Reliever Jeremy Powell took over for Hart, and Santana got his revenge by taking Powell’s second pitch over the video scoreboard in right center field, tying the game. �The next batter, 1B Wes Hodges followed with another home run to give Columbus a 4-3 lead. �Powell walked the next batter, but then settled down and retired the next three batters to end the inning. �He got right back into trouble in the 5th inning. �The Clippers led off with a double, then an infield single by DH Russell Branyan on a ball that bounced back to the mound and deflected off Powell’s foot (he was not injured) and the batter beat out the throw to first. �A single by LF Shelley Duncan brought in one run, and another single loaded the bases, all without an out being recorded. �That was the end for Powell. �He exited having allowed 5 runs on 6 hits and a walk. �Anthony Claggett was next in from the bullpen. �Claggett got Hodges to bounce to third base. �Pedro Alvarez made the scoop, but instead of looking to home, where C Erik Kratz was ready and waiting for the throw, Alvarez threw to first, to make the out on Hodges. �It may not have mattered in the long run, but a throw to the plate would have easily beat the not-exactly-speedy Branyan and kept a run from scoring. �Duncan scored on a sacrifice fly, and Columbus was up 7-3.
With Claggett still on the bump in the 6th inning, former Indy Indian Brian Bixler began the inning with a walk. �CF Trevor Crowe grounded into what should have been a double play. �Bixler was forced out at second, but the throw from Brian Friday to first was in the dirt, and the ball skipped into the dugout, advancing Crowe to second base. �He scored easily when Branyan doubled into left field.
The Indians added a run in the top of the 7th, when Pedro Alvarez walked, Pearce moved him along with a single, and Neil Walker (photo) brought him in with an RBI double. �At 8-4, the game was still within reach at that point — but that’s when it got ugly. �Columbus scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning, sparked by Carlos Santana’s second home run of the game. �The lead-off homer was followed by a double, a single, (a strikeout), a double , a single, a walk, and two more singles. �All that came off reliever Vinnie Chulk. �Steven Jackson replaced Chulk and gave up a 2-RBI double, and an RBI ground out, and one more single. �Chulk was charged with all 8 of the runs, giving him an astronomical 216.00 ERA. �Jackson was responsible for the Clippers’ final run in the 8th inning, when a fielding error by RF Brandon Jones, a hit batter (no reaction from the umpires), and a single loaded the bases. �A walk to Shelley Duncan forced in the 17th Columbus run.
The Indians posted 10 hits, but left 11 runners on base. �Only 3 of the 13 runners in scoring position came around to score. �1B Steve Pearce went 3-for-4, with two doubles. �Brandon Jones had a single and a double, and Neil Walker and Erik Kratz each doubled.
This was Neil Walker’s first regular season game in the outfield. �He has been told that he will be getting plenty of playing time, but that he will be bouncing all around the field — third base, second base, outfield, and maybe even a little first base. �He will not be catching (or pitching) and he is not fast enough to be in center field. �Walker mostly did ok in left field, except for one little glitch, which may have been a communication issue for a player unused to the position. �In the bottom of the 7th, Wes Hodges lifted a fly ball to left center. �Walker raced to his left, while Jose Tabata came over from center field. �Almost at the last second, Tabata seemed to slow up — and then the ball dropped in, a little to Walker’s left, for a double.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: �Pedro Alvarez’s first AAA home run, which left the park awfully fast. �Let’s hope it’s the first of many.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: �A very nice double play in the 3rd inning, started by SS Argenis Diaz and turned by 2B Friday, throwing to Steve Pearce at first. �It got Kevin Hart out of the inning — the second of only two innings in which the Clippers did not score.
Where are they? �Some news about former Indy Indians and Pirates’ farmhands:
SS Luis Cruz, now in the Brewers’ organization, will begin the season with AAA Nashville.
RHP Juan Mateo was released by the Anaheim Angels. �C JR House was released by the Braves.
RHP Ty Taubenheim has signed a minor league contract with the Phillies, and will probably be pitching for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
C Steve Lerud has been traded to the Orioles.
(photos by Nancy)