What's worse than seeing one of your favorite teams' top prospects leaving the field after a huge collision with an outfield wall? Seeing your puppy run out the door near a busy highway? Maybe? It's close, but I would still lean towards the prospect thing.
That is exactly what happened with Cleveland Indians fans yesterday when top outfield prospect Bradley Zimmer left the Akron RubberDucks game in the second inning following a hard collision. Luckily, it appears he was not injured in the crash and was just taken out of the game as a precaution. Maybe in previous seasons the baseball gods would have shunned the Indians and their future talent, but they don't dare in 2016, The Year of Cleveland.
On top of high-speed prospect collisions, Sunday also featured an exciting walk-off win for the Columbus Clippers as they head into their All-Star break.
Columbus Clippers 2, Indianapolis Indians 1
Box Score · Clippers improve to 49-43
The Columbus Clippers can head into the International League All-Star with their heads held high. Not only did they win with a walk-off in their last game of the first half, but they also finished first in the International League West Division, a full one game over the Indianapolis Indians.
Sunday's walk-off win came in a very short ninth inning. Erik Gonzalez led off the frame with a walk before Ronny Rodriguez advanced him to second. Michael Choice, just the third batter in the inning, singled on a fly ball to center and the game was over.
There was not a lot of scoring in this game, thanks to solid outings from Cody Anderson, Toru Murata, and the electric Ben Heller. Anderson lasted just 3.2 innings, having reached his pitch limit after striking out five and allowing four hits. This was Anderson's second start since returning from the disabled list. Heller closed out the game by issuing a walk and striking out a batter; he was given his second win on the season.
Five Clippers batters recorded hits, but outfielder Joey Butler had the only extra-base hit, his second triple of the season.
Akron RubberDucks 4, Harrisburg Senators 6
Box Score · RubberDucks fall to 50-41
Despite the close score, the Akron RubberDucks spent the majority of this game playing behind. They were down 2-0 as early as the third inning, and by the time the top of eighth rolled around they were still down 4-1. And then they started hitting.
Mike Papi led off the inning with a walk, then a few batters later Nellie Rodriguez doubled with two outs and Jeremy Lucas got him home with a two-out home run -- his eighth of the season. Akron's three-run outburst tied the game at 4-4, where it stayed until the bottom of the 12th when the Harrisburg Senators won in walk-off fashion with a two-run bomb of their own.
On top of his walk, Papi also tallied two hits, bringing his batting average back up over .200 after his 0-for-3 night on Saturday dropped it to .196. Papi has struggled to hit this season, but he is still drawing as many walks as ever -- between High-A and Double-A this season Papi has taken 53 free bases. For some context, Carlos Santana only has 50 this season with the Indians, which is the fourth-most in the American League. Papi walks a lot, folks.
The most notable thing about this game was Bradley Zimmer leaving the field in the second inning after crashing hard into the outfield wall. But the good news (great news? spectacular news? life-changing news?) is that there were no signs of a concussion or other injuries; Zimmer was removed as a precaution and is not expected to miss any game time. He is even still on to represent the 'Ducks in the Home Run Derby.
Everyone in the Akron lineup besides Zimmer and Todd Hankins had a hit Sunday, although they struck out 13 times at a team. Four of those whiffs came from Zimmer's replacement, Claudio Bautista.
Reliever Craig Stammen, who is still working back from a torn muscle injury suffered last season, pitched two innings for the RubberDucks. JP Feyereisen threw two innings as well, allowing two hits and issuing a walk, but no runs crossed the plate under his watch.
Lynchburg Hillcats 7, Salem Red Sox 4
Box Score · Lynchburg Hillcats improve to 55-32
Similar to the RubberDucks, the Lynchburg Hillcats were down late in their game against the Salem Red Sox -- a 4-0 deficit as late as the sixth inning -- but they stormed back to score five runs over three innings and seal their organizational-best 55th win of the season.
The turning point came in that explosive sixth inning when Bobby Bradley hit his 16th home run of the season. Yu-Cheng Chang and Luigi Rodriguez followed his extra-base lead by hitting doubles. Mix in a Taylor Murphy walk and you got yourselves a three-run inning. One of the runs in the seventh came via a throwing error, but two more doubles plated two more runs in the top of the eighth -- Lynchburg earned this win.
Several Lynchburg batters had multi-hit games. In fact, it's easier to list those who did not: Greg Allen, Bobby Bradley, and Taylor Murphy. Even with Allen having a disastrous 0-for-5 day, he has still been extremely hot recently and his slashing sits at an incredible .302/.432/.409.
Luis Lugo got the start for Lynchburg, throwing six innings and allowing four earned runs over six innings. This was his second-straight game allowing four earned runs, and the 11 hits were a season high. Reliever Cameron Hill pitched the final three innings, allowing just one walk and striking out five batters in the process.
Lake County Captains 3, Lansing Lugnuts 6
Box Score · Captains fall to 47-40
The Lake County Captains got off to a hot start Sunday with three runs off three hits in the first inning, but they could only muster five hits and no runs over the remaining frames.
Three of Lake County's hits came off the bat of David Armendariz, including a double and a run batted in. Connor Marabell continued his hot season with a 2-for-4 day.
Casey Shane lasted just 4.2 innings, but he held the Lugnuts to two runs off four hits in that time. He also struck out four batters, the most whiffs for the 20-year-old since he struck out seven on May 28.
Mahoning Valley Scrappers 6, Staten Island Yankees 4
Box Score · Scrappers improve to 6-17
A five-run first inning was all the Mahoning Valley Scrappers needed to top the Staten Island Yankees. For some reason, they still had to play the rest of the game, however, and they ended up scoring again late.
Mahoning Valley batters recorded six hits in the first inning alone, with Gian Paul getting on base late in the inning thanks to a throwing error. Every Scrapper batter recorded at least one hit on the day, while Gabriel Mejia, Silento Sayles, Erlin Cerda, and Gavin Collins can all add two-hit days to their resumes.
The Scrappers' offense has struggled in the young season, but Cerda has been a rare bright spot so far. He began his season with the Lake County Captains but was sent to Mahoning Valley when the Low-A season started. In his 16 games since, he is slashing .300/.348/.517 with three home runs and two doubles.
Juan Hillman continues to look dominant for the Scrappers, with yet another great start under his belt. Hillman lasted 5.2 innings and struck out four batters on his way to his fourth-straight shutout. He has not allowed an earned run since his rough debut on June 19 when he allowed three. Hillman has already struck out 24 batters in 26.1 innings.
Reliever Dace Kime allowed another earned run in two innings of work. His ERA now sits at 11.42 on the season, with 11 earned runs in 8.2 innings out of the bullpen.
AZL Indians 8, AZL Brewers 7
Box Score · Indians improve to 10-6
This game looks close on the scoreboard, but the AZL Indians led for the vast majority of the game by a wide margin -- all seven of the AZL Brewers' runs came in a monster seventh inning with a box score that reads like a J.R.R. Tolkien novel.
The Brewers had five seven hits in that inning, but that alone was not enough to score all those runs. They were also helped along by two wild pitches, a throwing error, and a walk. The Indians squad was able to endure the barrage thanks to their own four-run inning in the second and the seven total runs they scored prior to that inning.
Li-Jen Chu led the way for the Indians, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and a team-high three runs batted in. Elvis Perez had a nice game himself, with three hits and an RBI.
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The DSL Indians had a scheduled off day.