IL Playoffs Round 1 – Game 2
Clippers 8, Bulls 3 (box)
COL leads series 2-0
Unlike Game 1, this time out both offenses established themselves early. By the end of the first inning, a combination of five runs–two more than had scored in the entire game–were in and on the scoreboard. But, it was the Clippers’ bats who would carry the day. Columbus starter–and former Durham Bull–Mitch Talbot got the chance to beat his former team, and was good enough after the first inning to give him team time to stretch their legs. And stretch they did.
Chad Huffman again led the offensive assault, with three hits in five trips, including a double and his second home run in as many games of the series. Huffman drove in two and also scored twice as well as the Clippers rocked former Tribe draft pick Chris Archer to the tune of five runs in 5.2 innings. Tim Fedroff, Travis Buck, Beau Mills, Juan Diaz, and Argenis Reyes all had two hits each as well, as the Clippers plated eight runs on 14 hits. They were especially potent with two outs, scoring all of their runs with two outs.
Columbus got it started in the top of the first, when Fedroff led off the game with a walk. After Buck struck out, Fedroff moved to second on a wild pitch. Jared Goedart would follow by striking out as well, and it looked like a quiet inning for Archer. And then just as quickly, Mills hit a ground-rule double and Huffman followed with a two-run bomb, and it was 3-0 Columbus before Durham even came up to bat.
Pitching with a lead, Talbot struggled in the first as well. After a lead-off single to Tim Beckham, he got a pop-out. However, the next three hitters all reached with a double and two singles, plating two runs. Talbot was able to rally, however, getting the next two hitters on a ground out and a strike out.
The Clippers would come right back in the second, scoring a run on three straight one-out singles by Reyes, Fedroff, and Buck to make it 4-2. Durham would answer with back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom of the second, but Talbot would then induce the double-play, and from then on he seemed to settle in. Including the double-play, Talbot retired 15-of-17, surrendering just one walk and one hit after the DP ball in the second. To his credit, Archer also settled in a bit, and the Clippers’ offense couldn’t do much until the sixth.
After a lead-off walk in the top of the sixth by Nick Johnson, Archer would come back to strike out Diaz and Luke Carlin. At that point, however, he was at 107 pitches, and the Bulls elected to go to the pen for righty Mike Ekstrom. Reyes greeted him with a single to center, and Fedroff followed with an RBI single to center to make it 5-2 Columbus.
The Clippers would remove all doubt in the seventh, as with two outs Huffman would double and Johnson would again walk. The Bulls would again go to their pen–this time for Adam Russell–and again not get the one out they needed. Diaz greeted Russell with a two-run double, and Carlin followed with an RBI double to make it 8-2 Clippers.
Talbot would pitch around an error and a walk in the bottom of the seventh, and leave the game after 93 pitches (59 for strikes). He gave up two runs on seven hits with two walks while striking out five in his seven innings. He would turn the last two frames over to the bullpen, and Jason Rice, Tyler Sturdevant, and Corey Burns would combine to finish the final two frames. Rice would give up a run in the eighth after a lead-off walk and single put runners on first and third. He happily traded the run for a double-play ball. That run would make the score final at 8-3 Columbus.
The Clippers come home tonight for Game 3 at 7:05 down at Huntington Park. Yours truly will be in attendance, and there are plenty of tickets available if you’re not doing anything of substance and are in the area. Joe Martinez goes for the Clippers against lefty Alexander Torres. Durham needs to win to stay alive in the series.
Photo Credit: Carl Kline/MiLB.com