Bulls run down Clippers, 6-3
COLUMBUS – It was a quick, quiet night for the Columbus Clippers (64-60) on Tuesday night as they fell to the Durham Bulls (58-67) by a final score of 6-3.
Both offenses were able to do some damage early. The Clippers struck in the first inning on an RBI double into deep left by right fielder Vinny Rottino. A diving play by Bulls left fielder Jesus Feliciano came up short, and Clippers second baseman Cord Phelps was able to score all the way from first base. After one Columbus had a 1-0 lead.
However, Durham would strike back with a vengeance in the next three innings. Bulls designated hitter Brooks Conrad picked up an RBI double of his own in the second to tie the game, and then second baseman Reid Brignac gave his team the lead on a groundout to first base. Then in the third, first baseman Henry Wrigley launched a solo shot to deep left center – his 12th home run of the year – to make it 3-1.
The Bulls pulled further ahead in the fourth inning. After Clippers starter Jeanmar Gomez (6-3, 2.92 ERA) got the first two batters out, he made a couple mistakes that cost his team another run. After walking Conrad, he gave up a triple to Brignac that brought in the fourth Durham run and further deflated the Huntington Park crowd.
The Clippers did nothing to help matters on the offensive side. After getting the one run in the first inning, not a single Columbus batter reached base again until the… Despite a bumpy start to the evening, it wound up being a terrific night for Bulls starter Matt Torra (11-6, 4.09 ERA). In 6.2 innings he allowed two runs on three hits and no walks.
Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh recognizes that his team’s offense has been struggling of late, but he also gives a lot of credit to Torra.
“I think a lot of the guys right now are trying to do too much,” Sarbaugh said. “(Torra) did a nice job of getting ahead in counts and he took advantage of us being over-aggressive at times.”
It was in the sixth that Columbus was able to pull closer. Third baseman Gregorio Petit hit a solo home run to left field that just cleared the wall to make it 4-2. It was his eighth homer of the year, and it injected some life into a mostly-silent crowd. Unfortunately they were unable to do anything with this momentum, and the next three batters went down in order.
For Gomez, it was an overall solid night, but a few mistakes wound up costing him and his team the game. He also couldn’t establish consistent command, and on the night about 45 percent of his pitches were balls. He left after six innings, and in that time he allowed four runs on seven hits and a walk.
The Bulls were silenced for a few innings after their fourth run, but in the eighth inning they were able to scratch two more across to make it 6-2. First Durham catcher Stephen Vogt hit a bouncing ground ball down the first base line that wound up going for an RBI triple, and then Conrad lifted an RBI single to right field to give his team their greatest lead of the night.
The Clippers made a little noise in the ninth inning as designated hitter Matt LaPorta brought a run in with an RBI double that nearly left the ball park in center field. However, the Durham bullpen was able to survive and preserve Torra’s win.
Sarbaugh said that he sees flashes of good offense, but the key is putting together big innings. Right now, the Clippers can’t quite pull that off.
“The first inning we got a couple hits and a run,” Sarbaugh said. “We just couldn’t put anything together. We couldn’t get good at-bats.”
The second game of the Clippers’ series against the Bulls will begin on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m.