Captains smoked by Dragons, 9-3
EASTLAKE- Although the Captains (30-37) provided the post-game pyrotechnics Friday night at Classic Park, the in-game fireworks were courtesy of the Dayton Dragons (29-39). The Dragons cruised to a 9-3 victory, their eighth win in their last 12 contests.
Dayton smashed three big flies off of Lake County pitching, including a solo shot to left field by third baseman Junior Arias, who came into the game hitting just .177, that left the park entirely.
“Tonight was unusual,” said Dayton manager Delino DeShields, who enjoyed a 13-year major league career with five different teams, last playing for the Chicago Cubs in 2002. “We haven’t hit for a lot of power all year.”
The contest began with a flurry of scoring. Lake County took an early 1-0 lead on a double by right fielder Jordan Smith that scored Francisco Lindor. It was the 27th RBI of the year for Smith, who finished the contest 2-3, raising his batting average to .302. The All-Star snub is now the only hitter in the Captains’ lineup hitting over .300. However, Smith was gunned down trying to steal third base to end the inning.
“We made some mental mistakes,” said manager Dave Wallace, mentioning Smith’s base running gaffe as one of them. “I can handle physical mistakes, but mental mistakes are tough to swallow.”
“I am almost glad that it happened,” said Wallace of Smith making the last out at third base. “I have full faith and trust that Smitty will learn from it and it won’t happen again the rest of his career.”
Starter Joe Colon (5-7, 3.29), one of three Lake County All-Stars, was not in top shape on Friday night. He was unable to hold the 1-0 lead, giving up four runs in the top of the second inning. The big blow came on a three-run home run by center fielder Juan Silva, his first bomb of the season to push the Dragons’ lead to 4-1.
The Captains responded in their half of the frame, jumpstarted by walks to designated hitter Alex Monsalve and second baseman Todd Hankins, sandwiched around an Alex Lavisky strikeout, by Dayton starter Radhames Quezada (5-6, 3.89). After a single by third baseman Leonardo Castillo loaded the bases, left fielder Zach MacPhee hit a sacrifice fly to left to inch the Captains one run closer.
Center fielder Luigi Rodriguez, coming off a dismal 0-7 performance on Thursday, lined an opposite field single to right, scoring Hankins. Rodriguez’s 22nd RBI on the campaign brought Lake County to with 4-3.
With runners on first and second, Lindor hit an infield single up the middle that popped off the second base bag and was fielded by Dragon shortstop Juan Perez. In another one of the mental mistakes Wallace discussed, Castillo rounded third and headed for home, only to be greeted by catcher Nick O’Shea, who received the baseball in plenty of time to slap the tag on the Lake County third baseman and end the inning.
From that point on, the Captains were shut down by the combination of Quezada and relievers Cole Green and El’Hajj Muhammad. Over the final seven frames, Lake County managed just two hits, singles by Smith and Monsalve, and only once had a runner reach third base.
The most noteworthy aspect of the final seven innings occurred far away from the patch of grass that sits between the white lines at Classic Park. In the eighth inning, Cleveland resident Brett Meyer, decked out in full Indians garb, became the first fan in park history to conquer the famed Moby Dick sandwich. In the span of roughly one hour, Meyer shoveled down the 15 inch, three pound mammoth of a hoagie that could feed a family of four with ease. The Moby Dick, which became the staple of Classic Park concessions in 2012, thanks to Director of Food and Beverage John Klein, contains a pound and a quarter of fish, eight slices of cheese, six ounces of clam, a third of a pound of French fries, cole slaw, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and tartar sauce. It is still inconclusive whether or not Klein decided to include the kitchen sink in the sandwich as well.
For his heroic show of stomach capacity, Meyer was awarded a t-shirt that quipped of his defeat of a challenge built for the Travel Channel’s signature series, Man versus Food.
Between the white lines, Lake County has fallen into a bit of a slump in the games leading up to the All-Star Break, which begins on Monday, June 18. The Captains are now losers of three straight and eight of their last ten contests. In the month of June, they have posted a record of just five wins and nine losses. However, despite the ‘June swoon,’ you would be searching forever if you tried to find a panic button in manager Dave Wallace’s office.
“This is just another stage in [our player’s] development,” said Wallace. “We are not hitting any panic button, we just have some work to do.”
Wallace sees the need for improvement in all facets of the game if Lake County wishes to contend for a playoff spot in the second half of the season, given the fact they have been eliminated from playoff contention this half. The second half of the campaign begins on Friday, June 22 with the Captains traveling to Fort Wayne to take on the TinCaps.
“We need to make better pitches and get the ball down in the zone,” said Wallace of his pitching staff. “[Our hitters] have to improve their strike zone discipline.”
Lake County is back at it for the middle game of their three-game set with the Dragons on Saturday, with first pitch slated for 7:00 pm. The Captains will send Cody Anderson (4-4, 3.27) to the bump to make his final start before traveling to Kane County’s Fifth Third Ballpark on June 19. He will be opposed by Dayton lefthander Tanner Robles (4-3, 4.57).