Clippers drop series opener to Bats, 5-3
Columbus rallied, but could not overcome a 4-0 deficit against Louisville on Friday.
COLUMBUS, OH – The Columbus Clippers (24-29) dropped the series opener 5-3 to the Louisville Bats (26-28) on Friday night at Huntington Park, which was their third loss in a row and 13th of their last 17.
Chris Nelson continues to be the bane of the Clippers existence. Friday night he homered and doubled, driving in two runs and scoring two more.
In six games including Friday night, he is batting .478 (11-for-23) with two homers and 11 RBI compared to a .244 average with one homer and 18 knocked over 41 games against everyone else this season.
Danny Salazar (0-3, 7.11) made his third start with the Clippers on Friday night. He got through the first two innings without too much trouble; allowing a hit in each inning. The real damage came in the third inning when he served up three consecutive hits. With one out, Thomas Neal found the right-centerfield wall on a hop for a double. Felix Perez singled to left, which was misplayed and allowed Neal to score. Chris Nelson followed and hit a home run off the scoreboard in right-center.
“He’s up in the zone. He’s not getting the ball down,” Clippers manager Chris Tremie said. “His velocity at times is really good, but still when you’re in the middle of the plate and you’re up, you’re not commanding your off-speed pitches as well as you need to. It’s tough to get a fastball by them in that area of the strike zone consistently.”
Salazar walked two batters, both in the fifth inning. Mike Costanzo walked with one out and then two wild pitches in the next at-bat allowed him to advance to third. Salazar had three wild pitches in total, but an elevated pitch count prevented him from getting through five. All told, he tossed 4.2 innings, allowing three runs (all earned) on 11 hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
“There are some flashes of good things during his outing,” Tremie said. “He had a little bit of trouble commanding the ball down in the zone (on Friday night) for the most part, but like I said, there were some flashes of good pitches and getting it down and throwing how he’s capable of throwing. He would have been a lot more efficient if he could have repeated that a little more often. At the end there when he got to around 85 or 90 pitches, he got a little bit tired. He’ll continue to work and get out there. He’s really good and he’s going to find that niche that he’s searching for right now. He’s going to do really well.”
Mat Latos made the start for Louisville in a rehab appearance and lasted 4.2 innings, allowing three hits and two walks with three strikeouts and no runs. He was on a pitch limit, which prevented him from going longer and left after 81 pitches.
Latos breezed through the front four, but a leadoff double to left by Tim Fedroff and a two out walk by Audy Ciriaco cut short his night. Curtis Partch (1-1, 4.80) relieved him in the fifth with two on and after an error at third, struck out Tyler Holt to end the threat. Partch got credit for the win.
Kyle Crockett pitched two innings of relief and gave up two runs (one earned), a run in each inning. Chris Nelson struck again with a double down the right field line. The Clippers committed two errors in the inning, the first was a fielding error in the right field corner that allowed Nelson to reach third. Tucker Barnhart hit a sharp grounder to short on a drawn in infield that allowed Nelson to score.
“We’ve made a lot of errors as of late and it’s something that we need to do a little bit better job of taking care of the baseball and getting outs whenever we get the outs,” Tremie said. “We’ll continue to work and try to get out there and be a little bit more efficient with that and cut down on those errors. It’s kind of part of the game right now; part of the season. We’re not playing particularly well, but we got to come out of it.”
In the eighth inning, Jason Bourgeois lined one into the right-centerfield gap that drove in a run.
The Clippers battled to keep it close. They put up two runs in the eighth. A leadoff walk by Tyler Holt chased Adam Russell. Ryan Dennick replaced him and promptly struck out the next two batters. But the Clippers put a mini-rally together with three consecutive hits. Ryan Rohlinger singled and Tim Fedroff drove both Holt and Rohlinger in with a double into the gap in right-centerfield. Justin Sellers singled to left, but Fedroff was thrown out at the plate by Hernan Iribarren.
The Clippers put two runners on with two outs in the ninth to threaten, but Dennick got a groundout to second from Elliot Johnson to earn his second save of the year.
The loss coupled with a win by Toledo over Charlotte on Friday night means the Clippers are alone occupying last place in IL West.
The Clippers and Louisville play a day-night doubleheader on Saturday night, which will end the home stand. First pitch for the early tilt is 1:05 PM and features the talents of RHP Kyle Davies (2-2, 4.40) on the mound for the Clippers. Davies is making his sixth start of the year for the Clippers (he made five starts with Double-A Akron) and is coming off a performance on Tuesday night where he gave up four runs on seven hits and a walk over 6.1 innings. The outing was good enough to allow him to record his second victory of the year at this level and fourth overall.
Louisville will send LHP Matt Maloney (0-1, 6.75) to the mound in the first game. He is making his second start of the season.
The second game is scheduled for 7:05 PM, and neither team has announced starters.
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.