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Sailing with the Clippers: 7/18/13 to 7/24/13

Sailing with the Clippers: 7/18/13 to 7/24/13
July 25, 2013
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Pitching has been the name of the game for the Clippers as the second-half of their season has gotten off to a promising 4-3 start. They could easily be 7-0 as their losses came by three runs or less (two of them were by a one-run deficit). With a limited offense, the pitching staff is key and if they keep the runs down, Columbus has a shot of making a late-season push for the playoffs. That is a huge if however. The Clippers need to get back to .500 first and then work from there.

As of right now, Columbus stands at 50-56, two games behind the Louisville Bats for second place in the International League West and 13.5 games behind the Indianapolis Indians for first.

The Clippers kick-started the second portion of the season with a four-game series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Right-hander Zach McAllister dominated in his rehab start for Cleveland in a 3-2 victory in game one. Daisuke Matsuzaka tossed another gem of an outing in a 7-2 win and the second game and the Clippers edged the IronPigs 1-0 in the third game to officially take the series. Left-hander T.J. House was out-dueled by righty Greg Smith in a 2-1 loss in the finale.

Columbus then traveled to Buffalo and suffered a tough 1-2 series defeat at the hands of the Bisons. Backed by Trevor Bauer’s first complete game of the season and a four RBI game by catcher Roberto Perez, the Clippers seized the first contest by a score of 10-3. They would go on to drop the remaining two affairs by scores of 4-1 on July 23 and 3-2 on July 24.

Catching Wind:

Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP
2 G, 1-1, 13.0 IP, 1.38 ERA, 14 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 11 K, 1 BB

What more can be said about Matsuzaka? His last four starts have been nothing short of impressive with each outing lasting six or more innings. This week, the right-hander went 1-1 in two starts against Lehigh Valley and Buffalo and posted an astounding 1.38 ERA. In that span he has allowed just two earned runs while striking out 11 batters opposed to walking just one. It seems like he’s finally coming into his own after his nagging injuries earlier this year. As long as Matsuzaka continues to impress, he could soon be pitching in Cleveland if need be.

Trevor Bauer, SP
1 G, 1-0, 9.0 IP, 2.00 ERA, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 K, 4 BB

The Indians’ top pitching prospect battled through nine hard-fought innings on July 22 against the Buffalo Bisons to earn his first complete game victory of the season. In arguably his finest performance of the year, Bauer surrendered two earned runs on six hits while fanning and walking four hitters each. After missing his previous start due to lower back spasms, this outing is a great indication that he is back on track. Bauer seems to be making gradual progress each start and that is certainly a positive sign for the young right-hander.

Jeremy Hermida
7 G, .345 BA (10-for-29), .406 OBP, 3 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 9 K, 3 BB

Going into the All-Star break, Hermida was hitting a measly .238 but after a strong first week in the latter half of the season, the slugger has boosted his average up to .250. It’s still not a good average but definitely a step in the right direction. In the past seven games, Hermida has gone 10-for-29 (.345) with three runs, two doubles, a triple, four RBI and a .406 on-base percentage. He also collected consecutive three-hit games on July 19 and 20. The knock on the outfielder this week is the alarming nine strikeouts. This should come as no surprise though as Hermida has been whiffing all season long and now holds the distinction of the International League leader in strikeouts (112) as well as walks (78). It’s interesting to note that no player has lead the IL in both categories in 30 years.

Stranded at Sea:

Chun-Hsiu Chen, 1B
4 G, .133 BA (2-for-15), .316 OBP, 0 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 5 K, 4 BB

Chen has been really scuffling as of late. He has collected just two hits in his last 15 at-bats and it appears that the Triple-A pitching is getting the best of him at the moment as his average has dropped to .219. He’s shown flashes of greatness but for some reason just can’t seem to string together solid performances. Whether it be his confidence or just a stretch of bad luck, a drop in the batting order might bode well for Chen. Hitting in the heart of the order seems to be putting too much pressure on him to produce so batting in a lower spot might help alleviate that. It’s worth a shot.

Tim Fedroff, OF
7 G, .179 BA (5-for-28), .258 OBP, 2 R, 1 2B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 6 K, 3 BB

As this season wears on, it’s becoming more and more evident that Fedroff is a streaky hitter. He’ll have stretches where pitchers can’t keep him off the base paths and then he’ll pull a complete 180 and go cold. This week was not very remarkable for the outfielder as he hit just .179 with one extra-base hit, 2 RBI and six strikeouts. Consistency is definitely a concern for Fedroff at this point but his potential to be a productive major leaguer is there.

Important Numbers:

12: Since infielder Cord Phelps went on the disabled list with a sprained right wrist, Columbus has won 12 of the 20 contests without him in the lineup. This feat is quite surprising as he was one of, if not the most consistent hitter in their order.

10: The Clippers starting rotation has accumulated 10 wins thus far in July. In all of June, the started collected just 4 victories. House, Bauer and Danny Salazar all have two wins in the month.

3: Columbus is now tied for second in the league with three complete games after Bauer’s most recent outing. House has the other two.

On The Move:

July 18

RHP Danny Salazar optioned from Cleveland
RHP Zach McAllister added from Cleveland on ML rehab assignment

July 23

RHP Zach McAllister recalled to Cleveland from ML rehab assignment and activated from 15-day DL

On-Deck:

7/25- @ Buffalo Bisons 1:05 p.m.
7/26- vs. Durham Bulls 7:05 p.m.
7/27- vs. Durham Bulls 7:05 p.m.
7/28- vs. Durham Bulls 7:05 p.m.
7/29- vs. Durham Bulls 7:05 p.m.
7/30- vs. Buffalo Bisons 7:05 p.m.
7/31- vs. Buffalo Bisons 7:05 p.m.

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