MIDLAND, Mich. - The Great Lakes Loons are coming off of a three-game series in which they scored 25 runs and nearly tied the team record for runs in a game.
That's not necessarily out of the ordinary for a club which leads the Midwest League in runs, hits, RBI, total bases and stolen bases, and has the league's leading hitter in Joey Curletta (.352 average).
Not to be lost in all that offense against the first-place West Michigan Whitecaps, however, was the strong work of a pitching staff that has struggled at times. The Loons gave up only seven runs in the three games, and out-pitched a West Michigan team which leads the league in ERA.
It's a trend the Loons would certainly like to continue when they begin a four-game series at Dow Diamond tonight against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The Loons are 18-21 and at least still in the conversation when it comes to the Midwest League Eastern Division first-half playoff race.
"There's a lot of teams still in this thing," Loons manager Bill Haselman said after his team's 17-1 win over West Michigan on Monday. "Our thing is that we just have to take it game by game and not get ahead of ourselves."
Bowling Green, at 17-21, is another team lingering at the edges of the first-half Eastern Division playoff race. Moreover, the Hot Rods swept a three-game series from the Loons earlier this month.
The Loons received a strong pitching performance from one of its newcomers, Luis DePaula, yesterday, and will start another recent addition tonight. Scott Barlow (0-0, 4.05) makes his second start of the season.
Barlow, who joined the Loons two weeks ago following extended spring training in Arizona, is a former 6th round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers who underwent Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow in 2012. Barlow's first start with Great Lakes was one of the best performances by a Loons starter all year, as he pitched six scoreless innings against Dayton on May 5 and allowed just one baserunner.
Barlow will face Bowling Green righty German Marquez (1-1, 2.03 ERA). Only 19, Marquez is rated as the 7th-best right-handed starting pitching prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays' organization. Marquez held the Loons scoreless in five innings of work on May 3 at Bowling Green.
Bowling Green's roster includes three players ranked among the Tampa Bay organization's Top 30 players by Baseball America: pitcher Ryan Sanek (12), pitcher Blake Snell (14) and catcher Oscar Hernandez (24).
Among the Dodgers list of Top 30 prospects are Loons Jacob Scavuzzo (15), Zachary Bird (21), Jesmuel Valentin (22), Victor Arano (30).
Tonight is $1 Family Feast Night at Dow Diamond. Fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs, 16 oz. Pepsi products, ice cream sandwiches and Better Made chips all evening long.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets or information about the team, call 989-837-BALL , or visit loons.com.