Indianapolis Indians 6, Syracuse Chiefs 2
The Indianapolis Indians exploded with 4 runs in the top of the 9th to break a 2-2 tie with the Syracuse Chiefs at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, NY. Phil Irwin, just promoted to the Indians from AA Altoona made his AAA debut tonight and lasted 4 innings, but did not factor into the decision. 1B Matt Hague went 3-for-5 at the plate, and drove in the first insurance run in the 9th inning.
All of the early scoring happened in the 4th inning. The Indians began the top of the 4th with back-to-back singles by RF Jose Tabata and Matt Hague. After a strikeout, C Tony Sanchez hit a broken-bat grounder to short. He was out at first, but it was as good as a sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position. With both of them off and running, LF Brandon Boggs lined a single into left field, driving in both Tabata and Hague for a 2-0 lead.
The Chiefs answered back in the bottom of the inning. For the fourth straight inning, Phil Irwin allowed the first batter of the inning to reach base — a double into right field by 1B Mark Teahen. SS Zach Walters followed with his first home run of the season, over the right-center field wall, to tie the game at 2-2.
Phil Irwin ended his AAA debut after the 4th inning. He had racked up his pitch count by going deep into the count against many of the batters he faced, and finished with 96 pitches (63 strikes). Irwin gave up the 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks, but he struck out 8 batters in his 4 innings. Irwin worked around a lead-off single in the 1st, striking out 2 batters. He walked Teahen to begin the 2nd inning, then retired the next three batters, again with 2 strike outs. He walked the opposing pitcher, John Lannan, to begin the 3rd, and gave up another single, but struck out the other three batters he faced in that frame.
The Indians had also put runners on base in two of the first three innings. SS Brock Holt singled in the 1st, and Tabata bounced to second in what should have been a double play. Holt was forced out at second, but former Indy Indian 2B Jim Negrych threw wide to first base. Tabata was safe, and he advanced to second base on the error. Tabata took third on a stolen base, but got no farther. In the 3rd, Phil Irwin took a walk (each starter walked the other), but he was also forced out at second base.
Once the score was tied, the Tribe continued to put at least one runner on base in each of the next three innings, but none came around to score. Tabata reached on a fielding error in the 5th, and Hague followed with a single into right field, but both were left on base. Sanchez led off the 6th with a single, and the next three Indians’ batters went down in order. Presley worked a walk to begin the 7th inning, and was advanced to second base on Holt’s sacrifice bunt, but was also left there.
Daniel McCutchen took over on the mound for Irwin to begin the bottom of the 5th. McCutchen walked the first batter he faced, LF Corey Brown. Sanchez took care of that problem by throwing out Brown as he tried to steal second base. McCutchen retired the next 5 Chiefs’ batters in order, then gave up a single to RF Brett Carroll to begin the 7th. Another former Indy Indian, pinch-hitter Zach Duke, dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Carroll to second base, but McCutchen left him stranded there. McCutchen pitched the 8th also, a rare 4-inning appearance for him. He gave up a 2-out single to Teahen, but ended the inning with a fly out. McCutchen threw 51 pitches (34 strikes) in his 4 scoreless innings, with 2 hits and one walk, with 5 strikeouts.
The Indians broke the tie in the top of the 9th, aided by the fourth Syracuse error of the game. With one out, pinch-hitter Drew Sutton worked a walk. Presley smacked a sharp single into center field, moving Sutton to second base. Holt grounded to first, and Teahen made the scoop, hoping for a double play. He threw to second base, but the ball went high and into center field. Sutton raced around to score the go-ahead run, Presley was safe on second, and Holt was on at first. Jose Tabata bounced back to the pitcher, who threw to second for the force out on Holt, leaving Indians on the corners. Hague slashed a single into right field, driving in Presley from third with an insurance run, 4-2. McPherson capped the inning with his first triple of the season, lined into center field, and driving in both Tabata and Hague for a 6-2 lead. McPherson did not score, left stranded as the inning ended with a strikeout. All four of those Indians’ runs were unearned because of the throwing error by Teahen. (The Chiefs’ first three errors of the game did not result in any scoring.)
Doug Slaten came on to pitch the bottom of the 9th. Both former Indy Indian C Carlos Maldonado and Carroll lined out to Boggs in left field. A pop up ended the game, and the Indians had the win. Daniel McCutchen was still the pitcher of record when the Indians scored in the top of the 9th, so he was credited with his 6th win of the season.
The Indians posted 9 hits, and a third of those were by Matt Hague, who went 3-for-5 in the game. He singled in the rally in the 4th and came around to score. Hague singled again in the 5th, and hit an RBI single to drive in an insurance run in the 9th.
The Indians’ win combined with a loss for the Columbus Clippers moves the Indians to 10 games ahead of the Clippers in the IL West standings. The magic number has dropped to 7 games for the Tribe.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Dallas McPherson’s triple in the 9th inning. He raced around as the Chiefs tracked down his ball in center field, and drove in two insurance runs to put the final crunch on Syracuse.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: First, the strikeouts — McCutchen and Irwin combined to strike out 13 Chiefs in the game. Those strike outs shut down the Chiefs as they tried to get rallies going in several innings. Then, Tony Sanchez made an excellent throw to second base in the bottom of the 5th to catch Corey Brown as he tried to steal second base.