A day after Justin Wilson, Jose Diaz, and Doug Slaten combined for a no hitter against the Durham Bulls, the Bulls came close to a no hitter of their own. Durham starter Matt Torra took a no hitter in to the eighth inning, but lost it when Jordy Mercer hit a grounder to deep short, easily beating the throw to first base for the only hit of the game for the Indianapolis Indians.
Indians starter Jeff Locke kept the team in the game with a strong start, going seven shutout innings. It was the third game in a row that an Indians starter has gone at least seven innings while issuing no runs.
“It’s a good feeling to be able to go deep in to the game,” Locke said. “It seems like it’s been the trend of late for the starters.”
“Rudy went game two, and just the kind of spectacular outing he had. And then Wilson comes out and does the same thing. And then you feel like it’s on your shoulders to keep doing it too. Obviously it’s a team that’s been down of late. You can’t take anybody lightly. You want to go after them hard. Eric [Fryer] did a fantastic job back there behind the plate today, as always. Just mixed up my pitches. It was just a good day.”
Locke gave up his first hit in the third inning, also on an infield single. He finished the day with three hits allowed, four walks, and two strikeouts, while throwing 93 pitches, 56 for strikes. The only hard hit ball off Locke came in the sixth inning, when Jesus Feliciano lined a single back up the middle.
Locke was ranging from 88-92 MPH with his fastball, mostly sitting around 90-92. His fastball has good arm side movement, with a late break. He was using that break to back door a few fastballs on the outside corner for called strikes against left handed hitters.
Durham only has one healthy right hander on the roster, as well as a switch hitter who is a Double-A player filling in for injuries. Because of this, Locke faced seven left handers today, putting him in a favorable situation that was similar to the situation left-handers Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson saw this weekend.
Locke only struck out two, relying on his defense a lot today. He got several strong plays from the infield, with Jordy Mercer making some great throws from shortstop to get some close plays at second. One of those throws came on the last batter Locke faced. Anderson Hernandez ranged to first base on a one out grounder. Hernandez caught the grounder, and made a spinning throw to second. Mercer caught the ball and fired it across the infield, completing the double play, and getting Locke out of the inning.
In the outfield, Starling Marte showed a ton of range in a spacious center field, making catches all over the outfield. Marte also showed off his arm, beating a runner to third with a throw in the sixth inning. The umpire called the runner safe, which resulted in Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor coming out to dispute the call. It was the only runner Locke allowed on third all day, but he got out of the jam with a fly out to Marte.
“The plays on defense were fantastic today,” Locke said. “No one gets from the wall to behind second base faster than Marte. He’s always there to help you. Obviously the infield was real tough today. Real strong behind me. All the credit goes to those guys. I put the ball in play, and they made the plays.”
Durham scored the lone run of the game in the bottom of the 8th inning off reliever Daniel Moskos. With a runner at second, Feliciano hit an RBI double to right field, giving the Bulls their first lead in this four game series, and their first run since the fifth inning on Friday night. Anderson Hernandez hit a one out single in the ninth inning, but Bulls closer Cesar Ramos was able to close out the win for Durham. The win snapped a 13 game losing streak for the Bulls, which tied a franchise record.
**I mentioned Jordy Mercer’s arm earlier. Throughout the series he displayed an impressive arm, with the ability to add something extra to his throws to make the close plays. All of his throws were accurate.
**Nick Evans left the game in the eighth inning after injuring his wrist. He dove for a ball in foul territory, and landed on his wrist after his glove bent backwards on the ground. Evans immediately left the field and was replaced by Jake Fox. No word on the injury, although it looked bad.
**Chase d’Arnaud has been out of action with a concussion after being hit in the head with a pitch. D’Arnaud worked out prior to the game on Friday, including running the bases. He has been sent to Bradenton for a rehab assignment.
**The Pirates promoted right-hander Daniel Cabrera to Indianapolis today, and demoted Tim Alderson to Altoona. Cabrera will make the start tomorrow.