Columbus Clippers 5, Indianapolis Indians 1
Errors in the field and errors on the base paths made it a tough night for the Indianapolis Indians, as they hosted the Columbus Clippers at Victory Field tonight. This was the first game in a four-game series, and the league-leading Clippers were in control for most of the game.
Justin Wilson started for the Tribe, and was charged with his second loss of the season. Wilson retired the side in the top of the 1st, but got in trouble in the 2nd. With one out, he walked Clippers’ RF Chad Huffman, then gave up a double off the right field wall to DH Russ Canzler. Huffman was held at third base, but he scored easily on the next play, when LF Ryan Spilborghs grounded though a drawn-in infield for a single into right field. Canzler stopped at third on that play, and scored on C Matt Pagnozzi’s sacrifice fly. SS Justin Toole also singled, but Wilson left two runners on base.
Hoping that inning was going to be the exception, Wilson began the 3rd with two outs. But the next three batters all reached base safely. 1B Matt LaPorta lined a single into left-center field, and Huffman walked. Canzler grounded to third base, where Tribe 3B Matt Hague made two errors on one play. He bobbled then dropped the ball behind him. When he picked it up again, Hague was in too much of a hurry. He airmailed the ball way over 1B Jeff Clement’s head and into the front rows of the stands behind the rolled up infield tarp. LaPorta took off from second base, rounded third, and scored. Huffman had already passed second base when the ball went into the stands, so he was awarded third base, and Canzler was awarded second base. Wilson buckled down and struck out Spilborghs to end the inning, but the Clippers had a 3-0 lead.
The Indians also went down in order in the bottom of the 1st inning. Jeff Clement looped a single into short left-center field with one out in the 2nd inning, but DH Nick Evans tapped the first pitch he saw back to the mound, where Columbus starter Corey Kluber snatched it up and fired to second base, starting a 1-6-3 double play.
A base running mistake helped to cut short a Tribe rally in the 3rd. With one out, C Kris Watts lined a single into right field. CF Gorkys Hernandez dropped down a sacrifice bunt, and when Kluber’s throw to first base glanced off 1B LaPorta’s glove and into the visitors’ bullpen, Watts reached third base and Hernandez reached second on the error. Starling Marte, playing left field tonight, struck out on a 2-2 pitch, but the third strike from Kluber was a wild pitch that got away from C Pagnozzi. Marte raced to first, and by the time Pagnozzi chased the ball down and threw to first, the speedy Marte was safe. But LaPorta alertly checked out the other runners. Watts had taken a few steps down the third base line, but when he saw Pagnozzi get to the ball, Watts retreated back to the third base bag. Meanwhile, Hernandez left second base, and got about half way to third. When Pagnozzi threw to first, Hernandez was still standing there in the middle of the base path. He realized his mistake about the time that LaPorta turned to look at the Tribe base runners — and by then he had nowhere to go. He froze for a moment, and it was clear that he had no chance of getting back to third. He moved toward third base, but Watts was already there. LaPorta threw to 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, who might have been a little confused too, because he quickly tagged both Watts and Hernandez, just to be sure he got at least one of them out.
After the third inning, Justin Wilson settled down. He worked around a lead-off double by Pagnozzi in the 4th, leaving the Columbus catcher stranded at third base. He walked LaPorta in the 4th, but retired the next two batters to leave LaPorta on base also. Wilson gave up one hit in the 6th, but that hit was a solo home run to Pagnozzi that sailed over the right field wall. Wilson was done after 6 innings and 103 pitches (59 strikes). He allowed 4 runs (the one in the 3rd inning was unearned) on 6 hits and 3 walks, with 4 strikeouts.
The Tribe got onto the scoreboard in the 5th inning with three consecutive singles. RF Brandon Boggs led off with a loopy hit that fell into right field before the Columbus right fielder and second baseman could get to it. Watts followed with his second hit of the game, on a hit-and-run play that pushed Boggs to third base. Gorkys Hernandez lined his single into center field, driving in Boggs. After a strikeout, Hernandez made his second base running mistake of the game. He was caught taking a little too big of a lead and taking a little too long to dive back to the bag — picked off first base on a throw from Pagnozzi to LaPorta at first. 2B Brian Friday reached base on a grounder to short, when SS Justin Toole’s throw to first pulled LaPorta’s foot off the bag. The Indians’ momentum had been disrupted, though, and a line out ended the inning with Watts and Friday stranded, and no further runs scoring.
The Indians had just two hits over the rest of the game. DH Nick Evans singled in the 6th, and was left on base. Boggs singled again in the 9th, on a close play. He grounded wide of first, and LaPorta was able to make a dive and keep the ball from getting past and into the outfield. But, when he threw from a seated position to reliever Chris Ray covering first, Ray’s foot missed the bag, and Boggs was safe. It was only a brief hope for the Tribe though. Watts grounded right to the first base bag. LaPorta was already standing on the bag when he fielded the ball. It was easy for him to throw to SS Toole covering second base, who tagged out Boggs for the reverse force double play.
Daniel McCutchen pitched the 7th and 8th innings for the Indians. He struck out one batter in each inning. Canzler singled up the middle in the 8th, but was doubled off first on a fly out. Jose Diaz pitched the final inning, giving up the Clippers’ last run. Diaz walked Pagnozzi to begin the inning, and a sacrifice bunt moved Pagnozzi to second. 2B Cord Phelps doubled down the left field line, driving in Pagnozzi from third. A ground out ended the inning.
The Indians totalled 7 hits. Kris Watts and Brandon Boggs had 2 hits each. Jeff Clement, Nick Evans, and Gorkys Hernandez each had one hit, and Hernandez’s double was the only extra-base hit for the Tribe. Starling Marte went 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts. Matt Hague was 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Three singles in a row in the 5th inning, by Brandon Boggs, Kris Watts, and Gorkys Hernandez, accounting for the only Indians’ run.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The double play in the 8th inning. With out out, Russ Canzler hit a long fly ball to the deep part of left-center field, just to the left-field side of the Jackie Robinson “42″. Starling Marte was getting a turn to play left field today — the first time this season he’s been in left field instead of center field. Marte saw the ball in the air and ran toward left-center. He went back and back, turning his back to the infield. On the warning track, just steps from the wall, Marte stuck out his gloved left hand, as if making a last desperate stab for the ball. I expected to see the ball bounce off the wall anyway — but instead, Marte turned back, with the ball in his glove. He fired back to the infield, with SS Jordy Mercer as the relay man. Canzler also expected to see the ball get past Marte (as did most of the people in the stadium), so that he was near second base as Marte threw it back in. Mercer’s relay to first base was just in time to double off Canzler.
Chase d’Arnaud, who has been on the DL with concussion symptoms, has made the trip to Pittsburgh to be examined by the Pirates’ physicians. No word yet about their findings or any estimate about when he could return to playing.
Jake Fox, the hometown guy, has also been on the DL with an oblique strain. He has been able to take some batting practice and may be a few days away from being reactivated.
The home run by Clippers’ Lonnie Chisenhall in the 5th was the 21st home run surrendered by the Indians this season. That leads the International League. The Clippers are in second place in that not-so-great statistic, with 15 homers surrendered.
Wednesday’s game will be an afternoon contest, beginning at 1:05 pm. Thursday’s game is a “Baseball In Education” game, which will begin at 11:05 am to accommodate the school schedules.