Clay Continues Mastery Over the Curve

Photo courtesy Harrisburg Senators

Photo courtesy Harrisburg Senators

Senators 5, Curve 4

The last time Caleb Clay took the mound was six days ago in Altoona against the same Curve team he would face on Thursday night at Metro Bank Park. At the time, the Senators pitching staff was reeling after getting shelled in their previous series and Clay stepped up as the stopper to throw six scorless innings allowing only four hits while striking out five.

It would be difficult for him to replicate the performance less than a week later against the same lineup. After all, the more familiar hitters are with a pitcher’s repertoire and approach, the greater chance that they’ll have an advantage. That was even the conversation Clay and pitching coach Paul Menhart had prior to the game, “He (Clay) asked if he should change what he did last time.”

But Clay was even more impressive the second time around against the Curve. Yes, he let up a run keyed by a triple off the bat of Jarek Cunningham, but as manager Matt LeCroy said, “That was his one mistake of the game.” Clay threw six effective innings of three-hit ball and surely would have lasted longer if his turn in the batting order hadn’t come up in a key situation as the righthander only tossed 73 pitches on the night. In four of the six innings Clay faced the minimum number of batters and was a picture of efficiency and mastery.

As for the advice Menhart gave Clay when he asked about altering the gameplan, “I was like ‘Did they get you last time?’ You go until they prove they can hit you…They didn’t make an adjustment, so he didn’t need to make an adjustment.”

Player of the Game: Caleb Clay

From the Windup

• On Wednesday morning, Matt Skole underwent successful Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in his non-throwing arm suffered in the second game of the season when Ty Kelly clipped his glove and arm as an errant throw drew Skole up the baseline. Speaking to Nationals’ beat writers in Miami, general manager Mike Rizzo said the first baseman will likely miss four months and may return to Harrisburg by the tail end of the season. Even though it’s his non-throwing arm, I still don’t see how that’s realistic but who am I to question the GM?

• Prior to the game, reliever Rob Wort was placed on the disabled list with arm tenderness. In a corresponding move, Michael Broadway was assigned to Harrisburg out of extended spring training. Broadway was signed by the Nationals organization after he was released by the Padres on March 23rd.

• Nationals’ Field Coordinator Bobby Henley suggested Matt LeCroy manage from the dugout during National League-style games so the skipper has sent Eric Fox out to coach third while he relays signs to him. The move gives LeCroy experience with the setup since it’s what take place at the major league level and it gives him a better opportunity to be hands on when it comes to double switches.

• When Justin Bloxom grounded out to the second baseman in the third inning, he snapped his dubious string of eight straight strikeouts that began with his last two at-bats on Monday night against Reading.

• Josh Johnson returned to the starting lineup after a week of resting and rehabbing a groin issue and went 2 for 4 with two doubles and a run scored.

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