, in his first season of Double-A ball, has been one of the league's most consistent run-producers this season. He entered Monday's game with a .225 average but was leading the league with 53 RBIs and tied for third with 12 homers.

He also went into the finale of the four-game series against the Thunder mired in a 1-for-18 slump and had battled sickness earlier on the eight-game homestand, missing four games with a virus that had left him feeling weak and dizzy.

"It's been a tough time to get through, but to get a hit like that and to contribute to a win is huge," said Larish, who finished 2-for-4. "I have to thank all my teammates. They stuck with me and have been positive. The days off I had gave me some rest, and Matt has been real patient with me. It's been nice to be surrounded by good people."

With Erie trailing 4-3 in the eighth, SeaWolves catcher Steve Torrealba grounded a one-out single to center off Trenton right-handed reliever Jason Jones. Torrealba was removed for pinch-runner Clete Thomas.

With the left-handed hitting Larish due up, the Thunder pulled Jones for lefty reliever Zach Kroenke.

After working the count to 3-1, Larish, who has good power to all fields, drove a cutter on the outside half of the plate over the wall in left, midway between the 312-foot sign in the left field corner and the 350-foot mark in the left-center power alley.

"The guy has 12 or 13 home runs, and in this ballpark, you have to take your best opportunity to get a guy like that out," Trenton manager Tony Franklin said. "I felt Kroenke was our best shot, but Larish is a pretty good hitter and he can get to those pitches."

Walbeck dropped Larish, normally the team's No. 3 or cleanup hitter, to the No. 7 spot in the lineup in Monday's game.

"That was just to shake him up a little bit and take some pressure off of him," Walbeck said. "All hitters go through some tough times, but you have to look at his power numbers and know he has been very productive. Hopefully, he can get that swing going like he did tonight. The big thing with Jeff is his confidence, and right now, I think he has a lot of it."

Detroit Tigers right-hander Roman Colon, making his second two-inning rehab appearance in three days with the SeaWolves, got the win despite struggling.

Summoned to pitch the seventh inning, Colon quickly let a 3-1 Erie lead slip away.

Trenton left fielder Noah Hall lined a leadoff single to left-center. Thunder catcher P.J. Pilittere followed with a two-run homer to left.

Colon allowed an eighth-inning RBI double to Matt Carson that put the Thunder up 4-3. Colon gave up three runs and three hits, walked two and struck out two.

Notes: Closer Alan Mills pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record his fifth save. ... Erie is 5-2 against the Northern Division-leading Thunder (47-27) this season. ... The SeaWolves turned three double plays in Monday's game, giving them a league-high 76. ... Monday's Buck Night promotion was the SeaWolves' first since April 23. ... Monday's attendance of 5,587 was the SeaWolves' second-largest this season, trailing the 5,862 at the June 9 game against New Hampshire. ... SeaWolves outfielder Jackson Melian took a .317 batting average into Monday's game, seventh in the league. ... Erie lefty Danny Zell is tied for second in the league in appearances with 27 and SeaWolves right-hander Eddie Bonine is third in innings pitched with 87 1/3. ... The SeaWolves, who begin a four-game series at Bowie tonight, are 14-20 on the road this season. Bowie is 23-10 at home.

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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Melian's perfect night powers 'Wolves to win

Published: June 27. 2007 6:00AM

BOWIE, Md. -- Designated hitter Jackson Melian went 3-for-3 and drove in the go-ahead run with a seventh-inning triple to propel the Erie SeaWolves to a 9-4 victory over the Bowie Baysox on Tuesday.

The SeaWolves (42-33) earned their fourth straight win and improved to 5-3 against Bowie (39-37) this season. Erie, second in the Southern Division, moved within 2½ games of the first-place Akron Aeros, who split a doubleheader against Binghamton on Tuesday.

Erie broke it open with four runs in the eighth, highlighted by RBI singles from second baseman Michael Hollimon and Melian, and a run-scoring double by first baseman Jeff Larish before 1,928 fans at Prince George's Stadium.

Hollimon singled to right with one out in the seventh and scored on Melian's triple to left, making it 5-4.

The SeaWolves collected 13 hits off four Bowie pitchers. Larish went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, increasing his league-leading RBI total to 59.

