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Colt Keith homers and reaches base five times in Triple-A debut

Scores, news, and notes, from the Detroit Tigers’ farm system for Wednesday, June 28, 2023.

Columbus Clippers 11, Toledo Mud Hens 10 (F/10)(box)

This one was far more entertaining that the Tigers game last night. The result was the same though, as the Hens opened the second half of their schedule with an extra innings loss to the Clippers on a smoky Wednesday night at Huntington Park.

Colten Keith made his Triple-A debut, playing second base, while Nick Maton played third in his first game down since he was optioned a few days ago. Justyn-Henry Malloy was in left field again, and that seems to be the plan going forward.

Tarik Skubal threw 68 pitches, and while he wasn’t real sharp early on, he didn’t have much trouble once he settled in. A one-out throwing error on Maton allowed Daniel Schneemann to reach in the bottom of the first. Skubal slipped and uncorked a wild pitch that moved him to third and then walked Oscar Gonzalez, who promptly stole second base. Zack Collins struck out swinging through a Skubal fastball, but George Valera singled in both runners to give the Clippers a 2-0 lead.

Both runs were unearned, and Skubal got better as he went, finishing strong with a pop-out and a pair of strikeouts in the fourth inning. He struck out four and walked two on the day, hitting 97 mph and sitting comfortably around 95.

I’ll venture a guess that while he still looks a little rusty in the command department, Skubal will make his next start with the Tigers. That would be at home on the Fourth of July against a weak-hitting Oakland Athletics club. He’d then be on track to pitch on July 9 at home against the Blue Jays, the last game before the All-Star break. We’ll see what the Tigers decide.

The Hens got a Maton single in the first, but no more. However, Colt Keith stepped to the dish in the second and went yard off of Hunter Gaddis in his first Triple-A at-bat.

Keith went on to have a three-hit game, and also walked twice, one of them intentional. The one out he made was a screaming line drive to left center field that the Clippers’ outfielder made a nice running play on. This was one heck of a debut for the Tigers’ top prospect.

In the third, Malloy drew a one-out walk and scored when Maton ripped a double to left field. An error compounded the issue and allowed Malloy to score from first on the play.

Sam Clay took over from Skubal in the fifth and allowed a run. 3-2 Columbus. Parker Meadows faced lefty Caleb Baragar with Joe Rizzo aboard in the sixth, and crushed his 10th homer of the season to deep right center field. 4-3 Hens.

Trey Wingenter pitched a perfect sixth with a strikeout, sitting around 96 mph with his fastball. Expect him in Detroit shortly. Sean Guenther allowed two runs in the seventh as the Clippers recaptured the lead. But in the top of the eighth, the Hens dropped five runs on the Clippers to take a 9-5 lead.

Johan Camargo led off the eighth with a double to right field, and then moved to third on a Donny Sands ground out. Nick Solak and Joe Rizzo walked to load the bases, and Meadows came up big again with a line drive single to center to score Camargo. Malloy followed by clearing the bases with a double to center that was misplayed, allowing Malloy to take third. Maton was then hit by a pitch and the Clippers brought in James Karinchak to finally snuff the rally. He did so, but not before Keith ripped an RBI single to right to score Malloy.

So that’s one MLB caliber setup man Keith has handled successfully already.

Unfortunately, Miguel Diaz struggled in the bottom of the ninth trying to close it out with a 9-5 lead. He was lifted with two outs after allowing a single and a walk. Matt Wisler came on, walked the first batter he faced, and then Jhonkensy Noel smoked a grand slam to left center field, tying the game.

In the tenth, with Meadows at second base, Malloy lined out to center field for the first out, Meadows moving to third on the play. Andre Lipcius grounded out, scoring Meadows, but after they intentionally walked Keith, Camargo flew out to left field. That one run lead didn’t hold up as Wisler got the first two outs, but then a wild pitch, a double, and a single walked this one off for Columbus.

Keith: 3-4, R, 2 RBI, HR, 2 BB

Malloy: 2-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2B, BB

Meadows: 2-6, 3 R, 3 RBI, HR, SO

Maton: 2-4, 2B, BB

Skubal: 4.0 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 SO

Coming Up Next: The Hens will face RHP Zach Plesac on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Akron RubberDucks at Erie SeaWolves (postponed)

The smoke from the Canadian wildfires has been really bad again the past few days, plaguing most of the upper Midwest over to the Buffalo region. The SeaWolves and RubberDucks decided to postpone this one under the conditions. They’ll start their second half schedule tomorrow at 6:05 p.m. RHP Ty Madden (1-1, 4.38 ERA) starts for Erie, while RHP Ross Carver (0-1, 3.38 ERA) throws for Akron.

Dayton Dragons 9, West Michigan Whitecaps 6 (F/10)(box)

The Whitecaps’ second half schedule also began with an extra innings loss on Wednesday despite a good outing from Williander Moreno.

The right-hander allowed one run over five innings of work, striking out five, and the ‘Caps held a 5-1 lead when he departed.

The ‘Caps struck first when Carlos Mendoza led off the bottom of the first with a walk. Roberto Campos singled him to third, where Mendoza scored as Jace Jung grounded into a double play.

They kept it going in the second as Lazaro Benitez led off with a single and Dillon Paulson doubled him over to third. Just promoted, Dom Johnson’s High-A debut started with him getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. Mendoza singled in Benitez. A double play ball from Campos scored Paulson. And then Jung singled in Johnson to make it 4-1.

In the bottom of the fifth, Jung walked and later scored on an Eliezer Alfonzo sac fly, and it was 5-1 Whitecaps. Elvis Alvarado took over from Moreno in the sixth, and was promptly clobbered for five runs as Dayton took a 6-5 lead. The Whitecaps tied it up in the eighth, but Trevin Michael allowed three runs in the top of the tenth, and they couldn’t get a run across in the bottom half of the inning.

Benitez: 2-5, R, 2B

Mendoza: 1-4, R, RBI, BB

Moreno: 5.0 IP, ER, 5 H, BB, 5 SO

Coming Up Next: RHP Wilkel Hernandez (1-5, 5.40 ERA) takes on Dragons RHP Chase Petty (0-1, 1.29 ERA) on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. ET. Tuesday night’s smoke out will be made up with a doubleheader on Friday evening.

Fort Myers Mighty Mussels 16, Lakeland Flying Tigers 2 (box)

This was a 2-2 game until the Mussels dropped 11 runs on the Flying Tigers in the sixth, cruising to victory in a laugher.

Jackson Jobe got the start and tossed two innings of one-hit ball with a strikeout. Seth Stephenson tripled in J.D. McLaughlin in the third to take an early lead. Luke Gold doubled and scored on a McLaughlin single in the fifth.

However, between Max Green, Eiker Huizi, and Franklin Perez, the Mighty Mussels absolutely had their way with the Flying Tigers bullpen the rest of the way. Franklin Perez returned to Low-A action by taking over in the thick of trouble and giving up a grand slam. His fastball topped out at 88 mph, so...yeah.

Gold: 2-3, R, 2B

Santana: 2-3, SO

Jobe: 2.0 IP, 0 ER, H, SO

Coming Up Next: It’s a 7:00 p.m. ET start on Thursday night.