Charlotte Knights 8,��� �Indianapolis Indians 7
A two-out 9th inning rally fell short for the Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field this afternoon, allowing the Charlotte Knights to avoid being swept by the Tribe in the 4-game series. �The Knights scored 6 runs in the 2nd inning and the Indians spent the rest of the game trying to catch up. �Brad Lincoln (photo) suffered the loss, his 2nd of the season with the Tribe, and was only able to pitch 3 innings -- the shortest of his 8 starts with the Tribe. �
Brad Lincoln began the game with a walk to Knight's lead-off batter SS Brent Lillibridge. �There was a scary moment when Lincoln made a pick-off throw to first, and the ball hit Lillibridge, possibly on the back of his head. �The ball ricocheted to just in front of the Knights' dugout, but Lillibridge was still prone on the ground at first and was not able to advance. �Both Indians' trainer Jose Ministral (who knows Lillibridge from his time in the Pirates' organization)�
and the Knights' trainer came out to check on him. �Lillibridge was able to stand, and take a test-jog down the right field line, and so he stayed in the game, and stole second base a few minutes later. �But Lincoln retired the next three batters on fly outs and a pop out to end the inning. �(Photo: �Brian Myrow makes the catch on a fly ball.)
The Indians scored two runs in the bottom of the frame. �Knights' Daniel Hudson was making his AAA debut, and it didn't begin in the best manner. �Lead-off man 2B Brian Bixler surprised Hudson by dropping down a perfect bunt on the first pitch he saw, and beat out Hudson's throw to first for a hit. �Hudson was a little rattled, and he hit RF Jose Tabata on the 3-2 pitch, then walked LF Brian Myrow, also on a 3-2 pitch. �Hudson struck out DH Jeff Clement, but then 1B Tagg Bozied smacked what would be the first of 3 hits into right field, for an RBI single, scoring Bixler. �3B Neil Walker followed with a sacrifice fly into left field, scoring Tabata. �C Robinzon Diaz flied out to end the inning, with the Indians ahead 2-0.
[Photo: Pitching coach Ray Searage confers with Robinzon Diaz and Brad Lincoln]
Unfortunately that was the last time the Indians had the lead. �Disaster struck in the top of the 2nd inning, and Brad Lincoln was the victim. �He began the inning well, getting C Cole Armstrong to ground out to Brian Bixler at second base, with an excellent backhanded stop by Bixler. �1B Wilson Betemit and 3B Josh Fields hit back-to-back singles. �Lincoln struck out LF Stefan Gartrell for the second out, and things were not looking too bad. �But 5 straight RBI hits brought in 6 runs: �2B Keith Ginter's single scored Betemit; Brent Lillibridge's double scored Fields; CF Miguel Negron's double scored Ginter and Lillibridge; RF Josh Kroeger's single scored Negron; and DH Michael Restovich's single scored Kroeger, who had stolen second base (photo below).
The inning took Lincoln 34 pitches, which is just over the Pirates' organizational limit for number of pitches any pitcher can throw in one inning. �Pirates' Director of Player Development Kyle Stark was in the stadium, so maybe the Indians got his permission, because Lincoln came back out to pitch the 3rd inning, which is not usually what the Pirates do. �Lincoln needed only 8 pitches to get through the 3rd inning, but with those pitches, he gave up a lead-off double to Wilson Betemit and an RBI double to Stefan Gartrell, to give the Knights' a 7-2 lead. �The inning ended when Gartrell was thrown out trying to steal third. �
The Indians kept battling. �They managed only a lone single by Brian Bixler in the 2nd inning and another single by Tagg Bozied in the 3rd. �They did get to Daniel Hudson in the 4th inning, when they began the inning with three consecutive hits: �a double down the line and into the left field corner by Robinzon Diaz, an RBI single into left field by CF Chris Barnwell (and he advanced to second base on a high throw in from the outfield),�and a twisting loopy single into right field by SS Argenis Diaz (photo),�which moved Barnwell to third base. �Brian Bixler hit a fly to right field, too short for Barnwell to score from third, but Argenis Diaz was able to move to second base on the throw in from right field. �Jose Tabata smashed a grounder up the middle, which SS Brent Lillibridge was able to stop with an outstretched dive. �He had no throw, though, and Barnwell scored. �Brian Myrow's sacrifice fly brought in Argenis Diaz, and the Indians were making progress: �Knights 7, Indians 5.
Daniel Hudson was relieved after 4 innings, and Jhonny Nunez came on in relief. �Nunez allowed only one hit over his two innings. �That hit was a blast off the bat of Brian Bixler, which cleared the left field wall and hit the light pole in the left field berm for his 9th homer of the season (photo). �The Indians were within one run of the Knights, 7-6.
