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Colt Keith rages on; Skubal, Manning, and Brieske rehab in weekend action

Scores, news, and notes, from the Detroit Tigers farm system for the weekend of June 9-11, 2023.

Buffalo Bisons 4, Toledo Mud Hens 3 (Fri)(Box)

Toledo Mud Hens 7, Buffalo Bisons 5 (Sat)(Box)

Buffalo Bisons 12, Toledo Mud Hens 1 (Sun)(Box)

The Hens managed to win on Saturday, avoiding the sweep, but the Bisons averaged over seven runs a game in the series.

On Friday, recently acquired lefty Bryan Sammons gave the Hens a solid outing but the Hens couldn’t complete a comeback against the Bisons bullpen.

Sammons tossed five innings of three run ball. He struck out five, walked two, but allowed a pair of solo shots and an unearned run along the way.

After the Bisons scored after a Justyn-Henry Malloy throwing error at third base in the first inning, the Hens got the run back when Parker Meadows led off the bottom half with a double. Bisons manager Casey Candaele got tossed for arguing balls and strikes, a theme that would continue in various affiliate matchups this weekend, and Matt Vierling slapped a single to right to score Meadows.

Sammons allowed the home runs in the third and fifth, and so it was 3-1 Buffalo in the bottom of the fifth when Andrew Knapp and John Valente both went yard to tie things up. Miguel Diaz allowed a run in the top of the ninth and the Bisons held on to win. Malloy went hitless in this one. Braden Bristo gave the Hens two scoreless innings of relief, while Matt Wisler contributed one, dropping his ERA to 1.93 on the season.

On Saturday, Matt Wisler opened the game with a clean inning and Brenan Hanifee took over to spin four more scoreless frames. Rony Garcia tossed a scoreless sixth, and the Hens built a 5-0 lead in the middle innings.

Andre Lipcius opened the scoring with a solo shot, his fifth home run, to left center field in the fourth. In the fifth, Corey Joyce led off the bottom half with a triple to left. Brendon Davis doubled him home and took third on a throwing error, then scored on Parker Meadows’ screaming line drive double to center.

Joe Rizzo’s first game with the Hens went well as he doubled with one out in the sixth. Michael Papierski walked and Corey Joyce was hit by a pitch. It was Brendon Davis again with a big hit as he singled in Rizzo and Papierski to make it 5-0.

Garcia stayed in the game in the seventh and allowed a run before Brendan White took over to shut down a developing rally. Hens’ closer Miguel Diaz came on in the ninth and promptly allowed three straight doubles and a walk as the Bisons went on to tie the game at 5-5.

With two outs in the ninth, Andre Lipcius reached on an infield single, and Rizzo stepped to the dish and ended it with a two-run shot to left field. Pretty good debut for Mr. Rizzo.

Sunday’s game was just a disaster from the Hens’ bullpen.

Matt Manning made his first rehab start, and while his command wasn’t very good early, he didn’t have much trouble keeping the Bisons off the board until his pitch count limit was reached. Manning was pulling the ball gloveside a bit, walking two, but settled in as he went. He touched 95 mph on the fastball, and as he’s recovering from a fractured foot rather than an arm injury, presumably his progression will be a little more aggressive than Tarik Skubal’s.

The Hens loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first, but only got one run on an Andre Lipcius single. Tyler Nevin had three singles, while Parker Meadows had two, but they couldn’t muster another run as Chavez Fernander, Austin Bergner, and Aneurys Zabala were all lit up in relief.

Coming Up Next: The Hens travel to Allentown, PA to take on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs starting Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Bowie Baysox 7, Erie SeaWolves 5 (Fri)(Box)

Bowie Baysox 6, Erie SeaWolves 2 (Sat)(Box)

Erie SeaWolves 5, Bowie Baysox 2 (Sun)(Box)

The SeaWolves managed to salvage one game of this six game set, but Bowie had their number all series long.

On Friday, Sawyer Gipson-Long was lit up for five runs, all of them scoring on the three home runs he allowed. The right-hander struck out eight, walking two, but when he got hit, he got hit hard.

Down 3-0 after the top of the second, the SeaWolves responded in the bottom half when Jake Holton led off with a walk and Diego Rincones homered to left to cut the deficit to one run. They tied it up with back-to-back doubles from Andrew Navigato and Dillon Dingler in the third inning, and then Holton singled in Dingler to make it 4-3 Erie.

Bowie poured in on with two runs each in the sixth and seventh innings. Colt Keith stayed hot, launching his 11th home run with no one aboard in the eighth, but the SeaWolves would get no closer.

Keith had a single and a walk to go with the home run.

Saturday’s contest was undone by a quiet day for the offense, but Wilmer Flores didn’t start things off very well either. He was wild early, allowing three runs to score with two wild pitches and walk issued in the inning. From there he settled in to blank Bowie the rest of his outing, striking out seven. His outing ended in the fifth after a series of bad calls from home plate umpire Matt Blackborow drew the ire of Erie manager Gabe Alvarez. Alvarez got tossed, and got his money’s worth with a leisurely stroll down the third base line.

The SeaWolves got a run back in the third courtesy of Keith’s 12th home run of the season. They got another in the fourth as Andrew Navigato pulled a grounder and Bowie’s third baseman, Coby Mayo, threw it away allowing Navigato to get to third base on the play where he scored on a Jake Holton sacrifice fly.

That was as close as they got, as Adam Wolf allowed a run in the sixth and Jake Higginbotham allowed two more in the seventh as Erie’s offense went silent.

