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Sailing with the Clippers: 4/16/2012 - 4/22/2012

Sailing with the Clippers: 4/16/2012 - 4/22/2012
April 23, 2012
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Sailing with the Clippers is a weekly Monday afternoon installment that explores the week that was for Triple-A Columbus.

With a loss on Sunday, the Clippers fell to second place in the International League West for the first time in what seems to be years. Of course, we are just three weeks into the season and this team figures to be around for the long haul, as usual. Pitchers had a serviceable cumulative ERA of 3.88 over the six games and the offense scored over five runs a game, but it added up to just a 3-3 record. Friday's game was postponed due to inclement weather.

Clipper Hitter of the Week

Cord Phelps: .308 (8-26), 2 R, 4 2B, 3B, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, SB

Phelps carried a hit streak that reached 14 games this week, and tied Lonnie Chisenhall for the most runs batted in. He leads the teams in hits and is second to Chisenhall in runs batted in for the season. Essentially, it is just more of the same from Phelps, who has been one of the better hitters at every level. But barring injury, he isn't ever going to crack the Indians' lineup at second base or shortstop, and it would even take a lucky break for him to slide into the utility role currently held by Jason Donald anytime soon. His poor performance both at the plate and in the field during last season's callups will do him no favors, either.

Clipper Pitcher of the Week

Chris Seddon: GS, 6.0 IP, W, 0.00 ERA, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K

Seddon put forth the best outing of the week on Thursday with an efficient scoreless six innings. After three starts, he possesses the best strikeout-to-walk rate among Clippers starters, and is just barely second in both ERA and WHIP (.2 points behind each leader). He has had no success on the highest level and would be fifth of five starters in line for a promotion, but he remains a nice veteran depth option for the Columbus staff.

Game-by-game thoughts

Monday (L, 7-4): Lonnie Chisenhall and Trevor Crowe each had three hits and drove in three of the team's four runs, continuing their torrid paces. All three of Chisenhall's hits went for extra bases, and more importantly, were against left-handed pitching. As we know, that is one area of his development that needs to improve, so this kind of success is great to see. Kevin Slowey got hit around, allowing 13 baserunners and six runs (though three of the charged runs were surrendered by Jeremy Accardo). The Clippers had 13 hits, and only Russ Canzler went without one, but they were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Tuesday (W, 5-1): The story of this game was Corey Kluber, who looks to be a different pitcher this season. After this one-run performance, he had a 2.81 earned run average in three starts (all wins), and more impressive, 25 strikeouts in 16 innings of work. The bottom of the order, particularly Matt Pagnozzi, paced the offense. He went 2-for-2 with a double, a home run, a sacrifice fly and a walk. Chen Lee and Chris Ray continued to pitch well, mopping up the last three innings. Although Nick Hagadone was recalled to Cleveland, the Clippers' bullpen still features five viable options, Lee and Ray included.

Wednesday (L, 4-3): Cord Phelps put together his second four-hit game in less than a week, but it wasn't enough. Still, he has been on some kind of roll lately. There isn't much left for him to prove in Columbus, but there isn't currently any room for him in Cleveland, either. Scott Barnes pitched well in Major League camp and had a stellar first start of the season, but gave up four runs in five innings for a second consecutive time. The offense scuffled in clutch situations again, this time going 3-for-17 with RISP in the one-run game.

Thursday (W, 4-0): The Clippers pitched a shutout on Thursday, led by Chris Seddon's wonderful start. He is strictly a depth option, but has turned in three solid starts to begin the season. Hector Ambriz and Jeremy Accardo followed up his six scoreless innings with three of their own, falling in line with what has been season-long bullpen success in Columbus. Cord Phelps, Lonnie Chisenhall and Trevor Crowe led the way as they have for most of the young year, going 5-for-12 with three runs driven in. Ezequiel Carrera also had three knocks. He hasn't been quite the dynamic leadoff hitter that he was last season, mostly due to a decrease in drawing walks, but he has now reached base six times in the last two games.

Friday (PPD)

Saturday (W, 12-6): Thus far, Russ Canzler hasn't had the kind of follow-up season you would expect from the International League's best hitter, but he took a great step towards meeting those expectations with five hits. Somehow, he didn't drive in any of the Clippers' 12 runs. Luke Carlin returned from the disabled list with a bang, collecting three hits and putting three runs across. Ryan Spilborghs had three hits of his own, and like Canzler, has recently started turning his season around. Zach McAllister dealt, but was only able to get through five innings because of a high pitch count (three walks and eight strikeouts). The bullpen had a rare letdown, but the lead was never in jeopardy.

Sunday (L, 8-3): Cord Phelps' 14-game hit-streak came to an end in Sunday's loss, but he was able to notch another run batted in via sacrifice fly. The offense only put together six hits, four of which came from Beau Mills and Chad Huffman. Mills is looking to follow up his most productive year in the minors, but hasn't had the same kind of success early on. Corey Kluber followed up a great start on Tuesday with a decent one, in which the defense did him no favors (error number five for Lonnie Chisenhall, and Ezequiel Carrera's first). He allowed six runs, but only half of them were earned. He has limited damage better than last year, but continues to allow too many baserunners.

Individual statistics

Trevor Crowe: .368 (7-19), 2 R, 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K
Ryan Spilborghs: .368, (7-19), 4 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K
Lonnie Chisenhall: .259 (7-27), 2 R, 4 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 7 K, E, HBP

Zach McAllister: GS, 5.0 IP, W, 1.80 ERA, 3 H, 2 R/1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
Hector Ambriz: 3 G, 4.2 IP, 2.07 ERA, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K
Corey Kluber: 2 GS, 11.0 IP, W, 3.27 ERA, 14 H, 7 R/4 ER, 5 BB, 11 K, E, 3 WP


April 17: Nick Hagadone recalled to Cleveland
April 19: Toru Murata assigned from Akron
April 20: Andy LaRoche activated from 7-day disabled list; Justin Toole assigned to Mahoning Valley
April 21: Luke Carlin activated from 7-day disabled list; Michel Hernandez assigned to Akron
April 22: David Huff assigned from Akron

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