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Clippers Notebook: Moncrief setting records with his arm

Clippers Notebook: Moncrief setting records with his arm
August 18, 2014
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Player Spotlight: Carlos Moncrief

Carlos Moncrief put his name into the Columbus Clippers record book on August 2nd at Pawtucket with his 21st outfield assist, gunning down Alex Hassan at home in the first inning of a 2-1 11-inning Clippers win. 

“I’m just out there competing every day, I don’t really think about it,” Clippers right fielder Carlos Moncrief said about the accomplishment.  “But to have an accomplishment like that is pretty cool.  If somebody asks the question then it’s going to be my name mentioned; that’s pretty cool.”

Moncrief began his professional career as a pitcher.  Oddly enough, it was his control that led to his conversion to the outfield.

“Actually, what they say is that I was wild when I pitched,” Moncrief said with a wry smile.  “So, I guess I didn’t have any control. That’s what they say.”

He may not have had accuracy as a pitcher, but as an outfielder, it’s something that he practices.  He cites hard work for his accuracy and his father for his arm strength.

“I started working on my accuracy in the throwing program when we throw in practice and stuff,” Moncrief said.  “It’s been since 2010, I try to throw as hard as I can and hit him in his chest every time that I throw no matter how far it is.  The arm strength, I was born with.  My daddy, he pitched in Double-A.  He threw mid-90s.  I guess that’s where I got it from.  But I had to find the accuracy on my own.  I always had a good arm ever since I was a little kid.  But the accuracy part, that just came from practicing and throwing and practicing and throwing.”

The word on his arm has been out there for a while.  His ability to throw runners out is evident when base coaches around the league hold runners, rather than trying for the extra base.

“As efficient and as accurate as he’s been, he’s thrown out a lot of guys,” Clippers manager Chris Tremie said.  “It's just not that, it’s that most of the people in the league now know that he can do that and a lot of them don’t run on him anymore.  They don’t go first to third, they don’t tag up from third when they normally probably would.  He really helps slow down the guys on the bases.”

It’s the work that Moncrief does before the game that Tremie points to as the reason for the record-breaking accomplishment.

“Carlos has a very good arm and he’s accurate with his throws,” Tremie said.  “He’s worked on it.  He’s put in the work to make throws; to set himself up to use his speed and his throws and his accuracy.  He’s worked on it and he’s gifted with a strong arm as well.  It’s something that he should be very proud of this year, working on it all year.”

It’s not only his arm that turned heads this season.  As the season has progressed, he has shown consistency at the plate.  Most of the time he can be found in the middle of the batting order.  This season, he’s batting .270 with 11 homers and 59 RBI.  Since the All-Star break, he’s really found his stride as he is hitting .298 in 29 games.

“I’ve put in a lot of work,” Moncrief said.  “My main thing is relaxing.  I’m on a new team.  Sometimes you may try to do too much.  The only guys on this team that I’ve played with were Aguilar and Urshela and maybe a couple more pitchers.  A brand new team, brand new faces, it kind of takes a while to get comfortable; for me it did.  Now I’m pretty comfortable and everything is coming together on the field.”

The week that was

Ironed out

The Clippers opened the week with the final non-division series of the year against Lehigh Valley.  They took three of four from the IronPigs and in the process, put some more distance between themselves and the rest of the division.

On Monday, the IronPigs’ Jeff ManshipEthan Martin and Luis Garcia combined to shutout the Clippers 4-0. Zach McAllister dropped his first game of the season and the first one since May 28, 2012 (covering 12 starts).  McAllister allowed a pair of runs (one earned) over six innings in the loss.  Russ Canzler paced the Lehigh Valley offense with a double and a homer with two runs batted in and two runs scored.

The dormant Clippers offense came alive for six runs in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game to solidify a 6-1 win. Elliot Johnson beat out an infield single to tie the game and then Michael Bourn hit a two run double andFrancisco Lindor followed with a three-run homer.  Danny Salazar cruised through seven innings, allowing a run on five hits and nine strikeouts.  He did not walk a batter in the process which was arguably the most impressive part of his appearance.

On Wednesday, Gabriel Arias really struggled for the first time since his return to the Clippers rotation, giving up four runs (one earned) and was removed from the game after throwing 36 pitches in a three run second inning.  The Clippers offense came back in the third and fourth to tie the game (it was the largest comeback of the season).  Mark Lowe gave up a homer in the tenth, but the offense came through with some two out magic and a little help from IronPig defense.  Matt Carson singled and James Ramsey doubled with two outs and Chris Wallace hit a slow bouncer to third that was thrown into the Clippers dugout, allowing the tying and winning runs to score in 6-5 win.

