With a 1-0 victory on Monday night over the Bowling Green Hot Rods from Classic Park in Eastlake, the Lake County Captains pushed their season record back over the .500 mark at 6-5 and pulled within a game of first place in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division.
The current season-high three-game winning streak for the Class-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians has seen some interesting extremes. After winning a 5-2 decision in Lansing on Friday, the club put up 17 runs in a 17-5 victory in the series finale on Saturday before an off day on Sunday. Back home in northeast Ohio for their second homestand of the season, it was a Logan Ice RBI-single through the right side of the infield in the sixth inning that broke the scoreless tie and proved to be the difference in the ball game.
The Captains will not be home for long, as they will hit the road following Wednesday’s third game with the Hot Rods. From there, Lake County will stop for four games at West Michigan and three with Great Lakes before coming back home to wrap up April with four at Classic Park with the Whitecaps.
In other news and notes from the Captains’ log:
Aided by the good defense behind the plate by Ice in the early innings, the Captains logged their first shutout of the season with Monday’s win. Three different Lake County pitchers combined on the six-hitter.
Micah Miniard made the start and went four and a third, giving up five hits and three walks while striking out three. Second-year man Ben Krauth relieved with three and one-third innings of scoreless work and was credited with his third win of the season. Henry Martinez came on in the eighth and retired the final four outs to secure the win, earning his second save of the year.
WORKING IN TANDEM
Krauth, the 23-year-old left-hander taken in the 16th round out of Kansas in last season’s draft by the Indians, has been victorious every time that he has stepped on the field for the Captains this season.
He earned a win on April 6 at Dayton with two and two-thirds hitless innings of work with four strikeouts. He pitched at home against Great Lakes on April 11, giving up two hits and two walks but earning the win with two and one-third innings of relief work. He added to that on Monday, lasting a season-high three and one-third innings, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out five.
Krauth has come on in relief all three times for Miniard, who has allowed just one earned run in 12 innings of work (0.75 ERA). The 21-year-old right-hander and eighth rounder in 2014 out of high school appeared in eight games for the Captains last season and seven for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in his third season in the organization. Walks have been a recent issue for Miniard, who has given up eight free passes over his last two starts. He has pitched as many as four and two-thirds innings under his limited workload early in his professional career.
BIEBER K’S ELEVEN
Shane Bieber, the Captains’ 21-year-old right-hander out of UC Santa Barbara, made his second start of the season on Friday in Lansing against the Lugnuts and came away with the first victory of his professional career.
After working in limited work with the short-season Scrappers after being drafted in the fourth round last season, Bieber pitched four and two-thirds innings in his first start of the season on the 9th, allowing two earned runs on six hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.
He topped that effort against Lansing, lasting a career-high six innings while allowing just one earned run on four hits with no walks and a professional career-high eleven strikeouts. He joined teammate Aaron Civale as the second Captain to reach double digit strikeouts in a game this week, as the 21-year-old right-hander and fellow 2016 draft pick K’d ten Great Lakes batters in Wednesday’s game.
In two starts this season, Bieber has struck out 18 and walked none in ten and two-thirds innings.
There was plenty of excitement for the Captains in running up 17 runs in their victory on Saturday.
Jose Medina, who had a total of 12 home runs in 180 professional games in his career and three hits on the season for the Captains, went 4-for-5 in the contest with a career-high three home runs, four runs scored, and five runs batted in. None of his three blasts came in the club’s ten-run fourth inning, but his final shot did lead to a skirmish as benches and bullpens emptied after the Lansing catcher engaged Medina as he returned from a home run trot that may have been slow to get going as the young outfielder admired his work.
The 22-year-old left-handed hitter added a double in the ball game to give him 14 total bases. It was the first three-homer game for Lake County since Jesus Aguilar completed the feat on April 23, 2011. It was also the first three-homer game in the Midwest League so far this season.
CHU’S STREAK SNAPPED
Li-Jen Chu, the Captains’ 23-year-old catching prospect out of Taiwan, saw his nine-game season-opening hitting streak come to an end on Monday in the win over Bowling Green. He was 12-for-32 during the streak and has driven in seven runs over the last week, including two last Tuesday and a pair in back-to-back appearances on Friday and Saturday.
CAPEL’S STREAK ENDS, TOO
Conner Capel’s eight-game hitting streak came to a close with an 0-fer at the plate on Monday in the win against Bowling Green.
The streak, which started in his second game of the season, included ten hits in 28 at bats. He also added four RBI, three stolen bases, three two-hit games, and six runs scored. Against Great Lakes on April 10, the 19-year-old high school product hit his first professional home run.
AS DOES RODRIGUEZ’S
Jorma Rodriguez, 21, has started his first stint at the Class-A level on the right foot, hitting in seven straight games to start the season and eight of his first nine overall.
The non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela has worked at second and third base for the Captains so far this season and is hitting .303 at the plate through nine games. He was also ejected as part of the benches clearing incident on Saturday in Lansing.
CERDA LANDS ON THE DL
Second baseman Erlin Cerda was placed on the 7-day disabled list by the Captains on Sunday.
Joining the Captains to take his roster space in the meantime was Miguel Eladio, a 20-year-old infielder with minimal minor league experience outside of action in the Dominican Summer League and Arizona League. He played in four games with the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers last season, getting five hits in 16 at bats (.313) with two doubles, a homer, and four RBI.
Photo: Tyler Marcotte/MiLB.com (pictured: Medina)