Clippers fall 8-5 as Chiefs complete sweep
COLUMBUS- The Columbus Clippers were swept in a four-game series against the Syracuse Chiefs after dropping the finale 8-5 Sunday.
“Unfortunately these (things) occur during the course of the season,” manager Chris Tremie said. “You have a bad series or for whatever reason you don’t come out on top in a series. Whether you lose three or you lose four, it happens.”
Prior to the series, Columbus had won seven straight games from May 15 to May 21 and outscored their opponents 45-25. During the sweep, Syracuse piled on 26 runs opposed to the Clippers’ 17.
Despite the setback, Tremie said he is confident that his team will get back to their winning ways.
“It’s (the sweep) not going to have any effect on us tomorrow going in to play Louisville,” Tremie said. “We’re going to go about business the way we do and you know, these guys are going to turn it around.”
The first inning was rocky to say the least for both starting pitchers. The Chiefs jumped on right-hander Joe Martinezfor four runs on six hits in the top of the first. The Clippers came right back and tagged Syracuse’s Chris Young for three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
After retiring the leadoff batter, Martinez gave up a hard line drive single to right fielder Chris Rahl and second baseman Will Rhymes followed by smoking a double high off the wall in right. In the next at-bat, left fielder Corey Brown stroked a base hit to right fielder Jeremy Hermida, bringing home the base runners. Hermida bobbled the ball during his transfer, allowing Rhymes to score uncontested. The fielding miscue proved irrelevant however, as third baseman Carlos Rivero’s two-run home run to the stands in left would have scored Rhymes anyway.
Down 4-0, designated hitter Tim Fedroff slashed a two-bagger to right center and then quickly swiped third base. Second baseman Matt Lawson was issued a walk and then left fielder Cord Phelps connected with a first-pitch fastball for a three-run homer (6) that smacked off the Columbus Dispatch video screen in right center.
Columbus tied things up in the bottom of the second with a little help from the Syracuse defense. Reliever Jeff Mandel replaced Young after the starter’s one-inning performance.
Catcher Chris Wallace walked to begin the inning and Lawson moved him over with a sacrifice bunt down third base line that he almost beat out for a single. Phelps then grounded a ball up the middle that was fielded by shortstop Zack Walters. With his momentum going toward the left side of the infield, Walters tried to make a spinning throw to first but his throw was wide of the bag, allowing Wallace to score and make it 4-4.
The tie did not last for long as Chiefs first baseman Chris Marrero belted a two-run homer deep to left to put his team back on top 6-4.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Clippers squeezed out another run to cut the lead down to 6-5 but failed at a golden opportunity to cause more damage.
Back-to-back singles by right fielder Matt Carson and shortstop Juan Diaz put runners on the corners with nobody out. Wallace then lifted a deep fly ball to center for a sacrifice fly to make it 6-5. Diaz then stole second and moved up to third on a wild pitch before Fedroff followed with a walk. The designated hitter then swiped his second bag of the game to put both runners in scoring position but Lawson struckout and Phelps popped out to pitcher Tanner Roark to end the inning.
Syracuse answered with another pair of runs to increase their advantage in the top of the seventh. Brown launched his second homer of the game, this time a solo shot, to right and Marrero laced a two-out single to right with a man on to bring the score to 8-5.
Although Martinez was knocked around a bit, allowing eight runs on 13 hits, the right-hander gave something that his team desperately needed- innings. With a short-handed bullpen, the Clippers only had two available relievers,Francisco Valera and Bryan Price, both of whom were called up from Double-A Akron in the past two days. Martinez ate up 6.2 innings before handing things over to Valera.
“He didn’t have his best stuff and he kind of scuffled throughout the game but he continued to battle,” Tremie said of Martinez. “Late in the game he had two outs and over a hundred pitches and you know, he gave us what we needed as far as innings went.”
In his second appearance with Columbus, his first coming on May 14 in a brief stint with the team, Valera looked impressive. The Dominican Republic- native tossed 2.1 innings of one-hit baseball without allowing a run and striking out two batters.
“He really threw the ball well,” Tremie said. “For him to come up here and do that and have success is really good for him and I’m sure he’s really proud of himself and he should be.”
Mandel (1-1, 6.23 ERA) picked up his first victory of the season for Syracuse after his long-relief appearance and Martinez falls to 1-3 with a 5.65 ERA.
The Clippers now sit at 28-22 after the defeat and the Chiefs inched closer to .500 with a record of 22-27.