Indianapolis Indians 5, Louisville Bats 3[ box ]
Tribe reliever Steven Jackson got in on both sides of the action in the Indians’ win over the Louisville Bats at Louisville Slugger Field on this next-to-last day of the International League season. The righty pitched 2 innings of relief and earned the win for the Indians, and in a rare plate appearance for a relief pitcher, Jackson’s RBI single drove in a tie-breaking run.
The Indians jumped onto the scoreboard first. In the top of the 2nd, 1B Matt Hague led off with a single that hopped over the head of the Bats’ 3B Mike Costanzo and down the left field line. RF Miles Durham was hit by a pitch, and both Hague and Durham scored on C Wyatt Toregas’ second 2-RBI double in two days.
With starter Aaron Thompson on the mound for the Tribe, the Bats responded with a run in the bottom of the frame. C Yasmani Grandal began with a double down the left field line, and he moved to third on Costanzo’s single into right. Bats’ starter Daryl Thompson lifted a sacrifice fly into center, plating Grandal to cut the Indians’ lead in half, 2-1. The Bats kept coming in the bottom of the 3rd, scoring on three singles, by RF Denis Phipps, LF Danny Dorn, and the RBI single by Grandal. Costanzo followed with a walk to load the bases with two outs, but Aaron Thompson got out of the jam by getting 2B Jose Castro to ground out.
With the score tied at 2-2, the Tribe went down in order in the top of the 4th. Aaron Thompson got the first two outs in the bottom of the inning, then walked two batters. By that time he had already thrown 71 pitches (42 strikes) and had allowed 7 hits and 3 walks. He was relieved by Jackson, who ended the 4th with a grounder for a force out at second.
CF Gorkys Hernandez got the 5th inning rally started with a double grounded into left field. That brought up Jackson, who had one previous hit this season. Jackson doubled his hit total with a single up the middle, and the speedy Hernandez scored from second base. 2B Jordy Mercer was hit by a pitch,then SS Brian Bocock looped a single into left to load the bases with one out. Rehabbing LF Ryan Ludwick gave the Indians some insurance with a single through to left field, driving in both Jackson and Mercer, who motored around from second base. Bats’ starter Daryl Thompson headed for the showers, and reliever Brandon Hynick retired the next two Indians to end the inning, with the Indians ahead, 5-2.
Jackson pitched a scoreless bottom of the 5th, and got the first two outs in the bottom of the 6th before getting into trouble. SS Kristopher Negron hit a 2-out single, beating out the throw to 1st after Tribe 3B Pedro Alvarez made a great stop to keep the ball from going into the outfield. Negron stole second, then advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Jackson walked Phipps, and that was all for him. Justin Thomas came on in relief, but he gave up an RBI single up the middle to 1B Neftali Soto, which let Negron score easily. Thomas ended the inning by striking out Dorn.
The Tribe batters could not scratch out a hit over the 6th and 7th innings, though Hernandez worked a walk in the 6th and Ludwick also walked in the 7th. They threatened mildly in the 8th, when Toregas reached on fielding error by former Bradenton Marauder and Altoona Curve (2010) 2B James Skelton. Hernandez beat out an infield single to put two Tribe runners on base with two outs, but pinch-hitter Andy Marte struck out to end that threat. The Indians again put two runners on in the top of the 9th, when Mercer dropped down a bunt for a single and Ludwick walked. The inning ended when Hague bounced into a double play.
After Thomas ended the Bats’ half of the 6th with a strike out, he went on to retire the Bats in order in the 7th, including two more strikeouts. Evan Meek, on a rehab assignment from the Pirates, pitched his scheduled inning of work in the 8th, and he also retired the side in order, with one strikeout.
Aaron Heilman earned his first Save for the Indians with a scoreless 9th, but not without adding a little drama. He gave up a lead-off single to Phipps, then got two fly outs. Grandal walked, putting the tying runs on base. The winning run, Costanzo, stepped up to the plate and launched a 2-2 pitch for a towering fly ball to right field. But as the entire crowd held its breath, the wind blowing in from right, picking up in anticipation of a storm, held up the ball just enough. Instead of sailing over the fence for a walk-off win for the Bats, the ball dropped into the mitt of RF Miles Durham to end the game with a win for the Indians.
The final game of the Indians’ season will be played on Monday afternoon in Louisville. Their season series is tied at 10-10.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Steven Jackson’s go-ahead RBI single in the 5th, only his second hit of the year. That total equals the total number of hits he’s had over the past four seasons. “It was a pretty memorable experience,” grinned Jackson in the post-game interview. “I’ll take the ball home with me. But my catcher Wyatt [Toregas] came up with a couple of big RBI to tie the game and put us right where we needed to be.” Jackson is referring to Wyatt Toregas’s second 2-RBI double in two days. He’d had only 5 hits with one double prior to yesterday, and in these two games, he’s doubled his RBI total for the season.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The final catch of the game, aided by the wind, by Miles Durham to preserve the win for the Indians.
For the 7th time this season, SS Pedro (“the Yo-Yo”) Ciriaco was called up to the Pirates. He got into the game as a pinch-hitter in the 7th inning, but struck out.
(photos by Nancy)