COLUMBUS, OH – Just 24 hours removed from a rough loss, the Indianapolis Indians (60-49) nearly coughed up another game. On Wednesday, however, Indy just did barely hold off the Columbus Clippers (56-52).
The Tribe erased an early two-run deficit and took a two-run lead into the bottom of the ninth, but Columbus put a scare into their division rivals again. The Clips trimmed Indy’s advantage down to 5-4, but that was as close as they got. Columbus left two runners aboard in their final at-bat, allowing the Indians to take two of three games at Huntington Park.
Indianapolis’ lead over Columbus in the IL West division is now at 3.5 games. The Toledo Mud Hens, who will host a four-game series versus Indy beginning on Thursday, also sit 3.5 games behind the Tribe.
Indians starting pitcher Tyler Eppler worked 6.2 innings on Wednesday, giving up three runs on eight hits and a walk. Eppler would end up with his International League-leading 11th victory, but not before Indy’s offense gave him a lead.
The Tribe trailed by a score of 3-2 after five innings of play, but Indianapolis went in front in the sixth. Three Indians singled in the top of the sixth, combined with a sacrifice fly, to produce a couple of runs and establish a 4-3 edge.
In the top of the ninth, Pablo Reyes provided what turned out to be some very important insurance. Reyes mashed a solo home run in the frame, his seventh long ball of the season, to give the visitors a 5-3 cushion.
Columbus gave it their all in their half of the ninth, nearly completing a second straight comeback. A double and two walks put Tribe reliever Jesus Liranzo in quite the bind with only one out, as the Clips threatened. Liranzo was able to get the second out of the inning, but it was productive for the home team, as Yandy Diaz used a sac fly to make it a one-run game. Liranzo locked in, though, striking Brandon Barnes out to wrap up a big 5-4 win for Indianapolis.
Next up for the Tribe is the first of four in Toledo on Thursday evening. Mitch Keller (0-1, 8.66 ERA) gets the ball for the Indians in the 7:05 p.m. series opener.