Slowey pitches the Clippers to first win
Columbus, OH – There would be no two-game losing streak to start the season for the Columbus Clippers. No home run outburst by the Louisville Bats for the second-straight night, either.
The Clippers (1-1), won their first game of the season Friday night, defeating the Bats (1-1), 3-2, in front of 7,042 fans at Huntington Park in Columbus.
First basemen Matt Laporta led the way for Columbus, going 2-4 with a home run and a double. Third basemen Lonnie Chisenhall also homered for the Clippers in the win.
Columbus’ starter, right-hander Kevin Slowey, recorded a win in his first start of the year, pitching seven innings while giving up one run and recording six strikeouts. Slowey, who was acquired by Cleveland in a trade with Colorado this winter, was 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in Minnesota last season.
Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh praised Slowey, crediting him with being the key player in the win, after the game.
“I thought tonight was Kevin Slowey. (He) really threw the ball well, used his fastball on both sides of the plate, really wasn’t predictable and really used his off-speed pitches well,” he said.
MLB journeyman Brett Tomko started for Louisville, letting in three earned runs in five innings of work.
Louisville started the game off in similar fashion to the way Thursday night’s game went. Bats’ leadoff hitter, left fielder Daryl Jones, hammered Slowey’s first pitch over the wall in right center for a home run.
Slowey calmed down, however, and retired the Bats’ next six hitters, while striking out three.
Sarbaugh said the opening home run did not worry him.
“(Slowey)’s been around. I’m sure that’s not the first time that’s happened to him,” he said. “He got it out of the way early.”
After the Clippers first five batters went down in order, Chisenhall tied the game, 1-1, with a home run of his own, sending a changeup by Tomko into the hitters eye in the bottom of the second inning.
Slowey breezed through the top half of the third, fourth, and fifth innings. The Clippers’ starter faced 13 of a minimum 12 Louisville batters in those innings, with the lone base runner reaching on a walk.
Columbus took the lead, 2-1, on a homer by Laporta that just made it over the right field fence in the bottom of the fourth inning, following two scoreless frames.
Laporta said he was not trying to do anything special at the plate.
“I was just seeing the ball and tried to hit it,” he said.
The Clippers’ had a chance to add to their lead in the fifth. With one out, Trevor Crowe tried to extend a routine-groundball single into center field into a double, but was thrown out sliding into second base by Bats’ center fielder Denis Phipps. Columbus’ next two batters—catcher Matt Pagnozzi and shortstop Gregorio Petit—reached base safely, but center fielder Ezequiel Carrera struck out, stranding both runners.
Louisville threatened to tie the game in the top of the sixth when Bats’ second basemen Chris Valaika hit a two-out double to put himself in scoring position, but Slowey quickly put an end to that threat, and got Phipps to ground out to second.
Columbus’ third run of the game came in the bottom of sixth. Louisville manager David Bell pulled Tomko with second baseman Cord Phelps and Laporta on second and third, respectively, with no outs after a Laporta double. Clippers’ designated hitter Russ Canzler hit a hot grounder down the third baseline off Bats’ reliever, right-hander Scott Carroll, which was bobbled by Louisville third baseman Todd Frazier, and Phelps scored, giving Columbus a 3-1 lead.
Sarbaugh replaced Slowey with left-hander Nick Hagadone in the eighth after a one-two-three inning by Slowey in the seventh.
Following a scoreless eighth inning, Columbus’ closer, right-hander Jeremy Accardo, came in for the save. A two-out, two-strike single by Bats’ first basemen Neftali Soto drove in Jones to make it a 3-2 game. With runners on first and second base, Bats’ right fielder Daniel Dorn flew out to center, ending the game.
Sarbaugh was comfortable having Accardo in during a tough situation in the ninth.
“We felt good about (Accardo) in that spot,” he said.
Columbus and Louisville will play the third of a four-game series on Saturday at Huntington Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.