COLUMBUS- The Clippers lead the International League in runners left on base and they definitely demonstrated that Monday as they were shutout by the Pawtucket Red Sox in a 4-0 affair at Huntington Park.
The Pawtucket pitching silenced the Clipper bats all night long in a masterful three-hit performance. They held Columbus hitless in nine attempts with runners in scoring position and stranded seven others.
“I think our approach has been about the same, we’re just hitting balls at people,” manager Chris Tremie
said of the team’s recent struggles with runners in scoring position. “Our approach overall, we’ve gone out of the zone a bit. We’re a little bit too eager at times to get those runners in. It’s not for a lack of ‘want to’ but maybe a little bit of over-aggressiveness in certain situations.”
However, Tremie said there is no need to fret as he believes his players will snap out of the slump.
“As long as they stick with their plan and their ability, I think you’re going to see us improve in that area,” Tremie said.
Red Sox righty Rubby De La Rosa
(1-1, 2.89 ERA) was dominant throughout the duration of his start. In his 5.1 shutout innings, the right-hander gave up just two hits with five strikeouts walks a piece. Relievers Alex Wilson
took care of the remainder of the game, tossing the final 3.2 innings and allowing one base hit.
Columbus first baseman Chun-Hsiu Chen
had two of the three Clipper hits, one of which was a double.
The Red Sox struck first with two runs in the top of the second. Starter Toru Murata
surrendered a solo blast over the 400 sign in dead center to designated hitter Bryce Brentz
to lead off the inning. With one down, catcher Ryan Lavarnway
smoked a one-hop double to center field and two batters later right fielder Jeremy Hazlebaker slapped an RBI single to left to give Pawtucket the 2-0 lead.
The Clippers had ample opportunities to score on De La Rosa in multiple innings but could not capitalize.
With one down in the bottom of the second, Chen roped a two-bagger down the left field line but two-consecutive put outs ended the threat. Third baseman Nate spears walked to begin the bottom of the third and quickly stole second but again, nothing transcended afterwards. Then in the fourth, designated hitter Jeremy Hermida
blooped a single to right and second baseman Cord Phelps
followed with a free pass. Chen scorched the ball in the next at-bat but lined it right at third baseman Brandon Snyder
who then doubled-off Phelps at first. After a walk by left fielderTim Fedroff
, shortstop Matt Lawson
whiffed at a ball outside to end the inning.
Pawtucket added two more runs in the top of the fifth by aid of a Murata fielding miscue. Center fielder Jackie Bradley
Jr. was issued a walk and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. First baseman Drew Sutton
laid down a sacrifice bunt to Murata but his throw to third sailed over Spears’ head and allowed Bradley to score. Left fielderMitch Maier
followed by lacing a base knock to center to make it 4-0.
Columbus fans’ hopes rose in the bottom of the sixth when their team had runners on the corners but soon faded after another disappointing inning. A lead off walk by Hermida paved way for a soft Chen single to center. That set the table for Fedroff who moved Hermida over to third with a 1-6 fielder’s choice. But for the consecutive at-bat, Lawson swung and missed to kill any comeback magic.
Murata’s failed attempt for his first win at the Triple-A level drops to 0-3 with a 5.67 ERA. On the night, the Japanese-native allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits with three strikeouts and four walks in 6.1 innings of work.
“He gave us six and a third innings and threw the ball pretty well,” Tremie said. “You take away a couple of mistakes that we made and a couple pitches that he left up in the zone and you only give up one or two runs.”
The second-straight loss put the Clippers at a record of 34-37 and the Red Sox improve to an impressive 41-28.
Columbus and Pawtucket will play game two of the series with a 7:05 p.m. contest on Tuesday. Right-hander Joe Martinez
(2-5, 6.48 ERA) gets the call for the Clippers and will face-off against Red Sox left-hander Chris Hernandez
(3-2, 4.38 ERA).