Indianapolis Indians 2, Charlotte Knights 1
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The Indianapolis Indians again had their offense all but turned off in the last half of the game, but tonight the Tribe pitchers also shut down the Knights’ bats, as the Indians took the win at Knight Stadium in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC.
Starter Garrett Olson (photo) earned his 4th win, pushing his record to 4-0. He began the game with a scoreless bottom of the 1st, allowing just a walk to former Indy Indian/Pirate RF Lastings Milledge. Then he gave up a hit in the 2nd — but the hit was a solo home run to CF Jordan Danks, who had also homered in his last at-bat last night.
The Indians also had a base runner in each of the first two innings — a single by LF John Bowker in the 1st and one by 3B Andy Marte in the 2nd of Charlotte starter (and former Indian) Doug Davis. The Tribe answered the run by the Knights with a 3-run rally in the top of the 3rd. With one out, SS Pedro Ciriaco singled up the middle. 2B Josh Harrison followed with a double down the left field line and into the corner. Ciriaco rounded second and headed into third base standing up, as the throw from Knights’ LF Tyler Kuhn came in to third. The ball beat Ciriaco easily, and 3B Gookie Dawkins made the easy tag on Ciriaco’s shoulder — but the ball popped out of Dawkins’ glove, and Ciriaco was given a lucky break. Ciriaco and the Tribe got another break when Davis threw a wild pitch all the way to the backstop, allowing Ciriaco to score from third to tie the game. Harrison also moved to third base on the wild pitch, and he scored when the Indians caught another break. Bowker grounded sharply to first, where 1B Dallas McPherson went to his right to make a diving stop to keep the ball from slipping into right field. McPherson hopped up and made a feint to the plate, as Harrison raced home from third. Then McPherson decided to take the “easy” out at first. That made him have to reverse direction and make a dive to his left to reach the bag. He was late, though, and Bowker got there first for the RBI single that gave the Indians a 2-1 lead. C Ryan Doumit, still on his rehab assignment, worked a walk, but Davis left both Davis and Bowker on base when he struck out 1B Matt Hague and Marte to end the inning.
That was all the scoring there was in the game. Olson worked around runners on base in each of the next three innings, but not because of hits. He gave up a walk in the 3rd, and hit Danks with a pitch in the 4th. Both of those runners stole second base, but both were still left stranded. Olson walked 2B Andy Garcia in the 5th, but he was erased when Kuhn lined out to Hague, who took two steps to touch the bag and double off Garcia.
Olson got into a jam when the Knights threatened in the 6th. He gave up a lead-off walk to SS Eduardo Escobar, who then stole second base. Milledge beat out a bunt for a single, moving Escobar to third, and Milledge also stole second base, to give Charlotte two runners in scoring position. Olson struck out McPherson for the first out of the inning, before being relieved by Jared Hughes. Hughes struck out C Josh Phegley, then intentionally walked Danks to load the bases. He ended the inning by striking out former Indy Indian 3B Gookie Dawkins, leaving all three Knights standing on base. In an interview after the game, Hughes, whose parents were in the stands for this game, said that coming into the game with two runners in scoring position and a one-run lead had him excited and pumped. “I knew that the biggest thing was to keep the ball in the infield, so I attacked the bottom of the zone and was able to get ahead and put them away. There’s always an adrenaline rush when you’re coming out of that bullpen no matter what the score. The closer the score, I guess there’s a little bit more, but I’m always really amped up. It’s part of my game.”
Hughes went on to retire the side in the 7th, then began the 8th with an out and another single by Milledge. He was relieved by Justin Thomas, who faced just one batter. McPherson grounded deep into the hole at short. Ciriaco went far to his right to try for the ball, which glanced off his glove and into left field. It was ruled an error (which was probably unfair to Ciriaco, since he’d had to go deep into the hole to even get close to the ball), and Charlotte had runners on first and second. That was the only batter Thomas faced. Tim Wood came in from the bullpen to finish the inning. He first picked McPherson off first base, then got a fly out to end the frame.
After scoring in the 3rd inning, the Indians posted only one more hit and had only one more base runner over the remaining 6 innings of the game. They went down in order in the 4th and 5th inning. Hague doubled with one out in the 6th, but two strikeouts left him standing there on second base. The Tribe went down in order for the rest of the game — a total of 11 batters retired in order.
Wood remained in the game for the 9th inning. He gave the Charlotte fans a glimmer of hope when he gave up a 2-out single to Garcia on a grounder that tipped off the diving Harrison’s glove and into right-center field. The hope died quickly, when a grounder forced out Garcia at second base to end the game.
The win, combined with a loss by the Louisville Bats, puts the Indians into a tie with the Bats for 2nd place in the International League West Division. Both teams have a 55-52 record, and both are 10.5 games behind first-place Columbus. They are also tied for 4th place in the wild-card standings, 4.5 games behind wild-card leader Pawtucket.
The Indians have one more game against Charlotte, then move on to Gwinnett for a 4-game series.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: John Bowker’s two singles, one of which drove in the Tribe’s go-ahead run in the 3rd inning.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Bowker had a great 3rd inning. In the bottom of the frame, Bowker made two over-the-shoulder catches on long fly balls, one off the bat of Tyler Kuhn and one by Lastings Milledge.
Inf Shelby Ford (photo), who played with the Indians in the end of May and into June, was released by the Pirates today. Ford had injured his elbow and has been on the DL. He’s been in Bradenton, but has not been able to play or practice. I’d heard from one source (as yet unconfirmed) that there was debate as to whether or not he was going to need Tommy John surgery.
Don’t expect Ryan Doumit to be with the Indians for much longer — probably not past the weekend. He is scheduled to take the DH duties tomorrow, then catch again on Saturday and Sunday. If he’s still doing ok after back-to-back nights catching, then he’ll probably ready to return to the Pirates.
Rehabbing pitcher Ross Ohlendorf is scheduled to make a AAA rehab start tomorrow.
(photos by Nancy)