INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Indians were able to clinch a playoff spot on Tuesday thanks to a Gwinnett Braves loss, but Wednesday’s matchup with the Columbus Clippers proved that the Tribe could be in a fight to the end for the division crown.
Four runs in the game’s first two innings were all Columbus needed on Wednesday, as the Clippers earned a 4-2 win at Victory Field that pulled them into a tie for first place with the Indians in the International League West. Just five regular season games remain before the postseason gets underway on Sept. 9.
The Clippers knocked Indianapolis starting pitcher Chris Volstad around in the first, using five hits to plate three runs in the opening inning of the night. Zach Walters, Adam Moore and James Ramsey recorded the run-scoring hits for Columbus.
Then in the second, Columbus tacked on another run against Volstad to go ahead 4-0. With the bases loaded and one out, Walters notched his second RBI of the game by sending a sacrifice fly to right.
Indianapolis had trouble solving Clippers starter Will Roberts on Wednesday, but were able to score a run against the right-hander in the fourth. Josh Bell drew an one-out walk and after Willy Garcia struck out, John Bowker made it a 4-1 game by ripping a RBI double down the right field line.
Roberts ended up turning in seven strong innings for Columbus, allowing one run on three hits and seven strikeouts.
With the Indianapolis bullpen combining to throw 18 2/3 innings over the past three games, the Indians needed a lengthy start from Volstad. The righty was able to shake off his rough start and toss 7 2/3 much-needed innings for the Tribe, surrendering four runs on 11 hits and three walks.
The Indians were quiet on offense for most of the night, but a ninth inning rally nearly allowed Indianapolis to steal a win from Columbus. Clippers reliever Carlos Marmol gave up two hits, including a RBI single from Tony Sanchez, and issued two walks, but was able to strand the bases loaded and secure the 4-2 victory for Columbus.
Now even at the top of the IL West standings with records of 80-59, the Tribe and Clippers will meet up for the final time of the 2015 regular season on Thursday. With sole possession of first place on the line, Indianapolis will send Wilfredo Boscan (9-3, 3.01 ERA) to mound for the 7:05 p.m. game.
After September call-ups left some open space on the Indians’ roster, outfielder Mel Rojas Jr. and pitcher Matt Benedict were promoted from the Double-A Altoona Curve to Indianapolis on Wednesday.