Lindor returns with a bang
EASTLAKE - Welcome back Francisco Lindor.
After missing five games for a family emergency, Lindor, playing shortstop, returned to action for the Lake County Captains (18-19) in a big way against the Great Lakes Loons (20-18). The Captains emerged victorious 6-3 behind five RBI from Lindor.
Lindor finished the night 2-4, belting his fourth home run of the season, a three-run shot. He followed that up with a two-RBI single to give him five RBI on the day and 17 on the season.
“I got a fastball down the middle," Lindor said about the home run. "I thought it was going to be a sac fly, but it carried. It was nice to get a couple of runs on the board for [starter] Joe Colon.”
Joseph Colon (4-3, 3.30), making his eighth start of the year, spun a gem for Lake County. In 8.1 innings, he gave up three earned runs on seven scattered hits and did not walk a batter, striking out four. Colon entered the ninth inning having thrown only 67 pitches and exited the game with 82 total pitches.
“I always believe I can throw nine [innings],” said Colon. “My best pitch tonight was my sinker and my tempo and rhythm made me feel I could go nine.”
The Captains struck first in the third inning. With one out, designated hitter Todd Hankins grounded a double inside the third-base line and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After a walk to center fielder Luigi Rodriguez, Francisco Lindor drove the first pitch from Great Lakes starting pitcher Ryan O’Sullivan over the right field fence for a three-run homerun.
Lake County broke through again in the bottom of the fourth, aided by three Loons errors. Jerrud Sabourin reached on an error by Loons shortstop Pedro Guerrero. He was followed by Robel Garcia, who hit a routine groundball to first base, but Loons first baseman O’Koyea Dickson threw the ball into left field, putting runners at first and third.
After Leonardo Castillo reached on an error by third baseman Jesse Bosnik to load the bases, Hankins struck out, bringing Rodriguez to the plate. In his first at-bat with the bases loaded this season, Rodriguez roped a single into right field, scoring Sabourin. Lindor stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and promptly sent a single into left field, scoring Garcia and Castillo. Bryson Myles followed Lindor with another single to left, but Rodriguez was thrown out at the plate by Great Lakes’ left fielder Scott Schebler. All three runs that were scored in the inning were unearned.
Ryan O’Sullivan (2-3, 2.90) pitched a career-high six innings for the Loons. The Captains tagged him for a career-high six runs allowed, although only three were earned, on a career-high six hits allowed. He walked three and struck out two. He was replaced by left-hander Matt Laney, who threw the remaining two innings for the Loons, giving up one base hit and no runs.
Although Great Lakes outhit Lake County eight to seven, they did not put up much of a fight against Colon. Before the ninth inning the only time a runner advanced into scoring position was in the second inning, coming on singles by right fielder Joe Winker and designated hitter Jesus Arredondo. Colon used his sinker and two-seam fastball to induce 11 ground ball outs on the night, including three double plays.
Colon ran into some trouble in the ninth, giving up consecutive singles to Guerrero and second baseman Kevin Taylor. Center fielder Noel Cuevas then drove a triple to dead center field, plating two. Colon struck out left fielder Scott Schebler, the last batter he faced, before being replaced by Grant Sides.
Sides gave up a sacrifice fly, allowing an inherited runner to score, and a double to Winker before retiring Bosnik to end the game.
“Pitch count was the only reason he came out," manager Dave Wallace said about removing Colon. "I hated that he wasn’t able to get it there at the end, but it doesn’t take away from what he did tonight, which was spectacular.”
The month of May has been especially kind to Colon. He has appeared in three games, going no less than seven innings. In the month, Colon has posted a 3-0 record with a 1.54 ERA.
Discussing Colon’s red hot May, Wallace said, “To say someone has pitched better than him [in May], you can’t. He has dominated his last three starts.”
With the win Monday night, Lake County improved to just one game under .500. After starting the season 4-13, hampered by a ten game losing skid, the Captains have rebounded in a big way going 14-6 over their last 20 games. They are currently winners of three straight and six of their last seven contests.
“I believe we have a great team, a great group of guys, who are all about teamwork and getting that [win]," Lindor said about the recent turnaround. "Everyone believes in themselves [and] in the team.”
Wallace echoed Lindor.
“[Through the losing streak] we stayed positive, focused on the right things. With our talent, we’re going to win games.”
1,765 fans came out to watch the Captains defeat the Loons in a game that lasted just 1 hour and 58 minutes.
Lake County will take the field Tuesday bright and early, looking for a four-game sweep of Great Lakes. The game is scheduled for 11:00 am and will see Cody Anderson (3-1, 2.25) toe the rubber for the Captains. He will be opposed by Gustavo Gomez (4-1, 3.74) for the Loons.