The home woes continued for the Columbus Clippers this week as their roster is light several of its steady contributors in recent seasons.
At 16-19, the Clippers are just a game and a half behind the first place Toledo Mud Hens and a game in back of the second place Indianapolis Indians in the International League’s West Division, despite a shaky start. They have played the second-fewest home games in the IL this season, with just a dozen contests at Huntington Park this season, but that could be a good thing as they have gone 3-9 when playing hosts.
One man’s misfortune can lead to another man’s gain. Such was the case for Cleveland Indians rookie right-hander Adam Plutko late in the 2016 season, when he fulfilled the dream of the professional baseball player when he made his Major League debut in September.
Unfortunately for the Indians, it came at the expense of starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, whose was lost for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs when he was struck by a line drive on his pitching hand on September 17 against the Detroit Tigers.
Plutko’s season was presumed to be over when he was notified that his contract had been purchased by the Indians and he had been added to the 40-man roster. At the time of the phone call from director of player personnel Carter Hawkins, Plutko was back in his native California with family and friends at a wedding. He had not been added to the Indians roster at the completion of the Triple-A postseason, where he ended his season as a member of the Columbus Clippers.
Cleveland wasted several early opportunities and the use of the bullpen for nine innings proved to be detrimental as the Chicago White Sox spoiled Fan Appreciation Night by dealing the Indians an 8-1 loss on Saturday.
After seeing the Detroit Tigers lose in a dramatic five-run ninth inning comeback by the Kansas City Royals earlier in the afternoon, the Indians could not reduce their magic number to one later in the day, failing in a feast-or-famine kind of a game from the pitching staff and the offense.
Chicago took a 2-0 lead against the first reliever of the night, Cody Anderson, before Cleveland had a chance to come to the plate. Tim Anderson singled to start the game, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a double to right by Melky Cabrera. Jose Abreu made it two runs with a single to right before he was thrown out trying to advance.
The injury suffered by Carlos Carrasco last weekend left the Cleveland Indians starting rotation down a man. To help buffer the loss some, the team purchased the contract of minor league starter Adam Plutko from Triple-A Columbus, well after the season ended for the Clippers.
The belated move was the icing on the cake for the 24-year-old right-hander out of Upland, California, and the Indians’ eleventh round pick out of UCLA in 2013. He had just wrapped up his third season in the Indians’ farm system, finishing his year with a combined 9-8 record in 28 starts with a 3.73 ERA for the season.
A two-run homer in the top of the eighth by Reid Brignac broke a 2-2 tie as the Gwinnett Braves held off a Columbus rally in the bottom of the ninth and the Clippers fell in the International League semi-final opener, 6-5, at Huntington Park.
The Braves’ Triple-A affiliate and IL South champions took a 2-0 lead in the second against Columbus starter Adam Plutko. Blake Lalli singled with one out and scored on a two-out, two-run homer from Daniel Castro to give the Braves the lead.
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:
With a pair of one-run outings and two wins last week, Columbus starting pitcher Adam Plutko was named the International League’s Pitcher of the Week for games between August 15 and 21. Plutko was joined by Norfolk outfielder Christian Walker in receiving one of the league’s two weekly honors.
Plutko is the first Clippers pitcher to be honored this season. He joins two-time Batter of the Week Giovanny Urshela (April 25-May 1 and August 1-7) and Futures Game participant Yandy Diaz (July 18-24) in receiving a weekly award from the International League this year.
The 24-year-old right-hander made a pair of starts over the course of the week and came away victorious in both outings.
A solid 11-2 win over the Charlotte Knights on Saturday gave the Columbus Clippers a series win with one more to play on Sunday evening. The Clippers put together a quality week, sweeping Pawtucket at home in four straight last weekend. A trip to Norfolk ended with a pair of losses, but the Clippers have guaranteed at least a 3-3 split on their six game road trip.
Columbus (60-48) is sitting in the top spot in the International League’s West Division with a four and a half game lead heading into Saturday’s late action. The Clippers will return home after Sunday’s game in Charlotte to host second place Indianapolis for four straight before bouncing back out on the road with four in Louisville and three more in Toledo.
In other ClipNotes…
The Clippers have returned to their winning ways after some difficult times earlier in the month of June. They wrapped up the month strong, taking two of three in Columbus from the Norfolk Tides before sweeping the IronPigs on their home field in Lehigh Valley.
They opened a four-game weekend series in Pawtucket with a 6-4 loss on Thursday night, but bounced back with a 5-3 win on Friday night, despite rain delaying the game late. The win pushed the Clippers (44-38) into a one and a half game lead in the International League West Division over their rivals, the Indianapolis Indians, who were swept in a doubleheader in Toledo.
In other Clipnotes:
It has not been a good week in Columbus for the Clippers, who added several more losses to their season record. After taking the series from the Chiefs in Syracuse with wins in the first two games, the Clippers dropped the finale in a 2-1 loss. They returned home to Columbus on Monday to start a seven-game homestand, but lost their series with Rochester by dropping three of the first four games from Huntington Park. They hosted Norfolk on Friday night, winning 10-7 in a slugfest from Columbus.
The tough week for the Clippers (39-36) has left the club stranded in second place in the International League West Division, trailing the rival Indianapolis Indians.
In other Clippers news from Columbus:
The Indians and their minor league affiliates have put together some losing streaks of late, with some much longer than the others. The Triple-A Columbus Clippers ended one such stretch of L’s on Friday night with an 8-3 win in Syracuse to close out a seven-game losing skid. On Saturday, backed by a strong pitching performance, they made it two wins in a row for the good guys as they knocked off the Chiefs by a 4-2 final.
The two wins pulled the Clippers’ June record to 8-10 and their record for the season to 37-32. The rough stretch in the standings, coupled with a hot streak from the Indianapolis Indians, has knocked Columbus out of first. They trail the Indians by a half game in the International League’s West Division heading into play on Sunday.
In other Clippers news from Columbus:
It has not been a fun week for the Akron RubberDucks, who will start a brief four-game road trip to Harrisburg to take on the Senators on Friday night.
On the road to start last weekend against Bowie, they won the first two games by 7-6 and 2-1 finals before the BaySox swept a doubleheader with a 6-0 victory by former Indians farmhand Jayson Aquino and a 12-7 loss in the nightcap Sunday. After a day off, Akron returned home to Canal Park to play three against the Reading Fightin Phils, but instead of bouncing back, the RubberDucks got squeezed in three straight to the team with the best record in all of minor league baseball. The ‘Ducks fell 11-1 on Tuesday, before losing 3-2 in extras on Wednesday and 6-2 on Thursday to complete the sweep by the Phils.
Despite the five-game losing streak, Akron remains in the driver’s seat of the Eastern League’s Western Division with a 38-22 (.633) record and has a four and a half game lead over the Altoona Curve.
In other RubberDucks tales…