By BOB PUTNAM
© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 5, 2001
The Clearwater Phillies started a homestand Wednesday, complete with a fireworks show after the game.
The pyrotechnics had more to do with the team's Fourth of July celebration at Jack Russell Stadium, but it was fitting it came just when the Phillies started showing some spark of their own.
A week ago, Clearwater was next-to-last in the Western Division, four games behind Charlotte, which won the first-half title. The Phillies got to play only four games last week due to rain, but they made each one count. Clearwater is on a four-game winning streak, currently the best in the FSL.
The streak includes a three-game sweep of the Rangers in Charlotte, which helped the Phillies vault into first place.
During the streak, Clearwater has relied on timely hitting and strong pitching. For example, Rusty McNamara and Nate Espy had multi-hit games and Miguel Asencio earned his team-best seventh win. Just as important to the Phillies' success is something they have counted on all season -- aggressive baserunning.
Last week, the team stole eight bases to add to its league-leading total of 119. Jay Sitzman has 26 stolen bases, and Anderson Machado has 22.
Jason Johnson also has 22, but he was promoted to Class AA Reading in May.
TAMPA: Right-hander Colter Bean was named the FSL pitcher of the week. He went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, allowing 9 hits and 3 walks while striking out 11 in 16 innings.
On offense, Mitch Jones leads the league in home runs (14), doubles (24) and extra-base hits (41). Mike Vento leads the league in triples (9).
DUNEDIN: The Blue Jays continue to lead the league in hitting (.265 average) but rank last in ERA (4.34). Part of the pitching woes stem from allowing walks. Chuck Kegley leads the league in walks issued with 47, and Aaron Dean is fifth with 39.