INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Indians (46-39) starting pitcher Tyler Eppler had it going again on Friday night.
Indy broke a 2-2 tie with three runs in the seventh, allowing Eppler to get the win after tossing a career-high 7.2 innings. The Tribe’s 5-2 win came against the Columbus Clippers (45-41), who crept within a half game of the second-place Indians in the division standings before Friday’s loss.
Eppler and Columbus starter Adam Plutko pitched to a stalemate, with each hurler giving up two runs. Eppler lasted longer, however, which proved to be the difference.
The Clippers manufactured ten hits versus Eppler, but he remained pitch efficient thanks in part to issuing no walks. Eppler needed just 97 pitches to get through his new personal best of 7.2 innings pitched. With the win, Eppler improves to 6-0 at Victory Field in 2018.
Plutko made it through six innings, striking out 11 batters. Indy only got three hits and three walks against Plutko, but a Jason Martin two-run shot got them on the board in the fourth. It was Martin’s first career Triple-A home run.
Plutko was rolling right along for Columbus, but did not return for the seventh inning at 102 pitches. That cost the Clippers.
The Tribe actually went down in order in the seventh, two strikeouts and a fly out, but Jackson Williams reached when the third strike on him occurred on a passed ball. That was the opening Indianapolis needed.
With two outs and Williams on first, Kevin Newman singled to keep the home team batting. Sean Rodriguez took advantage, hitting a clutch single to score Williams and hand Indy a 3-2 lead. The Indians weren’t done, though, as Adam Frazier and Jose Osuna also recorded RBI singles to push the Tribe ahead by three runs.
Plutko’s exit, coupled with the costly passed ball, ended up being too much for the Clips to overcome.
Eppler pitched two outs into the eighth before Tanner Anderson got Yu Chang to pop out and leave two runners aboard in the Columbus half of the inning. Anderson remained on the bump for the Indians in the ninth, shutting the door on the Clippers and securing a 5-2 victory for the home team.
The middle game of this three-game set comes from the Circle City at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday. Alex McRae (3-7, 4.61 ERA) serves as Indy’s probable starting pitcher.