Indianapolis Indians 2, Columbus Clippers 1[ box ]
The Indians took a slim lead, then held on tight, to squeak out a win over the Clippers at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio tonight. Starter Jose Ascanio made his second straight start, and this time pitched 5 scoreless innings (he threw 6 scoreless on August 21st), to earn his second win of the season. C Dusty Brown drove in both Indians’ run. Then CF Gorkys Hernandez prevented the Clippers from tying the score when his outfield assist cut down a runner at the plate.
Ascanio had to work his way out of a small jam in the bottom of the 1st inning. With one out, LF Tim Federoff lined a single through to center field, then stole second base. 3B Jared Goedert walked, giving the Clippers two runners on base. Ascanio left both on base when he got both RF Travis Buck and CF Jerad Head to fly out.
Ascanio put the Clippers down in order in the 2nd and 3rd innings. He gave up a two-out double to Head in the 4th, then walked DH Nick Johnson, but again left both on base with a pop out. The 5th inning saw Ascanio in trouble again. With one out, 2B Argenis Reyes and SS Luis Valbuena hit back-to-back singles, putting runners on the corners. Ascanio loaded the bases by walking Federoff. An infield fly rule pop up by Goedert to 3B Pedro Alvarez forced the runners to hold their positions. Then Ascanio was out of that jam too, with a ground out to first by Buck. His evening ended with 4 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings, but no runs allowed. He also struck out one batter. Ascanio threw 84 pitches, with 52 strikes.
The Tribe batters began their evening slowly, with the first 9 batters going down in order. Their first hit was a line drive single that fell into the left-center field alley by SS Pedro Ciriaco to open the 4th inning. That attempt at a rally was cut short, though. 2B Jordy Mercer flied out to right field, and the throw back in to the infield caught Ciriaco too far off first base. He tried to scramble back to the bag, but was not fast enough, and was doubled off.
1B Matt Hague got another rally started for the Tribe in the 5th. He singled into right-center, then progressed to second and then third when both Alvarez and DH Jeff Clement worked walks. WIth the bases loaded and no outs, Dusty Brown rocketed a line drive up the middle and into deep center field. Hague scored easily from third, and Alvarez came racing along behind him, not even drawing a throw to the plate from the relay man. A pop out and two strike outs ended the frame, but the Indians had a 2-0 lead.
That was all the scoring the Indians could do. They went down in order again in the 6th and 7th. They loaded the bases again in the 8th, when Eric Fryer, who played left field tonight, led off with a walk. Hernandez lined into right field, which might have let Fryer advance all the way to third. Fryer held up just a few steps past second base, though — not clear whether he was faked out by the Clippers infielders, or had lost sight of where the ball was. After a pair of strikeouts by Ciriaco and Mercer, RF John Bowker caught a break when 1B Beau Mills misjudged a foul pop near the dugout. That let Bowker stay alive, and he worked a walk to load the bases with two outs. The Clippers got out of the jam without allowing a run to score, when Hague grounded out to end the threat.
Pedro Alvarez, who had flied out, walked, and struck out in the game, greeted the Columbus reliever Josh Judy with a double into the right field corner to begin the top of the 9th. After a strikeout, Brown flied out to left, and Clippers’ LF Federoff fired the ball back to second base, to double off Alvarez– the second Pedro doubled off on a fly out.
Daniel Moskos took over for Ascanio to begin the 6th inning. Moskos pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, a two-out single in the 7th. Justin Wilson earned his 3rd Save of the season, pitching the final two innings. Wilson did allow the only Columbus run, which came in the 8th. He began the frame with a strikeout, then walked RF Travis Buck. Head looped a ball softly over the mound into a tough spot to reach. SS Ciriaco came charging in and was able to scoop up the ball with his bare hand, and throw across his body to first base, just barely in time to get Head at first. That put Buck on second base and in scoring position, so that when Johnson lined a double into center field, Buck was able to come around to score, cutting the Indians’ lead to 2-1.
Wilson had to work to hold onto that slim lead in the 9th, with some help from Hernandez. Former Indy Indian C Luke Carlin led off with a walk, and was sacrifice bunted to second base. Valbuena also walked. Federoff singled up the middle, and Carlin took off. CF Hernandez nearly fell over with the momentum of his throw back to the infield. The ball came in right on target at the plate, and C Brown made the catch and then just had to turn and tag Carlin, who was barreling across the plate. The tag was in time, though plate umpire Jon Byrne waited until Brown climbed out from under Carlin and held up his glove with the ball still in it before making the OUT! call. A little grounder to first base ended the inning and the game, and the Indians had the win.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: The Indians posted only 5 hits, but made them count and also took advantage of walks. The biggest hit was Dusty Brown’s single in the 5th which drove in both Indians’ runs.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Gorkys Hernandez’s outfield assist in the top of the 9th, on a single by Tim Federoff, when he fired in to the plate where Dusty Brown tagged out runner Luke Carlin at home. It kept the tying run from scoring, and cut short the Clippers’ momentum. It was Hernandez’s third outfield assist in the past three games.
(photos by Nancy)