Clippers Shut Out PawSox Wednesday To Avoid Sweep

Pawtucket Red Sox Press Release

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite a strong start from Justin Haley, the Pawtucket Red Sox dropped the series finale to the Columbus Clippers, 2-0, in their bid for a sweep Wednesday night at Huntington Park.

In a pitchers’ duel, each team finally had their first baserunner of the game reach on a two-out single in the third inning, and Columbus (5-7) scored an unearned run in the sixth to break the scoreless affair. The PawSox (5-6), who actually outhit the Clippers (5-4), were angling for their first sweep in Columbus since June 2013.  Pawtucket did threaten in the ninth inning, placing runners at second and third with nobody out, but the Clippers hung on to salvage the finale.

Haley (L, 0-2) delivered his best start of the season, logging 6.1 innings of two-run work in which he struck out a season-high seven, walked just one and generated 16 swings and misses of his 96 pitches. In his first two starts combined before Wednesday, Haley had walked seven, struck out eight and accumulated just 16 swings and misses. Utilizing an effective elevated fastball, Haley faced one above the minimum through five innings. The big right-hander out of Fresno State struck out the side in order in the fifth and, between the end of the fourth and the start of the sixth innings, fanned five consecutive Clippers.

Pawtucket reliever Ty Buttrey punched out four in 1.2 scoreless and hitless stanzas, upping his season strikeout total to 13 in 5.2 innings across four appearances — the best strikeouts-per-nine ratio among qualifying International League relievers.

PawSox first baseman Sam Travis (2-for-4, 2B) secured his fifth consecutive two-hit game with a ninth-inning double rocketed to straightaway center. Third baseman Jantzen Witte went 2-for-3 with a double out of the No. 9 spot in the order.

Columbus starter Adam Plutko (W, 2-1), however, outdueled Haley with six shutout innings, and veteran right-hander Neil Ramirez (S, 1) danced around danger in the ninth to button up the victory.

Columbus finally broke the deadlock in the bottom of the sixth. No. 9 hitter Mike Papi drilled a one-out comebacker that deflected off of Haley for an infield single. Leadoff man Yandy Diaz then nubbed a slow-roller toward the mound. Haley made a sliding stop to pick it up, but his throw sailed high over first, allowing Papi to advance to third. The next batter, Indians rehabbing shortstop Gio Urshela, lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 1-0 Columbus.

Pawtucket threatened in the seventh when Travis singled and designated hitter Mike Olt walked to start the frame and chase Plutko. But former Red Sox and PawSox reliever Ben Taylor then entered and induced a timely double-play ball and struck out right fielder Jeremy Barfield to preserve the one-run lead.

Columbus then added insurance in the home half of the seventh. Catcher Eric Haase led off with a double and, two batters later, scored on an RBI single from designated hitter Richie Shaffer, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Following the three-game series in Columbus and the first off day of the season Thursday, the PawSox return home to McCoy Stadium to start a three-game series with the Gwinnett Stripers (Atlanta Braves) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Pawtucket left-hander Dedgar Jimenez (1-0, 3.00) is scheduled to oppose Stripers righty Matt Wisler (0-1, 2.25). Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM and 104.7 FM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the pre-game show at 6:35 p.m.

The seven-game homestand runs through April 25 (Wednesday). Good seats are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.