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Indians minor league recap: McKenzie brilliant in first 2016 start

Adam Plutko and Nick Pasquale also have great days in their respective Triple-A and Double-A debuts.

After a solid 6-1 day for Tribe affiliates, the good times kept rolling as Indians minor league teams went 4-2 yesterday, buoyed by some stellar starting pitching including three pitchers who made their first starts with new teams after promotions.

Top Tribe prospect Tristen McKenzie turned heads in Mahoning Valley while Adam Plutko and Nick Pasquale led Columbus and Akron to wins respectively.

It was a good day.

Columbus Clippers 4, Syracuse Chiefs 3

Box Score · Clippers improve to 37-32

The Clippers offense wasn't great yesterday, managing only five hits on the day, but they made them count with perfect sequencing in a four-run fifth inning which saw Joey Butler, Erik Gonzalez and Yandy Diaz all collect RBI doubles.

The real story of the game was the Triple-A debut of Adam Plutko, who was recently promoted after Cody Anderson went on the disabled list with elbow soreness. Plutko was brilliant through the first five innings, only giving up one hit and holding Syracuse scoreless, but he ran into trouble in the sixth, giving up a two-run double before being pulled.

Thankfully the bullpen only gave up one run the rest of the way, slamming the door to give Plutko a well-earned win.

Akron RubberDucks 3, New Hampshire Fisher Cats 1

Box Score · RubberDucks improve to 40-29

Despite being outhit 8-2 on the day, Akron managed to manufacture three runs and pull out a victory.

Top Tribe prospect Bradley Zimmer would double in the first inning and score on a passed ball. In the fifth, Ivan Castillo would walk, be advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Zimmer and then scored on a ground out. Last but not least, Castillo would score an inside the park home run in the seventh inning.

The victory wouldn't have been possible if not for a spectacular performance by starting pitcher Nick Pasquale, who was making his Double-A debut after original starting pitcher Adam Plutko had been promoted. Pasquale went 5.1 innings, giving up one run on four hits while striking out five. Relievers Perci Garner and Nick Maronde shut the door to pick up a hold and save respectively.

Lynchburg Hillcats 3, Frederick Keys 4

Box Score · Hillcats fall to 45-24

After breezing through the first inning, top starting pitching prospect Justus Sheffield couldn't get out of the second, giving up four hits and walking three in the four-run inning.

The Hillcats offense tried to claw back into the game but their rally came up just short. Anthony Santander and Yu-Cheng Chang collected solo homers in the fourth and seventh innings, but they couldn't quite tie the game despite the heroic efforts of the bullpen as Luke Eubank, Cameron Hill and Jordan Milbrath combined for 6.1 shutout innings while giving up just two hits and striking out five.

Lake County Captains 6, South Bend Cubs 4 (F/10)

Box Score · Captains improve to 40-29

In a wild back-and-forth game, first baseman Anthony Miller would be the hero with a two-out two-run single in the top of the 10th inning to put the Captains up for good.

Down 3-0, Lake County scored three in the sixth to tie it and then took the lead in the seventh on an RBI single from Tyler Krieger, but Yoiber Marquina would blow a save in the ninth to set up the late game heroics.

Catching prospect Francisco Mejia went 1-5 on the day, extending his hitting streak to 20 games.

Starting pitcher Sam Hentges had a rough outing, lasting just three innings and giving up three runs on four hits, but reliever Dominic DeMasi picked him up with four scoreless innings out of the pen while Kieren Lovegrove earned a save in the bottom of the 10th.

Mahoning Valley Scrappers 1, West Virginia Black Bears 3

Box Score · Scrappers fall to 0-2

Mahoning Valley must have thought Jose Quintana was on the mound or something, as they provided zero run support for top Indians pitching prospect Tristen McKenzie.

McKenzie was the story of the game as he was absolutely brilliant, giving up one unearned run on four hits and striking out six and walking one in six splendid innings of work. McKenzie did it all in only 75 pitches in an extremely efficient outing.

The offense finally put a run on the board in the eighth off of a triple and a wild pitch, but Henry Martinez had already given up two runs in two innings of relief to apparently make the game out of reach.

DSL Indians 6, DSL Mets1 2

Box Score · Indians improve to 6-6

First baseman Henry Pujols continued his recent power surge, collecting his second home run of the season and a triple as he reached base safely all four times in another victory for the DSL Indians.

Jose Fermin and Julio Cabrera also reached base safely twice on the day.

The recent trend of tremendous DSL Indians starting pitching continued as Felix Tati tossed five scoreless innings and while the bullpen wasn't great, they kept the Mets from getting too close for comfort.