The sky was blue, the clouds like cotton and the crowd was rowdy, setting the stage for a great day of Indy Indians baseball. But Friday night’s game was more than just a 5-0 victory over division-leading rival Columbus, it was much more. Before Mike Crotta threw the first pitch of the contest, there was an on-field ceremony to honor and celebrate Indians long time play-by-play radio and TV announcer Howard Kellman in recognition of calling his 5,000th game.
Kellman, who first took to the airwaves for the Indians in 1974, is in his 35th season as the ” Voice of the Tribe” and has called seven championship seasons for the Indians. Yesterday’s ceremony and game were more than a defining moment for Kellman and the Indianapolis Indians franchise, it was a defining moment in Indianapolis sports history.
With the handshakes and thank you’s done, it was time for the Hoosier-hardballers to get down to the business of cutting into the Columbus Clippers 6.5 game lead in the International League’s West Division. The Tribe’s starting right-hander Crotta (5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 SO) was getting his pitches down and stymied the IL’s second most product team the entire 5+ innings he worked.
The crowd in downtown Indianapolis was up and cheering in the bottom of the second when DH Brandon Moss scored on a one-out triple from second basemen Brian Friday. The Tribe looked poised to add more to their scoring tally in the second inning until Friday tried to reach home on a dribbler back to Columbus starting pitcher Aaron Laffey (4.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO) who flipped the ball to Clippers catcher Carlos Santana for the easy tag-out at the plate.
The score remained 1-0 until the Indians added a second run in the bottom of the fifth on a solo home run from right fielder Kevin Melillo. The blast into the outfield lawn seats in right was Melillo’s third four-bagger of the season.
The Circle City crew took control of the ball game in the bottom of the seventh by adding three more runs. The first of which came after shortstop Argenis Diaz leadoff with a single and scored when left fielder Jose Tabata reached on a throwing error from Columbus shortstop Anderson Hernandez. The error landed Diaz at home and Tabata on third base.
Tribe first basemen Bryan Myrow hit a one-out single that plated Tabata. Myrow later moved to third base on a Pedro Alvarez single. Indians cathcer Luke Carlin hit a sacrifice fly to right field which scored Myrow and Indianapolis’ final run of the game.
Indians relief right-hander Vinnie Chulk (0.2 IP, 0 R, 0 SO) pitched the Tribe out of trouble in the top of the sixth when Crotta was removed for giving up a one-out single and then a walk. After the runners advanced to second and third base by way of stolen bases, Chulk struck out the heart of Columbus’ power hitting line-up in cather Santana and first basemen Wes Hodges. The game was never in doubt after that.
The Indians bullpen closed out the remaining three innings on the strength of left-hander Justin Thomas (2.0 IP, 0 R, 2 SO) and the righty Brian Bass (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO). Thomas breezed through the seventh and eight innings as Bass worked the ninth to close out the contest.
With the win, Mike Crotta moves to 3-3 on the season while Columbus starting pitcher Laffey was saddled with his first Triple-A loss of the season. Prior to Friday night’s game, Laffey had been pitching out of the Cleveland Indians bullpen in the Major Leagues.
The night ended with a fireworks display that lit-up the evening air as is tradition for every Indianapolis Indians Friday night home game.
The two teams continue their four-game tilt on Saturday, June 5 at 7:00 p.m. RHP Daniel McCutchen is expected to get the nod for the Tribe, while RHP Jeanmar Gomez is the probable starter for the Clippers
The game can be heard on Indianapolis radio station WXLW-950 AM , or watched live on Comcast and Bright House Networks digital channel 81 with Howard Kellman and Scott McCauley giving you the play-by-play. The pre-game show on WXLW-950 AM begins at 6:40 p.m
Saturday night’s game will feature the return of the ZOOperstars as they continue to entertain fans of all ages on Zooper Zaturday at Victory Field!
Fans can also get to the game early for a pre-game Autograph session with the Indianapolis Indians players and coaches. Players and Coaches will line the concourse beginning at 5:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
For tickets and more information, visit the Indy Indians Web site here.
For more information on broadcaster Howard Kellman, check out his Web site here.
EXTRA GAME NOTES
- With the win, the Indianapolis Indians improve their record 29-26 while Columbus falls to a mark of 35-21. The Indians now trail the Clippers by 5.5 games for the International League’s West Division Lead, and are 3.5 games back of the Louisville Bats for second place.
- Indianapolis Indians outfielder Jose Tabata returned home from the Indians latest eight-game road trip–which they went 5-3 on–with a share of the International League’s lead in hits with 66, and an outright lead for stolen bases with 21, two more than Charlotte Knights second basemen Brent Lillibridge’s 19.