AZL Indians fall to AZL A's in 10 innings
Tribe wastes Lovegrove's strong performance
PHOENIX – The AZL A’s outlasted the AZL Indians on Monday night, prevailing 5-4 in 10 innings. Despite outhitting their opponent nine to five, the AZL Indians’ bats failed to string any really meaningful rally together for the majority of the game, spoiling a terrific outing by starter Kieran Lovegrove.
The game itself was a tale of two very different halves.
The first seven innings were absolutely dominated by pitching, illustrated by a game time of one hour and 45 minutes through those innings. However, from the eighth inning onward, poor defense and even poorer pitching on the part of both teams slowed the game dramatically and created a back and forth contest, which the AZL A’s were able to come away with in the end.
The highlight of the evening lasted six innings, as Lovegrove put on a stellar performance in what was likely the best start from any AZL Indian pitcher to this point. He was able to throw strikes consistently with not only his fastball, but all of his off-speed pitches as well, keeping AZL A’s hitters off balance and demonstrating why he has been the Tribe’s most reliable starter.
Lovegrove's only blemish came in the third inning when he left a pitch up and AZL A’s third baseman A.J. Kubala turned on it to crush it over the left field wall. A few other balls were hit hard, but Lovegroove was always in control and never let back-to-back batters reach.
He reached his six inning maximum giving up only one run on three hits with six strikeouts against only one walk and was greeted with handshakes from the entire coaching staff after his final inning of work.
Unfortunately, Lovegrove’s counterpart, Carlos Navas and reliever Chris Kohler were just as good. The AZL Indians could not get anything going against either AZL A’s pitcher. It didn’t help that the Tribe had a few clumsy base running mistakes as well including pickoffs and over-aggressiveness. The AZL A’s combo matched Lovegrove’s six innings, allowing no runs on only two hits with seven strikeouts and four walks.
The AZL Indians were finally able to break through and get Lovegrove off the hook in the top of the eighth inning when LeVon Washington took a fastball up in the zone and sent a towering fly ball the opposite way that just stayed inside the left field foul pole for a home run.
This would seemingly turn the tide of the game and send it into a battle of sloppy-play attrition.
The AZL A’s would respond immediately with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Carlos Diaz came on to start the inning, but was unable to find any inkling of the strike zone and walked the first and only two batters he faced on nine pitches. Anderson Polanco replaced Diaz, but could not get the AZL Indians out of the inning unscathed, as he gave up a two run bloop single, after a sac bunt and intentional walk loaded the bases.
Down 3-1 going into the top of the ninth, the Tribe were finally able to put a rally together. Yonathan Mendoza led the inning off with a sharp single down the third base line that, fortunately for the AZL A’s, was knocked down on a great play by the third baseman. Ivan Castillo followed with a single to right field and was able to advance to second on a failed attempt by the right fielder to throw out Mendoza who moved to third on the hit.
After an RBI groundout by Ordomar Valdez, Clint Frazier stepped to the plate with two outs and sent a slow roller toward the AZL A’s third baseman. However, as he was charging hard to try to get the speedy Frazier at first, the third baseman misplayed the grounder, allowing the game-tying run to score.
Polanco would end up working out of a jam by striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the tenth inning, the AZL Indians managed to scratch out a run on singles by Washington and Gerald Bautista, the latter of which ricocheted off the pitchers glove and into right field giving the Tribe a 4-3 lead and an opportunity for a win.
The AZL Indian bullpen, however, would falter yet again as reliever Carlos Melo would give up a lead off single and proceed to walk three consecutive batters to blow the Tribe lead. He would then give up a walk off sac fly to Yairo Munez to end the game and give the AZL A’s the victory.
AZL Indian relievers again struggled to throw strikes, which has proven to be a consistent theme thus far on the season and it certainly came back to haunt them Monday evening. In only 3.2 innings pitched, Tribe relievers walked an astounding nine batters. They did only give up two hits, but these hits came with men on base, leading to four runs (all earned) and a loss.
Washington led the offense with an impressive 3-for-4 night, which included a walk and the aforementioned home run. Castillo also had a nice game collecting two hits of his own.
Despite the loss, the AZL Indians have won five of their last seven and will try to add to that Tuesday night when the take on the AZL Cubs at 7 p.m. in Mesa.