Columbus falls 3-2 in ninth
Three fielding errors cost Clippers with two outs in the ninth
COLUMBUS- After coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game, the Columbus Clippers suffered a defensive meltdown in the ninth to hand the Pawtucket Red Sox a 3-2 win Tuesday.
Clipper closer Preston Guilmet had a runner on first with two outs in the bottom of the ninth before three fielding errors paved the way for a Pawtucket victory.
With one down, first baseman Drew Sutton reached on error by third baseman Matt Lawson who mishandled the ball on his transfer. Designated hitter Bryce Brentz then grounded to short but second baseman Cord Phelps dropped the force out. Third baseman Brandon Snyder followed with another grounder to shortstop Juan Diaz but the throw to first was wide right, allowing the eventual game-winning run to score.
"We had a bad inning and gave them extra outs," manager Chris Tremie said. "You know (Pawtucket's) run and not being able capitalize in the end with a couple of runners on. Just a combination of all those things. All those little things add up and usually the outcome turns out to be the one you don't want."
Columbus had runners on the corners with no outs in the bottom of the ninth but could not seize the golden opportunity to at the very least even the score.
Catcher Omir Santos rifled a double into the left field corner and center fielder Ezequiel Carrera trickled bunt single down the first base line to put runners at first and third. In the next at-bat, designated hitter Matt Carson hit a weak roller to pitcher the pitcher and Santos was tagged out in a run-down between third and home. Phelps was issued a two-out to juice the bases for the hot-hitting Chun-Hsiu Chen.
Already a walk-off hero once this year, Chen looked poised to repeat that performance. But the first baseman soon found himself down 0-2 before fanning on a high heater three pitches later to conclude the ballgame.
The first three innings of the game were a pitchers' duel. Pawtucket left-hander Chris Hernandez allowed just one hit and Columbus starter Joe Martinez surrendered a pair.
However, the momentum shifted in the Red Sox's favor beginning in the top of the fourth. Snyder singled to center to kick start the inning. Second baseman Justin Henry and catcher Dan Butler followed with back-to-back base hits to give Pawtucket a 1-0 advantage.
Red Sox center fielder launched a solo shot off the scoreboard in right center to increase his team's lead to 2-0.
The Clippers placed the tying runs on base with one down in the bottom of the fifth but failed to bring anyone home.
Left fielder Tim Fedroff reached first on a ball the glanced off of Sutton's glove. After Fedroff swiped second, Diaz followed with a walk. Lawson grounded into a fielder's choice to advance both runners into scoring position but Santos drizzled a ball to the hot corner to end the threat.
Martinez exited the game with two outs in the top of the sixth and was replaced by lefty Scott Barnes. On the night, Martinez allowed two runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
After a string of disastrous outings, Martinez has been solid in his last two outings. His recent performances have been a welcoming sign for the Clippers and hopefully another step in the right direction for the 30-year-old.
"It's good to have back-to-back strong outings from him," Tremie said. "It's good for him, what he's working on, his confidence and ultimately good for us. If he keeps pitching that way he's going to get some wins."
Columbus finally got to Hernandez in the bottom of the sixth by evening the score at two runs a piece.
Carrera lead off with a laser groundball single to right field. Carson then smacked a sharp grounder that ricocheted off the pitcher's mound and into center for a base hit. After failed sacrifice bunt by right fielder Jeremy Hermida kept runners in the same position, Phelps bounced a ball up the middle that grazed his counterpart's leather to cut the lead to 2-1. Chen followed with a base knock to center to load the bases and Fedroff lifted a sacrifice fly to right tie the game.
Hernandez's matched Martinez in both innings pitched and runs but ended up with a no decision. Reliever Jose De La Torre (3-1, 2.01 ERA) picked up the 'w' for the Red Sox after hurling 2.1 scoreless frames and closer Anthony Carter earned his 10 save of the season. Despite not allowing an earned run, Guilmet (2-4, 2.60 ERA) was charged with the loss.
The setback puts Columbus 34-38 on the year and Pawtucket beefs their record up to 41-28 after the triumph.
The Clippers will send surging right-hander Trevor Bauer (3-2, 3.84 ERA) to the bump in the third game of the series, and he will be opposed by Pawtucket righty Terry Doyle (4-5, 5.16 ERA). Action is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m.
Ethan can be contacted by email at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @ethanjday