Indianapolis Indians 3, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 2
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SS Chase d’Arnaud’s single lifted into left field in the bottom of the 9th gave the Indians the walk-off win over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs this afternoon at Victory Field.
Ross Ohlendorf was the originally scheduled starter for the Indians today, but plans were changed when the Pirates needed to have Ohlendorf saved for a potential start in Pittsburgh in the next few days. Jose Ascanio was designated to be the starter for a “bullpen” game. Manager Dean Treanor was going to be happy if Ascanio was able to give him four innings of work. Ascanio had better ideas, though. He pitched 6 scoreless innings, and contributed an RBI with a sacrifice fly.
Ascanio buzzed through his six innings, striking out 7 batters. He gave up two hits — a single to SS Freddie Galvis in the 3rd, and a single by former Indy Indian (2005-06) CF Rich Thompson. Thompson, who leads the International League in steals, boosted his total to 39 by stealing second base, but both he and Galvis were left stranded. Ascanio also walked former Indian (2010) Brandon Moss in the 2nd inning, but erased Moss with a double play. Ascanio ended up facing only two batters over the minimum, and needed just 68 pitches (47 strikes).
The Indians got Ascanio one run in the 3rd inning. With one out, LF Alex Presley (or maybe his jersey) was hit by a pitch. D’Arnaud grounded to second base, where Pigs’ 2B Kevin Frandsen took a few awkward steps to touch the bag, then threw oddly across his body, with Presley sliding in underneath him to produce further distraction and disruption. The throw to first base was off just enough to allow the speedy d’Arnaud to reach safely. (If Frandsen had flipped the ball to SS Galvis instead of taking it himself, they might have had the double play.) RF John Bowker, who has had 10 hits over the past 5 games, took a low liner up the middle for a single, moving d’Arnaud to third base. That gave the Indians runners on the corners with 2 outs. 1B Matt Hague stepped up and rapped a high bouncer into right field, allowing d’Arnaud to score easily from third.
With a 1-0 lead, 3B Pedro Alvarez came up and quickly had two strikes against him. Just at that point, the skies opened up and a drenching rain sent the fans heading for cover, and prompted the umpires to call everyone off the field immediately — they did not even try to play through the rain long enough to end the inning. That meant that the grounds crew got the infield tarp down quickly. So, when the rain had stopped and the sun was already back out 25 minutes later, and the tarp was removed, the infield dirt and the mound needed no specific attention from the grounds crew at all. The game was resumed after a 44-minute delay, with an 0-2 count on Alvarez, and Iron Pigs’ starter Dave Bush back on the mound. Bush needed only one more pitch to get Alvarez to ground out to short, ending the inning.
C Dusty Brown began a rally in the 4th with a liner into right field. 2B Pedro Ciriaco followed with his second single of the game, which hit the glove of SS Galvis and dropped to the ground. CF Gorkys Hernandez moved both runners into scoring position with a tapper back to Bush on the mound. That brought up Jose Ascanio, for only his second at-bat of the season (he struck out in his first AB in the 3rd inning). Ascanio hit the ball squarely, for a fly ball to medium-deep center field. Brown tagged up and scored from third, giving Ascanio an RBI, and the Indians a 2-0 lead.
Danny Moskos took over for Ascanio to begin the 7th inning. He retired the Pigs in order in that inning, including two strikeouts. Moskos started the 8th with a walk to former Indy Indian C Erik Kratz and a single by 1B Cody Overbeck. A sacrifice bunt by Galvis was nicely fielded by 3B Alvarez (photos above), pushing Kratz and Overbeck both into scoring position.
Jared Hughes came on in relief of Moskos. Hughes struck out another former Indy Indian, pinch-hitter Tagg Bozied, then battled with Thompson, who worked the count full and fouled off another 4 pitches. Thompson eventually looked at ball four, loading the bases with Pigs. But Hughes calmly went on to strike out Frandsen, ending the inning with the bases still full.
Justin Thomas came out for the top of the 9th, with the Tribe still holding the 2-0 lead. Thomas got one out, then gave up three consecutive singles to load the bases : Moss singled through the infield overshift and into right field, 3B Pete Orr placed a blooper into center field, and Kratz grounded through the left side of the infield. Thomas was replaced by Steven Jackson, who came in on a double switch with 2B Jordy Mercer. Jackson kept the three Iron Pigs standing right where they were with a pop out to Mercer. Then Galvis dropped a single into right field. Bowker came racing in but could not get there and had to play the ball on a bounce. Both Moss and Orr came in to score on the play, and the Iron Pigs had tied up the game, 2-2. A fly out by pinch-hitter Delwyn Young ended the inning.
That took the Tribe into the bottom of the 9th, with yet another former Indian, lefty Juan Perez, on the mound for Lehigh Valley. Perez struck out Hernandez to get started. Mercer, hitting in the 9th spot in the order, lined a single into center field. Presley came up next. He worked the count full, then took ball four to put two Indians on base. Chase d’Arnaud ended the game with his single into left field, allowing Mercer to race around from second base and slide across the plate just ahead of the throw in from LF Domonic Brown, giving the Indians the win.
Steven Jackson was charged with the Blown Save and also earned his third win of the season.
The Toledo Mud Hens beat the Louisville Bats today, 9-2, and the Columbus Clippers lost to the Buffalo Bison 10-2. The Indians and the Bats are tied for second place, 13 games behind the first-place Clippers. In the Wild Card race, the Iron Pigs and the Pawtucket Red Sox are both tied for the lead. The Gwinnett Braves are 3.5 games behind the Iron Pigs and Red Sox, and the Indians and Bats are tied at 6 games behind the leaders.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Chase d’Arnaud’s clutch RBI single in the bottom of the 9th for the RBI win; and Jose Ascanio’s sacrifice fly in the 4th. Prior to today, Ascanio had not taken an at-bat since 2009.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Six scoreless innings and 7 strikeouts by Jose Ascanio; and two key strikeouts by Jared Hughes to escape an 8th inning jam.
Matt Hague’s single in the 3rd was his 151st hit of the season — a new career high for Hague. He hit 150 last year with Altoona. The last time an Indians’ player had more hits than that in a season was in 1999, when DT Cromer hit 166 — the most ever at Victory Field. The Indians’ team record is 236 hits in a season, by Ralph Shinners in 1921 (and that was not even the best in the league that season!). Hague is currently leading the International League in hits, with the second-place hitter, Syracuse’s Chris Marrero 10 hits behind at 141.
Alex Presley still leads the league with a .236 batting average.
Pedro Alvarez went 1-for-4 today, with a single to the base of the wall in center field in the 6th. He also struck out once.
In the middle of Alex Presley’s at-bat in the bottom of the 9th, home plate umpire Craig Barron ejected someone from the Indians’ dugout, presumably for arguing about balls and strikes. It was not a player who was already in the game, but someone who was wearing a black fleece over his uniform, though it was difficult to see exactly — maybe a relief pitcher?
(photos by Nancy)