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Martinez falters as Bats beat Clippers 8-3

Clippers unable to recover from big early deficit

Martinez falters as Bats beat Clippers 8-3
David Huff (Photo: Lianna Holub)
April 17, 2013
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COLUMBUS, OHIO- After last night’s rain out at Huntington Park, the Clippers took the field for a foggy, early morning affair against the Louisville Bats. Clearly, Joe Martinez and the rest of the Clippers were in a haze of their own, losing 8-3.

Clippers’ starter Joe Martinez started out strong with a pretty easy first inning, but that was where the success stopped for the righty.

Martinez’ second inning started with a soft ground ball hit by Bats’ third baseman Mike Hessman. Clippers’ shortstop Juan Diaz was able to field it, but wasn’t able to get Hessman at first, giving the Bats’ their second hit of the afternoon. Bats’ second baseman Henry Rodriguez then came up and drilled a sharp ground ball to Clippers’ third baseman Ryan Rohlinger. The ball bounced right under Rohlinger’s glove and Rodriguez was on base with a single.

With men on first and second for the Bats’, left fielder Felix Perez then came to the plate and hit a “no doubt about it” shot to deep right field, putting the Bats’ ahead 3-0 .

Martinez got into trouble again in the very next inning.

After a giving up a looping single to Bats’ center fielder Billy Hamilton, Martinez allowed a hard hit double to Bats’ shortstop and former Columbus Clipper Jason Donald, giving the Bats’ a 4-0 lead. Bats’ first baseman Neftali Soto moved Donald over on a ground ball to third base making way for Hessman to bring Donald home on a long sacrifice fly deep to left field.

With the score now 5-0 bats, the inning continued with a long fly-ball to right center field from Rodriguez that got him to second base for a double. The home-run hero of the inning before, Perez, then knocked a single to center fielder Cedric Hunter, scoring Rodriguez. As the throw from Hunter came home, Clippers’ catcher Roberto Perez caught it and fired it to second base, getting Perez who was trying to stretch his single into a double.

The Bats’ were up 6-0 through three, and Martinez’ day wasn’t quite done.

Starting off the top of the fourth, Bats’ DH Dennis Phipps blooped a shot to centerfield. Hunter dove for the ball, but it bounced in front of him and off of his collarbone, allowing Phipps to get to second. Bats’ catcher Konrad Schmidt then lined a single through the hole between second and short to put men on first and third with no outs.

After striking out Bat’s right fielder Josh Fellhauer, Martinez was pulled from the game and replaced by Clippers’ pitcher David Huff. Huff was able to get Hamilton to ground into an inning ending double play, keeping the runner on third at bay.

Overall, it was a pretty rough outing for Martinez. In 3.2 innings, he allowed six runs on 10 hits, four of which went for extra bases. While Martinez looked good in his first start this season against the Bats, this was certainly a step backwards for him. He will look to improve his performance in his next outing.

As for the Clippers’ bats, through four innings, things were very quiet. Bats’ starter Greg Reynolds was very impressive. Outside of two Clippers’ singles from right fielder Matt Carson and Rohlinger, Reynolds didn’t allow another baserunner. That is, until the Clippers came up in the bottom of the fifth inning.

In the fifth, Reynolds survived, but his relatively clean plate of a start now had a bit of a messy spot. 

After getting Clippers’ first baseman Mike McDade to fly out to deep center field, Reynolds allowed Diaz to single up the middle and Hunter to double to the gap. Reynolds then worked Rohlinger to a 3-2 count before getting him to swing and miss, but Perez then came up and cleared the bases with a first pitch double to the wall in right.

Left fielder Tim Fedroff then roped a single to right field, scoring Perez and closing the gap for the Clippers at 6-3. Reynolds got out of the inning by getting Hernandez to fly out to left.

That was it for Reynolds, who pitched five innings, allowed three runs on six hits, had no walks, and struck out two. While he wasn’t blowing the ball past Clippers hitters, as his fastball was in the upper 80’s for most of his outing, his location was spot on until the fifth inning.

The Bats brought out Jose Arredondo for the sixth and seventh innings, and he was dominant. In two innings of work, Arredondo struck out five of the six batters he faced, including three strikeouts in the seventh. Blessed with a filthy array of off-speed pitches, Arredondo had Clippers hitters guessing even more than Reynolds did before him.

The Clippers had some great relief pitching of their own in Huff. In 2.2 innings of relief work, Huff allowed just two hits and no runs, in addition to having three strikeouts.

He was relieved in the top of the seventh by Scott Barnes. Barnes let up a solo home run to Fellhauer, his first batter in the top of the seventh inning, but quickly settled down, getting the next batter to pop out to McDade and striking out Donald and Soto.

Offseason free agent signing Matt Capps came on for the Clippers in the eighth and made quick work of the three batters he faced. In a three up, three down inning, Capps got Hessman to lineout to Rohlinger, Rodriguez to groundout to second, and Perez to strike out looking. In his inning of work, Capps six strikes and a single ball.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Bats brought out former USC baseball standout, former Cubs All-Star, and comeback story Mark Prior to pitch. Prior is trying to make his way back to Major League Baseball after a long series of injuries that have kept him away from the mound. In his inning today for the Bats, Prior allowed no hits, no runs, and had a strikeout on only 12 pitches.

Giovanni Soto came on in the ninth for the Clippers and after a leadoff bloop double by Phipps, Soto gave up an RBI single to Konrad Schmidt to give the Bats an 8-3 lead. He quickly settled down and got Fellhauer to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

Luis Hernandez then made the play of the day as Soto forced Hamilton to chop a ball to second base. Hernandez barehanded the ball close to the bag, turned his body 180 degrees and was able to throw out the incredibly fast Hamilton, making the play all that much more exciting. The play by Hernandez could have definitely made SportsCenter’s Top Ten, or at least Asdrubal Cabrera or Omar Vizquel very proud.

The Clippers relievers had a good day of pitching overall. In 5.2 innings of total work, the relievers let up two runs, one on a solo homer, on 5 hits, and struck out six batters. Unfortunately, they were put into too big of a hole by Martinez for their performance to matter all that much. 

Down 8-3 in the bottom of the 9th, Carson lined a single into deep left field, but the offense was unable to get anything else from there. Hermida struck out, McDade flew out to center, and Diaz was thrown out at first following a dropped strike three to end the  ballgame.

The Clippers move to 7-6 on the season, while the Bats‘ improve to match the Clippers at the same record. The Clippers head to Toledo for a matchup with the Mudhens tomorrow, where they will start Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is looking to avenge a less than stellar outing in his Columbus debut. The Mudhens will be starting Jose Alvarez in the first game of this two game set. First pitch is at 6:30 pm.

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