Image: Stacy Hannan/IBI

It was a tough week for the Columbus Clippers as they lost five of six games in St. Paul, Minnesota, against the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate. Tuesday’s series opener was a sign of the week to come as the Clippers lost 19-1. Recently optioned J.C. Mejia took the loss on Tuesday night, giving up seven earned runs over 2.2 IP. The bullpen was even worse, giving up 12 more earned runs over the course of the game. On Wednesday the offense showed life, putting eight runs on the board. But it was not enough as Trevor Stephens and Kyle Dowdy combined to give up five runs in the seventh and eighth innings to secure the 9-8 loss. It was more poor pitching on Thursday as Zack Godley could not get out of the fourth inning after giving up five earned runs. The bullpen gave up four more (three earned) on the way to a 9-5 loss. Finally on Friday, the Clippers got a win behind a decent start from Logan Allen. He pitched five innings giving up three runs, and Kevin Herget followed with four scoreless innings to earn the 5-3 win behind home runs by Ryan Lavarnway and Connor Marabell. The winning did not last long as St. Paul shut Columbus out 8-0 on Saturday night. The Clippers mustered only three hits on the evening and starter Heath Fillmyer gave up seven earned runs over 4.0 IP. On Sunday the Clippers jumped out to an early lead only for the bullpen to hand St. Paul its fifth and final victory of the week in the late innings.

The Clippers’ pitching staff has been less than impressive this season, and this week was a real low point for both the starting rotation and the bullpen. Cleveland has called up numerous arms this season after the major league pitching staff was decimated by injuries, but those pitchers currently on the roster have been less than inspiring for much of the season. The Indians drafted 19 pitchers in the MLB amateur draft last week, and it will be interesting to see how this ultimately affects rosters throughout Cleveland’s farm system. It is not likely to affect the Clippers immediately, as new draft picks will not be rushed into the system this season. But there is a decent chance that many of the names on the Clippers current roster will not be here by the beginning of next season. It would be nice to see a few of these arms step up over the second half of the season to show they belong.

Day-by-Day

7/13 – L 19-1; W: Griffin Jax, L: J.C. Mejia

7/14 – L 9-8; W: Nick Vincent, L: Kyle Dowdy

7/15 – L 9-5; W: Chandler Shephard, L: Zack Godley

7/16 – W 5-3; W: Kevin Herget, L: Ian Gibaut

7/17 – L 8-0; W: Matt Shoemaker, L – Heath Fillmyer

Player of the Week

SS Gabriel Arias: 9-24, HR, 2B, 3B, 4 R

Arias was one of the few Clippers who played an excellent series against the Saints. And don’t look now, but Arias’ bat is really starting to come on and find some consistency. He has stepped up and taken advantage of fellow shortstop Andres Gimenez’s absence from the lineup (due to injury). Arias hit in five of six games in this series, and seven of his last nine. This week, he had two three-hit games on Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon. Sunday’s performance included a triple to center field. Arias, for which patience at the plate will be a key to his offensive success, did not walk in this series, but he struck out only twice. Arias is only 21 years old, and this season is his first playing above High-A. His approach at the plate over the past few weeks is very encouraging and it will be fun to watch if Arias can sustain his performance and continue to improve after skipping Double-A ball altogether.

Who’s Hot

INF Yu Chang: 6-17, 2 HR, 2B

Chang was another of the few bright spots this week for the Clippers and has played well since the Indians optioned him to Columbus on July 2. Chang had two multi-hit games this week and also hit two home runs and a double against the Saints. Chang is hitting .324/.419/.568 since joining the Clippers. Manager Andy Tracy has taken advantage of Chang’s offensive production, starting him at the top of the lineup. Chang led off four of five games played this week and batted from the two-hole in the fifth. Tracy also started Chang all over the infield during this series, starting a game each at first, second third, shortstop and DH.

OF Oscar Gonzalez: 6-22, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R

Gonzalez has continued to hit since his promotion from Double-A Akron on July 6. This week, he hit in all five games he played against the Saints. On Sunday, he notched a two-hit performance in a losing effort to close the series. Gonzalez is not yet on the tear he was on with the RubberDucks for most of this season. But he has had a promising enough start with the Clippers that it may not be long before he masters Triple-A pitching.

RP Sam Hentges: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO

Hentges pitched out of the Clippers’ bullpen this week after Cleveland optioned him to Columbus on July 9. Hentges was called up to the big league club in April due to the rash of injuries to the pitching staff, and the team quickly moved him to the starting rotation out of sheer necessity. Hentges was up and down for the Indians, but performed admirably considering he had never pitched in a Triple-A game before getting the call-up. Many believe the 6’6″, 245 lb. Hentges and his two-pitch mix are better suited for the bullpen long term. He showed promise this week, pitching three times out of the bullpen. On Tuesday, making his Triple-A debut, Hentges pitched a scoreless inning, giving up no hits, no runs, no walks and striking out two. On Thursday, Hentges went another 1.1 innings without giving up a hit, run or walk, while striking out a batter. The Saints finally got to Hentges on Sunday, when he gave up three earned runs on a hit, two walks and three strikeouts. Despite this hiccup, Hentges was one of the few Clippers to pitch multiple scoreless innings this week.

Who’s Not

Zack Godley: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO, HR

Godley turned in a terrible start on Thursday, giving up seven hits and five earned runs over 3.2 innings against the Saints. Cleveland recently signed Godley to a minor league deal in a desperate move for pitching depth. There is a good chance the Indians will need him at some point this season with all of the injuries the pitching staff has sustained. But unless he sharpens up in the near future, it will not be worth clearing a 40-man roster spot for Godley and Cleveland may have to look elsewhere for pitching help.

J.C. Mejia: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO, 4 HR

Mejia, like Hentges got the call-up to Cleveland earlier this year when starting pitchers were dropping like flies from injury. Mejia put in a valiant if inconsistent effort for the Tribe, which is understandable considering the young righty had not pitched beyond High-A before this season. It makes sense, therefore, that Mejia will have his growing pains now that he is pitching in Triple-A. Tuesday night he suffered through some of those pains, giving up seven earned runs, including four home runs over 2.2 IP.

Kyle Dowdy: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, HR, 2 L

It was a tough week for Dowdy, who earned two hard luck losses when he closed out Wednesday and Sunday’s games. On Wednesday, Dowdy pitched the eighth inning, giving up a two-run homer to to take the loss. On Sunday, Dowdy pitched 2.1 innings and lost the game in the bottom of the tenth inning, giving up three hits, two runs (one earned), and a walk with three strikeouts. Dowdy has been up and down this season. The 6’1″, 195 lb. righty throws 97-98 and has shown promise this season. But he needs to find more consistency to become a reliable late inning option. On the season is he is 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA over 21 games and 34.0 IP. He also has 38 strikeouts and 23 walks, and has given up four home runs.

Up Next:

The Clippers take on the Iowa Cubs in a six-game homestand starting on Tuesday, July 20 at Huntington Park in downtown Columbus.

Tuesday, July 20 – first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

Wednesday, July 21 – first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

Thursday, July 22 – first pitch at 12:05 p.m.

Friday, July 23 – first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

Saturday, July 24 – first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

Sunday, July 25 – first pitch at 4:05 p.m.

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