AZL Indians cough up lead late, lose 4-3 to AZL Cubs
Offense remains in funk, musters only four hits
MESA – The AZL Indians continued to find themselves in an offensive funk Monday night, as they were held to only four hits in a 4-3 loss to the AZL Cubs. The Tribe offensive did manage to take a lead late with a two run top of the seventh, but the bullpen gave it away immediately in the bottom of the same inning, wasting the little offense they were able to generate.
Sean Brady got the start for the AZL Indians and responded with another solid outing. After working out of a bases loaded jam caused by two bad Tribe fielding errors in the first, the crafty lefty cruised through two more scoreless innings, giving his team an excellent opportunity to take an early lead.
Brady finished allowing no runs on one hit with two strikeouts and one walk in those three innings. The start dropped his ERA on the season to a measly 1.13 in six starts. Obviously the coaching staff is being careful keeping Brady to strict pitch and inning limits, but it will be interesting to see if they give him any more leeway to work deeper into games based on his success so far this year.
The AZL Indians would capitalize on Brady’s early success to get on the board first in the top of the second. Shane Rowland drew a one out walk off of AZL Cubs starter Gerardo Concepcion, who was wild all night. Two wild pitches by Concepcion would allow Rowland to advance to third before Victor Cabral managed to draw another walk. Now with first and third and two outs, the AZL Indians would force the issue by sending Cabral to attempt to steal second base. The aggressive play call worked out perfectly, as the AZL Cubs catcher sailed the throw into center field, which let Rowland score and Cabral to advance to third. Another walk would end Concepcion’s night, but the AZL Indians were not able to push anyone else across.
The AZL Cubs responded to the early deficit a few innings later in the bottom of the fourth. Anthony Vizcaya came on in relief of the starter Brady and recorded two quick outs to start the inning. However, the wheels came off a bit for Vizcaya, as he gave up three consecutive singles, allowing the AZL Cubs to plate the tying run. Vizcaya then issued a walk, setting the AZL Cubs up with the bases loaded, but he would be able to get out of it by inducing Rashad Crawford to harmlessly ground out.
The low scoring pitchers duel continued for several more innings with neither team able to break through and take control of a very winnable game.
The Tribe would break the tie with a two run top of the seventh. Silento Sayles led the inning off with a walk and quickly advance to second on a wild pitch by AZL Cubs reliever, Josh Davis. Sayles, however, would eventually be tagged out on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Clint Frazier. Fortunately for the AZL Indians, Frazier would be able to advance to third on two more Davis wild pitches. First baseman Grant Fink then launched a double over the head of the AZL Cubs’ center fielder, scoring Frazier easily from third and breaking the 1-1 tie. Francisco Mejia followed this up with a double of his own on a line drive to the left center field gap. This would give the Tribe a nice 3-1 lead moving to the late innings.
However, the lead would be short lived. The AZL Cubs came right back in the bottom of the seventh and victimized AZL Indians reliever, Carlos Diaz. Diaz allowed the first two batters he faced to reach on a single followed by a walk. A passed ball would let both runners advance, giving the AZL Cubs runners at second and third with no outs. Clean up hitter Kelvin Freeman then shot a grounder right back up the middle for a two RBI single, tying the game at three. Diaz would manage to retire the next two batters, the first on a sac bunt, which moved Freeman to second, and the second on a strikeout. Nearly out of the inning, Diaz gave up a double down the left field line, plating Freeman from second and giving the AZL Cubs a one run lead.
The slim lead would prove to be enough, as the AZL Indians failed to generate any more offense on the night, going down in order in both of the final two innings.
The slumping offense struggled again failed to produce enough run support to aid the Tribe’s fairly solid pitching performance. Tribe bats were only able to pound out four hits and two of the four came in the two run seventh. On the bright side, three of the four hits were doubles, two of which came from Mejia, who reached base in three of four plate appearances. The AZL Indians, who have only scored three runs in three of their past four games, will need to continue to find a way to try and get back to the form they had in early to mid July.
AZL Indian pitchers, despite the lack of run support, were solid throughout the game. Save for two AZL Cubs two out rallies, Tribe arms were in control, highlighted by Brady’s strong performance. Jose Zapata and Kyle Blair also had nice nights, combining for two hits in 3.1 innings of scoreless relief with five strikeouts against three walks.
The AZL Indians will be back in action on Tuesday when they take on the AZL D-backs in Goodyear at 7 p.m.