Owens gave up only a single in the 3rd inning, to Antonelli. Watts erased him too, catching him stealing second base. The Chiefs scored a second run in the 4th inning. 1B Chris Marrero led off with a single, and two outs later he stole second base. Bynum’s RBI single plated Marrero, and the Chiefs had a 2-0 lead.
The Tribe posted 5 singles over the first 4 innings. Bowker (photo) singled in the 1st and Marte singled in the 2nd, but Bowker was picked off first and Marte was thrown out trying to steal second. CF Gorkys Hernandez singled in the 3rd and was left stranded. Friday singled to open the 4th, but was doubled up when Bowker lined out to first base. Hague also singled in that inning and was left stranded.
A rally in the 5th inning tied the score for the Indians. With one out, Watts singled into center field and Hernandez followed with a grounder into left field. Owens’ sacrifice bunt moved both into scoring position. Ciriaco drove in both with a booming triple lined into left field, tying the score at 2-2.
Bowker gave the Indians the go-ahead run in the 6th when he led off the inning with a solo homer over the right field wall. Two outs later, the Indians loaded the bases, on a single by Durham, Watts hit by a pitch, and a walk to Hernandez. Some insurance would have been nice, but pinch-hitter Anthony Norman struck out to end the inning and leave all three runners standing there. The Tribe added another run in the 7th. Friday singled up the middle and moved to second with a wild pitch. He advanced to third when Bowker grounded out, then scored on Hague’s RBI double that slid between the third base bag and 3B Antonelli and into left field, giving the Indians a 4-2 lead.
Owens was done with his evening after 5 innings. He had allowed just those 2 runs on 7 hits and one walk, with 3 strikeouts. He threw 87 pitches (59 for strikes). Owens was relieved by Jared Hughes to begin the 6th. Hughes hit Marrero with a pitch to start the inning, then retired the next three batters, two with strikeouts. Donnie Veal took the 7th. He gave up a two-out double to Lombardozzi but also struck out two batters, preserving the Indians’ 2-run lead.
The Tribe threatened in the 8th, again hoping for more insurance. Durham led off with his second single of the game. Watts bounced to first, where 1B Marrero made the scoop and threw to SS Bynum covering second, forcing out Durham. The pitcher Severino covered first base for the return throw, but the throw was a little off and Severino dropped the ball, missing the chance at a double play. Watts advanced to second base on Hernandez’s single up the middle. Pinch-hitter Corey Wimberly hit for Veal, but he bounced into an inning-ending double play, dashing the Tribe’s hopes for insurance runs.
Cesar Valdez took the mound for the Tribe in the bottom of the 8th. He gave up one run to the Chiefs, on a single by Jesus Valdez that skipped off Friday’s glove. Friday’s view of the grounder might have been partially obscured by Cesar Valdez on the mound. An RBI double down the left field line by C Jesus Flores drove in Jesus Valdez. That brought Syracuse to within one run of the Indians, 4-3.
That set up the bottom of the 9th, with Justin Thomas on the mound, and the desperate rally by the Chiefs for their walk-off win. It also gave the two teams a split of the 4-game series. The Indians have completed their season series with Syracuse, taking the series 5 games to 3. The Tribe now move on to Toledo, where they will play 2 games against the Mud Hens. They return home to Victory Field on the Fourth of July for 3 more games against Toledo. The game on the Fourth of July has already been sold out.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Pedro Ciriaco’s 2-RBI triple in the 5th, giving the Indians their first two runs. Ciriaco now has an 11-game hitting streak — the longest hitting streak of the season for any of the Indians’ batters. He has boosted his batting average to .306 during that time. Ciriaco’s average has steadily increased this season: .246 in April, .283 in May, and .337 in June.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the bottom of the 2nd, with one run already in and Seth Bynum on second base, a single into left field by JD Martin had Bynum racing for the plate. John Bowker made the throw in from left field and was credited with the outfield assist as Kris Watts made the tag at the plate.
With Owens coming off the Disabled List, the Indians had to free up a roster spot. Garrett Olson was moved to the Bradenton roster to make room for Owens. It was a paper moved only — Olson is still with the Tribe and will travel to Toledo with the team.
Jordy Mercer was also hit on the hand earlier in the week. He has a bruise, but should be ready to return to action in another day or two.
(photos by Nancy)