On a day when the Cleveland Indians were celebrating a big win against the Tampa Bay Rays, the farm system struggled. The Columbus Clippers, still dealing with the effects of all their weather-delayed games, dropped both games of a doubleheader and the Akron RubberDucks lost their first game of the season on Clint Frazier's off day.
Columbus Clippers 4, Louisville Bats 5 (Game 1)
Box Score · Clippers fall to 2-2
The Columbus Clippers are playing their second doubleheader in four days. Weirdly enough, that might take a toll on a team. This first game was a close, low-scoring contest until the fifth inning. Ryan Merritt did not have his best stuff, but he was at least keeping the game under control until a fifth-inning collapse that saw the Louisville Bats notch four straight hits and draw two walks. By the end of it, Louisville added on three runs and were up 4-1.
Columbus bounced back in the bottom of the frame with a run of their off of a Jesus Aguilar single that scored catcher Anthony Recker. That run would not be enough, as the Bats scored again with a solo home run off Felipe Paulino in the top of the sixth and kept the Clippers at bay.
Joey Butler, who the Indians signed this offseason, also homered today for the second straight game.
Columbus Clippers 1, Louisville Bats 6 (Game 2)
Box Score · Clippers fall to 2-3
Things only got worse for Columbus in the second game. Reliever Tommy Hunter started the game as part of his rehab stint, throwing for a lone inning and allowing three hits and an earned run. Jarrett Grube managed the second and part of the third inning. Until he allowed three hits, that is, including a bases-clearing double that scored three runs.
As it turns out, the Bats did not even need all those runs. The Columbus offense tallied only four hits in the entire game. Two came from second baseman Michael Martinez, who was hitting leadoff. Jesus Aguilar also hit his second of the day, and Robbie Grossman added another on the season.
Giovanny Urshela was a combined 0-for-6 in the two games today. He has still failed to register a hit in the Clippers' five games -- he is 0-for-15 with three strikeouts to start the year.
Columbus currently has the worst batting average in the International League, and they are also right towards the bottom in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Their only saving grace, offensively, is their three home runs, which is tied for third in the league. They have scored only 11 runs, the second-worst total in the IL, ahead of only the Indianapolis Indians who have scored just eight times.
Akron RubberDucks 5, Altoona Curve 9
Box Score · RubberDucks fall to 5-1
We knew the Akron RubberDucks probably would not go undefeated in the Eastern League, and they finally suffered their first loss last night. Even in defeat, this offense looked great. Everyone in the lineup except for third baseman Yandy Diaz tallied a hit, with catcher Alex Monsalve leading the way going 2-for-4 with a home run.
Clint Frazier had the night off, and fellow top prospect Bradley Zimmer struggled, going 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. Strikeouts are usually not an area of concern for Zimmer, but a couple of bad games have put him tied for fourth in the Eastern League with nine whiffs. He is also tied for second in home runs (and the team has only played six games) so there is no need to panic quite yet.
Starting pitcher Adam Plutko just did not have it tonight. He lasted only an inning, and allowing him to stay in for the full three outs was generous. The first six Altoona batters made it on base, including a bunt for a hit, until Plutko finally struck out Jin-De Jhang. By then, most of the damage was already done, and the next batter singled home two more runs. Plutko was pulled for Justin Brantley before the second inning. All told, Plutko finished the night allowing five hits, five earned runs, and two walks in just 1.0 inning.
The Altoona offense jumped on Brantley and reliever Perci Garner as well, scoring four runs over the next six innings that the two worked.
Akron still leads the Eastern League in OPS (.838) and home runs (12) by a large margin. This team should be fun to watch as long as Frazier, Zimmer, and Nellie Rodriguez are around. They just have to shake off a pitching meltdown like what happened yesterday and push forward. Luckily for them, forward right now includes Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley joining them at the home opener for their next rehab starts.
Lynchburg Hillcats 4, Potomac Patriots 7
Box Score · Hillcats fall to 4-3
The Hillcats should be relieved this series is over. They did manage to win one game against the Potomac Patriots, but all told they lost the series by a combined score of 11 to 20, including Monday's 1-10 blowout. They managed to keep things close Wednesday, but the result was still the same.
Potomac got on the board early in this contest, scoring two runs in the second inning and three in the third. All five runs were attributed to Hillcats starting pitcher Mitch Brown, who went 4.2 innings while allowing six hits and issuing five walks.
Lynchburg bats came alive in the fourth and fifth innings -- scoring twice in each frame -- but it was not enough. Potomac also tacked on two insurance runs late to ensure victory heading into the ninth inning with a three-run lead.
Bobby Bradley was 2-for-4, including a big fourth-inning home run, but he also struck out two more times. He has now whiffed eight times this season, tied for the third most in the Carolina League. We knew this would be an issue with Bradley, but now that he has finally hit a home run in 2016 maybe we will start to see the power that lead to an organization-leading 27 homers last season. Also, perspective is important. Bradley may only have one home run so far, but only two batters in the Carolina League have more than one in this young season.
Second baseman Claudio Bautista went 1-for-4 and he has now registered a hit in every game this season for the Hillcats. Only getting one hit did snap Bautista's multi-game hit streak, but he is still one of the hottest hitters in Lynchburg right now. He leads the team in hits (7), batting average (.438), and on-base percentage (.474).
Lake County Captains 5, West Michigan Whitecaps 4
Box Score · Captains advance to 5-2
To find the only winning farm team on Wednesday you'd have to look all the way down to Class-A and the Lake County Captains. The Captains won late against the West Michigan Whitecaps, completing the three-game sweep of their Midwest League rivals.
The top three batters in the Captains lineup -- Sam Haggerty, Nathan Lukes, and Willi Castro -- were a combined 6-for-14, scoring two of the team's five runs.
Two of the Captains' runs came in the fourth inning off of an error that allowed Francisco Mejia and Nathan Winfrey to score.