Those pesky rival Salem Red Sox ruined the Hillcats’ weekend, taking three of four from Lynchburg. It was the first time since the middle of May that the two teams have not split a series against one another.
August has not been kind to the Hillcats (26-18) in general as the club is just 3-5 to start the month. With a playoff berth already clinched with their Northern Division win in the first half, they are still fighting for the second-half crown too, but trail the Potomac Nationals by four games. They split their series at home against those same Nationals to begin the final month of the regular season, but the pitching staff was lit up over the weekend, giving up 13, 12, and 11 runs in three straight games from Friday to Sunday against Salem.
The ‘Cats will take a needed day off on Monday to recoup before spending three days in Potomac, where they can make up some ground and hope to end the P-Nats’ five-game winning streak. They will return home at the end of the week to host Winston-Salem for three, only to hit the road again for another week.
In other Hillcats chatter:
MEJIA GETTING A BREATHER
Francisco Mejia, with his hitting streak now garnering national attention at an incredible 47 games, took both Saturday and Sunday off.
The 20-year-old switch-hitting catcher went down to his final at bat to extend the streak on Thursday, but wasted no time on Friday, getting a first inning double to push the streak up another day.
He is hitting .333 with the Hillcats through 23 games and .343 for the year as a whole, taking into account his .347 average over 60 games while a member of the Class-A Lake County Captains.
BRADLEY’S DROUGHT APPEARS TO BE OVER
Another 20-year-old top Indians prospect, Bobby Bradley, appears to have put a month-long homer drought well behind him.
After hitting a homer against Myrtle Beach on June 10, he did not leave the yard again until July 10 at Salem. Since then, he has added shots against Wilmington on July 18, Carolina on July 22 and 23, Potomac on August 1, and Salem on August 4 and 6.
With three homers already this month, Bradley still has a chance to catch his previous career highs of 27 homers and 92 RBI supplied last season in his first full season of minor league ball. He is hitting .241 with a .356 OBP this season with 21 doubles, 22 homers, and 84 RBI. He leads all Carolina League hitters in homers and is second to teammate Anthony Santander in RBI.
SPEAKING OF SANTANDER
Santander has had a breakout season for Lynchburg now that he has put together a largely healthy season for the Hillcats. He leads all Carolina League players with 86 RBI on the season and is second on the club and third in the league with 17 homers and 32 doubles. If the impressive display of power has not been enough to sell someone on his strong numbers this season, he also has the eighth-best batting average (.288), seventh-best on-base percentage (.366), third-best slugging (.490), and fifth-best OPS (.856) in the league.
He hit .342 in July over 28 games, hitting nine homers and driving in 29 runs to pass his teammate Bradley for the RBI lead. He is hitting just .233 over his first eight August games, but has driven in eight runs and walked six times.
ESPARZA DEALT ANOTHER TOUGH LOSS
Right-hander Matt Esparza has allowed just four earned runs combined over his first two starts for the Hillcats, but has a pair of losses to show for it.
In his Lynchburg debut on July 29 against Winston-Salem, he allowed just two runs on three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in a quality six inning start, but was dealt the defeat. On August 3 against Potomac, he was charged with four runs (two earned) on four hits with four walks and six strikeouts in five and one-third innings and again took home a loss.
He was 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) for the Lake County Captains to start his season. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Indians last June.
KRIEGER’S MODEST STREAK ENDS
Second baseman Tyler Krieger, who put together a lengthy 23-game hitting streak earlier in the season while with Lake County, hit in six straight before the streak ended with an 0-for-3 against Salem on Sunday. He has reached safely in seven straight contests, however, as he drew a walk in the Hillcats loss.
It was the fifth time this season that Krieger has hit safely in at least a half dozen straight.
STREAK GOES ON FOR MATHIAS
Infielder Mark Mathias pushed his hitting streak to six straight as Krieger’s came to an end on Sunday. The 1-for-5 effort at the plate came just one day after he reached base safely six times with three walks, two singles, and a double in the loss to Salem.
Mathias has four doubles during the hitting streak and four multi-hit games while boosting his season batting average a dozen points.
WELCOME BACK, DORSSYS
Outfielder Dorssys Paulino returned to the Hillcats from Goodyear on Monday, where he had been working with the Indians’ Arizona League club, and immediately got to work with the bat.
After going 0-for-2 with a walk in his first game with the Hillcats since May 13, Paulino has at least two hits in each of the next four games. He had a pair of singles on Wednesday, had two singles, a double, a walk, and two RBI on Friday, hit a single and a solo homer in seven trips to the plate on Saturday, and reached base safely four times on Sunday with two singles and two walks.
ON THE MOVE
Left-hander Matt Whitehouse returned to Lynchburg after a two-day stay in Columbus with the Clippers helping the club absorb the pitching staff shuffle it has endured while supplementing a struggling Cleveland Indians starting rotation. A pair of pitchers joined the Hillcats’ available arms, including starter Brock Hartson and Dominic DeMasi. Third baseman Yonathan Mendoza joined the Hillcats on Thursday from short-season Mahoning Valley.
Pitcher Cameron Hill was promoted to Double-A Akron on Tuesday.