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Brilliant pitching from Merritt, Pannone, McKenzie and Civale leads 4-1 day for Indians minor league affiliates

Cleveland Indians minor league recap for April 19, 2017.

The Cleveland Indians boast possibly the best 1-2-3 punch in all of baseball with their starting rotation, but it never hurts to have a wealth of talent on the rise in the minor league system.

That talent was on full display yesterday as four starting pitchers tossed absolute gems, failing to give up a single run in 22.2 innings of work on a day where Tribe affiliates went 4-1 overall.

Columbus Clippers 3, Lehigh Valley Ironpigs 0

Box Score · Clippers improve to 7-5

After a slow start to the year, 2016 ALCS hero Ryan Merritt appears to have entered midseason form after his second straight quality start. Merritt tossed six shutout innings, giving up four hits while walking three and striking out five, leaving the game with a 3-0 lead which the bullpen held with three scoreless, hitless innings from Kyle Crockett, Louis Head and Shawn Armstrong.

The big offensive output of the day came from catcher Adam Moore, who cranked a two-run homer in the fifth inning.

A rehabbing Jason Kipnis went 1-4 with a double and scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch in the fourth inning.

Akron RubberDucks 6, Reading Fighting Phils 8

Box Score · RubberDucks fall to 3-9

Another day, another tough loss for the most talented yet unluckiest team in the Indians minor league system.

Akron was defeated despite slugging four home runs on the day. Bobby Bradley, Yu-Cheng Chang, Mike Papi and Yhoxian Medina all went yard, but three of the bombs were solo shots and they resulted in five total runs. Tyler Krieger and Dorssys Paulino both had multi-hit games and Francisco Mejia extended his hitting streak to 10 to start out the season.

Those runs wouldn’t be enough to make up for a rough night for the defense and bullpen as Reading scored six runs on the relief corps with two of them unearned. Even the highly regarded Greg Allen wasn’t immune, committing his first error of the season.

DJ Brown had a decent start, giving up two runs spread over four innings while striking out seven, but David Speer gave up four runs in 1.2 innings while Cameron Hill surrendered another two in the final 2.1 to keep the game just out of reach.

Lynchburg Hillcats 1, Carolina Mudcats 0
Lynchburg Hillcats 7, Carolina Mudcats 1

Game 1 Box Score · Game 2 Box Score · Hillcats improve to 7-6

Lynchburg was carried by not one but two downright dominant pitching performances in a doubleheader. It all started with a nailbiter 1-0 victory spearheaded by 22-year old southpaw Thomas Pannone, who once again was incredible. Pannone threw 5.2 innings of scoreless baseball, surrendering just one hit while walking two and striking out six. His ERA stands at 0.00 through three starts this year. (He also finished 2016 with a 17.1 scoreless inning streak). Technically, he’s now gone 34 innings of professional baseball without giving up an earned run. That also doesn’t include his nine shutout innings during minor league spring training this year.

Game two was the Triston McKenzie show as the Tribe’s number one pitching prospect struck out eight in five innings without giving up an earned run. He also walked two and gave up three hits.

The lone run from game one was thanks in part to Ka’ai Tom, who had the only multi-hit game from either team. He led the inning off with a double, moved to third on a single and was brought home by an RBI groundout.

Game two was much easier as Lynchburg teed off for four runs in the first inning. Tom again had a multi-hit game and he was joined this time by Willi Castro, Sicnarf Loopstock and Martin Cervenka. Cervenka also cranked a two-run shot in the seventh to remove all doubt.

Lake County Captains 8, Bowling Green Hot Rods 0

Box Score · Captains improve to 7-5

This was the Aaron Civale and the Emmanuel Tapia show.

A 2016 third round draft pick, Civale has been downright nasty in his first taste of full-season ball and he was excellent again last night for the Captains. Over the course of six innings, Civale refused to give up a run on five hits while walking one and striking out five.

First baseman Emmanuel Tapia, a 21-year old slugger out of the Dominican Republic, entered the game batting just .194, but had begun to show signs of the life in the past week. That all came to a head last night as he went 4-4 at the dish and blasted his second home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second inning.

Both Jorma Rodriguez and Li-Jen Chu continued their strong early season performances with multi-hit games themselves. Of note, struggling speedster Gabriel Mejia was moved from leadoff to the nine-hole, where he went 1-3 with a walk.