Helloooooo First Place…

Last night the Charlotte Knights picked up a 3-1 win over the Toledo Mud Hens in game one of their four-game series from Toledo. That win, combined with a Lehigh Valley win over Gwinnett (10-1), pushed the Knights to first place in the IL South Division. That’s right — your 2012 Charlotte Knights are in first place! It’s the first time the team is in first place since April 7 of this season when they were 2-1.

If you haven’t been out to a game this season, well, what are you waiting for? There’s something special going on this season with the Knights. The team has had an outstanding season so far, and, as we begin the first full week of June, there’s a lot to be happy about!

Today, let’s take a look at the pitching…

As a team, the Knights have the second-best ERA in the IL. Their 3.14 mark is second only to Indianapolis, who boasts a 3.05 ERA. Their 468 strikeouts as a team are third in the IL and they have some of the top starters in the league as well.

Tonight’s starter is LHP Charlie Leesman (5-4, 2.50), who enters the day with the third-best ERA in the IL. Leesman will look for a win tonight against the Mud Hens in game two of the series. He has a win in three of his last four games.

RHP Terry Doyle (5-3, 3.04) is the reigning IL Pitcher of the Week. Doyle, who has won four-straight starts, won the award on Monday after going 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in two starts last week. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning on Memorial Day (Monday, May 28) and has been excellent for the Knights this season.

RHP Dylan Axelrod (4-3, 2.89), who has appeared in three games for the White Sox this season, ranks sixth in the IL in ERA. Axelrod has struck-out nine batters in a game twice this season and will look to get back to his winning ways in his next start, which is set for Friday in Toledo.

RHP Charlie Shirek (6-3, 3.82) has won three of his last four games and was already named as an IL Pitcher of the Week this season. The North Dakota native is 5-1 with a 3.28 ERA at home this season and 6-0 with a 3.21 ERA in nine starts at night.

RHP Matt Zaleski (2-2, 5.23) rounds out the rotation and has been sharp over his last two outings. He’s allowed just one run over his last two starts (12.2 IP) and has nine strikeouts over that span.

Left-handers Leyson Septimo and Donnie Veal have been lights-out this season. Septimo has a 2-1 record with one save and a 1.14 ERA. He’s also fanned 30 over 23.2 innings pitched. Veal is 2-0 with one save and an ERA of 1.13! He has 27 strikeouts over 24 innings pitched.

RHP Deunte Heath, who earned the win last night, is 2-1 with one save and a 1.65 ERA. He has 32 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched.

Other members of the bullpen include Jhan Carlos Marinez (1-1, 3.60) — the seventh-best prospect in the White Sox system, as ranked by Baseball America, Anthony Carter (2-2, 1 save, 3.74 ERA), a member of the White Sox 40-man roster and RHP Brian Omogrosso (0-0, 1 save, 4.56 ERA).

Closing things out in the ninth inning is Brian Bruney, who saved his 10th game of the season last night. His 10 saves are the third highest in the IL. He also has a 2.16 ERA in 20 games this season.

On Thursday, we’ll take a look at the offense, which features some of the IL leaders in some of the top offensive categories. Stay tuned!

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