Indianapolis Indians 8, Columbus Clippers 6
Yes, there are two of them, and both made big contributions to the Indianapolis Indians’ win at Victory Field tonight. Kyle McPherson pitched 7 shut-out innings for the Indians, allowing the Columbus Clippers only 2 hits. Then DH Dallas McPherson hit two home runs, including the walk-off homer to give the Indians the win.
Kyle McPherson, in his first start since returning from his brief stint with the Pirates, began his evening by facing only one batter over the minimum in the first three innings. Clippers’ 3B Gregorio Petit took a 2-out walk in the 2nd inning, and was left on base. The Clippers’ first hit of the game came in the 4th inning, on a grounder up the middle by DH Vinny Rottino. That followed a walk to 2B Cord Phelps, and was the only time that McPherson had to work with more than one runner on base.
Kyle McPherson continued to dominate the Clippers, retiring them in order in the 5th and 6th, though he looked like he was tiring a bit by the end of the top of the 6th. He came back out for the 7th inning, though. That inning began with a single lined into left-center by RF Russ Canzler. McPherson got out of that minor jam by getting Rottino to pop out, then getting Petit to bounce into an around-the-horn double play (3B Anderson Hernandez to 2B Brock Holt to 1B Matt Hague). McPherson threw 92 pitches (59 strikes) and allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 5 Clippers. In his 3 starts for the Indians, McPherson has a total of 17 strikeouts and 4 walks in 18.1 innings. He’s allowed just 2 runs, for a 0.98 ERA.
Meanwhile, the Indians’ batters were giving Kyle McPherson plenty of early run support, aided by Dallas McPherson. The bottom of the 1st began with three consecutive hits– back-to-back singles by SS Chase d’Arnaud and Brock Holt, then a tremendous triple into the right field corner by the speedster CF Alex Presley. Dallas McPherson drove in Presley from third with a ground out to the right side of the infield, and the Indians had a 3-0 lead. RF Brandon Boggs and LF Yamaico Navarro (also just returned from the Pirates) added to the lead with back-to-back solo home runs, both over the left field wall, for a 5-0 lead.
Once Columbus starter David Huff got through the 1st inning (taking 35+ pitches), he settled down over the next few frames. Holt singled in the 2nd inning, and Navarro walked in the 3rd, but both were left on base. Presley led off the bottom of the 5th with a line drive single into left field. He was quickly erased when Hague bounced into a 6-4-3 double play. Dallas McPherson followed with a no-doubt-about-it bomb over the left field wall, for the Indians’ third solo home run of the night. Indians ahead 6-0.
The Indians threatened in the 7th, but could not capitalize. David Huff was relieved by Cole Cook, who walked Holt to begin the inning. Presley grounded to short, for what looked like it would be a double play. Holt was forced out at second, but Presley flew down the first base line and beat out the throw. After a pop out, Dallas McPherson lined a single into the right-center field gap, moving Presley around to third base. Boggs was (unintentionally) walked to load the bases with two outs. Navarro, who had also singled in the 6th, tried desperately to drive in at least one more run. He made a wide swing on a 1-2 pitch, leaning way out across the plate, but only grounded weakly to second base, ending the inning with all three runners left stranded.
Duke Welker relieved Kyle McPherson to begin the top of the 8th. The first batter he faced, SS Juan Diaz, greeted Welker with a sinking line drive into right field, and C Matt Pagnozzi followed with a single that slipped between 1B Hague and the first base line. Welker got CF Aaron Cunningham to ground into a double play (SS d’Arnaud to 2B Holt to 1B Hague), which eliminated Pagnozzi but put Diaz on third base. Then LF Tim Fedroff lined an RBI single into left field, driving in Diaz, as Welker stood on the mound looking dejected — he’d spoiled Kyle McPherson’s shut out. Welker ended the inning with a strikeout, and even though the shut out was gone, the Indians were still leading 6-1.
