It’s been an exciting week for the Cleveland Indians with the Tribe sweeping Texas 3-0, but with an off day for the big league club yesterday, it was a chance for the minor league teams to shine as all four full-season clubs had their opening days.
Weather played a part, shortening one game and suspending another, but all in all, Indians affiliates went 1-2 with some major bright spots coming from several of the organization’s top prospects.
Columbus Clippers 3, Louisville Bats 2 (F/13)
Box Score · Clippers improve to 1-0
It took a whopping 13 innings, but the Columbus Clippers started their 2017 campaign with a hard-fought victory.
Several players had multi-hit games, but none were better than top prospect Bradley Zimmer, who went 2-4 with a triple, a walk, a stolen base, a sacrifice and best of all, no strikeouts.
Nellie Rodriguez put the Clippers ahead in the 13th with his first home run of the season in his Triple-A debut. He went 2-6 overall on the night. Ronnie Rodriguez and Jordan Smith also joined him with 2-6 efforts.
Starting pitcher Mike Clevinger dominated in his opening day outing, tossing six innings of one-run ball on two hits while striking eight. His spectacular effort was ruined in the ninth inning by Joseph Colon, who gave up the tying run. Five other Clippers relievers combined for six innings of scoreless baseball to give the team a chance to win it late with Jeff Johnson getting the save.
Akron RubberDucks 7, Bowie Baysox 13 (F/7.5)
Box Score · RubberDucks drop to 0-1
This game did not get off to a good start. Pitcher Julian Merryweather was tattooed for five runs on five hits in a two-inning outing to kick off the season. By comparison, Merryweather didn’t give up his fifth earned run of the 2016 season until his eighth start and 44th inning last year. DJ Brown relieved him and gave up another six runs in three innings.
It was a rough game defensively as well as the starting lineup committed a whopping four errors.
Despite the deficit, the Akron offense attempted a rally, scoring four runs in the third inning thanks in part to a two-run double from Yu-Cheng Chang. Chang also launched a three-run homer later and the Rubberducks were rallying, but weather cut the game short with no outs in the bottom of the eighth while down six.
Chang wasn’t the only bright spot on offense. Catching sensation Francisco Mejia went 2-3 with two doubles and a sacrifice fly and Mike Papi also had two hits in four at bats.
Lynchburg Hillcats 2, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 4
Box Score · Hillcats fall to 0-1
Lynchburg fell behind 3-0 after starting pitcher Matt Esparza gave up two home runs in the second inning and they were never able to recover.
Offensively, it was a rough night for the Hillcats as they were outhit 11-5 by Myrtle Beach. No players had multi-hit games but catcher Daniel Salters and right fielder Jodd Carter both hit solo home runs to reduce the deficit to one, although that would conclude the Lynchburg rally.
Leandro Linares was a bright spot in relief, striking out three in 1.2 innings of scoreless, hitless baseball.
The Lake County Captains game against the Dayton Dragons was suspended in the fourth inning due to inclement weather with Lake County up 3-1. The game will resume today as part of a mini-double-header