Clippers Notebook: Lindor keeps things simple
Lindor keeps it simple
With the addition of Francisco Lindor to the Columbus Clippers (58-52) last Tuesday, the Clippers have quite the who’s who of Indians prospects. MLB.com has Lindor rated as the Indians number one prospect right now. He joins Jose Ramirez (who is currently in Cleveland), Carlos Moncrief, Jesus Aguilar, Austin Adams and Giovanny Urshela who are all ranked in the top 20 on MLB.com.
“It’s awesome, man. I love it,” Lindor said before Friday’s game of his experience with the Clippers thus far. “There’s a bunch of good guys and I’m happy to be here.”
Lindor should be getting used to promotions within the organization. He was promoted from High-A Carolina to Double-A Akron this time last year. But don't expect the style of his play to change with the added pressure of playing at a higher level.
“I’m going to go out there and have fun and give it my all to try to help the team win,” Lindor said. “I’m going to go hard. I just want to do something to help the team win that day.”
It’s pretty simple: do whatever it takes to help the team win on that day. Sometimes it’s with good defense. In his Triple-A debut at Louisville on Tuesday night he helped turn four double plays. Sometimes it’s getting on base and scoring runs, which he has done going 8-for-22 with three walks in six games with the Clippers.
“I’m not a power hitter,” Lindor said. “I just try to get on base. (I try to) hit the ball hard in the gap or just make good contact and get on base. That’s my game.”
On Saturday night, he hit two solo home runs, but his contribution to this point has come in many forms. He has a hit in five of his six games with Columbus. Along with the two home runshe has also taken three walks and has a couple of sacrifice bunts.
But his glove is just as valuable as his bat, having already made a couple of highlight-reel plays at short, most notably taking a sure single to center away from Norfolk’s Xavier Paul on Sunday with a diving stop and a throw from his knees. It’s slightly less than a week and Francisco Lindor has already shown Clippers fans all of his tools.
The week that was
It’s lonely at the top.
Columbus opened up the week by taking three of four in Louisville and found themselves alone in first for the first time since May 10.
The Clippers took advantage of a scuffling Louisville team to take three of four. The Clippers had stellar pitching performances in the first game by Gabriel Arias (7.2 IP, 0 R) and in the finale by Toru Murata (7 IP, 0 R). Murata no-hit the Bats through five before finally giving one up on the first pitch he threw in the sixth.
Arias had no room for error in his outing. Jose Ramirez singled to lead off the ballgame and then stole second. He advanced to third on a groundout by Tyler Holt and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jesus Aguilar. Both teams were held scoreless the rest of the way. Arias only struck out two, but held the Bats to six hits in 7.2 innings.
The Clippers came from behind in an 8-5 win on Tuesday night, scoring five of their eight runs in the final three innings. With the bases loaded, Giovanny Urshela was hit by a pitch to tie the game. Then Carlos Moncrief lined a single to right to give the Clippers the lead for good.
The only loss of the series came in walk-off fashion. In a tie game in the ninth, Vinnie Pestano gave up a single to Tucker Barnhart. After he was sacrificed to second, Jason Bourgeois drove him with a ground-rule double to right.
Carlos Moncrief and the Clippers jumped all over Brett Marshall in the finale. Moncrief drove five of the team’s six runs over the first two innings en route to an 8-1 win. He hit a three run home run in the first and followed that with a two run single in the second.
As cold as Louisville was when the Clippers were there, Norfolk was just the opposite. For most of the year, they were in the basement of the IL South standings. But then they took 12 of 14 since just before the All-Star to propel themselves back into second place.
They took two of three from the Clippers over the weekend with one to play. Justin Masterson showed his wild side in the opener issuing six walks over 6.2 innings. C.C. Lee didn’t do him any favors by allowing all three inherited runners to score in the deciding seventh inning.
In the second game, newcomer Francisco Lindor showed his power, belting two homers. The Clippers fell just short in a ninth inning rally from down two to lose 6-5. T.J. House gave up six over 6.1 innings on ten hits.
After a 37-minute rain delay, Columbus was the beneficiary of a couple of fly balls that found land. Leading 5-3 in the seventh with the bases loaded, Audy Ciriaco sent a fly ball to right field that seemed sure to end the inning. The problem was that the right fielder never saw the ball. He ran in toward the infield and the ball fell behind him. All three runs scored and Ciriaco ended up at third, credited with a triple. The Clippers used the snafu as a part of a six run inning that blew the game open in a 11-5 win.
Odds and Ends
Breathing room: With Sunday’s win and a loss by Indianapolis, Columbus has a two game lead in the IL West.
“We’ve been playing good baseball,” utility player Justin Sellers said after the game on Sunday night. “We’ve got guys picking each other up every day. That’s what it takes to win. Our starting pitching has been excellent. (They’ve) been keeping us in games. We’ve just got to stay fundamentally sound. That’s all it’s about. Making the routine play and execute at the plate and we’ll be just fine.”
Power hitter?: Speaking of Justin Sellers, he had no home runs going into the July 8 game against Pawtucket. Since then, he has a home run on each of the three home stands including Sunday night.
When did he become a power hitter?
“Oh, man, I run into them every once in a while,” Sellers said. “It’s been good recently, I got three (and I hope for more). But I’m not trying to hit them, I’ll tell you that. I’m just trying to see it and put the barrel on it. Luckily, I got a couple to go out.”
He had quite a game on Sunday night, collecting three hits in four at-bats with a double and the homer. He saw at least five pitches in every at-bat.
“It helps a lot, the more you see a pitcher,” Sellers said about seeing that many pitches in an at-bat. “Even when you’re on the bench, you can study a pitcher and see what his ball is doing, see what he’s throwing in certain counts. I was able to see those pitches and capitalize on them once they made that mistake.”
