The Indianapolis Indians closed their ten game homestand in high style Thursday. C Eric Fryer came through with a clutch two-out two-run walk off single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Indians a 3-2 comeback victory over the Columbus Clippers on Thursday night at Victory Field.
With the victory, Indianapolis improves to a 69-65 record this year, while the loss drops Columbus’ record to 82-52. The win also evens the four-game home/road series at 1-1, while the Clippers maintained a 12-7 advantage in the overall season series.
After entering the final frame trailing 2-1, Indians RF John Bowker led off the frame by reaching on a key defensive miscue from Columbus 1B Nick Johnson. Then after Bowker was forced when 1B Matt Hague reached on a fielder’s choice, DH Jeff Clement doubled to put runners on second and third and set the stage for Fryer.
The Indians’ backstop came through in the clutch as he lined a 1-1 pitch over the glove of Columbus 2B Argenis Reyes into right center to stun Columbus by plating Hague and Clement for the win. Fryer, who entered the series on an 0-for-13 slide, has now gone 4-for-5 with a run, two RBI and three walks over the Tribe’s last two contests.
Columbus starter Joe Martinez (7.1 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO) quieted the Tribe’s bats for a large majority of the contest, but did not receive a decision despite yielding just one earned run on four hits in 7.1 frames. The right-hander at one point retired 17 consecutive Indians hitters, while also giving up just one hit through seven innings, a single from 2B Jordy Mercer in the first.
Fryer also ended the drought with a base knock in the eighth to trigger Indianapolis’ first scoring rally. After his single, the right handed slugger took second on RF Miles Durham’s infield hit, before scoring on CF Gorkys Hernandez’s run-scoring base knock to narrow the margin to 2-1.
Fryer (2-for-3, 1 R, 2 RBI) was the only Indians’ hitter to collect two base hits in the contest, while Huffman (3-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B) and Valbuena (2-for-5) each recorded multi-hit efforts for the Clippers. Bowker saw his nine-game hitting streak come to an end after failing to tally a base knock.
Indians starter Jeff Locke (5.0 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO) was in line for the loss before Fryer’s clutch hit, but ultimately received a no-decision after giving up a lone earned run on eight hits over five frames. Hughes (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 SO) gave up just one hit, in two frames of support, while RHP Aaron Heilman (0.1 IP, 1 SO) earned the win after firing 0.1 innings of relief. In between Hughes and Heilman, RHP Steven Jackson (1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 SO) and LHP Justin Thomas (0.1 IP) combined for 1.2 scoreless innings.