Ty Taubenheim relieved Brad Lincoln to begin the 4th inning, and he kept the Knights scoreless for three innings. �He allowed a single to Miguel Negron and walked Michael Restovich in the 4th inning, but left them stranded. �Stefan Gartrell reached base safely in the 5th inning on a throwing error by SS Argenis Diaz. �1B Tagg Bozied made a great stretch, nearly flat on the ground toward the outfield side of the bag, to reach the ball and make the catch in time, but when he landed on the ground, the ball popped out of Bozied's glove and Gartrell was ruled safe. �Taubenheim was aided by two excellent fielding plays behind him. �LF Brian Myrow ended the 5th inning with a running backhanded catch of Keith Ginter's fly ball, slamming up against the left field wall to make the catch. �
3B Neil Walker (photo) made a charging bare-handed scoop of a dribbly little grounder off the bat of Miguel Negron in the 6th inning, then fired across his body while still moving to throw Negron out in plenty of time at first base. �
Steven Jackson came on to pitch the 7th inning, and he gave up one more run, which the Knights would turn out to need. �Michael Restovich led off with a 4-pitch walk. �Cole Armstrong grounded a single through the hole and into right field. �Stefan Gartrell's double into the left field corner brought in Restovich, to give the Knights an 8-6 lead. �
Denny Bautista handled the last two innings on the mound for the Tribe. �He kept the Knights scoreless despite a single by Josh Kroeger in the 8th, and an unusual play in the 9th. �Cole Armstrong led off with a single into right field. Wilson Betemit also grounded to the right side of the infield, and it was just out of Tagg Bozied's reach, heading for the hole and into right field -- until it hit Armstrong as he was running past. �Armstrong was out, hit by a batted ball, with Bozied getting credit for the put out (the rules say the put out goes to the nearest fielder, even though he didn't really have to do anything). �Betemit was safe on first, credited with a hit. �Bautista was not fazed -- he struck out the next two batters, on a total of 7 pitches. �
The Tribe had only two base runners reach in the 7th and 8th innings, both on walks. �Brian Myrow worked the count full and then looked at ball four in the 7th, for the second time in the game. �Chris Barnwell took a 4-pitch walk in the 8th. �Both were left stranded on base. �
That set up the Indians for a last-ditch effort 9th inning rally. �With 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, Jeff Clement (photo) lifted a long fly ball to right-center field. �It was caught perfectly -- but not by someone in a Knights' uniform. �The catch was made by a small outfielder on the grass berm who was wearing an Indians' Knot Hole Club t-shirt. �Clement's 5th home run in 9 days again brought the Indians within one run of the Knights. �Tagg Bozied followed the homer with a double into the left-center field alley. �Neil Walker was next, and he was patient enough to work a walk (in the past, he might have swung at some of those outside pitches). �That brought up Robinzon Diaz. �Diaz hit the first pitch he saw, but it went more up than out, and settled into RF Josh Kroeger's glove to end the game. �
The loss kept the Indians from the sweep. �The season series against the Knights still went to the Indians, 5 games to 3. �The loss drops the Indians to two games below .500 again.
[Photo: Neil Walker congratulates Jeff Clement on his home run.]
This was the Indians' last game of the season against a team that is not in the West Division. �All the rest of the Tribe's games are going to be against the Louisville Bats, the Columbus Clippers, and the Toledo MudHens. �(And they will all be heartily sick of one another by the end of the next 4 weeks.) �
Indians' Hitting Gems of the Game: �Home runs by Brian Bixler (photo) and Jeff Clement. �Both brought the Indians within one run of the Knights. �
Indians' Defensive Gems of the Game: �Brian Myrow's running backhanded catch of Keith Ginter's fly in the 5th inning, bouncing off the left field scoreboard as soon as he made the catch.
Honorable Mention: �The diving catch of Jeff Clement's home run by the small outfielder on the berm, who had wisely brought a mitt to the game, and who appeared to be about 12 years old or so. �You can see the catch on the video clips on the official Indians website. ��
Brian Bixler's 3 hits (a homer and two singles) extended his hitting streak to 11 games. �
Tagg Bozied's 3 hits (a double and two singles) extended his hitting streak to 6 games.
Neil Walker went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and a walk, and that ended his hitting streak at 8 games. �He has 17 RBI over his last 9 games. �
Bullpen catcher Ryan Lewis likes to do this, but doesn't get to very often:
Neil Walker "helped" the kid who was running in a race on the base paths against the mascot Rowdie. �
[Photos by Nancy Zinni -- MVN]