Columbus Notes For May 6th

COLUMBUS, OH - Despite getting off to a slow start at the plate, the Columbus Clippers got an outstanding performance from starting pitcher Felix Diaz, who held the Toledo bats in check all afternoon. Diaz combined with three relief pitchers to shutout Toledo while giving up only two hits.

Clippers' Batting Order: DH Bernie Castro, CF Brandon Watson, LF Darnell McDonald, 3B Tony Batista, RF Abraham Nunez, 1B Robin Jennings, 2B D'Angelo Jimenez, C John Suomi, SS Manny Alexander

Pinch Hitter: Christian Guerrero

Starting Pitcher: Felix Diaz

Relievers: Arnie Munoz, Chris Schroder, Chris Booker

The Columbus Clippers moved within one game of .500 after a brilliant performance from their pitching staff guided a 3-0 victory over league foe Toledo. Starter Felix Diaz was dominating on the mound and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Diaz steamrolled through the first four innings, then got help from his defense in the fifth. After a leadoff walk to Toledo's Jack Hannahan, third baseman Tony Batista made a great snag in the field and turned the 5-4-3 double play. After another walk and stolen base by David Espinosa, Diaz struck out the next batter killing the rally. After giving up his first base hit in the sixth inning, Diaz was pulled for reliever Arnie Munoz. Munoz got two quick outs retiring the side unharmed. Chris Schroder and Chris Booker came in from the bullpen in the final three innings to close the door and secure the victory.

Through the first four innings, the Clippers' bats were silent. When they were able to get men on base, the Clippers couldn't get a clutch hit. In the fifth inning, the Clippers broke the scoreless tie despite some controversy. The first two batters reached base before John Suomi flied out to left field. With runners at first and second, Manny Alexander chopped a ground ball to second base, but D'Angelo Jimenez ran into second baseman Henry Mateo in the base path, causing Mateo to bobble the ball. Jimenez and Alexander were called safe on the base paths, and Jennings scored from second. After minutes of discussion, the umpires wiped away the run and called Jimenez out for runner interference. After a walk to Bernie Castro to load the bases with just one out, Toledo started Zach Miner walked Brandon Watson bringing in the first run of the game. With the bases still loaded, Darnell McDonald hit a roller down the third base line, but third baseman Hannahan could not make a play on the ball in time allowing Alexander to score from third. The Clippers took a 2-0 lead into the seventh, until McDonald drove in another run on a sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Clippers an insurance run and a 3-0 lead.

Key Pitchers:

Felix Diaz was marvelous on the mound, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He worked through a scoreless 5 1/3 innings giving up just one hit. He walked three batters while striking out four. Diaz looked in control the entire afternoon, and when he needed support, he found it in his defense. In the fifth inning, Diaz showed his first signs of trouble after a lead-off walk, his first of the game. A great defensive play by third baseman Tony Batista killed the rally when he started a 5-4-3 double play. After another walk and a stolen base, the Mud Hens put their first runner in scoring position. Diaz regrouped and struck out the next batter. In the sixth inning, Diaz walked a batter and gave up his first hit, but reliever Munoz induced two quick outs to retire the side and keep the shutout intact. Diaz improved his record to 2-2 has provided a spark to the starting rotation.

Arnie Munoz only pitched 2/3 of an inning, but his relief in the sixth inning proved vital in the victory. With one out and Toledo threatening with men at first and third, Munoz got Timo Perez to fly out to second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez. He then struck out Ryan Rayburn ending the threat. He walked the only batter he saw in the seventh inning bringing Schroder to clean up.

Chris Schroder made a strong appearance, allowing just one hit and tallying two strikeouts in 2 innings pitched. A lead-off walk to the Sardinha in the eighth gave Toledo some hope, but Schroder induced a 6-4-3 double play emptying the bases. Schroder has not allowed an earned run this season in 16 innings and 11 appearances.

Chris Booker picked up his ninth save of the season, closing the door on the Mud Hens and securing the shutout in the ninth inning. Booker worked quickly through the Toledo lineup, inducing two fly outs to left fielder Darnell McDonald, before fanning Chris Maples to end the game.

Key Hitters:

Darnell McDonald continued his hot streak from the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. McDonald has now hit two RBIs in five straight games. In the first inning, McDonald nailed a shot that reached the gap in right center for a triple. He was later stranded at third base following Batista's fly out to retire the side. In the fourth, McDonald went down looking at strike three on an outside breaking ball from Zach Miner. He redeemed himself the next inning, hitting an RBI single that gave the Clippers a 2-0 lead. In his last at-bat, McDonald hit a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing in Suomi from third base and giving the Clippers a 3-0 cushion. Following the great performance on Sunday, McDonald brought his average up to .326.

Brandon Watson, usually at the bottom of the lineup card, went 1-for-2 in the two spot. Following his groundout in the first inning, Watson singled into left and stole second base with one out, but could not be drove in. Watson provided the first run of the game in the fifth inning, when his bases loaded walk brought in Jennings.

Tony Batista had been hot through the month of April, but has cooled off in the first week of May. Batista went 0-for-4 and left seven base runners stranded. Batista had great chances all day to drive in runs, but couldn't find the holes in the infield. His first opportunity came in the first inning, following a triple by McDonald. With two outs, Batista flied out to Chris Maples at first base ending the threat. In the fourth, another chance to drive in a run passed by. With one out and Watson at second base, Batista grounded out to Ramon Santiago at shortstop, not allowing the runner to advance. His best opportunity came in the fifth inning with the bases loaded. After the Clippers drove in two runs earlier in the inning, Batista stepped to the plate looking for some insurance. Batista popped out to the first baseman, once again ending the side. His final at-bat summed up his day, as he flied out to the third baseman stranding two more base runners.

Bernie Castro could not find his stroke at the plate, going 0-for-2 with two groundouts. Although he did not boost his batting average, his sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning later provided an insurance run. With runners on first and second base and no outs, Castro laid down a sacrifice bunt moving both runners into scoring position. Two batters later, McDonald hit a sacrifice fly, allowing the runner from third to score.

Robin Jennings continued his struggle at the plate, but provided a great glove behind Diaz. In four plate appearances, Jennings went 0-for-4 making solid contact each at-bat. In the fifth inning, he reached on an error by the Toledo first baseman and later scored on the bases loaded walk. Although he couldn't provide offense, Jennings made great defensive stops in the field. The first batter of the game, Ramon Santiago, ripped a hard grounder down the first base line off Jennings' wrist, his second error of the season. Jennings revenged himself on the next batter, fighting the sun to make the catch in foul grounds. In the third, Jennings made another great catch in foul grounds then fielded a grounder cleanly for the second out. In the fourth, Jennings showed his versatility ranging left to snag a liner off the bat of Timo Perez.

D'Angelo Jimenez appeared in his fourth game with the Clippers, and was very patient from the plate. Although he went 0-for-2, he drew two walks. Jimenez was responsible for runner interference in the fifth inning when he ran into the Toledo second baseman charging to make a play. He was called out and the run was removed from the scoreboard. Jimenez is now batting .333 is his early stint in Columbus.

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