Game Information: Indianapolis Indians (47-48) vs. Syracuse Mets (48-48)
The Tribe look to salvage the series finale and avoid a sweep tonight against Syracuse.
LOCATION: Victory Field
FIRST PITCH: 7:05 p.m. ET
GAME #96 / HOME #48: Indianapolis Indians (47-48) vs. Syracuse Mets (48-48)
PROBABLES: RHP James Marvel (1-0, 3.86) vs. RHP Mickey Jannis (0-1, 27.00)
RADIO: Fox Sports 97.5 / AM 1260 / iHeart app
TV: MiLB TV / Comcast 90
YESTERDAY: The Indians lost their fifth consecutive home game with a 15-5 loss to the Mets on Wednesday afternoon, dropping them below .500 for the first time since May 8 when they were 15-16. Travis Taijeron and Rymer Liriano each had two-homer games for Syracuse, and Taijeron reached base in all six of his plate appearances. Liriano finished with a game-high six RBI, and Danny Espinosa went 5-for-6 with two doubles and three RBI from the No. 2 spot for the visitors. Syracuse jumped on Tribe starter Eduardo Vera (L, 5-8) for three runs in the second and four in the third. Indy nearly cut the deficit in half with a three-run fifth, sparked by a Darnell Sweeney home run and RBI singles from Erik Gonzalez and Will Craig. Ke'Bryan Hayes chipped in a two-run single in the seventh to make it an 8-5 ballgame, but Syracuse scored the final seven runs -- including six in the ninth off Dovydas Neverauskas -- to run away with its fifth straight victory and sixth in seven games since the All-Star break. Anthony Kay (W, 1-3) fired six innings of three-run ball to take home his first career Triple-A win.
THIS SERIES: After taking 3 of 4 in Columbus in their first series out of the All-Star break, the Indians have dropped three straight games to Syracuse. The Mets have outscored the Indians 40-8, outhit the Tribe 47-25 and outhomered Indy 11-3 so far in the series. Indy's pitching staff entered the series with a 4.59 ERA, third in the International League. The Tribe now sit seventh in the IL with a 4.88 ERA. The 40 runs surrendered is the most ever given up by the Tribe in a three-game stretch in the Victory Field era (1996-present).
JULY HEAT: Indy's pitching staff ranks at or near the bottom among IL teams this month in ERA (14th, 7.19), WHIP (14th, 1.71), batting average against (13th, .298) and walks (13th, 63). Norfolk is second to last in the league in ERA this month at 6.58. Syracuse owns the worst BAA at .314.
THE LONG BALL: Travis Taijeron and Rymer Liriano combined for four home runs in yesterday's contest, giving the Mets 11 dingers in the series; they hit seven in the series opener, the most ever allowed by the Indians in a game at Victory Field. In the first 23 seasons at The Vic, the Indy staff gave up four homers in a game just three times, most recently in 2015; they have reached that number twice in the current series.
AVOID THE SWEEP: The Indians look to fight off a potential sweep this evening at the hands of Syracuse, who last swept the Tribe in a four-game series at Victory Field from July 26-29, 2013. In addition to that four-game sweep in 2013, Syracuse also swept the Indians in four-game sets both at home and at The Vic in 2002, winning all eight games in the season series that summer. The Indians have been swept four times this season but not yet in a four-game series (April 23-25 at GWN; June 11-13 vs. BUF; June 26-27 vs. COL; June 28-30 at GWN).
VIC TROUBLES: The Tribe enter tonight's game with five straight losses on their home field, one shy of matching their season-high home losing skid of six (June 1-2 vs. GWN, June 11-13 vs. BUF, June 14 vs. PAW). The Tribe are 2-8 in their last 10 home games and 5-15 in their last 20. Indy was a season-best seven games over .500 (17-10) at The Vic following a May 31 victory over Gwinnett. Indy is also just 3-9 against IL North opponents at VF this year.
NEVER AGAIN: RHP Dovydas Neverauskas was charged with seven earned runs on seven hits and one walk in 2.0 innings yesterday, the most runs he's ever allowed in a relief appearance and tied for the second most he's surrendered in his career (also: Aug. 5, 2014 with Single-A West Virginia vs. Hagerstown, 7er in 2.1ip).
GOODBYE GREGORY: OF Gregory Polanco exited Indy's July 14 game at Columbus early with lingering soreness in his left shoulder from offseason shoulder surgery. The Pirates shut down Polanco's second rehab assignment with Indy. He hit .240 (6-for-25) with one home run, three doubles and six RBI in eight games during the assignment.
POWER HITTER: 1B Will Craig hit seven home runs in April and eight in May before slugging just one in June. His home run Tuesday night was his second of the month (also: July 1 at LOU) to make him the first Tribe player to hit 18 homers in a season since Andrew Lambo belted 18 in 2013. Craig's next long ball will give him the second-highest, single-season total for a Tribe player since 2006, trailing only Brandon Moss (22 in 2010). Craig is two dingers away from matching his career high of 20 set last year with Double-A Altoona.
RBI MACHINE: Craig drove in his third run of the series with an RBI knock in the fifth inning last night, lifting his season total to a team-high 54. Craig is on pace for 80 RBI, which would be the most by a Tribe player since Brandon Moss had a league-leading 96 RBI in 2010.
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