A blog on Florida State League Baseball, for the fans, by the fans.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Palm Beach, Dunedin lead divisons at end of April

Lakeland Flying Tigers

The Palm Beach Cardinals lead in the East division for the week ended April 26, 2008, posting a 16-7 record. On the other end of the scale, St. Lucie finally added another win to their incredible 3-20 record, taking a 9-2 win over the Cards on Saturday night.

Dillon Gee picked up the win in that game, allowing 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 5 in 4 innings worth of work. It was his first win of the 2008 season. The Mets pounded out 12 hits to the Cards 6.

During the rematch between the best and worst in the East on Sunday, the game ran to 14 innings before Brahiam Maldonado homered to bring in three, giving the Mets yet another win, this time 6-3 over the first placed Cards.

John Matulia of the Vero Beach Rays leads the East in batting with a .359 average over 19 games. James Adduci of Daytona was posting a .349 average through 24 games and Palm Beach's Steve Hill is showing a .346 average through 21 games.

Todd Jesse of Palm Beach holds a 3-0 record with a .87 ERa in the East after 5 starts and 20.2 innings. Jeremy Hellickson of Vero Beach is right behind him, with a 2-0 record and .93 ERA in 29 innings of work.

Brevard County and Daytona are in a 2-way tie for 2nd place in East, but with 14-10 records. Both teams head out for Western road swings at the end of this week, with the Manatees facing the FSL Defending Champion Clearwater Threshers and the Cubbies off to face the Twins affiliated Fort Myers Miracle.

Clearwater has been a lightweight in the West Division thus far this season, with the exception of pitcher Antonio Bastardo, who leads the Minor League with 47 strike outs of 30 2/3 innings. The 22-year old fanned 13 and allowed just 2 hits over 8 inning in a 5-0 shutout. There is some question as to how long Bastardo will stay with the Phillies Florida farm. Some predictions have him cracking the Major League roster before the end of the season.

Four West Division teams went into the new week in a tie for first, but Sunday's game put Dunedin back on top with Clearwater knocking off the Yankees and the Flying Tigers knocking off the Miracle. Dunedin's defeat 3-2 defeat of Sarasota gave them the division best record of 14-10. Both Clearwater and the Lakeland Flying Tigers are starting to show some promise off dismal starts to the season.

Johan Nickerson had his bid for a perfect game ended in the 8th inning Saturday night when he outdueled major leaguer Kevin Slowey at Joker Marchant Stadium. Making the second of three rehab starts, Slowey tossed five hitless innings for the Fort Myers squad.

The Most Outstanding Player at the 2006 college world series, Nickerson was off to a terrible start on the season that had him sporting 7.64 ERA by the time he got done facing Fort Myers earlier in the week. Johnny Woodard's late inning single finished off his no-no bid for the night, but the Tigers are hoping that Nickerson will lead the team, which has been strugging with its pitching staff, onto better things.

Sarasota's Justin Turner and Chris Valaika lead the West in batting with a .395 and a .359 average respectively. Dunedin's Brian Dopirak is not far behind with a .350 average over 21 games. Valaika has also put up 4 home runs as has teammate Juan Francisco, but it is Tampa's Edwar Gonzalez who is currently leading the lead with 6. Not surprising if he is making use of the short porch on right to find the fence at Legends Field. Vero Beach's Matthew Fields has 5 yarders, and 5 other players besides the Sarasota pair have 4 on the season.

While you might think Bastardio leads the West in pitching, you'd be mistaken. Tampa's Eric Hacker holds a 2-1 record over 5 games with a .82 ERA over 33 innings. He has only 24 strike outs to Bastardo's 47 however. Lakeland's Luis Marte is showing a 2-1 record with a 1.64 ERA in four games and 22 innings. He pitches tonight as the Tigers look to finish off their series against Fort Myers with a sweep.

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