All told, Tuesday was a pretty good day for the Cleveland Indians farm system. All four teams won, the RubberDucks remained undefeated (albeit barely), and most importantly Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall finally began their rehab assignments. It might be a long road back for Brantley, but this was a good first step.
Columbus Clippers 5, Louisville Bats 1
Box Score · Clippers advance to 2-1
The Columbus Clippers finally got to play a baseball game at its regularly scheduled time. They took advantage of it by taking down the Louisville Bats on the back of a big fifth inning. The Clippers lead was not expanded up until that four-run fifth inning, but some familiar names got the scoring started in the first inning.
Michael Brantley, making his first rehab start since shoulder surgery last November, sliced a ball down the left-field line for a double in his first at-bat. Two batters later Lonnie Chisenhall, also making a rehab start, got him home with a sacrifice fly. Brantley was pulled in the game at the top of the fifth inning and replaced by Joey Butler. In a post-game interview, Brantley said he was only scheduled for five innings, so everything is going to plan so far.
TJ House had a rough first inning, in which he allowed a triple, two singles and he issued a walk, but he figured out the Louisville lineup quickly after that. He scattered two more hits over the next five innings on his way to a victory. Kyle Crockett and Jeff Johnson -- who could both see some time in the majors this season -- closed out the game tallying two strikeouts and one strikeout, respectively.
As a team, the Columbus offense has struggled in their first three games. They are currently second-to-last in batting average and on-base percentage in the International League. Hopefully playing more with fewer weather interruptions will allow the offense to get back on track.
Akron RubberDucks 7, Altoona Curve 6
Box Score · RubberDucks advance to 5-0
Akron did almost everything in its power to blow a five-run lead, but in the end the stellar RubberDuck offense was enough to keep them undefeated. Top prospects Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier cooled off a bit after their big Monday night showings. Zimmer was 0-for-3 with two walks and two strikeouts, while Frazier was 1-for-6 with a double and two strikeouts.
First baseman Nellie Rodriguez started the scoring with a solo home run in the second inning, his second shot of the season.
Frazier may not have had a huge home run, but his lone hit was an important one. His big hit to deep center in the fourth inning was enough to clear the bases and score Jeremy Lucas, Joe Sever, and Eric Stamets. At that point, he turned a 2-0 lead into a 5-0 lead.
Starting pitcher Dace Kime was putting together a solid outing until the sixth inning, when he issued a walk, a single, and a bases clearing triple that allowed the Curve to cut the lead down to 5-3. Antonio Romero made matters worse by having an equally large collapse in the seventh inning. He did not register a single out in the disastrous seventh inning. JP Feyereisen came into the game and mercifully shut down the Curve offense over the next two innings to earn his second hold of the season. He has yet to allow a run this season.
The 'Ducks also had a tremendous triple play started by Clint Frazier. At the time, the Altoona Curve had runners on first and second with a chance at taking over the lead. Frazier's big play stopped that from happening.
Lynchburg Hillcats 6, Potomac Patriots 3
Box Score · Hillcats advance to 4-2
The Lynchburg Hillcats bounced back from a big 10-1 loss on Monday with a 6-3 win over the Potomac Patriots on Tuesday. Staff ace Justus Sheffield threw six shutout innings and held Patriot batters to just two hits while striking out six. So far in two starts this season, Sheffield has allowed just two runs in 12.0 innings. The first Patriots run of the game came when reliever Cameron Hill allowed four straight hits to start the seventh inning.
Third baseman Claudio Bautista lead the way offensively for the Hillcats with two hits, a walk, and a run scored. Power-hitting first baseman Bobby Bradley had a rough night, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.
Lake County Captains 9, West Michigan Whitecaps 7
Box Score · Captains advance to 3-2
Catcher Francisco Mejia got an off day after being just a home run shy of the cycle Monday. The rest of the lineup picked up the slack for Lake County, namely shortstop Willi Castro, who went 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. Martin Cervenka, standing in for Mejia at catcher, was also 2-for-5 with an RBI, although he also struck out twice.