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…
DIAZ’S HITTING STREAK HITS 18
After sitting out on Friday, Yandy Diaz extended his hitting streak to 18 games on Saturday, longest in the International League this season. He wasted no time in doing so, driving in Ronny Rodriguez with a first inning single to give the Clippers a 1-0 lead over Charlotte.
The 24-year-old Diaz is hitting .340 on the season with a .415 on-base percentage.
DIAZ NAMED IL’S PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Diaz was named the IL’s Batter of the Week on Monday after running his hitting streak up. He hit .519 over the span of games from July 18 to July 24 with 14 hits. He walked five times, scored six, and drove in eight over the course of the week. He pushed his batting average to .340 and his on-base percentage to .419, both leading the league at that time.
EVERYBODY JOIN THE HIT PARADE
Saturday’s win was an all-out effort for the Clippers, who saw all nine starters contribute with at least one hit in the contest. Rodriguez, starting at first and hitting leadoff, led the way with a single, a pair of homers, three runs scored, and four RBI. Yhoxian Medina had three hits from the eighth spot in the lineup with two singles and a double and four runs batted in.
MERRITT WITH SIX SHUTOUT IN WIN
Ryan Merritt earned win number seven to even his record at 7-7 on the season with the Clippers on Saturday as Columbus knocked off Charlotte, 11-2.
Merritt went six innings, allowing six hits and no walks while keeping the Knights away from home plate. He struck out four before handing the game over to the bullpen with the score at 4-0.
It was a good bounce back win for Merritt, who had allowed five earned runs on eleven hits in six innings in a no-decision his last time out.
CLEVINGER WINS ELEVENTH
Clevinger went the first five innings to earn his eleventh win of the season. He allowed six hits and walked a pair, but struck out eight as Charlotte combined to go 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position on the night. Garner went three hitless innings, allowing just one walk in the process. Armstrong earned his fifth save of the season, striking out a pair and giving up one hit in the ninth.
The 25-year-old Clevinger is now 11-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 17 starts this season for the Clippers.
ZIMMER’S FIRST RBI A BIG ONE
Bradley Zimmer, in his fourth game with the Clippers since his promotion at the beginning of the week, had a big RBI single in the third inning to drive in the only run of the game in the Columbus win on Friday night. It was his first RBI as a member of the Clippers.
He has hit safely in four of his first five games with the club (all singles), including a two-hit effort on Saturday.
FRAZIER WITH HITS IN EACH OF HIS FIRST THREE GAMES
Clint Frazier got his first Triple-A hit in his first game with the Clippers, singling in three at bats. He had a single and triple the following day and another single on Thursday before he was held hitless in four at bats on Friday night.
PLUTKO NEARLY PERFECT IN LOSS
Adam Plutko flirted with perfection on Tuesday, only to come away with a loss.
The 24-year-old right-hander retired the first 22 Tides hitters in order before a one-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning. A double tied the game, and a single from Mike Yastrzemski allowed Norfolk to take the lead.
Plutko fell to 2-4 in eight starts with the Clippers after going 3-3 in 13 starts for Double-A Akron.
MORIMANDO WINS HIS SECOND
Shawn Morimando won his second Triple-A game on Wednesday with six and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball in Norfolk. He allowed five hits and walked a pair while striking out three in his outing.
He has made four starts for the Clippers – he has allowed three runs or less in each of the last three.
BULLPEN WITH SOME SCORELESS STREAKS
Since giving up three runs on three hits in an inning of work on July 1 in Pawtucket, Armstrong has not allowed a run over his last eleven outings (11 1/3 innings). His ERA has dropped from 3.10 to 2.23 during that span.
Jeff Johnson has been unscored upon even longer, dating back to three runs allowed on June 24 against Norfolk. He has not allowed a run in all ten July outings and his final two of June, a span of 11 1/3 innings over 12 games.
Zimmer and Frazier each were formally assigned to the Clippers on Monday, as was free agent Joe Thatcher, who returned to the Indians organization on a minor league deal. He was with the club for spring training, but has not pitched since the beginning of June prior to being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ minor league system.
Photo: Eric Albrecht/The Columbus Dispatch