Clippers come up just short, fall to Red Wings 7-6
LaPorta's big return not enough for Columbus victory
COLUMBUS- First baseman Matt LaPorta’s triumphant return to the Clippers lineup was not enough to earn his team the victory as Columbus fell to the Rochester Red Wings 7-6 Thursday.
LaPorta, fresh off the disabled list after undergoing off-season surgery on his left hip, went 3-4 with a home run, two singles and two RBI.
“I’m sure he’s excited to get back and play,” manager Chris Tremie said. “He’s been in extended rehab over there [extended spring training in Goodyear, Arizona] and he had a great night. He swung the bat real well.”
Both teams compiled 12 hits a piece but the difference was the starting pitching.
Red Wings right-hander P.J. Walters (3-2, 3.60 ERA) pitched a solid game, allowing three runs on eight hits with six strikeouts in his 6.1 innings of work.
Clippers left-hander T.J. House (0-1, 7.20 ERA), did not fare as well.
In his first home start for the Clippers this season, House was roughed up for seven runs on nine hits over four frames. The lefty walked three batters and did not record a single punch out.
“He battled,” Tremie said. “He had a rough first inning, left some pitches up and had a little trouble. But he came back and threw the ball better in the next couple of innings. It wasn’t as quite of a strong performance as his first outing but he battled.”
Rochester wasted no time to get on the board, tagging House for four runs in the top of the first inning.
After a walk to center fielder Clete Thomas, designated hitter Nathan Hanson smacked a hard grounder just out of the reach of shortstop Juan Diaz to score another run. The ball bounced off left fielder Cedric Hunter’s glove for an error and advanced the runner to second and third.
In the next at-bat, House threw a ball in the dirt that trickled past catcher Omir Santos to bring in another run. Left fielder Joe Benson followed with a screaming single past a diving LaPorta to make the score 4-0.
The mayhem continued in the top of the third when House surrendered a bomb over the left field fence to Hanson, which increased the Red Wing’s lead to 6-0.
Some two-out magic by the Clippers in the bottom half of the inning narrowed the deficit by two runs.
In his first at-bat of the season, LaPorta hit a laser to right field for an RBI single and then second basemen Cord Phelps followed with another base-knock to make the score 6-2.
House made it into the fifth inning but failed to record an out.
With a runner on first, the lefty gave up a double off the right field wall to Thomas and exited the game after that. Reliever Scott Barnes took his place but allowed a single to Olmedo to put Rochester up 7-2. The run was charged to House.
Clippers tacked on a pair of runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
In the bottom of the seventh, shortstop Juan Diaz roped a long single off the wall in right field. Santos advanced Diaz to third by blooping a single to center. Center fielder Tim Fedroff grounded into a fielder’s choice to get the run home and make it a 7-3 game.
LaPorta cranked a solo jack to left in the eighth to narrow the score 7-4. The Clippers then loaded the bases, but Fedroff flew out to the warning track to end the threat.
The last inning rally by the Clippers fell just short.
Hermida launched a monster two-run shot over scoreboard in right center to bring the score within one run. A throwing error on a Phelps swinging bunt down the first base line put the tying run on.
Adam Abraham, pinch-hitting for Hunter, reached on a throw that pulled Colabello off the bag to place the runners at the corners.
Reliever Luis Perdomo then came on to pitch and got Diaz to fly out to deep left to end the game to notch his third save of the year.
Coming into Thursday’s game, Columbus had scored just 88 total runs, third fewest in the league in front of only Louisville and Toledo.
Although they lost, Tremie said that the six runs and 12 hits were a sign of things to come for the offense.
“We’re starting to swing the bat a little bit better over the last week or two,” Tremie said. “You know, I would look for that to pick up as we continue on into the season.”
The Clippers drop to 14-13 with the defeat while the Red Wings move to Rochester 11-16.
Ethan can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @ethanjday