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Clippers fall short, lose to Bulls 7-5

The Clippers allowed a whopping 13 hits in Thursday's loss.

Clippers fall short, lose to Bulls 7-5
Clippers right fielder Carlos Moncrief went 1-for 3 for the game, but blasted a two-run shot in the second inning, his third homer of the season. (Photo credit: Brittany Chay)
May 23, 2014
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COLUMBUS, OH – Comebacks can make for exciting games, but they also make life difficult for the teams trying to complete them.

The Columbus Clippers (22-23) came from behind not once, but twice on Thursday night, but they fell one comeback short in a 7-5 loss to the Durham Bulls (27-21) at Huntington Park.

The Clippers dug themselves into an early hole by allowing two runs in the first inning – and it could have been more.

Hak-Ju Lee led off the game with a single to left, followed by a double by Jayson Nix in the same direction. With the runners on second and third, Mikie Mahtook doubled to deep right to give the visitors a two-run lead.

Two runs in, one on base and nobody out, the Clippers needed to catch a break. And they did.

Columbus starter Kyle Davies turned on the mound to see Mahtook trying to steal, and the Durham centerfielder was tagged out in the ensuing rundown.

Had Mahtook not been caught trying to steal third, he would have scored an out later when Jerry Sands singled to center. Vince Belnome then reached on a walk, but Davies struck out Justin Christian to leave two runners stranded.

The Clippers almost replied in the bottom half of the first, but they couldn’t make the most of Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar reaching base as David Cooper struck out to end the inning.

While Cooper passed up his chance to put Columbus on the board, his teammate Carlos Moncrief didn’t need a second invitation.

Matt Carson led off the second with a walk, bringing Moncrief to the plate as the tying run. The right fielder smashed the third pitch over the wall in right for his third homerun of the year.

Davies was in hot water once again in the fourth. A double and a passed ball put Sands on third base, and a sacrifice fly by Belnome meant the Bulls regained the lead. Christian followed by legging out an infield single, and he was on third after a steal and a Mike Fotenot single. Curt Casali hit Durham’s second sac fly of the inning to restore their two-run lead.

Brandon Gomes relieved Durham starter Enny Romero in the fifth, and he was on the hill for the Clippers’ three-run sixth inning.

Despite a leadoff walk to Cooper, the Bulls right-hander seemed to have the inning under control after a fly out and a strikeout. But a wild pitch allowed Cooper to steal second, and Ryan Rohlinger hit a single to deep left to cut the deficit to one.

The longball was the weapon of choice once again used as George Kottaras lifted a two-run homer just inside the right field foul pole to give the Clippers their first lead of the night.

Nick Hagadone pitched two perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, striking out three on a total of 22 pitches, and his effort impressed Columbus manager Chris Tremie.

“He threw the ball very well,” Tremie said. “He had good shape to his breaking ball today, had his fastball down, was throwing hard and that’s the Nick Hagadone we like to see. He was really good tonight.”  

But the Clippers next pitcher, C.C. Lee, didn’t have quite the same impact.

Mahtook and Betemit singled and walked to begin the eighth, and Belnome hit a one-out single to score Mahtook and tie the game at 5.

The Clippers had the chance to take the lead again in the bottom of the inning with Carson on third and just one out. But reliever Jake Thompson got two huge outs to keep the game tied.

However, when the Bulls had their chance in the ninth, they took it. Vinny Pestano relieved Lee with two runners on and one out. He managed to get Mahtook to fly out to left, but Kevin Kiermaier took the reliever deep to right to give the Bulls yet another two-run lead.

Kirby Yates took the mound for the final frame and quickly struck out Ramirez and Johnson. A double by Giovanny Urshela kept things interesting, but an Aguilar strikeout clinched the save and the Clippers third consecutive loss.  

Ramirez and Aguilar made their first start back in Columbus after stints in Cleveland,

“They both played hard tonight,” Tremie. “It can be a little bit of a challenge your first day back, but they worked hard today and were ready to go.”

The Clippers have also been dealing with player movement on the mound, with Cleveland calling up Columbus pitcher T.J. House on Thursday. House joins Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin as three of the Clippers five Opening Day starters who are now in the majors.

Although the call-ups from one level to another may wreck havoc on a lineup card – the Clippers were not sure who would start their game against Durham on Saturday – Tremie recognizes that it’s all part of the game.

“That’s what it’s about. It’s about getting help to go up and help [the Indians] win. Those are all very positive signs,” Tremie said. “It kind of messes with our rotation a little bit but we’ll adjust and be fine.”

The two teams will face off again on Friday, with Travis Banwart taking the hill for the Clippers against Matt Andriese.

Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis will make a rehab start as he comes back from an oblique injury, and he’ll play five innings according to Tremie. First pitch is set for 7:15 PM.

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