The Indianapolis Indians concluded their season-opening road trip with a mid-day loss to the Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio. The Indians were held to just 4 hits, while the Clippers had 11.
Jeff Locke made his second start of the season for the Tribe, and had a so-so outing. He began his day by giving up a long fly ball to Columbus 2B Cord Phelps, which hit the top of the padding on the center field wall and bounced away from Tribe CF Starling Marte and over toward left field. By the time Marte chased the ball down and got it back to the infield, Phelps had reached third base for a triple. Moments later, a sacrifice fly by DH Matt LaPorta brought Phelps in with the first run of the game.
Locke’s teammates tied it up for him right away. Eric Fryer, playing left field today, led off the top of the 2nd with a single up the middle. 1B Jeremy Farrell was hit on the arm by a pitch (he was ok), 3B Anderson Hernandez bunted to move both runners into scoring position. C Kris Watts drove in Fryer from third with a grounder to first base. One hit, one run.
The Clippers took aim at Locke in the bottom of the 2nd. The first batter, 3B Lonnie Chisenhall hit a sharp grounder off Locke’s leg, which bounced toward third base. Hernandez got to the ricochet in time to make the throw to first for the out. The next batter, LF Ryan Spilborghs, smashed a pitch straight back at Locke, missing his head by inches as he ducked away. 2B Brian Friday stabbed that ball in time for the out at first. Then RF Chad Huffman attacked Locke in a different way, by smacking a solo home run over the left-center field wall. Clippers up, 2-1.
Both teams went down in order in the 3rd and 4th innings. The Indians regained the lead with 3 runs in the top of the 5th, needing only one hit to do the damage. Watts worked a walk and Friday was hit by a pitch (in the back). Then with two outs, SS Jordy Mercer drove a 3-run homer over the left-center field wall, to give the Indians a 4-2 lead.
Unfortunately, the Tribe’s lead did not last long. The bottom of the 5th opened with three consecutive hits, along with an error. Spilborghs led off with a bunt hit. Huffman tapped a swinging bunt toward third base. Anderson Hernandez ran in to make the scoop, then threw across his body to first. The throw was high, tipping off 1B Farrell’s glove and down the right field line. Huffman collided with Farrell as he ran past first base, and by the time he got up off the ground, it was too late to take an extra base on the error. Spilborghs advanced to third base on the error. Spilborghs scored when former Indy Indian C Luke Carlin singled to left field. Locke got a strikeout for the first out of the inning, but then gave up two more singles, to CF Ezequiel Carrera and Phelps. Carrera’s hit plated Huffman, tying the score, and Phelps’ loaded the bases again. At that point, Carlin called for the Columbus trainer, and after a brief conference, Carlin walked off the field with his trainer. No explanation was available at the time. Carlin was replaced with pinch runner Matt Pagnozzi, who later remained in the game behind the plate. Locke struck out LaPorta, but 1B Russ Canzler singled into center field, bringing in Pagnozzi easily. Carrera tried to score from second base, but Marte’s throw in to the plate was right on time and on target, and Kris Watts tagged Carrera out at the plate. Columbus had regained the lead, 5-4.
And that was all the scoring there was. The Indians went down in order in the 6th. They put one runner on base in the 7th. Watts walked, then was forced out at second on the next play. It would have been a double play, but Marte beat the relay throw to first base. Marte went on to second base on a wild pitch. Friday grounded up the middle, and 2B Phelps made an excellent stop of the ball well behind second base. He was off-balance, though, so his throw to first was far off line, giving Friday a hit. 1B Canzler was paying attention, though, and he saw that Marte had rounded third and was heading for the plate. The throw from Canzler to C Pagnozzi was on target, and Marte was out at the plate, ending the inning. All 6 Tribe batters were retired in order in the 8th and 9th innings.
Daniel Moskos relieved Locke, taking over to begin the 6th inning. He pitched a perfect inning, then gave way to Doug Slaten for the 7th. Slaten gave up two singles, to Pagnozzi and Carrera, but erased Pagnozzi with a double play. Carrera was left on base when a ground out ended the inning without a run scoring. Slaten loaded the bases in the 8th, with a single by Canzler and walks to Spilborghs and Huffman, but another 2-out ground out got him out of the jam.
The Loss was charged to Locke, who threw 82 pitches (57 strikes) in 5 innings. He gave up 8 hits and the 5 runs. He did not walk anyone, while striking out 3 Clippers. The loss gives the Indians a 3-4 record on this road trip.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Jordy Mercer’s 3-run homer in the top of the 5th. It was Mercer’s second home run of the season.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the bottom of the 5th, Starling Marte came up with the ball after Russ Canzler’s single. His throw in from center field to the plate went right to C Kris Watts, who tagged out Ezequiel Carrera trying to score from second base.
Infielder Chase d’Arnaud, who was hit in the head by a pitch last weekend, has still not returned to baseball activities. He continues to have symptoms of a concussion.
Starling Marte was hit on the hand by a pitch yesterday. He has a bruise on his hand, but was able to play today.
Marte is the only Tribe batter who has hit safely in all 7 of the Indians’ games to begin the season.
Tomorrow is the Indians Home Opener! See you at Victory Field!