Trailing 1-0, Erie grabbed a 3-1 third-inning lead on Matt Joyce's solo homer to center and Larish's two-run homer to right.

SeaWolves right-hander Dallas Trahern (10-3) earned the win, allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings.

Danny Zell, Matt Rusch and Randor Bierd each threw one scoreless inning of relief.

Erie and Bowie continue their four-game series today at 7:05 p.m., with Erie right-hander Jair Jurrjens (2-3, 3.80) set to face Bowie right-hander Rosman Garcia (1-3, 5.01).

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'Wolves win 5th straight

Published: June 28. 2007 7:00AM

BOWIE, Md. -- Jair Jurrjens helped the Erie SeaWolves win their fifth straight game Wednesday night.

Jurrjens gave up five hits in 71/3 innings to help lead the SeaWolves (43-33) to a 2-1 win over the Bowie Baysox in front of 2,377 fans at Prince George's Stadium.

The 'Wolves remained 2½ games out of first place in the Eastern League's Southern Division after Akron's 7-1 win over Binghamton.

Michael Hollimon led off the seventh inning with a single, then advanced to second on a balk and moved to third on a wild pitch. He then scored when Jackson Melian hit a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game at 1-1.

The SeaWolves took the lead for good in the eighth when Hollimon drove in Steve Torrealba from second base.

Bowie dropped to 39-38.

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SeaWolves bash Baysox, earn 7th straight victory

Published: June 30. 2007 6:00AM

BOWIE, Md. -- The surging Erie SeaWolves extended their season-high winning streak to seven games Friday by defeating the Bowie Baysox 7-2 in the finale of a four-game series before 5,250 fans at Prince George's Stadium.

Right fielder Jackson Melian went 3-for-5 with an RBI, and teammates Nick McIntyre and Matt Joyce each homered for Erie, which has won 10 of its past 11 games.

The SeaWolves (45-33) begin a big four-game homestand tonight against the Eastern League Southern Division-leading Akron Aeros (48-31). Akron leads the second-place SeaWolves by 2½ games.

Three Erie relievers - right-handers Roman Colon, Randor Bierd and Kevin Ardoin - combined to throw five scoreless innings against the Baysox (39-40), allowing one hit, after right-hander Matt Righter worked the first four innings.

Colon (2-0), on a rehab assignment from the Detroit Tigers, followed Righter and threw two hitless innings to earn the win. Colon struck out three and walked one.

Erie grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning on RBI singles by Melian and Jeff Larish. McIntyre's solo homer in the second put Erie ahead 3-0. After Bowie pulled within 3-2 in the fourth, Joyce put Erie back on top by three with a two-run homer in the seventh

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Aeros end SeaWolves' 7-game winning streak

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: July 01. 2007 6:00AM

This won't be the series where the Erie SeaWolves supplant the Akron Aeros atop the Eastern League's Southern Division standings.

Akron's 7-6 win Saturday in the opener of a four-game series at Jerry Uht Park severed Erie's season-high seven-game winning streak and moved the Aeros 3½ games ahead of the second-place SeaWolves.

It also assures the Aeros (49-31) of departing town after Tuesday's series finale with first place intact.

"Akron, in my opinion, is the best team in the league offensively, pitching-wise and defensively," SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck said. "Their shortstop (Asdrubal Cabrera) is probably the best player in the league. We did well. Any time you can get back in a game against a team like that, you know you've done well."

Erie (45-34), playing before a crowd of 3,823, rallied from deficits of 5-0 and 6-4. The SeaWolves tied the game at 6 in the sixth inning on two-out RBI singles from second baseman Michael Hollimon and designated hitter Jackson Melian.

Aeros designated hitter Rodney Choy Foo, who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, dashed Erie's comeback hopes by driving in the winning run with a seventh-inning RBI single.

With runners on second and third and one out, the switch-hitting Choy Foo, batting left-handed, lined a 1-2 pitch from Erie right-hander Matt Rusch to left field for a base hit, scoring Michael Aubrey.

"That's probably the play of the game right there," Walbeck said. "He singled to left on a high fastball."

"I was thinking about just trying to get the run in and staying relaxed and seeing the ball," Choy Foo said. "This Erie team is very good and competitive and never quits. Those guys are real good. With the way both teams went at it, it was like a championship game to me."

