Indianapolis Indians 12, Columbus Clippers 9
The Indianapolis Indians and Columbus Clippers traded the lead back and forth tonight at Victory Field, but it was the Indians who came out on top, coming from behind twice for the win. Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision. There were five home runs in the game, two for the Clippers and three for the Indians. The two teams combined for a total of 26 hits.
The Clippers began the scoring in the top of the 1st. Indians’ starter Justin Wilson walked the second batter of the inning, LF Jason Donald. A wild pitch let Donald advance to second base, and then Donald stole third base. A ground out by DH Vinny Rottino plated Donald from third, and the Clippers had a 1-0 lead.
The Indians came roaring back in the bottom of the inning, as they batted around. LF Alex Presley, on a rehab assignment from the Pirates, led off with a single shot through the right side of the infield. RF Jose Tabata grounded to third, where Clippers’ 3B Jared Goedert fired to 2B Cord Phelps. Phelps made the force out on Presley at second, but for some reason did not even try to go for a double play by throwing to first base. He might have been able to make the out on Tabata, but instead the Indians had a runner still on first, with one out. CF Starling Marte worked a walk, and DH Brandon Boggs gave the Indians the lead with a 3-run homer off the left field foul pole.
After the home run, Clippers’ starter David Huff gave up a single through the left side of the infield to 1B Yamaico Navarro. Then C Tony Sanchez gave the Indians some extra insurance with a 2-run homer over the right field wall. 2B Anderson Hernandez also singled, but he was left on base when the inning ended, with the Indians taking a 5-1 lead.
The Clippers got three of those runs back in the top of the 3rd. Wilson had been throwing a lot of pitches — 21 in the 1st inning and 20 in the 2nd. He began the 3rd with a fly out and a walk to SS Gregorio Petit. CF Ezequiel Carrera grounded into a force out, with Petit out at second. Carrera stole second, then advanced to third on Wilson’s second Wild pitch of the game. A walk to Donald gave Columbus runners on the corners. That set up Rottino for three more RBI, with his 3-run homer. The Clippers did not have the lead, but they were closer, 5-4.
Brandon Boggs and Tony Sanchez got the two-run lead back for the Indians in the bottom of the 3rd. Boggs led off with a walk, and tagged up to advance to 2nd base on Navarro’s fly out to left field. Sanchez drove in Boggs from second base with his double off the left-center field wall. Indians ahead, 6-4.
That lead did not last long. The Clippers had their turn for roaring in the top of the 4th. Wilson, who had thrown 28 pitches to get through the 3rd (a total of 69 by then), struggled as he started the 4th. RF Russ Canzler struck first, with a solo home run over the right field wall to tie the score. Three singles followed, by Phelps, Goedert, and C Matt Pagnozzi, to load the bases for the Clippers. That was enough for Wilson. He exited having thrown 82 pitches (45 strikes). Wilson ended up responsible for 8 runs (all earned) on 5 hits and 3 walks, with 3 strikes. Two of the hits were homers.
Daniel McCutchen took over for Wilson, with one run in and the bases loaded, and no outs. The first batter McCutchen faced was Petit, who grounded sharply to third. Tribe 3B Brian Friday dove to his left to keep the ball in the infield. Then he hopped up and fired to Sanchez at the plate, in time to force out the lead runner Phelps. The bases were still loaded, though, and with the infield pulled in, Carrera popped an oops swing over the head of Friday and into short left field. By the time d’Arnaud chased the ball down, Goedert and Pagnozzi had scored. Daniels lined a single just to the right of second base and through to the outfield, scoring Petit. Carrera moved up to third base and Petit to second on the throw. Rottino was intentionally walked, to bring up 1B Matt LaPorta. LaPorta lifted a long long fly to left field, which Alex Presley caught with a leap at the wall. That sacrifice fly plated Carrera for the 5th run of the inning. Canzler worked a walk to load the bases again, but a ground out by Phelps finally ended the inning. Eleven Columbus batters had come to the plate, and the Clippers were back on top, 9-6.
