6th inning of separation: Indianapolis power game gives them a 7-4 win over Gwinnett
Preview: Indianapolis Indians (49-54, 11 GB in the International League West) vs Gwinnett Stripers (46-57, 14 GB in the International League West)
With the trade deadline in the rearview (as it passes on August 1, 2023), both Indianapolis and Gwinnett can focus on the "crunch time" of the season for the month of August and the season's eventual ending in September.
With both teams splitting the first 2 games of the 5-game series, both look to take the series lead and build momentum for the foreseeable future for tonight's (August 3, 2023) game. The Indians, the AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, look to Travis MacGregor (1-0, 3.15 ERA, as he makes his second start of the season) to slow down Gwinnett's offense based on last night's 6-0 win by the Stripers. Former New York Yankee and 2018 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Miguel Andujar (.362 BA with 14 HR and 76 RBI's) leads the Indianapolis offense, and Aaron Shackleford (.229 BA with 14 HR and 47 RBI's) along with Canaan Smith-Njigba (.251 BA with 10 HR and 37 RBI's along with 11 SB's) are expected to lead the offense against Gwinnett starter Dylan Dodd (2-5, 7.94 ERA), who has seen action with the Atlanta Braves (Gwinnett's the AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, the current leaders in the NL East standings). Looking to build a modest 2-game win streak (and a 2-1 lead in the series), Joe Dunand (.291 BA with 13 HR and 36 RBI's), Braden Shewmake (.223 BA with 12 HR and a team-leading 49 RBI's), and Vaughn Grissom (.316 BA with 4 HR and 45 RBI's along with 11 SB's) look to set the tone for the offense who has scored 11 runs in the first 2 games of the series (5.5 runs per game).
Prior to the game, Stripers' outfielder Justin Dean (JD) joins us for our pregame interview. His insight on his improvement in key areas of his overall game, ability to maintain his perspective, along with sharing ideas to reach back and help younger players, coaches, and fans of the game make him a player to keep an eye on (you may watch the complete interview below):
Game recap: Indianapolis pulls away from Gwinnett in the 6th inning and holds on for a 7-4 win
The Indians would strike first as in the top of the 2nd inning, RBI singles by Mason Martin and Aaron Shackleford would give them an early 2-0 lead on Stripers' starter Dylan Dodd (3 IP, 3 runs (all earned) on 5 hits, along with a strikeout and 2 walks). Gwinnett would respond in the bottom of the 3rd with RBI singles by Sam Hilliard and Dalton Guthrie would cut the deficit to 3-2. Vaughn Grissom's double-play would plate another run to tie the game at 3 after 3 innings.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, Chadwick Tromp's solo home-run off reliever John O'Reilly would give Gwinnett a 4-3 lead.
However, the lead would be short-lived.
Luis Hernandez would get a 2 RBI base-knock (single) off Justus Sheffield as Indianapolis would retake the lead in the top of the 5th inning (5-4). They would add to their lead in the top of the 6th inning thanks to solo homeruns by Miguel Andujar and Domingo Leyba to give them a 7-4 advantage.
In the bottom of the 9th inning, Justin Dean would work a leadoff walk. However, Indianapolis' Hunter Stratton (2 IP with 5 strikeouts and a walk in earning his 3rd save of the year) would shut the door with 3 consecutive strikeouts to end the game and give the Indians the win and a 2-1 advantage in the series.
Indianapolis is led by Miguel Andujar (3 for 6 with 1 HR/1 RBI) and Domingo Lebya (2 for 3 with 1 HR/1 RBI), but the bottom of the order would play a key role. Mason Martin (batting 8th) would go 2 for 4 with 2 RBI's, and 9th place hitter Luis Hernandez (1 for 4 with 2 RBI's) provide offensive support. John O'Reilly (2-3 on the season) would get the win as he allows a run (earned) on 2 hits along with 3 strikeouts/2 walks in the winning effort.
Justus Sheffield drops to 1-5 on the season (as he goes 3 innings and allows 4 runs on 6 hits with 5 strikeouts and 4 walks). On offense, Sam Hilliard (2 for 3 with 1 RBI) along with Dalton Guthrie (1 for 4 with 1 RBI) and Chadwick Tromp (1 for 4 with 1 HR and 1 RBI) provide an impact in the scoring column.
The series continues tomorrow and concludes on Sunday, August 6th, as Gwinnett looks to draw even in the series and get back on a winning track.