Indians Waste Owens’ Brilliant Start
Louisville Bats 3, Indianapolis Indians 2
An excellent start by Rudy Owens went to waste this afternoon at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky. The Indianapolis Indians and Owens had the game under control until the bottom of the 9th, when the Bats took the lead and the win with a walk-off 3-run homer.
Owens pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits, and walking no one. He struck out 5 Bats’ batters and hit one with a pitch. He worked fairly quickly and efficiently — he threw 87 pitches (57 strikes) in 7 innings. The first hit Owens allowed went to LF Daniel Dorn, who singled into left field. Owens got the next batter to ground into a force out at second, erasing Dorn. That base runner was left on base when Owens retired the next two Louisville batters.
The 3rd inning began with Owens hitting C Dioner Navarro with a pitch. The next three batters went down in order, though. Owens sailed through the next two innings without trouble, then had to work hard in the 6th. RF Bill Rhinehart led off that inning with the second hit Owens allowed, He dropped a bunt to the right side of the pitcher’s mound, which ticked off Owen’s glove. Owens was left with no play and Rhinehart was credited with a hit. 3B Kris Negron grounded sharply to third base, and that ball went into and out of 3B Matt Hague’s glove for an error. That put the tying runs on base with no outs. 2B Chris Valaika also bunted, but his bunt only traveled a few feet in front of the plate. C Jose Morales, in his first game with the Indians, jumped out from behind the plate and pounced on the ball, firing to third to force out Rhinehart. Negron stole third, putting runners on the corners, still with the tying runs on base. But Owens bore down and struck out the next two batters, leaving those runners standing there.
Two triples in two consecutive innings gave the Indians their lead. Bats’ starter (and former Indy Indian) Sean Gallagher retired the first five Indians’ batters in order. RF Brandon Boggs was the first base runner of the game when he walked on 4 pitches in the 2nd inning. Jose Morales, in his first at-bat with the Indians, rocketed a liner into left field. LF Dorn made an ill-advised dive at the ball, but he was way too far away from the ball when he dove. The ball ended up in the left field corner, with Dorn chasing it down. That gave Morales plenty of time to reach third base with an RBI triple, as Boggs scored from first base. LF Gorkys Hernanez walked, then stole second base, but Owens, in his first at-bat of the season, flied out to end the inning.
CF Starling Marte led off the top of the 3rd with a line drive down the right field line. He was off and running, and with his speed, he reached third base easily, for his first triple of the season. 2B Anderson Hernandez grounded slowly toward first base, allowing Marte to score easily. Hernandez got a gift though– 1B Neftali Soto made a poor flip to Gallagher, who was a bit slow getting over to first base to cover. That was ruled a throwing error, and Hernandez was safe. Hernandez was forced out at second when Matt Hague grounded to third. 1B Nick Evans walked, but those two base runners were left stranded when Gallagher got a pop out and a strikeout to end the inning.
That was all the scoring the Indians would do. Anderson Hernandez singled in the 5th, but was erased in a double play. SS Jordy Mercer was hit by a pitch in the 6th, but was left on base. Four Tribe batters walked in the last three innings, but Gorkys Hernandez and Brandon Boggs were thrown out trying to steal second base. Matt Hague walked in the 7th and was left on base, as was Gorkys Hernandez when he walked again in the 9th.
After Owens’ 7 scoreless innings, Doug Slaten came on in relief to begin the 8th. Slaten worked around another single by Rhinehart, but held on to the Indians’ 2-0 lead. Tim Wood took over for the bottom of the 9th, and that’s when disaster struck. Wood gave up a lead-off single into left field by CF Denis Phipps. Dorn grounded out, moving Phipps to second base. Another hit, a grounder through the hole and into left field by Soto pushed Phipps to third. With the tying runs on the corners, Wood struck out SS Paul Janish. Pinch hitter Daryl Jones came to the plate… and crushed a long fly ball over the right field wall. Brandon Boggs could only turn and watch it sail far over his head and over the tall part of the wall, as the 3-run walk-off homer gave the Bats the win.
Tim Wood was charged with both the Loss (his third) and a Blown Save (his second). The Indians managed only 3 hits in the game, though two of them were triples. The Bats had 6 hits, and half of those were in the bottom of the 9th.
The Indians play one more game in Louisville, then return to Indianapolis for two more games against the Bats. The Tribe has dropped to third place in the International League West Division, with a 7-9 record. The Toledo Mud Hens are in first place, helped out by the fact that they swept the Bats in a four-game series earlier this week. The Columbus Clippers are 1 game behind the Mud Hens in second place. The Indians are 2.5 games behind the Clippers, and the Bats are 2 games behind the Indians.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Jose Morales’ triple in the 2nd inning. It was his first hit as an Indian, and it drove in the first Indians’ run.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Seven shutout innings by Rudy Owens. Unfortunately, his stellar effort was spoiled in the 9th inning.
With A.J. Burnett added to the Pirates’ active roster, Jared Hughes was optioned down to the Indians. He was not yet with the team but should be reporting within the next couple of days.