Indianapolis Indians 5, Gwinnett Braves 4
Pinch-hitter Eric Fryer was the hero for the Indianapolis Indians tonight at Victory Field. His single, slipped under the glove of Braves’ 3B Ruben Gotay, drove in Tribe 3B Matt Hague with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning tonight. With the score tied at 4-4 going into the top of the 10th, Indians’ reliever Evan Meek pitched a scoreless inning, working around a lead-off double. Meek intentionally walked pinch-hitter Luis Durango, who has been hitting very well lately. Then he ended the threat by getting C Jose Yepez to ground out. The Indians’ half of the 10th began with a double into center field by Hague. 1B Jeff Clement followed with a single lined into center. Hague advanced to third, but with no outs yet, the conservative approach was to hold Hague at third. LF Yamaico Navarro, another hot hitter recently, was intentionally walked, loading the bases with Indians. That was when Fryer stepped to the plate, and gave the Indians the walk-off win.
Justin Wilson began the game on the mound for the Indians. He mowed the Braves down in the 1st and 2nd innings, striking out the side in the top of the 1st, and adding another strikeout in the 2nd. A lead-off walk to Gotay started his trouble in the 3rd inning. Wilson got a strikeout, then a sacrifice bunt by Gwinnett’s starter Julio Teheran put Gotay on second base with two outs. Then three consecutive hits did all the damage. CF Jose Constanza singled into left field and former Indy Indian SS Josh Wilson tripled, driving in both Gotay and Constanza. Then 1B Ernesto Mejia homered to left-center field, bringing in Wilson as well. Gwinnett had a 4-0 lead.
The Indians got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning. SS Chase d’Arnaud led off with a double off the left field wall. He was awarded third base when he distracted Teheran enough that Teheran balked. Hague’s ground out to short let d’Arnaud score, and the Indians were on the scoreboard, 4-1.
Teheran held the Indians to just a single by RF Brandon Boggs in the 4th, and a walk by CF Starling Marte in the 5th. Meanwhile, Justin Wilson also kept the Braves from scoring in the 4th, which turned out to be not an easy task. Wilson began with a strikeout, and Gotay’s low liner right to 2B Brian Friday (caught by going down on one knee) was the second out. At that point, Wilson suddenly seemed to forget where the strike zone was. Gwinnett 2B Lance Zawadski worked the count full and fouled off three more pitches, before grounding to deep in the hole at short. He was safe at first when d’Arnaud came up with the ball but could not get it to first base. Wilson walked Teheran then also walked Constanza, nearly hitting him with a pitch. His control came back enough for him to get a fly out to end the inning with the bases loaded, but no runs scored. That was the end of Wilson’s evening. He threw 89 pitches (53 strikes) and gave up 4 runs on 4 hits, with 4 walks, and 6 strikeouts.
Daniel McCutchen relieved Wilson to pitch the 5th and 6th innings. He faced just one batter over the minimum for those two innings, with a single by Zawadski in the 6th. McCutchen also struck out 4 batters, two in each inning. Duke Welker took the next two innings, and he also kept the Braves scoreless. Constanza led off the 7th with a single, then advanced to third base when Welker’s pick-off throw to first went way wide, ending up in the visitors’ bullpen. A runner on third with no outs seemed ominous, but two amazing plays by 2B Anderson Hernandez and 1B Jeff Clement got Welker out of trouble. Josh Wilson smashed a sharp grounder toward second base. Hernandez charged in, picking up the ball on the infield grass, then glared Constanza back to third base, whirled, and threw to first base in time for the out on Wilson. Mejia was up next — and he hit the ball to the exact same place, so that Hernandez made the exact same play: charge in, scoop the ball, glare at Constanza, whirl, throw to first, Mejia out. This time, though, once Constanza saw Hernandez begin the throw to first,he tried a delayed steal. Clement saw Constanza going, and he fired a relay throw to C Tony Sanchez, who easily tagged out Constanza to end the inning.
The Tribe batters finally got to Teheran in the 6th inning. Clement led off with a single lined into right field. Navarro followed with a huge home run over the wall in the deepest part of left-center. That brought the Indians within one run of the Braves, 4-3. Teheran exited after that inning, but his relievers pitched scoreless 7th and 8th innings. There was a controversial call in the 7th, with d’Arnaud on first base and Marte at the plate. D’Arnaud took off for second base as Marte swung at a pitch. The umpires immediately pointed d’Arnaud back to first base, saying that Marte had fouled off the pitch. After some arguing, they then called Marte out, saying that he had interfered with the catcher Jose Yepez when Yepez was trying to throw out d’Arnaud. Manager Dean Treanor came over to argue that call. The argument got heated, and then, of course, Treanor was ejected from the game. According to radio broadcaster Will Flemming, the in-house replay showed that Marte had swung at the pitch and had missed it by a foot — not a chance that he’d fouled it off — and that Marte had stayed well in his batter’s box, and at no time was he anywhere close to being in Yepez’s way.
Evan Meek was next out of the bullpen for the Indians. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 9th. The Indians got going in the bottom of the 9th with a one-out single by pinch-hitter Jose Tabata. Tabata stole second base, then advanced to third on a bunt by Hernandez. D’Arnaud tied the score when his second double of the game, a line drive into center field, drove in Tabata from second base. A fly out ended the inning, but the 4-4 tie sent the game into extras. Meek kept the Braves scoreless in the top of the 10th, giving the middle of the Indians’ line-up the opportunity to send four batters to the plate in the bottom of the 10th. All four reached base, and Eric Fryer was the walk-off hero.
The win gives the Indians and Braves a 2-2 split of this series, and gives the Indians a 6-2 win of the season series with Gwinnett. The Indians go on the road tomorrow for a 4-game series against the Toledo Mud Hens.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Eric Fryer’s game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th. It was not hit particularly hard, but just enough to get by 3B Ruben Gotay, allowing Hague to score from third base.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The two plays by Anderson Hernandez in the top of the 7th, which kept the Braves from capitalizing on a throwing error by Duke Welker, and held off a base runner on third. It was amazing enough that Hernandez fielded two grounders to the exact same place, and made the outs in the exact same way, but the relay throw to the plate by Jeff Clement showed that he was alert and thinking fast.
With a win by the Columbus Clippers tonight, the Indians maintain their 11-game lead over the Clippers in the International League Western Division.
This game was delayed at the start, due to an impending storm that was about to hit downtown Indianapolis. The storm took its time to get there, and so this game got off to a late start — by 1 hour, 38 minutes.