Game three of this huge series between Lowell Spinners and Connecticut Tigers took place on Monday night in Lowell. Both teams had a win in their pocket coming into this game. The Spinners had a three and a half game lead over the Tigers in the Stedler division. Time may be running out on the Tigers, but keep in mind these two teams will meet again over the Labor Day holiday weekend in Norwich, CT. to finish the regular season.
Innings limit has become a concern for Lowell (35-29) heading down the final days of the season. With that in mind, manager Luke Montz went to his bullpen to find Monday night’s starter. Ryan Fernandez, who last made a start on August 3, 2018, was handed the baseball for this important game. Connecticut (30-33) countered with Keider Montero (2-2) who came into this start with a complete game and a shutout to his credit. A loss by the Tigers would drop them to four and a half back, a win would bring them to within two and a half.
Lowell wasted little time in giving Fernandez some support. The leadoff man in the Spinners lineup, Gilberto Jimenez started the game with an infield hit to third base. The next man up, catcher Jaxx Groshans, drove a Montero fastball over the wall in left field for his fourth home run of the season. The RBI were his 18th and19th of the season and it was 2-0 Lowell after one.
Lowell doubled their lead in the third when a walk to Jimenez got it started. Two batters later, Montero would have to leave the game after taking a line drive off his pitching arm from the bat of Spinners second baseman Cameron Cannon. An out was recorded on the play, but Montero was taken out of the game. His replacement, Andrew Magno, was greeted roughly by Lowell DH and 2019 All-Star Joe Davis who launched his fifth HR of the year into the trees in left-center. It was RBIs 26 and 27 on the season as he collected three hits with his two runs batted in. That made it 4-0 Lowell after three innings.
Fernandez was doing his job as he got his team into the fourth before he began to labor and get pitches up in the zone. Before he left the game, he did give up a run in the inning. A base on balls to Ryan Kreidler advanced to second on a wild pitch then scored the Tigers first run of the ballgame on a RBI single to right by Jake Holton. 4-1 Spinners after four innings. Fernandez left the game after a line of 3.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO. Lowell added single runs in both the fourth and fifth aganist the Tigers bullpen to increase the lead to 6-1 after six.
Connecticut added a run in the seventh with the help of some wildness from Spinners relief pitcher Brendan Cellucci He threw a couple of wild pitches to score the Tigers second run. Spinners pitchers threw four wild ones with a passed ball thrown in. The Tigers added another run in the eighth on two walks, a passed ball, and a sac fly to right by Jose King. All this came off of Lowell’s fourth pitcher of the night, Hildermaro Requerra. 6-3 Lowell after eight. Lowell added an unearned run in the eighth to make the final score Lowell 7 Connecticut 3.
With the series win, Lowell now has a four and a half game lead with twelve to play. Both Montz and his catcher Groshans talked about how well Fernandez pitched on Monday night. Montz expressed the “bulldog way that Fernandez did his job.” His catcher pointed out “I just let him do his thing and work”. It paid off with a solid outing but his pitch count did get up there. All in all, a job well done. All-Star Joe Davis is “pumped” to be playing in the All-Star game and a “bit surprised as well”. He talked about how getting the early lead “was huge and is “proud of his defensive play around the first base bag as well.”
The team will now get a day and a half off before heading to Vermont to take on the Lake Monsters on Thursday night. Lowell’s second relief pitcher, Osvaldo De La Rosa, threw a scoreless inning and a third to get his third win of the year vs one loss.
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