The first weekend in June saw your Indianapolis Indians wrap up their most recent homestand with three games against the Gwinnett Braves, two of which were won by the Indians. It was the second consecutive series victory for Indy, as they continue to expand their division lead with six wins in their last 10 games.
Indy’s lineup was bolstered by Austin Meadows, whose four hits this series followed a blistering .407 average in the month of May. Shortstop Gift Ngoepe, recently demoted after becoming the first African-born player in MLB history, posted 3 walks and a home run while flashing a jaw-dropping glove.
GAME 1: Indians 4, Braves 1
Don’t let the scoreboard fool you-this game was all about the pitching throughout the game. Sadly, both pitching staffs were betrayed by their defenses, as Indianapolis committed three errors and Gwinnett committed two.
Timing is everything in such games, however, and both of Gwinnett’s errors came in the bottom of the seventh, when Braves reliever Caleb Dirks compounded those problems with a walk and a wild pitch to allow four Indy runs to cross the plate.
The go-ahead run was charged to Braves starter Sean Newcomb (3-3), who nonetheless posted a quality outing with only four hits, three walks, and two runs against seven strikeouts in six innings. Indy reliever AJ Schugel (3-1) got the win with a pair of perfect innings.
The Indians got a fantastic emotional lift from the return of pitcher Jameson Taillon, who threw five innings with only three hits and an unearned run as he continues to ascend back toward the big leagues. Taillon looked nothing like a man recovering from cancer treatment surgery as he struck out six and regularly hit 94-96 mph on the radar gun.
GAME 2: Braves 6, Indians 4
There was free baseball at Victory Field on Saturday night as a ninth-inning homer by Indy first baseman Joey Terdoslavich tied the score at four apiece, but it wasn’t quite enough as Braves shortstop Ozzie Albies had a blast of his own in the top of the 11th inning to score a pair and claim victory.
Braves shortstop Jace Peterson had three hits and two doubles, and reliever Andres Santiago (1-0) retired every batter he faced in the extra frames as Gwinnett’s pitching staff combined to strike out 12 Indians.
Indy had great performances from second baseman Chris Bostick (two hits and a double) and Ngoepe (three walks). Reliever Dan Runzler (1-3) took the loss after leaving the go-ahead run on base when he left the game in the 11th.
GAME 3: Indians 5, Braves 3
Meadows once again demonstrated why he’s one of baseball’s most celebrated prospects as he delivered three hits and a pair of doubles, one of which drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth.
He’s hit in every game this month, following his aforementioned stellar month of May, and right now the only thing keeping him from advancing to the Show is MLB’s very team-friendly rules regarding the amount of service time prospects need to accrue before they are no longer eligible for contract arbitration.
Indy also received another excellent start from Clay Holmes (4-1), who limited Gwinnett to three hits and one earned run in his five innings of work.
The Braves got another great game from Peterson, who had two hits, two walks, three runs, and a solo homer. Starting pitcher Matt Wisler (1-4) gave up three runs on six hits in five innings.
The Columbus Clippers picked up two wins and a rainout in their series with Syracuse this weekend, allowing them to gain half a game back in the International League West standings. Indy (31-24) still sits atop the division by five games as they head to Toledo to start the week with a four-game series against the sub-.500 Mud Hens.