Scrappers offense flummoxed by Cyclone pitching
NILES - Rainy Lara had the Scrappers’ number Monday night. That is, after the first inning. They had a promising start, when Tyler Naquin doubled with one out. He was promptly singled home by Charlie Valerio to secure an early one run lead.
After those two early hits, Lara pitched like he was double-parked. He retired the next 14 Scrapper batters, including seven on strikes. The streak was only broken when Tyler Naquin poked a two-out single back up the middle in the sixth.
Early on, it looked like the strike zone from home-plate umpire Ryan Benson was a bit pitcher friendly, but as the night wore on the hacks the Scrappers put up against Lara got worse. When all was said and done, Lara tossed seven innings, allowing one earned run on three hits and fanning 10.
That offensive output certainly wasn’t a sight Luis Morel wanted to see in his second start of the season. He was solid in his first start, pitching five innings allowing one earned run and picking up the win. He would have to be near perfect to earn a win against Lara.
Morel breezed through his first two innings, not allowing a base runner and striking out three. He actually had a slim one run lead after the offense put up the run in the first. He ran into a bit of bad luck in the third inning however. With two outs, he issued a walk, a single, and another walk to load the bases. Then, the Cyclones gambled, breaking the runners with Jayce Boyd at the plate. Boyd hit what was the definition of a seeing eye single, placing a ball directly the hole shortstop Jairo Kelly vacated to cover the stolen base attempt. The hit scored a pair of runs, and gave the Cyclones an early 2-1 lead.
Morel ran into a little more ill fortune in the fifth. He allowed a one out double to Brandon Nimmo, a foe who the Scrappers are more than happy to see leave the Mahoning Valley area. In the three game set, Nimmo collected eight hits, three doubles, a homerun, three RBI and six runs scored. After the Nimmo double, Richie Rodriguez reached on what was a costly fielding error by third-baseman JoeyWendle that put runners on first and second. Morel was then hooked in favor of Robbie Aviles, who after getting a groundout, allowed a bases loaded two RBI single. Though both runs were unearned, they were costly, as it set the Scrappers back three on a night when the offense could muster little.
Aviles remained in the game to pitch the sixth and seventh, allowing one earned run on four hits. It was his third appearance out of the bullpen, a place a little unfamiliar tohim. Aviles started out the year in the rotation before running into some nagging arm problems that forced him to sit down for a few weeks.
“I just had a couple tweaks here and there,” said Aviles of his arm. “Now it feels good and I’m just progressing back from the pen and everything’s going good. At first it was kind of a shocker coming in in relief, but it’s fun hanging out back there.”
Despite allowing a few hits, Aviles looked solid, getting six Cyclones to bounce into groundouts.
“Tonight was the best I’ve felt in awhile,” said Aviles. “I gave up a couple dinkers here and there, and a nice hit down the line, but I felt real good about tonight, and it was definitely a confidence booster.”
After Aviles left in the seventh, Rafael Homblert and Jack Wagoner combined to throw the last two innings, each pitching a scoreless innings with a harmless hit. Unfortunately, though, the Scrappers were unable to muster a late rally like they had the night before against the late-inning Cyclone relievers. Instead, they struck out three more times in the final two innings, picking up only one more hit when Naquin doubled in the ninth. Naquin was the only bright sport for the offense, going 3-4 with a pair of doubles.
The rest of the offense was plain bad. They combined to go 1-27, with Valerio picking up the only other hit in the first inning. Including Naquin, the offense racked up 13 strikeouts. The only Scrapper to avoid whiffing was Aaron Siliga.
Picking up the win was starter Rainy Lara, with his counterpart Morel taking the loss. With the loss, the Scrappers move to 21-20 on the season. After an off-day Tuesday, the Scrappers are set to embark on a six game road trip as part of a stretch where they play 10-12 on the road. They open the trip Tuesday in Vermont against the Lake Monsters.