The Great Lakes Loons (36-67) took the opener of a 4-game road series with a 9-2 victory over the Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) in front of 5,908 at Classic Park in Eastlake, OH tonight.
The Loons, who have a measly (11-23) second-half record since the Midwest League All Star break back in June, put together a big sixth inning (doing most of the damage off a well-known MLB pitcher who was on a rehab assignment) to pull away from the Captains tonight; while the team seems to be flashing some signs of a turnaround, having now won 4 of the last 5 games heading into the final days of July.
With the Loons protecting a 3-0 lead, former Detroit Tigers first round pick (and current Cleveland Indians MLB pitcher) Andrew Miller, who is on a rehab assignment with Lake County, replaced Captains starter Gregori Vasquez to start the sixth and Great Lakes third baseman Luke Heyer quickly made Miller's MWL stint one to forget after Heyer singled, then scored on an RBI-triple off the bat of first baseman Brock Carpenter, which led to an RBI-single from Great Lakes catcher Gersel Pitre, scoring Carpenter for the second run of the inning, while second baseman Josh McLain reached on a Lake County fielding error, chasing Miller with just 1-out in the inning.
Great Lakes DH Moises Perez continued the rally with a 2-run single, scoring Pitre and McLain, which was followed by another single from 2018 Dodgers' draft pick Drew Avans, before Loons second baseman Devin Mann capped off the 6-run outburst with a 2-run double to score Perez and Avans for a 9-0 Loons lead midway through the sixth inning.
Vasquez (5-5, 3.59 ERA) was tagged with his fifth loss of the season for the Captains after giving up 3-runs on 6-hits and 2-walks, with 2-strikeouts through 5-innings of work tonight, while Miller gave up 2-earned runs on 3-hits, with 1-strikeout through 2/3 of an inning.
The Loons had jumped out to an early lead when McLain led off the third with a double, then scored when Great Lakes shortstop Deacon Liput followed with another double, scoring McLain, before Avans drove in McLain with an RBI-single for a 2-0 Loons lead in the top half of the third inning.
Heyer (1) added another Loons run after having led off the top half of the fourth with his first career home run in a Great Lakes uniform, sending a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall at Classic Park for a 3-0 Loons lead midway through the fourth inning.
The Captains would finally get on the board in the seventh when LF Oscar Gonzalez (12th of the year) and Lake County third baseman Nolan Jones (14th of the year) each hit respective solo home runs, cutting the Great Lakes lead to 9-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Loons right-hand starter Edwin Uceta (4-6, 3.46 ERA) was very impressive en route to his fourth win of the year after giving up just 2-runs on 3-hits and 2-walks, while hitting double-digits with 11-strikeouts through 7-solid innings tonight, while right-hand reliever Melvin Jimenez (5.08 ERA) allowed just a hit and a walk, while striking out 3-batters to close out the final 2-innings.
Avans was 3 for 4 with 1-RBI, 1-walk, and 1-run scored to lead the Loons offense tonight, followed by Liput, who finished 2 for 4 with 1-RBI, 1-walk, and 1-run scored, while Heyer was 2 for 5 with 2-runs scored, including his first career MWL home run.
The Loons and Captains will be back at it with the second game of this 4-game series at 7 pm right back here at Classic Park in Eastlake, OH tomorrow night.