Finally, the SeaWolves broke through on Sunday. Brant Hurter shut out the Baysox for four innings with seven strikeouts. Luis Santana opened the scoring with an RBI double to score Holton in the bottom of the second inning. Andrew Navigato doubled and later scored on a wild pitch in the third. In the sixth, Erie loaded the bases with one out and Colin Burgess singled home Holton and Gage Workman. A Trei Cruz ground out scored Luis Santana, and it was 5-0. The bullpen allowed two runs in the ninth but held on to win.

Coming Up Next: The SeaWolves head to Harrisburg to take on the Senators this week. RHP Keider Montero (3-2, 7.86 ERA) gets the start on Tuesday at noon.

West Michigan Whitecaps 8, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 6 (Fri)(Box)

Wisconsin Timber Ratters 4, West Michigan Whitecaps 1 (Sat)(Box)

West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Wisconsin Timber Ratters (Sun)(cancelled)

The Timber Rattlers were on their way to a sweep until Tarik Skubal helped power the Whitecaps to a win on Friday night. They lost Saturday and then got rained out on Sunday, losing the series four games to one.

Skubal took the hill on Friday for his second rehab start and looked very good. His command of his fastball and slider were both sharp, and he hit 96 mph repeatedly along the way. Skubal struck out six, allowing just a pair of singles that did lead to an unearned run as a two-base error on Chris Meyers in left field started the second inning.

The Whitecaps were already on top at that point after a four-run first inning. Danny Serretti led off the frame with a double, and Jace Jung doubled him home. Justice Bigbie singled Jung to third, and Meyers followed with a three-run shot, his ninth on the year.

Jung added a solo shot in the bottom of the second, his eighth homer of the season on a screaming drive to right field.

Wilkel Hernandez took over from Skubal in the fourth and melted down for five runs before he was lifted. The Rattlers led 6-5 at that point. Fortunately, Serretti and Jung each homered in the bottom half to re-take the lead. The bullpen had things under control from there, and Dillon Paulson singled in Izaac Pacheco in the eighth for an insurance run.

On Saturday, the ‘Caps had a tough time with Rattlers’ starter Tyler Woessner, and managed just four hits in the game. Lefty Carlos Pena allowed just one run over six innings of work, despite just two strikeouts. Beau Brieske walked a batter but otherwise tossed a clean seventh inning. Chris Meyers doubled in Justice Bigbie in the bottom of the seventh, which briefly tied the game. Unfortunately Angel Reyes allowed three runs in the eighth to take the loss.

Tampa Tarpons 12, Lakeland Flying Tigers 5 (Fri)(Box)

Tampa Tarpons 13, Lakeland Flying Tigers 7 (Sat)(Box)

Lakeland Flying Tigers 9, Tampa Tarpons 5 (Sun)(Box)

The Flying Tigers were nearly swept in this homestand, salvaging a win on Sunday.

On Friday, starter joe Miller allowed a run in the first, but the Flying Tigers came back with two in the bottom of the second inning. Abel Bastidas singled with one out and took second on an error. Sergio Tapia grounded one to third and everyone was safe. Tyler Johnson drew a walk, and Seth Stephenson came up with a two-run single.

Miller allowed another run in the top of the fourth, tying the game at two apiece, but the Flying Tigers came right back with three in the bottom half. Tapia led off with a walk, and after a Tyler Johnson ground out, Alvaro Gonzalez drew a walk as well. Stephenson reached on an infield single that load the bases and Carlos Mendoza came up with a two-run single to right field. An Archer Brookman sacrifice fly brought Stephenson home from third, and it was 5-2 Lakeland.

The bullpen just went down in flames from that point on, giving up 10 runs over the final four innings, including a six-run ninth, to lose it.

Tigers reliever Trey Wingenter got a rehab outing to start the game on Saturday and struggled to find the strike zone, departing without recording an out after 25 pitches. Garrett Apker allowed his inherited runners to score, and then gave up five more of his own and had to be lifted as well. When the smoke cleared it was 9-0 Tampa.

Archer Brookman hit a solo shot, his first of the year, in the third inning. Moises Valero and J.D. McLaughlin each tripled in the game, but the Flying Tigers only had four hits the whole game. They scratched their way back into this one courtesy of eight walks issues by Tampa, and it was 9-7 after six innings. Tampa scored four more off the bullpen late to pull away.

On Sunday, Cristian Santana and Peyton Graham were back in the lineup, presumably after some instruction on their swings and approach, as Graham has been wholly unimpressive, and Santana a disaster to start the year.

Starter Cleiverth Perez allowed five run in his 1 23 innings of work, but the bullpen managed to shut down the Tarpons’ offense the rest of the game.

Santana hit his third home run of the year in the second inning to make it 5-1 Tampa. In the fourth, Dom Johnson tripled with one out and scored on a Luke Gold bliner to center field. Bastidas doubled and Santana followed by drawing a walk. Sergio Tapia then cracked a grand slam to left center field, and it was 6-5 Lakeland.

In the fifth, Lazaro Benitez singled with one out, took second on a throwing error, and then a pair of wild pitches brought him around to score. 7-5 Lakeland.

Tyler Johnson and Graham singled in the seventh and Benitez drew a walk to load the bases. A Dom Johnson single off Tampa’s second baseman’s glove brought Johnson and Graham home with the final runs of the game.

Santana had two walks to go with the home run. Johnson had the only two-hit game for the Flying Tigers.

Coming Up Next: The Flying Tigers travel to Dunedin to take on the Blue Jays starting Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. ET.