Clippers Rally, Sweep Braves
The winning streak is now at nine as the Clippers beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-5 Friday night in Georgia.
Corey Kluber got the start on the hill for the Clippers. His first inning of work started off smoothly, retiring the first two batters he saw on groundouts. Matt Young then worked a two out walk. Mauro Gomez would then reach on a fielding error by Jason Kipnis. But the Braves offensive threat was thwarted when Kluber struck out Diory Hernandez to end the bottom of the first.
In the top of the second, the Clippers got on the board with a lot of help coming from the Braves defense. Jason Kipnis reached on a hit that just got by the glove of Braves second baseman Matt Young with one out. Jerad Head then singled up the middle. The next batter, Luke Carlin, hit a grounder down the first base line that ate up first basemen Mauro Gomez, loading the bases. Two batters later, Ezequiel Carrerra came to bat with two down in the frame. On a Rodrigo Lopez 2-1 pitch, the Clippers got on the board without the help of the bat. With that play, the Clippers took an early 1-0 lead and that’s all they would get that inning as Carrerra struck out swinging to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the second, things did not go so well for Clippers righthander Corey Kluber. Braves catcher J.C. Boscan lead off the inning with a walk. The next batter, former Clipper Jose Constanza laid down a bunt that Kluber errantly threw to first base, allowing Constanza to reach safely. With Jordan Schaefer batting, Kluber then threw a wild pitch which allowed the runners to move up a base. Schafer then laid down a bunt. Chad Huffman fielded the ball and got the out at first base, but Constanza came in to score, allowing the Braves to tie the ballgame at 1 all. Luckily for Kluber, he was able to strike out the next two batters he faced to get out of the inning.
The tie did not last very long as the leadoff batter Jason Kipnis came to bat for the Clippers in the top of the third. A solo shot by Kipnis, his second on the season, put the Clippers right back in front of the Braves 2-1.
But the Braves came back in the bottom of the fifth. After Shawn Bowman was hit by a pitch and a single by J.P. Boscan, the Braves put runners on 1st and 3rd to begin the inning. Constanza then reached on fielding error when Kipnis bobbled a ground ball, allowing Gywnnet to tie up the ball game. The next batter, Jordan Schafer struck out on a bunt attempt for the first out of the inning. Then while Matt Young was batting, Kluber helped his own cause on a close play at second. After the close play at second where the Clippers got the benefit of the call, Young got the Braves their first lead of the ballgame. The Braves grabbed a 3-2 lead on Matt Young’s triple. The next batter, Mauro Gomez added to the Braves lead with an RBI single. A Diory Hernandez groundout to shortstop ended the inning, but the damage was done as the Braves grabbed not only their first lead of the ball game, but their first lead of the four game series between Columbus and Gwinnett.
In the top of the sixth, Luis Valbuena hit a two double to keep the inning alive. That brought Ezequiel Carrerra to the plate and he helped the Clippers cut into the lead. The RBI single by Carrerra drew the Clippers within one and knocked out Braves righthander Rodrigo Lopez, who to that point had given up three runs, two earned, on nine hits while striking out six and walking one.
The Braves were looking to add to their slim one run lead in the top of the seventh. After a leadoff walk by JC Boscan, Constanza laid down a sacrifice bunt that sent Boscan to second. Jordan Schafer then came to the plate and got it back to a Gwinnett two run advantage. Schafer’s RBI single put the Braves up 5-3 at that point. The next batter, Matt Young sent a grounder towards first. Chad Huffman was able to get the force at first, but his throw to second was high, so the Clippers were not able to get the double play in that spot. However, the inning ended as Clippers third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall caught a Mauro Gomez liner for the 3rd out.
At that point, it was really looking like the Braves might finally get a win against the Clippers in this series. However, two out magic took place for Columbus in the top of the eighth when with a runner on and two out, Luis Valbuena delivered big time for the Clippers with a big two-out, two-run shot that sent everything back to square one as we were all knotted up at 5 apiece.
In the top of the ninth, Columbus came to bat with the intent of getting back the lead. Lonnie Chisenhall walked to lead off the inning. Chad Huffman was then hit by a pitch. After a Travis Buck sacrifice bunt, the bases were loaded when Jason Kipnis was intentionally walked to set up the possibility of an inning ending double play. Jered Head was not able to get the job done as he struck out swinging for the second out of the inning. But there was still one more batter as Luke Carlin strided to the plate. Carlin’s three run double gave the Clippers an 8-5 lead. Josh Judy then came on in the bottom of the ninth as he succeeded in getting his 4th save of the season. Zach Putnam got his second win on the season (2-0) while Stephen Marek ws saddled with the loss (0-2).
The Clippers open up a four game series against the Charlotte Knights on Saturday night. Lucas Harrel will get the start for the Knights while the Clippers will trot out Joe Martinez. The first pitch will be at 7:15 pm.