James Ramsey had a legendary 5-for-5 night to pace the Clippers offense on Thursday.  He homered, doubled twice and added a pair of singles, driving in four runs in the Clippers 7-4 win in the finale.  Matt Carson (9) andGiovanny Urshela (11) also homered to account for the other three runs.

Muddied

Columbus headed north for three at division-rival Toledo.

Tyler Cloyd pitched around a pair of solo home runs to otherwise shutdown the Mud Hens over seven innings.  He was backed by Giovanny Urshela two hits, including a homer (12) and four RBI in a 6-2 win. 

It looked like Zach McAllister’s pitching performance was going to come up short for the second straight start.  He gave up two over six on six hits and seven strikeouts, trailing 2-1 upon his exit.  But the Clippers rallied off of Kevin Whelan for three runs in the ninth inning to steal a 4-2 win.

On Sunday, the Clippers turned in a rare clunker in the finale of the three game series in Toledo.  Toru Muratawas torched for nine runs in 4.2 innings, giving up a pair of homers in the process.  Luke Carlin and Giovanny Urshela drove in the only two runs in a 9-2 loss.

Odds and Ends

Road Warriors: Since the Clippers were swept in a pair of games at Toledo on July 2 and July 3, the Clippers have a 15-6 record on the road and have taken each of the five road series (at Indianapolis, Louisville, Pawtucket, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Toledo).

The recent success on the road has pushed the Clippers to a 37-28 overall record on the road, including taking eight of ten in August. 

They have two more road trips remaining in the season.  They have a pair of games in Louisville on August 21-22 and their final trip will be two in Toledo followed by three in Indianapolis from August 26-30.

Playoff Picture:

IL West

W

L

Games back

Elimination

Last week

Columbus

70

59

-

-

5-2

Indianapolis

64

65

6

10

3-3

Louisville

63

66

7

9

4-3

Toledo

63

66

7

9

3-3

 

Division Leaders

W

L

Lead

Last week

Syracuse (North)

74

53

4

6-1

Durham (South)

67

62

8

5-4

 

Wildcard

W

L

Games back

Elimination

Last week

Pawtucket

71

58

-

-

3-4

Buffalo

68

60

2.5

13

4-3

Rochester

68

61

3

13

3-6

Based on the standings above, the playoff picture is becoming clearer, especially in the west division.  Columbus has 15 games left to play, as does the rest of the division.  If the Clippers go winless, Indianapolis would have to go 7-8 to win the division.  In other words, while it’s possible that Indianapolis could play .500 baseball the rest of the way, the Clippers probably will win a few games. 

If the Clippers win ten out of their final 15, then it doesn’t matter what happens with Indianapolis.  If the Clippers go 7-8, Indianapolis would have to win 13 of 15 to tie. 

Going North:

Columbus wrapped up the non-division schedule by taking three of four against Lehigh Valley at Huntington Park last week.  They won six of eight overall against the IronPigs and finished play against IL North teams with a record of 29-19.  The only season series that they Clippers lost against the IL North was against Buffalo, who took five of eight games. 

Judging by the standings, the Clippers could see action against North opponents in the playoffs.  Pawtucket, Buffalo and Rochester are fighting with Syracuse for the division crown and the wild card.   The Clippers finished an even 4-4 against both Pawtucket and Rochester and took five of eight from Syracuse.

September Call-ups:

Something else to watch for as the season winds down is that the Major League rosters will expand on September 1.  The first is also the season finale in the International League. 

There are currently eight players on the Cleveland 40-man roster that are currently assigned to Columbus.  They are RHP Austin Adams, LHP Scott Barnes (DL), RHP Zach McAllister, RHP Bryan Price, INF Jesus Aguilar, INF/OF Justin Sellers, OF Tyler Holt and OF Carlos Moncrief.

Cleveland currently has 36 players on their 40-man roster with Jason Giambi on the 60-day DL (which doesn’t count against the 40-man).  Because of the remaining slots, it is possible that a couple of the players on the Columbus roster could be added when rosters expand.   

Catching Wind

OF James Ramsey
Since August 5:  11 G, 17-43, 7 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 11 K, .395 BA, .458 OBP, .674 SLG.

After beginning his tenure with Columbus 1-for-16, Ramsey has been white hot over his last 11 games.  He torched Lehigh Valley with a 5-for-5 performance on Thursday night and has a hit in each of his last seven games and ten of 11 overall. 

