TOLEDO, Oh. – Monday marked the end of the 2017 regular season for the Indianapolis Indians (79-63). It ended in defeat, but the Tribe have their sights set on bigger things.
The Toledo Mud Hens (70-71) picked up the 7-4 victory at Fifth Third Field, but it is Indy who will represent the International League West in the postseason. Manager Andy Barkett finishes just two wins shy of tying the best first season record for a new skipper in the Victory Field era, but does stand alone in second place.
Indianapolis was first on the scoreboard on Monday, plating runs in the first and third. Gift Ngoepe made it 1-0 in the opening inning, smashing his sixth home run of the year. Then in the third, Edwin Espinal added to the Tribe’s lead with a RBI single.
Indians starting pitcher Drew Hutchison fired a pair of scoreless frames to get his afternoon started, but a huge bottom of the third took a toll on the righty.
Six batters reached in the Toledo half of the third, four by hits and two by walks, leading to five runs scored for the home team. Hutchison was able to work a shutout fourth, but he would not return to the mound for the fifth.
Hutchison left with a final line of five runs allowed on five hits and five walks in four innings pitched. It was his shortest start of the season, but his four frames does allow him to finish the year tied with Columbus’ Shawn Morimando for the IL lead in innings pitched at 159 1/3.
The Hens tacked on two more runs versus Indians reliever Cody Dickson in the fifth and Indy would never recover.
Barrett Barnes, who returned to Indianapolis’ roster from the disable list on August 27, hit his first Triple-A home run in the eighth. The two-run bomb was a no-doubter to left, but it was not enough for the visitors.
The Tribe will have an off day on Tuesday, with their quest for the Governors’ Cup beginning in Durham on Wednesday. Game 1 of the best-of-five series is scheduled to get underway from Durham Bulls Athletic Park at 6:35 p.m. Clay Holmes (10-5, 3.36 ERA) gets the ball, as the Indians look to open the 2017 postseason with a win.