Indianapolis Indians 3, Louisville Bats 2
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Seven hits, including 4 doubles, from LF Alex Presley and RF John Bowker, plus 10 innings and a throwing error, and the Indians snapped their 5-game losing streak with a win over the Louisville Bats at Victory Field tonight. Presley and Bowker scored all of the Indians’ runs, and they took care of most of the team’s 11 hits. The win puts the Indians back into a tie with the Bats for second place in the International League Western Division. Both teams are 14 games behind first-place Columbus in the division standings, and are tied for third place (6 games back) in the IL Wild Card race.
Both starting pitchers tonight were named Thompson, and neither Thompson was involved in the decision. Indians’ Aaron Thompson made his second start (and third appearance) since joining the Tribe from AA Altoona. He pitched 4 scoreless innings and allowed a hit in each of the first three — a single to Bats’ RF Jeremy Hermida in the 1st, a double to C Devin Mesoraco in the 2nd, and a double to Hermida in the 3rd. He also walked LF David Cook in the 2nd, but all four of those base runners were left stranded. Thompson struck out 4 batters. After retiring the Bats in order in the 4th, he had reached a pitch count of 76 (47 strikes). Since he is still in the process of being stretched out after working out of the bullpen in Altoona, that was as far into the game as Thompson was going to go tonight.
Louisville’s Daryl Thompson pitched 6 innings and allowed one run by the Tribe. He got himself out of two early-inning jams before allowing that run in the 5th. Alex Presley led off the bottom of the 1st with a double into the left-center field gap, and advanced to third on a passed ball. After two outs, Daryl Thompson walked both 1B Matt Hague and 3B Pedro Alvarez to load the bases. He ended the inning with a pop out by SS Jordy Mercer.
Presley led off the 3rd inning with his second double of the game, a liner down the right field line that bounced into and out of the corner. Thompson made up for it minutes later, when he picked Presley off second base. 2B Chase d’Arnaud walked and Hague grounded a single under Bats’ 3B Mike Costanzo’s glove and into left field, but Alvarez’s ground out left those two runners on base.
The Indians were the first onto the scoreboard. With one out in the bottom of the 5th, Presley hit double #3 for the night, this one under 2B Chris Valaika’s dive, off the SS Kristopher Negron’s glove, and into center field. He scored from second when Bowker lined a single into right field.
The Bats answered back right away. Chris Leroux had relieved Aaron Thompson and pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 5th. In the top of the 6th, Leroux got the first two outs, then gave up an infeld single to CF Denis Phipps, on a slow roller to the left side of the infield. It got past Leroux, and Alvarez had trouble with the bare-handed pickup, but even if he’d made the scoop, he would not have had a play at first. Mesoraco followed with a double just barely inside the third base bag and down into the Tribe bullpen for a double, with the speedy Phipps racing around from first base to score the tying run, 1-1.
The Tribe took the lead again in the bottom of the 7th. Presley did not double this time, but instead hit “only” a 2-out single into left-center. D’Arnaud moved Presley to second with a come-backer off reliever Jeremy Horst’s leg that trickled behind the mound, giving the Bats no play on d’Arnaud. Bowker made it three consecutive hits with a looper single into left field. Presley zoomed around third and slid across the plate with time to spare, giving the Indians a 2-1 lead.
Once again, the Bats came back to tie the score in the very next inning. Chris Leroux had allowed one run on 2 hits in his 3 innings of work. He was replaced by Tony Watson to begin the 8th inning. Watson began by giving up a double down the left field line to Valaika, then hit Hermida with a pitch. He got the next two batters out, then 1B Danny Dorn drove a liner into right field. Valaika came in from second base to tie the score, but the throw in from Bowker in right field went to third base, where Alvarez tagged out Hermida as he slid into the bag, cutting short the Bats’ rally.
The Indians went down in order in the bottom of the 8th. Justin Wilson took the mound for the Tribe in the top of the 9th, and got himself into and out of a jam. He walked Costanzo to begin the frame. Cook bunted, intending to sacrifice to move Costanzo to second. Hague charged in and made a quick scoop of the bunt, then whirled and saw that Costanzo was still quite a distance from second base. But Hague was too rushed, and his throw to SS Pedro Ciriaco (who had come into the game in a double-switch) was well wide of second. Costanzo reached third and Cook ended up on second base on the throwing error. Both runners had to stay in place when pinch-hitter Michael Griffin grounded out to first. Wilson struck out SS Negron, then intentionally walked Valaika to load the bases. He left all three runners stranded when he struck out Hermida to end the inning — getting a standing ovation from the crowd for his performance.
Bats’ reliever Nick Christiani also got out of a jam in the bottom of the 9th (though obviously did not get a standing ovation from the crown for it). CF Gorkys Hernandez led off with a grounder through the right side of the infield for a single. Pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco dropped a bunt just a few yards in front of the plate, on the left side of the mound. Christiani missed the pick-up, and Ciriaco was safe at first, while Hernandez moved to second base. Christiani was the only Bats’ pitcher to retire Presley in the game — he got Presley to bounce into a double play, forcing Ciriaco out at third. With Hernandez at third, d’Arnaud lined out to second base, to end the threat and send the game in to extra innings.
Wilson did not give the Bats much of a chance in the top of the 10th. He gave up a lead-off single to Phipps, when d’Arnaud made a diving stop of Phipps’ grounder, but had his throw pull Hague off the bag at first. Wilson solved that problem by getting Mesoraco to ground right to Ciriaco, who took three steps to touch second base before throwing on to first for a double play. A strikeout ended the inning.
Then it was Bowker to the rescue. He led off the bottom of the 10th with a line drive double into the right-center field gap, off the glove of RF Hermida. Hague popped out to Christiani on a bunt attempt. Alvarez was intentionally walked to set up a double play possibility. Pinch-hitter Jeff Clement did just what the Bats had hoped for — grounded back to the mound for what looked like an easy double play. Alvarez was forced out at second, but the relay throw from SS Negron to first bounced in the dirt, then got past 1B Dorn. Bowker, who had been off and running with the swing of the bat, had already rounded third. As the ball skipped into the dirt and towards the Bats’ dugout, Bowker crossed the plate with the winning run — and no chance of the Bats’ answering back on this one.
The 8-game series between the Indians and the Bats finishes with the Bats taking 5 wins and the Indians picking up 3. The season series between the two teams is 10-8 in favor of the Bats. These two teams still have 4 more games to play against one another, over the Labor Day weekend, ending the season.
The Indians’ longest homestand of the season continues with 4 games against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, then a pair of games against the Columbus Clippers.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Four hits by Alex Presley — three doubles and a single. His last 4-hit game was back on June 23rd; and three hits by John Bowker — a double and two RBI singles, and the winning run scored.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: A bases-loaded two-out strikeout by Justin Wilson to get out of the top of the 9th without giving up a run; and a running back-handed amazing catch by Gorkys Hernandez of a line drive off the bat of Devin Mesoraco for the first out in the top of the 4th.
After the game, Tony Watson was recalled to the Pirates. He will take the roster spot of Paul Maholm, who was placed on the Disabled List with shoulder strain.
3B Pedro Alvarez went 0-for-3 with a pair of walks tonight.
Note to the fans down the line: popcorn buckets do not work for catching foul balls. It would look good on a blooper reel, though.
( photos by Nancy)