Louisville Bats 5, Indianapolis Indians 4
A hit batter, a wild pitch, and two Indians’ errors handed the Bats five runs, two of which were unearned, in the 5th inning. That was enough to give the Bats a win over the Indians and halt the Tribe’s 5-game hitting streak. Pirates’ Jeff Karstens made a rehab start for the Indians. He was charged with the loss when things disintegrated in the 5th. The Indians out-hit the bats 7-4, but unearned runs made up for that.
Karstens dominated the Bats for the first four innings. He pitched four no-hit innings, allowing only one walk to CF Joey Gathright to begin the bottom of the 5th. Gathright was immediately erased by an around-the-horn double play, 3B Jordy Mercer to 2B Brian Friday to 1B Jeff Clement. The next 10 Louisville batters went down in order.
The Indians put at least one runner on base in each of their first three at-bats, but none of those runners came around to score. SS Anderson Hernandez singled in the 1st; Mercer walked in the 2nd and was out in a double play; RF Brandon Boggs singled in the 2nd, and CF Alex Presley walked in the 3rd.
Friday’s RBI ground out put the Indians onto the scoreboard in the 4th inning. With one out, Jordy Mercer and C Jose Morales hit back-to-back singles, giving the Tribe runners on the corners. Brandon Boggs was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Friday grounded to short, and the Bats’ SS Miguel Rojas could not try for a double play. Instead, he got the out on Friday at first, allowing Mercer to score from third base.
Then came the big 5th inning, as the Bats sent 10 batters to the plate. Karstens started with a ground out, then gave up a single to RF Danny Dorn and hit C Dioner Navarro with a pitch. LF Felix Perez singled up the middle, driving in Dorn. Rojas tapped back to the mound, but Karstens’ wide throw put Rojas on first, and allowed Navarro to score from second base. Perez advanced to third base, and he scored easily when Karstens threw a wild pitch. Former Indy Indians and Bats’ starting pitcher Sean Gallagher walked, giving the Bats runners on first and second. That was all for Karstens. Rick VandenHurk came in to relieve Karstens, and the first batter he faced, Gathright, singled into right field, driving in Rojas from second base. Gallagher moved to third on the throw in to the plate. When Gathright stole second base, the throw from Jose Morales got past 2B Brian Friday (missed catch error). That allowed Gallagher to score easily, and by the time the Indians got the ball back to the infield, Gathright was on third base. VandenHurk struck out 3B Kris Negron, for only the second out of the inning. After a walk, VandenHurk got 1B Naftali Soto to pop up to end the inning. Bats ahead, 5-1.
VandenHurk went on to pitch 3 more scoreless innings, allowing one single and two walks. He struck out 3 batters. Karstens had pitched 4.1 innings, allowing 5 runs (3 earned) with 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Karstens threw 59 pitches (31 strikes), while VandenHurk threw 70 pitches (39 strikes).
Jeff Clement got one run back right away, leading off the top of the 6th with a solo home run on a rising line drive over the right field wall. The Tribe went down in order in the 7th and 8th innings, then rallied one more time in the 9th. Jordy Mercer led off with his second single of the game, then advanced to second base on defensive indifference. Jose Morales grounded out to first base, allowing Mercer to move up to third base. Mercer easily scored on Brandon Boggs’ huge triple into center field. Boggs scored when Brian Friday’s ground out gave him his second RBI of the day. But that was all the Indians would get. Jake Fox came on to pinch-hit for VandenHurk, and popped out to end the game.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Brandon Boggs’ clutch triple in the top of the 9th. He drove in one run and scored another, giving the Indians at least a chance at catching up to the Bats.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Rick VandenHurk shutting down the Bats for 3 scoreless innings, following the disastrous 5th inning. That also gave the Indians a fighting chance of catching up.
The Indians and Bats play one more game in Louisville on Sunday. Then the Indians return to Indianapolis on Monday, to begin a 4-game series against the Durham Bulls.
Jordy Mercer now has a modest 6-game hitting streak.