The Cleveland bats backed six different pitchers with four home runs as the Indians swept the Baltimore Orioles behind a 10-3 final from Progressive Field on Thursday afternoon.
With the bullpen expecting to do some heavy lifting with young right-hander Eli Morgan making his second big league start, the bats came to the rescue to provide the entire pitching staff with some wiggle room. Jose Ramirez had a big day, driving home three runs, but Yu Chang made an even bigger contribution out of the eight-hole, driving in a career-high four runs on a pair of two-RBI knocks to help guide the Indians (38-28) to a four-game sweep and a season-high record ten games above the .500 mark.
The Indians’ injury woes continued as the club placed a third regular on the injured list in the last week on Friday. Cleveland announced ahead of its weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays that outfielder Jordan Luplow was being placed on the 10-day injured list with a sprained left ankle.
The first half of the Lynchburg Hillcats’ 2019 season came to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon, June 16. The Hillcats were facing their Northern Division rivals, Wilmington, for the seventh consecutive day. They had been eliminated from first half contention the previous weekend in Potomac and were now facing the victors of the Northern Division.
The late afternoon contest would be the second of the four-game homestand to go into extra-innings. Never leading Wilmington, the Hillcats would post three runs in the ninth to tie the game at five, and push it to a tenth inning. Unlike Friday evening, where Lynchburg would win with a run scoring walk-off single from Steven Kwan, Wilmington would send the Hillcats to their third straight defeat thanks to a run-scoring balk called on reliever Yapson Gomez that was hotly contested by manager Jim Pankovits.
Baseball is a game where rhythm matters. The hitter is trying to get into a pattern where he can predict the trajectory and rotation of a pitched ball, and the pitcher is trying to throw the hitter off to get him to swing and miss, or to ineffectively make contact with the ball, inducing a pop-up, or a weak fly, or a groundout. For the 2019 High-A Lynchburg Hillcats, Eli Morgan has been one of the most effective pitchers at keeping opposing Carolina League hitters off-balance and unable to generate a consistent rhythm in the batter’s box.
Morgan, now in his third year out of Gonzaga University, was an 8th round selection by Cleveland in 2017. The right-handed 5’10”, 190 pounder finished the previous season pitching 143.1 innings, the most he had ever thrown in a baseball season.
A strong start to the season for Lynchburg’s Eli Morgan earned him the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Week award for games played between April 4 and April 14.
The third-year pro Morgan had previously won his league’s Pitcher of the Week award three times last season, doing so at the end of April in the Midwest League with the Class-A Lake County Captains before winning the Carolina League’s version at the end of June and again in the beginning of July while with the Hillcats.
Right-handed pitcher Eli Morgan began his professional baseball career a little more than one year ago. Now the number 29 ranked Indians prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is in his first full season. Morgan has reached the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats working as a starting pitcher. This path to a career in baseball is a recent development.
“Through high school, I wasn’t even sure about college baseball,” said Morgan. “I wasn’t getting looked at.”