Clippers Notebook: Salazar returns to Columbus
“What’s done is done” – William Shakespeare (and more recently, Lost)
The Clippers dropped the final two games in Syracuse, but ultimately won the season series against the Chiefs taking five of eight. The Clippers finished the road trip taking only two of eight games. Danny Salazar made his return to the Clippers a forgettable one, lasting just 2.2 innings and 70 pitches where he gave up five runs on six hits and three walks and only struck out one.
The Clippers returned home after an off day Wednesday to a national television audience, but C.C. Lee and Vinny Pestano couldn’t hold a late lead the Clippers lost the high profile game, and then got swept by the Durham Bulls in four games (Durham took six of eight in the season series).
After putting up a comparatively large outpouring of runs in the Thursday night game (5), the Clippers were held to 1, 2 and 1 the rest of the series. The low point came in the finale when Mike Montgomery had them no-hit for 4.2 innings until Tim Fedroff doubled. The Clippers committed four errors in the series finale as well, which prompted a closed-door team meeting after the game.
“We haven’t been playing as good of baseball as we’re capable of over the last couple of series and it just kind of culminated (Sunday night),” Clippers manager Chris Tremie said. “(It’s not) one individual; it’s just the unit.”
Sunday night was a microcosm of the poor play that has been haunting the team over this bad stretch. Their starting pitching has not pitched deep into games, they aren’t hitting, and their defense is sub-standard, committing 12 errors dating back to May 13, over a span of 12 games.
Particularly on Sunday, the focus was lacking, which led to some misplays in the field. It is something that Tremie hopes changes after what he called “a discussion” after the game on Sunday.
“More energy would be better; we’re getting a little flat-footed at times,” Tremie said. “That comes with the circumstance that we’re in right now. The one thing we can do is pick the energy level up and the intensity level up and see where that gets us as far as how much better we play. It may or may not effect it, but that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Not everybody in the bullpen has pitched well during this stretch, dating back to May 13, but most have. Herrmann and Pestano are getting a little more work than everybody else right now and rising to the occasion for the most part. Pestano gave up a double in the ninth on Thursday night that gave Durham the lead after C.C. Lee struggled. Lee was tagged with a blown save.
A couple highlights from this past week: Friday night the bullpen used four pitchers to cover as many innings and they did not give up a run to keep the Clippers within striking distance…Scott Barnes and the rest of the bullpen were pressed into service last Monday. Barnes started and gave up three runs in 2.1 innings. Those who took over after that went 5.2 and allowed two runs.
“We got eight guys in our bullpen all year and all of them are capable of pitching at any point in the game and getting the job done,” Tremie said about his bullpen last week. “They all have good arms; good stuff and that’s a luxury for us to have; that kind of quality in the bullpen. The importance of having a strong bullpen at any level, especially at Triple-A and the big leagues (is to be able to) close those games out and hold those leads and get wins is huge as far as wins and losses go.”
*Tyler Cloyd relieved Danny Salazar on Tuesday afternoon’s game at Syracuse…Scott Barnes 2.1 innings from Monday’s start is not included.
Lost at Sea
It’s hard to find one aspect to discuss about a team marred in a season-high six game losing streak, and not to pile on, but they’ve also lost 11 of 14 since the six game winning streak that saw them take over first place for the first time in a year. Since then, they have fallen in to a last place tie with Toledo, who is ahead of them by percentage points, not that it matters when last place is discussed.
It is easy to say that everything has gone wrong for the Clippers over the last 14 games, and particularly the last road trip and the first four of the current home stand. It is hard to win when the team can’t pitch, hit, or play defense and the Clippers are suffering from all of that right now.
Over the last 12 games, dating back to the final home game of the previous home stand against Syracuse, the starting rotation has not recorded a quality start and starters over that time have only pitched into the seventh inning twice.
Jesus Aguilar got the call to join the major league team on May 15 and was in the lineup that night in Toronto. “My family was real happy when I told them that I got called up to the big leagues,” Aguilar said through a translator. While he did not collect a hit in three at, he did reach base via a walk. It took him two more games before he collected his first major league hit and it coincided with his first RBI. He hit a sacrifice fly later in the game to collect another RBI. He was optioned back to Columbus the next day, on May 20, after the Indians activated DH Jason Giambi from the Disabled List. “I was pretty happy (to be there), Aguilar said. “It didn’t last very long, but I’m looking forward to going back and I came down here to work hard.”
