Durham Bulls 5, Indianapolis Indians 4
The Indians scored 4 runs in the 1st inning of this afternoon’s game at Victory Field, but it was not enough. The Bulls tied the score in the 6th, then broke the tie in the 10th inning with an inside-the-park home run by former Indy Indian LF Jeff Salazar.
Like in the past two days, the Indians jumped out to a lead in the bottom of the 1st. With one out, SS Chase d’Arnaud lifted a fly ball into short left-center field, just out of reach of three Bulls’ fielders. Bulls’ starter Shane Dyer then walked both LF Alex Presley and DH Jeff Clement, loading the bases. That brought up 1B Jeff Larish, who smacked a line drive down the right field line, bouncing off the angled portion of the right field wall. As the Bulls’ RF Leslie Anderson raced to track it down, d’Arnaud, Presley, and Clement all scored, and Larish was into third base with a triple. The throw in to the plate was on target, but too late to catch Clement. C Jose Morales brought in Larish easily with a sacrifice fly into center field. The Indians had a 4-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Indians, that was all the scoring they would do. There were no hits for the next three innings, though three walks gave the Tribe some base runners. 3B Brian Friday worked a full count, then fouled off three more pitches before taking a walk in the 2nd inning, but he was thrown out trying to steal second base. Larish led off the 4th with a 4-pitch walk, and after a strikeout, RF Brandon Boggs also walked. 2B Anderson Hernandez bounced into a double play, erasing Boggs and ending the inning. Brian Friday singled in the 5th, but was picked off first base.
Justin Wilson made the start for the Tribe, but was not involved in the decision. Wilson pitched 5 strong innings, scattering two singles and two walks over those innings. He gave up a single and a walk with two outs in the 2nd inning, but ended the threat with a ground out. 2B Shawn O’Malley blooped a single with two outs in the 3rd, the first of three hits for O’Malley in the game. Wilson picked him off first, and he was out trying to reach second base. Wilson gave up another two-out walk in the 5th, and left that runner on base.
It was the top of the 6th that got Wilson into trouble. With a four-run lead and one out, Wilson gave up a single to O’Malley. O’Malley grounded to short, and beat out the throw from SS d’Arnaud to Larish. A walk to CF Jesus Feliciano moved O’Malley to second base. Wilson struck out DH Henry Wrigley, and on strike three, O’Malley stole third base and Feliciano stole second. C Morales threw to second in hopes of getting the trail runner out, but the ball sailed into center field. Feliciano ended up on third base, while O’Malley scored on the error. RF Leslie Anderson followed with a looping single into right-center field, dropping in between CF Starling Marte and RF Brandon Boggs, neither of whom could get there in time. That drove in Feliciano, to cut the Indians’ lead in half, 4-2.
That sent Wilson to the showers. He threw 101 pitches (59 strikes), and was ultimately responsible for 3 runs, all earned, on 4 hits and 3 walks, with 6 strikouts. Jose Diaz came into the game in relief. The first batter Diaz faced, 1B Juan Miranda, blasted a long home run over the right field wall, landing on the sidewalk behind the grass berm. The two-run homer tied the score at 4-4. It was the first home run Diaz has allowed this season, and it gave him a Blown Save.
A ground out ended the 6th inning. Diaz went on to pitch the 7th inning, retiring the Bulls in order.
The Indians put runners on base in each of their next four at-bats, but could not capitalize on any of them. Jeff Clement doubled into the left field corner in the 6th, but Bulls’ reliever and former Indy Indian Romulo Sanchez struck out the next two batters, leaving Clement standing on second base.
Brandon Boggs led off the 7th with a walk. Anderson Hernandez followed with a grounder to short, which should have been a double play. Boggs’ slide into second base was just enough to slow down 2B O’Malley by a second, and Hernandez beat out the relay throw to first base. Hernandez got no further, as a pop out and a fly out ended the inning.
Chase d’Arnaud reached first base in the 8th, when he swung at strike three, which turned out to be a wild pitch. The ball skittered away from the C Stephen Vogt, heading over toward the Indians’ dugout, which gave the speedy d’Arnaud enough time to reach first base, with a final lunge for the bag. D’Arnaud stole second base, then advanced to third on a fly out. An intentional walk to Jeff Clement gave the Tribe runners on the corners with one out. Once again, two strikeouts ending the inning, leaving the go-ahead run just 90 feet away from scoring.
Anderson Hernandez and Brian Friday hit back-to-back line drive singles with one out in the 9th, and for the third time, two strikeouts got the Bulls out of the inning without a run scoring.
Evan Meek took the mound for the Indians to begin the 8th inning. Meek retired the first 5 batters he faced, then walked SS Reid Brignac. A tapper back to the mound left Brignac on base, ending the 9th inning.
Meek came out again to begin the 10th inning. On his first pitch, Jeff Salazar zipped a grounder down the left field line, just fair. The ball hopped into foul territory in the area of the Indians’ bullpen, then bounced under the bullpen bench, scattering the Tribe relievers. Salazar slowed down as he was reaching second base, but when he saw the ball going under the bench, and knowing full well that the ground rules at Victory Field stated that under the bench was considered in play (he’d had to dig balls out of there himself when playing for the Tribe), Salazar sped up again and raced for third. As Alex Presley continued to root around under the bench looking for the ball, Salazar made the turn and third, heading for the plate. Salazar slid across the plate with the go-ahead run as the throw came in from left field, too late. The inside-the-park homer was Salazar’s 4th of the season.
Meek gave up a single to O’Malley (his third single of the game) and walked Feliciano, before getting two outs to end the inning.
The Indians could not answer back. They went down in order in the bottom of the 10th, giving the Bulls the 5-4 win. Meek was charged with the loss, his first of the season.
The Indians now have a 5-2 lead over the Bulls in their season series. That series finishes up on Thursday evening. The Columbus Clippers, Toledo Mud Hens, and Louisville Bats all lost their games today too, so the Indians still hold a 6-game lead over the Clippers in the International League Western Division. Toledo is in third place, 6.5 games behind the Indians, and Louisville is fourth, 14 games back.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Jeff Larish’s triple in the bottom of the 1st inning. He drove in three of the Indians’ runs, then scored the fourth run himself. It was Larish’s first triple of the season, and it doubled his RBI total for the season.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the top of the 7th with two outs, Jeff Salazar took a sinking line drive into center field. CF Starling Marte raced in, and made the running catch at his shoe-tops to end the inning.