Barring a very dramatic collapse, the Columbus Clippers are well on their way to another postseason appearance in 2016. With a 73-54 record after scoring ten unanswered runs in Friday night’s 11-5 win over the Toledo Mud Hens, the Clippers have a nine-game lead over the rival Indianapolis Indians in the International League’s West Division with 17 games left on the Columbus schedule.
Over the course of the previous seven days, the Clippers have remained a red hot team, taking two of three from Syracuse and sweeping Durham during the first two series of a three-team homestand from Huntington Park. After a day off on Thursday, they welcomed in Toledo for three games this weekend before taking the ClipShow on the road for three in Indianapolis and two more with the Mud Hens in Toledo.
In other Clippers news from the Ohio state capital:
GONZALEZ’S POWER SURGE
Erik Gonzalez has done some damage with the long ball after being optioned back to Columbus by the Indians at the beginning of August.
After hitting six home runs all season prior to his promotion to Cleveland, Gonzalez has gone deep five times with five doubles and ten RBI since his return to the Clippers’ lineup. He is hitting .300 through his first 13 games back in Triple-A.
MERRITT WINS SIXTH STRAIGHT DECISION
Left-hander Ryan Merritt threw a second consecutive scoreless effort on Wednesday in defeating Durham. He worked six innings without giving up a run, allowing just two hits and one walk while hitting one batter and striking out two Bulls for the win.
The outing was coming off of seven innings of scoreless baseball in his last outing on August 12, when he allowed just four hits and struck out six in the win.
Merritt has now won five games in a row and has won each of his last six decisions dating back to his first start in July. He is now 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 21 games.
HAVILAND HAS SECOND STRONG START FOR CLIPPERS
Right-hander Shawn Haviland, signed by the Indians organization on August 5 and assigned to the Clippers, made his second strong start for the club.
The 30-year-old former Harvard pitcher went five innings, giving up four hits and two walks in a scoreless outing while striking out three. He is now 0-1 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in three games for Columbus this season after not making an appearance at the minor league level since last September.
DIAZ BUSTS SHORT SLUMP AFTER LONG HITTING STREAK
After seeing his 28-game hitting streak come to an end on August 11 at Toledo, Yandy Diaz’s bat had gone a little cold. In six games heading into action on Friday, Diaz was just two for his last 19 at the plate with a walk and three runs batted in. His batting average had fallen from .338 in the final game of his hitting streak to .324 at the start of the day on Friday.
With a 3-for-5 day at the plate on Friday, he pushed his average back up to .328. He leads all International League batters in batting average, four points ahead of Toledo’s Casey McGehee, who is currently with the parent Detroit club. Diaz’s .401 on-base percentage trailed only Jermaine Curtis’ .404 mark for Louisville.
AGUILAR PERFORMING BETTER OF LATE
First baseman Jesus Aguilar extended his hitting streak to six straight games after his 2-for-5 performance in Friday’s win. In each of the first four games of that hitting streak, Aguilar’s lone hit was a double. He has also hit safely in eight of his last nine and eleven of his last 13 games.
ADAMS STRONG SINCE OPTION
Right-handed reliever Austin Adams has been good since his return from Cleveland at the beginning of the month. He has worked five scoreless outings in the month, working five innings with no record and a save. He has allowed five hits, has not walked a batter, and has struck out ten batters in those outings.
ARMSTRONG HEADS NORTH, CROCKETT HEADS SOUTH
The Cleveland Indians recalled reliever Shawn Armstrong from Columbus on Friday and optioned left-hander Kyle Crockett back to Triple-A. The move did not appear to have anything to do with Crockett, who has been good for the Indians of late, but rather looked as though it was about keeping another fresh and right-handed arm in the bullpen against a right-handed heavy Toronto lineup for the weekend series.
The Clippers received right-hander Joseph Colon from Cleveland after he was activated from the 15-day disabled list and optioned back to Triple-A.
The Clippers activated reliever Jeff Johnson from the temporarily inactive list on Friday. He had been placed on the list on Tuesday. He worked two scoreless innings in Friday’s win, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out three.
Left-hander Tyler Olson was placed on the seven-day disabled list on Wednesday while dealing with a bout of the flu. Olson was outrighted to Columbus on Sunday after being designated for assignment off of the 40-man roster by the Indians earlier in the month.
Columbus released left-hander Joe Thatcher last Saturday so that he could sign with the Chicago Cubs.
Photo: Fred Squillante/The Columbus Dispatch