Clippers Notebook: Walters, Ramsey make their debut
The trade deadline came and went and the Cleveland Indians shipped off a pair of veterans. In exchange, they got young talent in the form of infielder Zach Walters and outfielder James Ramsey. Both were assigned to the Columbus Clippers (61-55) and both made their debuts on Friday night against Louisville.
While Walters has parts of three season’s worth of experience at this level, Ramsey had played only one game before Friday. Walters also has the benefit of having played in the International League, which allows for a certain level of comfort.
“With the league, it’s the same thing, just a different color jersey,” Walters said after the game on Friday. “I know most of these guys. It felt fine, it felt normal. I came right in and the guys just let me be me and it felt good. It didn’t feel like I was pressing out there.”
For Walters, he has started his Clippers career with a bang. In three games, he is 7-for-14 with two homers and eight RBI. He has an RBI in each of the three games he’s played. He’s also extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
On Sunday, Walters homered twice, including a grand slam and drove in six runs. On Saturday, he provided the game winning hit in the 11th. In other words, he makes a heck of a first impression.
“You want to impress,” Walters said. “(There’s a) new group of guys, new staff, new management. The biggest thing is getting back on the field. To be traded for a guy like Cabrera (is) a huge honor. He’s a great player. I hope that I can be up there (in Cleveland) sometime and help them win.”
On Friday, however, the juices were flowing a little bit for Walters.
“I try to play it like a duck, keep cool,” Walters said. “But underneath, my feet are kicking. Luckily, I was able to make a few plays (and) get a few hits. But we lost the game, so it’s kind of a bittersweet thing because now everybody thinks that I’m a curse.”
While Ramsey hasn’t had the kind of success that Walters had in his first three games (most people don’t), he got a couple of milestones out of the way. On Saturday, he stole his first Triple-A base and on Sunday, he collected his first Triple-A hit.
The week that was
The Clippers began the week in first place and despite a 2-5 home stand, they remain there.
“I don’t think there’s any more pressure,” Clippers manager Chris Tremie said after Friday night’s game. “Fortunately, the teams behind us haven’t been winning too much either. To look at it on a positive side, we’re kind of in the same position we were coming into the home stand as we are going out as far as the standings go.”
Even with the home stand, the Clippers took the first two games in Pawtucket and ended the week with a 3-3 record.
On Monday, Francisco Lindor homered twice and it still wasn’t enough. The Clippers dropped the final game 5-4 and lost three out of four to Norfolk.
Tyler Cloyd threw his no-hitter on Wednesday (see above) and the Clippers offense gave him plenty of breathing room. Giovanny Urshela, Luke Carlin and Jesus Aguilar all homered and the Clippers put up nine runs in their final two at-bats to cruise 13-0.
Columbus and Louisville battled into the ninth inning tied at two until Mark Lowe gave up four runs to take the drama out of the game and the Clippers lost 6-2. The Bats nailed him for four hits and a pair of walks.
Louisville got to the Clipper bullpen again on Friday, but this time they used their speed. Jason Bourgeois stole two bases in the deciding eighth inning. With the infield in, Bourgeois went on contact and beat the throw home by Zach Walters to score the deciding run in a 5-4 loss.
The Clippers got a dose of their own medicine and were held hitless until Carlos Moncrief broke it up in the eighth. Elliot Johnson and Luke Carlin followed with hits of their own to tie the game and send it to extras. Zach Walters drove in the game winner in the 11th.
The bats broke out for the second time this week on Sunday and the Clippers took the second game 9-4. Toru Murata made his return a successful one with 6.1 innings of two-run ball. Zach Walters continues to ingratiate himself to his new teammates, this time homering twice, including a grand slam with six RBI.
Odds and Ends
Tyler Cloyd still had a smile on his face on Friday, and who could blame him? On Wednesday he made history by throwing the first no-hitter in Huntington Park.
“We celebrated that night and we celebrated a little bit yesterday watching some of the videos from it,” Cloyd said on Friday. “Just taking it in. So now it’s onto the next start. Obviously, there’s still a month and a half in the season left. Anytime that it happens, you cherish it and like it, but there’s still a job to be done.”
His teammates were just as excited about the feat as he was.
“It was awesome,” Clippers shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “I was so amazed. There so many feelings and emotions going through me that it was hard to express. (The no-hitter) was my first one ever and I enjoyed it a lot.”
When did you first realize that it was happening?
“The seventh,” Lindor said. “That’s when it hit me. I mean I kind of knew since the fifth or sixth, but usually in the fifth or sixth, it’s nothing crazy. But in the seventh, that’s when you’re like, ooh. It was cool. I was like, ‘don’t jinx it. Don’t say anything. Don’s say anything. Don’t say anything.’ It was really cool.”
Centerfielder Tyler Holt, who made a couple of running catches to preserve the no-hitter, gave all of the credit to Cloyd and Giovanny Urshela.
“I was in the right spots, basically,” Holt said. “The ball hangs up and just run it down, that’s what you do. I feel like there’s always that one or two plays (and) Giovanny Urshela made a tough bounce play on one and then right after he made a diving play down the line to save it.”
Holt is a pretty excitable guy on a normal night. Last Wednesday, his feet never touched the ground.
