Catastrophic inning dooms Clippers in 13-6 loss
COLUMBUS – It was a promising start for the Clippers in Huntington Park, but one catastrophic inning would ultimately be too much to overcome.
Columbus (30-35) fell to the Charlotte Knights (39-28) by a final score of 13-6 on Tuesday, and much of the Knights’ offense came courtesy of a fourth inning explosion in which they scored seven runs.
The Knights struck early for a 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a long leadoff home run to left center by center fielder Greg Golson. The Clippers defense would get the next three batters out, but the damage was already done.
Columbus was able to tie the game 1-1 in the second thanks to a sacrifice fly by first baseman Russ Canzler that brought left fielder Tim Fedroff in from third. This was set up by a base hit up the middle by right fielder Jared Goedert, a walk, and a throwing error by Charlotte third baseman Ray Oldmedo.
A nice third-inning would give Columbus a two-run lead. A leadoff double by shortstop Gregorio Petit would set up a couple RBI singles by center fielder Trevor Crowe and third baseman Jason Donald that would make the score 3-1.
However, the lead would prove to be short-lived. The Knights’ seven-run rally in the fourth came off of five hits and an error, and all the runs scored with two outs. With the bases loaded, Charlotte shortstop Osvaldo Martinez knocked a double down the right field line that cleared the bases and gave his team a 4-3 lead. This was followed up with an RBI single by center fielder Greg Golson and ultimately a two-run home run by first baseman Dan Johnson that blew the lead open to 8-3.
Going into that inning, Columbus had a great deal of momentum. Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh said he could feel that momentum disappear with each run the Knights scored.
“That seven-run fourth inning they put up kind of took the wind out of our sails,” Sarbaugh said after the game. “We just couldn’t recover from it.”
Charlotte would tack on two more in the fifth. It began with an RBI double to center by second baseman Drew Garcia. It was this hit that ended the day for Clippers starter T.J. McFarland, and when he left it was a 9-3 Knights lead. An RBI base hit by third-baseman Ray Olmedo would make it 10-3 and add another run to McFarland’s stat line.
It was a rough day for McFarland (1-1, 6.88 ERA), who pitched a few strong innings early but his struggles in the fourth would ultimately cost him the game. He left after throwing 4.1 innings, during which he allowed ten earned runs off of eight hits and four walks. This was McFarland’s third start with the Clippers.
Sarbaugh recognized just how much trouble McFarland had on the mound.
“He just didn’t have his stuff today,” Sarbaugh said. “He couldn’t throw the fastball for strikes and that’s how he pitches.”
McFarland’s opponent on the mound was John Danks (0-0, 2.25 ERA), who was making a rehab start on the road back to the Chicago White Sox. He asserted himself quite well, as he pitched four innings and allowed three runs (only one of them earned) on four hits and one walk. Danks was placed on the disabled list on May 25, and based on his performance in Columbus it probably won’t be long before he’s back in the majors.
Since Danks pitched only four innings, credit for the Knights victory went to reliever Brian Bruney (1-3, 1.86 ERA), who pitched three no-hit innings and struck out three in the process.
This mid-game trouble deflated both the Clippers and the Huntington Park atmosphere, and from there neither offense seemed to get much of anything going. Both teams went to the bullpen early, and it wasn’t often that either offense could get much of anything going.
Charlotte would add three in the eighth thanks to another two-out rally and Johnson’s second home run of the game. Meanwhile, the Clippers got three runs back late thanks to a Donald RBI single in the eighth and a two-run home run by catcher Luke Carlin in the ninth. Other than that, the game coasted to the 13-6 final score.
Sarbaugh saw it as a game where both teams made mistakes, but Charlotte did a better job of taking advantage of their opportunities.
“Both teams had some errors, but (The Knights) took advantage of them,” Sarbaugh said.
The Clippers have Wednesday off before beginning a road series against the Gwinnett Braves on Thursday at 5:05 p.m. The Braves currently sit in second place in the International League South.