Indianapolis Indians 4, Columbus Clippers 3
LF Alex Presley, who has been with the Indianapolis Indians on a rehab assignment, is sending a message to the Pirates that he’s ready to come back. Presley has shown that he is ready at the plate — he was on base three times yesterday, with a walk and two singles, and added two more singles today, going 4-for-8. And, today he showed that he is also ready in the field. Presley ended today’s game at Victory Field with a perfect throw from left field to C Tony Sanchez at the plate, allowing Sanchez to tag out the Columbus base runner (and former Indianapolis Indian) Luke Carlin for the final out of the 9th inning.
Tribe starter Rick VandenHurk, whose two previous starts were a bit shaky, was in better form today. He gave up a run in the top of the 1st, when SS Jason Donald singled into right field, then raced around to score from first base on 1B Vinny Rottino’s double down the left field line and into the corner. VandenHurk faced only the minimum over the next two innings. He did allow a single to LF Tim Fedroff, but Tony Sanchez’s throw from home to first caught Fedroff off guard and picked him off.
1B Jeff Clement, just returned to the team, led off the bottom of the 2nd inning with a single lined into center field. DH Yamaico Navarro dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Clement to second base. After a strike out, SS Chase d’Arnaud rocketed a grounder past third base, just tipping off the glove of the diving Clippers’ 3B Russ Canzler. The ball continued down the left field line and ended up underneath the bench in the Indians’ bullpen, a double for d’Arnaud. Clement scored easily to tie the game at 1-1. 2B Anderson Hernandez followed with a line drive single into center field, scoring d’Arnaud with the go-ahead run. Indians up, 2-1.
The Indians added another run in the 3rd. Presley led off with a single grounded up the middle. Tabata’s single to left field moved Presley to third base, and another single by RF Brandon Boggs drove in Presley to give the Indians a 3-1 lead.
VandenHurk kept the Clippers scoreless in the 2nd and 3rd innings, facing the minimum number of batters. He did give up a single to LF Tim Fedroff in the 2nd. Sanchez eliminated Fedroff by picking him off first base. Vinny Rottino, who has been hitting Indians’ pitchers as if they were Little Leaguers, led off the top of the 4th with liner into the left field corner. The carom off the wall in the corner bounced right to Alex Presley, who had been playing more towards left-center field. Presley’s quick throw back to the infield held Rottino to a double. A wild pitch put Rottino on third base. DH Matt LaPorta flied out to center, but it was too short for Rottino to try to tag up and score. Canzler took care of that problem with another double down the right field line, plating Rottino. That brought the Clippers back within one run of the Indians, 3-2.
VandenHurk went on to pitch two more innings. He loaded the bases in the 5th, with a walk to RF Chad Huffman, a single by Carlin, and an intentional walk to Rottino. With two outs, VandenHurk got LaPorta to ground to third, where 3B Brian Friday made the scoop and fired to first. The throw was a little wide, but toward the infield side, so Clement was able to tag out LaPorta on the base path a few steps in front of the first base bag. VandenHurk walked one batter in the 6th, but left him stranded.
VandenHurk left the game with the lead, and eventually took the win. He gave up 2 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in his 6 innings, with 3 strikeouts. He threw 84 pitches (51 strikes).
The Indians picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the 5th, and that would turn out to be a very important run. Brian Friday began the frame with a single up the middle. A wild pitch let Friday advance to second base, as Carlin’s throw to second was way late and way high. The ball sailed into center field, and Friday thought about trying for third — but the Clipper’s middle infielder (SS Donald, I think) was in his way, trying to regain his feet. Friday took a step to the side, and the fielder also moved and again was in Friday’s way. Friday would probably not made it to third anyway, as the ball was picked up in center field and quickly thrown back in. Manager Dean Treanor tried to argue that it was interference on the part of the middle infielder, but the umpires did not agree. Alex Presley’s ground out moved Friday to third base. Brandon Boggs’ second RBI single of the game drove Friday in from third, to give the Indians a 4-2 lead.
Bryan Morris came on in relief of VandenHurk to begin the 7th, and retired the Clippers in order in that inning. It was the first time in the game that Columbus went down in order. Morris gave up just one run in the 8th. That was a two-out solo home run to Canzler, to bring the Clippers again within one run of the Indians, 4-3. That insurance run that the Indians picked up in the 5th looked even better at that point.
The Indians were shut down by the Columbus relievers, Matt Langwell and Eric Berger, who took over for starter TJ McFarland. McFarland was the losing pitcher, but Langwell set down 5 Indians’ batters in order, and Berger followed with 4 Tribe batters going down in order. Each of the relievers struck out three batters.
That brought the game to the top of the 9th, with the Indians ahead by one run. Closer Tim Wood took the mound for the Indians. Wood got the first two outs with just 3 pitches, a grounder and a foul pop out. Then Wood gave up three consecutive singles. Luke Carlin smacked one into left field, and he was replaced by pinch runner Trevor Crowe. CF Ezequiel Carrera, who was hitless in the game to that point, lined a single into right-center, moving Crowe to second base. Jason Donald hit the third single, also into right field. It landed right in front of Alex Presley, who played the bounce. He came up firing straight to the plate, and got the ball there well ahead of Crowe, who had rounded third and was heading for home. Sanchez caught the ball and plunked himself down in the base path just as Crowe tried to slip past him on the outside. Crowe’s feet were well past the plate, with the idea that he would slap the plate with his hand as he slid past. But Sanchez was quicker. He tagged Crowe’s shoulder before the hand could reach for the plate, ending the game and giving the Indians the win.
VandenHurk’s win was his 9th, for a 9-1 record this season. It was not his best start of the season, but it was much better than the last two starts. Tim Wood earned his 14th Save of the season. The Indians posted 9 hits — Alex Presley and Brandon Boggs had 2 hits each, and Chase d’Arnaud had the Indians’ only extra-base hit of the game, a double.
The win gives the Indians a 3-2 game win of this 5-game series with the Clippers. The two teams also played 3 games immediately before the All-Star break, so with that series in Columbus and this series at Victory Field, the Tribe and the Clippers split the 8 games with 4 wins each. That means that the Indians are again 12 games ahead of the Clippers in the International League Western Division. The Indians play two more 3-game series with the Clippers, one in Columbus and one at home, in August. Brandon Boggs’ comment after the game: “Columbus has had our number all season, but we’ve got to focus on what we need to do and just keep making some distance so we can just run away with it in the second half.”
The Indians continue this home stand with a 4-game series against the Gwinnett Braves.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Brandon Boggs’ pair of RBI singles. In the 3rd, he drove in Alex Presley with the Indians’ third run, and in the 5th, he drove in Brian Friday with the Tribe’s fourth and winning run. “I was just ready for a breaking ball”, said Boggs after the game. “I knew he didn’t want to come up with the fastball, because I’ve been hitting the fastball pretty well. He just left it up a little bit, and a put a good swing on it.”
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The final play of the game — Alex Presley’s on-target and on-time throw in from left field, and Tony Sanchez’s catch, block of the plate, and tag to prevent Trevor Crowe from scoring.
Roster move: Jeff Clement had been on the Inactive List while at home for the birth of his daughter. In order to make room for him to come back onto the active roster, reliever Jose Diaz was placed on the Disabled List. No specific injury or problem was named for Diaz.