Sailing with the Clippers: April 9-15
Sailing with the Clippers is a weekly Monday morning installment that explores the week that was for Triple-A Columbus.
It was not a banner week for run prevention, as the Clippers' starting pitchers compiled an earned run average of 5.33, and shoddy defense in two games resulted in six unearned runs. Fortunately, excellent relief and more of the same from an ever-potent offense was enough to keep them competitive in a full week of action. Said offense left the park 10 times in seven games, including five on Wednesday night.
Clipper Hitter of the Week
Trevor Crowe: .400 (8-for-20), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, SB
Stretches like this out of the seven hole-hitting Crowe are a testament to how strong of a lineup the Clippers boast. He set the pace this week, despite a number of strong individual performances from the top half of the order. Thus far, he leads the team in runs scored, walks, batting average, on-base percentage and on-base plus slugging. While his elite prospect bubble has burst, concerns surrounding the Indians' outfield may present him with one more chance to prove himself on the next level.
Clipper Pitcher of the Week
Chris Ray: 3 G, SV, 0.00 ERA, 4.0 IP, H, 4 K
In what was a down week for starting pitching, the bullpen shined, helping keep the team in games. Deciding on one reliever was tough, but I chose Ray because he allowed just a single baserunner over four innings of work. It was a great rebound week for him after giving up a run in each of his first two appearances of the season. He has closed and pitched multiple late innings. As the Indians' bullpen struggles early on, Ray is one of upwards of six Columbus candidates that are viable options to earn a promotion. Assuming all of them continue to perform, his Major League experience (283 games) could be the competitive edge he needs to stand out in the crowd and have another chance.
Monday (W, 4-3): The story of Monday's contest was a three-run bottom of the ninth that put the Clippers over the top Gregorio Petit (batting ninth) was the ultimate hero, driving in the final two runs with a walk-off double. The other two runs were driven in by the eight spot, as Matt Pagnozzi and pinch-hitter Trevor Crowe produced one each. Nick Hagadone, Chris Ray and Frank Herrmann pitched five scoreless innings after starter Chris Seddon labored through the first four.
Tuesday (W, 5-4): The Clippers were walk-off winners for a second consecutive game, this time courtesy of Russ Canzler in the 12th inning. Lonnie Chisenhall, Trevor Crowe and Matt LaPorta all homered. Chisenhall, along with Luke Carlin, contributed three hits each. All was not well for Chisenhall, though, as an early error led to four unearned runs charged to Zach McAllister. It was his third fielding miscue on the young season, and while he will undoubtedly still be called up within a few months, correcting those mistakes could be the ultimate decider of exactly when he is. The bullpen was fantastic yet again, notching six scoreless innings this time.
Wednesday (L, 8-6): Five home runs from five different Columbus hitters were not enough on this night. For Lonnie Chisenhall, Trevor Crowe and Matt LaPorta, it was a second straight game of going deep. Chad Huffman and Gregorio Petit put the other two out, each their first of the season. Despite four of them coming in the final two innings, the Clippers were already facing a deficit, and it was made worse by a disastrous debut from reliever Jose De La Torre in the ninth. Kevin Slowey surrendered three earned runs in 7.2 innings, but errors from he and batterymate Matt Pagnozzi resulted in two more of the unearned variety.
Thursday (W, 5-4): A singles fest in the fifth inning ultimately decided this contest in Columbus' favor. There were six in total, and Russ Canzler was responsible for the one that made it a 5-4 game. The same trio of relievers from Monday's game went for four more shutout innings. Ezequiel Carrera, Canzler, Chad Huffman and Cord Phelps each put together two-hit games. Corey Kluber followed up his dominating first start with a bit of a disappointing one. Inconsistency was what plagued him most last season, although there was more bad than good.
Friday (L, 4-2): Despite outhitting the Louisville Bats, 9-5, the Clippers were only able to manage two runs. Scott Barnes got off to a great start, but came undone in the fifth inning. Like Corey Kluber on Thursday, it was not a great follow-up performance to a wonderful first start. Unlike Kluber, it wasn't inconsistency that plagued him last season, but an ACL tear that put him on the shelf in July. Hector Ambriz, Chen Lee and Jeremy Accardo combined for three score innings behind Barnes.
Saturday (W, 9-4): This was the biggest offensive outburst of the week, led by Cord Phelps, who had four hits. Phelps is somewhat of a forgotten name, but continues to hit, as he always has in the minors. Russ Canzler was the only player in the lineup to not collect a hit or score a run. After a strong start in spring training, he dropped off tremendously, and those struggles have carried over into meaningful games. While the bullpen generally excelled this week, recent callup Jose De La Torre gave up all four relief runs in 24.2 innings (three in Wednesday's game and one in this one).
Sunday (L, 5-3): One big sixth inning against Zach McAllister did the Clippers in on Sunday. Beau Mills hit his first home run of the season and Trevor Crowe continued his scorching pace, but it wasn't enough. The team was 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Justin Toole, brought up from Carolina to replace an injured Andy LaRoche, was 2-for-3 with a run batted in.
Cord Phelps: .375 (12-for-32), 3 R, 3 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, BB, 4 K
Chad Huffman: .353 (6-for-17), 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, 3 K
Lonnie Chisenhall: .300 (10-for-30), 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, 7 K, 2 E
Nick Hagadone: 3 G, 0.00 ERA, 4.1 IP, H, BB, 4 K
Frank Herrmann: 3 G, W, 0.00 ERA, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K
Kevin Slowey: GS, 3.52 ERA, 7.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R/3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, E
April 10: Robinson Tejeda placed on 7-day disabled list; Jose De La Torre promoted from Akron
April 13: Luke Carlin and Andy LaRoche placed on 7-day disabled list; Michel Hernandez promoted from Akron; Justin Toole promoted from Carolina.