Clippers 18, Bulls 5 – (box)
Series: COL leads, 1-0
If you could script the first game of a baseball playoff series, what would you write? If it were me, it would be something like: “My starting pitcher would work seven solid innings, and my offense would jump out early and make the other team play catch-up.” David Huff took the hill for the Clippers and held up his end of the bargain, working 7.0 innings and allowing just one unearned run; and as you can see from the pic above, the Clippers offense more than did their part.
And honestly, the mark of a great playoff game is when your opponent hits a grand slam in the eighth inning, and you don’t even care.
Huff was solid early, retiring the first 12 hitters he faced, including four strikeouts. By the time Chris Richard led off the fifth for the Bulls with a single to break up the perfecto, the game was for all intents and purposes over. But, after the single and a follow-up single compounded by a throwing error by Jared Goedert that moved the score to 5-1, the Clippers decided to leave no doubt.
This game was defined by two big innings for the Clippers’ bats. In the first, Jose Constanza led off with a sharp single, stole second base, and moved to third on a nicely executed grounder to the right side by Ezequiel Carrera. The Clippers were playing for one run. Little did they know! Cord Phelps rapped a single to right: 1-0. Wes Hodges crushed a homer to dead center: 3-0. Jason Kipnis—making his AAA debut—singled to right, and Goedert followed with a double to left: 4-0. Wild pitch, Goedert to third. Jared Head singled to center: 5-0.
Even with a double play ball to get out of the first and a 1-2-3 second inning, Bulls’ starter Richard de los Santos had a rough night: 2.0 IP, 7H, 5ER (ERA: 22.50), 0BB, 0K. His night ended early, as after Phelps led off the third inning with a single, de los Santos apparently had had enough. Hodges came to the plate, and somehow merited being drilled squarely in the back. Apparently, it was Hodges’ fault that de los Santos couldn’t get anyone out. Home plate umpire Chris Conroy wasted no time in sending de los Santos to the showers.
Darin Downs and Brian Shouse would follow, and neither of them would fare much better. With the score 5-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Columbus finished the job by pushing seven more runs across.
Carrera tripled to right to start the inning off right. Phelps walked, and Hodges followed with a single to left to score Carrera. Kipnis walked to load the bases. After a foul out by Goedert, Head singled to center, scoring Phelps and Hodges, and the rout was on at 8-1. But, the Clippers were not done. Luke Carlin singled to center, scoring Kipnis. Shouse came in to relieve Downs, and was promptly greeted. Josh Rodriguez doubled to right, scoring Head. Constanza then beat out and infield single to score Carlin. The scoring in the fifth ended by the same guy who started it, as Carrera came up for the second time in the inning, and singled home Josh Rodriguez. 12-1 Clippers, and the rest of the way was just making sure no one got hurt, really.
In fact, if I had to sum up the late innings of this game, I would do it with this picture:
The Clippers’ mascot watching Jose Constanza spit in right field while a dude in a hot dog suit (mustard FTW) streaks by. h/t to my wife for the photo. That was more interesting than watching the last four innings, to be honest.
Here was the final Clippers’ offensive box score:
A three-run homer by Head in the bottom of the sixth made it 15-1. A two-run bomb by Goedert in the seventh made it 17-1. Enter Aaron Laffey, who gave up a grand slam. An eighth inning grand slam would normally be a bad thing, no? Krash, the Clippers’ mascot would disagree. It was all still fun and games. Just to reiterate that fact, Carlin crushed a homer to the Wendy’s Hamburger Balcony in right to make it 18-5, and give four sections (ours included!) free Frostys until the end of October.
It’s important to note that, in their last two playoff games against Scranton/WB and Durham, the Clippers have gotten the following combined lines:
14.0 IP, 3R, 2 ER (ERA: 1.29), 9H, 0BB, 11K
36-for-85 (.424), 29 runs scored, 5 HR
If that’s not a recipe for winning playoff games, I don’t know what is.
Game two is tonight at Huntington Park, with Zach McAllister (9-12, 5.29 ERA) taking the hill for Columbus against the Bulls’ Aneury Rodriguez (6-5, 3.80 ERA). First pitch is at 6:35 PM.
Photo Credits: Waiting For Next Year
Box score screen cap from http://www.clippersbaseball.com