Game Information: Indianapolis Indians (44-44) at Columbus Clippers (55-33)
The Indians begin the second half with a four-game series in Columbus.
LOCATION: Huntington Park
FIRST PITCH: 7:05 p.m. ET
GAME #89 / ROAD #45: Indianapolis Indians (44-44) at Columbus Clippers (55-33)
PROBABLES: RHP Mitch Keller (6-3, 3.32) vs. RHP Zac Plesac (3-0, 2.25)
RADIO: Fox Sports 97.5 / AM 1260 / iHeart app
TV: MiLB TV
BEFORE THE BREAK: Indianapolis suffered a 4-0 setback in a heated first-half finale on Sunday against Toledo. The loss was Indy's second straight and gave Toledo the five-game series win, 3-2. Doubles by Daz Cameron and Danny Woodrow made it 1-0 in the third inning, and Willi Castro added a two-out, two-run blast in the frame to push the Mud Hens' lead to three. Cameron tacked on a run-scoring double in the fourth. The fireworks followed shortly after, as Tribe starter Alex McRae beaned Jacob Robson on his back foot with a breaking ball. Toledo wasted no time with a retaliation pitch in the home half of the fourth, with Mud Hens starter Beau Burrows beaning Ke'Bryan Hayes in the back of the helmet with a 91 mile-per-hour fastball. Toledo's Burrows, Cameron and Ronny Rodriguez were all ejected, along with Indians reliever Blake Weiman. The shutout loss was Indy's sixth of the season.
FUTURES GAME FRUSTRATION: 1B Will Craig represented the Pirates and started at first base for the National League Futures Team on Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio, but he was hit by pitch in both of his at-bats. He was beaned in the second inning by Mariners prospect Justin Dunn, a right-hander who has spent the entire 2019 season with Double-A Arkansas. Two innings later he was hit by Tigers prospect Matt Manning, another right-hander who has been with Double-A Erie all season. The game ended in a 2-2 tie after eight innings. The 24-year-old led the Indians in times being hit by pitch in the first half with eight, a total that was tied for eighth most among International League players.
ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: Craig put up gaudy offensive numbers in the first half, leading the Indians in home runs (17), RBI (50), runs scored (43) and total bases (141). His 17 dingers are the most by a Tribe player before the All-Star break dating back to 2006, with the previous high being 13, most recently accomplished by Max Moroff in 2017. Craig also became the first Indian to reach the 50-RBI threshold in the first half since Josh Bell had 53 in 2016.
TRAYVON REPS THE TRIBE: When the International League All-Star team was originally announced, the Tribe had three pitchers named to the squad -- Mitch Keller was elected and relievers Montana DuRapau and Dovydas Neverauskas were selected. Both relievers were recalled by Pittsburgh leading up to the All-Star break, and Keller was removed from the team as well. Insert 31-year-old journeyman, OF Trayvon Robinson, who hit .322 (46-for-143) with four homers, a team-high four triples, six doubles and 22 RBI in 53 first-half games. The All-Star bid was the fourth of Robinson's career that dates back to 2005 and first since he was a Pacific Coast League All-Star in 2011. Robinson replaced Columbus' Brandon Barnes in the sixth inning in center field and went 0-for-1 with a flyout and a walk in his two plate appearances. The PCL defeated the IL All-Stars for a third straight season, 9-3.
SCHWIND, BELL AND THE HR DERBY: Tribe assistant hitting coach Jon Schwind threw to Pirates slugger Josh Bell in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday night at Progressive Field. Bell was the No. 3 seed in the eight-player competition but was beaten by Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. in the first round, 25-18. Schwind (41st round) and Bell (2nd round) were both drafted by Pittsburgh in 2011 and became close friends after spending time together at Pirate City rehabbing injuries in 2012. They were roommates throughout their minor league careers, and Bell read the first reading at Schwind's wedding in 2014.
DOUBLES MACHINE: INF Kevin Kramer led the Tribe with 35 doubles in 2018 and is on pace for 35 two-baggers again this season. He leads the club with 22 doubles and is tied for seventh in the IL in that category. His 22 doubles before the All-Star break tied Jordan Luplow's 22 before the break in 2018 and are the most since Christopher Bostick had 23 during his 2017 Team MVP campaign.
BATTING CHAMPION CANDIDATE: UTIL Jake Elmore led Indianapolis with a .349 average (68-for-195) in the first half but does not rank among league leaders because he does not have enough plate appearances to qualify. Through Indy's 88 games, Elmore has racked up 219 plate appearances (2.49 PA/game). If Indianapolis plays out its entire 140-game schedule, Elmore needs to have 378 plate appearances by the end of the season to qualify for the batting title. To reach that number, the 32-year-old would need to average 3.06 PA/game. Elmore's .349 average before the All-Star break is the highest by a Tribe player (minimum 175 AB) in the first half of a season dating back to 2006; the previous high was Gregory Polanco's .347 clip (86-for-248) in 2014. Indianapolis has not had a league batting champion since Junior Noboa hit .340 to lead the American Association in 1989.
TALL TASK AHEAD: The Indians owned the league's best record at 34-23 following a 3-2 win on June 6 at Toledo, but the Tribe have gone 10-21 over their last 31 games to turn a two-game division lead into an 11-game deficit. Columbus has gone a league-best 22-7 since June 7 to flip the division race. Indy also sits in fourth place in the IL Wild Card race -- 6.5 games back of Gwinnett, 4.5 back of Charlotte and 2.0 back of Buffalo. Indy's 11-game deficit in the division is its largest at the All-Star break since an 11.5-game deficit in 2011. That year, the Tribe finished second in the division, 12.0 behind Columbus who finished with the IL's best record at 88-56.
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