Leroux Struggles But Strikes Out 9, Indians Win See-Saw Game
Indianapolis Indians 7, Louisville Bats 5
The lead changed hands 5 times as the Indians and Bats battled back and forth at Victory Field tonight. In the end, though, it was the Indianapolis Indians who came out on top of the Louisville Bats for the win. Tribe starter Chris Leroux struggled in his 5.1 innings, but as the lead kept changing hands after Leroux left, he did not factor into the decision. The biggest part of the offense was made up by SS Chase d’Arnaud and CF Alex Presley, who combined for 7 hits and 5 runs, with 2 RBI.
Louisville took the first lead on the third pitch of the game. Leroux left a pitch a bit too far up in the zone, and 2B Willie Harris drilled it over the right field wall for a solo homer. Bats ahead, 1-0. Leroux gave up a double into the left field corner to the next batter, SS Henry Rodriguez. Rodriguez was left standing at second, as Leroux retired the next three batters in order, including a strike out. Then Leroux proceeded to retire the next 6 batters in order, on 5 strikeouts and a tapper back to the mound.
The Tribe threatened in the bottom of the 1st. 2B Brock Holt led off with a walk, and moved to third on Alex Presley’s single lined into center field. A wild pitch put Presley on second base, but did not get far enough from the plate to let Holt score. RF Dallas McPherson worked a walk, to load the bases, but the inning ended with a grounder force out at second, and no runs scoring.
Indians 2, Bats 1: The Indians started moving things around in the bottom of the 3rd. D’Arnaud led off with a line drive into center, and a wild pitch put him on second base. Presley singled up the middle with a line drive into left-center. Bats’ CF Denis Phipps picked up the ball, then dropped it (E7) , so d’Arnaud reached third base and Presley landed on second. 3B Matt Hague grounded to third, and the Bats went for the easy out at first, as d’Arnaud scored the tying run from third base. Presley raced for third once the throw was made to first base, and Bats’ 1B Neftali Soto alertly fired back to third base in an attempt to make the out on Presley. Soto did not take Presley’s speed into account, though — Presley was there well ahead of the throw. McPherson bounced a single off the back of the mound, past the diving second baseman, and into center field, driving in Presley, for a 2-1 lead.
Indians 2, Bats 2: The Bats answered right back in the top of the 4th. Leroux started off by walking Soto on 4 pitches. With one out, 3B Mike Costanzo ripped a liner into the left field corner for a double, and Soto moved to third. A wild pitch by Leroux let Soto score from third, and the score was tied.
Bats 3, Indians 2: Willie Harris, who had only one home run all season up until tonight, smacked another homer with one out in the top of the 5th. This time it was on the first pitch he saw.
Indians 4, Bats 3: The Tribe led off the bottom of the inning with a line drive single up the middle by d’Arnaud. He stole second, and then it was Presley’s turn. What followed was the most disastrously horrible sequence I’ve ever seen that was not on a Little League field. Presley also lined into center field, and d’Arnaud raced around from second base to score the tying run. When Presley saw that CF Phipps was getting ready to make a huge throw in, he took off for second base, reaching there on the throw. But Phipps’ throw went wide of the plate and to the first base side, allowing d’Arnaud to score easily (E8). The ball took a huge bounce away from C Brian Peacock, and came down well behind the plate. P Josh Judy was backing up, and he managed to twist around to make a bare-handed catch of the high bounce. When Presley saw the wide throw and huge bounce, he left second and headed for third. Judy’s throw to third would probably not have been in time to get Presley, but the throw sailed way wide of third and into left field. LF Cody Puckett had to track down the ball, which gave Presley time to race home. Puckett’s throw to the plate, in hopes of getting Presley at the plate, was (what else?) way wide of the plate, and Presley scored standing up, to take the lead.
Bats 5, Indians 4: And the Bats came right back again. Leroux began the top of the 6th by getting one out. Then he gave up back-to-back singles to RF Felix Perez and Costanzo. Puckett followed with a double into the left field corner, which took a crazy bounce back toward the playing field. Both Perez and Costanzo scored to give the lead back to Louisville. That was the end of the evening for Leroux. He had pitched 5.1 innings and was responsible for 5 runs on 7 hits and a walk. He also struck out 9 batters. He threw 86 pitches (58 strikes). Duke Welker came on to finish the inning for Leroux. He left Puckett on second base with two strikeouts.
Indians 5, Bats 5: Matt Hague tied the score in the bottom of the 7th with a solo home run, no-doubt-about-it over the left-center wall.
Indians 7, Bats 5: Pinch-hitter Drew Sutton started a rally in the bottom of the 8th by working the count full, then taking a walk and stealing second base After a fly out, the Bats changed pitchers, replacing Travis Webb with Carlos Fisher. Fisher did not have his control tonight. The first batter he faced was d’Arnaud, who blasted a ground-rule double over the center field wall for his fourth hit of the game. That drove in Sutton with the go-ahead run. Presley was intentionally walked, and a wild pitch by Fisher put both runners into scoring position. Hague also walked, unintentionally, loading the bases. Another unintentional walk, to McPherson forced in d’Arnaud with an insurance run.
Jo-Jo Reyes pitched 2 scoreless innings for the Tribe. He retired the side in order in the 6th, and worked around a one-out triple by Perez in the 8th. Doug Slaten came on to pitch the top of the 9th, as the Indians needed only 3 outs to make their newest lead hold up. Slaten gave up a single up the middle to Peacock to begin the inning, but left him on first base with a fly out, a strikeout, and a line out. One more weird thing: Willie Harris, who had already homered twice, took three balls from Slaten to start his at-bat. Slated got strike one, then strike two, and Harris disagreed with both of those calls. After strike two, Harris walked away from the plate, and said something to home plate umpire Seth Buckminster. Buckminster immediately ejected Harris, then also ejected Bats’ manager David Bell. Didi Gregorius came in to “pinch-hit” for Harris — he fouled off two pitches and then swung and missed for the strike out (charged to Harris).
Jo-Jo Reyes earned his 6th win for the Indians, and Doug Slaten earned his 10th Save. The Indians totalled 11 hits, with Chase d’Arnaud leading the way, going 4-for-5. Presley went 3-for-4, and Dallas McPherson went 2-for-3 with 2 walks and 2 RBI.
And more good news for the Indians: the Indians’ win cuts their magic number down to 3, and the Columbus Clippers’ loss cuts the Indians’ magic number further, down to 2.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Matt Hague’s 4th home run of the season to tie the game in the 7th, and Chase d’Arnaud’s ground rule double in the 8th to drive in the winning run.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: A total of 14 strike outs by the Indians’ pitching staff. Leroux struck out 9, Welker and Reyes struck out 2 each, and Slaten struck out one.
This is a 3-game series against the Bats. The Indians will follow this series with another 3-game series, against Columbus.