Clippers power their way to 6-2 win
COLUMBUS—Mike Sarbaugh was angry in the top of the ninth inning Wednesday night, to the point where he ended up getting ejected from the game between his Clippers and the Syracuse Chiefs.
The Columbus manager wasn’t upset about how his team was playing, however, but how home plate umpire Travis Carlson was calling balls and strikes with his team holding a comfortable lead.
Sarbaugh had a reason to be happy after the game, though, as Columbus (19-20) won for just the second time in nine games, defeating Syracuse, 6-2, in front of 7,803 fans at Huntington Park.
Columbus had a four-run sixth inning that put them out in front for good. Clippers’ first baseman Russ Canzler and center fielder Ezequiel Carrera both hit home runs in the innings. Canzler’s was a solo shot that gave Columbus the lead, and Carrera’s—his first of the year, and first since this date last season—a three-run dinger.
Sarbaugh said he hopes tonight’s offensive showcase, which included 11 hits off Syracuse starter, left-hander John Lannan, will give the team some momentum.
“Any time you have a game tonight like we did offensively, it can only build confidence,” he said. “But today’s over. We’ll enjoy it but we’ll come back ready to go tomorrow.”
Being composed at the plate while looking for their pitch was the difference for Columbus batters tonight, according to Sarbaugh.
“We did a good job working counts and being patient, but still being aggressive. I thought that was the key tonight,” he said.
Both starting pitchers kept the opposition off the scoreboard during the game’s first few innings.
Clippers’ left-hander Chris Seddon faced the minimum 12 batters through four innings of work. Two Chiefs’ reached base—a walk in the top of the first inning and a single in the top of the third—but both were quickly sent back to the dugout on 1-6-3 double plays.
Seddon continued to stifle Syracuse hitters for most of the game, apart from a two-run top of the fifth inning. He left the game after 6.1 innings, striking out seven and allowing five hits.
“I really liked the way he pounded the strike zone. His pitch count was really low until the fifth when he threw a little over 30 pitches. He kept us right there,” Sarbaugh said.
Syracuse left-hander John Lannan threw three scoreless frames before Columbus broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Early, Columbus looked like the team that went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in a 5-1 loss to Syracuse on Monday night. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Clippers’ shortstop Jason Donald flew out to left field.
Columbus center fielder Ezequiel Carrera made the clutch hit the Clippers needed, though, in the fourth.
In the same situation as Donald (bases loaded, two outs), Carrera smacked a line-drive single to right field, scoring designated hitter Andy Laroche to give Columbus the lead. Two runs almost scored on the hit, but Syracuse right fielder Brett Carroll’s throw made it to home in time to get Clippers’ first baseman Russ Canzler, who was trying to score from second base.
Matt LaPorta’s homer to left field in the bottom of the fifth, his 11th of the year, gave Columbus two runs. The solo shot tied the game, instead of extending the Clippers’ lead, after Syracuse scored two runs off Seddon in the top of the fifth.
“That home run by Matt was big. They did score two to take the lead and we were able to get that back with one swing. That was a big play in the game, too,” Sarbaugh said.
Two dingers in the bottom of the sixth gave Columbus its lead back. Canzler hit a solo-shot to center field and Carrera hit a three-run homer, his first of the season, to put the Clippers up 6-2.
“That was a big blow for us. (Carrera) had two big knocks for us—the RBI single and the three-run home run. That’s what we’ve been missing, a big hit to separate a lead,” Sarbaugh said.
For the second night in a row, the Columbus bullpen didn’t allow any runs. Their scoreless effort tonight—led by 1.2 scoreless innings of work by right-hander Cody Allen and one inning by right-hander Frank Hermann—preserved the Clippers’ second win in three games.
Sarbaugh was ejected after Hermann allowed a single and then walked a batter on a pitched that looked to be well within the strike zone. Hermann responded by striking out the side.
Columbus and Syracuse will play game three of a four-game set on Thursday night at 6:35 p.m.