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2008 Erie Seawolves Diary

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'Wolves' pitchers shut out Senators

From staff reports

Published: April 24. 2008 6:00AM

HARRISBURG -- Erie SeaWolves left-handed pitcher Lucas French allowed just three hits over eight shutout innings in a 7-0 win over the Harrisburg Senators on Wednesday at Commerce Bank Park.

The SeaWolves (10-9) won two of three games from the Senators and earned their first series win since sweeping a four-game, season-opening series at Bowie on April 4-6.

French (1-2) struck out three and did not walk any. Right-hander Casey Fien threw a scoreless ninth to preserve the shutout.

For the second straight game, the SeaWolves collected 14 hits, including a 5-for-5 performance from shortstop Danny Worth, who drove in two runs.

The SeaWolves grabbed a 2-0 lead with single runs in each of the first two innings. Erie center fielder Freddy Guzman drew a leadoff walk in the first, stole second and scored on Worth's flyball single to right.

In the second, Erie third baseman Kody Kirkland singled home Jeff Frazier with two outs to extend his hitting streak to a season-best six games.

Erie made it 3-0 in the fifth on Guzman's single and Worth's RBI double to left. A four-run seventh secured the win for the SeaWolves, highlighted by catcher Dusty Ryan's two-run double, Frazier's RBI single and Kirkland's sacrifice fly to right.

Worth collected his fifth hit with a single in the eighth.

The SeaWolves have won two straight games for the first time since their four-game sweep of Bowie to open the season.

Erie also earned its first shutout win since a 5-0 win at Bowie on April 6.

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SeaWolves affected by roster moves

Published: April 24. 2008 6:00AM

The Erie SeaWolves will begin their four-game home series against the Altoona Curve today with a revamped roster after four personnel moves Wednesday.

Utility infielder Nick McIntyre was released, while the Tigers reassigned Triple-A Toledo first baseman Caonabo Cosme to Erie, promoted high Single-A reliever Freddy Dolsi to the SeaWolves, and assigned Erie left-handed reliever Juan Cedeno to Lakeland.

McIntyre was hitting .182 (4-for-22) with no homers and no RBIs in 9 games.

Cosme appeared in five games for Toledo and was 6-for-17 (.353) with two homers and three RBIs. He was signed by the Tigers as a minor league free agent Dec. 20 after playing for Double-A Chattanooga in the Reds' organization last season.

Dolsi, a hard-throwing right-hander, competed for a roster spot with the SeaWolves in spring training. He was 0-1 with a 7.11 ERA in eight relief outings with Lakeland. In 61/3 innings, he allowed five runs and seven hits, struck out 11 and walked three.

Dolsi made his Double-A debut with Erie late in the 2007 season, throwing one scoreless inning of relief. Baseball America ranks him No. 29 on its list of the Tigers' top 30 minor-league prospects.

Cedeno made six appearances, including one start, for Erie and was 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA. He had six strikeouts, 10 walks and allowed nine runs and 13 hits in 101/3 innings.

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'Wolves lose another at Uht

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: April 25. 2008 6:00AM

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Erie SeaWolves pitcher Andrew Kown works out with the team April 1. (File Photo / Greg Wohlford / Erie Times-News)

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Two-out hits will win you a lot of games and, according to Altoona Curve right fielder Anthony Webster, "Make all hitting coaches sleep good at night. "

Altoona got nine of its 14 hits and seven runs with two out in an 8-3 win over the Erie SeaWolves Thursday before 1,609 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

"We've been struggling to pick up the big two-out hit since the beginning of the season, but in the last week we've started picking it up with those hits," said Webster, who went 2-for-5 with a pair of two-out RBI hits. "We're laying off bad pitches and trying to get good pitches to hit."

Altoona (10-10) improved to 3-1 against the SeaWolves (10-10) this season in the opener of the four-game series.

"I knew we had a few two-out hits, but not that many," Curve manager Tim Leiper said. "We've been doing a lot of that stuff lately. We're playing good, fundamental ball, we're running the bases well and playing excellent defense and our pitching has been solid. It seems like we've been coming together pretty good the last week. Tonight was a good, clean game for us."

Altoona has won six of its past eight games and, with a win today, would move above .500 for the first time this season.

Erie, meanwhile, after playing so well on the road (8-5), continued to struggle at home, losing for the fifth time in seven games.

In its seven home games, Erie has allowed 70 runs and 96 hits, or an average of 10 runs and 13 hits per game.

Altoona touched Erie starter Andrew Kown in the first inning for its first two-out hits on designated hitter Brad Corley's RBI single and Webster's run-scoring double.

"We came up with the big hits when we needed them," Webster said. "We got shut out (Wednesday in a 2-0 loss to Akron), so it was good for the guys to come back and get on the scoreboard in the first inning and get all the confidence back up."

Kown (2-2) was shaken up momentarily in the first inning when Altoona's leadoff hitter, center fielder James Boone, hit a liner at Kown, who gloved the ball after it him on the inside of his left wrist.

"He was behind in the count too many times, and I don't know whether that line drive got him a little bit, I don't know, but that wasn't his best effort," SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said."

Kown gave up nine hits and four runs in five innings.

After giving up a two-run homer to Erie shortstop Danny Worth in the first inning, Curve right-hander Josh Hill settled down and retired the next 13 Erie hitters, and gave up just one more hit before departing after six innings.

Two Curve relievers - right-handers Brian Rogers and Pat Bresnehen - limited the SeaWolves to one hit over the last three innings.

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

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SeaWolves Notebook

Published: April 25. 2008 6:00AM

Former SeaWolves pitchers Corey Hamman and Brian Rogers are on Altoona's roster.

Hamman, who starts today's game against the SeaWolves, was the starter and loser in Erie's 13-4 win at Altoona on April 18, allowing four runs (two earned) and four hits in 22/3innings.

Rogers extended his scoreless innings streak to 14 innings with two innings of relief Thursday night in Altoona's 8-3 win over Erie. He is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings. Rogers was pitching for the SeaWolves when he was traded by the Tigers to the Pirates on July 31, 2006, for first baseman Sean Casey.

Rogers made 48 relief appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis last season, going 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA, and appeared in three games with the Pirates.

The SeaWolves' pitching staff has a team ERA of 3.25 in 13 road games. Erie's team ERA on its first homestand (six games) was 8.50. Overall, Erie's team pitching ranked 11th in the league Thursday with a 4.91 ERA.

Five Altoona players are ranked by Baseball America among the Pirates' top 30 minor league prospects: outfielder Brad Corley (10), right-hander Jimmy Barthmaier (17), left-hander Dave Davidson (23), right-hander Yoslann Herrera (25) and first baseman Jason Delaney (29).

