(ed. note - "I reached out to Matt Barker, writer of Bell Ringer: The Columbus Clippers Baseball Blog a few weeks back and asked if he would be interested in contributing weekly/bi-weekly updates from the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate to keep federalbaseball.com readers up-to-date on the goings on down on the farm. The first such report follows...ps -'Nice title, Matt.'")
The first week of the season for the Washington Nationals' Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, is now in the books and it was a rough eight games for the team in pinstripes during their first homestand of the 2008 campaign.
The Clippers picked up just two wins, one coming last Thursday in the season-opener, and the other yesterday, with a six-game losing streak sandwiched between them.
Of Columbus' two wins, manager Tim Foli had good outings from his starting pitchers.
In the final home-opener at Cooper Stadium last Thursday, Clippers’ starting pitcher Mike O’Connor (0-0, 2.70) pitched five innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits with four strikeouts and a pair of walks in a 5-1 win over Charlotte.
Right fielder Kory Casto went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored for the Clippers, while first baseman Larry Broadway collected two hits in four at-bats, scored twice, and added another RBI.
In yesterday's 1-0 win over Durham, Collin Balester (1-1, 2.64) pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with six strikeouts and a walk, before the bullpen took care of the rest to combine for a three-hit shutout.
Balester faced 20 batters and threw just 75 pitches, with 54 of those for strikes. No baserunner made it 180 feet from home against Balester.
The problem is, through eight games the Clippers' team ERA stands at 4.99, good for 13th among the 14 teams in the International League. The Clippers have yielded 72 hits and 41 earned runs in 74.0 innings pitched.
Outside of O'Connor and Balester, no starting pitcher has an earned run average under 7.00 (Garrett Mock, 7.00; Tyler Clippard, 9.00; Jason Stanford, 16.62).
One bright spot in the bullpen is Brian Sanches, who has hurled six innings of scoreless, hitless baseball, with 10 strikeouts, no walks and a hit batsmen.
Offensively, the Clippers check in at 10th in the IL with a team batting average of .236. Through eight games, Columbus' batters have only sent three balls out of the yard, well below the number that league-leading Toledo has with 12.
Left fielder Ryan Langerhans leads the team with a .364 batting average (8-for-22). He is one of three on the Columbus roster with a homer, the other two being Casto and Alex Escobar.
Second baseman Bret Boone, along with Escobar, share the team lead with four RBI.
After an eight-game homestand, Columbus ventures on the road for eight, playing four at Charlotte before taking on Durham for another four-game series.
(ed. note - "For tonight's Nationals vs Braves Game Thread click here and join the conversation...")