Indianapolis Indians 7, Durham Bulls 4
The Indianapolis Indians scored 7 runs in the 9th inning of last night’s game in Louisville, and tonight, they started up right where they left off, defeating the Durham Bulls at Victory Field. They began by scoring in each of the first three innings, and in four of the first five frames. The Indians, who had been second-to-last in the International League in number of homers this season, added 4 home runs to their total. CF Starling Marte, LF Alex Presley, and DH Jeff Clement each had round-trippers, with Clement blasting out two.
With one out in the bottom of the 1st, SS Chase d’Arnaud started the fun with a triple off the wall in center field. LF Alex Presley popped up to short left field — too short for a runner on third to tag up and score. Or, that’s what everyone in the park but d’Arnaud thought. D’Arnaud surprised everyone, especially the Bulls, by tagging up and flying for the plate. A throw fired to the plate would have beaten d’Arnaud there easily, but Bulls’ SS Reid Brignac, who had ventured into left for the catch, made a relaxed, non-rushed throw in. The ball came in wide of the plate as d’Arnaud slid across to score.
While the Bulls were still a bit stunned, DH Jeff Clement crushed a long fly ball over the wall in straight-away center field, landing in the ground cover, for a 2-0 lead. 3B Jordy Mercer followed with a double, and 1B Jeff Larish worked a walk, but both were left on base.
CF Starling Marte continued the Tribe’s scoring with a two-out solo home run over the right field wall in the 2nd inning. Clement added his second homer in the 3rd inning, amid some controversy. The ball sailed over the left field wall, above the field-level scoreboard, and Clement started his home run trot. But by the time he rounded second base, the umpires were calling him back to second. The Bulls contended that a fan had reached out over the left field fence and caught the ball — fan interference. I couldn’t tell from where I was sitting (too far away). The radio broadcasting guys saw the replay and were not sure. If a fan had reached out and touched the ball while it was still in play, it might not have mattered much. If the ball had dropped, it might not have been catchable. It might have still dropped over the wall, or it might have bounced on the top of the scoreboard. The umpires conferred, and decided that it was a home run after all, and Clement came around to score.
Tribe starter Daniel Cabrera had no problems in the first two innings. He gave up the first of four hits to Durham’s RF Leslie Anderson (4-for-4) in the top of the 1st, but left Anderson stranded as he struck out DH Hideki Matsui. The 3rd inning brought trouble, though. Cabrera had needed only 24 pitches to get through the first two innings, but he threw 34 pitches in the 3rd. That inning began with a ground out, then Cabrera walked 2B Cole Figueroa on four pitches. CF Jesus Feliciano grounded up the middle, past the diving d’Arnaud, for a single. With runners on the corners, Cabrera struck out former Indy Indian LF Jeff Salazar. Anderson followed with his second hit of the game, a grounder through the right side of the infield. That scored Figueroa. Matsui walked to load the bases. Then 1B Henry Wrigley shot a line drive down the right field line and into the corner, clearing the bases to take a 4-3 lead. Clement’s second homer in the bottom of the inning got the score tied again, at 4-4.
From then on, it was all Indianapolis — both hitting and pitching. Cabrera went on to retire the Bulls in the 4th inning, with the help of a nice play by 2B Anderson Hernandez. He ranged to his right on a grounder up the middle, and made the back-handed stab behind second base. Then he whirled and threw off-balance to first base, but on target and in time for the out.
The top of the 5th began with more trouble for Cabrera. Feliciano led off with a line drive single into right field. After a soft line out, Anderson collected hit #3, another grounder into right field, which moved Feliciano to third. That was all for Cabrera, who finished with 4.1 innings and 82 pitches (48 strikes). Kris Johnson came on in relief of Cabrera. Johnson began by walking Matsui to load the bases. Then Wrigley bounced into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and the threat without a run scoring. Cabrera’s final line showed 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts. He pitched less than 5 innings, so was not eligible for the win.
The Tribe broke the tie in the bottom of the 5th. With one out, Chase d’Arnaud zipped a grounder down the third base line, bounced it off the third base bag, and sent it into left field for a double. That chased Bulls’ starter Jim Paduch. Alex Presley greeted reliever Ryan Reid with a long fly ball down the right field line, just inside the foul pole, for a 2-run homer. Moments later, Jordy Mercer lined a single into right field. Jeff Larish drove Mercer in with a double into the right field corner. The Indians had a 7-4 lead.
Three more Indians’ batters reached base in the last three innings. Anderson Hernandez singled in the 6th and was left on base. Presley singled in the 7th, but was doubled off when RF Anderson made an excellent shoe-top catch of Jeff Clement’s sinking line drive. C Jose Morales walked in the 8th, but was erased in a 3-6-3 double play.
Kris Johnson came back out to pitch 1-2-3 innings in both the 6th and 7th. He began the 8th by surrendering a double to (who else?) Anderson. Johnson struck out Matsui, then was lifted in favor of Duke Welker. Welker faced only two batters, and got both to ground out, leaving Anderson stranded on third base. Tim Wood came on to pitch the 9th inning, and earned his 3rd Save of the season. He retired the side in order, with the help of some magic by Jordy Mercer. Brignac lifted a high pop into foul territory behind third base and near the Indians’ bullpen. Mercer chased after it, and at the last second made an over-the-shoulder basket catch right up against the low wall at the stands.
Johnson was credited with the win, his second of the season. He pitched 3 scoreless innings and allowed just one hit and one walk, with one strikeout. He made 35 pitches (22 strikes).
The Toledo Mud Hens and the Columbus Clippers both lost their games today. The Indians are in first place in the International League Western division, now by 5 games ahead of the Clippers and 5.5 games ahead of the Mud Hens. Louisville remains in 4th place, 13 games out of first. The Indians’ record is 29-21.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Four home runs! Two of them were by Jeff Clement, and one each by Starling Marte and Alex Presley. Presley’s came with a runner on base, while the others were solo shots. Clement took advantage of the wind blowing out to left field: “[Durham starter Paduch] threw a couple of fastballs out over the plate, and I was able to time it well, and put a good swing on each of them. And the wind didn’t hurt either…. We had a stretch there a couple of weeks ago where we weren’t scoring a lot of runs, so it’s good to come out, put some runs on the board, and get a win.”
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The double play to end the 5th inning was a critical point in the game. In the top of the 5th, with the score tied 4-4, and the bases loaded, and one out, Kris Johnson got Henry Wrigley to bounce to short, where Chase d’Arnaud made the scoop and fired to Anderson Hernandez at second, who relayed it on the Jeff Clement at first. Without the inning-ending double play, the Bulls would have taken the lead again, and the course of the game would have shifted.
The last time the Indians scored 4 runs in one game was back on June 27, 2010 against Toledo at Victory Field. The last time an Indians’ batter hit two runs in one game was last season on June 29, when Brian Friday hit two bombs out of the park in Syracuse.
Jordy Mercer extended his hitting streak to 8 games with two hits tonight.
The Indians’ pitchers got Bulls’ batters to tap back to the mound for a 1-3 ground out — five times in the game.
Doug Slaten was added to the Pirates’ 40-man roster and called up to Pittsburgh. He will be on the 25-man roster for at least as long as it takes for reliever Juan Cruz to deal with some personal issues in the Dominican Republic.
Jeff Clement: “We tip our caps to everyone in the military who make us able to live in this country. It’s the best country in the world, and there’s a reason for that.”