Indians’ Bats Awaken In Louisville, Reyes Pitches 5 Shutout Innings
Indianapolis Indians 9, Louisville Bats 1
With a host of aircraft roaring overhead, the Indians roared to a win over the Louisville Bats at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky. The annual “Thunder Over Louisville” provided the theme music for the Indians, who posted 12 hits. 3B Matt Hague led the team with a double and two singles, going 3-for-5, while CF Starling Marte, 2B Anderson Hernandez, and 1B Jeff Clement each added 2 hits. Starter Jo-Jo Reyes kept the Bats’ bats quiet, earning his second win of the season.
Louisville starter Jeff Francis was on a roll for the first two innings, retiring 6 Indians’ batters in order. In the top of the 3rd, though, the Tribe hitters began to figure him out, and they scored 5 runs off him over the next three innings. The 3rd opened with C Eric Fryer working the count full, fouling off more pitches, and then finally taking a walk. LF Gorkys Hernandez dropped a bunt down the third base line, and beat out the throw to first base for an infield single. Jo-Jo Reyes had the first at-bat by a pitcher for the Indians this season, and he pulled off the pitchers’ hitting staple — a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position. Starling Marte lined a single into the left-center field gap, to drive in Fryer and Gorkys Hernandez with the first two runs of the game. Marte stole second base, but was left there when the inning ended.
Jeff Clement jumped right on Francis to begin the 4th inning, sending a liner into center field, and with some aggressive base running, Clement made it to second base for a double. SS Jordy Mercer reached base when Bats’ SS Paul Janish bobbled a grounder. That was the Bats’ first serious mistake, and the only one which was ruled an official error. A wild pitch by Francis allowed both runners to advance a base, giving the Indians runners on 3rd and 2nd, with no outs. RF Brandon Boggs followed with a line drive to the right field wall, over the head of Louisville RF Daryl Jones. That allowed both Clement and Mercer to score. Eric Fryer flied out to center field. Boggs, leading off second base, may not have thought the ball could be caught, because instead of standing on the base in order to tag up and advance, he parked himself about half-way between second and third. When the ball was caught in center field, he did not have time to get back to second, tag up, and advance, and he was eventually left stranded.
Starling Marte began the 5th inning with another double off Francis, with the help of some Louisville defensive problems. Marte’s fly ball popped into short center field, where Bats’ CF Kris Negron waived off the other outfielders. But as he made what he thought would be a sliding catch, the ball missed his glove, and Marte was safe. It was ruled a double, but Negron should have had it. Marte advanced to third base when Anderson Hernandez grounded out, then he scored on Matt Hague’s line drive that zipped past Francis’s head on the way into center field. Jeff Clement lifted a fly ball down the left field line behind third base. SS Paul Janish went to make the catch, and had the ball pop right out of his glove. Unfortunately for the Indians, Janish was able to snatch up the ball and fire to second base, where Hague was forced out. Clement was safe at first, but a fly out ended the frame. That was the end of Francis’ afternoon, and he earned the loss, as he allowed 5 runs (4 earned)
Jo-Jo Reyes also pitched 5 innings, but his were scoreless. He scattered 3 hits and 2 walks over those innings, and struck out 3 Bats. He worked around a single in the 1st and a double in the 2nd, then a walk to Francis in the 3rd. After retiring the Bats in order in the 4th, Reyes began the 5th with a walk to Janish and a single into the hole at short by Bats’ veteran C Corky Miller. A fly out let Janish tag up and advance to third. Reyes got out of the jam by getting RF Daryl Jones to bounce into a double play.
Bryan Morris came on in relief of Reyes, and unlike his appearance on Wednesday, this one went well. Morris retired the side in order in the 6th and 7th innings. He began the 8th by walking Miller, who then surprised everyone by stealing second base. (Miller stole one base in 2011; the last time before then that Miller had a stolen base was in 2007.) A ground out moved Miller over to third base, and he scored the Bats’ lone run on another ground out.
After Francis left the game, Bats’ reliever Carlos Fisher came on to pitch. He threw a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, but the Indians got to him too, in the 7th. With two outs, Anderson Hernandez singled up the middle. Matt Hague lined a double into the right field corner, with the wind pushing the ball just out of the reach of RF Jones. Anderson Hernandez raced around from first base to score. Jeff Clement bounced a hard single off the right field wall, driving Hague in with the Indians’ 7th run.
The Tribe added 2 more runs in the top of the 9th, on another 2-out rally. Anderson Hernandez started this rally with a line drive single into center field. Hague collected his third hit of the game, with a single slipped through the hole on the right side of the infield. Miles Durham, who had taken over first base for Jeff Clement, lined a double over the head of RF Jones and off the wall. Both base runners scored, giving the Indians the 9-1 lead.
Jose Diaz pitched the bottom of the 9th for the Indians. He worked around a lead-off single, retiring the next three batters in order. The score was too high for him to earn a Save.
Five Indians batters hit doubles in this game: Marte, Hague, Clement (his 7th), Durham, and Boggs. The top 4 batters in the line-up had at least 2 hits each: Marte, Anderson Hernandez, Hague, and Clement. Four batters had 2 RBI each: Marte, Hague, Durham, and Boggs. Matt Hague went 3-for-5 with 2 RBI, boosting his average to .238. This was his best day since returning to the Indians.
After the game, Starling Marte, who singled, doubled, and added 2 RBI, was interviewed via a translator. He said that when he doubled, he got a good pitch, and put a good swing on it to elevate the ball. Marte was asked what it was like to play in the outfield today, with so many fans screaming and the military planes roaring by overhead. Marte replied that he knew that this weekend was the city of Louisville’s big annual party (Thunder Over Louisville). He enjoyed watching the planes and seeing the fans enjoy themselves. He also said that he tries not to focus on slumps, like his three hitless games earlier this week, since he is confident that he can work his way out of those situations. He also reports that he feels very comfortable on the base paths, both running in general and also stealing bases.
This game was the first of an away-and-home series with the Bats. The first three games are being played in Louisville, and the last two in Indianapolis (Tuesday and Wednesday).
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Of all the doubles in the game, the hardest-hit one was probably Brandon Boggs’, in the 4th. His ball hit the wall high over RF Daryl Jones’ head, and drove in two runners from second and third bases. It gave the Indians a 4-0 lead, and even that early in the game, it seemed to be almost insurmountable.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The double play int he 5th inning, which got Jo-Jo Reyes out of a tricky situation. With runners on the corners and one out, Daryl Jones grounded to 1B Jeff Clement, who was about 5 steps off first base. Clement made the scoop and threw to SS Jordy Mercer, who was covering second base. Mercer hit the second base bag and fired back to first. Clement had scrambled back to the first base bag, where he took Mercer’s throw to finish the double play.
Roster Moves: Utility player Jake Fox and C Jose Morales, who both had oblique muscle strains, were both activated off the Disabled List today. To make room on the active roster, C Kris Watts and Inf Greg Picart were reassigned to the Altoona Curve. Fox got into today’s game, with a pinch-hit fly out in the top of the 9th.
Inf Chase d’Arnaud continues to do much better. He has not had a headache for 3 days now, and has begun excercising, though hasn’t returned to “baseball activities”.
Starling Marte is tied for the lead the International League with 8 stolen bases.