Four Curve pitchers are members of the Pirates' 40-man roster: Barthmaier, Davidson, Herrera and right-hander Ronald Belisario.

The Toledo Mud Hens activated Michael Hollimon from their disabled list Monday, and the former SeaWolves' infielder was 3-for-8 with a homer and two runs scored in his first two games with the Triple-A club.

Hollimon was sidelined since mid-March after dislocating his left shoulder while playing with the Tigers during a spring training game.

Hollimon played his first game for Toledo on Tuesday and was 1-for-4 with a double in a 5-3 loss to Columbus. In a 4-1 win over Columbus on Wednesday, Hollimon went 2-for-4 with a homer.

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'Wolves bump off Curve

Improving Kirkland hits tie-breaking home run, sparks Erie to 3rd home win

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: April 26. 2008 6:00AM

(Janet B. Campbell / Erie Times-News)

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Trying to rebound from a disappointing 2007 season, SeaWolves third baseman Kody Kirkland tried to remain upbeat and focused when he began this season in an 0-for-22 slump.

"I think I was at a pretty good mindset where it didn't affect me as much as it definitely would have last year," the SeaWolves' third baseman/designated hitter said. "Last year I would have been freaking out a lot more than I was. It's going to pan out."

It did for Kirkland on Friday in the SeaWolves' 10-4 win over the Altoona Curve before 1,923 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

Kirkland went 2-for-4 and broke a 4-4 tie with a leadoff homer in the seventh inning to lift Erie (11-10) to its third home win in eight games.

After striking out in his first two plate appearances, Kirkland crushed Altoona left-hander David Davidson's first offering in the seventh off Tullio Arena in left-center. He added a single in his final at-bat.

"My first two at-bats were brutal and I was feeling actually pretty horrible and I calmed myself down a little bit, just tried to relax and get into a good hitting position early," Kirkland said. "He kind of left one over the plate and I put a good swing on it. I got it pretty good and it was good to get the first one out of the way, that's for sure."

The SeaWolves broke it open with five two-out runs in the eighth inning.

The runs were scored on Max Leon's RBI single, back-to-back bases-loaded RBI walks from Freddy Guzman and Danny Worth, and Jeff Frazier's two-run single.

Kirkland's homer was his first since Aug. 26 of last season at Bowie and his first at the Uht since Aug. 21 of last season.

"I think I'm fine right now," said Kirkland, 24, who is in his third season with the SeaWolves. "As slow as I've started, I think I've put together a lot of good at-bats, and that was kind of my main goal. Through the course of a long season, it's going to definitely pan out."

Kirkland has hit safely in seven of his past eight games, and his 2-for-4 game Friday raised his average to .193 (11-for-57).

"He's been struggling offensively, but about a week ago he started to click and get things going," SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "He's a veteran player who's been here a few years and he's pretty even-keeled. He seems to be able to handle whatever is being dealt at him. When he started 0-for-22, to his credit, he never got down. He was always upbeat and still working every day on what it takes to try and work through it."

Kirkland struggled at the plate and in the field last season, hitting .202 with 14 homers, 51 RBIs, 127 strikeouts and 28 errors in 123 games.

The Tigers removed him from their 40-man roster in the final month of the regular season. Kirkland's season-long struggles left him so mentally drained that he was benched for the club's final three regular-season games and all four Eastern League first-round playoff games against Akron.

Throughout spring training, Kirkland worked with SeaWolves hitting instructor Glenn Adams, who has tried to get Kirkland to shift his hitting zone to center and right-center and make more consistent contact.

"He's done much better the last two weeks," Adams said. "He started out a little shaky when the season began, but it looks like he's getting settled down and is doing well in the field and he's doing better with the bat. The summation of the whole thing is he's doing better than at the start of the year. It's nice to start off well, but it's more important how you finish than how you start."

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

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Guzman keys 'Wolves' big inning

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: April 27. 2008 6:00AM

Center fielder Freddy Guzman has found a multitude of ways to help the Erie SeaWolves this season.

One of the fastest players in the Eastern League, the veteran minor leaguer is a good defensive outfielder, can steal bases and has kept his average around .300.

In Saturday's game, he found another way to contribute, coming off the bench in the seventh and delivering a pinch-hit RBI single that gave the SeaWolves a 4-3 lead over the Altoona Curve. It was one of eight Erie hits in a decisive six-run inning that lifted the club to a 9-3 win before 2,510 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

The switch-hitting Guzman lined a single to left off Altoona right-hander Ronald Belisario, scoring shortstop Danny Worth from third.

Worth doubled with one out and went to third on left fielder Wilkin Ramirez's bloop single to right-center.

"I'm a veteran player here and I have to produce," said Guzman, the only player on Erie's roster to appear in all 22 games. "I'm here for that and I did my job and got a base hit."

Guzman on Saturday had a league-high four triples and 21 runs scored this season, and was tied for the league lead with 10 steals.

"It's nice to look over there and see a guy like Freddy on the bench because in a tight game he can pinch-run and steal a base," SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "In that situation, I was looking for a guy to put the bat on the ball, and with his speed, he'd be very tough to double up and we could probably get the run in from third even on a ground ball. It turned out real good."

Guzman's hit put the SeaWolves (12-10), winners of two straight, ahead to stay, but it was just the beginning of one of the team's most productive innings this season.

Erie catcher Max St. Pierre, who went 4-for-4 with two RBIs, laced a double down the left-field line to make it 5-3. Erie also received a two-run single from first baseman Caonabo Cosme and run-scoring singles from designated hitter Max Leon and right fielder Deik Scram.

"We've been up and down, hot and cold as a team, but the main thing is to be consistent," said St. Pierre, whose four-hit day hiked his average to .383 (18-for-47) in 14 games.

"I feel comfortable where my hands are and how I hit," he said. "It's the first year where I'm just seeing the ball and hitting the ball instead of just thinking what he's going to throw me and how he's going to get me out."

"Max is having a good, solid season," Brookens said. "The way he's swinging the bat, you can't ask for anything more than what he's done for us. He's been a big part of our ballclub so far."

In Saturday's win, the SeaWolves showcased their best all-around performance at home this season, combining solid starting pitching with effective relief work and good defense.

Right-hander Josh Rainwater worked six strong innings, allowing six hits and two runs. Erie relievers Danny Zell, Brett Jensen and Freddy Dolsi combined to limit the Curve (10-12) to one run and three hits over three innings.

Rainwater was targeted mainly for relief duty this season, but was inserted into the starting rotation after left-hander Jon Connolly was promoted to Toledo April 14 after two starts with Erie.

"Rainwater kept the ball down, which he's been doing all season," Brookens said. "Since his first start, every-thing with him has been down, down. He got a few up in the zone, but overall he had a good outing and gave us the start we needed."

