The Tribe matched the visiting Herd blow-for-blow through six frames, but designated hitter Luis Jimenez single-handedly changed the game with his run and RBI triple in the top of the seventh to lift the Buffalo Bisons (24-15) to a 6-4 win over the Indianapolis Indians (29-13) on Thursday afternoon at Victory Field. Despite dropping the contest, which was played in front of a throng of 12,587 fans, catcher Tony Sanchez went 2-for-3 with a run, RBI and walk to extend his hitting streak to six straight games.
After Buffalo re-tied the contest 4-4 in the sixth on a solo homer against RHP Duke Welker (BS, L, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO), his first run allowed through 17.0 IP this season, the visiting Bisons pulled ahead for good with a two-run rally in the top of the seventh, largely thanks to Jimenez.
CF Anthony Gose led off the game-changing inning with a free pass from the usually lockdown reliever Welker. After RF Moises Sierra flew out to right for the first out of the inning, the 280-pound Jimenez smashed a ball to deep center field and legged out an RBI triple as the ball bounced to the warning track, giving Buffalo a 5-4 advantage. Just one batter later, the visiting squad tacked on an insurance run as 1B Mauro Gomez blooped a single into shallow right field that allowed Jiminez to rumble home to widen the lead to 6-4.
The Tribe refused to say die, however, and knocked back-to-back singles courtesy of CF Alex Presley and SS Josh Harrison to open the ninth inning. After 1B Matt Hague struck out both runners executed a flawless double steal to put the tying run in scoring position with just one out. Unfortunately for the Indians, closer RHP Neil Wagner settled down and coaxed a pair of fly outs to emerge victorious from two tough battles with 3B Jared Goedert and LF Brett Carroll to preserve the 6-4 win.
Buffalo came out swinging in the third contest of the series, as leadoff batter 3B Mike McCoy laced a line drive up the middle that ricochetted off LHP Andy Oliver and careened into left field for a base knock. McCoy then quickly moved to second on a walk to CF Anthony Gose, took third on a groundout to short from RF Moises Sierra and finally sprinted home on a passed ball that scooted past C Tony Sanchez to put the Bisons up 1-0.
Gomez then kept the opening-frame rally alive with a two-out walk, and with slugger 2B Eugenio Velez at the plate, Gomez took off towards second base on an attempted steal. The Indians, willing to sacrifice a run in order to escape the inning, gunned down Gomez at second for the final out, but not before Sierra crossed the plate to make the score 2-0.
Buffalo’s two-run advantage would last for just half a frame, before the Tribe mounted a three-run comeback in the bottom of the second. Hague opened the rally with a leadoff walk and Goedert followed with a single to left. Carroll then slapped a sure doubleplay grounder to short, but Velez bobbled the throw at second to allow everyone to advance safely.
Withe the bases juiced, the hot-hitting Sanchez smacked an RBI single up the middle that brought in Hague from third, and just as Goedert saw his opportunity to tie the game for the Indians, Gose gunned down the base runner at home to keep the score 2-1.
Following a walk to RF Jerry Sands, 2B Oscar Tejeda reached on a second error from Velez, which also allowed Carroll and Sanchez to come plateward to give Indianapolis a 3-2 lead.
The Bisons then quickly answered with a single score of their own in the top of the third, courtesy of McCoy. The third-baseman lead off the frame with a walk and immediately nabbed both second and third base during Buffalo’s next at-bat. As McCoy sprinted to third, Sanchez unleashed a wild throw that sailed into left field to send the base runner jogging home to knot the contest at 3-3. Of the game’s first six total scores, half were awarded as unearned runs.
After both teams threatened over the next few frames, Indianapolis finally eked out a temporary go-ahead run in the fifth as Carroll was plunked by a pitch, moved to second on a base hit from Sanchez and scored one batter later on an RBI double off the bat of Sands, putting the Tribe up 4-3.
Reigning International League Pitcher of the Week LHP Andy Oliver (5.0 IP, 3 R, ER, 6 BB, 4 SO) was charged with three scores over 5.0 innings of action, however just one of the tallies came as an actual earned run, and the southpaw exited the contest having worked his fourth straight start in which he has allowed one earned run or less. During this impressive span, the Tribe’s left-hander has posted the second-best ERA (1.23) in the International League while also striking out the third-most batters (22) among all IL hurlers.
For Buffalo, RHP Buddy Carlyle (W, 2.1 IP, 2 H, ER, 4 SO) earned the win after allowed just one earned run in 2.1 innings of middle relief action. The right-hander walked none and fanned four to improve his season’s record to a perfect 3-0. Following his departure from the contest, RHP Jeremy Jeffress (H, 2.0 IP, 0 ER, BB, SO) authored 2.0 shutout innings to record his second hold of the season.
The Indians and Bisons will conclude their four-game series tomorrow night, as the Tribe hosts its “10 Millionth Fan” contest. If the Indians score 10 runs and win the series finale, one lucky Tribe fan could walk away with $10,000 as part of the Tribe’s “10 Millionth Fan” contest. To enter the upcoming “10 Millionth Fan” contest, all ticketed fans (18 and older ) in attendance on Friday, May 17 can sign up at the Register to Win Gazebo in the PNC Plaza located in center field. Fans must show their May 17, 2013 ticket to be eligible to enter. Entries will be accepted until the end of the fourth inning.
One person will then be chosen as the honorary 10 millionth fan and will receive a special package full of exciting items in numerals of 10 as well the opportunity to leave Victory Field with $10,000. The 10 millionth fan will take home $10,000 if the Indians win the contest against Buffalo by scoring exactly 10 runs. Including Tuesday night, the Indians have scored exactly 10 runs in a win 26 times since Victory Field opened on July 11, 1996.
In Friday night’s series finale, Indianapolis is scheduled to pitch RHP Brandon Cumpton (3-2, 2.31) while Buffalo is expected to counter with RHP Justin Germano (3-2, 7.15).