The Clippers used a Luis Valbuena grand slam (his second this season) to beat Pawtucket 5-2 Tuesday night in Rhode Island. That win coupled with an Indianapolis loss (their third straight) has dropped the Clippers “magic number” to six. Any combination of six Clippers wins or Indy losses and the Clippers will be West Division champs for the first time since 2004.
Here are some other valuable nuggets of baseball minutia that I like to call “Clippings”:
* Valbuena’s grand slam on Tuesday was the Clippers fifth grand salami of the year.
* Corey Kluber pitched 6.2 innings on Tuesday without allowing a hit, his longest hitless stretch. He was pulled from the game after walking a pair of batters in the seventh.
* The Durham Bulls has increased their South Division lead over Gwinnett to four games. It is becoming more likely that the Clippers and Bulls could meet in the opening round of the playoffs, a rematch of last season’s Governors Cup Championship.
* Chad Huffman’s 13-game hitting streak was snapped on Monday. The streak tied Huffman’s career best and he batted .535 (23-for-42) while earning International League Player of the Week and Cleveland Indians Minor League Player of the Week honors. In the 18 games prior to his streak, Huffman was 3-for-55.
* The Clippers added OF Shelley Duncan to the roster Tuesday, while OF Tim Fedroff was sent to Akron.
* The first 1500 kids (ages 12 and under) to attend Saturday’s game will receive a chest protector backpack… take a look, very cool.
* Columbus is currently 79-46, the best record in Triple-A baseball. The mark of 33 games over .500 is a season-high.
Who is the “Clipper of the Year”
* Jerad Head leads the Clippers with 23 HR and his .530 slugging percentage ranks third in the league.
* Luis Valbuena leads the Clippers with a .299 average and 71 RBI.
* Jeanmar Gomez leads the club and is second in the league with ten wins and a 2.45 ERA.
Will you be there?
* The Clippers return home to begin a four-game series against Buffalo starting on Saturday night. Click here to see the remaining promotions for the regular season.
I’m told playoff tickets will be available to the general public VERY soon.
That’s all for now. See you at the park!
Yes, it is that time of the year again…. time to peer into the possible playoff scenarios for the Clippers and the International League.
The Clippers rallied from a 7-1 deficit on Saturday night and won 11-7 in Rochester, lowering the magic number to eleven. That means any combination of eleven Clippers wins or Indianapolis losses and Columbus is the West Division Champions (it will be the first Clippers division title since 2004).
I waited until now to start talking playoffs because the magic number wasn’t yet close to single digits and because there were still too many teams in the mix for post-season spots (especially in the wild card).
However, now that Scranton Wilkes-Barre (6.0 GB in Wild Card) has dropped five straight games and Louisville (7.5 GB in Wild Card) has lost four in a row, it seems the playoff races can be seriously examined with only six teams: Columbus, Durham, Pawtucket, Lehigh Valley, Gwinnett, and Indianapolis. Obviously there are plenty of other teams that are mathematically still in the race, but it’s not realistic to think anyone outside these six will qualify.
Columbus Clippers – The defending Governors Cup and Triple-A National Champions have been atop the division for 111 consecutive days and won’t falter anytime soon. Mike Sarbaugh’s team leads the league in HR (131), HR differential (+27), and runs scored (616). The two biggest concerns for the Clippers are a lack of outfield speed/base stealing and inconsistency in the bullpen. Last year, the Clippers blew a large lead in the division and needed to battle until that last few days of the season to get the wild card spot. This year, the Clippers haven’t needed to sweat it out.
Indianapolis Indians – Dean Treanor’s team has come a long way since the Clippers swept them in a four-game series to begin the season at Victory Field. Indy’s team batting average has climbed to .266, third best in the league. Some of the young Triple-A rookies (that won the Eastern League title with Altoona last year) are starting to find their groove at the right time.
Pawtucket Red Sox – It’s amazing that a team ranking 13th out of 14 teams could be leading a division, but that’s the case here. The Paw Sox have the second best pitching staff (3.56 ERA) in the league and that’s the biggest reason that Arnie Beyler (former Clippers coach) has his team in a contending position. The Clippers will get a first-hand look at Pawtucket in a four-game series starting Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Since the IronPigs franchise started in 2008, they had never spent a single day as a winning baseball team. Not one single day! Now, under the guidance of first year skipper Ryne Sandberg, Lehigh Valley is 68-53 and could win the division or the wild card. Lehigh Valley has a very veteran team. They are the WORST hitting team in the league (.252 avg.), but ranked third in pitching (3.75 ERA).
