Road Woes for Slumping Clippers and More in This Week’s Columbus ClipNotes
Bob Toth | On 24, Apr 2017
The Columbus Clippers’ most recent road trip did not go as planned as the club dropped a pair of series in Lehigh Valley and Buffalo and is marred in a five-game losing streak. The skid is their second streak of three games lost or more already this season.
A rough and heavy road schedule to start the year has put the Clippers (7-10) in the loss column much more frequently than the win one. Already 17 games into the season, they have hosted just one four-game home series this season and they dropped that series in the middle of the month three games to one to Louisville. After going 5-2 in a seven-game trip to start the season, their most recent roadie was far less productive as the club won its opener against the IronPigs last Tuesday before dropping the next two in Lehigh Valley and all three in Buffalo as the Bisons outscored the Clippers by a 19-7 tally in the sweep.
After taking Monday off, the Clippers will make their long awaited return home to Huntington Park, where they will spend the final six days of the month playing host. The IronPigs will come to town for games Tuesday through Thursday before the Charlotte Knights visit Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
In other Clippers news from the Ohio state capital:
While the Clippers’ brutal schedule has included just four home contests through much of April thus far, they are not alone with an unbalanced slate of games.
The first place Toledo Mud Hens, two and a half games in front of the Clippers in the International League West Division, have played just four home games to date as well. Even worse, the Rochester Red Wings of the International League North Division have hosted just three games so far this season.
The Bisons, Louisville Bats, and the Indianapolis Indians have had the most team-friendly scheduling thus far, with the Bisons playing just three road games while the Bats and Indians have played just four away from home.
CLEVINGER TAKES FIRST LOSS
Mike Clevinger has shown that he is ready if and when the Cleveland Indians need him with his fourth straight start of one run or less on the mound to start the season. His most recent start was a slight step backwards after three solid performances preceding it.
He took the loss his last time out on Saturday. He ran into issues with his pitch count, throwing 103 pitches over just four and two-thirds innings in his first non-quality start of the season, but he left after allowing just one run. Five batters reached base on hits and three more on walks as he struck out just two Buffalo hitters on the afternoon.
Columbus pitcher Tyler Olson allowed four runs on two hits and a walk in relief to put the game out of reach as the Clippers fell, 5-0, to the Bisons.
NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Clevinger was named the Pitcher of the Week last Monday for his dominance of the International League last week.
He started Tuesday, April 11, at Indianapolis against the Indians and limited them to just four hits and two walks while striking out a season-high nine batters over seven scoreless innings for his first win of the season. He followed it up on Sunday, April 16, in his first home start of the season by shutting down the Louisville Bats over six scoreless innings, giving up three hits and a walk while striking out eight in earning his second straight victory.
For the award-winning week, he fired 13 scoreless innings, giving up seven hits and three walks while striking out 17.
NAQUIN MAKING HIS MARK
It may have been a tough demotion for Tyler Naquin, but he is making sure to remind the front office up in Cleveland that he is taking the move seriously and wants to be back up with the parent club quickly when next needed.
The center fielder has seen a pair of games of work in right field with the Clippers, helping to expand his worth with the Indians down the road. Naquin has hit in all eight games since his demotion, including a 3-for-4 day on Sunday with his first homer and RBI of the Triple-A season. He had a pair of singles in his first game back with Columbus on April 14 and has singled in every game since with the exception of April 19, when he got his first triple of the season. He is hitting .344 with the Clippers with three walks.
GONZALEZ HEATING UP
Utility man Erik Gonzalez has started to find it at the plate after a slow start to the season.
His five-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-4 at the plate on Saturday, but with a walk he extended his on-base streak to six straight games. That streak ended with another 0-for-4 on Sunday against Buffalo. He hit .400 during his hitting streak with eight hits in 20 at bats.
He has been keeping himself versatile in Columbus, playing five different positions (second, third, short, left and right fields) over the course of the first couple of weeks of the season.
KRATZ CLOBBERING BASEBALLS
Veteran catcher Erik Kratz has taken advantage of playing time when he has had chances in the Clippers lineup. Through nine games, he has hit .455 with a .486 on-base percentage and .788 slugging mark as one-third of his hits have been for extra bases this season. He hit safely in his first eight games played before going 0-for-1 on Sunday.
He went on a recent tear, homering in three straight starts. He hit a solo shot against Louisville on April 14 in a two-hit game, went 2-for-4 with another homer and two RBI on April 16 against the Bats, and went 3-for-4 with another solo homer and two doubles on April 19 at Lehigh Valley. While his homer streak ended on Friday in Buffalo, he still contributed plenty by going 3-for-4 at the plate with three singles.
RONNY ROD STREAKING
Infielder Ronny Rodriguez has seen the ball well at the plate over the last week, putting together a seven-game hitting streak. He has eight hits in 24 at bats during the streak.
First baseman Nellie Rodriguez is having a tough time adapting to Triple-A pitching in his first go-round in the International League.
He was held out of the lineup on Sunday, marred in an 0-for-32 slump at the plate. He has just four hits on the young season, but three of them have left the yard for home runs. He is hitting .080 at the plate with 26 strikeouts in 50 at bats and has drawn eight walks for a .207 OBP.
Bradley Zimmer is off to a slow start at the plate as well. He has hit just .205 over the last ten games with a pair of homers and four RBI. Much more concerning is his high strikeout total, as he has gone down on Ks in 16 of his last 40 at bats. For the season in 16 games, Zimmer is hitting .230 with three doubles, two triples, two homers, and six RBI, but he is a perfect 5-for-5 in stealing bases.
The Clippers sent infielder Eric Stamets back to the Double-A Akron RubberDucks on Saturday to make room on the roster for Yandy Diaz. The latter joined the Clippers after he was optioned to Columbus by the Indians on Friday.