Akron, winner of four straight, scored six of its seven runs with two outs. Cabrera went 3-for-4 with a walk, three RBIs and a run scored.

Leading 1-0, the Aeros scored four runs after two outs in the fourth to go up 5-0.

The last three runs were unearned, resulting from a throwing error by Erie third baseman Kody Kirkland.

Choy Foo made it 2-0 with a solo homer to right-center. Kirkland then fielded a grounder from Akron catcher Wyatt Toregas and fired a long, low throw that skipped past first baseman Jeff Larish.

Kown then walked Argenis Reyes before Trevor Crowedelivered a run-scoring single and Cabrera a two-run single.

"You look back at the unearned runs and that's probably what you can point the finger at, but we had some other chances" SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck said.

Melian, hitting .330 entering the game, continued his June tear at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a walk, one RBI and one run scored.

The series continues today with a 6:05 p.m. game at Uht Park.

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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Leaky bullpen sinks 'Wolves

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: July 02. 2007 6:00AM

Meltdown. Collapse. Implosion.

Take your pick. All are apt descriptions of what befell the Erie SeaWolves' bullpen in Sunday's 13-11 loss to the Akron Aeros before 2,845 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

Trailing 9-3 in the seventh, the Eastern League Southern Division-leading Aeros (50-31) sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning and scored nine runs against Erie relievers Randor Bierd and Kevin Ardoin.

The SeaWolves (45-35) blew leads of 7-0 and 9-3, and the loss dropped second-place Erie 4½ games behind the Aeros.

"It was one of those things where we couldn't stop the bleeding," SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck said. "If we can't hold a six-run lead, we don't deserve to win. But you have to hand it to Akron. They can flat out hit, and when you give them any extra bases or free passes, they're the kind of team that will definitely make you pay."

Bierd found that out the hard way. The right-hander had a nightmarish two-thirds of an inning in the seventh, walking three and hitting two more batters with pitches. All five scored. He allowed six of the nine runs.

"That was the game," SeaWolves pitching coach A.J. Sager said. "It happened and we paid the price. Randor didn't throw strikes and that usually comes back to bite you. He's been real good for us and I'm sure he'll bounce back."

After walking the bases loaded with one out, Bierd gave up an RBI single to Michael Aubrey, making it 9-4. After striking out Akron's Ryan Goleski for the second out, Bierd hit Aeros third baseman Rodney Choy Foo and catcher Chris Gimenez on back-to-back pitches with the bases loaded to force in two runs and pull the Aeros within 9-6.

Bierd was pulled for the right-handed Ardoin (3-5), who proceeded to give up a two-run double to Aeros second baseman Argenis Reyes, a three-run homer to center fielder Trevor Crowe and a solo homer to shortstop Adrubal Cabrera.

Akron's last eight runs of the seventh came with two out.

The left-handed-hitting Crowe went the opposite way to left on his three-run homer.

"We kept putting together quality at-bats, which turned into getting some guys on base, which turned into some runs for us," Crowe said. "I haven't had much success against Ardoin in the past. I was looking for a strike to hit and he gave me one."

The SeaWolves have found ways to win in the past two weeks with a depleted pitching staff. Erie has spent most of that time with just 10 pitchers on its roster after losing starter Jon Connolly and reliever Anthony Tomey to Triple-A Toledo.

Tigers pitcher Roman Colon is an 11th pitcher, but he is on a major league rehab assignment, which doesn't count as a roster spot.

"You have to play with the cards that you're dealt," Walbeck said. "It doesn't do myself or the team any good to panic or complain. What comes into affect is how I, as a manger, go about using my guys, and I feel I've been doing a good job with that."

In Sunday's loss, Erie wasted a quality start from right-hander Dallas Trahern, who lost his chance to record his league-leading 11th win, and a 4-for-4, four-RBI game from center fielder Clete Thomas.

Notes: The SeaWolves celebrated Hispanic culture night at Uht Park on Sunday by wearing special green jerseys with gold numerals. Appearing on the front of the jerseys, in red and white lettering, was "Lobos del mar," meaning "Wolves of the Sea."

