COLUMBUS- The Clippers managed only five hits on Sunday, as they were shutout 3-0 by Toledo Mud Hens starting pitcher Casey Crosby
. The slumping Clippers have scored just 10 runs in the past six games, and are 1-5 in that span.
, making his first start since August 7 of last year with Double-A Akron, didn’t last long. After just 1.1 innings of work, the left-hander was replaced by reliever Jerry Gil
Manager Chris Tremie
said he never intended for Soto to pitch deep into the game and that he has no plans of inserting the reliever into the rotation. With the recent call-up of Corey Kluber
to Cleveland, Soto was just there to make a spot start.
“It’s a bullpen day,” Tremie said. “He was only going to go an inning…two max. He went an inning and a third and he did his job.”
Toledo DH John Lindsey
smoked a single that ricocheted off of third baseman Ryan Rohlinger
’s glove to start the top of second. Catcher Brad Davis
lined an RBI base hit to left, after a force out at second and a walk to first baseman Danny Dorn
had put one on with one out. Cedric Hunter
had a chance to throw the runner out at the plate but he dropped the ball on his transfer. Soto exited the game after that.
Gil retired the next two batters to keep the score at 1-0.
The Mud Hens had an opportunity to blow the door open in the fourth inning but key defensive plays allowed the Clippers to get out of the inning untouched.
Lindsey led off the inning with his second single of the game, a blooper to center field. In the next at bat, right fielder Ben Guez
hit a slow roller to shortstop Juan Diaz
, but the throw came up shy of the bag to put the hitter on base.
Lindsey and Guez attempted a double steal with Dorn at the plate, but catcher Omir Santos
rifled a ball down to third to nail the runner. Dorn then hit a ball that appeared to be heading into right field but second baseman Cord Phelps
made a spectacular diving stop and throw to first to record the second out.
Guez bolted for home after a pitch got away from Santos, but the catcher recovered quickly, tossing the ball to Gil at the plate to drill the runner in a bang-bang play.
The team has committed a total of 15 errors (fourth most in the International League) in 17 games so far this season. Recently, the Clippers are showing signs of improvement. Today was a perfect example of that.
“We’ve been playing well, (defensively)” Tremie said “We had one or two games early that we made some errors but recently we’ve been playing some sound defense and turning in some double plays. The catching has been good so the defense has been very promising.”
Center fielder Quintin Berry
put Toledo up 2-0 in the top of the sixth with a solo shot that just cleared the wall in right field.
The following inning, shortstop Argenis Diaz
lined a double down the third base line to tack on an additional run for the Mud Hens.
The Clippers best chance to score came in the bottom of the sixth but they could not come through in the clutch.
With one out, center fielder Tim Fedroff
was awarded a free pass and catcher Lou Marson
followed by smacking a single through the hole at shortstop. Phelps hit the ball hard in the next at bat, but right at his counterpart Brandon Douglas
for the inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Phelps singled to center with two down in the ninth and then advanced to second on defensive indifference, but first baseman Adam Abraham
could not get him home, as he popped out to the catcher in foul territory to end the game.
Over the last eight games, Columbus is batting just .186 (11-59) with runners in scoring position.
Tremie said the bats will come around eventually.
“It’s one of those things when you go through cycles in the game and right now we’re not swinging the bat real well as team and you know, that‘s something that we’ll turn around. The guys just have to keep working and keep focused. There’s a lot of good hitters on this team. It’ll start to show.”
Crosby (1-3, 4.58 ERA) pitched seven frames of four-hit baseball to earn the victory for the Mud Hens. Reliever Bruce Rondon
picked up his third save of the year by pitching a scoreless ninth. Soto (0-1, 6.75) took the loss for the Clippers
Columbus (8-9) dropped below .500 with the defeat while Toledo’s victory improved their record to 6-12.
The Clippers will conclude their series against the Mud Hens Monday at 10:35 a.m. Right-hander Joe Martinez
(0-2, 4.80 ERA) is the probable starter for Columbus and is set to face Toledo’s Duane Below
(1-1, 2.33 ERA).