Durham Bulls – The Bulls have owned the South Division in recent history and won their third Governors’ Cup in 2009. Durham is well-versed in playoff chases, but it may be more helpful that they boast the best offense in the International League (.274 avg.). The Bulls also rank 5th in pitching (3.88 ERA).
Gwinnett Braves – The G-Braves are attempting to clinch the first post-season bid since the team moved to Georgia (from Richmond, Va.) in 2009. Gwinnett’s pitch is outstanding, headlined by right-hander Julio Teheran (12-2, 2.18 ERA). Teheran seems destined to win the league’s pitcher of the year award, but he’s not the only starting pitching weapon they have. Todd Redmond (2.91 ERA) is among the best in the league. Recently, the G-Braves lost a key to the staff when LHP Mike Minor (3.13 ERA) was called up to Atlanta. The key for Gwinnett is creating enough offense to make the playoffs.
Standings (as of 8/14)
Columbus 77-45, -
Indianapolis 65-57, 12 GB
Pawtucket 68-52, -
Lehigh Valley 68-53, 0.5 GB
Durham 67-52, -
Gwinnett 67-54, 1 GB
Lehigh Valley 68-53, -
Gwinnett 67-54, 1 GB
Indianapolis 65-57, 3.5 GB
The Clippers are on their final long road trip of the season. An 8-game tour through Rochester, NY and Pawtucket, RI. Columbus outfielder Chad Huffman seems to have exorcised his early season demons. Huffman hit .192 from May 1st through July 31st. From August 1st through the 12th he has 19 hits and is batting at a .594 clip. Other hot August performers include Cord Phelps (.362 3 HR 10 RBI) Luis Valbuena (.381) and Jared Goedert (1.059 OPS).
Zach McAllister got the win last night and it marked just his 2nd win since May 20th. Over that time, Zach has started 11 games, pitched at least 5 innings and allowed 3 or fewer runs in every start. The lone exception is when he went 3 innings before rain washed out his effort against Rochester in June.
After this trip, the Clippers play Buffalo for four games at home and then it’s all divisional play for the rest of the regular season.
The Clippers have a 12 game lead in the division over Indianapolis and their magic number entering play Saturday is 12. If the Clippers win the division, they will play the winner of the IL South in the round of the play-offs with the 1st 2 games at Huntington Park on Wednesday 9/7 and Thursday 9/8.
The Cleveland Indians made plenty of noise at the trading deadline with moves that they made and didn’t make.
* The Tribe moved the top two pitching prospects, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, to Colorado with RHP Joe Gardner and 1B/OF Matt McBride for Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
* Cleveland acquired Triple-A outfielder Thomas Neal from San Francisco for 2B Orlando Cabrera. Neal is on the disabled list with a hand contusion, but is scheduled to join the Clippers Tuesday and could be activated very soon. Neal, 23, was batting .295 with 25 RBI for Triple-A Fresno before the injury. His resume includes All-Star seasons in High-A and Double-A. He bats right-handed, has played all three outfield positions, and was batting .308 (20-for-65) with runners in scoring position.
* The Indians picked up OF Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs for Clippers righty Carlton Smith and minor league OF Abner Abreau.
* Many expected Cleveland to land another major league proven bat, but no last minutes deals were made for such.
* The Clippers added switch-hitting INF Argenis Reyes to the roster today. He was signed from independent ball today, but batted .340 in 16 games during the Clippers 2010 season. Reyes will provide some needed infield depth after Jason Donald went to the majors after Saturday’s game.
* RHP Matt Langwell was promoted from Akron today. He was 4-1 with 2.66 in 36 games (one start) against the Eastern League.
*Fans attending Sunday’s game can arrive early and watch some of the Clippers adult fantasy camp. Former major league greats Ferguson Jenkins, Len Barker, George Foster, Bucky Dent, and others will play two four-inning games against the campers starting at 2:00pm
My deadline has arrived…
See you at the park!