The Clippers snapped a season-worst six game losing skid by beating Pawtucket 5-3 on Monday afternoon at McCoy Stadium. For Mike Sarbaugh, it must have felt like a ten thousand pound weight was lifted off his shoulders.
The two-time defending champs have scuffled in the first two months of the season, mostly because of a recent inability to win the close game. Columbus lost five one-run decisions during the losing streak and held a lead in five of the six games. The team has played 15 one-run games this year, posting a 7-8 record and losing six of the last seven.
The Clippers are currently third in the league with a .269 batting average, but that number continues to trend in the wrong direction. The club managed to score just one run per night in four games during the road trip. Timely hitting has not been much of a friend to the Clippers this year.
Columbus’ pitching staff is having some tough times as well, now ranking 10th of 14 teams with a 3.76 ERA. The Clippers starting rotation has been juggled with the promotion of Zach McAllister to Cleveland and the transition of Scott Barnes to the bullpen. The relief core lost CC Lee, the reigning Indians minor league pitcher of the year, to injury early and now Jeremy Accardo has graduated to Cleveland.
The injuries have mounted up as well this year. Most recently, Trevor Crowe was shelved because of a strained oblique and Lonnie Chisenhall hasn’t played in more than two weeks thanks to a strained hamstring.
The Clippers have not seen the expected production from Ezequiel Carrera so far in 2012. The speedy leadoff hitter and centerfielder is batting only .246 with six stolen bases. He’s been caught in his last four attempts. Columbus is last in the league in stolen bases with eleven. The last successful steal was on April 29th. He is a career .291 hitter in the minors and stole 45 bases between Columbus and Cleveland last season.
Russ Canzler, the 2011 International League MVP, is having a difficult campaign thus far. He is just 6-for his last 40 (.150), lowering his average to .252. His latest struggles come on the heels of a 18-for-40 stretch. He hit .314 with 18 HRs and 83 RBIs with Durham last season.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the “Hometown Heroes” however, the team is just four games back of Indianapolis with plenty of baseball remaining. A lot can and will change before the dust settles.
Matt LaPorta continues to perform very well. He’s sixth in the IL with a .333 average, second in slugging (.658), and third in HRs (10). LaPorta was pushed to Triple-A when the Indians acquired Casey Kotchman in the off-season and chose Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham as their remaining outfielders in spring training. “I’d be lying to you if I said I was always hunky-dory,” he told John Wagner in a story for MLB.com. “It’s been frustrating at times. But that’s life.” LaPorta is turning his frustration into misery for opposing International League pitchers. He’s one homer away from becoming the all-time leader in Huntington Park history.
The Clippers begin an eight-game homestand Tuesday against Syracuse and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, teams with a combined 35-39 record. Columbus should be looking for some revenge against the Yankees, a team that just took three of four from the Clips during the road trip.
Tuesday is Columbus Zoo Night featuring animals from the zoo. You can get $1.00 off the regular price of an Adult General Admission ticket when you present your Kroger Plus Card. It’s also “Buck-A-Bone” Night at the City Barbeque Stand in right field. They’ll offer City Barbeque’s famous ribs for just $1.00 per bone! Gates open at 5:30pm.
Don’t forget, Saturday is “Star Wars Night”, meaning Star Wars themed events and a spectacular fireworks display after the game!
See you at the ballpark!
The Clippers enter play today with a 15-12 record, 2nd place in the IL West and 5th best overall in the league. For a team that came into the season looking like the big dog in the yard, this might be a bit of a disappointing start, but the record and standings could be much different with just a few key hits here or there for the team as only 3 of the 12 losses have come by more than 3 runs. The Clippers have played ONLY 1st place clubs since April 22nd, and outside of Toledo’s Brad Eldred nearly single-handedly bashing the Clippers into a pulp, they have handled the best of the North (Pawtucket) and the South (Gwinnett) over the past week, winning 5 of 7 from those two teams. Things still look pretty good from the that point of view.
Items of note:
The Indians traded Ryan Spilborghs to the Texas Rangers today for cash considerations. Ben Copeland will replace Spilborghs on the Clippers roster and Cole Cook was also added to the squad today top provide some relief help in the short term.
It appears that Jose Lopez will join the Clippers on their upcoming 10-day road trip. Lopez was recently designated for assignment by the Indians to make room for Johnny Damon on the 25-man roster and after clearing waivers, Lopez was assigned to Columbus. He will likely play an infield utility roll with the Clippers and will likely see most of his time at 3B until Lonnie Chisenhalll is ready to come off of the DL.
The Clippers scored 12 runs yesterday with only two extra-base hits, both doubles and both by Gregorio Petit. The reasons for success without power? Gwinnett committed 4 errors and the Clippers had clutch hitting. They were 8-13 (.615) with runners in scoring position yesterday, far above their team average of .262 entering play.
Three true outcomes- The Clippers pitchers are 1st in the IL in strikeouts (237), 1st in home runs allowed (31), and 2nd best in walks allowed (81) One of those is not a good stat to lead.
The Indians have a double-header coming up next week, so they will need a spot start from someone on the Clippers roster. There have been no announcements as of yet, but David Huff, Kevin Slowey, Zach McAllister and Corey Kluber are all on the Tribe 40-man roster, so they have their pick.
Finally, if you’re like me, you’ve been wearing out YouTube and your Beastie Boys CD’s (I borrowed Licence to Ill on vinyl from the Elmore public library about a dozen times before I got the cash together to buy the CD). Today Adam Rauch, also known as MCA passed away at age 47 from cancer. The Beastie Boys allusive lyrics and smooth sample/instrument mix never failed to get my body movin’. MCA’s crass and perpetually hoarse voice provided the perfect compliment to the more smarmy and adolescent tones of Ad Rock & Mike D and the fact that he dropped a line from Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” on the track “Funky Donkey” on their final album together will make me smile every time I think about it. R.I.P. MCA.
Matt LaPorta smacked two homers in Monday’s 6-4 loss to Pawtucket, bringing his Huntington Park career total to 24. He is now tied with Jared Goedert for the most in ballpark history.
LaPorta was named International League “Batter of the Week” after batting .524 over a six game span
For the season, he’s now batting .380 with a .759 slugging percentage and 1.210 OPS. LaPorta is among the league leaders in virtually every offensive statistical category.
David Huff will make his second Clippers start of the season Tuesday night against the Gwinnett Braves. The lefty began the season on the disabled list and allowed four earned runs over four innings in his debut.
Ohio State basketball stars Jared Sullinger and William Buford will throw out ceremonial first pitches before the game.
Mark Your Calendar: Huntington Park is hosting the Pepsi MAX “Field of Dreams” on Saturday, May 12 featuring play from Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley, and other MLB legends in an exhibition game against Columbus resident Tim Wisecup and his friends. Click here for details.
Media Tour: I’ll be chatting with “Wags & Elliott” on Columbus’ QFM 96 on Thursday morning, WMAN in Mansfield on Saturday morning, and 90.9 FM WFCO in Lancaster on Monday (5/8). Tune in for Clippers talk!