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Sailing with the Clippers: 5/14/2012 - 5/20/2012

Sailing with the Clippers: 5/14/2012 - 5/20/2012
May 21, 2012
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For the first time in May, the Columbus Clippers had a winning week.

After going a dismal 1-6 last week and playing .500 ball the week prior, the Clippers posted a 4-3 record over the past seven days. Columbus took the finale of a four-game series against Pawtucket before splitting a four-game set with Syracuse and winning the second contest of a four-game set with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

With the solid week, Columbus is back within striking distance of IL West Division leader Indianapolis. The Clippers are two games out of first place, but remain far away from the IL Wild Card spot leader, trailing Buffalo by 4.5 games.

Game-by-game analysis

May 14, @Pawtucket, Win, 5-3: Columbus only scored in one of the eight innings in which they batted, but that one inning was a big one. A five-run fifth inning was enough to beat Pawtucket in the finale of a four-game series against the Red Sox. Matt LaPorta hit a three-run home run, while Chad Huffman added a RBI. Left-hander Eric Berger had a solid outing, going six innings, and allowing two runs with only one being earned.

May 15 Syracuse, Loss, 1-5: Syracuse right-hander Yunesky Maya stifled Columbus bats for 6.2 innings, and the Clippers didn’t fare any better against the Chiefs’ bullpen. Maya and the Chiefs’ relievers allowed one run over nine innings. Clippers’ starter, right-hander Corey Kluber, didn’t match up against Maya, giving up five earned runs. Columbus went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight runners on base. Cord Phelps was the only Clipper with a solid outing at the plate, going 2-for-4.

May 16 Syracuse, Win, 6-2: Left-hander Chris Seddon and the Columbus bullpen outmatched the Syracuse pitching staff on way to victory. Seddon went 6.1 innings, allowing two-earned runs, before the Columbus bullpen threw 2.2 scoreless frames. Four different Clippers’ had multi-hit games, with Russ Canzler leading the way with a 3-for-4 day, including a solo home run in the sixth inning.

May 17, Syracuse, Loss, 1-6: Continuing the theme of one pitching staff very much outdueling the other, Syracuse pitchers came through in this win. Syracuse struck out seven Clippers and allowed just five hits. Right-hander Paolo Espino didn’t have a great day on the mound, but he wasn’t helped by the Columbus defense, as three Clippers’ errors led to three Syracuse runs. LaPorta and Canzler were the only bright spots in this loss, as the two combined for four of the Clippers’ five hits and drove in the lone Columbus run of the game.

May 18, Syracuse, Win, 12-2: The Columbus offense broke out with one of its best performances of the season. The Clippers managed 13 hits, including four doubles and a triple. LaPorta hit the games only homer, a two-run shot in the bottom of the first inning, his 12th of the year. Right-hander Kevin Slowey went seven-strong innings to take the win, giving up just one-earned run in the process.

May 19, Scranton/WB, Loss, 6-8: Columbus blew its chance to win back-to-back games for the first time in more than two weeks in this loss. The Clippers held a 6-5 lead heading into the ninth inning, but right-hander Chris Ray blew the save, giving up three runs in the final inning to allow Scranton/WB to take the lead. After managing six runs over the first eight innings, Columbus wasn’t able to plate one in the ninth on way to the loss. LaPorta hit home-run outburst at Huntington Park, hitting a solo shot in the bottom of the first inning.

May 20, Scranton W/B, Win, 4-1: Right-hander David Huff led the way in this victory, throwing five-scoreless innings. The Columbus bullpen allowed one run in relief, but thanks to a homer by Andy LaRoche and two bombs by Beau Mills, the Clippers held on for the win. Canzler added two hits, and Columbus overcame an 0-for-10 spot at the plate with runners in scoring position.

Who’s Hot

Russ Canzler, .423, HR, 3 RBIs

In a week where the Columbus offense was inconsistent, managing six or more runs in three games but only one run in two contests, Canzler was not. Canzler had hits in six of Columbus’ seven games, including four multi-hit games, the best of which a 3-for-4 day at the plate in a 6-2 win on May 16. Canzler, like a player that will be discussed shortly, has been outstanding in Columbus this season while hitting poorly on the road. At Huntington Park this season, Canzler is hitting .345. On the road, he’s batting just .203.