The Tribe put two runners on base in both the 4th and 5th innings. Presley singled to right field in the 4th, and Tabata walked. Marte’s fly out put both in scoring position, but the inning ended with them still on base. Navarro led off the 5th with a walk, and 2B Anderson Hernandez singled, but they too were left on base. With reliever Tyler Sturdevant on the mound to relieve Huff, Presley led off the 6th inning again (he led off in 5 of the Indians’ 8 turns at bat). This time he worked a walk, then Tabata ripped a line drive right back to the mound. The ball hit Sturdevant and ricocheted all the way to the Indians’ third base side dugout. It appeared that the ball had hit Sturdevant’s arm near the elbow. He was removed from the game, and Dan Wheeler came in. Starling Marte greeted Wheeler with a blast over the left field wall, for three runs, to tie the game at 9-9. Two outs later, Sanchez walked. He went to second on SS Chase d’Arnaud’s single, then scored on Anderson Hernandez’s third hit of the game, a single into left-center. Sanchez raced around third base and headed for home as Cabrera threw the ball in from the outfield. Sanchez slid in to home, leading with his feet, but touching the plate with his left hand. The Clippers’ manager Mike Sarbaugh took exception to that call, and after arguing with home plate umpire Travis Carlson, got himself ejected from the game. A pop up ended the inning, but the Indians had regained the lead, 10 – 9.
When McCutchen came back out to pitch the 5th, he didn’t have to work with runners on base. He retired the Clippers in order, including one strikeout. Four more relievers took an inning each on the mound, and they effectively shut the Clippers down for the rest of the game. Doug Slaten, just back with the Indians after being outrighted, took the 6th inning. Slaten gave up a one-out double to Donald, but Donald was quickly thrown out trying to steal third base. Jose Diaz pitched the 7th inning. He also gave up a double, to Phelps, but left Phelps stranded. Evan Meek took his turn in the 8th. He gave up a two-out double to Carrera, when Carrera’s fly ball landed just out of the reach of the diving Presley. The ball bounced past Presley all the way to the left field wall, and Carrera slid into third. No problem for Meek — he just struck out the next batter to end the inning.
One more rally in the bottom of the 8th gave the Indians some insurance. Boggs walked to start the frame, then he scored from first base when Navarro on a double to the wall in the right-center gap. A ground out pushed Navarro to third base. D’Arnaud drove in Navarro with his bloopy single into center field. Hernandez singled for the fourth time in the game, to put d’Arnaud on second, but d’Arnaud was thrown out trying to steal third base in a double steal. Indians ahead, 12-9.
Tim Wood held off the Clippers in the top of the 9th, allowing only a 2-out single. Slaten was credited with the win, as he was the pitcher of record when the Indians took the lead. It was his 3rd win of the season. Tim Wood earned his 13th Save of the season.
The Indians’ hit total was 15, a big step up from last night. All but one Indians’ batter had at least one hit. Anderson Hernandez led the way with 4 singles, while Alex Presley, Yamaico Navarro, Tony Sanchez, and Chase d’Arnaud each recorded 2 hits. Starling Marte, Brandon Boggs, and Sanchez all hit homers and all had 3 RBI.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: All three of the Indians’ home runs were impressive, but the biggest was Starling Marte’s in the 6th inning. That 3-run homer tied the score, and gave the Indians the opportunity to take the lead and the win. “That kid’s unbelievable,” said C Tony Sanchez after the game. He’s 180 pounds soaking wet and he’s driving balls 400 feet out to left field. It’s amazing. I played with him since 2009 and I’ve seen him grow as a hitter and as an outfielder, and he’s a special player and he’s one-of-a-kind. I love being on that guy’s team. It’s unbelievable what he can do on the field.”
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Brian Friday’s diving catch and superb throw to the plate for the force out in the 4th inning. “He saved a run and that was a crucial run late in the game,” said Sanchez. “It could have completely been a different momentum changer. He threw me the ball and gave me a chance to make a play, and I put the tag on him and thankfully made the play.”
Alex Presley is rehabbing from his stint on the 7-day DL due to a concussion. He slammed his head while making a diving catch last week. Presley looked like he was ready to rock and roll tonight, and he is expected to be with the Indians only for a few days. Another expectation is that Gorkys Hernandez will be returned to the Indians to make room for Presley on the Pirates’ roster.
The Indians are back to 11 games ahead of the Clippers in the International League Western Division. The two teams play again on Sunday afternoon, then the Gwinnett Braves come to Victory Field for a 4-game series.
Good teams in AAA AND the majors? It’s been awhile.