Brandishing a new look courtesy of promotions, fill-ins, call-ups and any other way a roster can be adjusted, the Dragons opened the second half of the Midwest League season with a disappointing 8-7 setback to the Lake County Captains (Indians) at Fifth Third Field on Thursday night.
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It was the first game for the Dragons since they clinched the first-half wildcard spot and its automatic qualification for the postseason playoffs.
Six Dragons landed on other rosters this week, mostly due to the trickle-down effect on lower affiliates after several Class AAA player promotions from Louisville to the Reds.
Among Dayton’s newcomers is Sandy Lugo, who surrendered what stood up as the game-winning home run to Gavin Collins in the 10th inning.
Game changer: Lake County bunched four runs in the eighth inning. Dayton countered in the bottom of the ninth when designated hitter Kevin Franklin was gifted second base following an overthrow. First baseman Bruce Yari singled to send pinch runner Malik Collymore home with the tying run to force extra innings.
Midwest League home run leader Emmanuel Tapia of the Captains brandished his power with two long home runs, giving him 15.
Dayton’s Jose Siri was outstanding in taking over the leadoff spot from promoted T.J. Friedl. Siri had four hits and stole third base. John Sansone unloaded his fifth homer and had three RBIs.
Rough stuff: Captains starting pitcher Brady Aiken was the No. 1 overall draft choice in 2014 by the Astros as a senior in high school at California. Instead of signing, he attended IMG (Fla.) Academy and blew out his throwing elbow in his first 2015 start. He hasn’t been the same, although he went in the first round that year to the Indians (17th overall).
Although he didn’t figure in Thursday’s decision, at 1-8 he leads the Midwest League in losses and walks. He lasted 1 2/3 innings against the Dragons, allowing five earned runs.
Dragons tales: Many of the players who played key roles in that first-half success will be missing when Dayton participates in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. That’s because Dayton’s roster took a major reshuffling hit on Thursday.
Infielders Brantley Bell, Luis Gonzalez and James Vasquez and right-handed pitcher Ryan Hendrix were promoted to high Class A Daytona (Florida State League). Sent down to Dayton from Daytona was Lugo (0-1), a right-handed reliever.
Also making their way to Dayton were right-handed pitcher Matt Blandino from rookie ball in Billings (Mont.) and four more players from extended spring training: infielders Kevin Franklin and Gabriel Ovalle, outfielder Collymore and right-handed pitcher Lucas Benenati.
Last week Friedl, among the Dragons’ most productive players who batted leadoff, also was promoted to Daytona.
MEET THE DRAGONS: OF Malik Collymore
• Former Dragons Tyler Mahle (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Alex Blandino (Palo Alto, Calif.) were promoted to Class AAA Reds affiliate Louisville on Thursday. A right-handed pitcher, Mahle (7-3, 1.59 ERA) was called up from Class AA Pensacola. Blandino (.259), an infielder, also was moved up from the Blue Wahoos.
Mahle was the Reds’ minor-league player of the year while playing for the Dragons in 2015 (13-8, 2.43 ERA). Blandino split the 2014-15 seasons with the Dragons.
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