The rough thing about rooting for a minor league team is that your best players probably will not stick around long. That should be the fear for any Mahoning Valley residents who have dreams of purchasing a Triston McKenzie jersey. The 2015 draft pick has been absolutely lights out in his first four starts for the Scrappers and it will not be long until he finds his way to the Lake County Captains and beyond.
Down in the Arizona Rookie League, Cleveland Indians catcher Roberto Perez had his first taste of a real game since April 30 when he broke his thumb diving to stop a run from scoring against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Columbus Clippers 4, Pawtucket Red Sox 5 (F/16)
Box Score · Clippers fall to 45-39
Nice try, Columbus Clippers. Despite their best efforts to match the Indians' 19-inning win last Friday, the Clippers were only able to take the game to 16 innings before losing on a two-run walk-off home run.
Scoring was sparse over this game's 4:15 run time, but it came in bunches. The Pawtucket Red Sox got on the board first as early as the second inning, but the Clippers did not respond until the eighth when they notched three runs when Jesus Aguilar blasted in his 17th home run of the season to score Collin Cowgill and Yandy Diaz. Pawtucket added two more in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at three and say alive, then the two teams went into massive scoring droughts until the fateful 16th inning.
Yandy Diaz had a tremendous day at the plate, coming up to bat seven times and hitting in four of them. Giovanny Urshela was 1-for-7 on the day with one strikeout.
The Clippers used eight pitchers on the day, including Yhoxian Medina, who started the game at shortstop and gave up the game-winning runs.
Adam Plutko started the game and finished six strong innings for the Clippers, striking out six and walking two. In his four Triple-A starts this season, Plutko has pitched 25.1 innings, struck out 17 and allowed five runs.
Ben Heller came in for a single inning of relief and struck out two.
Columbus Clippers 4, Pawtucket Red Sox 5 (F/10)
Box Score · RubberDucks improve to 46-38
The Akron RubberDucks also took their Sunday game into extra innings, although they only need one frame of free baseball to finish their series in Erie with a tie at two games apiece.
Neither team scored any runs until the fifth inning when Clint Frazier homered home Todd Hankins. The Erie Seawolves immediately responded in the bottom of the fifth with two runs scoring off a double. Neither team scored again until Mike Papi hit his first triple of the season to score Jordan Smith and he was immediately hit home in the next at-bat by an Ivan Castillo sacrifice fly.
Frazier's home run was his 10th of the season, but just his second in his last 10 games. He is currently in a bit of a slump, going 7-for-37 over his last 10 games with nine strikeouts and just one walk in that span.
Everyone beside Castillo registered a hit on the day, with Jordan Smith finishing 3-for-4 with a walk. Joe Sever, Nellie Rodriguez, and Mike Papi all had two-hit games. Papi's average has been steadily climbing recently, and it finally eclipsed .200 for the first time since June 19. He has gone 4-for-7 in his last two games.
Starting pitcher Michael Peoples lasted six innings on the day, striking out five but walking four Erie batters. Peoples' four walks was the most he has issued in any one start this season and he has only walked three in a trio of games so far this season. Two runs scored while Peoples was on the mound, but they were both unearned as a fielding error by Todd Hankins lead to the runners being allowed on base.
Reliever JP Feyerisen was given the win on the day, striking out three of the five batters he faced to close out the game.
Lynchburg Hillcats 2, Carolina Mudcats 1
Box Score · Hillcats improve to 51-29
The Lynchburg Hillcats were only able to score two runs on the day -- and were shutout for the final six innings -- but that was all they needed thanks to a weak Carolina Mudcats offense.
Bobby Bradley was just 1-for-3 on the day, but his lone hit was a double that set up the first run of the game in the second inning. He also drew one walk and only struck out once.
Taylor Murphy and Luigi Rodriguez both recorded two hits, while Francisco Mejia added his sixth hit in High-A this season since being promoted from the Lake County Captains. Curiously enough, Mejia's slash is currently .300/.286/.500 over his five games at Lynchburg. Three of his six hits have been extra base hits (1 double, 2 triples) and he has struck out five times.
Sean Brady did not have a particularly dominant start -- he only struck out two and allowed four hits in six innings -- but he was able to keep the Mudcats off the board, save for one solo home run in the fourth inning. Relievers Justin Garcia and Trevor Frank were given the hold and save, respectively, as they held Carolina batters to just one hit over the final three innings.
Lake County Captains 3, Fort Wayne Tincaps 0
Box Score · Captains improve to 46-35
Even with the promotions of Francisco Mejia and Tyler Krieger, the Lake County Captains have not missed a step. With yesterday's shutout win they have completed their sweep of the Fort Wayne Tincaps.
The Captains only had six hits on the day, including two from Sicnarf Loopstok, but that was all they needed as they were also 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Loopstok also had the team's only extra-base hit on the day, a double, and batted home two of the Captains' three runs.
Most of the credit for this win goes to starting pitcher Shao-Ching Chiang who went seven innings and allowed no runs on five hits. Similar to Brady in Lynchburg, he only struck out two and walked three. This was Chiang's second shutout of the season, his first coming in his 2016 debut when he shut out the West Michigan Whitecaps over five innings of work. Chiang has also lasted seven innings in his last two starts.
Mahoning Valley Scrappers 4, State College Spikes 0
Box Score · Scrappers improve to 4-13
Sorry scrappers, you are not going to be enjoying Triston McKenzie much longer.
After this latest dominating performance last night in which he went six innings and struck out six while walking just one, McKenzie has now thrown 22.2 innings at Low-A this season and he has 25 strikeouts to just three walks and one earned run. So far the competition level has not caught up to the 18-year-old.
McKenzie did get some support from the offense in the form of a home run from Erlin Cerda and speedster Todd Isaacs, who is not normally known as a power hitter.
The Scrappers have only won four games this season, and McKenzie has started half of those.
AZL Indians 5, AZL Reds 1
Box Score · Indians improve to 5-5
Some things happened in this game, I am sure, but the big news is that Roberto Perez has started his rehab assignment as he returns from major thumb surgery. Perez had a hit in his only at-bat from the designated hitter slot for the AZL Indians before being replaced with 2016 draft pick Hosea Nelson.
Another rehabbing Indians player, Craig Stammen, struck out two in his lone inning of relief work.
Indians starting pitcher Francisco Perez pitched a dominant six innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing just one earned run on three hits. Perez had four strikeouts in his first two starts of the season combined.
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The DSL Indians had a scheduled off day.