Errors cost Columbus in 3-2 loss
COLUMBUS – It was a night of bend-but-don’t-break defense at Huntington Park as the Columbus Clippers (27-33) fell to the Buffalo Bisons (35-26) by a final score of 3-2 in the third game of a four-game series.
It was defensive struggles hurt the Clippers early, as a throwing error by Clippers second baseman Jason Donald with two outs in the first kept the inning alive. The Bisons would capitalize with two runs on five hits, three of which would not leave the infield. Columbus starting pitcher Corey Kluber threw 22 pitches in the first.
Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh believed it was the sloppy defense in the first that ultimately cost the team the game.
“You can’t give good teams extra outs,” Sarbaugh said. “They’ll take advantage of it. They did that tonight, and that’s the difference.”
After this initial rally, Kluber (4-6, 4.14 ERA) went on to have a solid, if not exactly pretty, start. He pitched six innings, giving up 11 hits and three runs; only one of which was earned. He would go on to get the loss.
It was the Clippers offense that continued to struggle against Bisons starting pitcher Garrett Olson (2-3, 4.38 ERA). Columbus would get one run back in the bottom of the first, thanks to a couple walks and a Donald single. After that, the Columbus bats couldn’t get much of anything going. Despite getting the leadoff man aboard four times, the Clippers grounded into three double plays and could never develop very much offensive momentum.
It wasn’t much easier for Buffalo to get on the board after the first inning. Every time the Bisons offense looked like they were about to break it open, they just couldn’t make it happen. The Bisons left the bases loaded three times and stranded a total of 12 men on base throughout the evening.
Sarbaugh said he was impressed by how both pitching staffs were able to get out of so many jams.
“One hit from both sides could have separated the lead,” Sarbaugh said.
Columbus pulled closer in the sixth against the Bisons’ right-handed reliever Manny Acosta, as right fielder Tim Fedroff got his first RBI in a Clippers uniform with a sacrifice fly to deep left field, making the score 3-2. This came after he got his first hit as a Clipper back in the fourth inning with a line drive to center field.
After this second run, the Buffalo bullpen completely shut the Clippers offense down. Bison relievers Acosta, Josh Edgin and Fernando Cabrera threw a combined seven strikeouts against the Clippers and allowed one hit and no earned runs in four innings.
This was the seventh time this year the Clippers went up against the Bisons pitching staff, and Sarbaugh believes that a strong performance from the Buffalo bullpen is to be expected for opposing offenses.
“(Buffalo has) a very good bullpen,” Sarbaugh said. “You know you’re in for a fight, especially in a tight game like tonight. They brought in some really good arms and they were better than us.”
The Columbus bullpen also asserted itself admirably late in the game. Clippers right-handed reliever Cody Allen pitched two innings, allowing just one walk and no hits or runs while striking out four. Right-hander Chris Ray pitched the ninth and allowed no runs on one hit and a walk.
These offensive struggles provide a stark contrast to the Clippers’ performance against the Bisons on Tuesday. In that game, they set a Huntington Park record with 21 runs in a blowout win. In the two games since, they have scored one run and two runs respectively.
The Clippers will wrap up the four game home series against the Bisons on Friday at 7:05 p.m.