Indianapolis Indians 2, Syracuse Chiefs 1
Another brilliant performance by Indians’ pitching boosted the Indians over the Chiefs at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, NY. Starter Rick VandenHurk earned his 12th win for the Indians, and closer Tim Wood earned his 20th Save. The win gives the Indians a 3-1 win of this series against the Chiefs. The Indians also won the series with the Chiefs at Victory Field at the beginning of June by the same 3-1 margin, so the Indians win the season series 6-2.
Rick VandenHurk made a stellar start for the Indians. He allowed only one unearned run on 2 hits and 2 walks in 7.1 innings. He struck out 8 Chiefs in his evening’s work, matching his 8 strikeouts on July 25th against Pawtucket. VandenHurk allowed a walk in the bottom of the 1st, and a lead-off single to former Indy Indian 2B Jim Negrych in the 3rd. Negrych was bunted to second base, but got no further. After Negrych’s hit, VandenHurk retired the next 9 Syracuse batters in order, including striking out the side in the 5th. VandenHurk gave up another single (to pinch-hitter Jarrett Hoffpauir) and sacrifice bunt (by LF Eury Perez) in the 6th, but with the same results as in the 3rd inning.
The Indians’ batters put at least one base runner on in three of the first four innings. 2B Brock Holt opened the game with a single up the middle, but he was thrown out trying to steal second base. CF Alex Presley also walked in that inning, and was left stranded. RF Dallas McPherson began the 2nd inning with another single, and C Tony Sanchez joined McPherson on the base paths when he was hit by a pitch. Both were left stranded when VandenHurk struck out. 3B Matt Hague led off the 4th with a single, and he was also left on base.
The 5th inning began with the Indians’ fourth lead-off single of the game, this one by Sanchez, who slipped the ball into left field. VandenHurk sacrifice bunted Sanchez to second base. Holt tapped one back to the mound, off the pitcher Tanner Roark, and to the Syracuse SS Zach Walters, who made the throw to third base, retiring the lead runner Sanchez. Holt was safe on the fielder’s choice. That brought up SS Chase d’Arnaud, who slammed a rising fly ball over the left field wall for a 2-run homer, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.
After a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th, VandenHurk began the 8th by having Walters reach base on a fielding error by Holt at second base. Negrych worked a walk, and the Chiefs had two runners on base for the first time in the game. Pinch hitter Josh Johnson dropped down a sacrifice bunt, which Sanchez scrambled to field and throw to first base for the out on Johnson. That put both Walters and Negrych into scoring position with one out. VandenHurk’s evening ended there, as he was relieved by Evan Meek. VandenHurk had thrown an even 100 pitches (68 strikes).
The first batter Meek faced was LF Eury Perez, who smacked a sharp grounder toward second base. Holt made a diving stop, keeping the ball in the infield. Walters scored, and the Chiefs were left with runners on the corners. If the ball had gotten past Holt, two runs would have scored. Perez next tried to steal second base, but a perfect throw from Sanchez to d’Arnaud covering second base had Perez out on the steal attempt. A ground out to Holt ended the inning, and Meek had kept the Chiefs from scoring again.
The Indians threatened mildly in the 8th inning, when Presley singled for the second time in the game. Hague walked, but Presley was thrown out trying to steal third base, and the rally was cut short. Sanchez singled in the 9th, but was forced out at second base.
Tim Wood took over for the bottom of the 9th, as the Indians held tight to their one-run lead. Wood buzzed through the inning, with a strike out, a ground out, and a strikeout to end the game and the series.
The Indians posted 8 hits in the game, with Alex Presley and Tony Sanchez collecting two each.
The Indians will bus back to Indianapolis overnight. They begin a 3-game series against the Louisville Bats tomorrow evening.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Chase d’Arnaud’s 2-run home run which gave the Indians all the runs they would need. It was the only extra-base hit the Tribe had in the game, and d’Arnaud’s 4th homer of the season.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the bottom of the 8th, with one run in and Chiefs on the corners, Syracuse’s Eury Perez tried to steal second base — a good idea, which would have put him into scoring position and eliminated the possibility that the Indians could turn an easy inning-ending double play. But Perez did not take Tribe C Tony Sanchez into account. Sanchez popped up and fired to second base, in time and on target, so that Chase d’Arnaud could easily make the tag for the out on Perez. That halted the Chiefs’ momentum in the inning, and an easy grounder ended the frame.
Roster moves: Pitchers Justin Wilson and Kyle McPherson have been optioned back to the Indians today. Reliever Daniel McCutchen was called up to Pittsburgh.
The Columbus Clippers beat the Louisville Bats tonight, 10-7. The Indians maintain their 10-game lead over the Clippers in the IL Western Division, but the Indians’ magic number has dropped to 4.