Norfolk Tides 2, Indianapolis Indians 0
Tribe starter Rudy Owens pitched 8 strong innings at Victory Field this afternoon, but his teammates could not push a run across, giving the Tides the win and Owens his first loss of the season. The Indians still hold a 2 games to 1 lead in this 4-game series, which wraps up tomorrow.
Owens faced the minimum number of Norfolk batters over the first 3 innings. He walked RF Jai Miller to begin the 2nd inning, but immediately erased him when former Indy Indian DH Ronny Paulino bounced into a 6-4-3 (SS Chase d’Arnaud to 2B Brian Friday to 1B Matt Hague) double play. Norfolk’s lead-off batter CF Antoan Richardson beat out the throw from Owens to first on a bunt to begin the 4th inning. Owens retired the next three batters in order, leaving Richardson on base.
Owens’ only big trouble came in the 5th. With one out, C Chris Robinson slipped a single through the hole and into left field. Next up was 1B Joe Mahoney, who smashed a 2-run homer over the right field wall, which landed on the berm near the light pole. Those were the only runs scored in the game.
Owens retired the side in order in the 6th, then worked his way out of a jam in the 7th. With one out, He walked Paulino. Robinson tapped back to the mound, where Owens snatched up the ball and fired to second base, forcing out Paulino. Mahoney lined a double to the right field wall, moving Robinson to third, but Owens ended the threat with a fly out, with some help from CF Gorkys Hernandez. Another double play aided Owens in the 8th. 3B Tyler Kelly led off with his first AAA single, which deflected off 3B Jordy Mercer’s glove. A grounder by Richardson forced Kelly out at second, leaving Richardson on first. SS Blake Davis lined sharply right to Friday at second, who quickly fired the ball to first base, doubling off Richardson.
Owens allowed 5 hits and 2 walks over 8 innings. He threw exactly 1oo pitches, with 60 of them strikes. Kris Johnson, who had been recalled from Altoona this morning, pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th.
Norfolk starter Rick Zagone, who was also just promoted to AAA today, had a very good AAA debut. He allowed the Indians just 3 hits and one walk, with no runs. 3B Jordy Mercer was the first Tribe batter to reach base, with a two-out single into left field in the 2nd. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch, but got no further. Chase d’Arnaud hit a two-out double off the left field wall in the 3rd. After Zagone retired the Tribe in order in the 4th and 5th innings, Gorkys hit another two-out double down the left field line in the 6th. All three runners were left on base.
Zagone began the 7th inning by getting LF Jake Fox to fly out, then walked DH Jeff Clement. He hit Mercer with a pitch (on the leg or foot), moving Fox to second base. That was the end of Zagone’s afternoon, relieved by Miguel Gonzalez. Gonzalez struck out both RF Miles Durham and Brian Friday, ending the Indians’ biggest threat of the game.
Two more Indians reached base over the last two innings. D’Arnaud walked in the 8th, and was also left on base. Clement grounded a single up the middle with one out in the 9th, and was replaced by pinch-runner Brandon Boggs. Boggs did not get to move off first base, as a pop out and a grounder to short ended the game.
In honor of Mothers’ Day and for breast cancer awareness, some players, and the umpires were wearing pink wrist bands. Gorkys Hernandez used a pink bat at the beginning of the game. In past years, the pink bats brought the Indians good luck, but not so today.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Jordy Mercer’s single in the 2nd was the first Indians’ hit, and it extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Mercer says that he’s not thinking much about the streak during the games. “Just going about my business each and every day,” he said. “I’m not trying to do too much, just putting the barrel on the ball and take good swings, swing at good pitches, and try not to do too much.”
Indians Defensive Gem of the Game: The final Tides’ out of the game. With two outs in the top of the 9th, Ronny Paulino grounded into the hole at short. Chase d’Arnaud went back and to his right to make the stop deep in the hole at short. His momentum made him take a spin with his back to the infield to get into throwing position. D’Arnaud’s throw to first was on-target but did not have a lot of energy behind it. The ball bounced a few times before it reached first, where Matt Hague dug it out of the dirt. Luckily, as Tribe fans will remember, Paulino is not a fast runner. The ball reached first base with Paulino still two steps away, for the out.
The Indians finish this home stand on Monday with an 11 am game against the Tides. On Tuesday, they leave for an 8-game road trip, with 4 games each at Lehigh Valley and Buffalo.
Toledo and Louisville were both rained out today, so the Indians’ loss dropped them to a one-game lead in the International League Western Division.
Rudy Owens has allowed just 4 walks this season — in 48 innings — and two of those happened today.