Merritt’s Gem, Clevinger Winning, and Naquin Returns in Columbus Clippings
Bob Toth | On 12, May 2016
The 21-11 Columbus Clippers have a good thing going in their defense of the Governors’ Cup.
The Clippers improved to 6-4 in the month of May with a 10-2 win on Wednesday after their eleven-game winning streak came to an end on the first of May. They have now won eleven consecutive games at their home Huntington Park and improved to 13-3 playing in Columbus this season.
First place Columbus will continue their seven-game homestand with one more with Lehigh Valley on Thursday morning before hosting the second place Louisville Bats over the weekend. They will also host everyone’s favorite high school principal, Bayside High’s own Mr. Richard Belding (Dennis Haskins) from the beloved early 1990’s sitcom “Saved By The Bell” on Friday night.
In other Clippers news from the Ohio state capital:
Enticing southpaw pitching prospect Ryan Merritt won his third game of the season on Monday in impressive fashion, throwing a complete game four-hit shutout over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Huntington Park in Columbus.
Merritt took a no-hitter into the fifth when he allowed a single to the International League’s batting leader, Tommy Joseph. He allowed singles to three other batters in the ball game (Cedric Hunter, Alfredo Marte, and Angelys Nina) and walked Cam Perkins.
Switch-hitter Robbie Grossman supplied all of the offense that Merritt would need in his pitching gem with a solo home run in the fifth. It was his third straight game with a home run for Grossman, in his first season in the Indians organization after spending parts of the last three seasons with the Houston Astros.
New daddy Mike Clevinger is making sure that he stays on the Indians radar as a potential starting rotation candidate in Cleveland at some point this season. He has his teammate Merritt to watch out for in that pursuit, as both are proving to be worthy options.
With Wednesday night’s 10-2 win over Lehigh, Clevinger has now notched five wins on the year against no losses in seven starts. Like Merritt’s last outing, Clevinger did not allow his first hit of the night until the fifth. He is averaging just over five innings per start and 9.08 strikeouts per nine innings, but is giving up 4.29 walks per nine. He threw a season-high 104 pitches in his outing on May 6 in Toledo, then followed it up with a season-high six innings of work Wednesday. He has allowed no more than six hits in any one start and has a 1.26 WHIP for the young season.
Clevinger has now earned the win in each of his last four decisions, posting a 2.11 ERA in that span.
URSHELA STREAKING AFTER SLOW START, BUT LEAVES EARLY
After ending a modest five-game hitting streak towards the end of April, Giovanny Urshela started up a much more lengthy 13-gamer the very next day. That streak came to an end earlier this week against Lehigh, but not before Urshela could claim an International League Player of the Week award.
After a double in the first inning against the IronPigs, Urshela left Wednesday’s game with an injury. His replacement, freshly called up Yhoxian Medina, hit his first Triple-A homer in the seventh inning in the win.
*The Clippers announced Thursday morning that they were placing Urshela on the 7-day disabled list with a right hamstring injury. The one-time Indians third baseman is hitting .283 on the year with six doubles, two homers, and 17 RBI. Yandy Diaz has been transferred from Double-A Akron to take his place on the roster.
NAQUIN BACK IN BLUE
Looking to make sure that he is not forgotten any time soon, center fielder Tyler Naquin has hit successfully in each of his first four games back as a member of the Columbus Clippers. He singled in each of his first two games before notching a pair of singles while scoring a run on Tuesday. He batted first and played center field once again on Wednesday, going 1-for-4 with a single, a walk, one run scored, and a pair of strikeouts. He is hitting .294 at Columbus.
Naquin, of course, started the season in the Indians outfield, appearing in 22 games while batting .315 with two doubles, two triples, and two RBI. Despite being one of the top rookie hitters in the Majors, he was optioned in a tough decision by the Indians brass after starting pitcher Cody Anderson needed a roster spot for a start on May 7.
RONNY ROD MAKES IT COUNT
In the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game and trailing 1-0, Ronny Rodriguez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and made his swing count.
For four runs.
His first home run of the season was good for a grand slam, giving the Clippers a 4-1 lead on the way to a 7-1 victory over the IronPigs. It was the 20th win of the season for Columbus and got starter Will Roberts his third victory of the season. With a hit in four at bats on Wednesday, Rodriguez is now hitting .314 on the season.
The Indians traded Clippers backup catcher Anthony Recker to the Atlanta Braves on Monday for cash considerations. The move will likely only make a small dent in the payment sent by the Indians to the Braves previously to take Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn off of their hands.
Recker, a five-year MLBer, reported to the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett Braves.
Photo: Eric Albrecht/The Columbus Dispatch
***editor’s note: Status on Urshela’s injury and the transfer of Diaz were added after the announcement from the Columbus Clippers organization.