LOUISVILLE, Ky -- Despite the fourth straight quality start from Tribe right hander Jameson Taillon, the Louisville Bats (68-75) held the Indianapolis Indians (80-63) to just two hits in a 3-0 shutout win behind starter Pedro Villarreal, who struck out eight over 6.0 scoreless innings on Sunday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
Just one swing of the bat made the difference on Sunday night in Louisville as both pitching staffs turned in stellar efforts in the second to last game of the regular season.
After allowing just two hits and striking out five over the first 5.0 innings of the contest, Indians starter Jameson Taillon hit Bats' CF Ryan LaMarre with a pitch with one out in the sixth and then issued a walk to LF Josh Fellhauer with two outs later in the frame. This momentary lapse proved to be Taillon and Tribe's undoing as 1B Mike Hessman roped a two-out base hit to load the bases and set the stage for the key at-bat of the night for 3B Mike Costanzo.
Costanzo, who was just added to the Bats roster from Double-A Pensacola earlier in the day, came through with the game's big blow, lining a two-out double to center to clear the bases for what proved to be the only runs of the night.
Despite surrendering Costanzo's two-out two run double and ultimately suffering the loss, Taillon (6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, BB, 6 SO) struck out six in what was his fourth straight quality start for the Indians. With his six punchouts in 6.0 innings of work, Taillon now ranks second in the International League with 37 strikeouts in 37.0 innings since making his Triple-A debut on August 5.
However, the Bats two-out sixth inning rally was all that the Louisville pitching staff needed as Villarreal and three Bats relievers combined to hand the Indians their seventh shutout defeat of the season.
Villarreal (6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 SO) turned in a dominating performance, surrendering just two singles and no walks while striking out eight over 6.0 innings of work. The Louisville right hander wraps up the Triple-A season on an impressive run as over the final two months of the season he posted a combined 2.00 ERA (8 ER in 36.0 IP) with 34 strikeouts and only eight walks in 18 appearances (four starts).
Following, Villarreal, Bats relievers Kevin Whelan (1.0 IP, 2 SO), Jose Arredondo (1.0 IP, SO) and Jose Diaz (1.0 IP) combined for three perfect innings of relief. For their efforts, Whelan picked up his eight hold, Arredondo his ninth hold and Diaz his 13th save.
Indianapolis also received quality work from their bullpen, albeit in a losing effort, as RHP Brooks Brown (2.0 IP, H, BB) worked 2.0 scoreless innings in relief of Taillon. The outing for Brown continues an excellent stretch for the Tribe reliever, who over his last 14 appearances now owns a 1.54 ERA (4 ER in 23.1 IP).
Despite failing to collect a hit, Pittsburgh Pirates top position prospect, Gregory Polanco, started for Indianapolis in center field and reached base once on a Louisville miscue in the top of the sixth.
The Indians and Bats will now wrap up the 2013 regular season with a 1:05 p.m. contest on Monday afternoon at Louisville Slugger Field. Indianapolis is expected to send LHP Andy Oliver (5-4, 4.18 ERA) to the mound in the regular season finale, while Louisville is scheduled to counter with RHP Yohan Pino (5-7, 3.22 ERA).
The game will be carried on WNDE.com and via iheartradio, a mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones with Howard Kellman and Will Flemming on the call. The pre-game show begins at 12:45 p.m.
Indianapolis Indians playoff tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here, through the Indians' single-game ticket hotline at 317-269-2282 or by visiting the Victory Field Box Office.
The Indians will kick-off their playoff celebration on Friday, Sept. 6 at Victory Field. Festivities for the event will include a free special edition playoff T-shirt for the first 2,500 fans and a post-game fireworks show to cap off the evening.
Fans can also enjoy Monday Dollar Menu pricing of $1 for hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack, popcorn and potato chips during all home playoff contests.