Clippers Notebook: Aguilar, Perez deserving All Stars
The Clippers started the week in second place, but winning all five home games against Louisville, Toledo and Pawtucket has propelled them into a first place tie with Indianapolis, which will make the next couple of weeks very interesting for Clippers fans.
The Clippers got strong pitching performances out of Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar to take both games from Louisville. In the 10-1 win, the Clippers pounded seven doubles and got a particularly great performance out of All-Star catcher Roberto Perez who knocked in five runs.
They dropped a pair of games on a return trip to Toledo, including a tough-luck loss for starter Tyler Cloyd, who pitched 6.2 innings of solid baseball, but got no offensive support. Things got really interesting in the ninth when Tyler Holt hit a double off the top of the advertising in right that was a railing short of his third home run, which would have been a career high. The next batter Jesus Aguilar hit a bomb to left-center that also almost left the yard, scoring Holt to make it a 2-1 game. The Clippers rally ended there.
They took both games from Toledo in their return to Huntington Park, highlighted by a solid bullpen effort on the 4th of July. Nick Hagadone, Tyler Sturdevant and Austin Adams combined for five innings of work. Hagadone gave up the only hit during that stretch and Sturdevant and Adams each pitched two innings, striking out three apiece in a 5-3 win.
The Clippers finished the week with a 5-4 win over the Paw Sox on Sunday night. Zach McAllister pitched in and out of trouble all night, but allowed just two runs over six innings. The Clippers used a four-run fifth, highlighted by a two-run homer from Elliot Johnson.
First baseman Jesus Aguilar (.278/.376/.485) and catcher Roberto Perez (.315/.420/.537) will represent the Clippers on at the Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham.
Aguilar has been up and down with Cleveland, spending most of the season in Columbus where he is fourth in the International League in home runs (12), tenth in the league in RBI (43) and seventh in the league in OPS (.862).
“This is Aguilar’s first exposure to Triple-A (and) he’s hit the ground running,” Clippers manager Chris Tremie said. “He’s played a lot of winter ball in his past and he’s used to that kind of environment and the level and he’s done a really good job with it. He’s stayed pretty consistent. He’s played a good first base as well, defensively.”
He got off to a scorching start, hitting .380 with seven homers and 16 RBI in his first 21 games in Columbus.
“I feel really well,” Aguilar said about being an All-Star. “I pray to God for those good moments and I’m going to enjoy it with my wife and my mom.”
Since his last return from Cleveland, in 28 games, he’s hit a solid .269 with five home runs and 27 RBI, which included a two-homer game in Charlotte where he drove in six runs.
Perez has spent the season with the Clippers minus a short stint on the disabled list. Because of that stint, he does not have enough at-bats to qualify on the IL leaderboard. Currently he is in a four-way tie for second on the team in home runs with eight behind Aguilar. He is second on the team in RBI as well and his .305 batting average leads the team.
“It’s an honor; it’s the second time in my career,” Perez said of his selection to the All-Star team. “I’ve done a pretty good job. It’s an honor being selected (because) there’s a lot of good catchers in the league. I’m just happy to be selected.”
Perez opened the year with a 13-game hitting streak. While hit streaks come and go, he continues to be a steady contributor both behind the plate and at it. He has thrown out 14 baserunners in 36 tries (39% rate).
“Perez had some experience here last year and he’s come back and continued to catch the way he did last year, the way he always does,” Tremie said. “He does a very good job behind the plate. Offensively, he’s in a really good position right now. He’s putting together really good at-bats, driving the ball. He’s had just an outstanding first half of the season.”
Earlier this year, it came out that Perez was battling Bell’s palsy last season and could not close his left eye. It affected his ability to hit and catch because a gust of wind would cause his eye to water. Not only that, but he had to sleep with a towel over his eye.
Perez says he feels fine now, “Last year was tough year. It’s in the past. I’m just happy to be here now and I’m healthy.”
