The Indianapolis Indians had a great night at the plate, scoring 13 runs on 18 hits against the Durham Bulls, winning 13-2 in game one of a four game series. They scored eight runs in the first two innings, and didn’t see their first one-two-three inning until the 9th.
The Indians got off to a good start in the first inning, putting up four runs. Starling Marte led off the game with a double, then scored two batters later on a one-out double from Matt Hague. Jake Fox followed that up with a two run homer. The fourth run of the inning came on a Brandon Boggs double.
Indianapolis chased away the Durham starter, Alexander Torres, without an out recorded in the second. Starling Marte led off with a walk, his first of two on the night. Anderson Hernandez and Matt Hague followed with back to back singles, with Hague’s single scoring Marte. That brought on reliever Lance Pendleton. The Indians put up four runs for the second straight frame, taking an 8-0 lead in to the bottom of the second.
From that point the Indians coasted. Nick Evans hit a solo homer to lead off the fourth inning. Indianapolis added three more in the fifth inning, with Evans doing most of the damage on a two-RBI double. Both of the hits by Evans were to right field. Starling Marte brought in another run in the seventh, hitting a two out double down the third base line to score Jordy Mercer from second.
Jo-Jo Reyes pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits, with a walk and two strikeouts. He threw 98 pitches, 67 for strikes. It was a fairly easy start, since he entered the game with a 4-0 lead, and the game was out of reach by his second inning.
Bryan Morris came on to relieve Reyes in the seventh inning, and pitched the final three innings, getting the rare three inning save, despite a 13-2 lead. Morris got a ton of ground balls, with a 7:1 ground out to air out ratio. His two hits allowed were also on ground balls past Anderson Hernandez, who didn’t show the best range at second base. He got a ninth ground ball to Jordy Mercer, which Mercer sailed to first, pulling Nick Evans off the bag, and netting the second error of the game for Mercer. Morris ended up with three shutout innings, allowing two hits, no walks, and striking out one.
The Indians finished the night with 13 runs on 18 hits. Seven hitters had multiple hits, with Matt Hague and Nick Evans having four hit nights.
**Matt Hague has been playing a lot of third base since going down to Triple-A. I wasn’t impressed with his defense at the position in Spring Training, although I left open the possibility that it could have been due to a lack of time at the position. He didn’t look much better tonight. I don’t think he’ll ever be good enough defensively at the position to provide value, as most of his value would have to come from the bat. However, at this point I think he’s actually a liability, to the point where I don’t think he could hit enough to justify his defense at third. Tonight he was eaten up on a hard grounder to third, and made a slow throw to second on a 5-4-3 double play attempt, which eventually resulted in a safe call at first.
**Bryan Morris added a slider last year, and morphed the pitch in to a cutter this year. Even though the pitch is new, it looks nasty. He used it to get a swinging strikeout tonight, and was throwing the pitch around 87-89 MPH. Combine that with his fastball, which was sitting 93-95 MPH tonight, and add his sharp breaking curveball, which he throws in the lower 80s, and he’s got some good stuff to be a solid late inning reliever. One thing to note about Morris is his delivery looks smooth and low-effort. You may recall that the Pirates spent a lot of time re-working his delivery, trying to reduce the violent arm action that led to so many injuries.
**It’s always fun watching Starling Marte play. It’s also fun getting the reaction of people who have never seen him play, and who are watching him for the first time. In the second inning, a ball was hit to the right-center gap, with Marte shading left field at the start of the play. At first the ball looked like a certain hit, and a possible triple. Marte ranged all the way over to get the ball on one hop, and held the runner to a double. The reaction from the Durham writers in the press box: “That guy is fast!”