After taking 3 of 4 from the Fort Wayne Tincaps (San Diego Padres) on its recent road trip, the Great Lakes Loons (63-64) dropped a 7-4 decision to the Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays) in the first game of a 3-game home series at Dow Diamond tonight.
Trailing 7-1 midway through eight, the Loons attempted a comeback when right fielder Saige Jenco and shortstop Gavin Lux reached on back to back 1-out walks, before center fielder Jeren Kendall drove them in on a 2-RBI triple to right field, then scored a 'little league homer' on an overthrow at third, bringing the Loons to within 3-runs (7-4) of the Lugnuts in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Loons had jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the second inning when second baseman Jared Walker (9) belted a 2-out solo home run, his ninth of the year, for a 1-0 early lead.
Great Lakes starter Afredo Tavarez looked good through 3-innings, before the wheels started to come off in the fourth inning, where he was fortunate to only give up 1-run after allowing 3-hits, as Lansing tied the game at 1-run apiece midway through the fourth.
Tavarez' struggles spilled over into the fifth inning where he hit 2-batter's, threw a wild pitch, then walked a batter to load the bases with 1-out, before he was replaced by right-hand reliever Aneurys Zabala.
Zabala (a 2014 international free agent from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic who was acquired by the Dodgers in the Chase De Jong trade back in March) struck out the first batter he faced, then gave up 3-runs on a bases-clearing double (all charged to Tavarez) for a 4-1 Lansing lead in the top of the fifth inning.
Tavarez (0-1, 9.90 ERA) was tagged with his first loss of the season after giving up 4-runs on 4-hits and 2-walks, with 1-strikeout through 4 1/3 innings.
After a good fifth inning, Zabala surrendered a single, a walk, and a 2-run double to give Lansing a 6-1 lead before he was replaced by Loons reliever Evy Ruibal with 1-out in the seventh.
Ruibal managed to get a ground-out (as the runner on second advanced to third) for the second out of the inning, and it seemed he'd be getting out of the inning on another routine grounder, however, Loons shortstop Gavin Lux committed his twenty-second error of the season on the throw, allowing the runner to score for a 7-1 Lansing lead midway through seven.
Zabala gave up 3-runs on 3-hits and 2-walks, with 2-strikeouts through 2-innings of relief, while Ruibal allowed 2-hits and 2-walks, with a strikeout through 2/3 of an inning.
Kendall was 2 for 4 with 1-run scored, as Walker belted his ninth home run to lead the Loons tonight.
The Loons return for the second game of this 3-game home series with the Lugnuts tomorrow at 7:05 pm at Dow Diamond.