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Cannonballs coming: Bullpen struggles lead to Indy and Altoona losses

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MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Toronto Blue Jays Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

— Indianapolis (9-8) came close to shutting out Syracuse for the third straight game, but the bullpen blew a 2-0 lead and the Indians lost in ten innings, 4-2. Clay Holmes (pictured) threw five shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks, while striking out four. He came out after 60 pitches. Tyler Jones ultimately inherited a 2-0 lead in the eighth but couldn’t hold it. The Indians’ offense remained anemic, managing just five hits and failing to score in a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the sixth. Jordan Luplow was 2-5 with a double, just his second extra-base hit in 14 games.

Kevin Newman: 1-5
Kevin Kramer: 0-5
Austin Meadows: 1-4, 2B, BB
Jacob Stallings: 0-3, BB (picked runner off third)
Josh Smoker: IP, BB (threw only 7 of 15 pitches for strikes)

— Logan Sendelbach and Jake Brentz combined to blow a three-run lead in the eighth inning as Altoona (9-8) lost to Erie in ten, 9-6. Bret Helton gave up the three runs in the tenth, as all three relievers served up gopher balls. Dario Agrazal had a solid start, giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits in six and two-thirds innings. He walked none and struck out four. The Curve had nine hits, six of them for extra bases, and drew five walks, but went only 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Christian Kelley went 2-3 with a double and a walk. Logan Hill hit his second HR, a three-run shot.

Cole Tucker: 0-3, 2 BB
Ke’Bryan Hayes: 2-5, 2B
Jason Martin: 1-4, 2B
Will Craig: 0-3, 2 BB
Stephen Alemais: 1-4, 3B

— Luis Escobar has shown improved control this year, but not today, as he walked five over four innings and threw only 41 of 81 pitches for strikes. He was charged with six runs in Bradenton’s (11-9) 7-3 loss to Tampa. The Marauders had just five hits.

Adrian Valerio: 1-4, 2B
Bligh Madris: 0-2, 2 BB

— West Virginia (10-10) couldn’t hold a brief lead and lost the first game of its doubleheader to Rome, 4-3. Travis MacGregor fanned eight over five innings, but allowed three runs on five hits and a walk. Deon Stafford provided most of the offense with a two-run HR, his first. Mason Martin was 2-3.

Cal Mitchell: 1-3, 2B, BB
Oneil Cruz: 0-3
Rodolfo Castro: 1-3, 2B
Lolo Sanchez: 0-3 (0-for-14 in last five games)

The Power lost game two, 8-3, in nine innings. Spot starter Evan Piechota threw six shutout innings, but the Power couldn’t get on the board. They had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Chris Sharpe led off with a double, but Buntbrain Mania surfaced again. Cal Mitchell, batting .347 at the time, bunted Sharpe to third but the Power failed to score. In bogus baseball time, Rome scored twice in the top of the eighth. Mitchell and Oneil Cruz had two-out RBI singles to tie the game for the Power, but pinch runner Lolo Sanchez got thrown out at the plate to send the game to the ninth. Joel Cesar and Jacob Taylor got torched for six runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach. Cruz was 2-3 with a triple and a walk.

Mitchell: 1-3
Martin: 1-4
Castro: 0-4
Blake Weiman: IP, K