The Indianapolis Indians are closer than they’ve ever been to their first division title since 2000. Chase d’Arnaud recorded a season-high four hits as the Indians took a back and forth affair from the Louisville Bats 7-5 Wednesday night. 6,843 were in attendance at Victory Field as the Indians lowered their magic number for clinching the West Division to two.
d’Arnaud’s last hit of the night was an RBI ground-rule double in eighth that broke a 5-5 tie and gave Indianapolis the lead for good. The Indians extended their lead when Carlos Fisher walked three straight batters to force in another run, making it 7-5.
In all, Bats pitchers walked seven batters in the loss, bringing their season total to 535. The most walks in a season in franchise is history is 586, set in 1999.
The Bats (50-83) fell to a season-low 33 games under the .500 mark and fell 29.5 games back of the first place Indians. The worst finish in franchise history came in 1991 when the Redbirds finished 30 games back at 51-92.
Willie Harris wasted no time in getting the scoring started as he led off the game with his second homer of the season. It was the first time in four games the Bats scored first.
Indianapolis came back in the third with an RBI groundout from Matt Hague and RBI single from Dallas McPherson to take a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, Neftali Soto, who walked to start the inning, scored on a wild pitch by Chris Leroux to tie it at two.
Harris struck again with a solo homer in the fifth to give the Bats a brief 3-2 lead. It was the third multi home run game by a Bats player this season and Harris’ first since August 22, 2008 when he was a member of the Washington Nationals.
The Bats threw away a run in the bottom of the fifth. After Chase d’Arnaud singled and stole second, Alex Presley singled to score d’Arnaud and tie the game at three. Denis Phipps came up throwing but his throw sailed over catcher Brian Peacock. As Presley took off for third, Josh Judy, who backed up Phipps’ error, over threw third, allowing Presley to score and give the Indians a 4-3 lead.
Right back came the Bats, getting a two-run double from Cody Puckett to re-take the lead at 5-4. The double gave Puckett a modest four-game hitting streak and hits in five of his last six games.
Indianapolis tied it 5-5 in the seventh with a leadoff home run from Hague, his fourth of the year.
The Indians (79-53) maintained their hold on the best record in the International League. The last time the Indians won 80 games was in the 2000 season.
The Bats and Indians lock horns for game two of their short three game series Thursday. Todd Redmond (8-9, 3.54 ERA) will be on the mound for the Bats against Phil Irwin (0-0, 4.50 ERA) for Indy. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.