Brian Wolfe's two RBIs and a combined effort from the bullpen led the Great Lakes Loons to a 4-0 victory over the Bowling Green Hot Rods in front of 3,356 fans at Dow Diamond Monday night.
The Loons struck first scoring two runs on three bloop-singles in the third inning. Catcher Garrett Kennedy's one-out blooper started the rally. Second baseman Jordan Tarsovich followed with a bloop single of his own. Jimmy Allen loaded the bases after taking a Yonny Chirinos breaking ball (that didn't break) to the left side of his body. Wolfe's 2-RBI single scored Kennedy and Tarsovich, giving the Loons an early 2-0 lead.
Wolfe extended his hit streak (in a Loons uniform) to 12 games. The streak, however, has spanned a three month period. Wolfe started the season with the Loons and had hit safely in 4 games when he was promoted to the Dodgers' advanced-A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga, CA back on May, 22 of this year. He has now hit safely in the 8 games since returning to the Loons on Aug., 15.
“I don't really pay too much attention to hitting streaks, it's more about taking quality at bats,” said Wolfe. “My biggest thing is, when I do get hits, I want them to come with runners in scoring position to help my team, and tonight I was fortunate to get that.”
The Loons added two more insurance runs in the sixth inning when first baseman Justin Chigbogu ripped a hard hit liner into right field, scoring Wolfe and third baseman Matt Beaty. Wolfe reached with his second hit and Beaty followed with his third single of the night. Chigbogu hit the ball so hard it was mishandled by Bowling Green right fielder Cade Gotta, allowing both runners to score as Chigbogu advanced to second base.
Loons starter Michael Boyle (2-2, 4.32 ERA) struggled at times but managed to get through 3.2 innings without allowing a run. The Hot Rods were able to get at least one runner to second base in each of the first four innings but Boyle seemed to somehow get out of trouble each time, allowing just four hits and striking out four batters while allowing just one walk in his first start at Dow Diamond.
Cameron Palmer and Jose Alberto Molina combined to pitch the next 4.1 innings of flawless relief. Palmer (5-1, 3.58 ERA) who relieved Boyle in the fourth inning, earned his fifth win of the season after walking just one batter while striking out two through 1.1 innings of work.
Molina (4-2, 3.28 ERA) allowed just two hits while striking out four batters through three innings of work. Matt Campbell (1-0, 2.15 ERA) closed out the final inning in a non-save situation allowing one hit and one walk while striking out one batter.
Wolfe paced the Loons offense going 2-for-4 with 2-RBIs and 1 run scored. Chigbogu was 1-for-4 with 1-RBI, while Beaty (3-for-4) and Tarsovich (2-for-4) contributed with multiple hit games respectively.
With just seventeen regular season games left the Loons are ready for a post season run. The team qualified for the 2015 playoffs with a strong first-half finish, but the roster has changed considerably since the all star break. The Loons have made 142 roster changes throughout this season and a total of 65 different players have worn the Great Lakes uniform, making skipper Luis Matos' job that much more difficult. However, the former MLB star knows that's all part of managing a minor league team, and if players are moving up, he's doing his job.
“I think they (the Los Angeles Dodgers) made the moves at the right time, now we have sixteen or seventeen more games so we have time to get that chemistry back like in the early part of the season,” Matos said. “That's part of minor league baseball, you have to go through it and it means that you're doing your job and sending all those guys to the next level.”