Right-hander Tyler Clippard remembered an at-bat like the 14-pitch marathon he endured versus former Nationals infielder Emilio Bonifacio on Friday night. It wasn’t last year or when he was starter with the Yankees in 2007.
It was this season: the second game at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs.
In the eighth inning on April 7, Clippard squared off against outfielder Reed Johnson. The 11-pitch battle ended with a foul tip strikeout to end the frame.
On Friday, also in the eighth inning, Bonifacio locked in against Clippard and battled to an amazing 14 pitches before inducing a walk. That put men on first and second with two outs for dangerous third baseman Hanley Ramirez.
Even after that 14-pitch give-and-take, which included six foul tips in a full count, Clippard was able to fire a pair of 94 mph fastballs that struck out Ramirez and preserved the 1-0 lead. The Nationals eventually won the game 2-0.
But manager Davey Johnson was in awe of the epic Clippard vs. Bonifacio fight.
“That was a tremendous battle there,” Johnson said. “I got to hand it to Bonifacio. The last person I wanted to see with two guys on was Ramirez. He hit some good changeups and some good fastballs. He is a good player.”
Clippard said that long battle with Bonifacio and strikeout of Ramirez got him charged up as he raced off the mound. It would have been very easy to have surrendered to Ramirez after having to throw so many pitches against Bonifacio. But Clippard would not let it happen.
“It was a great feeling,” Clippard said. “I was working my butt off trying to get out of the inning and making the pitches I wanted to make. To battle back (after the walk) and get that strikeout, I was pretty fired up.”