Plutko Wins Hardware, Aguilar Leaves the Yard, and More in ClipNotes
Bob Toth | On 27, Aug 2016
The Columbus Clippers punched their ticket to the postseason on Wednesday, clinching their third straight International League West Division crown. They still have to wait to see who they may see in the playoffs, as the other two divisions still need some time to be decided.
The Clippers (78-56) extended their winning streak to nine straight games during the week before dropping each game of a two-game set in Toledo with the Mud Hens on Thursday and Friday. They completed a sweep of Toledo in Columbus just last weekend before taking three straight in Indianapolis during the week to clinch their playoff berth. They will wrap up the month with two at home against Louisville before going to Durham for three straight. September will open with three home dates against the Mud Hens before the two teams return to Toledo for two more to close out the regular season.
In other Clippers news and notes from the Ohio state capital:
PLUTKO NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Heading into his start on August 21 against Toledo, Adam Plutko had limited the opposition to two earned runs or less against him in five straight starts, including three quality outings. He made it six straight with six innings of one-run baseball on Sunday to earn his fourth straight win.
With back-to-back one-run outings totaling eleven and two-thirds innings, the 24-year-old right-hander was named the International League’s Pitcher of the Week on Monday.
His string of consecutive starts with two earned runs allowed or less came to an end at six on Friday night, as Plutko was charged with five earned runs on eight hits with three walks in five and one-third innings in the loss to Toledo. The defeat, his first in exactly one month, brought his record for 2016 to 9-8 with a 3.69 ERA in 27 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.
AGUILAR HOMERS AGAIN
First baseman Jesus Aguilar has homered three times in the last seven games to increase his season total to 26 with 82 runs batted in.
He had a pair of hits, including a homer, while driving in three runs on August 19 against Toledo. Two days later, he had another two-hit game and added a solo homer. On Friday night, he was 3-for-4 with a solo homer.
In 128 games this season, Aguilar is batting .238 with a .314 on-base percentage. He has 23 doubles to go with the 26 homers. The tater total is a career high, exceeding the 23 he hit with Kinston and Lake County in 2011.
ARMSTRONG EXTENDS SCORELESS STREAK
While juggling his travel plans frequently, given his frequent (and brief) trips to the Cleveland Indians roster, right-handed reliever Shawn Armstrong has made a strong case to be on the club when the 40-man rosters expand in September.
He extended his scoreless games streak to 19 straight (including his two scoreless innings with Cleveland on August 3) with a pair of relief appearances in the last seven days. He worked one and one-third innings, allowing a walk, in Indianapolis on August 22. He followed that up with a perfect inning on Friday night, needing just four pitches to get three outs. During that scoreless stretch, he has worked 21 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and six walks while striking out 27.
Armstrong last allowed a run on July 1. He is 3-1 on the season with the Clippers with a 1.86 ERA in 46 games. He has converted nine of ten save opportunities.
COLON CONTINUES STRONG SEASON
Right-hander Joseph Colon is a possible candidate for some work with the Indians in September. He has allowed just one run on three hits and three walks in five and two-thirds innings since returning to Columbus on his rehab assignment and, later, after his option off of the Indians’ 25-man roster.
For the year, he has a 0-1 record in 19 games with the Clippers, posting a 0.86 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, a .106 batting average against, and has struck out 19 batters in 21 innings. In three outings with Cleveland, he was 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA with two runs (one earned) on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts in three and two-thirds innings.
HOUSE SETTLING IN AS A RELIEVER
T.J. House, another potential arm for the Indians bullpen in September, has not allowed an earned run in his last nine appearances on the mound. He did allow three runs against Syracuse on August 14, but none of the runs were charged in his one-third of an inning worked.
After posting a 4-3 record with a 4.82 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, and .308 batting average against in 12 starts, his numbers have appeared better as a reliever. He is 1-0 in 18 games with a 1.76 ERA. He has bloated numbers in other areas, however, as he has allowed a 1.83 WHIP, a .300 batting average against, and has struck out seven while walking ten in 15 1/3 innings of work out of the ‘pen.
With five home dates remaining on the regular season schedule, the Clippers are still eyeing their goal of 600,000 fans in attendance for the season. In order to help reach that mark, they are offering $5 tickets for all remaining home dates. They stand 52,000 fans away from their magic number, so they will need strong showings averaging 10,400 per game.
If fans step up in support and they hit the 600,000 threshold, all playoff games held at Huntington Field in September will be free.
Armstrong returned to Columbus last Saturday from Cleveland, as the Indians optioned him out again after a one-day stay.
Right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter, who was working with the Clippers on a rehab assignment, was given his release on Thursday.
Right-handed reliever Jeff Johnson was placed on the seven-day disabled list on Sunday with a blister on his finger.
Photo: Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch