Everything has a beginning, and everything has an end...

... but right now we're smack dab in the middle of the Lugnuts' domination of the Great Lakes Loons.  Sunday's win improved the Lugs to 9-1 against Great Lakes this year.

This could very well turn around any day -- like, say, tonight -- but it's certainly been fun.  When the Lugs blew their 5-0 lead in the 6th inning, I still had perfect confidence that the team was going to find a way to win.

And then Kevin Patterson homered, and that was that.  Ballgame.

Still, it's worth remembering that Minor League teams never remain the same over the course of the season, even if some of the players stick around from start to finish.  Everyone's working, growing, and improving.  Injuries rise up.  There are promotions, demotions, and possible trades.

The Lansing Lugnuts at the start of June are currently a middle-of-the-pack Eastern Division team, clearly worse than South Bend and Fort Wayne, clearly better than Great Lakes and Lake County.

Come July and August, expect the tune to have changed.

Courtesy - Scott Mapes, Lansing Lugnuts
* * *

Quick!  Name the pitcher in the picture to the right.

It's Arik Sikula, who converted his sixth save of the season to lock up the win Sunday.  He was a multi-sport athlete growing up in West Virginia, the fourth of four boys.

After attending Marshall University, where he majored in Accounting and Finance, Arik was drafted in the 36th round of the 2011 draft by the Blue Jays.  This is his first year in the Midwest League.

Here's his Baseball-Reference page.

* * *

Speaking of relievers, I was all set to write an entry dedicated to Wil Browning, who had been so lights-out through April and May.

The basic gist of the piece:  "Wil Browning hasn't been promoted yet to Dunedin... but he should be soon," or something of that sort.  I was convinced, you see, that Wil had mastered the Midwest League level and was ready for a new challenge.  But this road trip has brought unexpected events. An appearance after giving up three runs at Fort Wayne, the Mississippi native allowed four runs at Great Lakes, and his ERA has jumped from 0.36 to 2.63.

(Not to be outdone, previously spotless southpaw Efrain Nieves was touched up a bit by the Loons the next day.)

I believe wholeheartedly that Wil will right the ship before long and return to his previous untouchable self, but it's a worthy reminder that:  1) though baseball's a game, it certainly isn't easy, and 2) it doesn't matter who you are, everyone slumps during the season.

Just remember Yogi Berra's alleged quote:  "Good pitching beats good hitting -- and vice versa."

*  *  *

Have you bought The Baseball Thesaurus yet?  If you have, bring it to the ballpark and I'll personally inscribe it for you.


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