Bobby Brownlie had his worst outing since May 26 (versus Sacramento), allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits in six innings on Thursday. Brownlie (6-5) was making his fourth start in a row after a month-and-a-half stretch in the bullpen, in which he was 3-0 with a 1.28 ERA in 12 appearances. He is winless on the road this season despite a lower ERA (4.15) than at home (4.74). He allowed his first home run in over a month, number nine on the year.
Brownlie told Inside The Ivy, "Earlier in the year, I was falling off behind the ball. I wasn't staying behind it and I didn't have the command I normally prided myself on. By throwing more out of the bullpen every third day, I was able to get into a little groove. When I went back to starting, the momentum carried over and my velocity has even started to go back up as a result."
Calvin Murray had three hits atop the lineup, and Mike Fontenot started at third base for the fourth consecutive game. Fontenot finished 1-for-4, with 37 percent of his hits this year being of the extra base variety.
Entering 2005, he had never started a game at the hot corner.
"It was different at first," said Fontenot, a second baseman by default and a first round draft pick by the Orioles in 2001, "but I've enjoyed it. I always feel learning more positions will help me in the long run. Groundballs are a bit different at third. I feel like I've done a decent job over there between going back and forth from there to second."
West Tenn beat Mobile, 6-5
Matt Craig recorded his second straight two-hit game. Most of Craig's starts have seen him batting as the team's cleanup hitter, although statistically he has fared better near the bottom of the order, batting .365 in the sixth and seventh spots this season.
It's been a year of transition for Craig, who has gotten his first real taste of first base this season as opposed to his usual third base spot.
"It's pretty similar to third," Craig said before the game, "which makes it a lot easier. It feels good to learn a new position. Especially in the National League where you may have double switches, so you have to know how to play new positions."
Craig is batting .266 in 83 games with nine errors.
Ryan Theriot, normally the team's No. 2 hitter, can apparently lead off as well. He finished with three hits on Thursday and is batting .340 against left-handers. With just seven errors this season, Theriot has the Southern League's best fielding percentage for any second baseman.
The Jaxx bullpen was stellar again. Jon "Strange But True" Searles had given up an earned run in four consecutive outings entering the night, but picked up the win with 2.2 innings of solid relief. Andrew Shipman notched his 11th save, five of which have come this month, and Thomas Atlee added another scoreless outing to his total. Atlee has a 2.14 ERA over his last 18 appearances.
Ricky Nolasco hit the showers early, allowing five runs (four earned) in 3.1 innings. The 11-game winner needs only 8.2 innings to set a career-high in innings pitched for one year.
Daytona swept Vero Beach, won 6-4
Randy Wells upped his record to 8-2 with 5.1 innings of scoreless ball on Thursday. He struck out six and walked three without allowing a hit. Wells has a 1.35 ERA in his last three appearances with wins in three of his last four outings—all as a starter after leaving the bullpen following an all-star first half.
The right-hander has walked just 22 batters this season in 85.2 innings, an average of less than 2.5 per nine frames.
"You look at the stats as I was the other day, and I've given up a lot of hits compared to innings," Wells said. "I'd rather him hit his way on base instead of walking. As a former catcher, I know how hard it is to hit."
As if you needed proof, Brian Dopirak's bat can do wonders for a team's offense when it's hot. Dopirak had three hits, including two doubles to lead the way for the second straight night. He now has five hits and five RBIs in his last two games.
Perhaps Dopirak is just following suit of teammate Issmael Salas, who also has five hits in his last two games with a five-game hitting streak and a .455 average for August. He is on pace for his best year above rookie ball with a .286 average in 64 games between first, second, third and short this season. He homered for the second game in three nights.
Chris Walker reached base twice. Only once was all he needed to steal his Florida State League best 50th base.
Daytona broadcaster Bo Fulginiti on the Cubs' playoff chances:
With the Palm Beach Cardinals also winning on Thursday night, Vero Beach and Palm Beach are now in a virtual tie for first place, as the Cubs are six games out of first. But if the Dodgers still win the division in the second half, then the East will go into a wildcard format to choose a second playoff team based on who has the best overall season record, which would give the Cubs a .5 game lead on both the Cardinals and St. Lucie Mets with less than three weeks to play.Peoria, Swept by South Bend, lost 12-5
Chiefs pitching gave up a whopping 21 hits on Thursday, 12 of which were allotted by starter Matt Weber, who gave up four runs in five innings. Opposing hitters are now batting .302 for the year against the right-hander after the start. Rookie Michael Jones took the loss, allowing four runs to four batters without recording an out. He has three losses and a plus-10 ERA in 15 appearances with the team. Sam Fuld picked up two hits atop the order and is batting .305 with 26 walks to 19 strikeouts in the leadoff spot.