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Dodgers minors: Julian Smith scoreless for Rancho, offenses struggle

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Three LA affiliates totaled 13 hits on Wednesday

MLB: Houston Astros-Workouts Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Hits were at a premium for the three Dodgers minor league affiliates in action on Wednesday night.

Player of the day

It’s been a solid start to the season for Julian Smith for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga. He pitched four scoreless innings of relief with four strikeouts on Wednesday night, keeping the Quakes in the game despite a dismal offensive night for the home team.

The Dodgers drafted Smith, who turns 24 in June, in the 15th round in 2018. His first outing was another four strong relief innings, earning the win on May 5 while allowing only one unearned run. On the season, Smith has a 0.00 ERA in eight innings, with 11 strikeouts and two walks.

Double-A Tulsa

Early runs doomed the Drillers in a blowout loss to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals).

It was a second rough start in a row for 2018 second-round pick Michael Grove, who allowed home runs in the first and third innings, the latter to shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., and got touched for six runs while recording only eight outs. In Grove’s first start of the season, last Thursday, he allowed five runs while recording seven outs. That gives the right-hander a 19.80 ERA so far, with as many walks (six) as strikeouts (six) in his five frames.

Right fielder Donovan Casey, a 20th-round pick in 2017, had two of Tulsa’s five hits, and scored a run.

High-A Great Lakes

The Loons trailed 7-0 after three innings, but took the lead with a late, furious rally, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion to the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers). Great Lakes scored two in the eighth to pull within 7-4, then plated four in the top of the ninth, a wild inning that included two hits, two hit by pitches, two errors, and a walk.

In the bottom of the ninth, Morgan Cooper allowed two hits for the tying run to score, and an error put the winning run at third with one out. A walk, defensive indifference, and a strikeout put runners on second and third with two outs, leading to a pitching change.

But this 3-1 pitch got away from Andrew Shaps — an outfielder brought in to pitch — for another walk and a walk-off wild pitch.

Great Lakes entered Wednesday leading all of minor league baseball in total walks (51) and walk rate (19.4 percent), and added to that total with five more walks on Wednesday. But they only had six hits — including solo home runs by left fielder Ryan Ward and designated hitter Joe Vranesh — putting the Loons’ batting average at a paltry .164 through eight games.

Low-A Rancho Cucamonga

The Quakes managed only two singles and four walks while getting blanked by the Modesto Nuts (Mariners).

Third baseman Brandon Lewis, the Dodgers’ fourth-rounder in 2019, walked twice and singled, accounting for half the times Rancho Cucamonga reached base.

Wednesday scores

Thursday schedule

  • 3:35 p.m. PT: Great Lakes (Alec Gamboa) at West Michigan (Chance Kirby)
  • 5:05 p.m.: Oklahoma City (Yefry Ramírez) vs. Sacramento [Giants] (TBD)
  • 5:05 p.m.: Tulsa (Gus Varland) at Northwest Arkansas (Marcelo Martinez)
  • 6:30 p.m.: Rancho Cucamonga (Jimmy Lewis) vs. Modesto (Adam Macko)