Merritt and Merryweather Pitching Well, Diaz Still Hitting, and More in ClipNotes
Bob Toth | On 10, Jun 2017
A quality start by left-hander Shawn Morimando sent the Columbus Clippers to an 8-1 victory over rival Indianapolis on Friday night.
With less than a month to go until the All-Star break, the Clippers have climbed back within two games of the .500 mark at 29-31 on the season. Their surge towards a winning record has been made possible by a 6-2 record in June. The bats in general have come to life for the Clippers over the course of the last three weeks, as since the final week of May, they have put up six runs or more in eight of the 15 games played.
The Clippers will wrap up their weekend series with the Indians on Saturday and Sunday, with each win significantly cutting the distance between them and the first place Indianapolis club. Columbus enters action on Saturday trailing the Pittsburgh Triple-A affiliate by three games.
In other news and notes from the Ohio state capital:
ALMONTE’S REHAB ASSIGNMENT
Outfielder Abraham Almonte rejoined the Clippers roster on Thursday as he began a rehab assignment for Cleveland.
He made his first appearance since landing on the 10-day disabled list with the Indians in May and was 0-for-3 while serving as Columbus’ designated hitter.
DIAZ CONTINUES TO THRIVE AT PLATE
With two more hits on Friday against Indianapolis, Yandy Diaz extended his hitting streak to seven straight games. He also hit his second home run of the month in the contest, giving him three on the season while in Columbus.
The 25-year-old has put together a .315/.425/.441 slash in 34 games at the Triple-A level this season. In his 18 games in Cleveland earlier in the year, his line was .203/.268/.219.
He has worked almost evenly in left field and at third base, appearing in 13 games at each spot while logging nearly 13 more innings in the outfield corner. He has also appeared in four innings of one game at second base and three games in right field while with the Clippers.
SEVEN STRAIGHT FOR STAMETS
Infielder Eric Stamets has found a groove at the plate as he has hit safely in each of his last seven games. The hot stretch includes five multi-hit games and a home run barrage. He hit five in the series against Norfolk from May 27 to May 29, hitting a pair on the 28th with six RBI and two more the next game with three runs batted in.
During his stretch at the plate, which was sandwiched around a missed week with injury, he has hit .555 (15-for-27) with five homers and 14 RBI.
MERRITT MAKING NOISE
Southpaw Ryan Merritt is getting himself back on track on the mound as he has reeled off three straight wins and five quality starts in his last seven outings.
In his last start on June 7 against Louisville, the 25-year-old worked seven innings for the second straight start and gave up three runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts on 95 pitches. The win pushed him back over the .500 mark at 6-5 on the year. He won his first start of June in similar fashion in a game at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on the first of the month, going seven innings while allowing three runs on six hits with a walk and seven strikeouts on 96 pitches.
The home run ball has been and continues to be a bit of a concern for the softer-tossing lefty as he has given up a blast in nine of his 12 outings this season, including three back on April 23 in Buffalo. He has allowed a total of 14 of them on the season in 72 2/3 innings of work.
MERRYWEATHER MAKING BEST OF PROMOTION
Big right-hander Julian Merryweather was off to a 4-2 start in nine games with a 3.38 ERA with the Akron RubberDucks when he was promoted to Columbus on May 29. In two outings since, he has looked like he belongs at the Triple-A level.
In his first pro start at the top level of the farm system, he fired eight scoreless innings of four-hit baseball to earn a win against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He struck out eight in the game to extend his personal winning streak to three straight decisions on the mound. In his home debut against Louisville on Monday, he earned his second win with the Clippers behind six innings of work. He allowed four runs and three homers in the ball game, but did not walk a batter while striking out four. It marked the second straight game and the third time in four starts that he did not issue a free pass to the opposition.
Through two starts, Merryweather is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in Columbus.
ENDING A HOMER DROUGHT
Heading into play on May 29, Adam Moore had gone over five weeks without hitting a home run for the Clippers and had just four RBI on the year, but he has made up for lost time over the last nine games, leaving the yard three different times in big ways.
A third inning grand slam on May 29 at Huntington Park against Norfolk helped Columbus “turn the tides” as the Clippers made a 1-0 lead into an 8-0 advantage with a seven-run inning. Columbus would hold on for a 12-4 victory.
His two-run shot on May 31 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the bottom of the seventh made it a one-run game, but the RailRiders would hold on for a 4-3 win in the seven-inning makeup contest.
He chipped in for another big inning on Monday against Louisville as the Clippers put up five in the seventh. He accounted for three on his own with another long ball as Columbus rolled to a 15-5 win over the Bats.
Tyler Naquin remains sidelined with lower back tightness, an injury that has had him on the 7-day disabled list since May 3. He had hit the ground running after his demotion to the Clippers after struggling while a member of the Cleveland Indians roster. In 14 games with Columbus, he had hit safely in every one while posting a .396 average at the plate until injury slowed him down.
Chris Narveson returned from the disabled list after more than a month on the shelf, but has taken a pair of losses in his return. The 35-year-old left-hander has thrown a combined four and two-thirds innings in those two outings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits with three walks, two hit batters, and five strikeouts, but left after allowing just an unearned run in three innings in his last start June 6.
Pitchers Tim Cooney, Carlos Frias, Tyler Olson, and Enosil Tejeda remain sidelined on the disabled list, as does newly acquired outfielder David Lough, who is battling a hamstring injury, and infielder Ronny Rodriguez, who has missed all of June thus far.
The Clippers received starter Mike Clevinger back from the Indians on Wednesday, but the move is expected to be temporary. The parent club has had a sprinkling of off days, putting it in a position to not require five starters until next weekend. Clevinger will get the opportunity to get in work and stay on track for a start next Saturday in Minnesota against the Twins. The 26-year-old right-hander last worked for the Clippers on May 2, earning his third win of the season behind six innings of one-run baseball, before earning a call-up to Cleveland.
In a corresponding move, left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett was promoted to Cleveland for the first time this season.
Right-handed reliever Cole Sulser rejoined the Clippers from Double-A Akron on Tuesday when Olson was placed on the disabled list.
Photo: Cathryn Wood/Columbus Clippers