Indians’ Fox Rocks His Homecoming
Indianapolis Indians 5, Louisville Bats 1
Indians’ Jake Fox missed the first two weeks of the season with an oblique muscle strain. He came off the DL while the Indians were in Louisville, and made a pinch-hit appearance there, then another pinch-hit appearance at Victory Field last night. Today, though, Fox made his first start for the Indians. It was the first time playing professionally at Victory Field for this Greenfield, Indiana native and graduate of Indianapolis’ Cathedral High School. With his parents in the stands, Fox smacked two doubles and drove in 3 runs this afternoon to lead the Indians over the Louisville Bats at Victory Field.
The game did not begin well for the Indians’ batters. Veteran pitcher Brett Tomko made the start for Louisville. He retired the first 12 Tribe batters in order. LF Nick Evans broke up the perfect game when he led off the bottom of the 5th with a walk. A wild pitch allowed Evans to advance to third base. CF Brandon Boggs moved Evans to third base with a single into short left field. That brought up 1B Jake Fox, who lined a double into left field. Evans scored from third easily, and Boggs raced around from first, also scoring. The Indians had a 2-0 lead.
3B Matt Hague and Evans hit back-to-back 2-out singles in the 6th inning, but a strikeout left them both standing on base. The Indians rallied again in the 7th inning, sparked by another lead-off walk, this one to Boggs. Fox followed with his second double of the game, taking the ball deep into the right-center field alley. Boggs again raced around from first base to score, boosting the Indians’ lead to 3-0. Fox was replaced at second base by pinch-runner Gorkys Hernandez, and Hernandez moved up to third base on Daniel McCutchen’s perfectly placed sacrifice bunt. Pinch-hitter Starling Marte singled with a grounder past second base, picking up the RBI as Hernandez scored. Moments later, C Jose Morales looped a single behind second base, and beat out the throw to first base, and Marte scored easily. Indians ahead 5-0.
Manager Dean Treanor wanted starter Kris Johnson, who spends more of his time as a reliever, to have a 2-inning start, and that’s what he did. Johnson buzzed through the first inning, striking out 2 Bats’ batters. In the 2nd inning, he loaded the bases with a single by RF Danny Dorn and two walks with only one out. Johnson bore down and struck out LF Daryl Jones, then got pitcher Brett Tomko to fly out, escaping the jam without allowing a run.
Tim Wood took over for Johnson, as the Indians wanted to see if he could settle in more comfortably in a long-relief role. Like Johnson, Wood zipped through the 3rd inning, including 2 strikeouts. He also had trouble with his second inning. Dorn led off with a single, and after a strikeout, 3B Mike Costanzo also singled. C Dioner Navarro loaded the bases when he grounded to 2B Anderson Hernandez. Hernandez made the stop, but found he had no time to make a play at second base. Then he had trouble getting the ball out of his glove, so his throw to fist base was not in time With the bases loaded, Wood got Jones to bounce right to SS Jordy Mercer. Mercer took half a step to his left, to step on second base, forcing out Navarro. The throw to Fox at first was in plenty of time to complete the inning-ending double play.
The next 14 Louisville batters went down in order. Wood pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 5th. Daniel McCutchen came on next in relief. He threw three perfect innings, striking out 2 batters. Daniel Moskos came out to begin the top of the 9th, and he continued the streak by getting a fly out and a pop out. Then, with two out and needing only one out, McCutchen fell apart. 1B Naftali Soto slipped a grounder past shortstop for a single, and advanced to second on defensive indifference. Costanzo shot a double down the right field line, which rattled around in the corner long enough to give Costanzo a double and plate Soto. McCutchen walked both Navarro and Jones (on 4 pitches), loading the bases again.
Jose Diaz entered the game, like yesterday, needing only one more out for an Indians’ win. Yesterday it took Diaz only one pitch — today it took him 4 pitches. Pinch-hitter Bill Rhinehart grounded sharply to second base, where 2B Anderson made the scoop and fired to Fox at first to end the game.
Tim Wood was credited with his first win of the season, and that one batter in the 9th gave Diaz his second Save in two days. The Indians posted a total of 7 hits, and Jake Fox led the way with a pair of doubles and 3 RBI. Jose Morales and Starling Marte also had an RBI each. On the down side, Jordy Mercer struck out 3 times in 4 at-bats, and Miles Durham struck out in both of his trips to the plate.
The win gives the Indians a win of the 5-game series with Louisville, 3 games to 2.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Two doubles and three RBI by the hometown hero, Jake Fox.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: #1 — A running back, back-handed catch of Denis Phipps’ long fly ball to center field by Starling Marte in the top of the 6th. Marte had just come into the game as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 5th, then stayed in the game to play center field. The first ball hit in the top of the 6th went straight to center field. #2 — In the top of the 5th, Chris Valaika grounded sharply wide of third base. 3B Matt Hague made a full-out dive to stop the ball from going into left field. Then he hopped to his feet and threw out Valaika at first base (photo).
Due to the Pirates’ double-header today, and the new rule that lets teams have a 26th player on the roster for the double headers, pitcher Jared Hughes went back to the Pirates today. In this double-header situation, that rule that requires players who are optioned down to remain in the minors for at least 10 days (except in case of injury), does not apply. Kris Johnson was brought up from Altoona to take Hughes’ place on the Indians’ roster for the day.
More good news about infielder Chase d’Arnaud, who suffered a concussion after being hit in the head with a pitch in the second game of the season. He continues to feel much better, without headache or nausea, and has been taking batting practice and infield practice.
The Indians have Thursday off, then hit the road. They will play 4 games against the Durham Bulls in Durham, NC, then 4 more games against the Norfolk Tides in Norfolk, VA. The Louisville Bats will also be in Durham and Norfolk, but in the opposite order. Then both teams meet up back at Victory Field for a 2-game series on May 5-6.