Odds and Ends
Toru Murata started for Travis Banwart on Friday night. Banwart was placed on the Temporarily Inactive List before the game and his time in Columbus is over. He has signed on with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization. With the Clippers, Banwart was 5-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 16 starts.
Giovanny Urshela was awarded a triple with two runs batted on Saturday night after hitting a ball over the left field wall. Upon appeal, he was called out after failing to touch home plate. The incident made for a funny moment on Sunday night when Audy Ciriaco drove him in on a ground-rule double in the fifth inning. Scoring ahead of Urshela on the play was Jesus Aguilar, who pointed at home plate as Urshela was coming home to remind him of the previous night’s mishap.
Matt Carson sported a mustache for batting practice on Friday afternoon, but that wasn’t the welcomed sight. The welcomed sight was that he was activated off the DL on Saturday and found himself back in game action. For Carson, the mustache wasn’t the impact of the weekend. It was his two-run double in the sixth inning of Saturday’s win over Toledo, which was ultimately the game-winning hit.
His return meant that somebody had to be taken off the roster on Saturday and the odd man out was Tim Fedroff. He was transferred to Akron before the game on Saturday. But things have a way of working themselves out. Michael Bourn’s injury in Cleveland created that kind of situation. After Bourn was placed on the DL on Sunday, Tyler Holt had his contract selected to replace Bourn and Fedroff was transferred back to Columbus.
1B Jesus Aguilar
9 G, 10-31, 7 R, 2 2B, 8 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K, .323 BA, .432 OBP, .387 SLG
Right now Aguilar finds himself in the midst of small hit streak. While he hasn’t homered yet during the streak, the big guy has scored seven runs and drove in eight. Maybe this is a precursor to more big things.
3B Giovanny Urshela
13 G, 16-52, 12 R, 4 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, .308 BA, .357 OBP, .635 SLG
When Urshela joined the Clippers on May 4, he started a six-game hot streak that included three homers and a .400 batting average. Over the following six games, he collected just one hit. Since then he has been steady, batting .269. But, the past 13 games he has gone from steady to outright hot.
RHP C.C. Lee
(Since June 14): 8 G, 0-0, 1 SV, 10.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 0.00 ERA
It didn’t take long for C.C. Lee to get promoted to the Indians. He pitched just two games in Columbus. Upon his return to the Columbus bullpen, he gave up runs in each of his first two appearances, taking the loss on national television against Durham. After a pair of rough outings in Charlotte, Lee has steadied the ship, returning to his spot as a late inning reliever. He hasn’t given up a run since Charlotte and looks very comfortable in his surroundings.
Lost at Sea
RHP Mark Lowe
(Since June 27): 4 G, 0-0, 3 SV, 4 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 13.50
It’s been rough since his Lowe's return from Cleveland on June 27. In that game at Buffalo, he gave up five runs on five hits and a walk. He has picked up three saves since then, but things got a little hairy in the ninth of Sunday night’s game against Pawtucket. After Jose Ramirez couldn’t find the ball off the bat in centerfield in the twilight, Lowe had trouble getting outs and almost let a three run lead disappear before coming back to get the final out.
This space is normally saved for players making their debuts in Columbus. But, Tyler Holt made his Major League debut on Sunday afternoon, entering the game as a defensive replacement in right field. He recorded the final out on a fly ball, beaming from ear-to-ear. His contract was selected after the Indians placed Michael Bourn on the 15-Day Disabled List with a strained hamstring.
Holt made a bang upon his arrival in Columbus, bringing with him a great glove and a youthful energy. He was transferred from Akron to Columbus on May 26 and since then, the Clippers rallied to a 26-15 record with him on the roster.
He hit .302 while in Columbus with a couple of homers and knocked in 12 runs. He shows good plate discipline, walking 30 times 37 games, which allowed him to forge a spot at the top of the order, batting first or second in every game except his debut. He also stole ten bases in 11 attempts.