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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Aeros pull away

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: July 03. 2007 6:00AM

A four-game series against the Eastern League's top-scoring team probably was not the best timing this week for an undermanned Erie pitching staff.

The Akron Aeros (51-31) widened their first-place lead over the second-place SeaWolves to 5½ games with a 7-5 victory Monday before a Buck Night crowd of 5,608 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

Akron can complete a four-game sweep of Erie (45-36) with a victory in the series finale today at 7:05 p.m.

Erie's bullpen has struggled mightily in the first three games of the series, allowing 15 runs and 14 hits in 91/3 innings. Leading 3-2, the Aeros broke open Monday's game with four seventh-inning runs off a pair of SeaWolves relievers.

"The guys are doing the best they can and they're trying to make a pitch when they have to, but you're looking at one of the best hitting teams in the league," SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck said. "There's very little room for error and you have to look at those hitters and say they're pretty dangerous."

Akron leads the league in runs scored (414) and is second in the league in with a .272 team average. In the first three games of the series, the Aeros have scored 18 of their 27 runs with two outs. Akron defeated Erie 7-6 on Saturday and 13-11 on Sunday.

"I think we've run into a good offensive team and we've made some mistakes and they capitalized," SeaWolves pitching coach A.J. Sager said. "They keep battling and giving you quality at-bats."

Erie's pitching staff has been two pitchers short for most of the past two weeks, and having to rely on using relievers Andrew Kown and Matt Righter in the starting rotation has made it difficult on the bullpen.

"There's really not much I can do to complain about it because it is what we have, but it seems to be that way throughout our organization in the minor leagues with the pitching," Walbeck said. "We've been short two pitchers in the bullpen and Danny Zell is our only lefty down there, so it gives us very little options. We don't have a true long-relief man and these guys seem to be up every night. Our starting pitchers are getting a little bit worn down, too. It's really starting to take its toll on us as a pitching staff and our team, but overall we'll go out and do the best we can."

Walbeck received help from right-handed reliever Anthony Tomey, who was assigned to Erie from Triple-A Toledo. Also, Detroit Tigers reliever Roman Colon is expected to rejoin the SeaWolves today to continue his rehabilitation assignment. He left the team for three days to attend to personal issues, Walbeck said.

Notes: Erie hit a season-high four homers in Monday's loss - two by catcher Steve Torrealba and one apiece for center fielder Andres Torres and second baseman Michael Hollimon. ... With Monday's loss, the SeaWolves suffered only their second home series loss this season. ... Erie's first home series loss came against New Hampshire, which won two of three games at Uht Park on June 15-17. ... Today's scheduled starters are Erie right-hander Eddie Bonine (7-4, 3.70) and Akron lefty Scott Lewis (2-4, 3.68).

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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SeaWolves salvage finale against Aeros

Joyce's homer helps Erie win at Uht

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: July 04. 2007 6:00AM

Matt Joyce can thank his defensive skills for averting a trip back to Single-A Lakeland earlier this season.

The SeaWolves' everyday right fielder was slumping to the point earlier this spring where 'Wolves manager Matt Walbeck was considering that a drop down to the Florida State League might have been in Joyce's best interests.

"I was kind of flustered and frustrated about it, but they had the confidence in me and knew I could do it," Joyce said. "I'm still here."

Joyce went 2-for-4 with a single and homer and drove in two runs to help the SeaWolves defeat the Akron Aeros 5-3 on Tuesday before a season-high 6,382 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

The second-place SeaWolves (46-36) salvaged the finale of the four-game series against the Eastern League Southern Division-leading Aeros (51-32) and pulled within 41/2 games of Akron.

Ultimately, SeaWolves manager Matt Walbeck felt Joyce's strong defense outweighed the Double-A rookie's lack of production at the plate.

"Even though I wasn't hitting, I was still playing the defense and it was hard to take me out when someone is doing that well defensively," Joyce, a Double-A rookie, said. "Whenever you don't hit, it's frustrating. It's a frustrating game. There are ups and downs. You can be a hero one night and a goat the next. You have to keep playing with your head high."

Joyce, a left-handed hitter who entered Tuesday's game with a .222 average in 73 games, singled in a run during a four-run third inning. His eighth-inning, opposite-field solo homer to left-center put the SeaWolves up 5-3.

