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Pitching props up Yankees

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 30, 2001


The Tampa Yankees have the worst batting average in the Florida State League (.243), are last in hits (596) and have scored the third-fewest runs (312).

So it's understandable that the team's mantra has been pitching.

But even their trump card appeared to be flushed after Brandon Claussen was promoted to Class AA Norwich.

Claussen posted a 5-2 record, had a 2.73 ERA and recorded 69 strikeouts in 56 innings.

However, Tampa didn't lose much on the mound thanks to a nice trade-off.

Taking Claussen's place in the rotation is Dave Martinez, who was leading the South Atlantic League in ERA (1.13) before being promoted from Greensboro.

Martinez joins a rotation that includes plenty of prospects, including Danny Borrell and former Jesuit standout Sam Marsonek. There also is closer Oscar Martinez, who's tied for fourth in the league in saves (13).

The only thing the staff doesn't have yet is a lot of wins.

The Yankees were 29-37 during the first half, last in the Western Division. Given the lack of run support, the blame cannot be put solely on the pitching.

Although the Yankees rank seventh in ERA (3.54), they have given up the fewest number of walks (214) and the third-fewest home runs (31). They also have recorded the second-most strikeouts (618).

However, the wins that were once hard to come by are starting to come around. The Yankees are 5-3 in the second half and in third place in the division.

CLEARWATER: The loss of Jason Johnson, who was promoted to Class AA Reading, hasn't kept the Phillies from keeping their britches dirty.

Clearwater, which leads the league in stolen bases (113), has continued to blaze a trail around the bases. Jay Sitzman, the leadoff hitter, is second in the league with 25. Johnson had 22 before he was promoted.

DUNEDIN: The Blue Jays lead the league in batting average (.266) and runs scored (385). ... Rich Thompson leads the league in runs scored (57), is second in hits (86) and fifth in hitting (.309). ... Jimmy Alvarez is second in runs scored with 50.

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