The Indianapolis Indians came from behind again tonight, to beat the Charlotte Knights by a score of 5-4 at Victory Field in Indianapolis. ( box ) The win gives the Indians a win of this 4-game series, 3 games to 1, and gives them a 51-49 record at the 100-game point in the season. The game featured the return of two Tribe players, 2B Josh Harrison and SS Pedro Ciriaco, who had been optioned down from the Pirates, and immediately reported to Indianapolis.
Justin Wilson made the start for the Tribe, beginning the game by surrendering a run in the top of the 1st. Back-to-back doubles by Charlotte’s SS Eduardo Escobar and 1B Jim Gallagher drove in the first run of the game. Indians’ LF John Bowker tied the score in the bottom of the frame with his 11th home run of the season, a solo blast over the right field wall.
Wilson retired the side in order in the 2nd inning, but gave up an unearned run in the 3rd. With one out, LF Alejandro De Aza grounded to second, where the ball zipped right through Josh Harrison’s legs and into center field. De Aza stole second base, and scored from second when Gallagher skipped a ball off Ciriaco’s glove for a single, giving Charlotte a 2-1 lead.
The Knights added to their score in the 4th. Wilson gave up a lead-off single to former Pirate and Indian DH Lastings Milledge. Milledge stole second base, and C Josh Phegley, an Indiana native, worked a walk. CF Jordan Danks dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Another former Indy Indian (2005), 3B Gookie Dawkins, drove in Milledge with an RBI grounder to short, then 2B Andrew Garcia plated Phegley with a bloop single into center field. An alert move by Tribe 3B Pedro Alvarez to cover second base and take the throw in from CF Gorkys Hernandez let Alvarez tag out Garcia as he tried to advance to second base on the throw in from the outfield, and that ended the inning.
Wilson was tiring in the heat in the 5th inning — the temperatures reached 100 degrees in Indianapolis today, and had “dropped” to 97 degrees by game time. The 5th inning began with a walk and a single. Wilson got Gallagher to bounce into a 4-6-3 (Harrison to Ciriaco to 1B Matt Hague), then another walk put runners on the corners. By then, Wilson had thrown 96 pitches (58 strikes), and he was relieved by Jose Ascanio. Ascanio finished the inning with one pitch, for a ground out, holding the score at 4-1.
Ascanio went on to pitch another 2.1 innings. He struck out the side (Phegley, Danks, and Dawkins) in the 6th. He gave up a single in the 7th, then put two runners on base with a single and a walk and one out in the top of the 8th. Ascanio was replaced by Justin Thomas. Thomas got the second out with a liner to left field by Danks. Dawkins loaded the bases when he reached on an error when his grounder to third was bobbled by Alvarez. But Thomas got out of the jam with a fly out, leaving all three runners on base.
The Tribe got back into action in the bottom of the 7th. They had managed just two hits since Bowker’s homer in the 1st — a single by Gorkys Hernandez in the 2nd, and another single by C Dusty Brown in the 6th. Brown had also walked in the 2nd, and both Josh Harrison and Pedro Alvarez had walked in the 3rd, but none of them were able to come around to score. After Charlotte starter Joe Bisenius was relieved to begin the bottom of the 7th, Hernandez greeted reliever Miguel Socolovich with a grounder up the middle for a single. Ciricaco reached on a throwing error by 2B Garcia, which turned a potential double play into two Tribe runners on base. Harrison’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Bowker grounded sharply to first base, but the ball skipped off 1B Gallagher’s glove and into short right field, allowing Hernandez to score. With Ciriaco on third base, Socolovich threw a wild pitch. The ball didn’t get far from the plate, but it was far enough for the speedy Ciriaco to race to the plate. C Phegley chased for the ball, but he had to move around the batter Hague. Ciriaco slid in on the infield side of the plate, avoiding the tag, to bring the Indians within one run of the Knights, 4-3. Both of those Tribe runs were unearned.
The Tribe rallied again in the bottom of the 8th. With one out, Brown rocketed a double down the right field line. Corey Wimberley came on to pinch-run for Brown. After a strikeout by pinch-hitter Jordy Mercer, Hernandez lined a single into right field, and Wimberley raced around to score the tying run. Ciriaco followed with a liner into center field on the first pitch he saw, bringing Hernandez in from second base with the go-ahead run.
Justin Thomas came back out to pitch the top of the 9th. he gave up a lead-off single to De Aza, and a sacrifice bunt moved De Aza to second base. But a pair of ground outs ended the game, giving Thomas and the Indians the win.
The Indians begin a 4-game series with the Rochester Red Wings on Friday. The Red Wings lost to the Durham Bulls today, by a score of 18 – 3. The Bulls posted 7 homers in the game. I hope the Red Wings aren’t going to be taking out their frustrations on the Indians.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Clutch singles by Gorkys Hernandez in both the 7th and 8th, and by Pedro Ciriaco in the 8th, which gave the Indians their late-inning runs.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the top of the 7th, Alejandro De Aza lifted a pop fly behind short and drifting towards center field. SS Pedro Ciriaco turned his back to the infield and raced back, making the over-the-shoulder catch for the out.
Inf Josh Rodriguez was sent to Altoona to free up a roster spot. Brian Burres was placed on the Disabled List (again), which also freed up a roster spot. Those two spots went to Pedro Ciriaco and Josh Harrison, who were optioned from the Pirates. Burres’ new trip to the DL is not due to arm or shoulder issues, though they were not specifying exactly what the problem was. He is expected to miss one start.