The West Michigan Whitecaps handed the Great Lakes Loons a 5-2 loss in front of 4,213 fans at Dow Diamond Thursday.
After allowing just one run through his first four inning's, Great Lakes starter Kevin Guzman (4-7, 3.48 ERA) looked as if he were off to a pretty solid start. Then came the disastrous fifth, where the wheels came completely off for the right-hand pitcher from Maracay, Venezuela.
Great Lakes manager Luis Matos would like to see his starter do better when facing batters later in the game. The Loons skipper knows the negative impact one bad inning can have on his team.
“We just fell apart there in the fifth inning and just gave up that big inning,” Matos said. “Goozy (Kevin Guzman) needs to do a better job when facing second and third time batters, like their second and third time around, if he can do that he's going to be just fine, but we can't give up big innings and expect to win games.”
Guzman gave up four consecutive singles to open the fifth, starting with a lead off hit to Franklin Navarro. West Michigan second baseman Garrett Mattlage hit a deep single, which allowed the speedy Navarro to move to third base. With Navarro on third and Mattlage on first, Loons third baseman Matt Beaty cleanly fielded a hard hit grounder. However, instead of an out, Beaty's split-second decision to check Navarro at third -before throwing to first- allowed everyone safe on the play, and Navarro still scored to tie the game at two runs apiece.
West Michigan left fielder Rashad Brown laid down a perfect bunt-single to load the bases. Following a Loons pitching change the Whitecaps scored another run on a sac fly to take a 3-2 lead. The third run was charged to Guzman. The Whitecaps would add one more run in the sixth, and another in the eighth.
First baseman Justin Chigbogu put the Loons on the board when he led off the bottom of the second inning with a 421-foot moonshot home run (4) over the right field wall. Federico Celli kept the threat alive with a 2-out double down the left field line. Celli eventually scored on Jimmy Allen's RBI single to the gap in right center field which gave the Loons a 2-0 lead.
Chigbogu's homer was his second in as many night's. A recent visit from Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coordinator Damon Mashore, along with some extensive work on his swing could mean many more moonshot's in the future for the twenty year old from Kansas City, MO. Chigbogu also added a double in the third inning.
“I've just been putting in work everyday,” Chigbogu said. “I've been working more consistently and constantly. You know, we had (Damon) Mashore come in here and he got me back to where I'm swinging at it, just being patient. Hopefully, this continues and I can start seeing the ball better here in the second-half.”
Chigbogu and Federico Celli both went 2-for-4 to lead the Loons hitters tonight, while Alex Verdugo extended his hit streak to 14 games. Beaty and Jimmy Allen each added singles as well.
Guzman was charged with the loss, as he gave up three runs off seven hits, walking three, and striking out three batters through 4.1 innings of work. Jose Alberto Molina (3-2, 3.67 ERA) came in to face ten batters allowing one run off two hits, while walking one, and striking out one batter through 2.2 innings of work. Bubby Rossman (2-1, 2..54 ERA) gave up a run, but was not charged with an earned run on two hits, walking one, and striking out one batter through two innings of relief work.