The Syracuse Chiefs gave the Alliance Bank Stadium crowd a thrill by sweeping a doubleheader in their day-delayed home opener April 14. It's all been downhill from there.
The top farm club of the Washington Nationals, the Chiefs lost five in a row, before Syracuse's star southpaw, Ross Detwiler, eked out a 6-3 victory April 20 over the Pawtucket Red Sox although he allowed nine hits over seven innings.
The Chiefs promptly dropped two more games, one to the Sox and one to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, before starter Craig Stammen threw a complete-game 2-0 shutout on April 23 to stop the bleeding in Pennsylvania.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander threw 94 pitches, 66 for strikes, in seven innings of four-hit, no-run ball.
Stammen's fastball doesn't overpower batters but he locates it on the edges of the plate while keeping them off-balance with a mix of speeds on his other four pitches - curveball, changeup, slider and a two-seamer.
The road to success has been a bumpy one for the hurler from the University of Dayton. After bouncing around the lower minors for four seasons, in 2009 he landed in Syracuse where he suddenly blossomed.
Stammen went 4-2 with a 1.80 earned-run average for the Chiefs and, was promoted to Washington where he remained until last August, going 8-11 over two big-league seasons. His Achilles' heel in the show was an annoying gopher ball - he gave up 14 home runs in '09 and 13 more in '10.
But he hasn't allowed one out yet this season pitching for Syracuse where he's 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA, 16 strikeouts and three walks over nearly 19 innings.
Unfortunately, the day after Stammen preserved a Chiefs' split in a doubleheader versus the Triple-A Yankees, the Chiefs lost again, 3-2
The team returns home at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, April 26-28, against the Toledo Mudhens. That series concludes at 7 p.m. Friday, April 29, before the Rochester Red Wings arrive at ABS at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1.
Alliance Bank Stadium is on the North Side, just east of the Regional Market. Field-level ticket prices range from $9 to $20, while upper-deck seats cost $8, and $4 for kids and seniors. Parking costs $5 per vehicle; 474-7833; syracusechiefs.com.