Omaha Storm Chasers 5, Columbus Clippers 4

Jean Carlos Mejia entered Wednesday’s game on the heels of four-shutout innings in his first start of the season at Louisville on May 12. Aside from back-to-back home runs to Emmanuel Rivera and Meibrys Viloria in the top of the second inning, Mejia improved with five innings of two-run ball against Omaha, walking just one while striking out six and allowing two hits.

Mejia was lifted in the sixth inning in favor of right-hander Justin Garza, who made his Triple-A debut after 80 games over his four-year minor league career since he was drafted in the eighth round out of Cal State Fullerton in 2015.

Garza lit up the radar gun for at least 90 miles an hour on each of his first six pitches. The 27-year-old issued a pair of walks in his scoreless inning and picked off the first baserunner he allowed.

The free passes were a sign of things to come, however.

Left-hander Kyle Nelson, who was optioned to Triple-A Columbus from Cleveland’s 26-man roster on May 4, took the hill in the seventh inning and struck out the first two hitters he faced. Omaha left fielder Anderson Miller laced a two-out double, and the Clippers moved into a defensive shift for center fielder Edward Olivares.

Olivares drilled a 91 mph offering up the middle, and Gabriel Arias leapt and snagged the screaming line drive to prevent the hit and escape the threat.

After the Clippers offense picked up an insurance run to go up 4-2 after seven frames, Nelson retook the mound and issued a one-out walk, prompting manager Andy Tracy to go to Blake Parker. Parker forced a ground ball to Nolan Jones at third base, and a 5-4 putout resulted after Bobby Bradley couldn’t dig the throw for a potential inning-ending double play.

Parker then issued back-to-back walks, and lefty Danny Young relieved the right-hander. Young walked one in the eighth inning, then encountered trouble in the ninth.

Miller singled for his second hit of the game, and up stepped Olivares. Young fell behind 2-2 after getting ahead with two strikes, and Olivares connected on a go-ahead, 2-run home run off the yellow line atop the wall in right field.

Mejia was no longer in line for the win — and neither were the Clippers. Young was on the hook for both the blown save and loss, raising his season’s earned-run average to 5.40.

Mejia: 5 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K. 77 pitches and 49 strikes

Clippers bullpen: 4 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 6 BB, 5 K


Jean Carlos Mejia

1st: 93 93 93 94 84 95 94 93 88 93 92

2nd: 92 82 91 83 82 83 82 92 94 92 84 92 86 84 87 93 92 94 93 92

3rd: 91 90 84 86 91 93 82 91 92 92 91 90 91 91 91 91 83 85 85 91 84 92 91 92

4th: 80 80 80 91 82 92 86 80 91 92 90 82

5th: 88 89 90 90, 86 91 83 85 90

Justin Garza

6th: 94 90 94 94 94 93 83 93 83 94 83 83 93 93 83 84 81 83

Kyle Nelson

7th: 82 82 81 81 84 89 87 93 84 80 88 82 85 92 81 88 88 81 80 91

8th: 85 92 85 84 91 85 80

Blake Parker

8th: 92 77 82 93 81 76 74 92 92 83 92 91 91 81 92 92 92

Danny Young

8th: 78 88 78 78 89 88 [?] 84 90 79

9th: 87 84 87 89 84 [Wild pitch – didn’t register] 88 80 88 89 79 89 80 89 89 84 88 88 89 85 

Ernie Clement extends hitting streak to five; Bobby Bradley’s first multi-hit game of the season; Nolan Jones strikes out a hat trick

Columbus’ offense had little trouble tagging Louisville’s pitching staff for 24 runs over five games to begin the season, and solved Scott Blewett early for five hits over the first four innings Wednesday.

However, the offense fell silent and was held to three hits the rest of the night. Ernie Clement, who started at designated hitter, took the second pitch he saw for an infield single in the second inning and finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Bobby Bradley has had a tough start to the 2021 season, but has began the week against Omaha with hits in both games so far. On Wednesday, Bradley blasted his second home run of the season to right field in solo fashion and came through with an RBI single, finishing 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

On the opposite corner of the infield, Nolan Jones has also struggled while adjusting to Triple-A pitching. Jones struck out twice in the first three innings Wednesday despite working a full count after falling behind 1-2 in his second at-bat.

Jones grounded out in an 0-2 count in his third trip to the plate, then struck out swinging in his final at-bat after taking cuts on back-to-back pitches ahead 3-1 in the eighth inning.

IBI’s No. 2 prospect has now seen his batting average drop to .111 and has two hits in his last 19 at-bats.

First-ever Zimmer-vs-Zimmer at-bat

Omaha’s Kyle Zimmer had appeared in 122 minor-league games since first entering professional baseball in 2012. The right-hander has also thrown in over 50 innings at the big-league level with Kansas City.

Staying within the American League Central Division, Bradley Zimmer has amassed over 1,300 at-bats in the minor leagues and played in 164 games across four seasons since he joined Cleveland’s organization in 2014.

Yet, the brothers from San Francisco had never squared off against one another in-game.

That changed Wednesday night as older-brother Kyle Zimmer emerged from Omaha’s bullpen for the eighth inning, and younger-brother Bradley was due to hit fifth.

It may have taken a little help in the form of a pair of walks to Gabriel Arias and Gavin Collins, but 28-year-old Bradley Zimmer stepped to the plate with two outs against 29-year-old Kyle Zimmer.

Kyle Zimmer appeared to hold control early, working ahead 1-2 with a pair of swinging strikes. Then, Bradley Zimmer sent a liner to left field for a single, but Miller threw out Collins at third base to end the inning — just before Arias touched home plate.

It was a fun moment late in the game with the Clippers holding a 4-3 edge at the time. The full at-bat can be watched here:

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