Indians Sweep Toledo; Locke Strikes Out 8
Indianapolis Indians 6, Toledo Mud Hens 2
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The Indianapolis Indians earned a sweep of their 4-game home-and-away series against the Toledo Mud Hens with a win this afternoon at Victory Field. Key to the win was starter Jeff Locke, who pitched 7 strong innings and struck 0ut 8 Mud Hen batters, earning his first AAA win. RF Miles Durham and 2B Jordy Mercer led the Tribe offense, with 3 hits from Durham and 2 hits, including a home run, and 3 RBI from Mercer.
In contrast to last night, when the two teams combined to leave a total of 29 runners on base, with 13 hits each, today they were much more efficient. The Mud Hens had only 5 hits and left only 2 runners on base, while the Indians posted 9 hits and left only 5 on base.
The Indians got the scoring started in the 3rd inning. C Eric Fryer reached base on a grounder to short, when Toledo SS Audy Ciriaco (Pedro’s younger brother) made the routine scoop but threw wide of first base for an error. Durham singled just past the 3B Danny Worth and into left field. CF Gorkys Hernandez turned a popped up bunt attempt into an infield single, when the ball dropped to the grass just in front of the charging Worth, then Worth could not find the handle to pick it up. That loaded the bases with no outs. Toledo starter Adam Wilk worked the count full on Pedro Ciriaco, who was playing left field today, then threw ball four, forcing in Fryer with the first run of the game. SS Brian Bocock followed with a sacrifice fly, plating Durham, and both Hernandez and Ciriaco advanced a base on the throw to the plate. Mercer brought in both of them with a line drive single into left-center field, and the Indians had a 4-0 lead. That chased Wilk from the game, after just 2.1 innings.
Starter Jeff Locke began his afternoon by setting down the first 9 Mud Hens’ batters in order, including 4 strikeouts. The only inning in which he had any trouble was the 4th, when LF Andy Dirks led off with a double down the right field line. Dirks had a huge lead off second base and was off and running with the swing of Worth’s bat, so when Worth singled into left field, Dirks raced around third and slid in to score. That was the end of Locke’s trouble. DH Timo Perez smacked a grounder that looked like it was headed for center field, but it ended up in the glove of the diving SS Brian Bocock. Bocock ended up lying face-down on the dirt about 10 feet behind second base, maybe even with the wind knocked out of him from the dive. Instead of trying to get up, he flipped his glove up and out toward 2B Mercer, who stepped on second and made a jump-throw to first base, just in time to get Perez — a magnificent double play. A strikeout ended the inning for Locke.
Locke pitched the next three innings, allowing only one hit — a single to C Omir Santos in the 6th– and striking out three more Hens’ batters. He exited after 7 innings, having thrown 92 pitches (63 strikes) and allowed that one run on 3 hits, no walks, with 8 strikeouts.
The Tribe responded to the Mud Hens’ run in the top of the 4th by getting the run back in the bottom of the frame. DH Andy Marte walked to lead off, and Durham singled into left-center field. With two outs, Pedro Ciriaco lifted a looper into short right-center, which dropped in between three Toledo fielders. Marte hustled around third and headed for the plate as the throw came in from RF Ben Guez. But the pitcher Jose Ortega, who had relieved Wilk, inexplicably cut off the throw at the mound, and Marte was able to cross the plate standing up.
Jordy Mercer added one more insurance run in the 5th inning. He led off the inning by driving a 0-1 pitch over the left field wall for his 6th homer of the season with the Indians.
The Indians had only two more base runners over the rest of the game. Durham doubled off the center field wall in the 6th for his third hit of the game. 1B Matt Hague added his second hit of the game in the 7th with a double into the left field corner. That was his 161st hit of the season, bringing Hague within 5 hits of DT Cromer’s (1999) Victory Field record of 166 hits in one season.
Garrett Olson relieved Locke to begin the 8th inning, and he was responsible for the other Toledo run. Former Indy Indian CF Jeff Salazar doubled into the right field corner and Audy Ciriaco lined a single up the middle to put Mud Hens on the Corners. Santos brought in Salazar with a sacrifice fly, though the Indians still had a 6-2 lead.
Danny Moskos pitched the top of the 9th for the Tribe. He mowed down three Mud Hens in order to wrap up the game.
The Indians began the day 3 games behind the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and the Gwinnett Braves in the Wild Card race. Gwinnett won the first game they played today, but their second game, and Lehigh Valley’s game are still in progress at this point. Updates later….
The Indians have a scheduled day off on Thursday (yeah, they think it’s weird too), then begin their final series of the season, against the Louisville Bats. The series will begin with two games at Victory Field on Friday and Saturday, then they will wrap up the season with games on Sunday evening and Monday afternoon in Louisville.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: A solo home run and a 2-RBI single by Jordy Mercer. The single capped the Indians’ 4-run 3rd inning, and the homer added an insurance run in the 6th. It was Mercer’s third home run in as many games.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The double play in the top of the 4th, off the bat of Timo Perez. Brian Bocock, who hasn’t started a game in about a week, made a diving stop to rob Perez of a hit, and Jordy Mercer had to reverse direction on his momentum with a jump throw to complete the twin killing.
More photos, just for fun:
After last night’s game, OF John Bowker was traded by the Pirates to the Phillies. Since joining the Indians at the beginning of May, Bowker has been a team leader. He had a .306 average with 27 doubles, one triple, and 15 home runs, with 76 RBI. He’d been hitting even better since the All-Star break — .321. The Indians will miss his bat, but this is an excellent opportunity for Bowker, who was popped right onto the Phillies major league roster.
The roster spot vacated by Bowker was filled by bringing C Wyatt Toregas off the Disabled List.
(photos by Nancy)