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

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SeaWolves Notebook

Published: April 27. 2008 6:00AM

SeaWolves reliever Brett Jensen (1-0), who will share the closing role with right-hander Freddy Dolsi, came on in the seventh inning of a 3-3 game on Saturday with runners on the corners and one out.

The 6-foot 7-inch 190-pound right-hander worked out of the jam by striking out Altoona right fielder Brad Corley and retiring first baseman Jason Delaney on a fielder's-choice. He earned the win with 12/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief.

"He's a sinkerball pitcher who throws strikes," Erie manager Tom Brookens said. "That's his forte. He pitched for me last season (at low Single-A West Michigan) as our closer and did an outstanding job. One thing I feel very comfortable about him is he's going to throw strikes and he's going to keep the ball down. His elbow was bothering him a couple weeks ago, but since he came off the DL, he looks like he's feeling pretty good and he says he's fine."

Dolsi, who joined the team earlier in the week from high Single-A Lakeland, pitched a scoreless ninth inning Saturday in his first appearance with the club this season.

Erie DH Max Leon went 3-for-5 with one RBI, increasing his average to .350 (14-for-40) in 12 games.

SeaWolves left fielder Wilkin Ramirez threw out Corley at second base to end the fifth inning after the Curve outfielder tried to take the extra base on a single.

-- Ron Leonardi

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Ramirez keeps 'Wolves smiling, winning

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: April 28. 2008 6:00AM

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The SeaWolves’ Wilkin Ramirez makes a diving catch in the top of the sixth inning of Sunday’s game against the Curve at Jerry Uht Park. (ROB ENGELHARDT/Erie Times-News)

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Interview almost any Erie SeaWolves player after a game and odds are left fielder Wilkin Ramirez is lurking close by, attempting to get his teammates to laugh or lose their train of thought while answering questions.

After Erie's 5-4 win over the Altoona Curve on Sunday afternoon in front of 2,789 fans at Jerry Uht Park, Ramirez found himself on the end of the interview process.

And you know what they say about paybacks.

As Ramirez talked to reporters about his game-winning solo homer to right field in the seventh inning, which broke a 4-4 tie, utility infielder/outfielder Max Leon snuck up and stuck a shaving cream pie in his face.

"Hey, he's my roommate and look at what he did to me," Ramirez said, laughing and pointing at Leon in the SeaWolves' clubhouse.

The practical jokester took the prank in stride.

"Baseball is about playing hard and having fun, and that's what you have to do," Ramirez said.

The SeaWolves (13-10) had some fun of their own on their second homestand, winning the final three games of their four-game series against the Curve and evening their home record at 5-5.

Ramirez, 22, a Dominican native, went 2-for-4 Sunday with two RBIs, a stolen base and a run scored.

He also made a diving catch in the sixth inning to take an extra-base hit away from Altoona center fielder Anthony Webster.

Ramirez is big, strong, fast and has power.

He has the tools to make the majors some day, but he is a converted third baseman playing only his second full season in the outfield.

Learning the new position has been his biggest obstacle. Ramirez, who raised his average to .297 with Sunday's two-hit game, has struggled to consistently get good jumps on balls, make proper reads and take proper routes.

"He's going to have to eventually develop his natural instincts for the outfield, and that's part of the process," SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "He's not the kind of guy who just walks out there and everything comes natural to him. He has to work on it."

Ramirez's winning homer -- an opposite-field liner that cleared the wall in right field -- came with one out in the seventh off of Altoona right-hander Christian Castorri.

"I got the right swing at the right time and it was gone," Ramirez said. "I got a good pitch to hit and hit it out, so I was just happy we won the game."

"He's a guy I think you'll see in the big leagues some day," Brookens said. "Potentially, he's got that kind of ability. If he continues to work, I think he'll be there."

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

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Major hurry

Guzman gets good jump in quest to return to bigs

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: April 29. 2008 6:00AM

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Guzman makes like he is attempting to steal third base after having successfully stolen second in a game against the Altoona Curve. (Rob Engelhardt / Erie Times-News)

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A reassignment to Class AA for the first time since 2004 wasn't exactly the way Freddy Guzman envisioned the start to his season.

One day before the Detroit Tigers broke spring camp, Guzman cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Erie SeaWolves. It was a difficult turn of events for the speedy 27-year-old center fielder, a nine-year pro who spent the spring competing for a major league outfield job.

In a way, Guzman has to prove himself all over again to some people in the Tigers' organization if he hopes to climb back up the organization's ladder, even though he admits he doesn't necessarily feel he has anything to prove at the Double-A level.

He's maintained a positive attitude during his stay with Erie and has given the club experience, consistency and production in the field and from his leadoff spot in the batting order.

"It's been a little tough because I haven't played in Double-A for a long time, but I have put my mind in the game and I'm trying to do the best I can," said Guzman, who has played a total of 37 major league games in stints with the Padres (2004) and Rangers (2006, '07).

"I think I'm doing my job right now and if I continue to do it, I think something good will happen. I'm waiting for that. I want to get out of here. I want to help the team, but I want to get up to a higher level."

Guzman, still one of the fastest players in the game, is playing as if that will happen at some point.

The only Erie player to appear in all 23 games, Guzman is hitting .298 (28-for-94) with two homers and 18 RBIs.

As a catalyst at the top of the order, Guzman is getting on base, stealing bases and providing solid outfield defense. He enters today's game at Akron leading the Eastern League in stolen bases (13) and runs scored (23), and is tied for the league lead with four triples.

"I need to get on base a little more maybe," Guzman said. "I've been doing it now, but I have to continue getting on base and stealing bases and getting it done defensively. That's my game. Here, I have to do what I have to do, and that's play well to get back to the big leagues. If I do, I think there's going to be a step up."

Blog

Take a look at an extended preview of the SeaWolves’ series against Akron on the Extra Innings blog. http://goerie.com/blogs/extrainnings

Through the first month of the season, Guzman has shown the hustle SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens was hoping for when Guzman was assigned to his team two days before the SeaWolves departed spring training at their Lakeland, Fla., complex.

"He's been a sparkplug for us, and he's got an attitude that if he's going to get back to a big league level or Triple-A, he's going to have to do it hustling; he's going to have to do everything he can to prove to somebody that he can play up there," Brookens said.

When Glenn Ezell, the Detroit Tigers' director of player development, visited Erie to evaluate the SeaWolves on their four-game homestand this past weekend, one of the first players he sought out was Guzman.

"I told him how much I appreciate how he has gone about his business here," Ezell said. "The character of the people we have acquired in the last few years has been real good."

There was some concern by officials in the organization about how Guzman would respond to being back in Double-A.

Brookens said he made it a point to talk with Guzman the day he joined the SeaWolves in Florida and quickly got the sense there would be no attitude issues.

