Columbus Clippers Show Signs of Overcoming Slump

Columbus ClippersThe Columbus Clippers showed signs of life over the weekend, taking two of three games from the Toledo Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. Columbus won back-to-back games for the first time since May 18th. The Clippers, who are 7-13 in their last twenty games, have fallen into third place in the International League West, 5 ½ games behind division leader Indianapolis.

Friday’s series opener saw the Clippers go down 6-2 as T.J. House got knocked around for all six runs on nine hits in his 5.1 innings of work. House put five additional runners on base, four via the walk and one hit by pitch. Toledo took full advantage of the opportunities scoring four runs in the bottom of the second inning and two more in the home half of the sixth.

Buck Farmer held Columbus hitters at bay for seven innings allowing one run on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Farmer never allowed more than one base runner until the seventh inning when James Ramsey singled and Giovanny Urshela drove him home with a triple. Farmer raised his season mark to 6-1.

Five hits and a hit batter led to a four-run fourth inning for Toledo, Jefry Marte opened the frame with his seventh homer of the season. Manny Pina and Dixon Machado added RBI singles, with Xavier Avery driving in a run on a sacrifice fly.

Columbus needed something good to happen in the second game of the series and it didn’t seem as if it would. Justin Verlander, on a rehab assignment with Toledo, pitched 5.2 dominant innings, giving up one run on four hits with nine strikeouts. Fortunately, Clipper starter Cody Anderson matched Verlander, pitching seven innings with one run on four hits and one walk with nine strikeouts of his own, as the Clippers won the game 6-1 on the strength of a five run eighth inning.

The Mud Hens took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as Anderson was still establishing his presence. Dixon Machado doubled and Mike Hessman drove him in with a single, that was all the scoring Clipper pitching would allow as Jeff Manship and C.C. Lee complimented Anderson’s effort with scoreless relief innings.

Verlander was lifted in the sixth but not before Columbus was able to tie the game, 1-1, on a Jesus Aguilar double that scored Michael Martinez from second. Martinez had reached on a fielder’s choice and stolen second base before being driven home.

Four Clippers combined to hit for the cycle in the top of the eighth inning, as Columbus plated five runs off two Toledo relievers. Francisco Lindor tripled and scored on Michael Martinez’s single. Jesus Aguilar drove Martinez in with his seventh home run of the season and Carlos Moncrief completed the feat with a two-run double.

Anderson won his first game as a Columbus Clippers player and Bruce Rondon took the loss for Toledo.

The rubber game of the series lasted twelve innings before the Clippers prevailed 4-3. The two teams combined to leave 19 runners on base as they missed out on numerous scoring opportunities.

Starters Toru Murata for Columbus and Thad Weber for Toledo were able to control the game, scattering hits without allowing a big inning. Murata lasted six innings and gave up two runs on six hits with three walks, he only had one strikeout. Weber went 8.1 innings giving up one run on eight hits and one walk, he struck out three.

The game was tied 1-1 after the first inning. Toledo added a run in the fourth inning and took a 2-1 lead into the ninth.

For the second night in a row, the Toledo bullpen was responsible for the loss as Ian Krol wasn’t able to hold a 2-1 lead with one out in the ninth. Krol walked the first batter he faced, and then struck out James Ramsey. With two outs he gave up three consecutive singles to give the Clippers a 3-2 lead.

Giovanni Soto wasn’t able to hold the lead for the Clippers in the bottom of the ninth, as he allowed a lead-off walk followed by a sacrifice bunt and run scoring double to send the game to extra innings.

Francisco Lindor laced a one-out double in the twelfth inning off of reliever Alberto Cabrera, following a Michael Martinez ground ball out that moved Lindor to third. Jesus Aguilar gave the Clippers a 4-3 lead on his single to right field.

Jeff Manship came on for the Clippers and closed out the game with a one-two-three inning.

The Clippers return to Huntington Park for a three game series with Louisville and four games with the Syracuse Chiefs. Toledo closes out their home stand with three games versus those same Syracuse Chiefs.

By Mike Tanchevski