Leo: The Long and Short of It
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!