"I told him that he has to really go a little bit above and beyond what the norm is because he has to prove to somebody that he can play up there and get back up there," Brookens said.

The Tigers acquired Guzman, a Dominican Republic native, from the Texas Rangers in December in a trade for first baseman Chris Shelton. Guzman played with Triple-A Oklahoma City last season and led the Pacific Coast League with 56 steals.

"When the Rangers traded me, I was excited because I was traded to a good team, but I knew it was going to be hard to make the Tigers because they have so many good players in the outfield, like (Curtis) Granderson and (Magglio) Ordonez and (Jacque) Jones," Guzman said. "But I had a good spring and had the chance to play with a lot of good players and a lot of stars. I thought I did my job in spring training, but I don't know what happened. I didn't know what they thought about me sending me to Erie because I did my job, and I will continue to do my job here. We'll see what happens."

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

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Ramirez powers 'Wolves' victory

Outfielder hits 2 HRs

From staff reports

Published: April 30. 2008 6:00AM

AKRON, Ohio -- Left fielder Wilkin Ramirez belted two homers and drove in three runs to power the Erie SeaWolves to a 7-4 win over the Akron Aeros on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Canal Park.

The SeaWolves (14-10) stretched their winning streak to four games, tying a season-high mark, and have won six of their past seven games.

Erie scored four two-out runs and received outstanding bullpen work as four relievers combined to limit Akron to one run over five innings.

Ramirez went 3-for-4, scored three runs, collected his fifth and sixth homers of the season and raised his batting average to .316. His two-run homer in the third off Akron left-hander Ryan Edell staked the SeaWolves to a 4-0 lead.

In the first, Ramirez started a two-out rally with a double and scored on catcher Max St. Pierre's double. Erie outfielder Jeff Frazier doubled home St. Pierre for a 2-0 lead.

Akron (9-14) scored three unearned runs in the fourth inning off Erie starter Lucas French before Ramirez put Erie ahead 5-3 with a one-out solo homer to left in the fifth.

Erie right-hander Marcelo Perez pitched two innings of relief, allowing one run in the sixth. SeaWolves right-hander Matt Righter threw a scoreless seventh inning, right-hander Brett Jensen fired a scoreless eighth and right-hander Freddy Dolsi earned his second save with a scoreless ninth.

Edell lasted just 41/3 innings, allowing five runs and eight hits. He hadn't given up more than three runs in any of his previous four starts this season.

Notes: Erie's four-game winning streak matches its season-opening four-game sweep at Bowie April 4-6. ... The SeaWolves have homered in 18 of their 24 games. ... Erie is 9-5 on the road and 13-8 against Southern Division opponents. ... Erie and Akron are scheduled to meet 23 times this season.

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Late-game collapse ends 'Wolves' 4-game win streak

From staff reports

Published: May 01. 2008 6:00AM

AKRON, Ohio -- Third baseman Wes Hodges' seventh-inning sacrifice fly broke a 4-4 tie and the Akron Aeros added three eighth-inning insurance runs in an 8-4 win over the Erie SeaWolves on Wednesday at Canal Park.

Hodges hit a solo homer during a three-run fourth inning and finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Akron improved to 10-14.

The second-place SeaWolves (14-11) saw their four-game win streak snapped. Erie dropped two games behind Harrisburg in the Eastern League Southern Division standings.

Erie reliever Anthony Tomey (2-2) took the loss, allowing the last four Akron runs over three innings.

Shortstop Josh Rodriguez opened the Akron seventh with a ground infield single to short and moved to third on first baseman Michael Aubrey's ground single to center.

After Tomey struck out Akron DH Matt Whitney, Hodges drove in Rodriguez with a sacrifice fly to center.

Jose Constanza had an RBI single and Rodriguez a sacrifice fly during Akron's three-run eighth.

Trailing 4-1, Akron tied the game in the fourth with three runs.

The teams wrap up their three-game series today at 10:35 a.m.

Hodges led off with a solo homer to left. Catcher Chris Gimenez doubled and scored one out later on right fielder Ryan Goleski two-run homer to left.

Erie grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Left fielder Wilkin Ramirez scored from third base when Akron starter Kevin Dixon threw wildly past third on a pickoff attempt.

Center fielder Freddy Guzman's second-inning sacrifice fly extended Erie's lead to 2-0.

Akron cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second when Chris De La Cruz worked Kown for a two-out, bases-loaded walk.

First baseman Ryan Roberson doubled home two runs in the third with two out to extend the SeaWolves' lead to 4-1.

The teams wrap up their three-game series today at 10:35 a.m. in the rubber game at Canal Park.

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SeaWolves fall to Aeros

From staff reports

Published: May 02. 2008 6:00AM

AKRON, Ohio -- Akron starter Chuck Lofgren worked six strong innings and earned his first win of the season in a 6-2 victory over the Erie SeaWolves Thursday morning in the final game of a three-game series at Canal Park.

Akron (11-14) won the final two games of the series in the teams' first series meeting this season. Erie dropped to 14-12.

Lofgren (1-2), a left-hander, scattered six hits and gave up just one run over six innings, striking out nine and walking three. He got bullpen help from relievers Sung-Wei Tseng and Randy Newsom, who combined to limit Erie to a run and three hits over three innings.

Akron center Jose Constanza scored twice and went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, while third baseman Wes Hodges was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.

Akron scored twice in the first inning. An error and double put runners on second and third and with two out Hodges hit a bloop single to right, scoring both runners.

The Aeros made it 3-0 in the second inning on Constanza's RBI triple. The teams traded runs in the sixth before Akron padded its lead to 6-1 in the eighth on Constanza's run-scoring double and Josh Rodriguez's RBI single.

Second baseman Caonabo Cosme and center fielder Deik Scram had RBIs for Erie. 'Wolves starter Danny Christensen took the loss, dropping to 0-3. He allowed four runs (two earned) and seven hits in 52/3 innings.

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SeaWolves' pitching can't stop Curve

Altoona rallies past Erie in series opener

From staff reports

Published: May 03. 2008 6:00AM

ALTOONA -- Nineteen runs.

Thirty hits.

Seven lead changes.

It was a bad night for pitchers at Blair County Ballpark.

Those statistics comprised the offense for the Altoona Curve and Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Altoona's 10-9 victory wasn't clinched until reliever Kevin Roberts retired Erie's Max Leon with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the tying run on base.

Roberts (1-0) nearly squandered the game's final lead change after the Curve's three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth made it 10-8.

Erie's Wilkin Ramirez reached on an error to lead off the ninth and scored on a two-out infield single by Ryan Roberson. But Roberts, who allowed the 'Wolves' final two runs, got Leon on a flyout to Altoona center fielder James Boone.

Boone was one of nine players who had multiple hits. His leadoff single off Brett Jensen (1-1) sparked the Curve's three-run eighth.