First pitch strikes are important for Arias: Gabriel Arias threw 17 first-pitch strikes out of the 27 batters he faced on Sunday night, including seven of the first eight. His fastball doesn’t light up the radar gun, so he feels that it is very important to get ahead in the count.
“(First pitch strikes) are very important,” Arias said after Sunday’s start. “(It’s) very important for me because it’s difficult to be behind in the count where (you have to) throw fastballs all the time. But if you attack the strike zone, you will be able to get outs.”
He says his preparation between starts is just as important for his success.
“I’m working hard on my delivery,” Arias said. “I focus on my long toss and my bullpen to get better and feel more comfortable each time. So, that’s pretty good for me. I’m happy with that.”
Trickle down: The Cleveland Indians rotation uncertainty has led to question marks as far as the Clippers rotation is concerned. The Clippers have not announced who’s starting after the off day on Tuesday. When asked after the game on Sunday, manager Chris Tremie said that he didn’t know.
After Kyle Davies, Tyler Cloyd and Gabriel Arias, it looks like the other two spots will be filled by guys that aren’t being used in Cleveland, like T.J. House, Danny Salazar, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin. The Indians have an off day on Monday and then 13 straight games before the week of August 18 when they have two more days off.
Gabriel Arias, RHP
Since July 11: 3 G, 3 GS, 3-0, 21 IP, 22 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 2.57 ERA
Looking back at his starts with the Clippers, the only really bad ones came in his two starts against the Charlotte Knights. He’s pitched into the seventh inning in all of his other starts until Sunday night’s game. The 37 minute rain delay prevented him from accomplishing that again, which he surely would have done after throwing just 76 pitches through the first six. He left one change-up (according to Chris Tremie) elevated in the zone, which was crushed over the right-field wall with two outs by Jimmy Parades on Sunday night in the fifth inning.
Carlos Moncrief, OF
Since July 13: 12 G, 17-44, 8 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 7 BB, 3 IBB, 7 K, .386 BA, .471 OBP, .591 SLG
Known for his ability to throw runners out (he leads the IL in outfield assists with 20), his bat has been a weapon in the Clippers lineup over the past couple of weeks. He drove in five runs in his first two at-bats on Thursday night at Louisville, which capped a string of three consecutive games with an RBI. He has hit in 11 of last 12 games and is currently riding a seven game hit streak.
Audy Ciriaco, INF
Since July 18: 10 G, 12-37, 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, .324 BA, .325 OBP, .649 SLG
He had an eight game span where he was 1-for-25 (.040) that really plummeted his batting average. His one hit, by the way, was a two-run double that put the Clippers in the top of the seventh that put the Clippers back in the lead after losing it in the previous inning of the first game of a July 12 doubleheader against Indy. Since July 18, he has a hit in eight of ten games and smacked three homers. He has six RBI in the last two games.
Lost at Sea
Mark Lowe, RHP
Since June 27: 9 G, 0-0, 6 SV, 9.1 IP, 15 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 9.64 ERA
Lowe has given up runs in five of the nine appearances since he was designated for assignment, including a five run one inning performance in the first one. Take that appearance away, and it cuts his ERA in half. The problem is, appearances can’t be taken away. Even if they could be, he’s given up runs in three of his last four appearances including Sunday night’s against Norfolk. The silver lining? He was still able to hold down the lead for six saves over this time period.
The Clippers will see Louisville for the final time this season at Huntington Park after an off day on Tuesday for three at Huntington Park. The Clippers took advantage of a scuffling Louisville team last week to take three of four (see above). After this set of three they will see them one more time in late August (21 and 22) in Louisville.
The last time the Clippers saw Pawtucket was earlier this month when the Sox visited Huntington Park and took three of four. The Clippers hope to return the favor when they head to McCoy Stadium starting on Saturday night.
The Clippers took the first game of the series led by a six-inning, two-run performance by Zach McAllister. The Clippers put a four-spot up in the fifth inning thanks to a two-run homer by Elliot Johnson and a two-run double by Audy Ciriaco. After that, the Clippers had trouble scoring off of Red Sox pitching. Allan Webster held them to two runs over seven innings in the third game and former Clipper Steven Wright held them to a run over his eight innings in the final game. The Clippers went 2-for-32 for the series with runners in scoring position and left 34 runners on base.
Game Times and Starting Pitchers
Note: The Clippers have not announced scheduled starters after Monday’s game. Listed is projections based on who started five days prior.
7/28 – vs Norfolk (12:05 PM) – RHP Steve Johnson (0-0, 5.95) vs. RHP Kyle Davies (6-7, 3.76)
7/29 – OFF DAY
7/30 – vs Louisville (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. RHP Tyler Cloyd (8-5, 4.19)
7/31 – vs Louisville (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. LHP T.J. House (1-4, 3.79)
8/1 – vs Louisville (7:15 PM) – TBA vs. RHP Gabriel Arias (5-2, 3.86)
8/2 – at Pawtucket (6:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
8/3 – at Pawtucket (1:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
7/21 – RHP Austin Adams optioned from Cleveland to Columbus.
7/22 – RHP Danny Salazar recalled by Cleveland from Columbus…INF Francisco Lindor transferred from Akron to Columbus.
7/23 – INF Jose Ramirez recalled by Cleveland from Columbus…RHP Zach McAllister optioned from Cleveland to Columbus…7/23 RHP C.C. Lee optioned from Cleveland to Columbus.
7/25 – RHP Toru Murata transferred from Columbus to Akron…UTIL Elliot Johnson (left quad strain) activated off disabled list.
7/26 – RHP Zach McAllister recalled from Columbus to Cleveland…LHP T.J. House optioned from Cleveland to Columbus.
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.