INDIANAPOLIS – An exciting series between the Indianapolis Indians (40-33) and Durham Bulls (41-32) concluded with another fun game on Sunday.
Tribe starting pitcher Casey Sadler turned in five scoreless innings, but the Bulls pulled out in front and hung on for a 2-1 win to claim the three-game set. Indy went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.
Clay Holmes was Indy’s scheduled starter for Indianapolis for this game, but the Pittsburgh Pirates recalled him to the big leagues before he could climb the mound at Victory Field. That forced Sadler into the role of starting pitcher for the Indians, who took full advantage of the opportunity.
In just his fifth start of 2018 and first since striking out eight batters in Louisville on May 8, Sadler steamrolled through Durham’s lineup. The righty faced just one batter over the minimum through four innings, including three 1-2-3 frames.
The Bulls were able to scrap together a couple of singles in inning number five, but Sadler got a fly out and struck out Roberto Pena to keep the visitors off of the scoreboard. Sadler was lifted in favor of Brandon Waddell going into the sixth, leaving him with a spectacular final line of no runs allowed on three hits and zero walks/five strikeouts in five innings pitched.
Unfortunately for Sadler and the Indians, Durham’s starter was feeling just as good.
Ryan Weber served up five hits to the Tribe, but did not walk a batter and was able to escape trouble throughout the afternoon.
A caught stealing stalled Indy’s offense in the first inning. Kevin Kramer sliced a one-out ground rule double in the second, but was left aboard. Arden Pabst, making his Triple-A debut up from High-A Bradenton, led off the third inning with a single but never made it further than second base. Chris Bostick singled with one out in the fourth, but was cut down at second trying to steal.
Those missed chances, combined with Sadler’s departure, changed the complexion of Sunday’s contest completely.
Muncie native Jeremy Hazelbaker welcomed Waddell to the ballgame with a sharp double down the right field line. Next up, Kean Wong snuck a RBI single through the right side to score Hazelbaker and give Durham a 1-0 lead. Wong moved up to second base on the throw home and then advanced to third when Brandon Lowe singled for the Bulls’ third straight hit to start the frame.
But Waddell settled down, striking out the side to keep those runners stranded at the corners and keep Indianapolis in the game at just one run down. Durham wouldn’t let the Indians get away with a win, though.
Lowe, who hit a homer on Friday and two more on Saturday, went deep for a third straight day on Sunday to give the Bulls insurance at 2-0. Hitting four home runs in a series at the Vic, certainly thought of as a pitcher’s park, is quite the feat. His solo shot gave Durham some breathing room, which they ultimately needed.
Weber retired the Tribe in order in the sixth, wrapping up six shutout innings for him. Andrew Kittredge took over for Weber in the seventh and worked around an error to preserve the 1-0 edge. Kittredge trotted back out for the eighth and saw another error nearly cost the Bulls.
Pabst led off the eighth with his second hit of the afternoon, but the huge play came after Pablo Reyes flied out. Kevin Newman bounced into what seemed like a surefire inning-ending double play, but Bulls third baseman Michael Russell bobbled the ball and didn’t get a single out. That brought Max Moroff to bat and he smoked a double to right, scoring Pabst. Newman was initally held at held at third base, but when the throw home squirted away, he took off for home. Kittredge was stationed behind home plate, snared the ball and was able to throw Newman out at the dish.
Jung Ho Kang struck out looking to keep the score at 2-1, leaving Durham three outs away from a win. Kittredge was the man on the mound yet again in the ninth and took care of the Tribe despite a two-out walk.
Following a 4-2 homestand, the Indians will hit the road on Monday to kick off a season-long nine-game road trip. Indy’s first stop is Toledo, where a big three-game set against the team they are chasing for first place in the division standings will take place.
Nick Kingham (4-1, 2.06 ERA) gets the ball for Indianapolis in Monday’s 7:05 p.m. opener versus the Mud Hens.