After dropping their first game in July, the Bats reeled off five wins in a row, including four consecutive victories over division rival Indianapolis, a streak that was capped by a back-to-back shutouts in a doubleheader sweep on July 5th in Indy. Louisville returned home after its five-game roll to net three straight two-game series splits, one against each of its divisional opponents: Indianapolis, the Toledo Mud Hens, and the division-leading Columbus Clippers.
With the improved play, Louisville stands at 44-48, and while they are still looking up at the rest of the division, the gap has substantially narrowed from just a month ago. The Bats sit just a half-game behind Toledo, and four behind an Indians team they took five of six from this past week. Columbus, who has the second best record in the International League, still boasts a comfortable seven-and-a-half game lead over anyone else in the division. While a third straight division crown seems light years away, Louisville does get nine more shots at the Clippers this season, giving them ample opportunity to make up some ground. Even if the deficit proves too much to overcome, the Bats currently sit just seven-and-a-half games back of the league's wild card leader, putting them within striking distance of another playoff berth.
Louisville's recent success has been a true team effort, as the offense and defense have both taken turns stealing the show. Since moving into the cleanup spot early in the month, top prospect Todd Frazier has played his best offensive ball of the season, hitting .385 over his last 11 games to increase his batting average 22 points. Fellow top prospects Yonder Alonso and Juan Francisco have also heated up, as Francisco has smashed four homers over his last 13 contests, while Alonso has hit .400 with 10 RBIs in 10 July games.
Two lesser heralded players have also been raking for the Bats, as Danny Dorn has been a beast since coming off the disabled list in late June, hitting .385. Utility player Michael Griffin, who has played five different positions since being called up from double-A two months ago, is now hitting .318 for the season thanks to multi-hit games in four of the last five contests he has started.
With starting pitchers Sam LeCure, Travis Wood, and Matt Maloney all getting called up to Cincinnati over the past few months, a tip of the cap must be given to the new fleet of Bats' starters. The quartet of Chad Reineke, Ben Jukich, Matt Klinker, and Jesus Delgado has filled in admirably, especially in the month of July, when the team's staff has registered shutouts in four of its eight wins. Also lending a helping hand over the past month has been a rehabilitating Edinson Volquez, who is undefeated with a 1.96 ERA in four starts.
Since losing some leads early in the year, Louisville's bullpen has also gelled recently, as Daniel Ray Herrera, Carlos Fisher, and Jared Burton have solidified the relief situation. Although Herrera, Fisher, and Enerio Del Rosario are back with the Bats after up-and-down early-season performances with the Reds, all three have combined with Burton to pitch effectively with the Bats, giving the club a boost in late-inning situations.
Louisville will look to continue their momentum as they kick off the second half of their season at home on Thursday night against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. First pitch will be at 7:05PM, with the Budweiser Happy Hour starting at 5:30PM. The series with the Iron Pigs will be a four-game set, which will preclude an eight-game road trip, where the Bats will travel to Charlotte and Gwinnett.