INDIANAPOLIS — Roughly halfway through the season, the Indianapolis Indians are sitting in the catbird’s seat.
With a record of 48-31, the Indians have the best record in the International League and enjoy a 9.5 game lead over second place Columbus Clippers (39-41) in the West division through Thursday.
For the Tribe, their success has been reliant on the mound. They have the best team ERA in the International League with a 3.06.
“Our pitching has really carried us this season,” infielder Jeff Clement said. “Each one of our starting pitchers, every time they take the mound, we have a chance to win. Most teams you’re on, you don’t have that. These guys are really quality starters and then we go to our bullpen and we have great pitching in the bullpen. When we’re able to string some runs together, we’re going to win most of our games.”
Indianapolis is last in the International League in home runs with 39 on the season but homers are not necessarily the best indication of a talented team.
“We’re a pretty strong club,” third basemen Chase d’Arnaud said. “We might not have as much pop as other teams do, the power behind the plate, but we make up for it with our speed. Not to say that we don’t have poppers. I think we have a lot of guys who can hit it out, but at this field it’s not really necessary to have those guys in your lineup.”
d’Arnaud sees another one of the Indians’ strengths as playing within their limits.
“I don’t think that we’ve been trying to do too much,” he said. “I think we’ve been trying to keep the game simple and it’s easy for things to go your way when you have momentum on your side which we’ve had for the majority of the season.”
The Tribe has notched four five-game winning streaks, including seven straight wins from June 17 to 23 when they outscored their opponents 35-15.
Nothing needs to change for Indianapolis as Clement believes consistency is the key for the team staying hot.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “Obviously, you want to continue to get better and baseball is all about consistency. We have enough guys on this team that are really good players where we just have to be consistent day in and day out. If we do that, we’re going to be in a good position when the season is over.”
It’s too early to speculate about the postseason, but this year’s squad might be the Tribe’s best chance at a return to the playoffs since 2005. And that’s a feat that would be impactful for the Pittsburgh Pirates’s Triple A affiliate.
“We just have to continue to play the way we’re playing now and that’s going to take care of itself,” Clement said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We just have to worry about the game tomorrow and take it one day at a time.”
As an affiliate of the Pirates, one injury in the Majors could drastically change a team. But d’Arnuad believes that this team could make a deep postseason run as they sit.
“Absolutely, if everybody stays here,” he said. “But the thing about a Triple A team is you never know who is going to go up and down. The Pirates are doing well right now, so I don’t think there will be drastic changes. But if the team stays together, I don’t see why we couldn’t.”