Aguilar was signed on November 13, 2007 out of Maracay, Venezuela. He really started putting up good numbers two years ago, starting the season in Carolina (Adv. A). There he batted .277 in 107 games, hitting 25 doubles, 12 home runs and knocking 58 runs before being promoted to Akron (AA) on August 14. In 20 games with Akron that year he batted .292 with six doubles, three homers and 13 RBI. He was also on the World Team in the Futures Game that season.
In 2012, he spent the season with Akron and batted .275 in 130 games with 28 doubles, 16 homers and drove in 105 runs, which led the Eastern League. He was selected as an All-Star for the Eastern League and followed the season by playing for Caracus in the Venezuelan Winter League where he batted .327 with 18 homers and 50 RBI.
So far this season, he is hitting .288 with 11 doubles, seven homers and has driven in 19 runs over 41 games. He hit homers in back-to-back games; hitting a solo homer on April 6 following that up with two homers which knocked in five runs on April 8. He has homered in back-to-back games on three occasions this season, but has yet to homer in May.
RHP Danny Salazar made his Clippers season debut. Salazar pitched in 14 games, starting 13 of them in 2013 before being called up to pitch the final two months for the Indians. Unfortunately for Salazar and the Indians, things have not gone as well as last year and after just one win in eight starts, he finds himself back in Columbus. He started on Monday, but didn’t hang around for long. He gave up five runs in just 2.2 innings at Syracuse. He gave up six hits and walked three in the abbreviated start.
2B Jason Kipnis started on a rehab assignment and while it was a season debut for the former Clipper, it barely counts. Kipnis played 92 games on the 2011 Triple-A National Championship team. He batted .280 with 12 HR and 55 RBI for that team. On Friday night, he played five innings and grounded out twice with an RBI.
RHP Gabriel Arias signed a minor league deal in December with the Indians. Prior to this season, he spent his professional career in the Phillies organization, beginning in 2007. He never made it past Advanced-A ball before this season. With Akron (AA), Arias made eight starts and had a 3.38 ERA in 42.2 innings. On Saturday he made his Clippers and Triple-A debut, starting in place of T.J. House, against Durham. He kept a low pitch count, but gave up four runs in 6.1 innings and took the loss.
LHP Kyle Crockett was the first of the 2013 draft class to reach the major, making his debut before he had ever made appearance at the Triple-A level. After he was optioned on May 23, he was sent to Columbus instead of Akron, where he began the season. On Sunday night, he made his debut with the Clippers in relief of Danny Salazar. Crockett pitched 1.2 innings and was the victim of some bad defense. The Clippers committed two errors and he was tagged with two unearned runs.
“Those who look only in the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
5/26 – Charlotte (6:35 PM) – LHP Charlie Leesman (1-4, 3.68) vs. RHP Tyler Cloyd (1-3, 5.70)
5/29 – Charlotte (6:35 PM) – RHP Tommy Hanson (3-4, 3.96) vs. RHP Gabriel Arias (0-1, 5.40)
5/30 – Louisville (7:15 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
5/31 – Louisville (1:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
5/31 – Louisville (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
6/1 – at Louisville (6:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
5/19 – RHP Duke von Schamann transferred from Columbus to Akron (AA)…RHP Danny Salazar optioned to Columbus from Cleveland (MLB).
5/21 – INF Todd Hankins transferred to Carolina from Columbus…1B Jesus Aguilar optioned to Columbus from Cleveland…INF Jose Ramirez optioned from Cleveland to Columbus.
5/22 – RHP Mark Lowe had his contract purchased by Cleveland from Columbus.
5/23 – LHP Kyle Crockett optioned by Cleveland to Columbus…2B Jason Kipnis (strained right oblique) sent on rehab assignment from Cleveland to Columbus.
5/24 – LHP Mike Zagurski released by Columbus…RHP Gabriel Arias transferred to Columbus from Akron.
5/25 – OF Matt Carson placed on the 7-Day DL (left ankle sprain).
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.