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!
The Clippers return home to begin a ten game stand tonight. Columbus finished just 4-6 on the three-city, divisional road trip.
Here are some of the storylines we’re following:
* Cord Phelps has reached base in 44 consecutive games dating back to last July. There is no official league record for an on-base streak, Clippers outfielder Brandon Watson holds the hitting streak record (43 games in 2007). It looks like Cord’s streak is the longest since Wes Timmons reached safely in 48 straight games with Gwinnett in 2009.
* Columbus has out-hit opponents in 14 of 18 games this season, but hold just a 9-5 record in those contests. The Clippers have left 75 runners on base in the last eight games.
* Mike Sarbaugh’s club set their season low for hits on back-to-back nights in Toledo, managing just six hits on Sunday and three on Monday.
* Lonnie Chisenhall is batting .330 (31-for-94) in a Columbus uniform dating back to June 22, 2011.
* The Clippers pitching staff is on pace to shatter the franchise strikeout record set by last year’s club. Columbus has recorded 165 strikeouts in 18 games. The 2011 team finished with 1,142 K’s.
* Corey Kluber leads the International League with 29 strikeouts in 21 innings.
That’s all for now.
See you at the ballpark this week!
The temperatures dipped into the lower 30’s before Russ Canzler delivered Tuesday’s 12th inning, game-winning hit , so it’s definitely time warm up with our first installment of “Who’s Hot”:
Cord Phelps extended his on-base streak to 32 games on Tuesday, dating back to July 26th of last season. It’s the longest Clippers offensive streak since Brandon Watson set the International League hitting streak (43 games) in 2007. Phelps has batted .313 with a .371 OBP during this stretch. It’s the longest streak of his career.
Matt LaPorta is 9-for-26 with 3 HRs, tied for the IL lead with Buffalo’s Valentino Pascucci. He carries a .769 slugging percentage with 20 total bases.
Matt Pagnozzi leads the team in batting, albeit after just 8 at-bats. He provided a clutch two-RBI single in Sunday’s 7-4 win over Louisville.
Trevor Crowe only has 14 ABs so far, but he’s made the most of them (6-for-14). He is currently sixth in the league in batting (.429) and smacked a homer in Tuesday game He has 3 RBIs already.
The Hottest of All: The Clippers pitching staff has recorded 63 strikeouts in 57 innings of work, tops in the league. Columbus pitchers have combined for a 2.68 ERA with only 16 walks allowed.
The “Hometown Heroes” are 5-1, the best record in the International League, and entertain Indianapolis Wednesday at 6:35pm. Kevin Slowey will face lefty Justin Wilson.
Wednesday night will feature 50-cent wings from Roosters! Wings are available on the third floor of the Left Field Building.
It’s also a Huntington Knot Hole Kids Club game, which means all kids ages 12 and under get FREE youth general admission with a Kids Club card. Gates open at 5:30pm!
See you at the park!
We told you on the broadcast that Andy LaRoche became part of the fifth father-son duo to play for Columbus’ professional baseball teams. Andy’s dad, Dave, pitched for the Clippers in 1982 and 1983.
According to team historian Joe Santry, here are the others:
Bill (Columbus Senators) and Lew Hinchman (Columbus Redbirds)
Dan (Redbirds) and Tim Murtaugh (Columbus Jets and Clippers)
Julian (Jets) and Stan Javier (Clippers)
Leo (Jets) and Carlos Rodriguez (Clippers)
Also worth noting, Tim Foli managed the Clippers in 2008 and his son Dan played for Columbus in 2007.
Previous Columbus teams:
The Columbus Senators played from 1888 to 1930.
The Columbus Redbirds lasted from 1932 to 1954.
The Columbus Jets were in existence from 1955 to 1970.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
There are a few other current Clippers that come from a baseball family:
Zach McAllister’s dad, Steve, is a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Matt Pagnozzi is the nephew of Tom Pagnozzi, a gold-glove winning catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1987 to 1998.
Beau Mills is the son of Brad Mills, manager of the Houston Astros.
The season officially gets underway tonight at Huntington Park!
Here is the Official CLIPPERS ROSTER
The Columbus Dispatch has more on the Hometown Heroes.
Wednesday, the Indians designated Clippers outfielder Thomas Neal for assignment and moved Grady Sizemore to the 60-day disabled, making room for Dan Wheeler and Jose Lopez. The Tribe also placed David Huff on the 15-day DL (right hamstring strain).
