August 17, 2017 AZL Indians

Normally when we look back at individual games in Indians minor league history, we try to pick points of Tribe excellence, like no hitters and blow outs, but this one was particularly kooky and deserves a shout out.

This game started out rough for the AZL Indians as multiple players were playing out of character. The normally solid defensive short stop Jose Fermin committed an error on the first play of the game and the pitcher who ended up finishing fourth in the league in FIP, Luis Oviedo, gave up a single and double to follow, allowing two runs to score. Continuing with weird things, the only batter to reach in the first, Quentin Holmes, was caught stealing. Holmes had a .220 OBP and was the fastest player on the roster, so both him reaching base and him getting thrown out were odd.

Luis Oviedo3
Oviedo makes the start for the AZL Indians at Goodyear Ballpark during the 2017 season. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

For some return to normalcy, Henry Pujols went deep in the second (that exact play is pictured at top) to put the Indians on the board on his way to a franchise record (since broken) eight home runs (this was #7). In the third, the wacky races would begin again.

The first five hitters for the Padres would hit safely starting with a Mason House triple. After a ground out, two more Padres hit singles and Gabriel Arias was safe on a Pujols error. House then hit his second triple of the inning to clear the bases. After hitting a batter, Oviedo was pulled from the game and replaced with Luis Santos. He struck out his first hitter, but allowed a double and a homer before finally finishing the twelve run inning. Two of the runs allowed by Santos belonged to Oviedo, giving him 12 runs allowed (8 earned) on 11 hits with just 3 K’s in 2.1 innings. This was by far the worst start of his career as he set highs in runs, earned runs, and hits allowed.

Michael Cooper1
Cooper hits a single for the Indians on August 17, 2017 in Goodyear, AZ. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

At this point, you may be wondering why I picked this game, but wait, there’s more. In the fourth, Michael Cooper lead off with a single and, following a Miguel Jerez fielder’s choice, Henry Pujols brought in a run with a double. Mitch Reeves walked and Tre Gantt was hit by a pitch to load the bases for a John Rodriguez ground rule double. A ground out scored one more and an error brought another home bringing the score to 14-6 through four.

The Indians continued the come back in the fifth with a Jerez double and Pujols single to score him. Reeves walked again as did Rodriguez. With the bases loaded, a wild pitch brought home one and a Holmes single followed by an error brought home two more. Through five, the Indians had tightened the score to 14-10.

Luis Santos
Santos stands on the mound after coming in to relieve for the 2017 AZL Indians. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

They added another in the sixth when Cooper walked to start the inning and Pujols doubled him home. Then, the first four hitters in the seventh reached starting with a Rodriguez double. Jerez and Reeves then reached on errors and the resulting runs brought the game to a 15-15 tie (the Padres had added one in the top half of seven).

Matt Turner had pitched wonderfully in relief and kept the Indians in it through the seventh and he was replaced in the eighth by Francisco Lopez, who was perfect. Tommy DeJuneas followed with a perfect ninth, but despite base runners in the eighth and ninth, the Indians couldn’t score.  DeJuneas stayed in for the tenth and, even if they hadn’t had a runner on second to start the inning, the Padres would have won decidedly. The first two hitters singled to score the runner from second, then Olivier Basabe doubled them both home. Another double scored the fourth run of the inning and Edwuin Bencomo was able to shut down the Indians in the ninth stranding both the runner who started at second and Wilbis Santiago, who singled.

Tre Gantt2
Gantt puts the ball in play for the 2017 AZL Indians against the Padres. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

Ultimately, the Indians lost to San Diego 19-14, but it was still an incredible come back. Pujols went 4-5 with a walk, 4 RBI, 3 runs scored, two doubles and a homer. Rodriguez went 3-4 with two walks, 3 runs scored, 3 RBI and two doubles. Combined, the two teams had 38 hits and 7 errors and the game was four hours long. I just happened to cover this game live back in 2017 and all photos included are mine from that specific game.

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