Lavarnway puts Clippers a win from IL crown

Indians catching farmhand belts two long balls, drives in six runs

Ryan Lavarnway has recorded three two-homer games since July, one of which was in the Majors. (Jay Gehres/Columbus Clippers)

By Andrew Battifarano / | September 11, 2019 10:45 PM

Ryan Lavarnway's tenure with Triple-A Columbus only encompasses a handful of games, but his impact has been enormous. 

The Indians catcher blasted two homers and tied a career high with six RBIs on Wednesday to power the Clippers to a 7-4 win at Huntington Park for a 2-0 series lead over the Bulls in the best-of-5 Governors' Cup Finals.

Video: Columbus' Lavarnway hits slam

Lavarnway, who also played for the Yankees and Reds organizations this season, joined Columbus on Aug. 30 and collected four hits across 11 at-bats in the final four regular-season contests. He played in two of the four semifinals games against Gwinnett, finishing with a hit and an RBI in the series. The Yale product said playing in Columbus as a visitor has always been a treat, and his numbers agree. In 2018, the California native went 11-for-35 with three homers at Huntington Park. In a smaller sample size as a road player this year, he collected four hits -- three long balls -- and five RBIs in eight at-bats. 

"It's been an absolutely crazy year for me with changing teams as many times as I did," Lavarnway said. "I've always liked hitting in this ballpark here, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to call this my home team even if it's just briefly. ... It's been tough to find the consistency. Having four different hitting coaches, four different managers. You just go out, do the best you can and you enjoy playing baseball."

Gameday box score

He wasted no time with the bases loaded in the first inning Wednesday. On the sixth pitch from Josh Fleming (0-1), the 32-year-old cranked one over the fence in right-center field for a grand slam.

In the fifth with Mark Mathias on base, Lavarnway went to right-center again off the southpaw for his second tater of the game. That tied the veteran backstop's career high in RBIs, also accomplished in the Majors this season when he blasted two dingers for the Reds on July 19. In the Minors, he last posted a two-homer, six-RBI game on July 16, 2009 with Class A Greenville. He also went yard twice on June 20, 2016 for Double-A New Hampshire.

"I don't think I've had a two-homer game since 2011 and now I've had three since the All-Star break," Lavarnway said, leaving out his Eastern League good fortune. "Hopefully that's a good sign for me personally swinging the bat. I've been trying to make some adjustments and hopefully they stick."

Bradley Zimmer chipped in two hits and a run while Mathias scored twice for Columbus.

On the mound, third-ranked Indians prospect Logan Allen (1-0) was strong for six innings, yielding a run on four hits and two walks while fanning six. He's won his last three starts, including two outings in the International League playoffs. 

Complete playoff coverage

"Nothing like catching a guy for the first time in the Championship Series," Lavarnway said. "But he's got good stuff. He had the command later in the game that he didn't have early in the game, but he had good enough stuff to get away with it. I think there were a little bit of shadows early in the game and he got away with pure stuff. And then later in the game, he was commanding it more and it was just dominant."

Fleming allowed seven runs -- six earned -- on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts for the Bulls. 

Game 3 will take place Friday in Durham.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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