Indianapolis Indians 2, Toledo Mud Hens 1
The Indianapolis Indians won their third game in a row tonight, beating the Toledo Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. The game took 14 innings and 4 hours 22 minutes, and the final out was made on a very unusual play. Tribe reliever Tim Wood earned his 5th win of the season, while reliever Jose Diaz, pitching for the first time in several weeks, earned his 3rd Save. The key factor in the game was missed scoring opportunities: runners left on base. The two teams combined for 22 left on base, 10 for the Indians and 12 for the Mud Hens. Walks and strikeouts also figured in a big way. The Indians’ pitching staff struck out 17 batters, and the Toledo staff struck out 15 Indians’ batters. Most of the walks were by the Indians’ pitchers — a total of 10, compared to 5 walks by the Toledo staff.
The game was tied at 1-1 from the bottom of the 5th on, until the top of the 14th. With one out in that frame, C Eric Fryer singled through the right side of the infield. After a fly out, RF Brandon Boggs smacked a fly ball into center field, which got over Toledo CF Jamie Johnson’s head. Boggs cruised into second base, while Fryer raced around third and crossed the plate, giving the Indians a 2-1 lead.
Jose Diaz, the fifth pitcher for the Tribe tonight, pitched the bottom of the inning. Diaz got the first out, then walked former Indy Indian SS Argenis Diaz. 2B Matt Young took 3 balls, then popped into foul territory on the third base side. The ball looked like it would come down in the seats, but 3B Brian Friday rushed to the stands, and made the catch as he leaned over to the second row of seats (there were very few fans still at the stadium by then). Argenis Diaz took off running when the foul ball was hit, and when Friday came up with the ball, he had rounded second base. Argenis Diaz had to get back to first base quickly, as Friday fired over to first base. That throw was not in time, and Argenis Diaz was safe… or was he? One of the Indians’ middle infielders (or both) was paying attention, as was the umpire who was near second base. Jose Diaz threw the ball to 2B Anderson Hernandez at second base and appealed the play. What they had seen was that Argenis Diaz had rounded second base, but had not stepped on the base again as he ran back to first base. He was called out, ending the game.
The game began as a pitching duel. CF Jose Tabata doubled in the 1st inning, but did not score, then the Indians went down in order in the 2nd. Brandon Boggs began a rally in the 3rd, with a lead-off single along the third base line, just off Mud Hens’ 3B Audy Ciriaco’s glove. Boggs stole second base, and two outs later, Tabata walked. LF Starling Marte lifted a bloopy single into left field. Boggs raced around third and headed to the plate. The throw in from LF Jerad Head was a second too late and a step to the first base side of the plate. That was enough to let Boggs slide across the plate just a split second before the tag was applied. Indians leading, 1-0.
Jeff Locke got the start for the Tribe tonight. He gave up two walks in the 1st inning, but two strikeouts got him out of that small jam. Locke walked former Indy Indian SS Argenis Diaz in the 2nd, and erased Diaz with a timely double play. Anderson Hernandez made a back-handed stab to catch the ball, then a back-handed flip to SS Chase d’Arnaud for the out at second, who fired on to 1B Matt Hague for the twin killing.
Locke had the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 3rd, when he had to work out of a bigger jam. He struck out the first batter, then Ciriaco lined a single into center field. Lock walked both RF Ben Guez and CF Andy Dirks to load the bases. Then he calmly struck out both DH John Lindsey and Head, leaving the bases loaded and the Indians’ lead intact. In the 5th, Locke worked around a one-out walk by again striking out two batters.
Toledo tied the score in the bottom of the 5th. Ciriaco led off the inning with a solo home run over the left-center field wall. After a line out, Locke finished the inning once again with 2 strike outs. The Mud Hens began the 6th by loading the bases with no outs. Head slipped a single through the left side of the infield, 1B Danny Dorn doubled into right field, and C Bryan Holaday walked. That was all for Locke, who was relieved by Chris Leroux. Locke had allowed one run on 4 hits and a whopping 7 walks. He also struck out 9 Hens’ batters, in just 5+ innings. With all those walks, it isn’t hard to see how Locke had piled up 98 pitches (50 strikes).
Leroux seemed to pick up Locke’s ability to wiggle out of jams. He struck out Diaz, which prompted an argument from Toledo manager Phil Nevin, and then his ejection by 1B umpire Chris Ward. Another strikeout and a ground out by Ciriaco ended the inning for Leroux, with the bases still loaded.
Leroux got into trouble in the 7th inning, when he gave up a one-out single to Dirks, then threw two back-to-back wild pitches. With Dirks on third, Leroux struck out Lindsey, then got Head to pop out, ending the inning. Leroux walked Diaz in the 8th, but also struck out two batters in that inning.
Meanwhile, the Indians were also putting runners on base, but not getting them around to score. Anderson Hernandez singled in the 4th, and was thrown out trying to steal second base. 3B Brian Friday walked in the 5th, and both C Tony Sanchez and Boggs walked in the 7th. Friday and Sanchez were left stranded, while Boggs was erased in a double play. Tabata singled in the 8th, and he too was left on base.
The score was still tied 1-1 going into the 9th. Both teams were set down in order in that inning, and the Tribe also went down in order in the 10th. Duke Welker took over for Leroux to begin the bottom of the 10th. He walked Lindsey to lead off the inning, but Head bounced into a 6-4-3 double play (d’Arnaud to Hernandez to Hague). Welker went on to pitch a 1-2-3 inning in the 11th.
With former Indy Indian Chris Bootcheck on in relief for the Mud Hens in the top of the 11th, Starling Marte doubled down the left field line, just inside the line, and into the left field corner. He advanced to third base on Matt Hague’s ground out, but got no further. Tony Sanchez started the top of the 12th with a walk, and Eric Fryer came in to pinch-run for Sanchez (and stayed in the game to catch). Anderson Hernandez singled on a run-and-hit slap into right field, moving Fryer to second, then a wild pitch put both runners into scoring position. Once again, they were left there on base, with a strike out and a pop out ending the inning.
Tim Wood, relieving Welker, set the Mud Hens down in order in the bottom of both the 12th and the 13th. The Indians also went down in order in the 13th, as Bootcheck was relieved by Luis Marte. That brought the game to the 14th inning, and the win for the Indians.
The win gives the Indians a 3-2 win of the 5-game series in Toledo. The Columbus Clippers also won tonight, so the Indians continue to hold a 9.5 game lead over the second place Clippers in the International League Western Division. The Tribe returns to Victory Field tomorrow (Tuesday), for an 8-game homestand. The Pawtucket Red Sox visit for 4 games, then the Buffalo Bison come in for another 4-game series.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Brandon Boggs’ double into deep center field in the top of the 14th, driving in Eric Fryer with the winning run.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Three key double plays to get the Indians’ pitchers out of jams, plus 9 strikeouts by Jeff Locke and 5 more strikeouts by Chris Leroux, which also got the Tribe out of jams.