Altoona's Luis Cruz capped the rally when he drove in the game's decisive run. Cruz went 4-for-5 and hit one of the Curve's five doubles.

Erie went up 5-3 in the third on consecutive RBIs by Leon and Will Rhymes, but Altoona immediately countered with three for a 6-5 lead. Melvin Dorta drove in the go-ahead run with a single that scored Victor Alvarez.

The Curve held that lead until Erie's three-run rally made it 10-8 in the eighth.

The 'Wolves lost despite a 4-for-4 performance by Rhymes, who also scored twice. Kody Kirkland had two hits, including a two-run home run. Deik Scram added two hits.

Altoona's lineup could be even better with the addition of Jack Wilson. The Pittsburgh Pirates starting shortstop, as part of a rehabilitation assignment, is expected to start during today's doubleheader.

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SeaWolves rained out

From staff reports

Published: May 04. 2008 6:00AM

ALTOONA -- The Erie SeaWolves' doubleheader Saturday against the Altoona Curve was postponed by officials because of rain.

The teams will meet today for a doubleheader at 2:05 p.m. at Blair County Ballpark.

The remaining game from Saturday will be played on a date to be scheduled at Jerry Uht Park.

Before the game, the Detroit Free Press reported that the Detroit Tigers recalled SeaWolves right-handed reliever Freddy Dolsi. Dolsi recently joined Erie from Class A Lakeland.

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'Wolves end 4-game losing streak

From staff reports

Published: May 05. 2008 6:00AM

ALTOONA -- The Erie SeaWolves ended their second four-game losing streak of the season with Sunday's doubleheader split vs. Altoona.

The 'Wolves' salvaged their day with a 9-2 victory over the Curve in the second game before 7,517 at Blair County Ballpark.

Dusty Ryan hit a run-scoring double in Erie's four-run first inning, then added a two-run home run in the sixth.

Erie salvaged the split after Altoona won the opener. Melvin Dorta's solo home run with one out in the bottom of the eighth clinched the Curve's 4-3 victory.

Dorta's third homer of the season came against Erie reliever Casey Fien (1-2). It was the third hit of the game for Altoona's second baseman, who also had a sacrifice fly in the second.

The Curve's Chris Hernandez improved to 4-0 after he pitched a scoreless eighth. Erie's three runs were off Altoona starter Kyle Bloom.

The 'Wolves surpassed their run total from the opener when they batted around for a 4-0 lead in the second game. They had six hits in the top of the first off Curve starter Brian Holliday (0-1).

The first four batters in Erie's lineup totaled eight hits and five RBIs. Ryan had three RBIs and Deik Scram finished with three hits and two RBIs.

Luke French (2-2) pitched the 'Wolves' first complete game of 2008. French allowed five hits, two earned runs, walked four and struck out four.

Jack Wilson's appearance in a Curve uniform never materialized.

The Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop was supposed to make a rehabilitation start with Altoona, but remained at the team's extended spring training camp in Bradenton, Fla., because of a calf injury.

Erie (15-14) opens a seven-game homestand today against the Trenton Thunder.

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Thunder strikes 17 times vs. SeaWolves

Trenton piles up K's vs. Erie

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 06. 2008 6:00AM

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Trenton Thunder shortstop Ramiro Pena forces out the Erie SeaWolves’ Freddy Guzman at second base during the third inning Monday at Jerry Uht Park. (JANET B. CAMPBELL/Erie Times-News)

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When his slider is on, Trenton right-hander George Kontos can miss a lot of bats. A lot of Erie SeaWolves bats, anyway.

Eleven strikeouts in five innings of work was a fairly good indication that Kontos had his best pitch working quite well on Monday in Trenton's 9-5 win over the SeaWolves before a Buck Night crowd of 3,738 at Jerry Uht Park.

The SeaWolves (15-15), who have lost five of six, struck out a season-high 17 times against three Trenton pitchers. Nine of those strikeouts came in the first four innings against Kontos (1-3), a third-year pro selected by the Yankees out of Northwestern University in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. He added two more strikeouts in the fifth.

"Ever since I got into pro ball, my slider has been my go-to pitch and the main thing I work on is throwing it for strikes," Kontos said. "When I have it going for strikes, it's easier to throw it in the dirt and get some swings and misses on it also. When guys are thinking slider, it gives a lot more options."

Kontos allowed five hits and three runs over five innings and earned his first Double-A win.

The Northern Division-leading Thunder (20-12) collected a season-high 17 hits and stretched their winning streak to four games.

Baseball America ranked Kontos as the Yankees' 17th-best minor league prospect entering the season.

"He caught us looking at fastballs and he got us swinging at sliders," SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "When I see that, I see a pretty good pitcher. At least the guy has good stuff and tonight he seemed to have that. I don't ever like any of my teams to strike out 17 times, but you have to give credit where credit is due sometimes. He did a nice job mixing it up and getting us out."

Kontos' 11 strikeouts matched his career high, set last season with high Single-A Tampa in the Florida State League.

"Whenever I had two strikes early in the count, it allowed me to get it in their heads and think maybe a slider was coming, and then I threw a couple changeups and a couple fastballs and got a couple guys looking who were expecting sliders," Kontos said. "It definitely opens up some doors."

Erie left-hander Jon Connolly, who was assigned to the SeaWolves from Triple-A Toledo on Monday, was given the start. He worked six innings and gave up five earned runs and 13 hits.

"I thought he was still throwing pretty well," Brookens said. "They were hitting him, but he wasn't getting hammered. I took him out because of the pitch count as much as anything. I didn't think they really beat him around bad. He wasn't real sharp. It's tough coming back down here, and I look for him to get himself to be ready to go the next start. He didn't pitch the worst game in the world."

Connolly was Erie's opening day starter and made two starts with the club before he was promoted to Toledo in mid-April. With the Mud Hens, Connolly was 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA in four starts, allowing 12 earned runs and 26 hits in 21 1/3 innings.

"I was told Connolly pitched well with Toledo, and that his last two outings were very good," Brookens said. "He probably didn't warrant coming back on what he had done, but we know the numbers game, that sometimes you go back down whether you deserve it or not."

Eight different Trenton players had at least one RBI, and seven players had multiple-hit games.

Leading 6-5, Trenton broke it open with three ninth-inning runs off Erie reliever Matt Righter, who had thrown scoreless seventh and eighth innings.

Notes: Erie left fielder Wilkin Ramirez threw out Trenton second baseman Kevin Russo at the plate to end the sixth inning. Russo attempted to score from second on a single. ... Today's 6:35 p.m. game at Uht Park matches Erie right-hander Andrew Kown (2-2, 7.00) and Trenton right-hander Dan McCutchen (3-2, 2.33). McCutchen ranks second in the league in strikeouts (39) and innings (38 2/3) and seventh in ERA.

