It was a wild night at Louisville Slugger Field Sunday as the Indianapolis Indians downed the Louisville Bats 8-3 in a rain shortened affair. There was plenty of controversy and questions abound late in the game.
Despite a pouring thunderstorm hovering over Slugger Field after the first out of the eighth inning was recorded, home plate umpire Chris Ward decided to continue playing the game. After an error on Mike Costanzo allowed a run to score, Bats reliever Nick Christiani allowed a walk to load the bases. After the walk, Christiani looked extremely flustered.
“I don’t think it bothered him,” Bats manager David Bell said. “He’s a tough kid. The results weren’t there for him tonight, but he’ll be fine.”
Tony Sanchez singled in the Indians’ seventh run of the game as the rain and lightning continued to come down. After Jordy Mercer’s groundout plated another run, things got interesting.
The next batter, Chase d’Arnaud, hit a ground ball to first base. As Neftali Soto fielded the ball and tossed to Christiani covering, the lights at Louisville Slugger Field went completely out. By rule, the play was dead and the Bats were not credited with an out. As the teams raced off the field, both managers had words for Ward.
“(Ward) was explaining the rule to us,” Bell said. “He was communicating with our grounds keeper (Tom Neilsen) and getting constant updates. It’s so hard to know what to do there.”
52 minutes later, the game was called and the Bats (31-54) had officially lost their fifth straight game. The losing streak comes after the Bats had won nine straight.
“We’ve seen what we’re capable of doing,” Bell said. “Unfortunately, now we’ve lost some in a row. I think we’re going to turn it around.”
Bats starter Tim Gustafson was roughed up in his four-plus innings of work, giving up five runs on five hits.
Gustafson caused his own trouble all night, especially in the first. After walking Gorkys Hernandez, Gustafson threw wide of first on a pickoff attempt, allowing Hernandez to advance to second. Starling Marte promptly singled home Hernandez to make it 1-0. The next batter, Matt Hague drilled a double off the left-center field wall, scoring Marte and making it 2-0 before the Bats had a crack at the plate.
d’Arnaud and Marte each hit solo homers in the third to make it 4-0. For Marte, it was his seventh straight multi-hit game and his ninth in his last eleven games.
The Bats had a big chance to get back into the game in third. After back to back walks and a sac bunt from Gustafson, the Bats had runners at second and third with one out. After Kristopher Negron struck out, Willie Harris reached on an infield single that scored a run to make it 4-1. Denis Phipps then stepped in representing the tying run but struck out swinging to end the threat.
Yamaico Navarro’s solo homer to lead off fourth made it 5-1. The five runs are the most Gustafson has allowed since joining the Bats.
The Bats gained a run back in the bottom of the fourth when Neftali Soto, who doubled to start the inning, scored on an error by d’Arnaud to make it 5-2.
The Indians reached reliever Kanekoa Texeira for a run in the sixth to make it 6-2. It was the second time in his last three outings that Texeira has given up a run. Prior to that, Texeira had not allowed a run in nine innings pitched.
The Bats’ final tally came in the seventh on an RBI double from Felix Perez. Perez has hit safely in 16 of his last 21 games and had hits in 20 of the 29 games he played in June.
“(Perez) has improved in every area of the game, especially defensively,” Bell said. “We always knew he’d swing the bat well, and it’s starting to come around for him.”
The Bats and Indians continue their six game series Monday. Pedro Villarreal (2-4, 3.86 ERA) will be on the mound for the Bats opposed by Justin Wilson (6-4, 3.57 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.