The team that helped the Columbus Clippers claim the International League West Division crown will not be the same team that tries to advance to the Governors Cup later in the month. The September call-ups have deprived the Clippers of several weapons from their bullpen and several more regular contributors from their every day lineup.
With the division already locked up, the Clippers (80-61) have gone on a bit of a losing skid, dropping three straight, four of their last five, and six of their last eight. Despite the tough stretch with the roster in a state of flux, their lead over Indianapolis and Louisville sits at eleven games heading into action over the weekend. They will wrap up their season with one more at home against Toledo before heading to the northwest corner of the state for two more against the Mud Hens before the playoffs start on Wednesday. In addition to the Clippers, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in the North Division have locked up playoffs spots, with the South Division completely up for grabs between four teams who will all finish with records below .500.
In other Clippers news and notes from the Ohio state capital:
On Wednesday, Columbus reliever Cody Anderson struck out the Indianapolis Indians’ Austin Meadows swinging to strike out the side and clinch the International League West Division for the Clippers with a 3-1 win at Victory Field.
Pushing their lead to 14 games, the Clippers became the first Triple-A team to clinch a division crown in 2016 as the club won its third title in the last three years. Columbus will get to relax some prior to the playoffs this season, which is a big change from their late September 7 clinch date last season. Twelve games remain on the Clippers schedule for this season while the team awaits its opponent for their postseason run.
At 78-54, Columbus is riding its hottest streak of the season, as it has now won nine straight games.
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:
A five-run seventh inning fell too short for Columbus on Thursday afternoon as the club dropped a 13-10 decision to Buffalo. It gave the Bisons a three-game sweep of the Clippers and is the second longest losing streak of the year for the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate.
Despite the series sweep, the Clippers remain in the top spot in the International League West Division at 26-20, two and a half games in front of Indianapolis and Louisville, prior to Louisville’s night game on Thursday.
The Clippers will continue their homestand this weekend with a three-game series against the Durham Bulls before hitting the road for three in Buffalo and four against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. They will return the following Monday for an eight-game home stretch in seven days.
In other Clippers news from the state capital:
If you have not paid attention to the results down in Columbus for the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A farm club, the Clippers, you have missed out on an impressive stretch of baseball being played right now.
Since a four-game losing streak in the days following four postponements in a five-day span and a pair of early April doubleheaders, the Clippers have sailed away to an incredible start. Since ending their losing skid against Indianapolis on April 16, the club has gone 16-4.
They dropped just two more games in the second half of April, losing a series in Louisville against the Bats. The Clippers then ripped off eleven straight wins before losing the series opener and the rubber match in Charlotte against the Knights. They got back onto the winning path on Friday with a 9-2 victory in Toledo over the Mud Hens in a well-pitched game from Indians pitching prospect Mike Clevinger, who improved to 4-0 in six starts this season with a 3.03 ERA.
The Indians were not the only team in the organization to see its season and Home Opener spoiled by the weather in the region. The same thing happened to the Columbus Clippers on Thursday night as they tried to usher in the 2016 Triple-A season at Huntington Park.
The Clippers will try again on Friday to host the Indianapolis Indians, their playoff competition in the International League Finals in 2015. The Clippers defeated them in that series to claim the Governors’ Cup, only to lose in the Triple-A National Championship to the Fresno Grizzlies, affiliate of the Houston Astros, in the winner-take-all game.
Postponed home openers are not unfamiliar to those in the state capital. It is the third time in the last four years that it has happened to the Clippers. With the cancellation on Thursday, the team has revised their tentative schedule for the weekend.
When Cleveland acquired outfielder Michael Choice from the Texas Rangers in a cash exchange on August 21st, the outfield picture for the future was unclear.
With Michael Brantley expected to miss time at the beginning of the 2016 season and two other players being considered as prospective starters with minimal consistent experience in the outfield at the Major League level, the Indians have some choices to make during the spring, and Choice is one of the internal options.
The outfield will be a crowded space in Goodyear as the club takes a look at several options for their Major League roster. With Brantley expected to start the season on the disabled list while he recovers from offseason surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, the Indians return Abraham Almonte in center and Lonnie Chisenhall in right field. The club signed Rajai Davis to a one-year, $5.25 million contract and he will likely see time in left and center field, but he could pick up some playing time in the right field corner as well. The club claimed Joey Butler off of waivers from Tampa Bay and picked up Collin Cowgill from the Los Angeles Angels for cash.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Wednesday afternoon that the team had acquired reliever Kirby Yates from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Indians designated outfielder Michael Choice for assignment. The team has ten days to trade or release him or send him outright to the minors, if he passes through waivers unclaimed.
Like Yates, Choice was acquired by Cleveland late last season for cash.
An exciting season comes to a conclusion tonight for the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, as they take on the Fresno Grizzlies for the Gildan Triple-A National Championship.
In a decisive game five of the International League championship series on Saturday night, the Clippers defeated the Indianapolis Indians, 3-0, to win their third Governors’ Cup in the last six seasons (also 2010; 2011). It was their tenth cup in the franchise’s 38-year history and also tied them with Rochester for the most championships in league history.
Michael Choice, an outfielder acquired late in the season by the Indians from the Texas Rangers for cash, was named the Most Valuable Player of the IL playoffs.