August 6th, 2017 Columbus Clippers

This look back wasn’t too long ago, but was a solid Clippers win that featured an interesting group of former and future Major Leaguers. Literally the first at bat of the game featured 15 year MLB veteran Omar Infante leading off for the Mud Hens against 2016 ALCS star Ryan Merritt. Infante was back with the Tigers on a minor league deal (he would never reach the big leagues again and retired for good about a month after this game) and the younger Merritt got him to pop out easily in his first at bat on his way to 0-3.

Continuing on with the present and future big leaguers, Ronny Rodriguez was still with Cleveland at this point and he put the Clip Show on the board in the second with a lead off solo home run. Eric Stamets then singled, stole second and went to third when Bryan Holiday threw the ball into center. Long time big leaguer Erik Kratz then brought him home with another single.

Merritt continued to hold the shut out through three, although he allowed his first hit of the game that inning when Brendan Ryan doubled. Holiday had the Mud Hens second hit in the fifth when he doubled with one out and gave Toledo their best scoring opportunity. Tyler Collins singled to put two on with one down, but JaCoby Jones grounded into a double play to keep the shut out intact. With the danger evaded, the Clippers really got to work in the bottom half.

Michael Martinez1
Martinez heads back to first during a 2017 MLB Indians spring training game at Goodyear Ballpark. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

Any Indians fan should know all the characters in this inning as long term AAAA first baseman Nellie Rodriguez got things started with a single, then went to second on a single by 2016 goat (not GOAT), Michael Martinez. Future Rays star Yandy Diaz then walked, allowing Nellie to score on a Tyler Naquin sac fly. After a Richie Shaffer walk, Ronny Rodriguez brought home the last two runs of the inning with a single.

Merritt recorded two more outs in the sixth before he was replaced by Kyle Crockett, who went 1.1 perfect innings in relief. In the eighth, Jeff Johnson came in and loaded the bases with two outs, but Shawn Armstrong managed to force Matt den Dekker into an inning ending infield fly. As they did the previous time they kept the Hens off the board in a difficult situation, the Clippers added on in the bottom half with a Ronnie Rod double and a Stamets home run. Armstrong then stayed on for the ninth to finish things out with a perfect inning.

Eric Stamets
Stamets stands at the plate during a 2018 extended spring training game in Goodyear, AZ. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

The biggest star of the game, Ronny Rodriguez, would go on to make his big league debut one year later with the Tigers and had two MLB seasons with Detroit before joining the Brewers in 2020. On the Tigers side from the beginning, Jones went 0-2 in this game, but was one of the biggest names in this game, playing a full season with the Tigers in 2018 as a two win player. He is also off to a fine start with Detroit in 2020.

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