Threshers sweep into playoffs

Bastardo pitches division clincher in Florida State League debut

(Tom Priddy/MLB.com)

September 1, 2007 7:37 PM ET

Antonio Bastardo's Florida State League debut was a momentous one.

Bastardo struck out 12 in five innings Saturday as the Clearwater Threshers edged the Lakeland Flying Tigers, 6-5, to sweep their doubleheader and clinch the West Division second-half title.

The Threshers (43-26), who cruised to an 11-1 win in the opener, will face first-half champion Sarasota in the opening round of the playoffs, beginning Tuesday. Clearwater has not won the FSL championship since 1993.

Bastardo (1-0) allowed four runs on five hits and three walks. The 21-year-old left-hander, whose previous high was 10 strikeouts, went 9-0 with a 1.87 ERA in 15 starts for Class A Lakewood before his promotion on Monday.

Brett Harker pitched a perfect seventh for his 13th save.

"I knew he struck out a lot, but I didn't realize he had 12," said Clearwater's Drew Carpenter, who combined on a one-hitter in the opener. "He had a good fastball, he was hitting his spots. We knew he was 9-0 at Lakewood, which is ridiculous, so we knew he was good, but for him to come out and do that, it was big for us. Hopefully, he can help us win the whole thing."

After squandering an early four-run lead, Clearwater took the lead for good in the fifth. Jason Donald, Jake Blalock and Clay Harris walked to load the bases with two outs before Matt Thayer greeted reliever Brendan Wise with a two-run single.

"Winning both those games is huge today," said Carpenter, who shares the Minor League lead with 17 wins. "We clinched with a little help when Tampa and Dunedin lost, so it worked out in our favor."

Thayer also had an RBI single in a three-runsecond for the Threshers, who improved to 82-57 overall, including 44-26 at home. The division title comes after Clearwater placed two players -- left-hander Josh Outman and catcher Lou Marson -- on the FSL postseason All-Star Team.

Outman went 10-4 with 117 strikeouts in 117 1/3 innings and led the league with a 2.45 ERA before a promotion to Double-A Reading. Marson is batting .289 with seven homers and 63 RBIs in 111 games.

On Monday, Carpenter tossed a seven-inning perfect game at Fort Myers. He and Bastardo should be a formidable starting combination in the playoffs.

"I'm just trying to keep my arm in shape towards the end of the season. It's been a long year," said Carpenter. "I've been trying to run a lot and keep my arm in shape and stay healthy rest of the way.

"We're on a hot streak right now, which is good. Hopefully, we can keep this going and win a championship."

Lakeland (24-46) tied it in the top of the fifth as Ovandy Suero lifted a sacrifice fly, Ryan Roberson lined an RBI single and Cale Iorg delivered a two-run double. Dusty Ryan plated a run with a groundout in the seventh, but the Flying Tigers could not tie it up.

Lakeland starter Lucas French (5-14) lost his seventh straight decision after surrendering six runs -- five earned -- on six hits and five walks with seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.

Danny Wild is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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