Lake County Captains
The Lake County Captains have two days off to rest on Monday and Tuesday and it could not have come at a better time for the scuffling farm club.
The Captains were stuck in the loss column for nearly two weeks until they won game one of a doubleheader against Quad Cities from Classic Park on Saturday afternoon. It ended a drought dating back to July 4, when Lake County defeated the Hot Rods in Bowling Green. Nine straight losses followed (and a pair of rainouts in Bowling Green) as the team was swept in four straight in Lansing and at home in three straight against Cedar Rapids to start a six-game homestand. They won a 2-1 contest in game one of the doubleheader on Saturday over the River Bandits before dropping a tough 2-0 loss in the nightcap. They rode six shutout innings from Matt Esparza and six RBI from Willi Castro (including his first pro grand slam) in Sunday’s 9-4 win to win the series.
Lake County (9-15) had crashed to the bottom of the Midwest League’s Eastern Division with its play of late. The club is 2-9 away from Classic Park in the second half and just 7-6 at home. They are tied for fifth place in the league and trail the South Bend Cubs by seven games after Sunday’s finals. The Captains will resume their schedule from Beloit on Wednesday, when they start a six-game road trip there and against Wisconsin next weekend. They have just three home games scheduled (July 27-29) the rest of the month.
In other notes from the Captains log:
There may not have been any Major League games played on Wednesday, but a pair of Cleveland Indians suited up and played in meaningful professional games.
Fans of the Cleveland Indians got some good news as two of their own took the field at Classic Park in their ongoing efforts to return from the disabled list as left fielder Michael Brantley and catcher Roberto Perez donned Lake County jerseys and participated in their rehab assignments in Eastlake as the Captains fell 8-4 to the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
The Lake County Captains have slipped into a summer slide, and not a fun one involving water parks or plastic sheeting sprawled across the lumpy yard.
The Captains coughed up a three-run first inning lead on Sunday to Lansing to lose a 6-3 final to drop their fifth game in a row and their third straight in their four-game series against the Lugnuts. The five-game losing streak matches the club’s longest so far in 2016.
It wasn’t the first time this week or even in the series with Lansing that Lake County had lost an early advantage, as they dropped a 4-3 decision in eleven innings on Saturday after holding a two-run lead in the seventh. The bullpen allowed two runs in the seventh on Friday to give the Lugnuts a 2-1 win.
The Captains are now 7-10 in the second half, five and a half games in back of Lansing and South Bend and in sixth place in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division. After concluding their series with Lansing Monday afternoon, they will take Tuesday off before returning home to start a three-game set against Cedar Rapids and a three-games-in-two-days series with Quad Cities on Saturday and Sunday.
In other news and notes in the Captains log:
The first three months of the 2016 season for Francisco Mejia have been more than memorable, as the Lynchburg catcher added another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments on Wednesday when the Midwest League named him its Player of the Month for June.
Mejia, the 20-year-old switch-hitting backstop, joined the High-A Hillcats on June 27, but it did not stop his former league from recognizing his impressive 21 games with the Lake County Captains throughout the month.
The Captains began life without Francisco Mejia and Tyler Krieger last week but after dropping three straight games during the week, they used a pair of walk-off wins and a five-hit shutout on Sunday to sweep the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Classic Park.
The three-game sweep for the Captains was their first sweep and series win as a whole since taking three from Lansing from June 7 to 9. The wins pulled the Captains over the .500 mark with a 6-5 record in the second half. They trail the South Bend Cubs, who took three of four from the Captains earlier last week, by three games in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division.
In other notes from the Captains log:
For the second time this month, Lake County Captains starting pitcher Matt Esparza has been selected by the Midwest League as its Pitcher of the Week for his stellar outing over the weekend against the Great Lakes Loons.
Esparza won the award previously for his efforts on the mound in two starts between May 30 to June 5.
Major League Baseball announced the U.S. and World rosters for the upcoming 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and two Cleveland Indians top prospects were selected to participate.
Former Indians first round pick Clint Frazier and catcher Francisco Mejia will represent the organization on Sunday, July 10, in the game from Petco Park in San Diego, California. Frazier is one of six outfielders on the U.S. roster, while Mejia is one of the two catchers selected for the World team.
The exhibition game will feature 15 former first round picks and players from a total of eleven different countries/territories.
The Lake County Captains wrapped up the first half of the Midwest League season last weekend with a 40-30 record, but a third place showing in the Eastern Division, falling a game and a half short of the first half division crown and a half-game short of locking up a playoff spot in the Wild Card chase.
The club took a break during the week for the Midwest League All-Star Game, which was attended by four members of the Captains roster. Play resumed on Thursday, with Lake County hosting the Great Lakes Loons at Classic Park. They dropped each of the first two games of the series before getting a well-pitched 1-0 shutout on Saturday night and a 6-3 win in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.
The Captains (2-2) will head out to South Bend to take on the Cubs for four straight, with that series starting on Monday night.
In other notes in the Captains log:
The Midwest League held its All-Star Game on Tuesday, and like their fellow minor league mates from High-A Lynchburg, the Class-A Lake County Captains played big roles in the Eastern Division’s 11-10 victory over the Western Division.
The Captains had four members of their team on the Eastern Division squad, including starters in catcher Francisco Mejia and second baseman Tyler Krieger. Willi Castro was a bench option for the team and Tom Pannone was ready in the bullpen awaiting his turn on the diamond.
The Western Division jumped out to a big 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before the Eastern Division scored their first run in the second inning. It was a Captain who set the stage.
With a 3-1 loss to the South Bend Cubs on Sunday, the Lake County Captains saw their chance of locking up a playoff berth slip through their hands. The Cubs clinched the final playoff spot from the Eastern Division, while the Captains dropped to third in the division to close out the first half. The Captains lost a 1-0 lead in the sixth when they gave up three runs to the Cubs, who held on for the win.
The Captains finished the first half with a very strong 40-30 record, but went 10-8 to close out the first half in June. The team will take a three-day break for the All-Star festivities, as four Lake County players will take part in the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with two of those members starting the contest for the Eastern Division.
The second half of the season resumes on Thursday night, when the Captains return to Classic Park for a 7:00 PM first pitch against the Great Lakes Loons.
In other Captains notes:
The accolades continue to roll in for members of the Cleveland Indians organization as on Monday, Lake County catcher Francisco Mejia was named the Midwest League Player of the Week for the stretch of games between June 6 and June 12.
It is the second time in as many weeks that a member of the Captains has been honored with a weekly award. Pitcher Matt Esparza was recipient of the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week award last week.
Powered by four late runs against the Great Lakes Loons, the Lake County Captains avoided the series sweep on Sunday with a 4-3 walk-off victory from Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio.
The Captains went 4-2 on the week after sweeping the Lansing Lugnuts in their three-game series from Tuesday through Thursday. All three games were won in dramatic fashion. In fact, all six games played this week by Lake County were decided late, as both of their losses came down to the wire. Their loss on Friday was a reversal of fortune after their sweep of the Lugnuts, as the Loons scored four in the ninth to win 7-4. On Saturday, the Captains allowed two four-run innings, but their comeback fell short despite a five-run seventh inning.
The win on Sunday, coupled with two straight losses by the South Bend Cubs, have the Captains just a half-game out of first place in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division. The first half crown could come down to the wire, as Lake County heads on the road for three in Bowling Green starting Monday before four games in South Bend before the All-Star break.
In other news and notes in the Captains’ log: