Indianapolis Indians 5, Norfolk Tides 4
The Indians’ radio broadcasters had just finished saying that when games go long into extra innings, you start to see strange things happening. Sure enough, in the bottom of the 14th, with the Indians and the Norfolk Tides tied at 4-4, it got strange at Victory Field. The Tides were running out of available relief pitchers, so they brought in a position player to pitch. Australian catcher Allan de San Miguel took the mound for the Tides, apparently for the first time during his career in the US. He discovered that it’s a lot easier to find the strike zone from behind the plate than from 66 feet away. 2B Brian Friday began the inning with a ground rule double that bounced on the warning track and then into the stands down the right field line. De San Miguel walked both SS Chase d’Arnaud and CF Gorkys Hernandez to load the bases with no outs. 1B Matt Hague slipped a single through the hole and into left field, driving in Friday with the winning run. What was Friday thinking as he crossed the plate? “Thank goodness it’s over.”
The Indians were the first to get onto the scoreboard, way back in the bottom of the 1st. With one out, Hernandez singled into left field. He stole second base, then moved to third on a wild pitch. Hague drove in Hernandez with a sacrifice fly, for a 1-0 lead. The Indians went down in order in the 2nd and 3rd innings, but Hague struck again in the 4th. He started the rally with a double off the left field wall. DH Jeff Clement followed with a single lined into right field, and Hague scored from second base, increasing the Tribe’s lead to 2-0.
Jo-Jo Reyes made the start for the Indians and pitched 5 innings. He had to work around runners on base, but did so without allowing a run for the first 4 innings. He gave up a single and a double in the 1st, and another single in the 2nd. There was a lead-off walk and a single in the 3rd, then a double off the top of the left-field wall followed by a fielding error by Hague at first base in the 4th. Reyes left all of those runners stranded. With one out in the 5th, Norfolk’s LF Jamie Hoffman lined a single into left field. RF Jai Miller followed with a long home run over the right field wall, and well over the leap by Tribe RF Brandon Boggs. Score tied, 2-2.
That tie score lasted for 6 innings. Bryan Morris came on in relief of Reyes, who had allowed just those 2 runs on 7 hits and one walk, with 5 strikeouts. Reyes threw 94 pitches (61 strikes). Morris pitched 3 scoreless innings, facing just one batter over the minimum. He gave up a double in the 7th, but left that runner stranded. He gave up a lead-off single to former Indy Indian C Ronny Paulino in the 8th, but on the next pitch, he got DH Chris Robinson to bounce into a double play. Evan Meek took the 9th and 10th innings, and he did not let the Tides score either. Meek gave up a walk, but also struck out 4 batters in those two innings. Jose Diaz was next out of the bullpen, to begin the 11th. He gave up a single and an intentional walk, but still kept the Tides from scoring.
The Indians were having about the same luck over those six innings. Brian Friday singled in the 5th, but was picked off first. Jordy Mercer singled in the 7th, but was out in a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play. The Tribe had a runner reach second base in the 8th. Friday singled again, but was forced out at second when SS Chase d’Arnaud grounded to second. But with the hit-and-run on, Friday took off for second with the pitch. Friday, the ball, and the 2B Ryan Adams all arrived at the second base bag at the same time. Friday slid hard (but clean) into second base as Adams fielded the ball a step away. That disrupted Adams enough so that his throw to first was wide to the outfield side. The ball bounced into the stands, and d’Arnaud was awarded second base. He was left there, though, when a ground out ended the inning.
In the bottom of the 9th, Jeff Clement worked a walk, and was replaced by pinch-runner Starling Marte. Marte tried stealing second, and was thrown out. Gorkys Hernandez walked in the 11th, and moved to third base when Matt Hague singled in the 11th, but both were left stranded.
In the top of the 12th, with Jose Diaz still on the mound, the Tides got a rally going. Hoffman smacked a fly ball off the top of the wall in left field, and the carom took the ball away from LF Jake Fox and past CF Gorkys Hernandez, who was trying to back up Fox. Hoffman thought it was a homer, so he did not run hard from first base, only speeding up after he saw the ball bouncing around in the outfield. That was a gift for the Indians, because he could have had an inside-the-park homer if he’d been running hard the whole time. Instead, Hoffman settled for a triple. Jai Miller was intentionally walked, then Ronny Paulino plated Hoffman with an infield single deep into the hole at short. An unintentional walk to Chris Robinson loaded the bases, and another walk forced in the second run of the inning, giving the Tides a 4-2 lead.
But the Indians were not ready to go to bed yet. With former Butler University pitcher Pat Neshek on the mound, 3B Jordy Mercer worked a lead-off walk. Jake Fox, who had entered the game to pinch hit in the 9th, grounded into a force out on Mercer at second base. The relay to first was wide, or else the Tides would have had a double play. Three consecutive singles followed. Brandon Boggs took a low liner into right field, moving Fox to second base. C Eric Fryer added a single lined into center field to load the bases. Then Brian Friday lined into left-center field, driving in both Fox and Boggs, to tie the score again at 4-4. The Indians had Fryer on third and Friday on first with only one out, but they could not get Fryer that last 90 feet for the winning run, and the game continued.
A single by Hague and walks to Mercer (intentional) and Boggs (not intentional) loaded the bases with Indians again in the 13th, but the Tribe was not lucky in that inning — two strikeouts left the bags full. Tim Wood came on to pitch for the Indians and retired the Tides in order in the top of the 13th. Then he struck out the side in the top of the 14th. That set up the Tribe for the bottom of the 14th, with de San Miguel on the mound for Norfolk, and Hague’s walk-off single.
Tim Wood was credited with the win, his second of the season. De San Miguel was the losing pitcher, with Pat Neshek charged with a Blown Save. The Indians posted a total of 14 hits. Friday, Hague, and Mercer accounted for 10 of those hits.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Brian Friday and Matt Hague, who both had 4 hits in the game. Hague drove in a run in the 1st, and doubled and scored in the 4th. He singled in the 13th, then drove in Friday with the winning run in the 14th. Friday singled in the 5th, 6th, and 12th innings, and that single in the 12th drove in the tying runs. Then he began the 14th-inning rally, and scored the winning run. After the game, Friday admitted “you always feel like you should get a hit off a position player, just because you should. It’s still hitting, so it’s not that easy, so I was just thinking, obviously he’s not going to throw it as hard as most guys. I was just thinking, sit back and see and put a good swing on it.”
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the top of the 5th, Ryan Adams hit a high pop fly that drifted into foul territory on the right side of the field. 1B Matt Hague had a long run to his left and back, going into the visitors’ bullpen. Just as he was about to reach the ball, and as he was looking up at the ball instead of at his feet, Hague hit the bullpen mound. He fell over the back side of the mound, landing face-first — but with the ball in his glove for the out.
The Indians’ win, combined with losses for the other International League West teams, pushes the Tribe to a 1.5 game lead over the second place Toledo Mud Hens. The Columbus Clippers are 4 games behind the first place Tribe, and the Louisville Bats are 11 games back.
The game lasted 4 hours and 41 minutes, a new record for the longest game (in terms of time) in Victory Field’s 16 years of existence.
Jordy Mercer had two singles tonight, in the 4th and in the 7th, stretching his hitting streak to 13 games.
The Indians have two more games in this home stand, both day games. Sunday’s game is an afternoon contest, at 1:15 pm, and Monday’s is a late-morning game, at 11:05 am.