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Clippers pitching banged around in 12-8 loss

Clippers pitching banged around in 12-8 loss
April 25, 2012
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COLUMBUS—Tuesday night’s contest between the Columbus Clippers and Toledo Mud Hens might as well have been a home-run derby, and the Clippers didn’t have enough power to compete.

The Mud Hens (13-6), remained atop the West Division of the International League, beating the Clippers (10-9), 12-8, in front of 5,703 fans at Huntington Park in Columbus.

The two teams combined for seven homers—five of which were by Toledo, and three from Mud Hens’ first baseman Brad Eldred—in an offensive showcase by both teams that also produced 28 hits.

Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh said with both teams hitting the ball well, there wasn’t much room for error by either pitching staff, and both offenses took advantage a pitcher made a mistake.

“You get any ball up on a night like tonight, it’s got a good chance to leave the park, and it did, on both sides,” he said.

Clippers’ starter, left-hander Chris Seddon (2-1), was coming off a solid start on April 19 at Indianpolis—six innings pitched, no runs, six strikeouts—but fell apart after two innings. Seddon only lasted 3.2 innings, allowing 10 runs on 10 hits, recording his first loss of the season.

At the plate, Clippers’ center fielder Ezequiel Carrera and first baseman Matt LaPorta had good showings. Carrera went 2-for-5 with two triples while LaPorta went 4-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and four runs batted in.

On the mound for Toledo was right-hander Brooks Brown (1-0), who didn’t have a great outing, but pitched well enough to keep the Mud Hens in the lead. Brown gave up seven runs in five innings, and left the game with Toledo holding a three-run lead.

Playing at home for the first time since April 12, it didn’t take long for the Clippers to get comfortable hitting in their ballpark again.

Carrera tripled down the right-field line to start the bottom half of the first inning. Second baseman Cord Phelps then brought home Carrera when he grounded out to second base.

Two batters latter, LaPorta hit his fifth home run of the season—a towering drive to left-center field—plating himself and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who reached on a single, to give Columbus a 3-0 lead after one frame.

After two quick, scoreless frames, the wheels came off Seddon’s start in the top of the third inning.

With two outs and two runners on base, Mud Hens’ designated hitter Ryan Strieby singled to left field, bringing home Toledo’s first run of the game.

The Mud Hens’ next three batters—first baseman Brad Eldred, third baseman Danny Worth, and left fielder Jerad Head—each homered to left field. Each home run was hit extremely hard, with Eldred’s—who was batting .375 with nine homers coming into the game—flying over the left field bleachers and into the Clippers’ team shop.

In all, Toledo scored six runs on five hits, while bringing 11 batters to the plate, in the inning.

Columbus regained some momentum in the bottom half of the third inning.

LaPorta and first baseman Russ Canzler both reached base, on a double and single, respectively. Following a sacrifice fly to center field by designated hitter Trevor Crowe, which scored LaPorta, Clippers’ right fielder Ryan Spilborghs hit a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right-center field to tie the game, 6-6.

Eldred, the International League’s leader in home runs and runs batted in, hit his second dinger of the game in the top of the fourth inning. A scorching line drive to left field that just made it over the wall put Toledo back on top, 9-6. Back-to-back doubles by Head and Mud Hens’ catcher Omir Santos resulted in another Toledo run.

Seddon was taken out of the game with two outs in the top half of the inning. Sarbaugh said there was a discussion with Seddon after the third inning to possibly remove him from the game, but he decided to leave him in.

"We talked to him and tried to get some more out of him, but it didn’t work out. It’s just one of those nights,” Sarbaugh said.

Carrera hit his second triple of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning, and later scored when Eldred overthrew Santos, trying to prevent Carrera from scoring, on a routine groundball hit by Phelps.

Both offenses then went cold.

From the top of the fifth inning through the bottom of the eighth inning, no runs were scored.

Clippers’ right-handers Jose De La Torre and Frank Herrmann were both strong in relief, combining for eight strikeouts in 4.1 innings of scoreless work.

“The bullpen did a great job, kept us in the game, but we couldn’t outscore them,” Sarbaugh said.

Eldred broke the scoring open again in the top of the ninth inning, hammering a pitch from Clippers’ right-hander Hector Ambriz over the scoreboard in right-center field for his third home run of the game. Ambriz later walked in a run, giving Toledo a 12-7 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.

Sarbaugh said from now on, he might just walk Eldred, who, in addition to his three homers, had seven RBIs in the game.

“I mean he’s on fire right now. There’s a reason why he’s led this league in home runs and RBIs a few years back. Three jacks and seven RBIs, that’s not a bad night,” he said.

A LaPorta double off the wall in right-center field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning brought home a run, but that was all the rallying Columbus would do.

Sarbaugh was pleased to see LaPorta get an opposite-field hit.

“Matt had a good night, with the home run. The one I liked was the last one. If he starts hitting the ball the other way like that, that’s a good sign,” he said.

 The Clippers and Mud Hens play again on Wednesday at 11:35 a.m. at Huntington Park.

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