Left-handed pitcher Scott Barnes made his first career Triple-A start for the Columbus Clippers on Tuesday night, after starting twice for the Double-A Akron Aeros.
Barnes began the season for the Aeros by giving up just two runs in 11 innings pitched, but he wasn’t quite as impressive in Columbus. He gave up four runs in five innings in his Clippers debut and, despite his team losing, 4-2, to Louisville, manager Mike Sarbaugh said he liked what he saw from Barnes.
“It was a good first outing for him,” Sarbaugh said. “He gave us five good innings … definitely something to build off of.”
The first runs Barnes gave up came after he walked two of the first three batters he faced in the top of the second inning, before Bats center fielder Dave Sappelt sent a hit down the right-field line to give Louisville the early 2-0 lead.
Columbus battled right back and scored its first run of the game when first baseman Wes Hodges drove in shortstop Luis Valbuena in the bottom of the third, cutting Louisville’s lead to 2-1.
The Clippers scored only one run in the third inning, despite having the bases loaded with no outs. Sarbaugh said it was a lost opportunity.
“We had our chance in the third with bases loaded and no outs and only came up with one (run),” he said. “It had a chance to get us back in the game or even get ahead.”
Barnes walked the first batter he faced in the top of the fourth, Louisville second baseman Chris Valaika.
The next batter, right fielder Michael Griffin, made Barnes pay by sending a triple down the right field line to give Louisville a 3-1 lead.
Center fielder Kristopher Negron grounded out in the Bats’ next at-bat, but Griffin scored to extend his team’s lead to 4-1.
The most physical play of the night came in bottom of the fourth inning.
After leading off with a base hit to center field to start the bottom of the fourth, Columbus center fielder Bubba Bell took second base on a wild pitch, and then third base on a ground ball.
Catcher Paul Phillips was up to bat next and sent a fielder’s choice to Louisville shortstop Zack Cozart, who fired the ball to his catcher, Devin Mesoraco, as Bell sprinted toward home plate.
Cozart’s throw skipped in the dirt before Bell lowered his shoulder and pummeled over Mesoraco, knocking him on his back and the ball out of his mitt for the Clippers’ second run of the night, this one unearned, again cutting the Louisville lead in half, 4-2.
But following six runs in three innings, the bats stayed relatively quiet for the rest of the night.
Bell was walked by Louisville reliever Carlos Fisher to start the ninth inning, and then Luke Carlin came up to pinch hit in place of Phillips for the Clippers.
Carlin hit into a double play, and the next batter, Valbuena, grounded out as well. The Clippers lost back-to-back games for the second time this season.
Louisville improved to 10-3 and remains in first place in the division, while Columbus fell to 8-5, two games behind the Bats, but still good enough for second place.
The Clippers will have the opportunity to redeem themselves, as they play Louisville at home each of the next three nights.