Clippers blasted by Mud Hens 9-4
Starting pitching sinks Columbus against Toledo
COLUMBUS- The Columbus Clippers had the tying run on the on-deck circle in the bottom of the ninth but ultimately fell to the Toledo Mud Hens 9-4 Wednesday.
Three walks by relief pitcher Bruce Rondon set it up for Matt Carson to get the Clippers back into the game but the center fielder fouled out down the first base line. With two down, Rondon issued a bases-loaded free pass to third baseman Nate Spears to make the score 9-4. A pitching change that brought hard-throwing Brayan Villarreal to the mound halted all comeback hopes as he got left fielder Ezequiel Carrera to ground into the game-ending force out.
“The guys were patient right there and almost took advantage of something that we were given but the kid (Villarreal) has a really good arm, a lot of velocity and it’s pretty impressive to see,” Clippers manager Chris Tremie said.
Joe Martinez's (1-5, 6.95 ERA) pitching woes continued, as he allowed seven earned runs (nine total) on 12 hits with four strikeouts and no walks in six innings.
Over his last ten games, Martinez is 1-4 with a ridiculous 8.05 ERA (51 earned runs in 57 innings).
“The ball was up,” Tremie said. “It was a little flat in the zone and you know, he’s kind of going through something, the way I like to think of it, is something like a hitter would go through when he’s in a little bit of a slump and not quite getting the results that he wants. He’s going to continue to work and I think we’ll see a lot of good things from him in the future.”
Aside from the fourth inning, Columbus was shut down for most of the day by right-hander Derek Hankins (2-3, 3.46 ERA). The starter was excellent for the Mud Hens, tossing eight solid frames and allowing three runs on four hits with four punchouts and two walks.
“He threw the ball well,” Tremie said. “He mixed his pitches up, kept them down. The one inning we got to him and the rest of the time he was pretty effective.”
Toledo third baseman Mike Cervenak started the top of the second inning by stroking a double to the left field wall and then advanced to third on a groundout by designated hitter Ramon Cabrera. Catcher Brad Davis followed by bouncing an RBI groundout to second and in the next at-bat center fielder Kevin Russo blasted a solo shot to left to put Toledo up 2-0.
With one down in the top of the fourth, Cervenak laced a base hit into left and Cabrera skipped a double down the first base line to put runners in scoring position. Davis hit a sacrifice fly for a run and Russo blooped an RBI single into right to increase the lead to 4-0.
The Clippers cut the lead to one with a trio of runs in the bottom half of the inning.
After a leadoff walk, center fielder Tim Fedroff stole second and then moved to third on a groundout by second baseman Cord Phelps. First baseman Chun-Hsiu Chen smacked a one-hop single to left to get Columbus on the board. A fly out by right fielder Jeremy Hermida to the warning track in center allowed Chen to tag-up and then the Taiwan-native swiped third base. Shortstop Matt Lawson cracked a base knock into left to cut the margin in half, stole second and then advanced to third on an overthrow. Catcher Lou Marson took advantage of the error and popped a single into right to make it a 4-3 ballgame.
The Mud Hens immediately answered with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning and another three in the sixth.
Second baseman Brandon Douglas whacked a base hit to right to start things off in the fifth. Two batters later, left fielder Nick Castellanos scorched a two-run a homer to center to give Toledo the 6-3 advantage.
In the following inning, Davis roped a one-out double down the third base line and Russo reached on a botched grounder by third baseman Nate Spears. Consecutive singles by shortstop Argenis Diaz and Douglas made it 8-3 and Lennerton capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to left and put his team up 9-3.
The Clippers fall back to .500 at 30-30 with the loss and the Mud Hens improve their record to 21-40.
Columbus will turn around and head to Toledo for two more games with the Mud Hens Thursday. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (2-0, 3.21) will be on the bump for the Clippers and left-hander Casey Crosby (2-5, 4.44) will pitch opposite the Venezuelan-native. Action is slated to begin at 7:05 p.m.