The Clippers did their best to stay in the game on a rainy and chilly night at Huntington Park last night, but in the end their bullpen just couldn’t put zeros up on the board when it counted. Michael Brantley went 5-for-5 with 2 RBI, Carlos Santana hit his team-leading 12th home run, and Josh Rodriguez drove in two of his own, but it was not enough as single runs in the eighth and ninth innings off of losing pitcher Jeremy Sowers provided the final margin for the Red Wings. In addition, Matt LaPorta got his first start and played left field. He went 0-3 with two walks.
After a quick 1-2-3 first inning for Clippers hurler Aaron Laffey, the Red Wings greeted him in the second with a single and a double to take a 1-0 lead with nobody out. After the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, it looked like Laffey might work out of it without any more damage as he got a ground ball right to third baseman Brian Buscher, who kept the runner at third. But Laffey could not escape; he issued a two out walk followed by a single to make it 2-0 Rochester.
Columbus out-hit the Red Wings 15-10 on the game, and early were able to get plenty of base runners. They just couldn’t push anyone across the plate, as they stranded five runners through the first three innings and 11 runners overall. Laffey settled back in, retiring seven in a row to keep Columbus close; it was just looking like it was going to be a tough-luck outing for him until the fourth, when some two-out magic got things going for Columbus.
After Jordan Brown was robbed of a hit by Rochester center fielder Jason Repko—who took at least three big hits away from the Clippers with nice catches in center—Wes Hodges and Nick Weglarz delivered back-to-back singles. It looked like another missed opportunity as Buscher struck out, but some clutch two-out hitting gave the Clippers the lead 3-2. Josh Rodriguez doubled in his first run to put runners on second and third for Brantley, who was magnificent at the plate all night. Brantley delivered, knocking a single through the box to score two more and give Columbus the lead.
Unfortunately, Laffey couldn’t hold the lead, as he gave it right back in the fifth when a single and two walks loaded the bases with one out, allowing Brian Dinkleman to drive in the tying run with a sac fly. Laffey survived the fifth, but his night was done. He allowed just four hits, but walked three against just two strikeouts.
In the top of the sixth, Justin Germano came on to pitch for the Clippers, and retired the first two batters quickly. But, a two-out single followed by a double put Rochester ahead 4-3. The Clippers responded in the bottom of the sixth with some two out magic of their own. Buscher tripled past a diving Repko in center—the only miraculous play he was unable to complete on the night to my eyes—and was followed by a single from Rodriguez to tie the game.
But, the back and forth was on. Repko led off the Rochester seventh with a double, was sacrificed to third, and scored on a single by Dinkleman to push it to 5-4 Red Wings. Not for long, though, as The Big Smooth Carlos Santana led off the bottom of the seventh with a homer to right. 5-5. The Clippers rapped back-to-back two-out singles to threaten to take the lead, but could not push another run home. It would be their last real offensive threat of the night.
Enter Sowers. The first two hitters in the eighth greeted him with a walk and a double. An RBI ground-out by Toby Gardenhire gave Rochester the lead they would not relinquish. Brock Peterson finished the scoring for the Red Wings with a homer off of Sowers in the 9th. The Clippers mustered a single in the eighth and a walk in the ninth, but could not do anything with them. Good night, drive home safely.
It was only the second home loss in their last ten games at Huntington Park. The series continues tonight at 7:05, as Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 4.68 ERA) goes to the mound for Columbus against Rochester’s Ryan Mullins (3-4, 4.83 ERA).
Photo Credit: Columbus Clippers