This was the Tribe’s longest stay away from downtown Indianapolis thanks to the Triple-A All-Star game that was held this past week in Allentown, Pa. The Hoosier-hardballers must have missed the hometown cooking because they came out hungry , scoring eight runs in the first two innings. Yet the story of the night was not that the Indians dominated early and cruised to an easy series-opening win. The story was how the hell do you blow an 8-1 lead and end up losing 10-8 to a team that is 18 games below.500?
As the rain-clouds dispersed, and the sun reappeared over White River State Park home plate umpire John Conrad yelled “play ball.” It was contrasting styles on the mound as the Indy Indians trotted out Dana Eveland–who was in search of his first Triple-A victory in only his third start–to take on Nate Bump, who entered Monday’s game with a record of 7-4 and the second lowest ERA in the International League with a mark of 2.48.
Eveland had struggled mightily in his first two outing this year as he didn’t make it out of the third inning in either start, and had amassed an uninspired 15.75 ERA. So it was a mild delight to see Eveland as the starting pitcher not to get roughed up early. After giving up an early run to the visiting IronPigs, it was the Indians who doled out the early damage.
The party started as third basemen Akinori Iwamura drew a one out walk. Aki then moved to third on a double off the bat of center fielder Alex Presley doubled to left field. First basemen Jeff Clement drove home the first two runs of the game on a double of his own and moved to third on a Brandon Boss single. Second base Jim Negrych hit a sacrifice fly to center which drove home Clement for a 3-0 lead with two outs. Catcher Jason Jaramillo–recently optioned from Pittsburgh–drove in the fourth and final run of the inning with a double to right field.
Indians center fielder Alex Presley was one of the few bright spots for the home team during last night’s ugly 1-8 loss. Presley went 5-for-5 while extending his current hitting streak to 11-games.
With a 4-1 lead, Eveland made quick work of the IronPigs in the top of the second setting down the opposition in order. It was a good thing, for the Indianapolis hitters were chomping at the bit to add to the lead. After two quick ground outs from Eveland and Kevin Melillo, Aki Iwamura lined a short shot into left field for a single. Presley singled up the gut, and with some heads-up base running, Iwamura moved first to third.
The 10,000+ in attendance were treated to an even better display of base running when Jeff Clement hit a single into right field that easily scored Iwamura and then plated Presley from first who caught the IronPigs sleeping. Right fielder Brandon Moss quickly cleaned up the bases with a two-run blast to right-center that ended the Indians scoring in the second. Now leading 8-1 after only two innings, it looked as if the barn doors where about to be blown off this game, but this is Indianapolis Indians baseball, where big leads go to die.
After both squads went scoreless in the third inning, it was Lehigh Valley that scored next. Things got going in the top of the fourth as the IronPigs center fielder John Mayberry Jr. reached on an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch form Eveland. First basemen Paul Hoover hit a one out double to center field that scored Mayberry. Catcher Dane Sardinha followed that up with an RBI single up the middle to draw the score to 8-3.
The score remained the same until the top of the seventh inning when the IronPigs hit the ball hard and often. Lehigh shortstop Brian Bocock singled to center and quickly scored on a triple off the bat of Chris Duffy who was pinch-hitting for the pitcher. Duffy then came around on a single from left fielder Chris Aguila. After a single right fielder Domonic Brown it was men on first and second with one out. Mayberry Jr. hit another single that scored Aguila and moved Brown to third who later scored on a yet another single off the bat of third basemen Neil Sellers. With the score now 8-7 the Indians were able to get the final two outs and hold on to the slimmest of leads.
In the bottom of the seventh it looked as though the Tribe would extend their lead, and allow everyone present to take a breath. Thanks to some questionable base-running and coaching no such exhale took place. With men on first and second and no outs, Jaramillo stepped to the plate and slapped to right field. Yet instead of holding Brandon Moss at third to set up a bases loaded no out situation for shortstop Argenis Diaz, Indians manager and third base coach Fran Kremblas sent Moss to the dish. The result was a not even close type play at the plate that now left the home team with men on first and second and one out. Unfortunately, this was not the only blunder on the base paths and in the batter’s box that Kremblas was responsible for on Monday night. It did however prove to be the most costly as Diaz promptly stepped to the plate and bounce into an inning-ending double play.
The Tribe were able to hold it together for the eight inning, but the still needed three more outs to wrap this wild win up. Indianapolis turned to Jean Machi to close the door and give the tribe a much needed win. Lehigh Valley’s Domonic Brown lead off the inning with a single to right field and quickly moved to third when Mayberry Jr. hit a double to left field that stopped against the wall. With no outs and the two fastest IronPigs standing on second and third, Machi was able to induce a sharp groundout to third that held the runners in position and got the second out of the inning on a strikeout. After an intentional walk to load the bases and create a force out at any base, Machi faced off against a Brain Bocock and his .198 batting average. Machi opened up with two balls but quickly responded with two strikes to drive the count to 2-2. Just one more strike and the Indians could shake their heads and laugh about how they almost blew an easy win.
But it was just one swing from Bocock that lofted a line drive over the center fielder’s head and cleared the bases to give the IronPigs a 10-8 and a completed comeback of monstrous proportions. Devastated and the defeated, the Indy Indians put up no struggle in the bottom of the ninth and limped into the locker room to ponder what should have been.
The Tribe starter Dana Eveland (3.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO) did not figure in the final decision after giving up three runs on six hits over just 3.1 innings of work. Closer Jean Machi (1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO) suffered the loss to fall to 5-3 on the season after surrendering three runs on three hits in the IronPigs ninth inning gut-wrencher.
The Indians will try and rebound while continuing their four-game series with Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, July 20 at 7:00 p.m. Right-handed Daniel McCutchen is expected to get the start for the Tribe, as the IronPigs will turn to lefty J.A. Happ to start.
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
EXTRA GAME NOTES
- In one of the few bright spots for the tribe, Alex Presley went 5-for-5 on the night and extended his hitting streak to an Indianapolis Indians season high 11-games. Presley tied catcher Eric Kratz and outfielder Jose Tabata who both hit safely in 11 straight games earlier this season.
- Indians right fielder Brandon Moss went 2-for-4 on the night to extend his own hitting streak to 10 games, just one behind Presley.
- In last night’s contest, every positional player on both teams registered at least one hit.
- Lehigh Valley IronPigs shortstop Brian Bocock’s bases clearing double in the ninth inning doubled his season total of 3 RBI in 25 games this season.
- With the loss, Indianapolis now moves 50-47 on the season while Lehigh Valley improves to 39-57.