The Columbus Clippers got an outstanding start from Mike Clevinger and hit a pair of two-run homers to blank the Norfolk Tides 5-0 in Game 5 of the International League Semifinals Monday night at Huntington Park. With the loss, Norfolk was eliminated from the postseason, dropping the best-of-five series, 3-2.
Making his second appearance of the series, Norfolk starter Terry Doyle (0-2) took the loss after surrendering five runs over 4.1 innings of work. Doyle, who led Orioles minor leaguers and ranked second in Minor League Baseball with 16 victories this season, struck out two without walking a batter but yielded 10 hits - including four for extra-bases. He allowed a two-run homer to Audy Ciriaco in the fourth inning that gave the Clippers the early lead, and one inning later Erik Gonzalez followed with another two-run blast that put Columbus up, 4-0. Doyle surrendered two more hits in the fifth frame before being lifted for Patrick McCoy, who allowed an inherited runner to score to give the Clippers a 5-0 advantage.
The early offense was more than enough for Clippers starter Mike Clevinger (1-0), who dazzled in his first outing at the Triple-A level. Clevinger, a 24-year-old right-hander who went 9-8 with a 2.73 ERA with Double-A Akron this season, retired the first 14 batters he faced and did not allow a hit over 7.2 innings of work before being pulled after reaching his pitch limit. The 15th-rated prospect in the Cleveland system according to MLB.com, Clevinger walked two and struck out 10 while throwing 65 of his 102 pitches for strikes.
Norfolk's first hit of the contest came in the eighth inning, as Michael Almanzar - the first batter after Clevinger was pulled from the game - greeted reliever Shaun Marcum with a line drive single up the middle. Rey Navarro added a one-out double in the ninth inning, continuing an exceptional series in which he hit .476 (10-21) with a double, home run, two RBI and four runs scored.
Norfolk's bullpen turned in another strong effort, as McCoy, Dana Eveland and Pedro Beato combined to throw 3.2 shutout innings of relief. It capped an exceptional effort by the Tides bullpen in the series, over which Norfolk's relievers posted a 0.66 ERA (2 ER, 27.0 IP).
With the win, Columbus advances to the International League Championship series, where they open the best-of-five series vs. Indianapolis Tuesday night at Huntington Park.
Notes: Columbus offered free admission to the contest and drew an announced crowd of 10,374, a Huntington Park playoff record… Norfolk did not have a starting pitcher complete five innings in the series…Columbus had 23 extra-base hits in the series, while Norfolk registered 10…The Tides dropped to 5-6 all-time in decisive Game 5s…Norfolk hit .209 (9-43) with runners in scoring position during the series…The Tides open their 2016 campaign at home on Thursday, April 7 with a 7:05 contest against the Gwinnett Braves.