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Clippers Notebook: Pestano is working his way back

Clippers Notebook: Pestano is working his way back
June 16, 2014
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The Columbus Clippers closed the road trip by splitting the final two games in Charlotte highlighted by a 14-2 outburst in the Tuesday afternoon game.  Jesus Aguilar hit a pair of three-run homers to pace the offense in a game that included eight extra base hits and five home runs.

Waiting for the Clippers on the return home was the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, but Columbus was ready for them, taking all four.  Vinnie Pestano converted both saves in the first two games preserving one-run leads in each game.  Tyler Holt hit his first home run of the year (at either level).  His next one will tie a career high.

They completed the sweep with big-margin victories in the final two games.  Jesus Aguilar hit a three-run homer in the third inning of Saturday night’s 7-0 win over SWB.  Zach McAllisterC.C. LeeGabriel Arias and Frank Herrmann combined for the shutout.

In the finale, the Clippers got what was probably the first inside-the-park home run in Huntington Park history in the second inning of Sunday night’s game.  The Clippers broke it open with a three-run shot to left by Carlos Moncriefin the seventh and added four more in the eighth to complete the sweep over the RailRiders with an 11-3 win.

Pestano working his way back

There was a time when people would say, when referring to solid middle relief, “He’s no Vinnie Pestano.”  In fact, the phrase was so common, that it was used in the hit television show 'How I Met Your Mother'.  After a rough first week in Cleveland this season, Pestano found himself back in Columbus.

Pestano's fall has been swift, so much that he is even being edited out of syndicated TV.

“About two weeks ago, we were in Louisville, and randomly the TV was on and that episode was on and they completely cut that part out of the episode,” Clippers reliever Vinnie Pestano recalled.  “So I guess that’s when you know how far you’ve fallen off is when TV starts cutting you out of episodes to save time.”

So what happened?

“I had a solid spring, but it kind of tapered off at the end,” Vinnie Pestano said.  “I didn’t have very good outings.  I kind of took that into the regular season and I found myself here shortly after.  But, I got right to work with Tony Arnold and Luke Carlin.  I just started piecing everything together.  First identifying what I was doing wrong and then trying to fix it.  It’s been a little bit of a process trying to fix those things one-by-one.”

Mechanics were a big part of his problem.

“Yeah, it definitely has been mechanics,” Pestano affirmed.  “The ball coming out of my hand, the life the ball’s got on it, what it’s doing after.  The swings I’m getting now are swings that I was used to getting.  It’s been a welcomed sight to see; to see guys not on pitches because that was something there for a while, where it didn’t really matter what I threw, guys looked like they were on it.  Getting a little bit of that late life and deception has been big lately.”

Lately, he has pitched like the solid Vinnie Pestano of old.  From May 3 to the present, Pestano has pitched in 16 games and has given up just one run.  Opponents are batting .179 against him and he has a WHIP under one (0.80).

“But probably about the last three or four weeks or so, I’ve been able go out there and just feel comfortable and consistent with my mechanics when I’m on the mound, which is a huge benefit,” Pestano said.

He converted a pair of saves, closing out one-run victories on Thursday and Friday night against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“He’s been throwing the ball well lately,” Clippers manager Chris Tremie said after Thursday night’s save.  “It looks like he’s got some deception.  He’s got some up-shoot to his fastball.  He threw a couple of breaking balls (on Thursday night) and has been throwing some.  He looks really good right now.”

After Friday night’s save the praise continued in the manager’s office.

“He’s got life to his fastball, a little up-shoot to his fastball,” Tremie said.  “He looks like the Vinnie that has had so much success in the big leagues right now.”

The phrase, “he’s no Vinnie Pestano,” is starting to be commonly said once again in the Buckeye state, and potentially in the Major Leagues very soon.

Catching Wind

Jesus Aguilar, 1B
7 G, 10-30, 7 R, 1 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K, .300 BA since 6/8

Aguilar returned to the lineup last Sunday with a homer in his first at-bat.  It was his Tuesday performance that turned heads when he homered twice, both three-run shots in a three hit performance that led the Clippers in a 14-2 win at Charlotte. He added a third three-run shot on Saturday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  The last week has been reminiscent of the first week of the season when he belted three homers and was batting .448 through eight games with a trio of doubles.

Jose Ramirez, INF
7 G, 13-30, 5 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, 3-6 SB, .433 BA since 6/4

Ramirez quietly had a great week.  Flying a little bit under the radar because of teammates’ hot streak, Ramirez has been the catalyst at the top of the lineup.  The one-two punch of Ramirez and Tyler Holt has almost guaranteed a base runner aboard for Jesus Aguilar and company in the middle of the order - though he has not played in a game since Thursday night’s win over SWB.

Carlos Moncrief, OF
12 G, 14-45, 9 R, 3 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 4 BB, 10 K, .311 BA since 6/1

Since June began, Moncrief has four homers.  On Sunday night, he hit a three-run homer in the seventh to break the game open.  While his bat is becoming a big impact for the Clippers, his arm continues to prevent runners from advancing the extra base.  He has 13 outfield assists this season, which is already three away from matching his total from last season.  In 2011, he recorded a career high 21, but the word is out.  Moncrief has a cannon so base coaches are not sending their runners when the ball is hit to right.

Lost at Sea

Elliot Johnson, INF/OF
12 G, 8-41, 9 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 7 BB, 12 K, 3-3 SB, .195 BA since 6/1

Johnson is one of the few bats in the lineup that has struggled lately, but he continues to be used at just about every position on the field, including as a pitcher in one game (May 29).  Johnson has been the left fielder the last couple of starts as the Clippers continue to carry only three true outfielders with Matt Carson on the DL.  That said, he has struggled in June.  He was 1-for-3 in the Sunday blowout win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with three runs scored, a pair of RBI and a double so maybe things are turning around for the utility player.

