Clippers Notebook: Salazar's hard work earns him a promotion
Salazar working for consistency in his delivery
Coming out of spring training, Danny Salazar was in the rotation in Cleveland. But the magic that he captured during last season’s stretch run with the Indians was not there at the start of this season. In eight starts, he compiled a 1-4 record with a 5.53 ERA.
His pitch count was high, partially because of the amount of hits and walks he was giving up not to mention the strikeouts he was piling up, too. He allowed 49 hits and 17 walks over 40.2 innings over that span (1.62 WHIP). He also served up eight home runs.
All of this led to a demotion back to Columbus to work with Clippers pitching coach Tony Arnold.
“I’ve been working a lot on my delivery,” Salazar said. “I’m trying to keep my fastball down in the zone. I’m trying not to (throw the ball down the middle).”
He has been with the Clippers for 10 starts now and has shown improvement over the course of his time here in Columbus. In his first five starts, he did not pitch out of the sixth inning. But over his last five starts, he has held opponents to a .191 batting average on his way to a 2-2 record and a 2.32 ERA over 31 innings.
But the last game was a microcosm of the struggles that he has had this season. He did not allow a run, which was the first time this season that he had a scoreless outing. It was a marked improvement over previous performances. But his night was cut short because of a high pitch count. He tossed 5.2 innings and walked five batters.
“Things have been going pretty well,” Salazar said. “In the last couple of outings, I’ve (had) too many walks. We’ve been working on that since I’ve been here and I’m feeling way better now.”
The good news for Salazar is that he thinks he has a handle on the problem.
“I’m being lazy sometimes with my arm,” Salazar said. “I’m being fast with my body and slow with my arm instead of bringing my arm before my body.”
More good news for Salazar, he will get the opportunity to show the Indians his progress when he makes a start for them at Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Jesus Aguilar was the only player that represented the Columbus Clippers (54-49) at the All-Star Game after catcher Roberto Perez earned himself a well-deserved promotion to Cleveland. Aguilar had a busy week. He participated in the Home Run Derby on Monday night and made it to the second round. He also played all nine innings in the game Wednesday night.
In the first inning he lined one off the glove of PCL third baseman Gabriel Noriega for an apparent double. But the official scorer decided that Noriega should have been able to make that play and charged him with an error, denying Aguilar with his only hit. To be fair, it could have been called either way. Aguilar finished 0-for-4 with a run scored and two strikeouts.
Oh, you, again
It seems like all other teams in the International League have been abolished. The Clippers and Indianapolis Indians played four more times to complete a section of the schedule that saw the two teams meet for 10 consecutive games. When the 10 game series started, the Clippers were two games out of first place. By the end, the Clippers were two games out of first place.
The Indians came to town and took three out of four from the Clippers. Brandon Cumpton outdueled Danny Salazar in the first game on Thursday night and Indianapolis won 1-0. Jesus Aguilar crushed a two-run homer (that still hasn’t landed) in the seventh inning of Friday night’s 5-4 victory for the Clippers. The Clock struck midnight on Saturday for Toru Murata, who had two very good starts for the Clippers before the Indians hit him for nine runs, six of which scored in the first inning, en route to a 15-5 thrashing.
But the one that really hurt came on Sunday night. The Clippers put four runs up in the first, but a groundball double-play with the bases loaded ended the inning. Still, the Clippers had a three run lead going into the eighth. But, Indianapolis escaped with a 7-5 victory after Robert Andino’s two-run single gave them the lead.
Advance at your own risk
Rightfielder Carlos Moncrief threw out two more base runners over the weekend, giving him a total of 19 outfield assists on the season. On Sunday, it was his arm that made Dean Treanor hold Robert Andino at third on a hit byJose Tabata. But Tabata went for second thinking that the throw was coming home. Moncrief’s throw came toJustin Sellers at second, who threw to Jesus Aguilar to apply the tag on Tabata between first and second.
On Saturday, Moncrief gunned down Mel Rojas at second, who was trying to stretch a single into a double. Moncrief has more outfield assists than five teams in the International League (Gwinnett, Pawtucket, Rochester, Syracuse and Toledo).
Last season, Matt Carson led the Clippers in outfield assists with 19. He threw out Chris McGuinness trying to advance to second on a sacrifice fly. Carson threw to Audy Ciriaco at first, who threw to Jose Ramirez to nail McGuinness at second. The assist gives Carson four on the year.
Odds and ends
A man down (or two or three): The Clippers played Indianapolis shorthanded. When C.C. Lee was recalled by Cleveland and Elliot Johnson was placed on the disabled list, no replacements were added to the roster. Giovanny Urshela was recovering from an ankle injury sustained before the break in Indianapolis that cost him some games. On Friday night, he was available in an emergency, leaving the backup catcher Chris Wallace as the only man on the bench.
As the world turns: The Clippers rotation is (and has been) in flux. Some of that has to do with Cleveland’s own rotation woes. It seems that the recent revolving door will carry on for the rest of the season. Clippers fans will probably see Salazar, McAllister, T.J. House and others clogging up interstate-71 as they travel back and forth from Cleveland to Columbus.
Power hitter? Infielder Justin Sellers homered for the second time this season on Sunday night against Indianapolis. Both home runs have come at Huntington Park on consecutive home stands (his first was July 8 vs Pawtucket). Prior to that he had been shut out in his previous 273 plate appearances. He has shown some pop in the past, blasting 14 homers with Albuquerque (Dodgers) in 2010.
Uh-oh: Toru Murata’s start on Saturday is one he’d like to forget. He gave up nine runs and 11 hits, including five home runs. All three are the most a Clippers pitcher has given up this season.