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

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Quick Hits

Published: May 06. 2008 6:00AM

SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens got to experience a first in his four-year managerial career over the weekend.

"I have not had the opportunity until the other day to call a player into my office and tell him he was going to the major leagues," Brookens said.

That chance came on Saturday, when the Tigers purchased the contract of Erie right-handed closer Freddy Dolsi.

"That's one of my favorite things," said Brookens, who managed two seasons at short-season Single-A Oneonta (2005-06) and last season at low-A West Michigan. "It doesn't happen too much from rookie ball to low-A. The Tigers are searching for some help up there in their bullpen, so he had some good outings for (Tigers manager) Jim Leyland in the spring and they liked him a lot when they saw him, and I think that carried over."

Dolsi was assigned to the SeaWolves from high Single-A Lakeland on April 24. In three relief appearances with Erie, Dolsi notched two saves and threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit.

"Freddy was slated to make this club in spring training, but his last couple of outings didn't go well and he ended up going to Lakeland," Brookens said. "He's got great stuff and I think that's what everybody sees. He's got a good, live arm and great movement on his breaking pitches and his changeup. His big earmark is, can he do it consistently and throw strikes? He gets in trouble whenever he can't throw strikes. ...No matter how hard you throw, when you have to throw it over, they're going to hit it."

The Tigers also purchased the contract of former SeaWolves outfielder Matt Joyce from Triple-A Toledo on Monday.

Joyce, 23, made his major league debut, going 0-for-2 with a walk.

Joyce, the SeaWolves' starting right fielder last season, was hitting .299 (29-for-97) with five homers and 21 RBIs in 28 games with the Mud Hens.

Joyce takes the roster spot of outfielder Jacque Jones, who was designated for assignment.

Joyce hit .257 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs in 130 games with the SeaWolves last season.

-- Ron Leonardi

Brookens said the club will use a six-man rotation until the Tigers determine what Erie starter will relocate to the bullpen.

Left-hander Jon Connolly was reassigned to the SeaWolves from Triple-A Toledo on Monday and started Monday's home game against the Trenton Thunder.

Connolly joins an Erie rotation that includes right-handers Andrew Kown, Ben Fritz and Josh Rainwater and left-handers Lucas French and Dan Christensen.

Kown, who was scheduled to start Monday's game, had his start pushed back to today against Trenton.

"We'll play it out here, and there will probably be a change somewhere in the rotation before we get too far along," Brookens said. "Probably somebody will go to the bullpen, and who that is right now has not been decided. We'll make that decision probably closer to the end of the homestand."

Toledo activated right-hander Virgil Vasquez from its disabled list Monday.

Right-hander Eddie Bonine recorded his International League-leading sixth win for the Toledo Mud Hens in Sunday's 8-4 home win over Rochester.

Bonine, who pitched with the SeaWolves last season, is 6-0 with a 3.43 ERA in six starts. In Sunday's win, Bonine worked seven innings, allowing four runs and six hits.

Bonine has 24 strikeouts and just five walks in 39 1/3 innings.

Toledo right-hander Blaine Neal notched his league-leading 11th save in Sunday's win. Neal is 0-0 with a 0.75 ERA in 13 games. He's struck out 18 and walked three over 12 innings.

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Thunder shut down 'Wolves

Erie hitters can't solve McCutchen

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 07. 2008 6:00AM

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Erie Seawolves catcher Dusty Ryan loses the ball as Trenton Thunder's Colin Curtis slides safely to home scoring the second run during the 6th inning of the game at Jerry Uht Park on May 6. Curtis was on third base when Trenton's Cody Ehlers made a sacrifice fly ball to left field allowing Curtis to score. (Janet B. Campbell / Erie Times-News)

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Trenton right-hander Dan McCutchen has established himself as one of the most consistent starters on one of the Eastern League's best pitching staffs.

McCutchen worked a season-high 71/3 innings and held the Erie SeaWolves to one run and four hits in the Thunder's 5-2 win on Tuesday before 1,775 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

The SeaWolves (15-16) lost for the sixth time in seven games and dropped to 5-7 at home this season.

Trenton's starting pitching has been the difference in the first two games of this four-game series.

McCutchen (4-2, 2.15) struck out four and walked two in Tuesday's outing and has now worked seven innings or more in his past five starts.

"I was able to throw all three of my pitches - fastball, curve, changeup - consistently and in all counts," McCutchen said. "I got a pretty good scouting report on them. They're a good-hitting team.

"You can't make too many mistakes. I had to attack the strike zone and limit the walks and keep the ball down in the zone. I left a few up and they hit them pretty good."

The Thunder, a 9-5 winner over Erie on Monday in the series' opener, lead the league in shutouts (four) and saves (13), have allowed the fewest walks of any staff and rank second in strikeouts.

Pitching is the main reason the Thunder (21-12), winners of five straight, are in first place in the Northern Division.

"They've thrown good arms at us back-to-back nights and kept us in check," SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "Their starter had good stuff. He had good pop on the fastball and threw well. We've been swinging the bats well."

McCutchen carried a shutout into the eighth inning and lost it when Erie's leadoff hitter, catcher Dusty Ryan, homered to left off of Tullio Arena.

The SeaWolves pulled within 5-2 in the ninth on center fielder Deik Scram's two-out RBI single off Trenton right-hander J.B. Cox. Erie loaded the bases, but Cox retired Erie right fielder Jeff Frazier on a groundout to shortstop to end the game.

Trenton built a 5-0 lead in the middle innings.

McCutchen went a combined 14-4 with a 2.47 ERA last season between Single-A Tampa and Trenton. He won two games in the EL playoffs, including the championship-clinching win against Akron.

McCutchen was selected by the Yankees in the 13th round of the June 2006 draft out of Oklahoma. He entered this season as the Yankees 14th-best minor league prospect, according to Baseball America.

Erie right-hander Andrew Kown retired the first nine Trenton hitters and allowed just one hit through four innings. Despite taking the loss, Kown (2-3) threw well, allowing three runs and four hits over six innings.

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

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'Wolves' Guzman heads to Triple-A

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 07. 2008 6:00AM

It was just a matter of time before SeaWolves center fielder Freddy Guzman got his promotion.

The 27-year-old veteran minor league outfielder, who spent all of spring training competing for an outfield job with the Detroit Tigers, was assigned to Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday night after Erie's 5-2 loss to the Trenton Thunder at Jerry Uht Park.

Guzman's promotion was one of three personnel moves announced after the game. Guzman's spot on Erie's roster will be filled by Single-A Lakeland outfielder Justin Justice. The SeaWolves also are expected to receive left-handed reliever Juan Cedeno from Lakeland.

