The Columbus Clippers ended a three-game losing streak on Sunday with their best complete team outing of the season in an 8-0 victory over the Louisville Bats.
Mike Clevinger is keeping himself primed and ready in the Columbus rotation with back-to-back wins to start his season. His last pushed the team back over the .500 mark and ended Columbus’ longest losing skid of the young season. The Clippers (6-5) have won all three of his starts this season, but when anyone else has taken the mound, they are just 3-5.
The early season schedule has not provided a lot of variety for the Clippers, who have played the Louisville Bats eight times and the Indianapolis Indians three times. The first seven games of the season came on the road before hosting for the first time this season, but they will be back on the road for another week, heading to Lehigh Valley for three beginning Tuesday night and to Buffalo on Friday night for a three-game weekend set before returning home for the final six games of the month.
In other Clippers news and notes:
MORE ON CLEVINGER’S START
Clevinger has made three starts on the season, with promising results each time out.
He started the season opener against the Bats and worked six innings of one-run ball, walking two and giving up two hits while striking out eight. The only run came on a home run by Sebastian Elizalde.
After setting a high bar after his opening day outing, Clevinger pushed the limits even higher. He went seven scoreless innings in his first start of the year against Indianapolis, giving up four hits and a pair of walks while striking out nine to drop his ERA to 0.69. After a tough no-decision in his first start, he earned his first W of the 2017 season in shutting down the Indians.
He made his third start of the season on Sunday and was just as dominant as his first two. Making his second start against Louisville, he worked six scoreless frame to lower his ERA to 0.47. He allowed just three hits and a walk on the day while striking out eight to earn his second win of the season.
LOVING THE LONG BALL
Nellie Rodriguez made his first Triple-A regular season start a memorable one on April 6 against Louisville. After singling earlier in the game, he came up to lead off the 13th inning with the score tied at two. That score did not last as he went deep with his first home run of the season and the Clippers held on for a 3-2 victory.
He would provide even more offense on April 9 in the finale with Louisville as he homered twice and drove in three runs in the 10-4 loss. The 22-year-old is tied with Erik Gonzalez for the team lead in homers with three, but is hitting just .129 on the young campaign.
GONZALEZ DELIVERS THE WINNER
Gonzalez, a late spring camp casualty for the Tribe in Goodyear, Arizona, came up big for the Clippers on April 8 as Columbus won its second extra innings game in as many tries.
Gonzalez was not in the starting lineup, but came on as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning in right field. After lining out in his first at bat the following inning, he came up with runners on first and second and one out in the top of the tenth inning and singled home the go-ahead run in a 9-8 victory.
He homered and had a pair of hits on April 12 against Indianapolis while driving in two runs in a 7-6 win and was 3-for-4 in Sunday’s win, knocking in two while coming up just a triple short of the cycle.
SHAFFER SECURES THIRD EXTRA INNING W
The April 10 contest between Columbus and Indianapolis was a pitcher’s duel decided by a late swing of the bat from Richie Shaffer. In a scoreless game in the 11th inning, Adam Moore singled to start the frame and moved to third on an error before Shaffer came through with his second single of the day, driving in what would be the deciding run in the Clippers’ third win and third extra inning victory of the season. It ended an 0-for-9 effort at the plate for Columbus with runners in scoring position.
He leads the Columbus roster with eight runs batted in already this season, one ahead of third baseman Giovanny Urshela.
NARVESON BRINGING VETERAN LEADERSHIP
Veteran left-hander Chris Narveson has slotted into the young Clippers rotation and has been one of the best starters in the batch in the early going. The 35-year-old threw six shutout innings in his debut on April 10, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out four. He followed it up with a tough loss on April 15 against Louisville, giving up four runs (two earned) over seven and two-thirds innings in a quality outing. He struck out one batter and walked a pair in the contest.
The season may just be two weeks old, but the Clippers have already had some traffic on and off of its roster.
Reliever Nick Goody joined the Indians bullpen on Saturday afternoon to help a depleted bullpen. Shawn Armstrong, who worked a career-high effort on the mound the night before, was optioned to make room on the team’s 25-man roster.
Outfielder Tyler Naquin was optioned by the Indians on Thursday when Chisenhall was activated from his rehab assignment. In his first three games backs with Columbus, he has hit safely in all three while hitting .333. In six games for Cleveland, he was hitting .235 with five strikeouts.
Chisenhall had been working his way back from a shoulder injury sustained late in spring training and had spent time with Columbus and Akron before returning to the Indians lineup. Jason Kipnis is also with the club after spending time at Akron while rehabbing his own shoulder injury.
Catcher Jeremy Lucas, who ended the 2016 season with the Clippers, was shifted to the short-season Mahoning Valley roster on Sunday. He was 0-for-5 in his first start of the season with a pair of strikeouts.
Photo: Emily Poynter/Columbus Clippers