Columbus Clippers 4, Indianapolis Indians 3[ box ]
A bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 9th inning broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Clippers the walk-off win over the Indians at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio tonight.
The game began with three scoreless innings on each side. The Indians posted only one hit in the first three innings — a huge hit into center field for a triple by CF Gorkys Hernandez. Tribe starter Brian Burres gave up a pair of two-out singles in the 1st, but left them on base. He also left a runner stranded after a two-out walk in the 2nd. Burres loaded the bases in the 3rd, also with two outs. 3B Jared Goedert, who had one of the singles in the 1st, doubled into right field. Burres then hit the next two batters — CF Jerad Head was hit on the right hand or wrist, and 1B Nick Johnson’s jersey was also hit. Burres held on once again, and ended the inning with a fly out, leaving all three on base — and a total of 6 Columbus runners left on base in three innings.
The Clippers got onto the scoreboard in the 4th inning. They loaded the bases with two outs again, on singles by C Paul Phillips, SS Luis Valbuena, and LF Tim Federoff. Federoff’s was an infield single that headed right back to the mound, deflected off Burres’ glove, and slowly dribbled over to second base. Tribe 2B Jordy Mercer charged in to make the scoop, but he had no play at any base. Unlike in the first part of the game, Burres could not escape this jam. Goedert lifted a double over the heads of RF John Bowker and Hernandez, clearing the bases to give the Clippers a 3-0 lead.
Burres went on to retire the Clippers in order in the 5th. He again got the first two outs in the 6th, before giving up a single to Federoff. By then Burres had thrown 92 pitches (60 strikes), and was responsible for 3 runs on 9 hits and a walk. Aaron Heilman relieved Burres, and ended the 6th with a pop out.
The Indians had only one hit going into the middle innings, and they continued in that vein. Five of the six Tribe batters who came to the plate in the 4th and 5th innings struck out (Mercer grounded out).
Finally, the Indians got going in the 6th. Eric Fryer, again playing left field, and Hernandez both walked to begin the inning. SS Pedro Ciriaco grounded to second, where 2B Argenis Reyes flipped to SS Luis Valbuena, forcing out Hernandez. Then Valbuena alertly fired to third base, where 3B Goedert tagged out Fryer, who was advancing from second base — a reverse force double play. that left Ciriaco on first and two outs. But the Indians were undeterred. Mercer lined a single into center field, moving Ciriaco to third, and Bowker slipped a single through the right side of the infield, and Ciriaco scored from second base, sliding in well ahead of the throw in from the outfield. The Clippers changed pitchers, with Zach Putnam coming on in relief. 1B Matt Hague greeted Putnam with a grounder up the middle, driving in Mercer from third. With the tying and go-ahead runs on the corners and two outs, Putnam threw a wild pitch, allowing Bowker to scramble home. The score was tied at 3-3.
A single and a walk gave the Indians two more base runners in the 7th. C Jason Jaramillo, in his first game in two weeks, was credited with an infield single when he grounded to third and 3B Goedert’s throw to first base sailed wide of the bag and bounced off the front of the dugout. Fryer also grounded to third. This time Goedert’s throw was on target, going to second base to force out Jaramillo, though the grounder was slowly moving, and 2B Reyes did not have a play at first base. Fryer stole second base, as the throw from C Phillips came in short in front of the bag. Hernandez walked, and a passed ball by Phillips moved both runners into scoring position. They got no further, though, as a strikeout ended the threat, and kept the score tied.
The Tribe had only one more base runner over the rest of the game, when Jaramillo walked in the 9th inning. Three batters struck out over those two innings, for a total of 15 strikeouts in the game. Every Indians’ batter except Gorkys Hernandez struck out at least once, and 3B Pedro Alvarez and DH Jeff Clement each struck out three times.
Aaron Heilman stayed in the game to pitch the bottom of the 7th. He walked one, but got two grounder force outs to end the inning. Rehabbing reliever Evan Meek, who joined the team today, took the mound for the 8th inning. He walked one batter, and got three ground outs for a scoreless inning. Garrett Olson replaced Meek to begin the 9th. Olson began the inning with a walk by Goedert. Head hit a long fly ball to left-center, which at first looked like a game-winning homer. Fortunately for the Indians, the umpires had a good view, and the replay confirmed, that the ball had bounced inside before going over the wall, for a ground-rule double. That put two Clippers’ runners into scoring position. Olson intentionally walked Johnson to load the bases, in hopes of a double play.
Righty Jared Hughes was brought in to replace the lefty Olson against (right handed) RF Chad Huffman. Hughes struck out Huffman, and now that hoped-for double play could end the game. But DH Beau Mills had other ideas. He hit a long fly ball to center field, easily caught by Hernandez, but it was well deep enough for Goedert to tag up and score on the sacrifice, for the walk-off win.
The win gave the teams a split of this final series of the season. The Clippers won the season series 12-9, though they won the first 7 games between the two teams this season. So, in the final 10 games between the Indians and the Clippers, the Indians actually won 9 out of 14.
The Indians move on to Toledo, where they will begin a 4-game series against the Mud Hens with 2 games in Toledo. The last two game of the series will be back at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: A triple by Gorkys Hernandez in the 3rd inning, which was the Tribe’s only hit in the first 5 innings, and their only extra-base hit of the night.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Brian Burres left the game trailing 3-0, but he had wiggled his way out of jams in three innings, and left a total of 8 runners on base.
Pedro Alvarez was 0-for-4 tonight, dropping his average to .273. That doesn’t seem so bad, but that’s not the whole story. When he was with the Indians in July, first on a rehab assignment, then for a few days on an option, he hit .365 (23-for-63) in 18 games. Since being optioned down in August, Alvarez had appeared in 9 games and has gone 4-for-32 (.125).
(photos by Nancy)