September 22, 2015

On this day five years ago, a stellar season of baseball in Central Ohio came to a crashing halt in El Paso, Texas with a thud that could be heard in Mexico (which is only five miles from Southwest University Park, where the game was played).

The Clippers fell 7-0 to the Fresno Grizzlies, in their first season as an affiliate of the Houston Astros (If you read yesterday’s column, you’ll note that the Indians system doesn’t have a good track record against the Houston org in Triple-A title tilts), in a game ultimately dominated by the Californian side.

The Clippers came within three hits (one each by SS Erik Gonzalez, RF Michael Choice, and 2B Audy Ciriaco). This offensive futility was surprising considering the Columbus starting nine included Jesus Aguilar (1B) and Yandy Diaz (3B) at the corner infield positions. One of the three pitchers who held them near-hitless on this September evening would go in to pitch for the Clippers (and Cleveland Indians) four years later: James Hoyt.

Most of the Grizzlies’ offensive damage was inflicted on starter Ryan Merritt, who allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits in two innings (no walks or strikeouts). Tyler Sturdevant fared little better to start the third frame, allowing an earned run on two hits and a walk while recording only one out. After that; Dustin Molleken, Nick Maronde, Jeff Johnson, Joe colon, and Shaun Marcum combined to allow one earned run on four hits and three walks while striking out four in 6.2 innings.

Unfortunately, the damage was done and, even then, given the lack of run support, a perfect game through nine would’ve only served to send the game to extras.

You may ask why I am even writing about this game. Well, one, there was literally no other option for this column and, two, this game was a historical one, Not only is it the latest date on which the Indians farm system has played (not counting Instructional League or Indians prospects in the Arizona Fall League or Hawaii Winter Baseball), but it also represents a tie for the latest date for the Triple-A National Championship Game, and thus also likely the latest the affiliated minor leagues have played in recent decades) with the 2009 Bricktown Showdown. A tie that should’ve become a three-way one tonight.


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