A catalyst from his leadoff spot, Guzman hit .281 (34-for-121) with two homers, 19 RBIs and a league-high 15 stolen bases in 30 games with Erie. It was Guzman's first Double-A tour since 2004.

"I came here and played hard and did everything I was supposed to do," Guzman said. "It was tough because I hadn't played in Double-A in a long time, and I had to prove to the organization I could play anywhere. I was happy to play with this group of guys here. Everyone showed respect to me and it was a good experience."

Guzman cleared waivers and was outrighted to Erie the day before the Tigers broke spring training in late March.

His Toledo promotion came one day after the Tigers purchased the contract of Toledo right fielder and former SeaWolves outfielder Matt Joyce, who made his major league debut on Monday.

"Freddy could have come down here and had a bad attitude coming back to Double-A after spending last year in Triple-A and getting sent back here from the big club, but he didn't and he played hard," SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "He was really in the mix of a lot of our offense. We'll miss his stolen bases and his speed, but he's done everything he needed to do here. With the opening in Toledo, he was the guy to go up there."

Guzman served as Erie's designated hitter in Tuesday's game and went 0-for-4.

Justice, 23, a native of Winter Park, Fla., will be making his Double-A debut when he joins the SeaWolves.

In 25 games with Lakeland, Justice was hitting .300 (27-for-90) with six homers and 14 RBIs. The fifth-year pro was drafted by the Tigers in 31st round in 2003.

Cedeno began the season with Erie and was assigned to Lakeland on April 24.

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

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'Wolves whiff vs. Thunder pitcher

Trenton emerges with rain-shortened shutout

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 08. 2008 6:00AM

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Trenton Thunder shortstop Ramiro Pena prepares to tag out the Erie SeaWolves’ Jeff Frazier as he attempts to steal second base Wednesday night. (JANET B. CAMPBELL/Erie Times-News)

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Wednesday's 6-0 rain-shortened loss to the Trenton Thunder at Jerry Uht Park left SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens wondering how his club will respond to its first substantial slump this season.

"We need to do a little soul searching and figure out where we're at here and where we're going," Brookens said after Erie's third straight loss and seventh loss in eight games. "That wasn't our best effort out there tonight. We didn't play well, we didn't pitch well and the conditions weren't the greatest. We've got to pick up the intensity, play a little harder and try and turn it around."

Trenton's starters have made that a formidable task for the SeaWolves (15-17) in the first three games of this series.

Wednesday's game was called with two outs in the top of the sixth after a one-hour rain delay.

Trenton left-hander Phil Coke threw five scoreless innings, striking out seven and walking none, as the Northern Division-leading Thunder (22-12) recorded their league-high fifth shutout.

"Their starters have been good," Brookens said. "I said the other day sometimes you have to tip your hat and give them credit, and you do, but still you have to get in there and, at times, have a better two-strike approach, which is something we'll work on over the remainder of the season. We need to work on trying to put the ball in play. We got some work cut out for us here."

The loss marked the first time this season the SeaWolves were shut out.

"It's frustrating, but I've been down this road before," Brookens said. "The only thing that pulls you out of it is turning up the intensity level a little bit and coming back with the attitude of what do we have to do to win this game today."

The SeaWolves were held to four hits by Coke, a Double-A rookie who threw seven shutout innings and struck out 11 in his previous start, a 1-0 win over Portland on Friday.

"I tried to throw strikes early because in a couple of my early starts, I was struggling and walking guys early, giving up a hit, giving up early runs and then pitching well after that for two or three innings," Coke said. "It came down to trying to pound the zone early from the start of the game. I've been able to do that. I was a little shaky my last outing but I was a lot better tonight throwing first-pitch strikes."

Coke was able to get ahead early against Erie mainly by getting his fastball over for strikes.

"I don't think I threw any 0-0 breaking balls or change-ups," Coke said. "It was just pounding the zone early with fastballs, and it was nice to know that I could still do it after having a drought and not doing it."

Trenton took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Erie left-hander Danny Christensen (0-4) on designated hitter Colin Curtis' sacrifice fly to right.

Thunder second baseman Reegie Corona drove in two runs with a two-out triple to right-center in the fourth, making it 3-0. Trenton cleanup hitter Edwar Gonzalez made it 5-0 in the fifth with a two-run homer to left-center.

The Thunder extended their lead to 6-0 on shortstop Ramiro Pena's sacrifice fly in the sixth.

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

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Erie closer Jensen on disabled list

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 08. 2008 6:00AM

The SeaWolves lost their second closer within a week on Wednesday when they placed right-hander Brett Jensen on the disabled list.

Jensen will remain sidelined indefinitely because of soreness in his throwing elbow. Jensen, who had an MRI done on Wednesday, was forced to leave Tuesday's 5-2 home loss against the Trenton Thunder in the ninth inning because of soreness. He came on to pitch the ninth and worked the count to 3-2 on the first batter he faced when he left the game.

Jensen spent time on Erie's disabled list early in the season due to the same problem.

"We're going to wait and see what the results are," Jensen said Wednesday. "Hopefully it's just some inflammation or a strain of some sort. It was similar to what I had earlier, but a little more severe (Tuesday) night. I wanted to get it checked out."

SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said right-hander Casey Fien will likely inherit the closing role while Jensen is sidelined.

Jensen, a Double-A rookie, had been sharing the closing role with right-hander Freddy Dolsi, who was promoted to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. Dolsi made his major league debut Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox.

"It happened one night in Harrisburg (on Erie's season-opening seven-game road trip)," Jensen said. "I was on for a save and just tweaked it. I rested it and came back and it just started the same thing over again. It's kind of gotten progressively worse."

Jensen handled the closing role last season at low Single-A West Michigan. He is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 10 appearances (nine innings) with the SeaWolves this season.

SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said right-hander Casey Fien will likely inherit the closing role while Jensen is sidelined.

"Casey did some closing for us last season (at West Michigan) at times and he's familiar with that role," Brookens said. "He's a hard thrower, he has a good, hard slider and has that mentality that he's coming right at you. It shouldn't be any problem, really."

Fien was 6-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 39 relief outings at West Michigan last season. He struck out 77 and walked 10 in 61 innings, and led all Midwest League relievers with 11.36 strikeouts per nine innings.

Fien made four appearances in the Midwest League playoffs and recorded three saves, striking out 13 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings.

"Whatever opportunity I get, that's just our job to go out there and get outs and pretty much do my job, said Fien, who is 1-2 with a 2.40 ERA in 11 games with Erie. "In the playoffs last year, I was just lights out and placing the ball where I wanted it to, so he (Brookens) thought at that time that I was the guy to have the ball at the end of the game, so if he has confidence in me, then I guess that's all I need."

"He'll be in that role, but any one of these guys might have to close a game out right now until we see how things go," Brookens said.

