Portland Sea Dogs - 47-40, 1st place, 2 games ahead - (TRE 7/POR 6, POR 4/TRE 0, NH 6/POR 3, NH 4/POR 0, POR 3/NH 0, POR 4/NH 1)
Heading into the AA All-Star break, a 3-3 week against the 2nd and 3rd place teams in the Eastern League allowed the Sea Dogs to maintain their first place lead in the division. They even managed to increase their lead by a game and are now 2 games ahead of Toronto's AA team, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and 2.5 ahead of the Yankees farm team, the Trenton Thunder.
The three wins came on the three great performances from the starters. John Lester just keeps on getting better and better. He threw 7 innings of 1 hit ball last week, walking only 1 and striking out 13 in an incredible start. The game was shortened because it was part of a double header so the 7 innings was enough for the complete game. Lester's microscopic ERA of 2.38 is best in the Eastern league and his 114 K's are good enough for second. He's only 21 so his promotion to Pawtucket might have to wait until next year, but the guy is pitching like he's ready now. The second game of the double header was started by David Pauley who has been a solid #3 starter for the Sea Dogs. He was roughed up in his first start of the week going 6.1 innings and allowed 5 runs, but only 2 of them were earned. He allowed 5 hits, one of them a home run, and walked only 1 while striking out 5. In his second start of the week he also went the whole game as part of the double header. He lasted 7 innings allowing only 1 unearned run on 4 hits and no walks. He struck out 5. Pauley has a 3.51 ERA in 97.1 innings to go with 0.83 HR/9, 6.19 K/9, and 2.22 BB/9, all solid but unspectacular numbers. The third win of the week came on a game started by the recently called up Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez went 4 scoreless innings, striking out 6 and walking 2 while allowing only 2 hits. It was a very solid debut for the 22 year old and the Sea Dogs still have that fierce 1-2 combo at the top of their rotation, now with Lester/Sanchez instead of Papelbon/Lester.
There were no real offensive standouts on the week although Hanley Ramirez did hit his 5th home run of the year to go along with a 5-16 week and Kenny Perez had a solid 8-25 week and hit his 3rd home run of the year. Ramirez still isn't having the kind of season we'd all like him to be having with a .277/.339/.417 line in 278 AB's so far, but he's starting to heat up with 3 HR's in the last 2 weeks and he's showing some pretty impressive speed with 18 steals in 24 attempts. Perez has a .297/.335/.381 line in 202 AB's, but he is still making solid contact only striking out 29 times in 202 AB's. He needs to start showing a little more extra base power and start taking a few more walks, however. Brandon Moss's performance also stood out, but for all the wrong reasons. Moss went 4-24 on the week and struck out 7 times. He's not getting any better. His hot streak and All-Star appearance are hiding the fact that he's having a bad season, but just barely.