Louisville Bats 2, Indianapolis Indians 1[ box ]
A 9th-inning rally by the Bats, aided by a wild pitch, gave Louisville a walk-off win over the Indians at Louisville Slugger Park this afternoon on the Ohio River. The Bats put up only 3 hits, but the critical one was the 2-RBI single in the bottom of the 9th by 1B Mike Costanzo.
New Indian Aaron Thompson, recently promoted from AA Altoona, made the start for the Indians, in what the Tribe coaching staff had decided was going to be a “bullpen day”. Thompson’s most recent work in Altoona has been out of the bullpen, though he has also been a starter. He pitched 3.2 innings on Wednesday, and with only three days’ rest, manager Dean Treanor was hoping for 3 or 4 innings from Thompson today. So, Treanor was pleasantly surprised when Thompson sailed through 4 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and one walk, while striking out 5 batters. Thompson threw 58 pitches, with 41 strikes.
Thompson retired the first 5 Bats’ batters he faced, before giving up the lone single to C Devin Mesoraco with two outs in the 2nd. A strikeout ended that inning, and the next Louisville batter to reach base was 2B Chris Valaika, who walked to begin the 4th. A fly out and two strikeouts got Thompson out of the inning, and ended his afternoon.
While Thompson was keeping the Bats off the bases, the Indians put their lead-off batter on base in all but one inning. Only one time, though, were they able to bring any of their runners around to score. CF Alex Presley led off the top of the 1st with a line drive off the glove of 2B Valaika and into center field, but he was forced out at second base on a grounder. 1B Matt Hague singled to begin the 2nd, and was erased in a double play. SS Pedro Ciriaco singled to lead off the 3rd, and got as far as third base before being stranded.
The lone Indians’ run came in the 4th. 3B Chase d’Arnaud led off with a walk, then stole second base. He had to hold there on a fly out to short center field, but when Hague slipped a single through the left side of the infield, d’Arnaud came around to score. Hague was thrown out trying to steal second base. 2B Jordy Mercer also singled in that inning and stole second, but got no further.
That was all the scoring until the last pitch of the game. The Indians held tight to that 1-0 lead, as Steven Jackson took over for Aaron Thompson. Jackson retired the side in order in the 5th, aided by a leaping catch of a line drive by d’Arnaud at third. He gave up a walk and a single to begin the 6th. Valaika dropped down a bunt, which C Dusty Brown snatched up and fired to third, for the out on the lead runner. Jackson was relieved by Justin Thomas, who came into the game with runners on first and second and one out. Thomas held onto the lead by striking out the next two Louisville batters to end the threat.
Thomas started the 7th inning with a walk and two outs. Jared Hughes came on to relieve Thomas, giving up a walk, then ending that inning with a ground out to short and a desperate flip from Ciriaco to Mercer covering second base just barely in time for the out. Hughes, in turn, got the first two outs in the bottom of the 8th, then was relieved by Justin Wilson. Wilson ended the 8th with a ground out.
After they scored in the 4th, the Indians kept putting runners on base. Presley was hit by a pitch in the 5th. Bowker singled in the 6th. Brown led off the 7th with a double lined into left field, and moved to third base on Thomas’ sacrifice bunt. That was as far as Brown would get, as a ground out left him standing on third. Hague walked to open the 9th, and he also was out in a double play.
The Indians still were clinging to that 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the 9th. With Wilson still on the mound and one out, LF Daniel Dorn was hit by a pitch. Mesoraco worked a walk, and was replaced by pinch-runner Jose Castro. Then came disaster for Wilson and the Indians. Wilson threw a wild pitch, which allowed both runnersto move into scoring position. That allowed both Mesoraco and Castro to score easily when Constanzo sent a low liner into center field, giving Louisville the walk-off win.
Wilson was charged with both a Blown Save and the loss. The Tribe had a total of 7 hits. Brown’s double was the only extra-base hit, and Hague was the only Indians’ batter to get two hits.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Matt Hague’s RBI single into left field, which drove in the Indians’ only run. It was his 68th RBI of the season.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the bottom of the 7th, Daniel Dorn began the inning with a soft blooper to the no-man’s-land in short left-center field. SS Pedro Ciriaco raced back, and made the catch, falling to the grass, to rob Dorn of a hit.
This might have been Jose Tabata’s last game on this rehab stint. He went 0-for-4 today, but has been moving and running better in the last few days. Last week, Tabata looked like he was still protecting his quad when he was running in the outfield or on the base paths.
The Indians have one more game in Louisville on Monday, then return to Victory Field for the season’s longest home stand — 10 days.
(photos by Nancy)