“I was like floating out there, (it was) surreal,” Holt said. “(Cloyd) just hit his spots. He threw every pitch for a strike and Gio made some good plays. When he got that no-hitter, it was just so sick.”
Lending a helping hand
Carlos Moncrief threw his 21st base-runner out in Saturday night’s 2-1 win over Pawtucket. That gave him the Clippers franchise record for outfield assists. The 21 assists are also more than four teams total (Gwinnett, Pawtucket, Rochester and Syracuse). Currently, the Clippers 33 outfield assists are tops in the league.
Down the stretch they go
The Clippers actually were below .500 in the month of July, but played well enough to seize control of first place. Still, there isn’t much distance in the standings. Going into Monday, the Clippers lead Indianapolis by 2.5 games, Toledo by 4.5 and Louisville by 5.
The Clippers are in a stretch where they play 12 consecutive games against out-of-division opponents. After that, they finish the season with their final 18 games against IL West teams. Ten of those games are against Toledo (five home and five away). They have six more games against Indianapolis (three home and three away) and two more games at Louisville.
The goal: winning
After Friday night’s game sealed up a 2-5 home stand, Chris Tremie reiterated that winning the series is important to staying ahead of the pack.
“We just got to get back on the winning track a little bit and win some series,” Tremie said. “You don’t have to win every game. Obviously, you want to, but the big thing is trying to win the series. We haven’t been able to do that in the last few series. Hopefully when we get on the road, we’ll be able to start doing that.”
INF Zach Walters
Since July 8 (Triple-A): 16 G, 31-68, 16 R, 7 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 4 BB, 9 K, .456 BA
Most of these stats haven’t been with the Clippers. Coming to Columbus, he had a 13 game hit streak going before being called up the Nationals. After the trade, he’s back at the Triple-A level and he’s picked up right where he left off.
RHP C.C. Lee
Since July 25: 4 G, 0-0, 1 SV, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.00 ERA
It’s easy to pick on the bullpen and Lee was certainly one that was singled out during his struggles. But since his return to the Clippers pen on July 25, he’s been very good. So good, that he was called on in the 11th inning on Saturday night to close out a 2-1 win for his second save of the year.
INF Giovanny Urshela
Since July 10: 17 G, 22-60 15 R, 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 5 BB, 6 K, .367 BA
Urshela’s hot streak has lasted almost a month. But his glove work has been just as valuable to the Clippers. Just ask Tyler Cloyd. Urshela made a diving stop on the foul line and then leaped to his feet to throw out Thomas Neal to preserve the no-hitter (at the time a perfect game) in the eighth.
Lost at Sea
INF Justin Sellers
Since July 21: 7 G, 4-24, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, .167 BA
I concede that it’s entirely unfair to put Justin Sellers in this section. His playing time has dropped significantly over the past couple of weeks with the additions of Francisco Lindor and Zach Walters. It’s difficult to hit at a high level when at-bats are scarce.
The Clippers need only one win in Scranton to take the season from the RailRiders after taking all four games in Columbus earlier this year (June 12-15). The Clippers took the first game 5-4 thanks to a four-run seventh with three doubles by Giovanny Urshela, Roberto Perez and Adam Abraham that produced the runs. Kyle Davies pitched seven innings and gave up three runs for the win.
In the second game, Audy Ciriaco hit a three-run homer in the second and Tyler Holt smacked his first of the year and the Clippers held on for a 4-3 win. Travis Banwart pitched 6.2 innings and gave up three runs and got the victory.
The Clippers used four pitchers in a 7-0 shutout in the third game. Jesus Aguilar broke the game open in the third with a three-run shot to give the Clippers a 4-0 lead at the time. Gabriel Arias pitched three innings in relief and struck out four to get the win.
The Clippers offense broke out in the finale, scoring a run in each of the first four innings before putting seven runs on the board in their last two at-bats to cruise 11-3. Carlos Moncrief hit a three-run homer to break it open in the seventh and Audy Ciriaco hit the first inside-the-park home run in Huntington Park history in the second inning.
Game Times and Starting Pitchers
8/4 – at Pawtucket (7:05 PM) – RHP Tyler Cloyd (9-5, 3.91) vs. LHP Henry Owens (14-4, 2.60 w/Portland)
8/6 – OFF DAY
8/7 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7:05 PM) – RHP Gabriel Arias (5-2, 4.10) vs. TBA
8/8 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7:05 PM) – RHP Kyle Davies (6-7, 4.01) vs. TBA
8/9 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7:05 PM) – RHP Tyler Cloyd (9-5, 3.91) vs. TBA
8/10 – at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (1:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
7/30 – RHP Justin Masterson (right knee inflammation) ended rehab assignment and returned to Cleveland from Columbus
7/31 – RHP Austin Adams recalled by Cleveland from Columbus…OF James Ramsey traded from St. Louis and assigned to Columbus
8/1 – OF Tyler Holt recalled by Cleveland from Columbus…RHP Frank Herrmann (right calf strain) placed on 7-Day Disabled List…INF Zach Walters traded from Washington and assigned to Columbus
8/2 – LHP T.J. House recalled by Cleveland from Columbus
8/3 – RHP Toru Murata transferred to Columbus from Akron…RHP Austin Adams optioned by Cleveland to Columbus
Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.