Toledo Mud Hens 9, Indianapolis Indians 2
Rehabbing starter AJ Burnett made his much-anticipated start for the Indianapolis Indians this evening, but it was not all that the Pirates had hoped it would be. The Toledo Mud Hens beat the Indians at Victory Field, giving the teams a split of this 4-game series. Toledo batters hammered at Burnett, whose control seemed shaky. He also got into trouble of his own making, as he struggled through 4 innings and threw 81 pitches.
Burnett walked the first batter in each of the first three innings. Toledo CF Quintin Berry walked to begin the game, and he promptly stole second base, clearly off Burnett. 2B Eric Patterson followed with a single into left field. An around-the-horn double play, 3B Nick Evans to 2B Greg Picart to 1B Matt Hague, erased Patterson, but moved Berry to third. Former Indian DH Brad Eldred blasted a long home run onto the lawn in right field, to give Toledo a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning.
The 2nd inning’s lead-off walk to RF Matt Young was followed by a single by 3B Justin Henry and a double by Berry. Young had stolen second base, so he scored on Henry’s hit, and Henry scored from first base on Berry’s hit, for a 4-0 lead. 1B Ryan Strieby walked to begin the 3rd inning, though he was erased when Eldred bounced into another around-the-horn double play. SS Danny Worth followed with a 2-out single over Picart’s head and into right-center field. Like his teammates earlier, Worth also stole second base. Young worked the count full, fouled off some more pitches, then singled into left field. Worth was off and running, and rounded third base, but Burnett finally caught a break. LF Gorkys Hernandez made the catch and fired in to the plate — on target and in plenty of time. C Eric Fryer had the ball in his glove and his body blocking the plate when Worth got there, and Fryer easily tagged him out to end the inning.
Burnett did not begin the 4th inning with a walk — instead he began it by giving up a no-doubt-about-it solo home run over the left field wall to LF Jerad Head. With one out, C Brian Holaday reached base on a grounder to third base. 3B Evans made the scoop, but his throw pulled 1B Hague off the bag to the infield side. Hague tried a sweep tag as Holaday went past, but Holaday slid under the tag and was safe. Evans was charged with a throwing error. Burnett got the second out, then walked Patterson, but got out of the inning with a fly out.
That was all for Burnett. His pitch count was supposed to be limited to about 80 pitches, and he hit it almost exactly with 81. Of those, 52 were strikes. He allowed 5 runs in 4 innings, on 7 hits and 4 walks. He did not strike out anyone. Two of those hits were homers.
Toledo starter Thad Weber was not having nearly as much trouble with the Indians’ batters. He faced the minimum over the first two innings. 2B Greg Picart, in his first appearance of the season, also picked up his first hit of the season, with a single grounded through the right side of the infield in the bottom of the 1st. Matt Hague, who was just optioned to the Indians from the Pirates, also made his first Tribe appearance of the season. His first at-bat was not as happy as Picart’s — Hague bounced to short to begin a double play, erasing Picart.
The only other hit Weber allowed in his 6 innings came in the 3rd. RF Brandon Boggs led off with a long bomb onto the grass berm behind right field, for his 4th homer of the year. The next 10 Tribe batters were retired in order. With one out in the 6th, Gorkys Hernandez worked a walk. Starling Marte grounded to SS Worth just in front of second base. The flip to 2B Patterson forced out Hernandez, but the speedy Marte was able to beat the relay throw to first. Marte was left stranded, when RF Young made an excellent diving catch of Picart’s fly ball.
Shairon Martis took over for Burnett to begin the 5th inning. Martis got the first out of the inning, then gave up a solo homer to Danny Worth — the third homer for the Mud Hens. Martis also got the first out in the 6th inning, then walked Holaday. Moments later, Patterson lined a single into center field, and Strieby followed with the Mud Hens’s fourth homer. This one was for 3 runs, and Toledo had a 9-1 lead. Martis also began the 7th inning with an out, and followed that with a walk to Young. Head reached base when Nick Evans made his second error of the game. Evans picked up the routine-looking grounder in front of third, but lost the ball in the process of transferring from his glove to his right hand. Martis left both those runners stranded, getting a fly out and a pop out to end the inning.
Daniel Moskos and Doug Slaten each got in one inning of work towards the end of the game. Both retired the side in order, and both struck out one Toledo batter. Moskos made an exciting play when Patterson rapped the ball right back to the mound. Moskos knocked the ball down, and it trickled down the hill of the mound toward third base. Moskos scrambled off the mound to retrieve the ball, then fired a strike to first base, just barely in time to beat Patterson for the out.
Darin Downs relieved Toledo’s Weber and pitched the 7th and 8th innings. He retired the Indians in order in both frames. Matt Hoffman pitched the 9th and surrendered the only other Tribe run. The bottom of the 9th began with Gorkys Hernandez being hit on the left shoulder by a pitch. Hoffman threw a wild pitch on strike three to Starling Marte, allowing Hernandez to reach second base. A second wild pitch let Hernandez advance to third base. Matt Hague lined a single into left field, driving in Hernandez with the Indians’ second and final run. The game ended with a grounder force out of Hague at second.
The Tribe had just three hits: singles by Picart and Hague, and the homer by Boggs. Toledo pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts. Nick Evans had 2 of those, and Jeff Clement struck out 3 times. All but one of the Toledo starters had at least one hit, and each starter scored exactly one run.
The Indians continue this home stand with 4 games against the Columbus Clippers.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Brandon Boggs’ solo home run. He leads the Indians with 4 home runs and 23 total bases. (Jordy Mercer has 2 homers and Starling Marte has one.)
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Gorkys Hernandez’s outfield assist in the 3rd inning. His throw to Eric Fryer was close to perfect, and Fryer plunked himself and the ball between Danny Worth and the plate, ending the inning with a tag out. It was the only one of AJ Burnett’s four innings in which he did not allow a run to score.
In order to create a spot on the Indians’ roster for Matt Hague, infielder Jeremy Farrell was sent back to the Altoona Curve. Farrell had been called up from the Curve when Chase d’Arnaud was hit in the head in the series at Toledo.
Starling Marte was hitless tonight, snapping his 9-game hitting streak.