August 12, 2015 & 2016 Columbus Clippers We’re going to mix things up a bit in this look back in Indians minor league history as on both August 12, 2015 […]
August 12, 2015 & 2016 Columbus Clippers
We’re going to mix things up a bit in this look back in Indians minor league history as on both August 12, 2015 and August 12, 2016, the Columbus Clippers had impressive shut outs against top pitching prospects.
Starting with the 2015 match on the road against the Louisville Bats, Toru Murata took on Robert Stephenson who, at the time, was considered the Reds #1 prospect and a top 25 prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately, Stephenson was never able to reproduce these results in the big leagues (2019 was his only positive WAR season and it was as a reliever) and he ended up taking the loss in this game.
Despite loading the bases in the first on a hit batter, walk and error, the Clippers were unable to score. They did bring one home in the second as Audy Ciriaco lead off with a walk, went to third on a Brett Hayes double and scored on a ground ball. Stephenson’s command issues continued in the third as he walked two more before being removed. Jesus Aguilar was the first walk and he scored when an error was made on an Erik Gonzalez ground ball to second. This would be the last run scored by either team.
Murata had allowed singles in the first and second, but gave up just one more single in the fifth in his six shut out innings. He struck out four and walked three. Giovanni Soto, Joseph Colon and Tyler Sturdevant then allowed two hits, but faced the minimum over the last three innings thanks to two double plays.
In 2016, the match-up was even more elite as Ryan Merritt made the start for Columbus prior to his heroic ALCS appearance against top 5 prospect at the time and future All-Star, Lucas Giolito.
Both pitchers worked through the first two innings quickly with Neftali Soto being the only base runner after a single. Both teams added singles in the third and Syracuse another in the fourth, but otherwise, the game moved quickly and remained scoreless through the middle of the sixth.
Joey Butler walked to start the inning, but was eliminated on a Collin Cowgill double play. With hope seemingly gone again, Erik Gonzalez hit a solo home run for the only Clippers run of the night. Interestingly, in consecutive years for the Clippers, it was Gonzalez who was responsible for the game winning RBI in their August 12 shut out wins.
In the seventh, Matt Den Dekker doubled off Merritt, the only extra base hit allowed by Clippers pitching and the last of four given up by Merritt. The Clippers starter was pulled after seven innings (six K’s, 0 walks) and was relieved by Tommy Hunter and Perci Garner who finished things out perfectly. In fact, no batter reached base following Den Dekker’s double. As well as the Clippers pitchers threw in this game, the Chiefs were nearly better as Giolito allowed just three hits, struck out six and walked one in six innings followed by Trevor Gott, who struck out one in two perfect innings.