Hernandez rusty, Clippers lose 10-8
COLUMBUS – After eight innings of lackluster offense and inconsistent pitching, the Columbus Clippers (59-53) put together a monster ninth-inning rally to tie the game but ultimately fell to the Rochester Red Wings (55-56) in 12 innings by a final score of 10-8.
Besides the dramatic ending, the big story on the afternoon was Clippers starter Roberto Hernandez (0-0, 9.00 ERA), who was making his second minor league rehab start – his first with Columbus – on his way back to the majors. Hernandez has previously pitched for the Cleveland Indians under the name Fausto Carmona, and he was suspended in the offseason for using a false identity.
The two teams traded runs early. Columbus struck in the first with an RBI double by first baseman Matt LaPorta, and then Rochester answered back in the second as a run came in on a double play ball by left fielder Wilkin Ramirez. This tied the game, but the Clippers got the lead right back in bottom half of the inning thanks to an RBI single by shortstop Gregorio Petit. Both pitchers were giving the offenses opportunities, and the bats were successfully chipping away.
The Red Wings answered to tie the game once more in the third inning, as a run came in on an RBI groundout by Rochester right fielder Matt Carson. In the fourth, they were able to jump ahead with a two-run lead. After Rochester third baseman Eduardo Escobar reached second off a leadoff bunt single and Columbus throwing error, he came in to score on an RBI double by Ramirez. The next batter – designated hitter Brian Dinkelman – also got an RBI hit that made the score 4-2.
A fifth Rochester run came in the fifth inning, as first baseman Chris Parmelee came home on a wild pitch by Hernandez.
All in all, it was a lackluster afternoon for Hernandez. He had some strong moments, and he got himself out of a couple jams, but he was often too inconsistent with his location. He left after five innings, and in that time he allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks.
Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh said that Hernandez still has some work to do, but he’s well on his way back.
“I thought his velocity got better as the game went on,” Sarbaugh said after the game. “You can tell his command is not where he needs it to be, but I thought he did some good things today.”
The Red Wings plated one more run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Pedro Florimon that made it a 6-2 Clipper deficit. As Rochester continued to tack on the runs, the Clippers’ offense hit a wall against Red Wings starter Eric Hurley (0-0, 9.35 ERA). He came into the game with an ERA of 23.62, and he struggled early, but after two innings he put together a very confident performance. He gave up two runs on six hits and a walk in six innings of work.
After Parlemee made it 7-2 with a solo shot to left in the top of the ninth, the Clippers’ third straight loss seemed imminent. Instead, they put together a five-run inning against Rochester relievers Daniel Turpen and Lester Oliveros. Second baseman Jason Donald hit a one-out, bases-loaded double that brought home two runs to make it 7-4. This was followed by a sacrifice fly by left-fielder Vinny Rottino that made it 7-5, and then first baseman Matt LaPorta blasted a two-run homer to left center that tied the game at seven. It was his 18th of the season.
Sarbaugh said that despite ultimately falling short, he was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We battled,” Sarbaugh said. “You go into that ninth inning down five and you’re able to tie it, then you get some chances in the 10th and 11th to win the game. We came up short, but we battled.”
After both teams went scoreless in the 10th inning, Parmelee struck again in the 11th with another solo shot to left field that put his team up 8-7. Once again, it seemed like the Red Wings had victory in their grasp, but the Clippers were able to tie it up once more. On a wild pitch by Rochester reliever Deolis Guerra threw a wild pitch that allowed Donald to score from third. The game was tied at eight, and both teams marched on to the 12th inning.
However, the Red Wings were able to jump ahead once more, and this time the lead proved to be permanent. First there was another solo homer – this time from Ramirez – that made it a 9-8 ball game. Second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka added an RBI single later in the inning, and this put his team up 10-8. This time the Clippers just didn’t have another rally in them, and that’s how the game would end.
The Clippers will take Wednesday off before hitting the road and playing a four-game series in Norfolk that begins Thursday at 7:15 p.m.