Here’s a look at the pitching match-ups for this weekend’s four-game set with Louisville:
Thursday – RHP Zach McAllister vs. LHP Jeff Francis
Friday – RHP Kevin Slowey vs. RHP Brett Tomko
Saturday – RHP Corey Kluber vs. RHP Season Gallagher
Sunday – LHP Scott Barnes vs. RHP Chad Reineke
The Clippers #5 starter will be LHP Chris Seddon, he’ll face Indianapolis on Monday.
The Clippers have been working out at Huntington Park in preparation to open the season tomorrow night against the Louisville Bats. The roster will be finalized soon, but from the looks of things, the Clippers will start the year with every player having at least some Triple-A experience and as many as 19 guys who have played in the Major Leagues. Mike Sarbaugh will once again be at the helm with Ruben Niebla as pitching coach for the 2nd year in a row and Phil Clark joining the Clippers as hitting coach.
The Meet the Team party will be tonight at Life Styles Community Pavillion from 5:00-8:00 with players signing autographs and mingling with the fans. That’s just the start of a great opening week.
For Opening Day tomorrow, the gates will open early at 5:00 for Happy Hour food and drink specials. Get there early because at 6:30, fans will be selected to form a human tunnel the players and staff from last year will parade through to receive their 2011 Championship rings! Make your way to the stands on the outfield side of the 1st base dugout if you want to be a part of the tunnel.
Don’t forget to get your tickets to the Hash-tag Suite for opening day! There are still some tickets remaining to gather with your fellow social networking aficionados and keep your friends and followers up to date! Please contact Stefanie Olejniczak at 614-462-5250 or email@example.com with questions or to order tickets.
The Clippers Spring Break Me out to the Ballgame promotion is still going on as well. Click here for details.
For all games from April 5th through the 8th, you can get a great deal with the 2012 promotion. 2 adult and 2 child reserved seat tickets for just $20.12 can be had with the coupon found here.
The clippers have gone all-out for fans with great giveaways for opening day and all season long. Check out the promotional schedule for a complete listing.
We are working hard to get everything ready for a great fan experience and we hope you’ll be a part of the action. Call 614-462-2757 or log on to www.clipperbaseball.com to get tickets to the best value for family entertainment in Columbus!
Many have asked if the Clippers roster is complete, the answer is “sort of”…
The Cleveland Indians will be making room on the 40-man roster for RHP Dan Wheeler and INF Jose Lopez, which could have an impact on the Clippers roster. That is the final piece of the puzzle. The official Columbus roster will be released Wednesday or Thursday, so we’ll wait until then to give you a full report. The Triple-A roster limit expanded from 24 to 25 this season, which is proving to be helpful in determining destinations within a jam-packed depth chart.
For more on the Clippers roster, check out beat writer Jim Massie’s blog: Minor Happenings
The Dispatch also takes a look at the fun stuff going on at Huntington Park this season in this Season Preview.
Indians Prospect Insider has a preview of the 2012 Clippers as well.
RHP Zach McAllister is slated to take the mound on Opening Night, facing Louisville LHP Jeff Francis. The gates open at 5:00pm with beverage specials, National Championship hats for the first 3,000 fans, an appearance by “Unspeakable Joy” a “live statue” of a bronze baseball player, and a pre-game Championship Ring Ceremony.
Meanwhile, lefty Scott Barnes made his final pre-season appearance during the Indians exhibition game against the Carolina Mudcats on Tuesday. He allowed four earned runs from five hits over four innings pitching for Carolina. The Tribe won the game 13-0. Barnes is scheduled to make his season debut on Easter Sunday at Huntington Park.
Don’t forget, The “Welcome Home Champions” Party is a free event at the LC Pavilion (right nedxt to Huntington Park) on Wednesday from 5pm-8pm. The team will be introduced at 6:15pm, with games and activities for kids, autograph sessions, and a voucher for a FREE slice of Boston’s pizza or a hot dog, plus snacks!
Check back because I’ll have more before the first pitch is thrown!
Barring injuries or trades, the Cleveland Indians settled on their 25-man roster over the weekend (listed alphabetically):
Carrasco, Sizemore, and Huff will begin the season on the disabled list.
Hernandez, the former Fausto Carmona, is on the MLB restricted list.
Asencio won the final bullpen spot, outlasting Frank Herrmann and Jeremy Accardo.
Cunningham was awarded to fourth outfielder spot over Ryan Spilborghs.
Jose Lopez will be a utility infielder.
The starting rotation is scheduled to be Masterson, Jimenez, Lowe, Tomlin, and Gomez.
The Indians will play an exhibition game in Zebulon, NC against the Carolina Mudcats on Tuesday before heading to Cleveland.
The Clippers roster will be announced soon!