Indianapolis and Columbus split a doubleheader on Thursday night at Victory Field with the Clippers taking game one 4-1 behind a brilliant pitching performance by starter Corey Kluber and the Indians earning a 2-1 extra inning victory on a walk-off RBI single by first baseman Yamaico Navarro in game two.
The Tribe finished a long night of baseball in exciting fashion as they rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning of game two to earn the victory in the contest originally scheduled for seven innings.
RF Jose Tabata led off the eventual game-winning rally with a leadoff walk before being moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by SS Chase d'Arnaud. CF Starling Marte was then intentionally walked to set the stage for Navarro, who lined the game-winning base knock down the right-field line.
Though neither starter figured in the final decision, both turned in solid efforts. Indians starter Kris Johnson (4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO) surrendered just three hits and struck out three over four scoreless innings while Columbus starter Chris Seddon (4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO) allowed just a single hit and three walks while striking out five over four frames of his own.
Once the starters had exited the contest, both teams would get on the board with a single score in the fifth. Columbus plated the game's first run when 2B Ryan Rohlinger singled with two out, moved to second on a Tribe balk and came around to score when CF Ezequiel Carrera double to left. Indianapolis then responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the fifth when C Eric Fryer drew a lead-off walk, moved to second on throwing error, advanced to third on a passed ball and came plateward on a single by Tabata.
The contest would be decided in the bullpens, where Tribe closer Tim Wood (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 SO) battled through a jam in the top of the eighth to earn his fourth win of the season with two frames of scoreless work. In his first action with Columbus this season, RHP Tyler Sturdevant (0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB) allowed the Tribe's eighth-inning score to suffer the loss and fall to 0-1.
Columbus took game one from the Tribe behind yet another dominating effort by starter Corey Kluber and a key two-run home run from C Matt Pagnozzi.
Kluber, who had dominated the Indians on three occasions already this season, took a no-hit bid into the fifth and ended up allowing just a single run on three hits and three walks while striking out six over seven innings pitched. With the excellent effort, Kluber is now 9-7 overall this season and 4-0 with a 3.75 ERA (10 ER in 24.0 IP) 30 strikeouts and just seven walks in his four starts against Indianapolis.
Kluber would get all the support he would need in the top of the fourth when 3B Jared Goedert roped a one-out single to left before traveling along on a two-run home run off the bat of Pagnozzi. The longball was the Columbus catcher's third on the season and second against the Indians, also connecting on a solo shot against the Tribe in a 5-1 Columbus victory on April 17 at Victory Field.
The Clippers tacked on two insurance tallies in the top of the fifth led by Indianapolis killers Vinny Rottino and Cord Phelps. After Rottino led of the frame with base hit, Phelps would bring him home with a two-out double to left before Phelps trotted home himself on a Tribe miscue later in the inning.
In 10 games against the Tribe this season, Phelps is batting an amazing .410 (16-for-39) with six runs, six doubles, four RBI and seven walks. Rottino has also had great success against the Indians in 2012 as in six games combined between Buffalo and Columbus the right handed slugger has hit .000 (9-for-25) with seven runs, three home runs and eight RBI.
Indians RF Brandon Boggs would break up Kluber's no-hit bid with a leadoff double in the top of the fifth, also ending the shutout attempt when he came around to score on a sacrifice fly by DH Jose Morales later in the frame. The two-bagger for Boggs extended his impressive on-base streak to 21 straight games, a streak that the switch-hitting slugger would push to 22 consecutive contests with a base hit in game two later in the night.
But that would be all the offense the Tribe would muster as Columbus reliever Cody Allen (1.0 IP) tossed a scoreless seventh to earn his second save of the season and give the Clippers the 4-1 victory.
Tribe starter Jeff Locke (5.0 IP, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO) suffered the loss to fall to 7-5 on the season after surrendering all four Columbus runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out three over five innings of work. Following Locke, Tribe relievers Duke Welker (1.0 IP, 1 BB, 1 SO) and Chris Leroux (1.0 IP, 1 SO) combined for two scoreless frames of relief.
With the doubleheader split, the Indians (57-35) maintain their 11-game lead over the Clippers and improve their record at Victory Field to an impressive 32-13. The Tribe and Clippers continue their series on Friday night at 7:15 p.m. with RHP Daniel Cabrera expected to get the start for Indianapolis and RHP Jeanmar Gomez scheduled to take the mound for Columbus.
The contest will be televised on HTSN (Hometown Sports and News), available via cable or over-the-air on digital channel 6.2. The game will also be carried on WNDE 1260 AM-WFBQ-HD2, WNDE.com and via iheartradio, a mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones with Howard Kellman and Will Flemming on the call. The pre-game show begins at 6:55 p.m.