Jimenez shuts down the Lugnuts in 6-0 win
EASTLAKE – Danny Jimenez led the Lake County Captains to a 6-0 shutout victory on Tuesday over the Lansing Lugnuts to take three of four to close out the series.
Jimenez (2-3, 5.24) toed the rubber for his sixth start for the Captains to counter Lansing’s Noah Syndergaard (7-5, 2.88).
Both starters sailed through the first three innings until the Captains tacked on two in fourth. First baseman Jerrud Sabourin and catcher Jake Lowery drew a pair of back-to-back walks to lead off the inning. With one out, designated hitter Luigi Rodriguez tripled to right to plate both runners, giving the Captains the 2-0 lead. That ended evening for Syndergaard, whose final line ended at 3.1 innings pitched, surrendering two runs on two hits and four walks while striking out three. Syndergaard was replaced with Brandon Berl, who retired the next two to escape without further damage.
Meanwhile, Jimenez was lights out through seven. The lefty struck out five Lugnuts while yielding just two hits and a walk through his start. Jimenez was replaced with Cody Penny to start the eighth. Penny pitched a scoreless inning, allowing just one walk while striking out two.
The Captains tapped the nail in the coffin in their half of the eighth as they forced four more runs across the dish. Lefty Ajay Meyer entered the game to pitch for the Lugnuts, and left fielder Bryson Myles lined a single into center with one out before Rodriguez drew a walk. Centerfielder Zach MacPhee followed with a single to load the bases. With two out, second baseman Jose Ramirez reached on an error by shortstop Shane Opitz, allowing Myles and Rodriguez to score. That ended the outing for Meyer, who was pulled for Ian Kadish. Kadish was greeted by shortstop Francisco Lindor with a double to right to plate MacPhee and Ramirez, boosting the Captains to the 6-0 advantage.
The lead was more than enough for reliever Enosil Tejeda, who relinquished only a double in the ninth to preserve the Captains with the 6-0 shutout.
Jimenez said his outing was by far his best of the year, but his approach on the mound was no different than usual. The starter said his slider against lefties was his best form of ammunition as he managed to keep it low and keep hitters off balance.
“I felt good,” he said. “[I was] just trying to throw strikes, get ahead of hitters and try to pitch through the game as long as I could because I knew we were tight with our the bullpen.”
Jimenez says the start was a great rebound from his last, during which he allowed nine runs on 11 hits. “It’s something to build confidence off of and build confidence going into the next level,” he said.
The lefty also noted that the upcoming four-game series against the South Bend Silver Hawks could be a tipping point for the Captains’ playoff push.
“The next series is definitely huge,” Jimenez said. “We could either pull away with it or make it be close and make it pretty exciting for the rest of the season, but we’re just going to try to do our best and see if we can win that series.”
Next, the South Bend Silver Hawks come to Classic Park in a pivotal series as both teams are fighting for the second wild card spot in the Midwest League. The Silver Hawks are currently two games behind the Captains in the race and will send lefty Keith Hessler (2-2, 2.49) to the bump to counter Lake County’s Mason Radeke (6-6, 3.52).
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.