C Luke Carlin
Since July 30:  11 G, 13-35, 4 R, 6 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 8 BB, 9 K, .371 BA, .488 OBP, .714 SLG.

Now that there are three catchers on the roster, Carlin has seen his time behind the plate drop a little bit.  But his production at the plate has increased in August.  In particular, his performance on Saturday night won the game for the Clippers.  His homer in the third inning tied the game and then, down by one run, his bases-clearing three run double put the Clippers on top in the ninth.  He is currently riding a seven game hit streak and has a hit in ten of his last 11 games. 

RHP Austin Adams
Since August 5: 4 G, 0-0, 2 SV, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, .118 BA

Since his return to the Clippers bullpen, Austin Adams has continued his hot pitching at the Triple-A level.  He picked up a pair of saves (August 9 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and August 16 at Toledo), which has firmly positioned him in the late innings as a reliable go-to guy.

Lost at Sea

INF Elliot Johnson
Since August 2:  12 G, 7-45, 6 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 7 BB, 15 K, .156 BA, .269 OBP, .178 SLG.

On August 1 against Louisville, Johnson entered the game in the top of the fourth for an injured Matt Carson.  He hit a key three run homer in his first at-bat to tie the game after the Clippers went down 4-0 early.  Since then, he has really struggled to find hits.  He had a single in the eight of Sunday’s loss at Toledo that snapped a 0-for-13 slump.

Looking Forward

Louisville

After the Clippers finish with Toledo on Wednesday, they travel to Louisville for a two game set.  It will be the final time the two teams meet in 2014, with the Clippers leading the season series ten games to nine.  Louisville took two of three in Columbus the last time out, but it was the first game during that series that will forever be etched in Huntington Park lore.

Tyler Cloyd made history by becoming the first player to record a no-hitter in Huntington Park history and was one hit-batter away of being perfect.  Leading off the top of the ninth, Cloyd hit Donnie Murphy on the arm to break up the perfect game.  Secondary to the pitching effort, the Clippers put up nine runs in their final two at-bats and cruised to a 13-0 win.

In the second game, the two teams were tied at two heading into the ninth when the Bats touched up reliever Mark Lowe for four runs.  Thomas Neal walked in the go-ahead run and Tucker Barnhart took the suspense out of the game by clearing the bases with a three-run double.

The Clippers bullpen faltered in the late innings for a second straight night.  Tied at four going into the eighth, J.C. Ramirez couldn’t keep Jason Bourgeois at bay.  Bourgeois led off the eighth with a single and then stole second and third in the next two at-bats before scoring the winning run on a softly hit groundball to second.  His speed beat a drawn-in infield to score.  The Clippers had the tying run in scoring position in each of the final two innings, but couldn’t come through with the big hit in a 5-4 loss.

Indianapolis

The Clippers and the Indians were well acquainted around the All-Star break, playing ten consecutive games together.  The Clippers took four of six in Indianapolis before the break and the Indians returned the favor by taking three of four at Huntington Park afterwards.  The two teams were about as even as could be with six of the ten games decided by one run.

Two doubleheaders were played before the break in Indianapolis with the Indians sweeping the first set and the Clippers taking both of the second pair.

Game Times and Starting Pitchers

8/18 – vs Toledo (7:05 PM) – RHP Buck Farmer (AAA Debut) vs. RHP Gabriel Arias (6-2, 3.65)
8/19 – vs Toledo (7:05 PM) – RHP Shawn Hill (5-5, 4.52) vs. RHP Kyle Davies (8-7, 3.77)
8/20 – vs Toledo (7:05 PM) – LHP Kyle Ryan (1-0, 2.25) vs. RHP Tyler Cloyd (10-7, 3.98)
8/21 – at Louisville (7:05 PM) – RHP Zach McAllister (6-1, 1.95) vs. TBA
8/22 – at Louisville (7:05 PM) – RHP Toru Murata (2-3, 5.91) vs. TBA
8/23 – vs Indianapolis (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
8/24 – vs Indianapolis (6:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA

Transactions

8/11 – OF Michael Bourn (left hamstring strain) added to Columbus on rehab assignment from Cleveland
8/13 – C Chris Wallace (left ankle sprain) activated from 7-Day Disabled List
8/15 – OF Michael Bourn (left hamstring strain) returned to Cleveland from Columbus rehab assignment
8/17 – RHP Danny Salazar recalled by Cleveland from Columbus…OF Tyler Holt optioned to Columbus from Cleveland

Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.

User Comments

Matt
August 18, 2014 - 10:52 PM EDT
Buck Farmer's AAA ERA is 189 after tonight thanks to the Clippers. One hundred eighty nine.

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