Justin Wilson (photo) started his outing by facing the minimum number of batters over the first two innings. He walked Hernandez in the 1st inning, but when Hernandez tried to steal second base, Dusty Brown threw him out by three feet. Wilson worked around two base runners in both the 3rd and 4th innings. The 3rd inning began with a grounder behind second base by 3B Michael Fisher. D’Arnaud made a diving stop of the ball, but he was off-balance when he threw to first base, and the throw was well wide of the bag, and Fisher was safe with a single. Stinson’s sacrifice bunt moved Fisher to second base. LF Jesus Feliciano grounded to third, and that should have been the end of the inning, but Harrison’s throw to first was in the dirt, and Hague could not hold on to it. It was ruled a throwing error on Harrison, and the Bison had runners on the corners. Wilson did not appear to be ruffled — he got a fly out to end the inning with those runners standing right there.
A walk to Pascucci and a single by Nickeas put two more runners on base with one out in the 4th. That didn’t rattle Wilson either. He struck out LF Bubba Bell and got Fisher to bounce into a force out at second, and escaped that inning without a run scoring. Wilson retired the Bison in order in the 5th, but then got into trouble of his own making in the 6th. He walked Hernandez on a 3-1 pitch, and walked CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a full count, with no outs. A grounder to short by Pascucci looked like it could be a double play, but Pascucci disrupted d’Arnaud at second base as he was taking the throw from Ciriaco, and while Pascucci was forced out, d’Arnaud was not able to get off a throw to first. With runners on the corners, Nickeas lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center field, scoring Hernandez from third. That was all for Wilson, who needed 95 pitches (56 strikes) to go 5.2 innings. He gave up only that run, on 2 hits, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts.
Justin Thomas came on to finish the 6th, with a ground out by Bell. Thomas also retired the side in order in the 7th.
(Photo: Two National League affiliates playing, so Wilson got to bat too.)
And the Indians just kept pouring it on. The went down in order in the 2nd, and then later in the 6th, but had at least one base runner on in every other inning. Presley led off the 3rd with a line drive double into the right field corner. Hague walked, and Harrison lined a single into center field, bringing Presley around to score. Presley led off the 5th with another double, this one down the left field line, and under the bench in the Indians’ bullpen (which was empty because of the rain). Bowker slipped a grounder between the Bison first and second basemen for an RBI single, ad Presley raced around to score from second base. After a strikeout by Hague, Harrison bounced to short for what again should have been an inning-ending double play. But again, after forcing out Bowker at second, Figueroa’s throw to first was wide to the infield side of the bag, and Harrison was safe. That kept the inning going, and Lambo followed with a line drive single to right field. The starter Stinson was relieved by John Lujan, who was greeted by a booming double into the deep left field gap by Dusty Brown, bringing in both Harrison and Lambo to give the Indians an 8-0 lead.
Lambo and Brown both reached base with two outs in the 7th inning — a walk by Lambo and a single into right field by Brown, but a pop out by pinch-hitter Andy Marte left them on base.
(Photo: Chase d’Arnaud scores)
With Buffalo reliever Taylor Tankersley on the mound in the 8th, the Tribe rallied again. D’Arnaud and Ciriaco got the ball rolling with back-to-back singles to open the inning. Bowker collected his third and fourth RBI of the game with a huge line drive double past RF Bell and all the way to the right field wall. D’Arnaud scored easily from second base, and Ciriaco came around from first to score the Indians’ 10th run of the game.
Evan Meek (photo, with Dusty Brown), with the Indians on a rehab assignment from the Pirates, came on to pitch the 8th inning for the Tribe. This was his second rehab appearance. On Sunday, Meek pitched a 1-2-3 inning, with a strikeout and two ground outs. Today, he struck out Feliciano looking, then gave up a single up the middle to Hernandez. Then he struck out both Nieuwenhuis and Pascucci to end the inning. Meek threw 12 pitches on Sunday; today he needed 20 pitches (12 strikes).
Chris Leroux pitched the 9th inning, and unlike in the Tribe’s most recent wins, he did not give up runs in the 9th inning. Leroux got two ground outs, then gave up singles to Fisher and Figueroa. Another former Indy Indian, Raul Chavez, came on to pinch-hit for the Bison. Leroux ended the game by getting Chavez to ground out to first.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: The Indians all had their hitting shoes on tonight. Five singles in the 1st inning. Two doubles and a single by both Alex Presley and Dusty Brown. Two singles and a double by John Bowker, plus 4 RBI.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the top of the 9th, with one out, Bubba Bell grounded up the middle. Chase d’Arnaud made a dive to his right, and made the stop to keep the ball from going into the outfield. Then he got up on one knee, and still a bit off-balance, fired to first base to make the out on Bell.
There was a minute of silence at Victory Field before the game, in honor of former Indy Indian (1958) Harmon Killebrew, who passed away today. Killebrew played only 38 games with the Indians that year. He is the last Indy Indian to have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Scott McCauley relates a story about Killebrew and Indians’ President Max Schumacher and breakfast cereal here.
The Indians played a video tribute to Killebrew prior to the game — click to the right along the playlist to find it.
Contrary to an erroneous press release sent out earlier today by the Altoona Curve, Chris Leroux has NOT been released. (Oops! Sorry!) He was on the field practicing and doing drills when the news of his untimely demise was announced. Nope, he’s here, and he even got into the game tonight.
John Bowker has now been with the Indians for 10 games. In those 10 games, he has hit .333, with 4 doubles, one homer, and 12 RBI. He has hit safely in 8 of the 10. And for the 2 games when he was without a hit, he reached base on a walk in one, and picked up an RBI in the other.
Former Indy Indian (2004) Luis Figueroa (photo) has played all around the US. He was
originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Pirates in 1997, and played in their minor league organization for 5 seasons, moving up as high as AAA (Nashville, back then). He was traded to the Mets in 2001, and after that has played mostly in the minors for the Expos, the Brewers, the Red Sox, the Blue Jays, the Giants, the Cubs, the Dodgers, and the Blue Jays again. This year, he signed in late April with the Brewers (that’s who was affiliated with the Indians back in 2004 also) and played in 9 games with AAA Nashville, before being released last week. The Mets picked him up as a minor league free agent, and today’s game was his 5th with the Bison.
(photos by Nancy)