INDIANAPOLIS - With one out and Toledo Mud Hens' outfielder Andres Torres on third in the bottom of the first inning last night, Indianapolis Indians manager Trent Jewett pulled his infield in to cut off the run.
Unorthodox, maybe, but his intuition proved correct.
Runs were hard to come by again for both teams as the Hens scratched out a 2-1 win to cut their magic number to 1.
Jewett's strategy ended up backfiring. With the infield drawn in, Omar Infante singled just over the outstretched glove of second baseman Don Kelly to score Torres.
Toledo starter Dennis Tankersley held the Indians to a single run on six hits over 62/3 innings. The right-hander didn't dominate Indianapolis, but made several big pitches to get out of jams.
The Indians put runners on base in every inning, but the Toledo defense backed up the pitchers with some stellar defense. With two on and nobody out in the second, Brad Eldred hit a long, looping drive to right but outfielder Jason Perry made an over the-shoulder catch at the warning track. Tankersley then got the next two batters to end the threat.
"That's been how this year has gone," said Tankersley.
"Last year was my first year in the minor leagues where I gave up more hits than innings. Once you get to Triple-A, you're going to have guys on base. It's not like in the lower minors where you can just cruise through seven innings.
"Up here you just have to attack guys, you can't try to nibble."
"Our pitchers have been doing well and keeping us in games," said catcher Dane Sardinha.
"We haven't been scoring as many runs as we were in the beginning of the season, so our pitchers are stepping up big for us now."
As rain started in the bottom of the fifth, Tankersley gave up back-to-back singles with one out to Brian Bixler and Michael Ryan.
But then he induced a ground ball to third to get out of the inning unscathed with a 5-4-3 double play.
Meanwhile Indians starter Marty McLeary retired 15 batters in a row after allowing the run in the first. He walked Torres with two out in the sixth, but picked him off first.
After a 26-minute rain delay in the top of the seventh, the Indians finally nicked Tankersley for a run in the bottom of the inning.
Nyjer Morgan was hit by a pitch and went to third on a single from Milver Reyes. Morgan scored on a fielder's choice grounder but the rally ended when Brian Bixler struck out and Andrew McCutchen was caught stealing.
In the bottom of the seventh Toledo plated the winning run when Henry Mateo scored on a sacrifice fly from Timo Perez.
Vic Darensbourg, Anastacio Martinez and Aquilino Lopez combined for 21/3 scoreless innings of relief pitching.
Tankersley was pleased (if a little surprised) that he went back in the game after the delay.
"A starter always wants the game to be his, and I think that's how Ro [manager Mike Rojas] saw it, too.
"About 10 minutes into the delay we went into the [underground] batting cage but it was locked, so we played catch in the hallway.
"I didn't get much out of it, but we had plenty of time to get loose on the field."
The Mud Hens will attempt to clinch a playoff spot tonight in Indianapolis. Game time is 7 o'clock.
The scheduled starters are Yoman Bazardo (10-5, 3.51 ERA) for Indianapolis and Victor Zambrano (3-2, 6.59) for the Hens.