Clippers offense erupts, steamroll Tides 11-5
Columbus records 16 hits in Sunday's crushing of Norfolk.
COLUMUBUS, OH – In literature, rain can sometimes have a transformative power. One heavy shower can change a character’s attributes, and even enhance some.
The Columbus Clippers (58-52) were already playing well before the rain came on Sunday evening, but they celebrated the end of the downpour by scoring six runs in the seventh inning on their way to an 11-5 victory over the Norfolk Tides (50-59).
But they also had a hot start to the game. Tyler Holt led off the home half of the first by doing what he does best: get on base, this time via a single. He made it to second on his 17th steal of the year, and was at third thanks to a long fly out from Francisco Lindor.
After Jesus Aguilar reached on a walk, Giovanny Urshela lined the first pitch of his at-bat into left to drive Holt home. Carlos Moncrief drove in another run with a double, and Marr Carson drove in the inning’s final run on a groundout to second.
Columbus was at it again in the second, this time Justin Sellers getting things started with a double. Luke Carlin moved him to third on a sacrifice, before he eventually reached home when Lindor impressively beat out a grounder to second for an infield single.
Clippers starter Gabriel Arias was coming off two wins where he pitched at least seven and a third, and that recent command stayed with him on Sunday. Arias threw just 17 pitches over the first two innings, though he did run into a bit of trouble in the third. He issued one-out walks to Ivan De Jesus and Quintin Berry, while Julio Borbon reached on a bunt single in between to load the bases.
Norfolk eventually got to Arias in the fifth. The righty retired Cord Phelps and De Jesus to begin the inning, but getting the final out came much harder.
Borbon and Berry both singled before Paredes smacked his first home run of the season over the wall in right to cut the Columbus lead to only one run.
Arias then hit Clevenger with a pitch, precipitating activity in the Columbus bullpen, but he bounced back to fan Christian Walker and end the frame.
Another solid outing from Arias drew praise from his manager Chris Tremie.
“He made one mistake on a changeup that he left up that ended up going out of the park. But other than that, he was good again with his fastball and good changeup, and mixing his pitches up and he got us deep in the game…so it was another good outing for him,” Tremie said. “It’s good to see the improvement and him throwing the ball well and we’ll look for him to keep doing that.”
The forecasted rain finally arrived with two out in the bottom of the sixth, putting the game on hold for just 36 minutes. When the contest restarted, the Tides best opportunity to tie the game arose.
With Mark Lowe pitching in relief, Borbon grounded to the shortstop Lindor and, despite a diving play by the young phenom, Borbon still reached first. Then he attempted to steal second, and when Luke Carlin’s throw got through both middle infielders he reached third.
So, with nobody out and a runner on third, Lowe had his work cut out for him. His response was impressive: he struck out Berry, forced Paredes into a sharp groundout, and completed his escape on a fly out by Clevenger.
In the bottom of the inning, Columbus made Norfolk pay for its profligacy – and in some style.
Holt was the spark once again. He led off with his third single of the evening before Lindor bunted him to second on a sacrifice. Left-hander Clay Rapada was already having a tough opening frame, but it got worse when Holt caught him sleeping and stole third. With first base open Norfolk elected to intentionally walk Aguilar, but it didn’t matter as Urshela followed him with a double to score Holt.
Then came the most important – and bizarre – play of the evening. After Carson drew a two-out walk to load the bases, it looked like the chance for more runs had gone when Ciriaco lifted a high fly into right field. But Norfolk right fielder Henry Urrutia lost the ball in the lights, giving Ciriaco a bases-clearing triple and the Clippers an 8-3 lead.
Though the play was somewhat of a fluke, Tremie was still pleased with how his players made the most of the opportunity.
“The great thing about the whole play…is the fact that Carson scored all the way from first on it because he was running, and Ciriaco got all the way to third on it means that everybody was running the bases and playing the game the right way and we benefitted from a mistake (and) we capitalized on it to the full extent.”
But they still weren’t done. The next batter was Sellers, and he made no mistake with a two-run shot to left to make it 10-3.
Both teams added a few runs in the eighth, but they didn’t affect the overall outcome as the Clippers ended their two-game skid.
Quite a few Columbus hitters had good nights, one of them being center fielder Tyler Holt. The leadoff man had four singles, including three when he led off the inning, and that’s exactly the kind of impact Tremie said he’s been having on this Clippers ballclub.
“He’s been a sparkplug,” Tremie said. “He had a good night at the plate tonight. It was really good to see because his last couple games he’s hit the ball hard but he didn’t get a lot of hits and tonight, to be able to do that, is I’m sure a good feeling for him and obviously it helped us a ton.”
The two squads will finish their four-game set on Monday afternoon at Huntington Park at 12:05 PM.