INDIANAPOLIS – Playing in their first game out of the All-Star break, the Indianapolis Indians (48-40) suffered some serious heartbreak on Thursday.
The Toledo Mud Hens (50-39) were down to their final strike before Jason Krizan came through with a bases clearing double, shocking Indy with a 5-3 come-from-behind win. The Indians entered Thursday’s game with a 43-0 record when leading after eight innings.
The loss is especially painful for the Tribe, as a victory would have put them in first place in the division for the first time this season. Instead, the Hens extend their lead atop the International League West to a game and a half.
Starting pitcher Alex McRae and left fielder Pablo Reyes starred for the Indians in defeat. McRae tossed 6.2 innings of two-run baseball, while Reyes went 2-for-3 at the plate and knocked in all three of Indy’s runs.
Each side traded two-run frames to get the scoring started.
Indianapolis got on the board first, getting an assist from the sun to take a 2-0 lead in the second. Kevin Kramer doubled and Eric Wood walked, but the Mud Hens were within an out of getting out of the inning unscathed before Reyes came through. Reyes laced a line drive to right field and thanks in part to the sun in his eyes, the ball got over Mike Gerber‘s head for a triple and scored both runners.
Toledo had nothing going versus McRae early, as the right-hander was perfect through three innings. Their bats woke up in the fourth, evening the score at 2-2. It all started with a leadoff bunt single, followed by three more singles in the next four at-bats.
McRae shook off that fourth frame, however, and was able to get through 6.2 solid innings of work. The right-hander kept the Hens to those two runs, only allowing them to get six hits (four of which came in that fourth inning) and a walk. It was McRae’s third consecutive outing of at least 5.2 innings and two runs or less.
He was put in line for a win in the fifth inning, when Reyes struck again.
Still deadlocked at two runs each, Reyes (Indy’s nine-hole hitter) clubbed a no-doubt home run to left field to give the Indians the 3-2 edge. It was Reyes’ third long ball of the year, this one traveling 410 feet.
But it just wasn’t quite meant to be for McRae and the Tribe on this night. Indy’s bullpen worked around trouble behind McRae, but couldn’t withstand one last Mud Hen rally.
Josh Smoker relieved McRae with two outs in the seventh and despite surrendering a single and walking a batter, kept Indianapolis in front. Casey Sadler was next to pitch in the eighth, throwing up a zero despite a leadoff single and two-out free pass. Tanner Anderson was the man on the bump in the ninth, but he failed to keep the visitors down.
An error and a single started the top of the ninth, but Anderson was able to strike out the next two batters he faced to bring Indianapolis within an out of a huge win. Anderson got ahead of Dawel Lugo, 1-2, but lost him to load the bases and give Toledo the life they were in need of. That brought Krizan to the plate, who smacked Anderson’s 0-1 pitch into the gap in right center and plate all three runners.
Indy went down quietly in their half of the ninth, securing a wild victory for the Mud Hens.
The Indians and Hens will do battle again on Friday, with game time slated for 7:15 p.m. Lefty Brandon Waddell (3-4, 6.51 ERA) is expected to start on the mound for Indianapolis.