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Clippers close opening homestand with loss

Toledo Mud Hens pitcher Armando Galarraga silenced the bats of the Columbus Clippers in a 6-3 victory Thursday at Huntington Park.

In the final game of the season-opening home stand, the Clippers fell to a division-leading 5-3 record.

Galarraga came into the game with a 1.80 ERA. He pitched 6 1/3 innings for the Mud Hens on Thursday, allowing five hits and three runs while striking out six hitters. 

Galarraga started off the season with the Mud Hens after spending the majority of the last two seasons pitching for the Detroit Tigers. He had a promising year for the Tigers in 2008 with a 13-7 record and a 3.73 ERA, but his production slipped in 2009 with a 6-10 record and a 5.64 ERA.

The Clippers came into the game with a league-leading .326 batting average, and 53 runs in just seven games.

However, the Clippers didn’t have a hit until the fifth inning against Galarraga. 

“He had command of the outside corner with his fastball, and his slider was pretty good. He made very few mistakes with it over the plate,” Clippers designated hitter Shelley Duncan said.

Jeanmar Gomez, last year’s Most Valuable Pitcher in the Eastern League for Class AA Akron, was the starting pitcher for the Clippers. 

In Gomez’s first start of the season, he pitched five innings in a loss against the Indianapolis Indians allowing three runs on four hits, but didn’t record a loss.
Gomez looked strong early, allowing one hit through the first three innings. 

Gomez had to work his way out of trouble in the fourth inning. Brent Dlugach hit an infield single, and Brennan Boesch reached base on an error by Clippers first baseman Wes Hodges to lead off the inning for the Mud Hens. An RBI single by Ryan Strieby scored the first run of the game for the Mud Hens. A single by Jeff Larish loaded up the bases with no outs. Gomez forced Jeff Frazier into a double play, and then struck out Casper Wells to limit the Mud Hens to one run in the inning. 

In the top of the fifth inning, Gomez let up four consecutive hits including a home run off the scoreboard in right field by Boesch, giving the Mud Hens a 5-0 lead. 

The Clippers weren’t ready to give up, as they have come from behind in four of their five victories this year. 

Jose Constanza started off the sixth inning with a double in the gap between left and center field. Shelley Duncan had an RBI single to score Constanza, and continued his 20-game on-base streak. 

The Clippers rallied in the seventh inning to score two more runs on a Chris Gimenez home run, cutting the Mud Hens lead to 5-3. Gimenez was the last batter that Galarraga faced. Josh Rainwater pitched the rest of the seventh inning and the eighth inning, allowing two hits but no runs. 

The Mud Hens scored another run in the ninth off Clippers pitcher Steven Wright to give them a 6-3 lead. 

Jay Sborz came in to close the game for the Mud Hens. The Clippers made it interesting, putting two runners on base in the ninth inning with the tying run at the plate, but a groundout by Jason Donald sealed the deal for the Mud Hens. 

“I think that the first couple games when we did come back, it gave us confidence and let the guys know that we can come back, even if we’re down we just keep chipping away,” Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh said. “I had that feeling today even though we weren’t able to win the ball game. All you can ask of the guys is to play hard and play nine full innings, and in the end we’ll see what the outcome is.” 

Carlos Santana, Clippers catcher and International League Player of the Week, and Trevor Crowe, Clippers outfielder, were given a day of rest and did not play against the Mud Hens.

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