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Another rough day for starting pitching on the Tigers’ farm

Scores, news, and notes from the Detroit Tigers’ farm system for Wednesday, April 19, 2023.

Toledo Mud Hens 5, Columbus Clippers 3 (box)

Starter Reese Olson couldn’t get out of the first inning, but the Hens bullpen shut down the Clippers over the next eighth innings. The offense clawed their way back into the game and eventually took over make it two straight over Columbus.

The offense got on the board early, as Parker Meadows led off the game with a walk, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on an Andre Lipcius ground ball. The lead didn’t last long.

Olson had a little bad luck right out of the gate with a weak infield single and then a bleeder that dropped in down the left field line for a double as a sliding Andre Lipcius, playing left field, couldn’t corral it. A ground out made it 1-0. Olson ramped the fastball up to 97 mph in the inning, but from this point on he couldn’t locate anything consistently. He proceeded to walk three straight, forcing in one run and allowing another on a ground ball.

Olson probably got squeezed a bit, and there was nary a hard hit ball against him, but he didn’t throw enough quality strikes to get any benefit of the doubt. With the Tigers unwilling to let their young pitchers throw a ton of pitches in an inning, both for their health and perhaps to help ingrain the, “throw strikes or sit down” philosophy, that was it for Olson after 31 pitches.

Kervin Castro, one of the Hens more promising relief options for the Tigers, took over and the Clippers tried the delayed double steal with two outs, with Jermaine Palacios returning Michael Papierski’s throw to second in time to cut down Micah Pries trying to score.

It was 3-1 Clippers at this point.

The walks were killers again in the second, but this time for the Clippers. Andy Ibanez led off with a walk. Brendon Davis followed with a double to left, and Papierski walked as well to load the bases. Meadows grounded into a fielders’ choice, scoring Ibanez, but that was all they’d get.

In the meantime, Castro racked up 2 13 perfect innings with four strikeouts. The low-90’s cutter he’s added suits the gap between his straight fourseamer and straight curveball well and gives him something with swerve to help him handle left-handers. Need to see consistent command there to earn his way back to the bigs. Will Vest returned to Toledo after being on call for the Tigers’ doubleheader on Tuesday, and followed Castro with a pair of scoreless frames and three strikeouts of his own.

A fifth inning single from Zack Short made him the game tying run when Justyn-Henry Malloy doubled to left to score him.

Now pitching in a tie game after the run in the fifth, hard-throwing right-hander Aneurys Zabala picked up the baton and put up two more scoreless innings, although he did walk three along the way.

The offense mustered a two-out threat in the seventh, but couldn’t get it done. Finally in the eighth they put together a go-ahead rally. Ibanez was hit by a pitch and replaced by Andrew Knapp as pinch-runner. A ground ball from Brendon Davis led to Knapp getting forced at second, but Davis promptly stole second to get into scoring position after Papierski lined out. Jermaine Palacios stepped to the dish and launched a two-run shot to left center field, and the comeback was complete.

Miguel Diaz worked a scoreless eighth and ninth to earn his third save, recording a pair of strikeouts to just a single allowed.

Malloy: 1-3, RBI, 2B, 2 BB, SO

Palacios: 1-4, R, 2 RBI, HR, SO

Davis, Brendon: 1-3, R, 2B, BB, SB

Coming Up Next: RHP Ashton Goudeau (0-0, 7.71 ERA) takes the ball for the Hens on Thursday. The Clippers have yet to announce for the 12:05 p.m. ET start.

Richmond Flying Squirrels 11, Erie SeaWolves 2 (box)

The SeaWolves were in control of this one for 2 12 innings and then it all fell apart.

The two clubs traded a pair of scoreless innings to start the game, and then Erie put together a two-run rally in the top of the third. Trei Cruz led off with a walk and moved to second on a Wenceel Perez infield single. Colt Keith was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Grant Witherspoon singled home Cruz and Perez to make it 2-0. Unfortunately, Jake Holton followed with a double play ball, and Josh Crouch struck out to end the inning and squander a few potential runs.

