Tribe shortstop Jordy Mercer singled home two runs in the top of the ninth to help the Indianapolis Indians beat the Buffalo Bisons 8-6 on Monday night in a back-and-forth battle at Coca-Cola Field.
Indianapolis took advantage of a pair of Buffalo errors en route to scoring the game’s winning runs. CF Starling Marte started off the ninth inning by reaching on a two-base throwing error, making it all the way to second when the ball got away from the Buffalo first baseman. With Marte on second base, LF Alex Presley laid down a sacrifice bunt and was safe at first when the throw from the catcher drew the first baseman off the bag.
With runners on the corners and no outs, 3B Matt Hague was hit by a pitch to load the bases. A flyout brought up Mercer, who lined a clutch single to right field, scoring Marte and Presley and giving the Indians their final 8-6 advantage.
Indianapolis had jumped out to an early lead in the top of the second inning. 1B Jeff Clement hit his 12th double of the season to lead off the inning and advanced to third on Mercer’s bunt single before scoring on C Jose Morales’ groundball single to center field, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead. 2B Anderson Hernandez followed with an RBI single of his own to plate Mercer and extend the lead to 2-0.
That lead was cut in half when Buffalo SS Omar Quintanilla led off the bottom of the third with a home run to right-center. The advantage then disappeared when LF Fred Lewis drove in CF Corey Wimberly, who had doubled, with a bloop single and later scored on RF Valentino Pascucci’s RBI double, to give the Bisons a 3-2 lead.
The Indians, however, would take the lead back in the top of the fourth inning when starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera began a rally with a one-out walk before advancing to second on Marte’s single to left field. With two on and one out, Presley left the building, hitting a home run over the right-center-field fence to give the Indians a 5-3 lead.
The Tribe added on to their lead in the sixth inning with what at the time seemed to be an insurance run. Hernandez reached on a groundball single to left field to lead off the frame and, with one out, scored on Marte’s fourth triple of the year to make it 6-3 Indians.
Buffalo cut into the deficit with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, taking advantage of two passed balls and a Pascucci sacrifice fly to make it 6-5, advantage Indians. That advantage disappeared yet again in the bottom of the eighth inning.
A leadoff walk to PH-CF Dustin Martin came back to haunt the Tribe as PH-SS Oswaldo Navarro doubled to center field, driving in Martin and tying the score 6-6. The run, although charged to RHP Jose Diaz (0.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K), resulted in the first blown save of the season for LHP Doug Slaten.
Slaten (1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) would go on to pick up the win, however, improving to 2-0 and riding Mercer’s game-winning single to the Tribe’s second consecutive victory. Tribe starter Daniel Cabrera (6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K,1 HR) didn’t have one of his best outings but still put the Indians in a position to win despite being saddled with his third no decision in five starts.
Buffalo reliever Josh Edgin (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER) took the loss despite not allowing an earned run in an inning of relief. Garrett Olson (4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB,5 K, 1 HR), who started for the Bisons, lasted only four innings and took a no decision.
The Indians (24-20) and Bisons (26-19) will wrap up their four-game series on Tuesday afternoon, with the first pitch slated for 1:05 p.m. Indianapolis, looking for a getaway day victory before Wednesday’s off day, will likely send LHP Jo-Jo Reyes (5-1, 2.09) to the mound while Buffalo is expected to counter with RHP Chris Schwinden (3-2, 2.54)