By the Numbers

With the win on Sunday night, Clippers manager Chris Tremie has achieved 500 victories in his career as a Minor League manager, also putting him over .500 during his tenure as Clippers manager.  His career record is now 500-516 over nine seasons and 107-106 in two seasons with the Clippers.  All nine seasons have been in the Indians organization.

Looking Forward

Buffalo
Even though the plural of bison is bison, this is something that apparently does not matter to the fine folks of the Buffalo Bisons who come to Columbus for four starting on Monday night.  Last year the Clippers lost the season series to Buffalo, dropping three of four on the road and splitting a four game series in Columbus.  The final time the two met last season, Danny SalazarPreston Guilmet and Vinnie Pestano combined to no-hit the Bisons over eight innings (an error with two outs in the fourth was the only runner).  With two outs in the ninth against Clay RapadaAnthony Gose singled to right to break up the no-hitter.  Rapada got the next guy to preserve the shutout.

2014 Clippers Career vs Buffalo

Elliot Johnson (with Durham): 17 G, 9 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 6 BB, 20 K, 19-63 (.302)
Tim Fedroff: 14 G, 4 R, 2 2B, 8 RBI, 7 BB, 8 K, 13-52 (.250)
Audy Ciriaco (with Toledo): 11 G, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 4-30 (.133)
Luke Carlin: 9 G, 2 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 BB, 7 K, 8-23 (.348)
Ryan Rohlinger: 8 G, 5 R, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 6 K, 9-29 (.310)
Roberto Perez 6 G, 5 R, 6 2B, 5 RBI, 8 K, 8-23 (.348)
J.C. Ramirez (with Lehigh Valley): 7 G, 10.1 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 8 K, 0.00 ERA
Nick Hagadone: 6 G, 0-1, 1 SV, 7 IP, 10 H, 8 R (7 ER), 3 BB, 7 K, 9.00 ERA
Vinnie Pestano: 4 G, 0-1, 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 4.50 ERA
C.C. Lee: 3 G, 0-0, 2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 13.50 ERA
Frank Herrmann: 3 G, 1-0, 4.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 0.00 ERA
Danny Salazar: 2 G, 2 GS, 1-0, 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 K, 0.00 ERA
Scott Barnes: 2 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 7 K, 1.42 ERA
Tyler Cloyd (with Lehigh Valley): 2 G, 2 GS, 0-1, 12.2 IP, 14 H, 10 R (10 ER), 7 BB, 12 K, 1 HR, 7.11 ERA
Kyle Davies (with Richmond): 2 G, 2 GS, 1-0, 12 IP, 10 H, 2 R (2 ER), 4 BB, 7 K, 1.50 ERA
Mark Lowe (with Syracuse): 2 G, 0-0, 3.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 7 K, 2.70 ERA
T.J. House: 1 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 3.00 ERA

Lehigh Valley

After the Clippers are finished with Buffalo, they begin a 10 game, three city road trip starting in Allentown, PA against the Lehigh Vally IronPigs.  Last season, the Clippers took the season series against the Iron Pigs, winning three of four in Allentown and splitting the series at Huntington Park.  The highlight of the four game series at Coca-Cola Park was a pair of one-run victories.  Danny Salazar worked three innings as a reliever, holding off an eighth inning comeback bid by the IronPigs and working a 1-2-3 ninth for his only career save.  Tim Fedroff drove in what turned out to be the game winning run in the top of the eighth with a single to left that scored Ryan Rohlinger.

2014 Clippers Career vs. Lehigh Valley

Elliot Johnson (with Durham): 22 G, 22-76, 12 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10 BB, 14 K, .289 AVG
Tim Fedroff: 19 G, 22-71, 11 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 9 BB, 12 K, .310 BA
Luke Carlin: 12 G, 4-35, 5 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 13 K, .114 BA
Roberto Perez: 6 G, 3-13, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 BB, 3 K, .231 BA
Audy Ciriaco (with Toledo): 4 G, 5-14, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 K, .357 BA
Ryan Rohlinger: 4 G, 3-14, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, .214 BA
Frank Herrmann: 12 G, 0-0, 3 SV, 15.1 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, 1.76 ERA
Scott Barnes: 5 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 8.2 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 7 BB, 13 K, 2 HR, 8.31 ERA
Nick Hagadone: 2 G, 0-0, 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA
Vinnie Pestano: 2 G, 0-0, 1 SV, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA
Danny Salazar: 2 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 1 SV, 8 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 13 K, 3 HR, 5.63 ERA
T.J. House: 1 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 2.57 ERA
C.C. Lee: 1 G, 0-0, 0.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 27.00 ERA

Game Times and Starting Pitchers

6/16 – Buffalo (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. RHP Tyler Cloyd (3-4, 4.58)
6/17 – Buffalo (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. RHP Kyle Davies (3-4, 4.26)
6/18 – Buffalo (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. RHP Travis Banwart (4-2, 3.59)
6/19 – Buffalo (12:05 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
6/20 – at Lehigh Valley (7:05 PM) – TBA vs. RHP Danny Salazar (1-3, 6.11)
6/21 – at Lehigh Valley (6:35 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
6/22 – at Lehigh Valley (1:35 PM) – TBA vs. TBA

Transactions

6/13 – Cleveland recalled LHP Kyle Crockett from Columbus and optioned LHP Nick Hagadone to Columbus.
6/15 – Columbus activated RHP Danny Salazar from the 7-Day Disabled List…RHP Gabriel Arias was reassigned to Akron from Columbus.

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

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