INF Jose Ramirez
Since July 8: 10 G, 13-40, 8 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, 6 SB, 0 CS, .325 BA
Ramirez has done everything over his last 10 games except hit homers. One major part of his success has been stolen bases. Ramirez has always been aggressive on the base paths, but over the last 10 games, he’s used that aggressiveness to his advantage, converting all six of his stolen base attempts.
1B Jesus Aguilar
Since July 9: 11 G, 13-40, 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 12 K, .325 BA
Jesus Aguilar hit a clutch two-run homer in the seventh inning of the Clippers 5-4 win over Indianapolis on Friday night. It left the yard so fast that it was hard to tell where it landed. When asked if it hit the building over the left field wall, Clippers manager Chris Tremie said, “I don’t know, it was going too fast.” Regardless, Aguilar is on one of his patented hot streaks.
OF Matt Carson
Since July 10: 9 G, 10-30, 4 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 SB, 0 CS, .333 BA
If you’ve ever read the story about the tortoise and the hare, Matt Carson might be the Clippers version of the tortoise. That’s not to say he’s slow, in fact, to the contrary, he is quite fast. But he never seems to slump for too long. He’s been a steady contributor for the Clippers offense all season.
Lost at Sea
INF Ryan Rohlinger
Since July 7: 10 G, 4-35, 1 R, 8 K, .114 BA
Rohlinger has really struggled over the last 10 games. He hasn’t been able to get on base except for the four singles that he hit over that time span. This 10 game slide follows a five game hit streak where he hit .438 with a homer, two doubles and three RBI.
The Clippers and Louisville met for a pair in Columbus on June 30 and July 1. Danny Salazar pitched into the eighth inning, giving up only one run and the offense had one of their patented breakout games in a 10-1 victory. Roberto Perez drove in five runs that night on two doubles and single. The team combined to hit seven doubles in that game. Jose Ramirez also had a pair of doubles and scored two runs.
In the second game, Zach McAllister six innings and allowed three runs in a rain shortened seven inning 6-3 win for the Clippers. The Clippers used a five run third, getting a RBI single from Tyler Holt, a two-run double by Jesus Aguilar and Giovanny Urshela’s two-run homer that allowed the Clippers to cruise.
Hot vs. Louisville:
Jesus Aguilar: 7 G, 9-26, 7 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, .346 BA
Tyler Holt: 6 G, 13-25, 7 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K, .520 BA
Tyler Cloyd: 2 G, 2 GS, 2-0, 17 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 12 K, 3 HR, 1.59 ERA
Cold vs. Louisville
The Clippers and Norfolk met early in the season (April 26-29) at Harbor Park. But minor league roster, particularly at the Triple-A level tend to turnover frequently. The Clippers started T.J. House, Trevor Bauer andTravis Banwart in three of the four games and that trio is no longer on the roster.
It’s been a tough year for Norfolk and they are battling with Charlotte to stay out of the cellar in the IL South. It was no different of a story back then. When the Clippers went to Norfolk, the Tides were already seven games under .500, just 21 games into the season.
The Clippers let a pair of winnable games go the other way. Trailing 2-0 in the seventh inning, the Tides loaded the bases with one out against Blake Wood. Wood struck out Julio Borbon and looked like he was going to escape the inning with no damage, but a throwing error allowed two runs to score to tie the game. The Tides walked off in the 11th.
The Clippers took the next two. On April 27, all six runs in a 6-2 win scored thanks to home runs. Carlos Moncrief hit one out to lead off the second. Roberto Perez extended the lead with a two run shot later in the inning. Audy Ciriaco put the game out of reach in the sixth with a three-run shot.
After rain washed away the game on April 28, the teams met for a doubleheader on the 29th. In the first game, the teams were scoreless until the Clippers struck for three runs in the seventh. Roberto Perez opened the scoring with an RBI single. They got a run-scoring double from Justin Sellers and a sac fly by Jose Ramirez.
In the second game, the defense let the team down again. The Clippers committed four errors, the last one helping Norfolk to a five run seventh against Vinny Pestano. The good news for the Clippers is that game was a turning point for Pestano. He gave up five runs (three earned) in that game. In the 18 appearances following that game, Pestano would give up just one run and collect five saves.
Note: Only eight players on the roster now played against Norfolk earlier this season.
Hot vs. Norfolk
Justin Sellers: 4 G, 5-17, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, .294 BA
Frank Herrmann: 2 G, 1-0, 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA
Cold vs. Norfolk
Matt Carson: 3 G, 1-8, 2 BB, 2 K, .125 BA
Vinny Pestano: 2 G, 0-1, 1.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 16.20 ERA
Game Times and Starting Pitchers
7/21 – at Louisville (7:05 PM) – RHP Gabriel Arias (3-2, 4.64) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (6-7, 4.50)
7/22 – at Louisville (7:05 PM) – RHP Kyle Davies (5-7, 3.94) vs. RHP Josh Smith (9-3, 4.28)
7/23 – at Louisville (7:05 PM) – RHP Tyler Cloyd (8-5, 4.10) vs. LHP David Holmberg (0-5, 5.17)
7/24 – at Louisville (7:05 PM) – RHP Toru Murata (0-2, 6.40) vs. RHP Brett Marshall (0-6, 9.10)
7/25 – vs Norfolk (7:15 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
7/26 – vs Norfolk (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
7/27 – vs Norfolk (6:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
7/16 – RHP Jordan Cooper transferred to Akron from Columbus…INF Elliot Johnson (left quad strain) placed on 7-day disabled list (retroactive to 7/13).
7/17 – RHP Vinny Pestano optioned to Columbus from Cleveland.
7/18 – RHP C.C. Lee recalled by Cleveland from Columbus.
7/20 – RHP Justin Masterson (right knee inflammation) sent to Columbus on rehab assignment.
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.