Goedert, Clippers walkoff to a 5-4 win
COLUMBUS—Huntington Park was nearly empty, but the noise made in the stands after Jared Goedert drove in the winning run in the 10th inning Tuesday night was as loud as any heard at a Clippers’ home game this season.
Columbus rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Louisville, 5-4, on a walk-off RBI single up the middle by Goedert, climbing above the .500 mark and winning its second-straight game against the Bats. Goedert, out of the starting lineup, had a pinch hit single in the ninth and tied the game on a single to center by Gregorio Petit, allowing the Clippers to overcome a few defensive mistakes and poor execution at the plate early.
Coming off the bench to pinch hit is never an easy task, but Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh said Goedert is one of the best at doing it successfully on the team.
“That’s the one thing, Jared always is ready,” Sarbaugh said. “(He’s) very professional in the way he goes about his work. (Goedert’s) two at bats were the difference tonight.”
The main reason Columbus was forced to rally late was due to errors. Russ Canzler had a grounder bounce off his glove in the first, prolonging an inning that later saw Louisville hit a two-run homer, and Cord Phelps dropped the ball during a possible double-play exchange. The Bats scored four runs off right-hander Corey Kluber, who went eight inning, but only two were earned.
Part of the weak play in the field could be attributed to a lineup switch. Sarbaugh tweaked his usual defensive positioning, playing Canzler at third base, putting Jason Donald in center field and giving Ezequeil Carrera the designated hitter spot.
That move cost the Clippers early.
Kluber quickly retired the first two batters of the game, Columbus looked to be out of the top half easily when Louisville third baseman Henry Rodriguez hit a routine groundball to Canzler. Having not played the hot corner regularly since the beginning of the season, Canzler booted the grounder and Rodriguez reached. Louisville’s next batter made the Canzler pay for his mistake, as Bats’ designated hitter Neftali Soto powered a Kluber fastball into the left-field bleachers, putting Columbus in an early hole.
Another error plagued Kluber’s start later in the game.
Kluber found himself in a jam in the top of the sixth, with the bases loaded and one gone. And for the second time Tuesday, the Columbus defense failed to help the right-hander get out of an inning unscathed. Bats’ second baseman Chris Valaika hit a soft groundball to short, which Petit fielded cleanly. The Clippers’ shortstop fired the ball to second base, but Phelps dropped it, ruining a chance at an inning-ending double play and allowing a run to score.
“It’s tough to give teams extra outs, especially when you’re in the middle of their lineup,” Sarbaugh said. “First inning Soto put a good swing on it, next thing you know its 2-0.
The Clippers offense did not help itself early after making mistakes on defense, either.
Gustafson, who had given up four-earned runs or more in three-straight starts heading into Tuesday’s, looked anything but easily hittable. The Louisville right-hander allowed no runs on one hit in 5.1 innings of work. Columbus had few opportunities against Gustafson—four base runners through five frames—and they failed to capitalize in the inning he started to falter in.
After walking two of the first three batters he faced in the sixth, Gustafson was replaced with Christiani. The right-hander walked Vinny Rottino to load the bases with one out. Canzler, with a chance to redeem his first-inning error, grounded into a three-six-one double play, ending the threat.
A struggling outfielder and No.9 hitter came through against the Bats’ bullpen to erase the Clippers’ defensive lapses.
Chad Huffman, who was 0-for-his-last-8 heading into his third at-bat Tuesday, put the Clippers back in the game with one swing of the bat in the seventh. The right fielder smacked a three-run homer to left field of Louisville reliever Nick Christiani, coming out of a mini-slump to put Columbus one run away from tying the game.
“We didn’t really swing the bats well early in the game, I thought Huffman’s home run really helped get a little momentum. Especially after a tough sixth, bases load with an out and unable to get a run in,” Sarbaugh said.
In the ninth, trailing 4-3, the Clippers were one out away from defeat, but catcher Luke Carlin drew a two-out walk to bring Petit to the plate. With Goedert on second base after singling to right-center field, Petit laced a two-strike fastball up the middle, plating Goedert and tying the game.
Following a shutout top of the 10th thrown by Cody Allen, Rottino reached on a single with one out. After Canzler flew out, Rottino stole second base with Phelps at the plate. Wanting a righty-righty matchup, Kanekoa Texiera intentionally walked the switch-hitting Phelps to bring up Goedert. Bringing far less than the recorded 9,227 fans in attendance to their feet—at least two-thirds of which had already left—Goedert singled, plating Rottino.