There are just four games left in Indians Arizona League season and the play-off bound Indians Blue had a shot at a first round bye, but they likely blew it over the past week.
When we last left our heroes, they were at the end of a ten game winning streak. This immediately flipped and they won just one of their next five games. This run started on August 15th with a loss against Brewers Gold, despite a very impressive performance by the bullpen. Diarlin Jimenez allowed four runs in four innings, then was backed up by two scoreless innings by both Nate Ocker and Luis C. Garcia, then one more from Jared Janczak. In the last five innings, the bullpen struck out nine while allowing four hits and one walk.
The offense provided four doubles, including two from Jeikol Contreras, but was unable to match the four runs scored by Milwaukee.
Team Blue took the next game against Padres 1 in an attempt to help out their team Red brothers. Cristopher Cespedes was the hero with three hits including a home run and three RBI while catcher turned 1B, Jose Colina, had three hits as well, including a triple, and scored two runs.
Shane McCarthy made his final rehab start in this game, going four scoreless innings while striking out four. In four starts, he went 12 innings, allowed four hits, four walks, zero runs and struck out 15. He was activated by the Captains on August 17th.
The Indians lost again on August 17th mostly due to Daritzon Feliz‘s poor start. He allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 2.1 innings with seven coming in the third alone between Feliz and Joel De La Cruz. While this game was a blow out from the start, Jordan Jones must be commended for his incredible finish.
Jones went the final four innings, didn’t allow a run and gave up just one hit. He struck out nine of his 13 batters faced. While he has generally pitched in relief, he has went at least three innings in each of his seven appearances and has kept the opposition from scoring in all but one of those appearances. Overall, he now has 41 strike outs to eight walks this year in 35.1 innings.
Indians Blue headed into Sunday with a solid chance to steal a first round bye in the play-offs as they had two straight games with their rival Padres 2. This didn’t work out particularly well as they were shut out on Sunday 7-0. Jhonneyver Gutierrez had major control issues in the start, although Nic Enright was fantastic in relief, throwing three shut out inning with six strike outs.
After an off day on Monday, Padres 2 blew out the Indians Blue again on Tuesday, although this time Colina provided some offense with three hits including a home run. Wilmer Mejia took the loss thanks to six runs allowed in three innings, then Nate Ocker took on the effect of four unearned runs in one inning. All three of the Indians errors in this game occurred in the fourth inning with Ocker on the mound, dooming the otherwise extremely efficient righty.
Wednesday marked the return of Aaron Bracho for the first time since July 26th and he restarted just as he left off, with two hits and an RBI. Six players in the Blue line-up had two hits with Victor Nova scoring four runs and Angel Lopez knocking in five.
Despite all the offense, four errors nearly gave the game away. Jimenez made the start and struck out seven in 4.2 innings while allowing just one earned run. Joel De La Cruz gave up five over the last two innings, but Indians Blue hung on and won 10-7.
This win moved their season record to 34-18, just two games behind Padres 2 for the second best record in the Arizona League. While the Indians Red haven’t been officially eliminated from the play-offs yet, they are right on the edge with an elimination number of one. Had they won a few more games recently, team Blue would be in a great place to help their brothers over the final week as they have two games against Dodgers Mota and one against Padres 1, two of the four teams now ahead of Indians Red. Their other game is against Indians Red on August 23rd, their last day game of the season.