Last season the Clippers and the Paw Sox met eight times. The Clippers split the four game set in Pawtucket, including a 15-inning affair where Tim Fedroff scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly, after coming from behind to tie the game in the eighth and ninth innings. But Pawtucket took all four games at Huntington Park, shutting out the Clippers twice in the four game series.
Hot vs. Pawtucket
Elliot Johnson (with Durham): 22 G, 30-82, 15 R, 11 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 6 BB, 12 K, .366 BA
Zach McAllister (with Scranton/Columbus): 5 G, 5 GS, 4-1, 34.1 IP, 24 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 6 BB, 21 K, 3 HR, 3.15 ERA
Tyler Cloyd (with Lehigh Valley): 5 G, 5 GS, 3-1, 32 IP, 23 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 8 BB, 21 K, 2 HR, 1.96 ERA
Cold vs. Pawtucket
Matt Carson: 27 G, 20-98, 13 R, 7 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 15 BB, 27 K, .204 BA
Audy Ciriaco (with Toledo): 8 G, 5-31, 4 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 K, .161 BA
Nick Hagadone: 2 G, 0-0, 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 9.00 ERA
The Clippers and Indianapolis will get well-acquainted over the next couple of weeks, meeting for ten consecutive games with the All-Star break sandwiched in between. Because of a couple of early-season rainouts, the two teams will play a pair of doubleheaders this week and six overall before the break.
The Clippers and the Indians opened up the 2014 campaign against each other and Columbus lost all four of a four game set in Huntington Park. They were supposed to play three on their return trip, but ended up winning the only meeting at Victory Field. In the win, the Clippers put up eight runs in the second inning off of starter Phil Irwin, sending him to an early shower. They had to hold on, winning 10-9, after the Indians scored three in the bottom of the ninth.
Jesus Aguilar was one bright spot against the Indians this season. He drove in three runs and hit a homer in the four games he played against Indianapolis.
The teams are currently tied for first in the International League West, so a strong showing over these ten games could go a long way to determining the division championship and a playoff spot.
Hot vs. Indianapolis
Jesus Aguilar: 4 G, 4 R, 9-16, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 3 K, .562 BA
Matt Carson: 4 G, 2 R, 5-12, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, .417 BA
Austin Adams: 3 G, 0-0, 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 K, 2.08 ERA
Cold vs. Indianapolis
Carlos Moncrief: 5 G, 4-20, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 5 K, .200 BA
Tyler Cloyd: 1 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 3.2 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 14.73 ERA
Mark Lowe: 2 G, 0-0, 2.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 11.57 ERA
Game Times and Starting Pitchers
7/7 – vs Pawtucket (7:05 PM) – RHP Matt Barnes (3-6, 4.85) vs. RHP Kyle Davies (4-6, 3.92)
7/8 – vs Pawtucket (7:05 PM) – RHP Allen Webster (4-4, 2.86) vs. RHP Tyler Cloyd (6-5, 4.35)
7/9 – vs Pawtucket (7:05 PM) – RHP Steven Wright (3-1, 2.40) vs. RHP Toru Murata (0-0, 5.31)
7/10 – at Indianapolis (2) (6:05 PM) – (Game One) RHP Danny Salazar (3-5, 4.93) vs. TBA
7/11 – at Indianapolis (7:15 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
7/12 – at Indianapolis (2) (6:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
7/13 – at Indianapolis (1:35 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
6/30 – LHP Nick Hagadone optioned from Cleveland to Columbus
7/4 – RHP Travis Banwart placed on the Temporarily Inactive List…RHP Toru Murata transferred from Akron to Columbus
7/5 – OF Tim Fedroff transferred from Columbus to Akron…OF Matt Carson (left ankle sprain) activated from 7-Day Disabled List
7/6 – Cleveland selected the contract of OF Tyler Holt from Columbus…OF Tim Fedroff transferred from Akron to Columbus
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.