Joyce made the jump to Double-A this season after playing for Walbeck at low Single-A West Michigan last season.

"Defense is what salvaged his stay in Erie," Walbeck said. "If his defense is below average, he probably would have been gone. But because he saves so many runs in the outfield, we felt it was necessary for him to stay and we kept giving him chances. We didn't want to make his career take a wrong turn somewhere because of a little bit of failure here. We weren't sure what the right move was, but (Erie hitting coach) Glenn Adams and I decided that it was best if he stayed and we're glad he did."

Erie right-hander Eddie Bonine improved to 8-4 with 61/3 innings of one-run ball. Bonine scattered seven hits while striking out two and walking one.

Right-hander Anthony Tomey, who joined the SeaWolves from Triple-A Toledo on Monday, threw 2/3 of scoreless relief in the seventh.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Ramon Colon made his fourth two-inning rehabilitation outing for the SeaWolves, pitching the eighth and ninth innings.

Summoned to start the eighth with a 4-1 lead, Colon gave up two hits and allowed run-scoring grounders to Aeros right fielder Brian Barton and pinch-hitter Jordan Brown as Akron pulled within 4-3.

Colon struck out two in the ninth and allowed one hit before retiring Akron second baseman Argenis Reyes fly to center to end the game.

Erie staked Bonine to a 4-0 lead in the third inning, highlighted by RBI singles from second baseman Michael Hollimon, Joyce and catcher Steve Torrealba.

"This may have been the biggest win of the year in terms of confidence and keeping us close to Akron," Walbeck said.

SeaWolves left fielder Andres Torres went 1-for-3 and extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a fourth-inning bunt single. Erie center fielder Clete Thomas was 3-for-3 with a run scored and increased his hitting streak to nine games.

Notes: The SeaWolves improved to 28-16 at home and 31-26 against Southern Division opponents. ... Akron first baseman Michael Aubrey left the game in the bottom of the third inning after colliding with Aeros catcher Wyatt Toregas as each attempted to catch a pop fly halfway between the mound and the first-base line.

Erie had runners on first and second with one out, so the infield-fly rule was in effect on the play. Toregas made the catch, and appeared to elbow Aubrey in the mouth during their collision. ... Akron closer Randy Newsom, one of six Aeros selected to the Eastern League Southern Division All-Star team, is 12-for-12 in save opportunities since joining the Aeros May 11. The right-hander has earned a save in nine of his last 10 appearances and was second in the league in saves with eight in June.

http://goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070704/BASEBALL01/707040444/-1/SPORTS

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'Wolves notes

Published: July 04. 2007 6:00AM

Right-hander Kyle Sleeth is 0-2 with an 8.69 ERA in six games with Single-A Lakeland since his May 29 assignment from the SeaWolves.

Sleeth, the Detroit Tigers' No. 1 draft pick in 2003, is trying to rebound from Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery in 2005.

Five of Sleeth's six Lakeland appearances have come in a starting role. In 192/3 innings, Sleeth has allowed 24 runs (19 earned), 28 hits and seven homers. He has nine strikeouts and seven walks.

Altoona Curve first baseman Steven Pearce and Portland Sea Dogs right-hander Clay Buchholz were selected the Eastern League's player and pitcher of the week.

Pearce, a native of Lakeland, Fla., hit .500 (12-for-24) with two homers, two doubles, nine RBIs, four runs scored and an .850 slugging percentage.

Pearce, 24, on Tuesday was leading the league in slugging percentage (.604) and tied for fifth in RBIs despite missing the first month of the season while playing with the Single-A Lynchburg Hillcats. He hit 11 homers in 19 games with Lynchburg before his Double-A promotion.

The Pirates selected Pearce in the eighth round of the 2008 draft after he hit 42 homers in two seasons at South Carolina.

Buchholz, who leads the league in ERA (1.69), gave up one run over 111/3 innings in two starts last week. He struck out 11 and gave up one run over 61/3 innings in Portland's 5-4 win at New Hampshire. He faced New Hampshire again later last week and threw five no-hit innings in a no-decision. Buchholz is 6-2 in 15 starts, and has struck out 115 and walked just 21 in 851/3 innings.

http://goerie.com/baseball

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