July 2, 2011
Some extra-inning walk-offs are the result of the home side carefully manufacturing a run like it was a loaf of artisan bread (maybe runs that are manufactured slowly over several plate appearances should be called “artisan runs”). Others come suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue, before you can even think about blinking. This is a story of the latter,
The second of July in the Year of Our Lord 2011 (don’t ask me about the weather on July 2, 2011 BC in Columbus, the records don’t go back that far) was a warm one in Columbus. Even at the 7:07 first pitch of the Clippers contest with the Louisville Bats (Cincinnati Reds), the temperature was 86 degrees (so it probably felt like 126 in the sunny sections of the giant brick oven at the Corner of Neil and Nationwide.
The Clippers bats thundered early as the Columbus offense gave starter Corey Kluber a 5-1 lead through five innings. Surprisingly, this was achieved with only one extra-base hit, a second-inning two-run homer by RF Matt McBride, his first Triple-A dinger of the season after being called up from Double-A Akron only four days earlier.
What followed was an extremely un-Kluber-like top of the sixth frame. He allowed four runs (all earned) on a pair of walks followed by a pair of extra-base hits (a like-drove double to left by C Devin Mesoraco followed by a three-run homer to right center by RF Jeremy Hermida). Following a fly out to right and another walk, Kluber was replaced on the mound by reliever Joe Martinez, who would finish the half-inning with the game still tied.
It would remain that way for the remainder of regulation and through the top half of the tenth. SS Luis Valbuena led off the bottom of the extra frame for the Clippers. The count got to 3 and 1 when Louisville reliever Jeremy Horst hung a pitch high in the strike zone right over the plate and…
…the ball was over the yellow line on the right center field wall for a Clipper victory! At 10:42, what remained of a 10,458 were sent home happy, ready to enjoy the rest of their long Independence Day weekend (the Fourth was on a Monday that year) in the glow of a spectacular win for the Columbus Nine.