Fourteen games into this 2007 season, Lynx third baseman Brennan King struck the first Lynx home run of the season Tuesday night. But Ottawa hasn’t needed the long ball to this point to win games. This version of the Ottawa Lynx managed only eighty three all of last year while in Scranton, (twelfth in the International League), but finished on top of the Northern Division. Ottawa had scored seventeen runs against Scranton three days previously- seventeen runs with nary a long ball. Pitching, defence and clutch hitting. Home runs simply make a win easier to come by-it can erase any previous mistakes or failings in a game. The pitching staff have given up only eleven this year the strangest stat being Brian Mazzone having given up three home runs but only four earned runs. This proves the importance of not giving up walks.
Ottawa rookie catcher Jason Jaramillo was the Phillies Minor League Player of the Week, (week ending April 22, 2007). The twenty-four year hit safely in all five games in which he played and went 5-10 with 2 rbi in the weekend series, (April 21 and 22), against Scranton.
Joe Thurston continues to play stellar defence and is starting to come around with the bat. International opponents were finally able to score a run off of Lynx starter A.J Happ, (two in fact), but he continued his excellent 2007 season, pitching six innings and earning his first victory of the season April 22 against Scranton. Happ is now 1-0 on the season in three starts. The Lynx bullpen have been very steady. Chris Roberson continues to snare anything and everything and although batting lead off, he has driven in twelve runs. The Lynx lineup has contributors up and down the lineup with seemingly a different player each game driving in the big run or getting a key hit to keep a rally going. Brennan King, Jim Rushford and Gary Burnham, the hitters in the key rbi spots in the lineup, are now driving in runs consistently, taking advantage of opportunities. Ottawa manager John Russell’s patience and quiet confidence in his players is beginning to show on the field. The team has been playing the same consistent and patient game day after day; traits if maintained, usually lead to a successful season.
With the poor weather finally a bad memory, the Lynx rotation have been able to settle into a routine and continues to keep the team in ball games. Starters Mazzone, Happ, Childers, (rough first start, solid second), Segovia and Crowell have for the most part been solid, (Crowell had a rough first start-1.1 IP, 5 ER-but was better his second start). This makes the bullpen more effective as Russell has been seldom forced to call upon them early in the game, therefore keeping their workload at a level which keeps the relievers sharp but not over worked. The pen has five saves to date and four wins.
The Ottawa Lynx finished up their four game home opening series of the 2007 season with a 3-1 loss to the Charlotte Knights, their first loss of this opening home stand. In Friday’s finale against Charlotte, Knight righty and former Philadelphia prospect Gavin Floyd, (1-1), prevented a sweep by Ottawa, pitching six innings allowing only one run on five hits. Ryan Sweeney homered and drove in a pair of runs, all the runs Charlotte would need. Lynx starter Zack Segovia, (0-2) surrendered all three Knight runs, pitching seven innings for his second loss of the season.
Ottawa’s next opponent on this home stand, a two game series, was New York Yankees affiliate Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Game one proved to be a blowout in favour of Ottawa. It one of those games you have to mark down as, well, just one of those games that happen sometimes. Ottawa fell behind 3-0 in the first only to put six runs of there own on the board-Ottawa 6-3 after one inning. Scranton starter Steven Jackson, (1-1) lasted just 3.2 innings, giving up eight runs, (four earned), while Lynx starter Jim Crowell managed only four innings giving up four runs as well. Ottawa lead 9-4 until in the eighth inning they scored eight runs and put the game well out of reach. Justin Pope replaced fellow reliever Ron Villone and before his third of an inning was over, he was charged with seven runs on seven hits. Scranton made three errors in the game. Lynx second baseman Joe Thurston knocked in five runs. Lynx reliever Fabio Castro, (2-0) scooped up the 17-4 win for Ottawa. The second game of the series, also won by Ottawa, (4-3), featured the third consecutive solid start by rookie A.J.. Happ, (1-0) who this time went six innings giving up only three hits and two runs while striking out six. Ottawa got three of their runs of Scranton starter Ben Kozlowski, (1-2), who lasted only 2.1 innings. The Ottawa reliever gave up a run in the ninth but was able to save the Lynx victory, his third save of the season. Gary Burnham and Joe Thurston had two hits and a run batted in apiece. The Lynx outscored the Yankees 21-7 in this two game series.
Tuesday was the first game of a short three game road trip to Scranton and the Lynx continued their winning ways with a 9-2 victory, scoring five runs in the ninth, (the decisive hit the King home run). Brian Mazone, (2-1) pitched 5.2 innings of shutout ball and Brennan King drove in three runs. Joe Thurston knocked out three hits, raising his average to .340. Wednesday’s scheduled game was rained out but the two teams were able to play yesterdays scheduled game. Ottawa had their win streak snapped, losing 3-1 as Scranton scored twice in the first inning off of Lynx starter Zach Segovia, (0-3) and Matt DeSalvo, (2-0), held Ottawa hitters to four hits and no runs in his six innings of work. Segovia allowed only three runs over seven innings but took the loss.
Ottawa is 8-7, 2.5 games back of Rochester. Ottawa leads the IL in team batting average at .291, (Carlos Leon hitting .400 although with only ten at bats-Jaramillo is second hitting .364). Chris Roberson continues to lead the team in RBI with 12. Lynx pitching ranks eleventh in team ERA at 4.24. Brian Mazzone leads the team with an ERA of 1.90 and is tied with Fabio Castro with two wins. Brian Sanches leads with three saves.
Lynx Weekly Notes: Jim Crowell was released and veteran Pedro Swann was sent to AA Reading on Monday April 23. Crowell had made two starts for the Lynx this season, pitching 5.1 innings with an ERA of 15.19. Swann was hitting .333, (3-9) with a pair of doubles and three runs batted in. Also Monday, relief pitcher Rick Bauer and catcher Dusty Wathan were added to the Lynx roster, Bauer assigned from Philadelphia and Wathan coming up from Reading where he had been on the temporary inactive list. Bauer could be a nice addition to the ball club. He pitched for Ottawa last season but was often ineffective due mainly to a less than solid defence. Bauer is the type of pitcher who depends on the defence in order to be successful and Ottawa has been solid in that area. Wathan will bring a strong veteran presence behind the plate and will help not only the pitching staff but the development of Jaramillo.
Update: (April 26, 2007). The Philadelphia Phillies optioned lefty Matt Smith to Ottawa and recalled Fabio Castro.