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Tomlin leads Clippers past Braves 7-1

Columbus starting pitcher Josh Tomlin hurled eight innings of scoreless ball to lead the Clippers to a 7-1 victory over the Gwinnett Braves on Friday.

Tomlin leads Clippers past Braves 7-1
The Columbus Clippers (9-11) cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Gwinnett Braves (12-9) at Huntington Park on Friday night. (Photo credit: J&D Turf)
April 25, 2014
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COLUMBUS, OH – Josh Tomlin cruised through the Gwinnett Braves (12-9) lineup for eight scoreless innings as the Columbus Clippers (9-11) won 7-1 at Huntington Park in front of 7,119 in attendance on Friday night. 

Jesus Aguilar’s two-run home run in the first provided Tomlin with all he cushion he needed.  The ball landed between the scoreboard and the balcony in right and scored David Cooper.    

Entering the game, Aguilar’s batting average had started coming down to earth (.373).  He was 3-for-13 in the Gwinnett series and one for his last nine. 

That slide ended on Friday night with the homer in the first and a single in the third.

Tomlin (1-1) started for Columbus coming off back-to-back quality starts, a feat that he had not accomplished since July 22, 2012, though he was out for most of 2013 recovering from elbow surgery.

On Saturday, he far exceeded just a mere quality start by tossing eight shutout innings.  He allowed six hits, but did not walk a batter and struck out six in a gem of a performance.

Tomlin cruised through the first three innings.  The only base runner he allowed was a leadoff single by Joey Terdoslavich in the second, but Terdoslavich was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double by Clippers right fielder Carlos Moncrief.

Tomlin’s only problem through the first couple of innings was that his ball-to-strike ratio was about even.

“The first couple of innings he was just missing, just missing,” Clippers manager Chris Tremie described.  “Well, after that, he didn’t miss much anymore.”

The win was his first of the year, and the first game that Clippers have won with him on the mound. 

The next three innings were only slightly more difficult.  He allowed a hit in each inning, but a runner never got past first base.  Tomlin gave up another leadoff single to Derrick Mitchell in the sixth, and was forced to pitch out of the stretch for the inning, but disposed of the side in order from there.

“He really got on a role there and was throwing the ball really well, locating right where he wanted to,” Tremie said.  “He had a good curveball tonight.  That’s the Josh Tomlin we know.  We know he can do that.”

Tomlin was back in form in the seventh inning, retiring the Braves in order on just seven pitches.

The Braves finally gave Tomlin trouble in the eighth.  The first two batters reached on singles, Jose Ramirez made a fine play on a one-hopper in the hole to start a 6-4-3 double play to get Tomlin out of trouble.

“That double play was between Ramirez and Sellers was a pretty outstanding play,” Tremie said.  “It’s not something you’re going to see every day.”

Gwinnett starter Zach Stewart (1-1), who took the loss, was not as sharp.  He allowed a hit in each inning, though he did limit the damage.  The Clippers never put together a big inning to put the game out of reach. Not off Stewart anyway. 

Braves reliever Luis Vasquez, who walked four Clippers on Tuesday night en route to four runs allowed, tried a different strategy on Saturday: throwing strikes. That did not work out either. 

The first three pitches he threw were a home run by Roberto Perez, a double by Audy Ciriaco and another home run, this time by Jose Ramirez.

The home run by Perez was his third of the year and went to straight right field into the balcony. 

Ciriaco’s double was his third hit of the day.  His batting average entering the game was .143 and by the end of the night it was a much more respectable .240.

Jose Ramirez’s home run, a shot off the scoreboard in right centerfield, is his first since a two home run game against Toledo on Monday night, and his fourth overall.

“Ramirez has had a good approach all year.  He got a good pitch and hit it off the scoreboard,” Tremie said.   

The Clippers added a run in the fifth on a Moncrief single to center that scored Justin Sellers.  Sellers had reached base on an error by Braves shortstop Philip Goselin, his second error of the game and Gwinnett’s third overall.

Scott Barnes pitched the ninth inning for the Clippers and gave up a home run to Terdoslavich, his second of the year.  The homer was the only hit Barnes allowed, and continued a rough stretch, allowing a run in each of his last three appearances.  Over that span he has allowed five runs in 1.1 innings. 

The Clippers begin an eight-game road trip with four in Norfolk beginning Saturday night at 7:05 PM.  Columbus has yet to announce starters for that series, but Norfolk will start Kevin Gausman (0-1, 3.24) in the first game.  Gamboa will be making his fourth start and sixth appearance overall.  The road trip will conclude with a set of four in Durham against the Bulls.

Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.

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