The Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, earned their second consecutive Triple-A Championship as they defeated the Omaha Storm Chasers 8-3.
The game started out so well for Omaha against Clippers starter Joe Martinez. They scored three runs on three hits in the top of the first inning. Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run triple and John Whittleman drove him in with a single. It was Whittleman’s first start in the playoffs and second start in Triple-A. Whittleman spent most of the season with High-A Wilmington and for me, it was cool to see him playing on live TV.
Those three runs were all the Storm Chasers offense could muster against Martinez, and then Chen Lee. Martinez gave up just three hits after the first inning. He wasn’t sharp, or completely dominant (like he was against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs), but he was effective.
Columbus went down quickly and quietly in the bottom of the first inning against Omaha starter Sean O’Sullivan. However the Clippers offense busted out in the second inning. The hot-hitting Chad Huffman collected a one-out single. Last year’s MVP Jerad Head walked. O’Sullivan got Juan Diaz (who spent most of the season with Double-A Akron) to fly out for the second out. Just when it looked like O’Sullivan might escape the jam, Luke Carlin delivered the big blow, a mammoth homerun down the right field line to tie the game at 3-3.
The offensive explosion continued in the 3rd inning as the Clippers scored three more runs, capped by Beau Mills‘ two-run single (Mills is the son of Houston Astros manager Brad Mills and he spent most of the season in Akron).
O’Sullivan lasted just three innings, as he allowed six runs on six hits. Willy Lebron followed and allowed a run in the 4th inning, but settled down to hold Columbus scoreless over the next two. Brandon Sisk pitched a scoreless 8th inning before Kelvin Herrera entered in the 9th inning. Mills greeted him by hitting a solo homerun that gave Columbus the 8-3 lead. Herrera settled down to retire the next three hitters.
Omaha’s offense didn’t fare any better once Martinez left the game. Chen Lee entered and pitched two scoreless innings of relief to close out the Clippers’ win. Their celebration was a bit subdued.
Martinez was named the game’s MVP and like he said during his postgame interview, the award could have went to anyone.
*Following the loss, the big league KC Royals added Vin Mazzaro, O’Sullivan, Jarrod Dyson, Lorenzo Cain, Manny Pina, and Herrera. Herrera is not on the 40-man roster, so a move will need to be made to make his promotion official. It was a great season for the Storm Chasers and it’s only fitting that these six should receive the promotion.
**In one game, it is hard to tell how much the Storm Chasers missed slugging first baseman Clint Robinson. I noticed in the PCL clincher that Whittleman ran for Robinson late in the game, but I didn’t think much of it. Robinson has a sports hernia and needs surgery. He was shut down and also will not play in the Arizona Fall League. He is expected to be ready for spring training.