Matt LaPorta, .333, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs

If the Cleveland Indians moved from Progressive Field to Huntington Park, and called up LaPorta, he would end up being a first-ballot Hall of Famer. At home this season, LaPorta is hitting .360 with 12 homers and 24 RBIs, compared to a mediocre .255 with one home run and four RBIs on the road. LaPorta continued his trend of hot hitting at home this week, hitting safely in six of the team’s seven games while homering in three. With recent moves in the Cleveland farm system, LaPorta might not have the chance to hit in Huntington Park much longer, as a call up to Cleveland seems very possible for the Clippers’ left fielder in the near future.

Scott Barnes, 1.50 ERA, 6 Ks, 1 BB

The Columbus bullpen was a very key factor in many of the Clippers’  games this week, and the left-hander Barnes was possibly the best pitcher in relief. Barnes made three appearances this week, going at least two innings in each outing, and giving up only one run. In two of his three outings, Barnes threw two-plus scoreless, hitless frames. After being moved from a starter role to one in relief, Barnes is starting to look like someone Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh can count out for multiple innings of work in relief.

Who’s Not

Matt Pagnozzi, .133, 1 RBI, 5 Ks

Unlike his counterpart, Luke Carlin, Pagnozzi did not have a good week at the plate, managing just two hits in 15 at-bats. Pagnozzi struck out in three of the four games he played in, including two multi-strikeout games. The Columbus catcher has been struggling for most of this season. Pagnozzi is hitting a lowly .211 at the plate with one homer and nine RBIs.

Chad Huffman, .158, HR, RBI

Huffman ended this week strongly, going a combined 3-for-8 with two doubles, a home run and an RBI in the Clippers’ final two games of the week. His start to the week, however, was not nearly as strong. Huffman went 0-for-11 in Columbus’ first three games of the week, striking out twice and reaching base just once on a walk.

Corey Kluber, 0-1, 10.98 ERA

In his lone start of the week, Kluber did not come through, taking the loss in a game against Syracuse on May 15. Kluber lasted only 4.1 innings, giving up five-earned runs on nine hits. Kluber gave up two home runs in the game. The bad start came after Kluber had three-consecutive strong outings, including a six inning, one run start on May 10 at Scranton/WB.

Stat of the Week

Columbus bullpen scoreless streak

Over three games this week, the Columbus bullpen was nearly unhittable. The Clippers’ relievers posted 16 consecutive scoreless innings before right-hander Matt Langwell gave up a run—unearned—in a 6-1 loss to Syracuse on May 17. If you only count earned runs, Columbus went 19-plus innings before right-hander Dan Wheeler allowed a run in the ninth inning of a 12-2 win over Syracuse on May 18.

Runner up: Stolen bases

Not a stat Columbus should be proud of, the Clippers rank dead last in the International League in stolen bases. The Clippers, with 12 stolen bases, trail Buffalo, in second-to-last place, by 11 bases. The league leader in bags stolen, Toledo, has 67. Half of the league has at least 29 stolen bases.

Transactions

May 14

RHP Jeremy Accardo called up to Cleveland Indians

May 15

IF Jason Donald added to active roster

May 16

RHP Robinson Tejeda released (was on 7-day DL)
RHP Dan Wheeler outrighted from Cleveland Indians (not yet on active roster)

May 18

OF Ben Copeland assigned to Akron Aeros
IF Justin Toole assigned to Carolina Mudcats
RHP Dan Wheeler added to active roster
OF Jared Goedert assigned from Akron Aeros

May 19

RHP Paolo Espino assigned to Akron Aeros
IF Lonnie Chisenhall activated from 7-day DL

Up next

May 21, Scranton/WB
May 22, Scranton/WB
May 24, @Syracuse
May 25, @Syracuse
May 26, @Syracuse
May 27, @Syracuse

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