At last check, your LumberKings were 8-3 and holding the first place spot in the West Division. Struggles have caught up with the Kings…four-straight losses have them at 8-7 and in third place in the West.
On the bright side, Alliant Energy Field received some accolades in the Chicago Sun-Times last week. Dave Hoekstra calls the 72-year-old home of the LumberKings his “favorite destination” for baseball in the Midwest. Pretty lofty accolades given some of the newer parks in this league. You can read the whole article here. Also, his book, Midwest League Field Guide (Cougars and Snappers and Loons, Oh My!) is due for release next month.
Here’s some excerpts from today’s notes:
Kings Come Undone in Eighth: The Burlington Bees plated four runs in the eighth inning, including a go-ahead RBI double by Nick Francis, sending the LumberKings to their fourth-straight loss yesterday afternoon, 6-2. The game was knotted at 2-2 for most of the day as the Kings twice battled back from one-run deficits…Daniel Carroll was hit by a pitch and scored on an RBI double by Scott Savastano in the first, and Nate Tenbrink reached on one of his three singles to lead off the second and scored two batters later on an RBI groundout from Juan Fuentes. Starter Kenn Kasparek had his best outing this season, limiting the Bees to two runs (one earned) on three hits over 5.1 innings. However, right-hander Ryan Moorer struggled in the eighth…after allowing a one-out single to Eric Hosmer, Moorer (L, 1-1) served up the game-winning double to Nick Francis. A pair of errors allowed another run to score, and an RBI double by Jose Bonilla and RBI single by Antonio Jimenez gave the Bees breathing room. Right-hander Carson Bryant (W, 1-0) got the win in relief.
Relief. Please: After starting the year 5-of-6 in save opportunities and recording 10 holds, the LumberKings’ bullpen has blown saves in three of the last four games, all losses. Prior to Thursday night’s 8-5 loss to Cedar Rapids, the Kings had not lost when tied or leading after the sixth inning. The recent struggles have raised Clinton’s bullpen ERA from 2.42 on 4/22 to 3.57 currently…the pen as a whole is 1-4 this season.
Starting a New Streak: Since seeing his six-game hitting streak snapped on 4/24, Nate Tenbrink is 4-for-6 over the last two games, including a 3-for-3 performance yesterday afternoon. He is one of just three Kings to reach the three-hit plateau this season…Maximo Mendez (4/10) and Scott Savastano (4/15) are the others. Over the past five games, Tenbrink is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with a double, three runs scored and an RBI. Only one other King has a hitting streak as long as two games right now…Savastano is 3-of-8 in his last two games.
Eight is Enough: Denny Almonte saw his team-best eight-game hitting streak come to an end yesterday, going 0-for-4. The second round pick by Seattle in 2007, Almonte hit .387 (12-for-31) during the streak, including three doubles, a triple, a home run, four RBI and two multi-hit games. He also started the season with a five-game hitting streak, making yesterday’s performance just his second hitless game in 15 starts this year.
Need for Speed: The first-inning steal by Daniel Carroll was his team-leading seventh of the season and sixth since coming off the disabled list (strained groin) on 4/22…he’s a perfect 7-for-7 this season, tied for second in the Midwest League with two others. The LumberKings as a club have stolen 27 bases in 39 attempts (69% success rate), second-most behind Cedar Rapids’ 28 steals (28-of-42, 67% success rate).
Smokin’ Aces: The LumberKings boast the Midwest League’s best team ERA at 2.66 thanks to the most dominant 1-3 starting trio in the league. Right-handers Steven Hensley, Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic are a combined 7-0 with a 0.69 ERA (4 ER / 52.1 IP) with nine walks and 49 strikeouts through their first nine starts this season. Hensley is the league’s ERA leader at 0.00, while his three wins are also tied with four others for the top spot. Pribanic is fourth in the league with a 1.02 ERA, while his 17.2 innings pitched are tied with Hensley for fifth-most. Lorin is fifth in ERA at 1.06, while his 19 strikeouts are tied with three others for fifth. The 4-5 starters are a combined 0-3 with a 5.55 ERA (13 ER / 21.1 IP), 13 walks and 19 strikeouts.
Hopefully another big outing from Hensley tonight. Listen online at www.kcln.com!