Columbus Notes: Hanrahan Impressive Again

Columbus took a 4-3 lead into the top of the ninth inning, and it appeared as though the Clippers were on their way to back-to-back wins for the first time this season.  However, the Durham Bulls rallied for two runs off closer Chris Booker to hand the Clippers a 5-4 loss.

Clippers' Batting Order: CF Brandon Watson, 2B Brent Abernathy, LF Darnell McDonald, DH Tony Batista, 1B Larry Broadway, C Brandon Harper, RF Abraham Nunez, 3B Greg Thissen, SS Melvin Dorta

Starting Pitcher: Joel Hanrahan

Relievers: Chris Schroder, Chris Booker

- Joel Hanrahan had another solid day on the mound in his third start for the Clippers. The right-hander went 6 1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits. He racked up nine strikeouts, with three of those coming at the expense of Durham's cleanup hitter Jorge Cantu. Hanrahan tossed 105 pitches—his highest total of the season—and threw 62 of them for strikes. In the first inning, he hit one Bulls' batter, but immediately made up for it with a nice pickoff move to get the base runner out at first base. He started the second inning by striking out Cantu on three pitches. After allowing two Bulls to get on base, Hanrahan struck out Raul Casanova on a fastball to end the inning. His fastball consistently clocked in around 90-91 MPH and he did a great job painting the corners. He did not allow a hit in the third or fourth innings. After giving up three hits and a run with no outs in the fifth, Hanrahan worked his way out of a jam. He fielded a hard liner to get a force at third and ended the inning with a strikeout with men on second and third base. Following a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, the Bulls got two men on in the seventh before Hanrahan was pulled. Both base runners eventually scored, but only one run was charged to Hanrahan because of an error earlier by Melvin Dorta. Durham had trouble catching up to Hanrahan's fastball all day and this allowed him to have success with his breaking ball when he was ahead in the count.

- Brandon Watson got the Clippers off on the right foot by leading off the game with a hard liner past the third baseman. He eventually scored. After that first inning single, Watson was hitless in his next four at-bats. He was one of only two Clippers who did not strike out in the ball game. He ended the second inning with a groundout and ended the fourth inning with a pop out, leaving men on base in both situations. Watson grounded the first pitch he saw in the seventh inning to the shortstop. His final at-bat was a groundout to the second baseman in the ninth.

- Brent Abernathy had a successful day at the plate by going 2 for 5. Wednesday's game marked the sixth straight game in which Abernathy has reached base safely. Both of his hits were singles to the shallow part of the outfield. His worst at-bat came in the third inning when he struck out looking on a pitch that he thought was going to be up on his hands. Abernathy grounded to third in the seventh inning and to second in the ninth inning. After his single in the fifth inning, he stole third base for his first stolen base of the season.

- Melvin Dorta started off hot, but his bat—and glove—became cold down the stretch. In his first at-bat, Dorta protected the plate after getting behind 0-2. He fouled off several pitches before taking a walk. His 2-RBI triple in the fourth inning was undoubtedly the best hit of the game for the Clippers. He drove a pitch down the line and into the right field corner to bring home Broadway and Harper. Later, he struck out swinging on two consecutive at-bats, with the second one coming with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth. Dorta also committed an error in the seventh inning. He finished the day 1 for 3 at the plate.

- Chris Booker pitched one inning and did not have the kind of performance we have become accustomed to seeing from him. The game became tied 4-4 after the second pitch he threw was driven over the right field wall. He notched a strikeout for the second out of the inning on what looked like a vicious slider. With two outs and a man on second, the Bulls' Chris Richard hit a grounder to first, Larry Broadway flipped the ball to Booker, and it appeared that the Clippers were out of the inning. However, the umpire called Richard safe, much to the dismay of Clippers manager John Stearns. Durham scored on the controversial play, and Booker was charged with the loss after the Clippers failed to produce a run in the bottom of the inning. 

- Larry Broadway continued to work his way out of his early-season slump, raising his batting average 67 points in the last two games. His best at-bat came in the fourth inning. He got ahead in the count and lined a pitch down the right field line for a double. He later scored. On the flip side, his worst at-bat came in the first inning when he hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Broadway struck out looking in the fifth. The Bulls intentionally walked him in the eighth inning. He also had a brilliant day on defense. Broadway saved several potentially errant throws at first base.

- Tony Batista collected a hit for the third straight game. His RBI single on a 1-2 pitch put the Clippers in the run column first. In the third inning, Batista pushed the count to 3-2 before striking out swinging. He also struck out in the fifth after the umpire said he went around on a check swing. Batista had trouble timing up Bulls' reliever Chad Orvella in the eighth. He fouled off two pitches before eventually hitting a soft popup to first. He again was patient at the plate in the ninth inning, getting a full count, but he hit a slow dribbler to short to end the game.

- Chris Schroder relieved Hanrahan in the seventh inning and gave up only two hits in 1 2/3 innings. He threw 17 of his 26 pitches for strikes. It was his fourth straight appearance without allowing an earned run. Yet, he had his work cut out for him when he entered the game and could not get out of the seventh completely unscathed. Neither of the runs that scored in the seventh was charged to him. His fastball approached 90 MPH. Schroder was a little bit erratic at times. He threw one wild pitch and threw another pitch in the dirt, but neither pitch affected the game's outcome.

- Darnell McDonald was 1 for 4 with a walk. His one hit came on a double down the right field line to lead off the eighth inning. He eventually scored on a wild pitch to put the Clippers up 4-3. In the first inning, he struck out swinging with two men on base. In the third, he fouled off a couple of pitches before popping up to the third baseman. In the fifth, he hit a hard grounder that was snagged by the pitcher. Although he was thrown out at first, it was enough to advance the runner. 

- Greg Thissen made his first start at third base and showed tremendous patience at the plate. He almost had a shot down the third base line in his first at-bat, but it was just foul. He eventually walked. Thissen flied to right field in his second at-bat. In the sixth inning, he pushed the count to 3-2 before flying out to center. He then collected his second walk and loaded the bases in the eighth inning after an impressive at-bat. He finished the day 0 for 2.

- Brandon Harper made good contact on the ball most of the day, but he could not seem to muster a base hit. In his first at-bat, he flied out to left field. The Bulls' shortstop had a tough time handling Harper's grounder in the fourth inning, and he reached on an error. Harper scored later in the inning. In the sixth, Harper struggled to find his rhythm and struck out on three pitches. During his last at-bat in the eighth, Harper again made good contact on a hard grounder to short. The scorekeeper ruled it a fielder's choice despite the runner being safe at second.

- Abraham Nunez did not have a good day on the stat sheet, but he was able to positively affect the game in the fourth inning. With the Clippers playing a little "small ball," Nunez laid a textbook sacrifice bunt down the third base line to advance the runners. Both runners eventually scored. He struck out swinging in the second and eighth innings. The latter at-bat occurred with the bases loaded, and Nunez chased a 0-2 breaking ball. Nunez also struck out in the sixth inning after pushing the count to 3-2. Nunez also committed an error in right field during the seventh inning that resulted in a run.

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