Phillips, Smith face off in Triple-A

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Demopolis’s two best and brightest baseball stars homered at the same field in the same series last weekend, as Andy Phillips’s Columbus Clippers and Jason Smith’s Toledo Mud Hens squared off in a two-game set leading up to the Triple-A All-Star break.

The July 9 contest represented Smith’s first game back with the Mud Hens since being designated for assignment by the Detroit Tigers, with whom Smith has spent most of the season. The move marks the second time this season Smith, who has struggled to find consistent playing time for the Tigers and has batted .190 on the season, has been re-assigned.

But Smith, a 1995 graduate of Demopolis High, found some immediate success on his July 9 return to Toledo. He connected for his first home run of the season, drew a walk, and scored a pair of runs as the Mud Hens continued to get the better of the Clippers with a 9-3 win.

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On Sunday it Phillips’s turn to go deep. After going 1-5 with a double and a run scored the night before, Phillips drove in both Columbus runs with a two-run home run, his 15th of the season for the Clippers, on his way to a 2-4, two RBI evening. It would not be nearly enough for the Clippers, however, as the Mud Hens took another victory 6-2. The Mud Hens took a six-game lead over third-place Columbus in the International League’s West Division despite Smith’s 0-3 night.

Phillips’s July 10 performance continued his strong season-long play for Columbus. Although his batting average has dipped a bit in recent weeks, Phillips has continued to post better power numbers than nearly all other players in Triple-A. Entering weekend play, amongst all players with less than 50 appearances at the triple-A level, Phillips ranked second in home runs and was one of only five players to have already totaled more than 35 RBIs. On the season, Phillips now has 15 HRs, 41 RBIs, a .311 average, and has scored 42 runs.

His average remains high despite a tough recent series against the Norfolk Tides. In three games Phillips went 0-4 with a walk and run scored; 1-4; and 1-5 with a triple, RBI, and two runs scored.