Columbus splits doubleheader with Bats
Salazar throws five shutout innings to lead Clippers in game one
COLUMBUS- The Clippers split a doubleheader against the Louisville Bats Saturday. Right-hander Danny Salazar dazzled in the first contest, allowing just one hit on the way to a 4-0 blanking by Columbus but the Bats would rebound by earning a hard-fought 1-0 victory in the second affair.
Salazar (3-2, 3.80 ERA) was excellent in his five innings of work. During that time, the Dominican Republic product surrendered just one hit with eight punch outs and issued a lone free pass.
Columbus manager Chris Tremie said that tonight’s performance showed how far Salazar has come since the beginning of the season.
“I think he’s continuing to learn himself better, how to use his pitches better and continue to drive the ball down in the zone more often and at times change eye levels and elevate it,” Tremie said. “Those things are coming easier to him. He’s made a lot of progress already this year and his last three or four outings have been really good.”
Salazar and Louisville right-hander Greg Reynolds matched each other through the first three innings, allowing just one hit each. Columbus was the first team to break up the pitcher’s duel however, tagging Reynolds for three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Left fielder Tim Fedroff kick started the inning by beating out a throw by second baseman Jason Donald on soft groundball for an infield single. Then, first baseman Chun-Hsiu Chen slapped a base hit up the middle and right fielder Jeremy Hermida followed with a walk to bring up hot-hitting Matt Carson. The center fielder smoked a 1-1 fastball to deep center for a two-RBI double. Shortstop Juan Diaz then lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to extend the lead by a score of 3-0.
Columbus added another run in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to a two-out solo homer by Fedroff. Up 2-1 in the count, Fedroff found the next pitch to his liking and launched it over the Huntington Park sign on the left field wall for his fifth bomb of the year.
Reliever Matt Langwell replaced Salazar in the bottom of the sixth and pitched two scoreless innings to lock-up the victory for the Clippers in game one. Reynolds (10-1, 2.68 ERA) dropped his first decision of the year with the Louisville loss.
Despite out-hitting the Bats four hits to two in the second contest, Columbus came up on the losing end of the 1-0 shutout. It was just “one of those games,” according to Tremie.
“You want and try to win every game honestly. It kind of hurt us leaving the bases loaded in the first inning and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the game. You know, we did have some good at-bats but we couldn’t get the big hit in that particular game that we got in the first game. It’s baseball. It happens sometimes.”
The Clippers loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first against righty Pedro Villarreal in game two but wound up with nothing to show for it. Right fielder Ezequiel Carrera lead off with a sharp single that sailed over shortstop Emmanuel Burriss’ head and second baseman Ryan Rohlinger followed with a walk. Fedroff then whipped slap-shot single to left to load the bases. That would be all the Columbus offense could muster as the next three hitters were retired with ease.
Bryan Price was perfect in his short spot-start outing. In the three frames he pitched, the right-hander did not allow a hit, run or walk while fanning two batters. Reliever Fernando Nieve entered the game in the fourth and dished out a run to the Bats in the following inning.
With one down in the top of the fifth, designated hitter Mike Hessman rocketed a Nieve pitch deep into the bleachers in left to give Louisville the 1-0 advantage.
Villarreal was just as effective as Price, if not more, settling down after his nail-biter of a first inning. Overall, the Bats starter tossed 4.2 shutout innings, allowing just three hits with four swings and misses and a pair of walks before exiting the game in the bottom half of the fifth.
With reliever Zack Duke in to pitch the bottom of the sixth, the first two Clipper hitters reached base safely. Rohlinger was hit by pitch and then Fedroff blooped single into left to put runners on first and second. Louisville countered by bringing righty Nick Christiani out of the bullpen and it proved to be the right move. Chen popped up to third, in the next at-bat and Carson grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Christiani (5-2, 4.23 ERA) took home the win for Louisville while Nieve (4-2, 1.27) was marked with the defeat. The Clippers overall record now stands at 41-50.
Seeking to win their first series in over month, Columbus will wrap up their four-game set with Louisville at 6:05 p.m. Sunday. Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-4, 5.06 ERA) is scheduled to man the mound for the Clippers and will square-off with righty Chad Reineke (7-5, 3.11) of the Bats.