Clippers continue good play, win 7-3
COLUMBUS — It’s only been three games, but the on-field product the Columbus Clippers have displayed during their most recent winning streak could be a cause for concern for the rest of the International League.
The Clippers won for the third-straight time Monday night, beating the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 7-3, to take the four-game series, 3-to-1. While the three-consecutive wins are not much to brag about, the streak is tied for the longest this month and the best since the club reeled off five wins in a row at the beginning of April. Columbus (38-40) has now won five of its last seven games, and posts an 8-5 record over the past two weeks.
“I liked the way we played. I thought we played well on the road, the record didn’t really show that. After a tough first night here (Friday), we’ve played really well the past three games,” Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh said.
The team is now healthy, for the most part, and players are starting to produce at the level they are accustomed to. Right fielder Trevor Crowe, who went 1-for-4 Monday with a homer and three RBIs, has been back with Columbus for about two weeks after missing more than a month with an injury to his oblique. The pitching rotation, which has been shaky at best throughout the season, has turned in back-to-back lengthy and solid outings.
“Pitching’s the name of the game. We’ve pitched well recently,” Sarbaugh said.
Playing in front of 11,737 fans at Huntington Park Monday night, Columbus got production from just about everyone that stepped to the plate. The Clippers had nine hits with seven of the nine players in the lineup recording at least one.
After scoring four runs in Sunday’s victory, the Clippers matched their previous day’s total in the first two innings of Monday’s contest.
In the first, Crowe homered to left field, his third shot of the season. In the second, a single to deep left field by shortstop Gregorio Petit plated left fielder Tim Fedroff, who reached on an error. Two batters later, another error plagued the IronPigs, as second baseman Kevin Frandsen dropped a rocket of a line drive hit by Crowe. As the ball bounced out of Frandsen’s glove and dribbled into center field, two runs scored, pushing the Clippers lead to 4-0.
On the mound, one day after right-hander T.J McFarland’s dominant, complete-game shutout, right-hander Corey Kluber pitched deep into the game. Kluber went 7.1 innings and allowed just three-earned runs. He gave five hits through seven innings, but was pulled shortly after the IronPigs had back-to-back singles to start the eighth.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” Sarbaugh said. “He got some early contact, which helped him get deep into the game. He might have gotten tired in the eighth, but it was a solid outing.”
Following Kluber’s exit, right-hander Frank Hermann got out of trouble in the eighth with a tailor-made double play, and recorded his first save of the season in the ninth.
While errors certainly helped Columbus’ offensive production early in the game—the IronPigs recorded three in the first two innings—the Clippers were hitting the ball hard, and it showed later.
Designated hitter Russ Canzler crushed a fastball from Lehigh Valley left-hander Pat Misch into the hitter’s eye in center field in the fifth inning. Canzler, who went 2-for-3, almost had another dinger in the seventh, but settled for an RBI double off the wall in left-center field.
Scoring on Canzler’s double was first baseman Matt LaPorta, who reached on an infield single when he dove under the outstretching arm of first baseman Cody Overbeck after a throw from third base was off the line. LaPorta’s hustle paid off when he scored on Canzler’s hit, but it also prolonged the inning, which allowed Fedroff to reach the plate. Fedroff delivered with an RBI single to left field.
“I thought LaPorta’s hustle on that ball down the line, sliding into first and getting under the tag, that set up two runs. That was big,” Sarbaugh said.
Columbus is set to begin a four-game series with Norfolk on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.