At this point right-hander Dylan Smith’s outing blew up in his face. After recording an immaculate inning in the first and cruising in the second, a pair of seeing eye hits, two foul balls that fell just out of reach of Erie fielders and suddenly Smith was in some trouble in the third. He bounced back with a strikeout and a ground out, but Tyler Fitzgerald lifted a soft liner just off the tip of shortstop Corey Joyce’s glove to extend the inning.

A walk to Patrick Bailey showed Smith perhaps tiring, but with two outs, one run in, and nothing hard hit, he still looked in charge. Smith got ahead of Carter Aldrete and eventually induced a routine grounder to Perez at second, but Joyce was a late covering second, missed the bag, and then threw it away going to first. This was ruled an infield hit for reasons of home cooking, and a soft single to left followed. Four runs were in, and Smith hadn’t actually pitched badly at all. He finally punched out the ninth hitter in the inning to end the nightmare, but his outing was done.

Reliever Yaya Chentouf allowed four more runs in the fifth, and this one was over.

Keith: 2-3, SO

Perez: 1-4, R

Witherspoon: 1-4, 2 RBI, SO

Smith (L, 0-1): 3.0 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 H, BB, 6 SO

Coming Up Next: LHP Brant Hurter (0-0, 0.00 ERA) takes on LHP Nick Zwack (0-0, 2.16 ERA) on Thursday night at 6:35 p.m. ET.

West Michigan Whitecaps 4, Dayton Dragons 1 (box)

Lefty Carlos Pena was good once again in this one, and the offense came through with some timely hits to take down Dayton and even the series.

Pena tossed four innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and a walk against five strikeouts. The lefty lacks power stuff, but his changeup in particular is a difficult look for A-ball hitters and he features a quality slider as well. Pena has some deception and a riding fastball that plays up beyond its velocity, and a little more juice could make him a potentially useful southpaw reliever down the road.

Ben Malgeri led off the second inning with a walk (you see the theme developing with leadoff walks) and Eliezer Alfonzo followed with a single. Chris Meyers singled home Malgeri and a Justice Bigbie fly out allowed Alfonzo to move to third. Carlos Mendoza lifted a sac fly to score him, and it was 2-0 ‘Caps.

As with the Hens, the Whitecaps bullpen was excellent in this one. Zack Hess, on the comeback trail from Tommy John, fired a pair of perfect innings with four strikeouts after taking over from Pena in the fifth. Blake Holub nearly matched him but recorded only three strikeouts in two innings.

Chris Meyers lifted a solo shot in the seventh to make it 3-1. and in the eighth, Jace Jung led off with a walk and scored on Danny Serretti’s double to make it 4-1. Big right-hander R.J. Petit had no trouble collecting his first save of the year.

Meyers: 2-3, R, 2 RBI, HR, SO

Serretti: 2-4, RBI, 2B

Pena: 4.0 IP, ER, 5 H, BB, 5 SO

Coming Up Next: RHP Keider Montero (0-0, 5.63 ERA) takes on RHP Javi Rivera (0-1, 10.38 ERA) at 6:35 p.m. ET on Thursday.

St. Lucie Mets 8, Lakeland Flying Tigers 3 (box)

The unfortunate theme of starters getting wrecked early continued in St. Lucie on Wednesday. Chris Williams Jr., a lefty selected with the Tigers 18th round pick in 2022, was shelled in his third appearance of the season, and the offense was quiet most of the game.

Williams Jr. couldn’t make it out of the first inning, giving up five earned runs before Jordan Marks took over. Marks allowed a run in the second, but would’ve been out of the inning without a throwing error on Peyton Graham, playing third base. A two-run double followed, and this one was just about over already.

Finally in the ninth, Sergio Tapia led off with a single and Luke Gold was hit by a pitch to give the Flying Tigers a scoring opportunity. Graham ripped an RBI double to left, and Andrew Navigato followed with one of his own to plate Gold and Graham.

Graham: 1-3, R, RBI, 2B, BB, 2 SO

Tapia: 2-3, R, SO

Coming Up Next: The two clubs meet up at 6:10 p.m. ET on Thursday.