Louisville Bats 8, Toledo Mud Hens 3 (box)
Francisco Liriano’s rehab start went badly sidewise in the second inning, as Liriano allowed six runs to cross the plate. He went four innings and got his throwing in, but eight runs and 11 hits against seven strikeouts doesn’t exactly speak to his readiness for a return to Detroit. Kyle Dowdy downed the Bats’ bats for five innings, but the Hens could only manage a few late runs.
Mahtook: 2-5, 2B, SO
Castro: 3-3, R, BB
Liriano (L): 4.0 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 7 SO
On Friday, Josh Turley struggled again with the control of his fastball/knuckleball combo. He surrendered five walks and allowed four earned runs. The experiment just hasn’t worked out for him, and Turley chose to retire from baseball after the game. It was also the Hens’ seventh loss in nine games. Manager Doug Mientkiewicz decided to free them from practice on Saturday to hopefully refresh his team a bit. In the meantime, Mike Gerber and Dawel Lugo continued to show signs of heating up. Gerber doubled, while Lugo posted another two-hit game.
Perhaps the breather worked, as the Hens took down the Bats on Saturday, before losing the rubber game on Sunday. Former Tigers first round pick Jacob Turner has returned to the fold, and he went 4 1⁄3 innings with five strikeouts and just a run allowed as he stretches out into a starting role after years as a scuffling reliever. Christin Stewart tripled and drove in three runs, while Lugo doubled with an RBI to pace the offense to victory.
Coming up next: The Hens will be idle on Monday, then travel to Gwinnett to take on Max Fried and the Stripers on Tuesday evening.
Erie SeaWolves 4, Trenton Thunder 0 (box)
Kyle Funkhouser battled through some tough at-bats from the Thunder. He came out on top over and over again to lead the SeaWolves to a weekend sweep. Funk tossed five scoreless with six strikeouts to two walks, though it took 92 pitches to do so on a hot afternoon. The SeaWolves offense finally came through in the sixth and seventh innings, scoring four runs to go on to victory. A.J. Simcox had the biggest hit, doubling to drive in Chad Sedio and Danny Woodrow.
Maddox: 3-4, RBI
Simcox: 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Funkhouser (W): 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO
Friday night saw another good outing from Sandy Baez, who allowed two runs in seven innings of work. The SeaWolves offense finally erupted for a five-run eight to ultimately win 5-4 over the Thunder. They loaded the bases and a two-run single from Chad Sedio, and then a bases clearing double from Kenny Wilson, boosted the Wolves into the lead. Mark Ecker leaked a pair of runs in the eighth, but John Schreiber earned the save with little trouble.
Spencer Turnbull was also good on Saturday, as Erie’s rotation showed out against Trenton. He allowed two runs in five innings of work, punching out seven without a walk. The Wolves struggled against former Tigers prospect Luis Cessa but teed off on the Thunder bullpen with three-run innings in the sixth, seventh, and eighth to storm to victory. Jacob Robson and Jake Rogers starred for the offense, but Kody Eaves and Chad Sedio also had multi-hit games.
Coming up next: The SeaWolves welcome in the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Monday. Starters haven’t been announced yet, and whispers of promotions are in the air. Meanwhile it’ll be Marcus Stroman making a rehab start at UPMC Park and taking on Beau Burrows, which should be worth the price of admission.
Lakeland Flying Tigers
The Flying Tigers were idle this weekend for the Florida State League All-Star break. Alfred Gutierrez showed out for the FSL North Division, striking out the side in relief in the sixth inning. Daz Cameron and Isaac Paredes each had a single in the contest, won 5-0 by the North on Saturday.
Coming up next: The Flying Tigers get back at it with Liarvis Breto taking on Brock Burke of the Charlotte Stone Crabs at 6:35 p.m. ET on Monday. The Flying Tigers enter the second half of their season with a 35-31 record. They may graduate several players to higher levels before too much longer, including 2017 first round pick Alex Faedo.
West Michigan Whitecaps 8, Dayton Dragons 0 (box)
This is the type of outing we’ve been looking for from Matt Manning. On a scorching hot day in West Michigan, he gave up just three hits and one walk, punching out six Dragons on the day. He needed just 90 pitches, 62 of which were strikes, to go seven shutout innings. He was tested by more than the heat, and came through with flying colors.
The leadoff man reached in three of the first four innings, putting Manning into the stretch for whole innings of work. He did a good job checking runners while powering through with well-located fastballs. Manning drilled the strike zone to both edges, and put hitters away above the zone. He got the feel for his curveball as the outing progressed, and ultimately went seven innings for the first time, finishing strong with seven consecutive outs.
Meanwhile, Jose Azocar continues to flat out rake since being demoted from Lakeland. Yet another RBI triple for Azocar and a 4-for-5 day at the plate boosts his OPS to .859. Incredibly, he has tripled in five straight games. Rey Rivera also doubled twice, smoking a ball right off the glove of Dragons first baseman Leandro Santana down the line in the fourth to score Colby Bortles. Bortles continues to be an RBI machine in his own right, posting three on the day. At that point, after three-run innings in both the third and fourth inning, this one was over for the Dragons as the Whitecaps cruised to a win.
Azocar: 4-5, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI
Rivera: 3-5, 2 2B, R, RBI
Bortles: 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
Manning (W): 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, BB, 6 SO
In Friday’s matchup with Dayton, starter Tom de Blok had a pretty forgettable outing, but the offense was on point with a late comeback. Colby Bortles tied things in the eighth with his third home run of the season. The Dragons took a one-run lead in the ninth off Brandyn Sittinger, but Will Vest silenced their rally. Cole Peterson walked it off for the Whitecaps with a two-run double to score Ulrich Bojarski and Alexis Garcia.
Dane Myers gave the Whitecaps a solid six-inning outing on Saturday as the Whitecaps won 9-4. The Whitecaps batted around as they erupted with a five-run fourth to take control of this one. Beyond the customary Azocar triple, the game saw doubles from Jordan Pearce and Rey Rivera, as well as a three-RBI game from Garrett McCain.
Coming up next: The Whitecaps enter the Midwest League All-Star break with a 36-34 record, and are no doubt feeling good after a sweep of the Dragons that got them back over .500. The East-West All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday in Lansing, MI, with the Lugnuts hosting. The Caps will be idle until Thursday, when Elvin Rodriguez is set to take on the TinCaps in Fort Wayne.