Late rally not enough as AZL Indians lose to AZL Brewers, 7-3
Ten walks allowed too much for Tribe to overcome
PHOENIX – The AZL Indians continued to struggle both to generate runs and to throw strikes consistently on Thursday night, falling to the last place AZL Brewers by a score of 7-3. Aside from a late rally, the AZL Brew Crew held the Tribe offense at bay, which preserved a lead they obtained by capitalizing on AZL Indians’ starter Mitch Brown’ lack of control.
Brown, the Indians’ second round pick a year ago, showed signs of not having his best stuff in the early going, as he issued four walks in the first three innings. However, he did manage to hold the AZL Brewers without a hit through these innings, which allowed him to work out of the jams he created.
Despite escaping some tight spots early, things fell apart in the fourth. AZL Brewers designated hitter, Clint Coulter, led off the inning with a fly ball over the head of Clint Frazier in center field for a stand up double. Coulter then attempted to steal third base and, unfortunately for the Tribe, catcher Shane Rowland’s throw sailed well over the third baseman’s head, enabling Coulter to score on the play to give the AZL Brewers the 1-0 advantage. Brown remained erratic, retiring two and walking two of the next four batters he faced. One strike away from getting out of yet another jam, Brown served up a triple followed by double to score three more AZL Brewers.
This gave the AZL Brewers a 4-0 lead and ended Brown’s night. He finished giving up four runs (all earned) on three hits with three strikeouts and a disappointing seven walks. Even though he was able to get a handful of starts at Lake County earlier in the year, Brown has only been able to work past the fourth inning twice in eight AZL starts.
The AZL Brewers would add to their lead at their next opportunity in the bottom of the fifth. Thomas Pannone came on in relief of Brown, but was not any more effective or any less wild. Pannone allowed the first four batters he faced to reach by virtue of two walks and two singles, leading to one AZL Brewer run. An RBI ground out, a walk, and a wild pitch would lead to two more runs coming around to score, extending the AZL Brewer advantage to 7-0. Pannone managed to work out of the inning, but the damage had been done, as the AZL Brewers lead would turn out to insurmountable.
Meanwhile, the Tribe bats were ice cold against AZL Brewers’ starter, Clint Terry. Nobody could seem to get a beat on anything he was throwing except for a couple of sharply hit balls. Terry was able to go five scoreless innings, allowing only 2 hits while striking out four and walking none.
The offense finally awoke from its prolonged slumber for a late inning rally in the eighth. Still facing a 7-0 deficit, Yonathan Mendoza led off the inning with a walk. Both Ivan Castillo and Frazier followed this up with singles to left field setting the Tribe up with the bases loaded and nobody out. Takuya Tsuchida then came to the plate and smacked an extremely well hit ground ball to the hole between the first and second baseman. Frazier, who found himself right in the line of fire trying to advance to second, made a leaping attempt to avoid the ball, but it unluckily skipped as it hit the lip of the infield and caught him on his left calf, causing him to be called out. The immediate dead ball also would not allow any of the other runners to advance, leaving the bases loaded. However, the Tribe would still manage to push across men in the inning. Rowland put together a nice at bat fouling off several pitches and ultimately drew a walk to score a run. Matt LaPorta followed with a sacrifice fly, which scored Castillo, and a wild pitch to the next batter would bring Tsuchida around for a third run. This would cut the AZL Brewer lead to 7-3.
Even though it was nice to see the offense come up with something, the rally would prove to be too little too late for the Tribe. They would go quietly in the ninth to give the AZL Brewers the victory.
Despite the rough start by Tribe pitchers, Luis Gomez, Naoki Hashimoto, and Carlos Diaz all worked 1-2-3 innings, combining for five strikeouts and no walks, which was a welcome relief after the 10 walks in the first five innings.
There were not many offensive highlights or notable performances aside from the decent eighth inning and the fact that the first four hitters in the lineup all collected one hit apiece. After seeing how dangerous the AZL Indians bats can be earlier in the year, the slump is likely the result of tired bodies having to play everyday in the Arizona heat. In any case, they will need to work hard to get out of their funk.
The AZL Indians will try to get back to their winning ways Friday when they take on the AZL Mariners in Peoria at 7 p.m.