Then the Gremlins came out in the top of the 9th. Evan Meek took the mound to begin the inning. He walked Phelps, then threw a wild pitch to put Phelps on second base. Meek got a ground out, holding Phelps on second base. Next, Rottino ripped a line drive right back at Meek. It happened so fast that I couldn’t even tell where Meek had been hit. He staggered for a second, then dropped the ball as he went down to his knees. On the ground, Meek reached for the ball, which had not gone far, but he missed the grab, and Rottino was on first with a hit. Phelps , who was just as surprised as everyone else, remained on second base. Indians’ pitching coach Tom Filer and the Tribe’s trainer came out to look at Meek, and they determined that he needed to come out of the game. Meek was not pleased with this decision — as one of the orange water coolers in the dugout found out personally.
Doug Slaten came out of the bullpen and was given all the time he needed to get ready, facing runners on first and second with one out. The first batter Slaten saw, Petit, slammed a long fly ball over the left field wall, for a 3-run homer. That cut the lead to 6-4, but the Indians were still ahead. Slaten walked Diaz, and the next batter, Pagnozzi, blasted another home run over the left field wall, to tie the score at 6-6.
Slaten did not get any more chances. He was relieved by Tim Wood, who also gave up a single, but finally ended the inning with a fly out and a pop out.
The Indians, who thought they were going to be done after the top of the 9th, found themselves having to go on to the bottom of the 9th. Alex Presley was up first, and he grounded out to second base. Matt Hague worked a walk, bringing up Dallas McPherson. McPherson crushed a 1-1 pitch over the right field wall, again no-doubt-about-it, for a towering 2-run walk-off homer.
Tim Wood was credited with the win, leaving Kyle McPherson with no decision despite his excellent start. The Indians totalled 14 hits, with every member of the lineup but one (Hernandez) getting at least one hit. McPherson led the way with 3 hits and 4 RBI. Brock Holt, Alex Presley, and Yamaico Navarro had 2 hits each.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Dallas McPherson with 3 hits, including 2 home runs (3 in the past 2 days), especially the walk-off homer. Of the four Indians home runs, his second was the only one that was not a solo shot. In an interview after the game, McPherson showed his relief. “It was good to get out of that game with a win. It’s easy to blow it like that when the other team comes back. They did a great job of fighting back and staying in the game, and luckily we got out of here and walked away with a win.”
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Two excellent running catches in the outfield — one by RF Brandon Boggs, racing all the way to the wall in the right-center gap in the 4th inning to catch Vinny Rottino’s fly ball; and one by CF Alex Presley, who went back and to his right in the 6th to catch Tim Fedroff’s fly ball in left-center. Also, In the 5th, SS Chase d’Arnaud went deep into the hole to snag Aaron Cunningham’s grounder. D’Arnaud made the back-handed catch, then had to right himself, spin, and throw to first, where Matt Hague was stretched out as far as he possibly could be, to make the catch a split second before Cunningham’s foot hit the bag.
Tonight was the first Civil Rights Game held at Victory Field. The Indians wore Indianapolis Clowns uniforms, in honor of that Negro League team. The Clowns played in Indianapolis from 1944 until the end of the Negro League era. They played as a barnstorming team in the 1960’s. The Clowns most famous player was Henry Aaron, who played for them in 1952, until he was sold to the Boston Braves.
The Indians’ win gives them a 14-game lead over the Clippers in the IL Western Division standings. Not very meaningful, except for bragging rights, for the Indians. For the Clippers, though, every loss is slipping them further and further down in the wild card standings. They are currently third, 4.5 games behind the leading Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The Pawtucket Red Sox are only half a game behind the Iron Pigs, and 4 games ahead of the Clippers. The Iron Pigs and the Red Sox are 6 and 6.5 games (respectively) behind the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in the IL North Division.
Justin Wilson was honored before the game for his no-hitter on August 9th, and also for being involved in the combined no-hitter on April 29th. August 9th rain-shortened no-hitter was the first one at Victory Field since 2005 (Ian Snell) , and this is the first time since … well, more than 50 years… that an Indians’ pitcher has been involved in 2 no-hitters in one season.