AZL Indians take back and forth affair with Padres, 12-11
GOODYEAR – In the midst of a three game slide, the AZL Indians looked to get back in the win column Thursday night against the visiting AZL Padres. The game featured a little bit of everything including home runs, bloopers, wild pitches, and sloppy errors, but the AZL Indians were able to prevail in a wild affair.
The game did not start out too promising as AZL Indians’ starter Kieran Lovegrove gave up a two run homer to AZL Padres’ clean-up hitter Jose Urena in the top of the first inning. Tommy Medica, who had drawn a two out walk preceding Urena, scored on the blast.
However, the AZL Indians were quick to respond in the bottom of the inning on a lead off triple by Joel Mejia followed by an Ivan Castillo double and a Grant Fink single, matching the AZL Padres’ two run first inning. The AZL Indians were able to keep this momentum rolling into the second inning, as they were able to gain their first lead of the night when singles by Victor Cabral and Yonathan Mendoza were followed by productive outs leading to two more runs. The Tribe managed to extend their lead to five in the bottom of the fourth when Ordomar Valdez drove in Mendoza and Mejia on a hard single back up the middle and later came around to score on a wild pitch by AZL Padre reliever Vladimir De La Cruz.
While the AZL Indians were able to build on their solid lead offensively, Lovegrove settled into a nice groove and kept hitters guessing through four innings. The wheels started to fall of for Lovegrove in the top of the fifth inning, however. With one out and a man on first, who had reached by virtue of a walk, Lovegrove gave up three consecutive smoked singles. This plated one run and loaded the bases, which was enough of a jam to force manager Anthony Medrano to go to his bullpen and bring in southpaw Thomas Pannone. Lovegrove finished the evening with 4.1 innings pitched, 5 runs - 3 earned - on six hits, five strikeouts and two walks. Pannone came in strong, striking out the first batter he faced, but the third strike kicked away practically into the Tribe dugout, which allowed both the runners on second and third to score. Not letting the unfortunate bounce affect him too much, Pannone retired the next batter to end the inning.
The AZL Indians again responded immediately, scoring three runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth thanks in part to two throwing errors by De La Cruz on pickoff attempts and a wild pitch by Malcom Diaz – who relieved De La Cruz in the inning – in addition to a double and triple by Gerald Bautista and Mejica, respectively.
The game continued to go back and forth in the sixth. In the top of the inning, the AZL Padres pushed across three more runs largely due to sloppy play by the AZL Indians. With one out, runners at first and third, and one run already home, AZL Indians left fielder D'vone McClure dropped a routine fly ball as he was preparing to make a quick exchange and attempt to throw out the runner tagging from third. The runner from third scored uncontested and the AZL Indians missed a golden opportunity to limit the damage. After a two run triple by Malquiel Brito, Pannone gave up the last of the five runs scored in the inning on another wild pitch, but was able to strikeout two batters to stop the bleeding.
The AZL Indians came back with one run in their half of the seventh, capitalizing on two more wild pitches thrown by Diaz. Also of note during the inning was the loss of McClure, who was drilled in the side of the head by a hard Diaz fastball. He remained on his feet and was able to walk to the Tribe dugout, but he was removed immediately from the game. AZL Padres pitchers were far from sharp, as they issued 8 walks, threw 7 wild pitches, and hit three batters.
After the AZL Padres were able to scratch out a game-tying run against Tribe reliever Martin Alcantara in the top of the 8th inning (the runner who eventually scored had again reached on a sloppy error), the AZL Indians were set up with a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. Felix Lora, replacing the injured McClure, led off the inning with a walk and quickly advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cabral. AZL Padres pitcher Cory Bostjancic then walked Mendoza and Mejia before striking out Valdez for the second out of the inning. AZL Indians’ third baseman Todd Hankins, coming to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, drew a 3-1 walk to score Lora and end the game with a final score of 12-11 in favor of the AZL Indians.
Despite the sloppy play of the AZL Padres, the Tribe bats were hot all night long. Each AZL Indian starter had at least one hit – with the exception of McClure who left early – which totaled 11 for the team on the night. Mejia led the onslaught with two triples, three runs scored, two RBIs, and a walk.
The AZL Indians will take the win, but will look to play better on Friday when travel to Surprise to take on the Rangers at 7 p.m. before an off day on Saturday.