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Sailing with the Clippers: 7/11/13 to 7/17/13

Sailing with the Clippers: 7/11/13 to 7/17/13
July 18, 2013
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The Columbus Clippers concluded the first half of their season on a high note, finishing the past week with a 4-1 record. The winning record is quite a welcoming sign for the Clippers who before their two-game sweep of the Toledo Mud Hens on July 12 had not won a series since clinching taking the third game of a four-game stretch against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on May 20.

In fact, following the Toledo series, Columbus went on to take two of three contests from rival Indianapolis to head into the All-Star break. Things seem to be clicking on all cylinders for Columbus as the offense, defense and pitching have all been productive as of late. Let’s just hope that the mini-vacation won’t cool off this red-hot team.

Strong starts from right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Daisuke Matsuzaka powered the Clippers past the Mud Hens in their brief two-game series at Huntington Park. In the first match-up, Carrasco tossed 5.1 innings and struck out eight batters en route to a 10-3 beat down by Columbus. Third baseman Nate Spears lead the way for the offense with a huge three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth. In perhaps his finest outing of the season, Matsuzaka allowed just one run across seven frames and fanned the opposition nine times before handing the game over to the bullpen. Tied at one heading into the bottom of the eighth, outfielder Matt Carson lead off with a triple before shortstop Luis Hernandez brought him home for the go-ahead run on  an RBI groundout.

Columbus traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Indians for their final series before the break. The teams started off by playing a doubleheader on July 11. The first game was a continuation of a previous contest postponed by rain on July 10. After resuming play in the 12th inning in a 4-4 tie, the Clippers ultimately fell 9-6 when Indianapolis tagged right-hander Boof Bonser for three runs in the top of the 16th. Columbus would come right back in the nightcap to seize a 5-2 triumph in extras. Left-hander T.J. paved way for a 6-1 win in the final game, earning his second victory in as many starts. Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera collected three hits and scored two runs to pace the offense.

The team is now 46-53 and trails second-place Louisville by two games and first-place Indianapolis by 15 in the International League West.

Closer Preston Guilmet and catcher Omir Santos represented the IL in the 2013 Triple-A All-star Game in Reno, Nev. on July 17. Santos went 0-for-1 in the ballgame while Guilmet recorded the last out in the ninth to earn the save and secure a 4-3 win against the Pacific Coast League.

Catching Wind

Ezequiel Carrera, OF
4 G, .368 BA (7-for-19), .368 OBP, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 K, 0 BB, 2 SB

Ever since dropping into the two-hole earlier in the week, Carrera has increased his production at the plate. Last week, the speedy outfielder hit .368 with four runs, a triple, 3 RBI and two stolen bases. He’s upped his batting average nine points from .233 to .242 in the last four games. With Tim Fedroff doing well in the leadoff role and Carrera thriving in his new spot, the top of the Clipper order is looking very promising for the second-half of 2013.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP
1 G, 0-0, 7.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 9 K, 2 BB

Matsuzaka seems to be improving each and every start. After a solid 7.2 inning outing against Louisville in July 7, “Dice-K” worked through seven frames, allowing just one run on six hits with a season-high nine punch-outs on July 12 against Toledo. Of course, this is not the Matsuzaka of old and it’s doubtful that anyone will see him perform that way again. But starts like these are certainly a positive. Whether or not he’ll pitch for Cleveland at some point during the year remains questionable.

Matt Carson, OF
4 G, .313 BA (5-for-16), .313 OBP, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 4 K, 0 BB

After getting off to a relatively slow this season, Carson has been a spark in the middle of the Columbus lineup recently. Consistently batting in either the cleanup or five-hole, the outfielder posted a .313 average in his last four games with three runs, three RBI and a clutch lead off triple in eighth inning of the July 7 contest against the Mud Hens. He’d come around to score and his run proved to be the difference in the 2-1 victory. On the year, the 32-year-old is hitting .239 with 10 homers, 39 RBI and 10 base swipes.

Stranded at Sea

Jeremy Hermida, OF
4 G, .133 BA (2-for-15), .316 OBP, 0 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5 K, 4 BB

Hermida has been probably been the most consistent batter in the Clipper order this season and that can taken one of two ways. On the good side, he still remains the team leader in home runs (14), RBI (46) and walks (69). But on the other side, he’s second in the league in strikeouts with 103. The outfielder didn’t have a particularly productive week either. He batted just .133 with one lonely RBI. A mainstay in the heart of the lineup all year, Hermida needs to increase turn it up a notch if the Clippers expect to hold onto any hopes of the playoffs.

Fernando Nieve, RP
1 G, 0-0, 2.2 IP, 6.75 ERA, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 3 K, 0 BB

In all honesty, Nieve didn’t pitch all that bad considering the circumstance he was pitching in. After right-handerTrevor Bauer was a late scratch from his scheduled start on July 13 due to lower back spasms, Nieve was thrust into the starting role. He surrendered two runs on three hits, one of which was a homer, in 2.2 innings of work. As a reliever pitching in unfamiliar territory and on short notice, not much should be read into this outing. Nieve has been great all year long, boasting a 4-2 record with a 1.62 ERA in 18 appearances.

Important Numbers

13: Before their series victory against the Toledo Mud Hens this past week, the Clippers went 13 series without winning a single one of them.

9: Columbus has nine wins in July and are now 9-7 in the month. They have already surpassed their win total from June which was eight.

8,717: Columbus leads the league in average attendance, drawing 8,717 people per game at Huntington Park. Lehigh Valley sits in a close second at 8,693.

On The Move

July 11

RHP Danny Salazar recalled by Cleveland
RHP Preston Guilmet optioned from Cleveland
LHP Clay Rapada sent to the temporary inactive list
RHP Jerry Gil sent to the 7-day DL

July 12

RHP C.C. Lee recalled to Cleveland

July 13

LHP Clay Rapada added from the temporary inactive list

July 14

RHP Blake Wood activated from the 60-day and optioned to Columbus
C Omir Santos out righted to Columbus


7/18- @ Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 7:05 p.m.
7/19- @ Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 7:05 p.m.
7/20- @ Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 6:35 p.m.
7/21- @ Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 5:35 p.m.
7/22- @ Buffalo Bisons 7:05 p.m.
7/23- @ Buffalo Bisons 7:05 p.m.
7/24- @ Buffalo Bisons 7:05 p.m.

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