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

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SeaWolves battered, beaten at home again

BY RON LEONARDI

ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 09. 2008 6:00AM

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SeaWolves shortstop Danny Worth throws to first base after forcing out Thunder baserunner Jose Tabata on Thursday. (GREG WOHLFORD/Erie Times-News)

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Outfielder Deik Scram sat on a sofa in the Erie SeaWolves' clubhouse early Thursday afternoon, his right throwing elbow tightly wrapped, the result of a second-inning collision with first baseman Max Leon as they raced to catch a foul ball down the right-field line.

Scram was experiencing some slight discomfort from the stinger that shot through his elbow when he tried to brace himself as he landed awkwardly after the collision.

His greater concern, he said, centered on the confidence level of his slumping team, which stumbled to a 7-2 loss to the Trenton Thunder on Thursday morning before a school-day crowd of 4,555 at Jerry Uht Park.

"We're going out on the field maybe a little bit scared or something and we need to go out there with confidence," Scram said. "Early in the season we were playing with a lot more confidence and winning a lot more games."

The Northern Division-leading Thunder (23-12) completed a four-game sweep of the SeaWolves (15-18), who have lost eight of their past nine games and continue to play poorly at home, where they are 5-9.

"To me, we're waiting to see how we're going to get beaten instead of going out with the confidence that we need to, that we're going to win this game some way," SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "There's no real answers or quick fixes. We just need to get a win under our belt. I think that would go a hell of a long way in helping us get back on track."

What has happened to the team's confidence in the past week and a half?

"I don't know," Brookens said. "When you hit a streak like this, it will challenge you as a player, as a team, so I think we're being challenged right now in how good a ballclub we're going to be this year."

Erie's recent struggles on the field have been compounded by the loss of closer Freddy Dolsi, center fielder Freddy Guzman and closer Brett Jensen. Dolsi was promoted to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. Guzman was assigned to Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday, while Jensen was placed on the club's disabled list with a right elbow injury.

"Sure, those guys are good ballplayers and we'll miss them," Brookens said, "but I think this thing is more about when you tend to start getting in a slump or losing some, your confidence gets rattled and you have to put that behind you and start playing better baseball, and that starts with believing in yourself."

During their recent struggles, the SeaWolves have lacked intensity and have looked listless, lethargic and sloppy.

"Their pitching (Trenton) was pretty good in this series, but I think our confidence is where it's at right now," Scram said.

"That Trenton club today, they're diving and making catches and making all the plays," Brookens said. "We're not. That's why they got four wins and we're 0-4 against them."

A lousy first inning Thursday set the tone for the SeaWolves' latest loss before their largest home crowd of the season.

Trenton sent eight batters to the plate and jumped on Erie right-hander Josh Rainwater for four runs and three hits, the key hit a two-out, three-run double by Thunder third baseman Carlos Mendoza.

Rainwater was forced to leave the game with an unspecified injury in the second inning, forcing Erie's bullpen to throw the last eight innings.

"Josh has some pain in his side and I couldn't allow him to continue," Brookens said. "He'll be evaluated and we'll see how he is (today)."

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

http://goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080509/BASEBALL01/805090470/-1/BASEBALL

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Eastern League Series Preview

Published: May 09. 2008 6:00AM

Harrisburg Senators (20-13) at Erie SeaWolves (15-18)

Today-Saturday, 6:35 p.m.

Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

Pitching matchups

Today: Erie RH Ben Fritz (1-0, 3.86) vs. Harrisburg RH Marco Estrada (3-2, 3.19)

Saturday: Erie LH Lucas French (2-2, 4.46) vs. Harrisburg LH Cory VanAllen (1-0, 1.59)

Sunday: Erie LH Jon Connolly (0-1, 4.50) vs. Harrisburg RH Jordan Zimmermann (0-1, 1.59)

Harrisburg notes: The Southern Division-leading Senators are riding a three-game losing streak, their longest of the season. ... Harrisburg is 9-5 on the road. ... The Senators finished April with a 16-9 record their best month since going 16-9 in June 2006. ... Harrisburg is 10-0 in series' openers this season. ... Outfielders Justin Maxwell and Roger Bernadina are on the Washington Nationals' 40-man roster. ... Maxwell, a 6-foot 5-inch, 245-pound center fielder, was the Nationals' 2007 minor league player of the year after hitting a combined .281 with 27 homers, 25 doubles, 83 RBIs and 35 steals for Single-A Hagerstown and Single-A Potomac last season. That earned him a September call-up to the Nationals. He played in 15 major league games, and his first big league hit was a pinch-hit grand slam. Last season, Maxwell was the only player in the minors to record at least 25 doubles, 25 homers and 25 stolen bases. ... VanAllen was promoted to the Senators on May 2 from Potomac and won his Double-A debut on Monday in a 5-2 win over the Connecticut Defenders. VanAllen gave up one run and four hits over 5 2/3 innings and tripled in his first professional at-bat. ... Right-hander Zimmermann made his Double-A debut against Connecticut on Tuesday and took loss in a 5-2 decision to Connecticut. Zimmermann gave up three runs (one earned) and four hits in 52/3 innings with four strikeouts and three walks. Zimmermann was promoted to Harrisburg on Monday from Potomac. Zimmermann attended NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point for three years and was Washington's second-round draft pick last season.

Erie notes: The Trenton Thunder completed a four-game sweep of the SeaWolves on Thursday at Jerry Uht Park, dropping Erie to 1-6 against Northern Division opponents this season. ... Thursday's 7-2 loss to Trenton dropped the SeaWolves to 5-9 at home. ... Erie is 14-12 against Southern Division opponents. ... The SeaWolves host the Senators for the first time this season after splitting their previous six games against Harrisburg in a pair of three-game series at Harrisburg's Commerce Bank Park. Erie lost two of three games against Harrisburg from April 7-9 and won two of three games from April 21-23. ... Erie enters this series tied with Akron for fourth place in the Southern Division standings, five games behind first-place Harrisburg. ... Outfielder Deik Scram had a nine-game hitting streak end in Thursday's loss. ... The SeaWolves on Thursday still were awaiting word on right-handed closer Brett Jensen's MRI results. Jensen was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday for the second time this season due to right elbow soreness. ... Connolly was assigned to Erie on Monday after making four starts for Triple-A Toledo. He started Monday's game against Trenton and gave up five earned runs and 13 hits over six innings in a 9-5 loss. ... The three-game series against Harrisburg completes a seven-game homestand. ... Erie will have its second scheduled day off of the season on Monday, then begin a six-game road trip Tuesday with the opener of a three-game series at Bowie.

-- Ron Leonardi

http://goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080509/BASEBALL01/805090475/-1/BASEBALL

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So is this pretty much the same team that was getting killed in Lakeland last year?

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