Indianapolis Indians 8, Charlotte Knights 0
A tremendous start by pitcher Phil Irwin plus a 5-run 6th inning gave the Indianapolis Indians the boost they needed to win a do-or-die game over the Charlotte Knights tonight at Knights’ Stadium in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC. Irwin pitched 7 shutout innings and allowed just 2 hits and one walk, while he struck out 11 Charlotte batters. The Indians put up 10 hits, led by 3B Hector Luna, who had 3 of those hits.
Irwin was the dominating force in the game. He started out a bit shakily, hitting the first batter he faced, DH Greg Golson with a pitch, and then committing a balk to put Golson on second base. 2B Drew Garcia tapped a grounder back to the mound. Irwin scooped it up and fired to third base, where Luna tagged out Golson for the first out of the inning. That must have settled Irwin, because he struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
C Josh Phegley led off the bottom of the 2nd with a double into left field. After that, Irwin shut down the Knights. He struck out the next three batters to end the 2nd. Irwin went on to retire the side in the 3rd and 4th (one strike out in each inning). He walked SS Carlos Sanchez in the 5th, but left him on base, while he struck out two more. Golson singled to begin the bottom of the 6th, and Irwin promptly erased him by getting Garcia to bounce into a double play, 2B Anderson Hernandez to SS Chase d’Arnaud to 1B Matt Hague. A ground out ended that inning. Irwin struck out two more in the 7th inning, as he again retired the Knights in order. Irwin threw 95 pitches (65 strikes) as he earned the win.
Of course, Irwin would need some run support from his teammates. Before he even took the mound, Irwin had one run in his back pocket. D’Arnaud led off the top of the 1st by beating out the throw from shortstop on a grounder deep into the hole. D’Arnaud stole second base, but held there when Luna also beat out an infield single. D’Arnaud stole third base, then scored on Hague’s sacrifice fly. Indians ahead, 1-0.
The Tribe managed only one hit over the next four innings — a two-out single into center field by LF Jeff Larish. In the top of the 6th, the Indians exploded for 5 runs as they sent 10 batters to the plate. Chase d’Arnaud began the frame by being hit by a pitch. He scored when Hernandez lined a double down the left field line and into the corner. Luna also doubled along left field line, plating Hernandez. After a pop out and a ground out, which sent Luna to third base, DH Yamaico Navarro singled up the middle, scoring Luna from third. At that point, the Knights changed pitchers, bringing in former Indy Indian Daniel Moskos. His former teammates were not kind to Moskos. CF Brandon Boggs greeted Moskos with a grounder off the glove of Knight’s 3B Brent Morel and into left field. LF Jeff Larish walked to load the bases. C Miguel Perez lined a single into center field, driving in both Navarro and Boggs, to give the Indians 5 runs in the inning, and a 6-0 lead. D’Arnaud, who began the inning, also ended it, by striking out.
Two more insurance runs scored in the 8th, after Moskos had been relieved. RF Dallas McPherson led off with a walk. Navarro followed with a long fly ball off the wall in center field for a double. He advanced to third base on the throw back in, and a throwing error by SS Santos. McPherson scored easily on the play. Larish drove in Navarro with a sacrifice fly, giving the Indians an 8-0 lead.
Duke Welker took over for Irwin to begin the 8th inning. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning, including one strike out. Jose Diaz pitched the 9th for the Indians, and he also retired the Knights in order, with 2 strikeouts.
Hector Luna had 3 of the Indians’ 10 hits — a double and two singles, with one RBI. Yamaico Navarro singled and doubled, with 2 RBI.
This best-of-five series continues tomorrow with another game in Charlotte. The Knights lead the series 2 games to 1, so tomorrow’s game will again be a win-or-go-home situation for the Indians.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Three doubles, which were the Indians’ only extra-base hits of the game. Anderson Hernandez and Hector Luna hit back-to-back doubles in the 6th. Hernandez’s drove in Chase d’Arnaud, and Luna’s drove in Hernandez. Yamaico Navarro doubled in the 8th, to bring in Dallas McPherson.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Eleven strike outs by Phil Irwin, which helped him keep the Knights scoreless over 7 innings. An amazing performance by Irwin. And, Duke Welker and Jose Diaz combined to strike out 3 more — 14 total strikeouts, which accounted for just over half of the Knights’ outs.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees find themselves in the same situation as the Indians. The Pawtucket Red Sox won the first two games of their series, in Pawtucket. Tonight the Yankees battled back from a 3-0 deficit, scoring one run in the 8th and 3 runs in the 9th, for a 4-3 win, keeping the Yankees alive in the series. The Yankees’ “home” games are being played at Frontier Field in Rochester, NY, one of the stadiums that the Yankees have been borrowing for their home games this season.