Indians Struggle Against Pigs’ Pitching
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 3, Indianapolis Indians 1
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The Indianapolis Indians scored early tonight at Victory Field, but the Iron Pigs came from behind to take the win. The Lehigh Valley pitchers held the Indians scoreless after the 2nd inning, despite the fact that 7 of the Tribe’s 8 hits came during that time.
2B Pedro Ciriaco was responsible for the Indians’ run in the 2nd inning. With two outs, Ciriaco grounded sharply down the left field line. The ball bounced around in the corner, with Pigs’ LF Domonic Brown having to chase after it as it skittered away from him. Ciriaco cruised into second base, but pulled up as Brown got to the ball. He promptly took off for third base on Lehigh Valley starter Nate Bump’s first pitch to C Eric Fryer, and slid safely into third. The throw from former Indy Indians’ C Erik Kratz to third was wide to the foul side of third, and Pigs’ 3B Pete Orr could not stop it from sailing into left field. Ciriaco saw the ball go past, hopped up from his slide, and raced home to score — what would turn out to be the only Indians’ run of the game.
Jeff Locke made his second start for the Indians since being promoted from AA Altoona. Locke worked himself out of a jam not entirely of his own making in the top of the 1st. Orr led off with a single into right field, but Locke quickly picked Orr off first base, with SS Chase d’Arnaud tagging out Orr as he tried to get to second base. After a ground out, Brown reached first base safely when 1B Matt Hague dropped Brown’s grounder and Locke was late getting over to cover first base — Hague was charged with the fielding error. Brown stole second base, and another former Indian (2009) 1B Tagg Bozied walked. Locke ended the inning leaving both Brown and Bozied on base, when former Pirate RF Delwyn Young popped out.
Locke retired the side in the 2nd inning, and used a double play to eliminate Orr, who had walked, in the 3rd. The Pigs threatened again in the 4th, and again Locke got out of the jam. Brown began the inning with a grounder through the right side of the infield for a single. Bozied followed with a double over 3B Pedro Alvarez’s head and into left field, sending Brown to third.
There was a scary moment when Brown was leading off third, standing just off the third base line in foul territory, and Young was at the plate. Young ripped a foul ball right at Brown, hitting him on the shoulder as Brown tried to turn away. Because Brown was standing in foul territory, he was not out, and he assured manager Ryne Sandberg and his trainer that he was ok and able to stay in the game. The next batter, CF Josh Barfield grounded to 3B Alvarez, who fired back to the plate. The ball reached C Fryer in plenty of time, and Fryer tagged out Brown on the slide into the plate. A grounder force out ended the inning, and Locke had again kept the Iron Pigs from scoring.
Locke gave up two singles in the 5th, including one to his mound opponent Nate Bump (who spent part of this season as a position player in the Phillies’ organization), but neither runner came around to score. Then the Pigs again rallied in the 6th. With one out, Young worked the count full then took a walk. Locke got a second fly out, then gave up a double to Kratz, who sent another ball down the left field line and into the corner. Locke intentionally walked SS Freddie Galvis to load the bases, bringing up the pitcher Bump’s spot in the batting order. Manager Sandberg elected to send pinch-hitter Cody Overbeck to the plate in place of Bump, and that prompted Indians’ manager Dean Treanor to change out Locke for reliever Justin Thomas.
Thomas came into the game with the bases loaded and two outs. He threw one pitch to Overbeck — and Overbeck took it into center field, over CF Gorkys Hernandez’s head and off the wall, for a bases-clearing double. All three runners scored, and the Iron Pigs had a 3-1 lead.
And that was all the scoring there was in the game. Thomas threw one more pitch to Orr, who grounded out to end the inning. He walked both Brown and Bozied in the 7th inning, but an amazing double play, started with a back-handed catch by Alvarez, ended that inning. Thomas also retired the side in order in the 8th. Jared Hughes pitched a perfect 9th inning for the Indians, striking out two batters.
The Indians put at least one runner on base in all but one inning after they scored in the 2nd. None of them were able to come around and score. RF John Bowker had three hits for the second night in a row — a single and two doubles tonight (it was one double and two singles last night). He was left on base twice, and erased in a double play. Hernandez singled twice, with a looper into left field in the 3rd and an infield single deep into the hole at short in the 5th. He was left on base in the 3rd and picked off by Kratz in the 5th. LF Alex Presley and d’Arnaud each singled also. Presley lined a single into right field with two outs in the 8th, and stole second base on the first pitch to d’Arnaud, but was left on base when d’Arnaud flied out. Bowker led off the bottom of the 9th with a double, but a fly out and two strikeouts ended the game.
Jeff Locke was charged with his first AAA loss (he had no decision in his start 5 days ago). He was responsible for all 3 base runners who scored in the 6th. Locke gave up 6 hits and 4 walks, with one strikeout in 5.2 innings. He threw 101 pitches, with 58 strikes. Thomas was charged with a Blown Save. Pedro Alvarez went 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts. He is 1-for-11 since being optioned to the Indians this week.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Three hits again by John Bowker, a single and two doubles. Six hits over these two days raised Bowker’s average from .301 to .310. He’s currently tied for the 7th highest average in the International League.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the 7th inning, with one out and runners on first and third, Delwyn Young grounded sharply towards third base. Pedro Alvarez made a back-handed catch, which turned him around and sent him to his knee. But he quickly hopped up and fired to second base, for one out. Then Pedro Ciriaco made the relay throw hard and fast to Matt Hague at first, just in time to get the double play.
The Iron Pigs’ roster is stacked with former Indy Indians. Tagg Bozied and Erik Krat started in tonight’s game, and CF Rich Thompson (2005-07) came in with a double switch in the 8th inning.
Ross Ohlendorf was originally scheduled to make Sunday’s start, but now he will not — he’s expected to be needed by the Pirates sometime either this weekend or the early part of the week. Brad Lincoln may also get a start for the Pirates. The Indians will now have to make Sunday a “bullpen” game.
Tony Watson, who was recalled by the Pirates yesterday, got into today’s Pirates’ game and earned the win.
Iron Pigs’ manager Ryne Sandberg is a popular guy in Indianapolis. He spent about 20 minutes before the game signing autographs for fans who were lined up waiting for him.
(photos by Nancy)