NILES - The Scrappers returned home Tuesday night after a successful road trip where they went 3-2.
Mahoning Valley has been playing good baseball since the second half of July, going 13-7 in its last 20 games. However, the success did not carry into Tuesday night's contest as Mahoning Valley lost to the Lowell Spinners, 4-3.
The game started well for the Scrappers with Kenny Mathews taking the mound on his 20th birthday. Mathews had the birthday magic going as he retired the Spinners in order through the first three innings and went into the fourth with a 1-0 lead. He walked the lead-off hitter in the inning, Forrestt Allday, who later scored on an RBI single by Tzu-Wei Lin. Mathews got out of the inning giving up only the one run, but the walk started a trend for the Scrappers' pitching.
Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
Mahoning Valley Scrappers shortstop James Roberts (48) throws the ball to first base to turn a double play after stepping on second to force out Deiner Lopez (5) in the top of the fifth inning. Following the play is Paul Hendrix (9).
Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
Scrappers pitcher Kenny Mathews delivers a pitch in the top of the fourth inning.
Mahoning Valley issued eight walks, three of which turned into runs. The biggest of those came in the seventh inning. Alexis Paredes came in to a tie game with the bases loaded and two outs and walked Spinners' designated hitter Danny Bethea on four straight pitches. The run ultimately decided the game as the Spinners' bullpen pitched 4 1/3 perfect innings, striking out eight.
"We're close but we just can't get over the hump," manager Ted Kubiak said. "We always do something to shoot ourselves in the foot."
Scrappers' third baseman Claudio Bautista provided the only RBIs for the Scrappers, driving in two runs with a two-out single in the fifth.
SO LONG JUAN:?The Scrappers lost a familiar face in shortstop Juan Herrera over the road trip when he was traded to the Cardinals for major league pitcher Marc Rzepczynski. Herrera played in 43 games for the Scrappers and batted .256 with one home run and 11 RBI. He has recently been moved up to a Cardinals' long season single-A team the Peoria Chiefs.
FANTASTIC FIVE:?The five all-stars for the Scrappers matches their total from 2012. Nellie Rodriguez and James Roberts will be starting for the American League at first base and shortstop, respectively. Second baseman Claudio Bautista, and pitchers Luis Lugo and Matt Whitehouse are expected to make appearances off the bench. The game is scheduled for Aug. 13 in Connecticut.
UP NEXT:?The Scrappers continue their home stand with another game against Lowell tonight. First pitch is at 7:05.
"No real offensive production today," shortstop James Roberts said. "I don't know if it had anything to do with the day off, but we're gonna work hard and come back tomorrow."
The early season struggles for Mahoning Valley are a big reason for the team's record being 20-27, but the Scrappers have players who have faired well all season - especially through the second half of the year. The New York-Penn League announced the 2013 All-Star roster on Monday. The team will include five Scrappers including Roberts and first baseman Nellie Rodriguez, who will be starters. Bautista and pitchers Luis Lugo and Matt Whitehouse are reserves on the squad.
Rodriguez is among the league leaders in almost every statistical category including batting average (.312), home runs (seven), and RBIs (30). Roberts has only played in 27 games, but is batting .300 and has a team leading on-base-percentage of .382.
"It's exciting. I didn't expect it, but I feel honored to represent the Indians," Roberts said.
Having five players make the All-Star Game may have come as a surprise when looking at the Scrappers' record, but Roberts believes the record isn't a good representation of how well the team has been playing this season.
"It says a lot about what our team is," he said. "I know our record doesn't really show it right now, we kind of put ourselves in a hole with the 12-game losing streak, but we've been playing good baseball and I think that's why we got five guys in the All-Star Game."
"That's a good testament to them." Kubiak said. "Nellie has worked hard to do what he's doing. He's having a great year. The pitchers have been great. Claudio's certainly done a fine job and Roberts has been really good. It's a nice honor for them. They'll have a good time."
The All-Star Game will take place at Dodd Stadium in Connecticut on Aug. 13.
The Scrappers will take the field tonight for game two of the three-game series against Lowell at 7:05.