INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Indians (71-64) pieced together a much-needed win on Wednesday afternoon.
Indy hung on to top the Toledo Mud Hens (69-65) by a final score of 4-3, assuring themselves of some breathing room as we get deeper into the playoff hunt.
The Tribe are now 1.5 games ahead of the Hens for the International League wild card spot and inch to within a half-game of the Columbus Clippers for first place in the IL West. A Clippers loss later tonight would bring the teams back to a tie for tops in the division with five games remaining.
Indy’s Tyler Eppler and Toledo’s Warwick Saupold had a solid pitcher’s duel going through four innings (one run allowed each) before the Hens broke through versus Eppler in the fifth.
Leadoff triple. Two-run home run. Back-to-back singles. That was the damage the Mud Hens did against Eppler in the fifth before the righty could even get an out. Eppler did limit Toledo to only two runs in the frame, but the visitors snatched up a 3-1 lead and ran his pitch count high by the time the bottom of the fifth rolled around.
Eppler did not return for the sixth inning, leaving him with a final line of three runs allowed on eight hits and two walks. Routinely sensational at home in 2018 (8-0, 2.57 ERA), Eppler still hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in an outing at Victory Field this year.
Luckily for Eppler and the Tribe, Saupold also went off the rails a bit in inning number five.
Toledo’s right-hander served up a leadoff single to Eric Wood and then with one out in the frame, Jason Martin took him deep to right center to knot the score back up at 3-3. It was Martin’s fourth Triple-A long ball of the season and first since Aug. 4 in Toledo.
The runs kept coming off of Saupold in the sixth, as the Indians raced out to their first lead of the afternoon.
Jose Osuna led off the frame with a solo shot, hammering his ninth of the season to hand the home team a 4-3 edge. Then with one out, Ryan Lavarnway doubled, Wyatt Mathisen was hit by a pitch and Wood singled to set up a chance at some insurance. Jackson Williams was unable to cash in, however, bouncing into an inning-ending double play.
Despite Indianapolis not adding on, their bullpen was able to take care of their newfound lead.
Tanner Anderson replaced Eppler in the sixth and tossed three scoreless innings, which included escaping a two on and one out jam in the seventh and the leadoff man reaching in the eighth. Buddy Boshers then got the nod for the ninth, working around a two-out triple to lock up the big W for Indianapolis.
The finale of this three-game series will be an important one and will begin at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday. An Indians win would give them a 2.5-game cushion over the Hens with four games to go, while a Toledo victory would trim Indy’s lead back down to a much narrower half-game. Alex McRae (3-10, 4.78 ERA) is expected to pitch for the Tribe.