Justin Wilson Throws an Eight Inning No-Hitter
Indianapolis Indians 3, Charlotte Knights 0
It still counts.
Even though the game was cut short, after 7.5 innings due to a thunderstorm, Justin Wilson still gets to count this game as a no-hitter.
Wilson pitched eight no-hit innings, including one in the pouring rain, before the game was halted. In fact, he simply mowed down the Charlotte batters, one after another, completely dominating the game. Wilson has buzzed through the opposition’s batting order the first time around in other games this season. Tonight, though, after the first time through the Knights’ order, Wilson just kept on going. He zipped through the order a second time, and by then, Wilson had struck out 5 batters, and had some help with key plays by the infielders behind him.
The only Charlotte batter to reach base was CF Dewayne Wise, who took a 4-pitch walk with one out in the top of the 7th, to spoil Wilson’s bid for a perfect game. Wise was quickly eliminated, though, as Wilson got LF Connor Jackson to bounce to Tribe SS Chase d’Arnaud, who took a couple of steps to touch second base for the force out, then throw to 1B Matt Hague for the double play.
Knights’ starter Scott Carroll was keeping the Indians’ batters under control too, at least for the first 4 innings. CF Alex Presley, who rejoined the Indians today, singled to the right side of the infield near first base in the first inning. Knights’ 2B Drew Garcia ranged to his left to make the stop, then fired to first base, but the speedy Presley beat the ball to the bag. Presley was left on base, though. After retiring the Tribe in order in the 2nd, Carroll gave up a 2-out walk to d’Arnaud in the 3rd, then had 2B Brock Holt reach base on a fielding error by SS Tyler Saladino. They too were left on base. Carroll got all three Indians’ batters to ground out to Saladino in the 4th inning.
By the 5th inning, the skies were starting to look ominous, particularly to the west. Getting a lead became even more important for the Indians, with the possibility that the game could be cut short. 3B Yamaico Navarro took matters into his own hands by leading off the bottom of the 5th with a long long fly ball into the left-center gap, racing all the way around to slide into third well ahead of the throw in from the outfield — his 3rd triple of the season. A few minutes later, LF Drew Sutton picked up his first hit since joining the Indians, a double that zipped between Navarro and Knights’ 3B Hector Gimenez (former Indy Indian), and continued on down the left field line. Gimenez tried to dive for the ball, but missed, and Navarro ended up on second base. A pair of back-to-back walks to d’Arnaud and Holt followed, but the inning ended without any further runs scoring, when Presley bounced into a double play.
The skies kept getting darker, as Wilson kept mowing down the Knights in the top of the 6th. In the bottom of the inning, the Indians added two insurance runs. Again with two outs, DH Jeff Clement began a rally with a single grounded up the middle. Navarro ripped a line drive down the left field line for a double, pushing Clement to third base. Tony Sanchez rapped a single into center field, and both Clement and Navarro were off and running. Clement scored easily, and Navarro rounded third and headed for home as the ball was being thrown in from center field. Navarro ran wide of Knights’ C Josh Phegley, who had to move several steps up the third base line to catch the ball coming in. Navarro was just past Phegley when Phegley caught the ball. Phegley tried to turn and lean back for a swipe tag, but he missed. Navarro didn’t slide, though, and as he ran past Phegley and towards the plate, he actually missed stepping on the plate. Both looked at the home plate umpire David Soucy, who was not signalling anything. Finally, Navarro realized what no words or signs from Soucy meant, and he took a few steps over to touch the plate. Only then did Soucy signal that Navarro was safe. It was a little more drama than Justin Wilson probably wanted, but he still had some insurance, with a 3-0 lead.
The 7th inning began with a few strikes of lightning in the distance, as Wilson lost the perfect game, but still had not allowed a hit. The lightning intensified in the bottom of the inning, when the Indians again but two runners on base after two outs had been recorded. Presley grounded to short, and again beat out the throw to first base for an infield hit. RF Jose Tabata grounded to second, and he also beat out the throw to first by Saladino, and by that time the rain had started. A fly out ended the inning, and by that time, the rain was pouring down.
The Indians were reluctant to come back out of the dugout. Soucy was conferring with the Victory Field groundskeeper, who watches the weather radar closely. Wilson came out and began throwing to Tony Sanchez, and the rest of the team trailed out, amazed that Soucy had not called a halt with the rain coming down so hard. The Indians were leading and they had already played enough innings to be called a game…. but Wilson was throwing a no-hitter, and I suspect that was a bit part of the motivation to keep going. In the pouring rain, and with the help of his infielders, Wilson got three Knights’ batters to ground out, to second, second, and shortstop. By that point, the batters were having trouble holding on to the bats, and the grounds keepers looked a bit nervous… and Soucy stopped the game. The rain did not let up, and in fact the lightning got worse, and after 50 minutes, the game was officially stopped at 7.5 innings.
Wilson earned his 9th win of the season, for a 9-5 record. He pitched 8 innings, and threw just 86 pitches (54 strikes), while allowing one walk and striking out 5. This is the second no-hitter Wilson has been involved in this season. He was the starting pitcher who went 7.1 innings in the combined no-hitter with Jose Diaz and Doug Slaten in Durham on April 29th. Wilson walked 2 batters and struck out 9 in that game.
Now, what was that about moving Wilson to the bullpen?
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Yamaico Navarro’s triple to the deepest part of Victory Field in the 5th inning. That got the Tribe going, and he scored what would turn out to be the winning run. The next inning, Navarro doubled, and again came around to score the second of the two insurance runs.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Wilson could not have thrown a no-hitter without the help of his teammates. The outfielders got to where they needed to get to, and made all the catches on fly balls and line drives. The infielders scrambled to reach grounders and also ran into foul territory to make pop out catches. The most dramatic play came in the 6th, after Wilson had already struck out two batters. Jim Gallagher grounded into the hole at short. Chase d’Arnaud went to his right and dove to make the stop, then made an off-balance throw to first base. Matt Hague caught the ball after a low bounce, stretched completely out, but was in time to beat Gallagher to the bag for the out.
Anderson Hernandez was named the Indians’ Player of the Month for July. The versatile Hernandez appeared in 28 games in July, playing second base, third base, shortstop, and left field. He hit .303 in July, with 3 doubles, 3 triples, one homer, and 15 RBI. He was presented with his award before the game tonight.
Brock Holt had been given uniform number 7 when he joined the Indians a few days ago. That was Alex Presley’s number when he was with the team earlier in the season. When Presley returned today, Holt voluntarily returned the number 7 to him, and instead took number 17.
The Columbus Clippers lost to Durham tonight, 12-2. Combined with the Indians’ win, that increases the Indians’ lead over the Clippers in the International League Western Division to 9 games. The Tribe has 24 games left in the regular season.
The Indians will be heading out on the longest road trip of the season tomorrow. They will play 3 games in Columbus, have a day off, then play 4 games in Rochester and 4 games in Syracuse.