Clippers pitchers allow four homers in 5-4 loss
Columbus, OH - The Columbus Clippers opened the 2012 season against the Louisville Bats on a beautiful night at Huntington Park on Thursday night, but fell short late losing 5-4.
Before the game started the Clippers held a ceremony to honor their International League championship from last season and were awarded the Governor’s Cup trophy. The ceremony consisted of the raising of the National Championship flag, Governor's Cup flag, the players and coaching staff receiving their championship rings, and the unveiling of the championship trophy.
The Clippers had right-hander Zach McAllister on the hill, who last season earned a 12-3 record with a 3.32 ERA. He toed up against Major League friendly Jeff Francis who was picked up in the offseason by the Cincinnati Reds. Last season Francis had a 16 loss season while pitching for the Colorado Rockies and is hoping to resurrect his career down in Louisville.
The Clippers came out swinging in the bottom of the first with center fielder Ezequiel Carrera and second baseman Cord Phelps reaching base safely, but were left stranded after a fly out to center from first baseman Matt LaPorta and Carrera was thrown out on a close play at the plate on a ball hit to center field by left fielder Russ Canzler. Carrera felt that he snuck a foot in there and he was safe. This was just one of the a few close calls that Carrera was involved in this game.
After Bats designated hitter Danny Dorn took McAllister deep to right field for a two-run home run in the top of the second, the Clippers were unable to produce a run as they were held without a run in the bottom half of the inning.
In the third inning the Bats hit their second home run in as many innings second baseman as Chris Valaika hit his first big fly of the year to right field. The Clippers once again were unable to answer as they went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
The Clippers got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth as Canzler hit an RBI single bringing in LaPorta who had earlier reached base with a walk. Right fielder Ryan Spilborghs got into the action with a double allowing Canzler to score bringing the Clippers to within one at 3-2.
After settling down and pitching three scoreless frames in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, McAllister was removed from the game. He finished the game by going six innings and allowed three runs on five hits, three walks, and had five strikeouts.
In the top of the seventh inning right-hander Frank Herrmann was summoned to the mound and promptly gave up a solo home run to the first batter he faced, putting the score at 4-2. Francis was replaced in the bottom of the inning by right hander Nick Christiani, and had a good first outing only allowing two earned runs over six innings pitched.
In the bottom half of the seventh, Carrera was involved in his second controversial call being robbed of a three run homerun. Instead he was held to a double but two runs scored which tied the game 4-4 going into the eighth.
Right-hander Chen-Cheng Lee entered the game in the eighth for the Clippers and he was able to set the Bats down one, two, three and struck out two out of the three batters he faced.
Right-hander Chris Ray came in to hold the game for the Clippers in the top of the ninth, but gave up a solo home run to Paul Janish, his second homer of the game, and proved to be the winning margin. Ray was the losing pitcher, and Ron Mahay got the win for the Bats while J.J. Hoover got the save after striking out two in the ninth.
After the game Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh was not too worried about the loss. "It’s only one game ... there are plenty more in the season,” he said.
The Clippers face the Bats again tomorrow under the lights at Huntington Park, and will look to get redemption and record their first win of the 2012 season.