Wilson’s 7th inning began with a ground out to second base. The second batter, Canzler, also grounded to second, but Ciriaco’s throw to first base was wide to the infield side and it pulled Hague off the bag. Hague tried to make the swipe tag but missed, and Canzler was on, with the error charged to Ciriaco. Furmaniak was up next, andhe lined into center field, moving Canzler to second. Again the infield came through, with a double play (d’Arnaud to Ciriaco to Hague, 6-4-3) to get Wilson out of the inning even though he’d allowed the one hit. Wilson finished having thrown 98 pitches (59 strikes).
The Indians were busy making up for a lot of scoreless innings over the past two days. They posted a total of 14 hits on their way to 9 runs (5 earned). Matt Hague led the offense by going 4-for-5, and LF John Bowker (photo) added 3 hits. Bowker led off the 2nd inning with a double lined into right field, and Hague followed with a single lined up the middle, moving Bowker to third. 3B Josh Harrison brought in Bowker with a sacrifice fly, for the early 1-0 lead.
Hague opened the 4th inning with a triple past the diving CF Guyer and into the right-center field alley. Harrison singled up the middle, just out of reach of the 2B Furmaniak, driving in Hague. Brown walked for the second time in the game, and RF Andrew Lambo’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. D’Arnaud plated Harrison with a sacrifice fly, and the Indians had a 3-0 lead.
Ciriaco led off the 5th with a double — the Tribe’s third consecutive inning to begin with an extra-base hit. CF Alex Presley grounded to the left of first base, but when 1B Canzler made the scoop, he inexplicably threw to first base, hoping to catch Ciriaco, instead of taking the four steps it would have needed to step on first base. His throw to third was late, and both Ciriaco and Presley were safe. It turned out to not matter, though, as a strikeout and a double play ended the inning without a run scoring.
The Tribe added another run in the 6th. Harrison led off with a single (fourth straight inning to begin with a hit). Brown bounced into a force out at second, replacing Harrison at first base. Back-to-back walks by Lambo and d’Arnaud loaded the bases for DH Corey Wimberly (photo). Wimberly came through with a single through the hole into left field, driving in Brown, and increasing the Indians’ lead to 4-0. The Indians rallied again in the 7th, when Bowker made it five straight innings to begin with a hit — a double to the center field wall. Hague singled to short, where Olmedo bobbled the ball from his mitt, and Bowker had to stay at second base. A grounder force out by Harrison erased Hague as he slid into second base, leaving runners on the corners. After a strikeout, the Bulls’ catcher Chirinos threw to first base for a pickoff attempt, and that had Bowker off and running for the plate as Harrison headed for second base. The throw from first to second was then relayed back to the plate, where Chirinos blocked the plate with his foot, and tagged out Bowker as he tried to score.
The Indians’ big inning was the 8th. With one out, d’Arnaud smacked his second single into center field, then Wimberly reached base when Olmedo bobbled another grounder, then flipped to Furmaniak, who also dropped the ball, so that everyone was safe. Presley snapped a grounder along second base, making Furmaniak dive to keep the ball from going into the outfield. Furmaniak made a lateral throw to second base, but it was not in time, and the bases were loaded. Bowker grounded wide of first base, and as 1B Canzler went to make the scoop, the Bulls’ pitcher J Howell was late making a move to first base. Howell reached first base late, and tried a feet-first slide into the bag, but Bowker was still faster, and he beat out the play, allowing both d’Arnaud and Wimberly to score. Another reliever came in from the bullpen, and Hague greeted him with a huge blast off the top of the left field wall for a 3-run homer. That 5-run inning gave the Indians a 9-0 lead.
Justin Thomas came in to relieve Wilson for the bottom of the 8th. That was when the Bulls’ bats woke up. With one out, Wilson gave up a double to Jennings, and a passed ball moved Jennings to third base. The ever-dangerous Ruggiano also doubled, into the right-center field gap, scoring Jennings. A line out to center let Ruggiano tag up and move to third, and another passed ball let Ruggiano score. 3B Felipe Lopez lined the third double of the inning into center field, and he scored on DH Chris Carter’s single to right field. That brought the score to 9-3, and it was all for Thomas. Blaine Boyer came on to relieve Thomas. Boyer threw two wild pitches, which advanced Carter to third base, but then he struck out Canzler to end the inning.
Boyer got into trouble in the bottom of the 9th. With one out, Chirinos zipped a single just past Ciriaco’s dive, then Olmedo doubled off the left field wall. Jennings took the first pitch he saw over the left field wall, and the Bulls were even closer, 9-6. Boyer walked Ruggiano after the homer, and that was the end of his outing. Tim Wood came in next. The first batter he faced, pinch-hitter Leslie Anderson lifted another long fly ball to center field. Alex Presley had to go all the way to the wall, but made the catch leaning up against the wall. A line out to left field ended the game, with Wood earning his 6th Save.
The Indians finished this road trip with a 4-4 record, giving them an overall 12-23 record. They will be back at Victory Field tomorrow (Friday) to begin a 4-game series against the Columbus Clippers, followed by a 4-game series against the Buffalo Bison (Mets’ affiliate).
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Matt Hague’s (photo) 4-hit performance, capped by a 3-run homer in the 8th. (He didn’t hit the bull on the left field wall, but was just to the right of it, so he didn’t win a steak.)
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Also by Hague, who made a terrific stab of Brandon Guyer’s line drive in the bottom of the 1st. That saved a hit, and then he made it even better by scrambling to first base to double off Justin Ruggiano, who had walked.
(photos by Nancy)