New Orleans starter Scott Copeland’s uneven season was on the rise on Friday night as he pitched 5.2 solid innings against Colorado Springs and his effort was buoyed by a solid bullpen performance as the Baby Cakes won 4-1 at the Shrine on Airline.
Three Cakes relievers pitched 3.2 innings of shutout relief to seal the win.
Right-hander Drew Steckenrider, whose fast ball sits at 95-97 mph, struck out the side in the ninth inning. Steckenrider also struck all three hitters in the ninth Thursday night, just after arriving from Miami before that game.
Copeland was lifted in the sixth inning of a 1-1 tie after giving up a double to Sky Sox pitcher Michael Blazek with two outs. Copeland threw 100 pitches and had recorded 12 ground ball outs and three strikeouts while scattering nine hits. Copeland was clutch with men on base. Colorado Springs hitters were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
A two-out single by Brandon Barnes and a double by Cal Towey drove in three runs to give the Cakes a 4-1 lead after six. Barnes’ hit followed a double by Steve Lombardozzi and an infield single by Mike Aviles.
Twenty-four year-old left hander Victor Payano ended the sixth by striking out Kyle Wren, and Payano also pitched the seventh, striking out three, all on called strikes. Hunter Cervenko pitched to just three hitters in the eighth.
When he singled in the fourth on Friday night and eventually scored the Cakes’ first run, Lombardozzi had hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games. He is hitting .386 (22 for 57) during that streak.
Mike Aviles was in the middle of the Baby Cakes first two runs. Lombardozzi scored from third on a deep drive to left off Aviles that was caught, resulting in a sacrifice fly. Aviles, who had singled in the second, followed Lombardozzi’s double with another single in the sixth on a night when his former Boston Red Sox teammate (2011, 2012) David Ortiz had his number retried at Fenway Park.
Catcher Tommy Tellis had two hits, including the double that moved Lombardozzi to third in the fourth inning. He has hit safely in 16 of his past 19 games and is batting .453 (29 for 64) in that span.
Sox pitcher Blazek singled and doubled in three plate appearances and left the game batting .313 (6 for 15).
During a season in which success has escaped the Miami Marlins organization at its highest levels, two team logos are drawing positive attention. Miami began play Friday 32-39 in the National League, AAA New Orleans started 26-46, and AA Jacksonville finished the first half of Southern League play, 30-40. Both the Baby Cakes and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp logos made it into the final four of Baseball America’s Mascot Mania. Voting takes place at www.baseballamerica.com/2017-logomania/ .