ALLENTOWN – 'Hot' does not begin to describe the Lehigh Valley IronPIgs. After Sunday's 8-6 win over the Gwinnett Braves, Lehigh Valley has now won six in a row to maintain their four game lead at the top of the International League North Division.
After three years of misery, this year's version of the IronPigs is treating the fans solid baseball in all facets of the game.
"All phases of the game have improved as the season started and I feel like we are [running] on all cylinders. I think any part of the game can win us a game right now," 'Pig manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Lately, they have been using many combinations to win games and yesterday was no exception.
The IronPigs (27-16) dashed out to 4-0 lead in the first inning with a bases loaded walk to Josh Barfield and a bases clearing double by Jeff Larish. Two innings later Barfield belted his fourth dinger of the season to drive in three more for a 7-1 lead.
Ryan Feierabend pitched well for the IronPigs despite giving up six runs. The left-hander struck out six and walked none, but was victimized by the long ball for the ninth and tenth time.
Stefan Gartrell got all of a Feierabend offing in the second inning and gave up a three-run blast to Dan Nelson in the seventh to cut the IronPig lead to 7-6.
"He was looking for a ground ball in his last batter. He is a ground ball type of pitcher. The batter reacted to a change up that might have been up a little bit."
Juan Perez forced two groundouts to end the inning and Scott Mathieson, fresh from his return from Philadelphia, pitched two shutout innings for his second IronPig save.
LV did respond to all of the Brave momentum in the seventh inning. The bats, which were loud and booming early on, suffered through 14 straight outs before Tag Bozied drew a two out walk off Gwinnett reliever Steve Shell.
Ronnie Belliard and Delwyn Young each followed with singles to give Lehigh Valley the 8-6 margin and breathing room for the final six outs.
"Fortunately enough we had good offense today early on. We didn't add on later until we needed to," Sandberg said.
Tonight, Nate Bump (2-3, 5.44) will start for Lehigh Valley in place of Vance Worley who was recalled to start for the Phillies tonight. Bump and the 'Pigs will face one of minor-league baseball's best pitching prospects in Julio Teheran (3-0, 1.91).
Piglets: Lehigh Valley…
- is now 19-5 when hitting a homerun.
- is 8-1 in one-run games. Last season they had a league worst 16-35 record in those contests.
- is 14-6 on the road and has not lost a road series.
- is in first-place in the International League North Division, four games ahead of Pawtucket.
- bullpen is 13-4 with a 2.48 ERA through the first 42 games
- catcher Erik Kratz has three game winning RBI in the last seven games. All after the 6th inning.
- OFer Rich Thompson leads the league in stolen bases going 17-for-17. Since August 24, 2010 he is 24-for-24.