With Cody Anderson continuing to struggle in the Cleveland Indians rotation, we may see a minor-league pitcher make his debut sooner rather than later in the fifth rotation spot. The easy money is on Mike Clevinger getting called up first, but Ryan Merritt made his case last night with a complete game shutout in just 97 pitches -- something we call a Maddux 'round these parts.
In Double-A, the Akron RubberDucks continue to assert their dominance over the rest of the Eastern League, as the supremely talented offense clobbered Erie SeaWolves pitching on their way to a 12-5 victory.
Columbus Clippers 2, Lehigh Valley IronPigs 0
Box Score · Clippers improve to 19-11
The Columbus Clippers were the beneficiary of their first complete game shutout of the season and they needed every drop of it. Starting pitcher Ryan Merritt was spectacular while the offense did just enough to give him a win.
Merritt was able to finish the shutout with 97 pitches, completing his first-career Maddux in the minors. He struck out six IronPig batters on the night and walked just one. Merritt has yet to allow more than four runs in any game this season, and he has struck out at least six batters in his last three outings.
The first Columbus run came in the fifth inning off a Robbie Grossman home run, his sixth of the season. The second, and only other, run came in the eighth after Collin Cowgill stole second base to get into scoring position and Tyler Naquin plated him with a ground ball that found its way out into left field.
The Clippers were able to tally seven hits on the day, but they only struck out four times and walked once.
Akron RubberDucks 12, Erie SeaWolves 5
Box Score · RubberDucks improve to 21-9
The Akron RubberDucks appear to be back on track, as last night's win over (my hometown team) the Erie SeaWolves was their ninth win in their last 10 games. Despite a rough outing for reliever-turned-starter FD.J. Brown, the RubberDucks were able to pile on enough runs to make his four earned runs moot.
Bradley Zimmer continues to be red hot for the 'Ducks, and he went 3-for-4 with a home run tonight -- his seventh long ball of the season and his third-straight game with a homer. Zimmer is also nursing a nine-game on-base streak in which he has gone 11-for-37 with six walks and five home runs. His 13 strikeouts in that streak remain an issue; on the season, he has struck out in 31.1 percent of his at-bats, which will need to come down before he moves on to Triple-A.
Another top Indians prospect, Clint Frazier, recorded a double and two walks, scoring every time he got on base thanks to Yandy Diaz, Joe Sever, and Zimmer hitting well behind him. Diaz was pulled from the game in the third inning due to a hand issue, he is listed as day-to-day. Joe Sever was 2-for-3 while filling in for Diaz, including two runs batted in.
Catcher Jeremy Lucas currently has an eight-game on-base streak but has curiously only hit in half of those games. He has drawn nine of his 13 walks on the season in the past 10 games alone.
Despite a two-run second inning, D.J. Brown was able to remain in the game for 5.1 innings before being pulled for Antonio Romero. Romero was not much better, walking three and striking out just one batter in 2.1 innings, but he allowed one run. Grant Sides was able to record his first save of the season, a four-out affair in the final two frames.
The RubberDucks now sit atop the Eastern League Western Division standings and are second in the entire Eastern League to the Hartford Yard Goats, who currently hold a 22-8 record.
Lynchburg Hillcats 7, Potomac Nationals 2
Box Score · Hillcats improve to 22-8
Thanks to a series of rainouts and doubleheaders, it feels like the Lynchburg Hillcats have been playing the Potomac Nationals forever. And as the Hillcats have done so many times to the Nationals this season, they won in blowout fashion yesterday with a pair of three-run innings leading the way.
Right fielder Taylor Murphy, who is having a quietly good season in Lynchburg, was 3-for-5 today, with a run batted in and a run scored. Yu-Cheng Chang, Anthony Santander, and Daniel Salters all added two hits apiece, and Mark Mathias hit his ninth double of the season.
Starting pitcher Julian Merryweather has been unhittable this season, and he was equally as good on Monday. Over his 7.0 innings of work he struck out eight and walked just two batters. His lone earned run came off a solo home run he allowed in the 4th inning; by then the Hillcats were already up, 4-0. Merryweather already has four shutouts this season, and he has never allowed more than two runs in any outing. If there was a knock on his game to be found over his previous starts it was a lack of strikeouts, but his season-high eight K's last night should quell that worry for now.
Lake County Captains 2, West Michigan Whitecaps 7
Box Score· Captains fall to 19-12
Despite recording 11 hits on the day, an atrocious plate approach with runners on base resulted in just two runs for the Lake County Captains. As a team, Lake County was 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position and they stranded nine runners in total.
The Captains offense did not come alive until it was far too late. In the bottom of the ninth, already down 7-0, the Captains managed to get their first runs of the game thanks to a pair of singles from Bobby Ison and Ka'ai Tom that scored Nathan Lukes and Anthony Miller.
Nathan Lukes lead the way offensively with three hits. The only players in the Lake County lineup to not hit were third baseman Sam Haggerty and designated hitter Nathan Winfrey. Bobby Ison has struggled all season long, but he was able to record two hits today, his first hit since May 3, and his first multi-hit game since April 20.
Lake County starting pitcher Shao-Ching Chiang did not look bad yesterday in his 6.0 innings of work, allowng just three earned runs on six hits. He only struck out two batters, however.