Indians Slide Into First Place With Two Late-Inning Rallies
Indianapolis Indians 4, Norfolk Tides 1
The Indianapolis Indians scored 2 runs in the 6th inning and 2 more insurance runs in the 8th, to defeat the Norfolk Tides at Victory Field tonight. The Indians’ win, combined with the Toledo Mud Hens losing both ends of a double header, allowed the Tribe to slip into sole possession of first place in the International League Western Division. The Mud Hens are o.5 games behind the Tribe. The Columbus Clippers are 3 games back, in third place, and the Louisville Bats are 10 games behind the Indians, in fourth place.
Tonight’s game began with 3 scoreless innings. Tribe starter Daniel Cabrera gave up 4 hits over his first 3 innings, but did not let the runners score. Tides’ CF Xavier Avery singled to open the game, and after two outs, DH Chris Robinson worked the count full, fouled off three more pitches, then took a walk. Cabrera left them both on base with a ground out to first base. Former Indy Indian C Ronny Paulino led off the 2nd inning with a grounder up the middle for a single. RF Jai Miller lined out, then SS Blake Davis grounded to just behind second base. Tribe SS Chase d’Arnaud dove for the ball and stopped it from going into center field, but when he made a flip to 2B Anderson Hernandez, the ball went wide, and Hernandez could not hold on to it. It was ruled an infield hit for Davis. 3B Matt Antonelli did Cabrera a favor with a grounder to his counterpart 3B Matt Hague. Hague made the scoop, took three steps to touch third base, forcing out Paulino, then fired over to first base for the out on Antonelli, for an inning-ending double play. Cabrera worked around a single by LF Jamie Hoffman in the 3rd inning, again keeping the Tides from scoring.
The Tides scored their only run in the top of the 4th. Once again, the Norfolk lead-off batter reached base, when Joe Mahoney walked. He stole second base, as C Jose Morales’ throw to second was there in time but 2B Anderson Hernandez couldn’t hold on to it. A grounder moved Mahoney to third base, then he scored on a long sacrifice fly to right field by Miller. The inning ended when Cabrera picked SS Blake Davis, who had singled, off first base.
The Indians also put runners on base in the first two innings, but didn’t bring them around to score. Chase d’Arnaud began the bottom of the 1st with a walk. CF Gorkys Hernandez moved d’Arnaud to second with a sacrifice bunt, and d’Arnaud moved to third with a ground out. He got no further, though, as DH Jeff Clement struck out to end the inning. C Jose Morales singled with one out in the 2nd, but was stranded at first base.
Tides’ starter Chris Tillman completely dominated the Indians over the next three innings. He set down 11 Tribe batters in order, including retiring the side in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings. He struck out 6 consecutive Indians in the 4th and 5th.
Somehow the Indians flipped a switch when the 6th inning began. After 3 innings of Tillman running the show, the Indians decided to take the reins back in the 6th, with 4 consecutive hits. RF Miles Durham led off with a single grounded through the right side of the infield. D’Arnaud lined a double down the left field line and into the corner. With two runners in scoring position, Gorkys Hernandez came to the plate and grounded up the middle, for a 2-RBI single. Durham scored the tying run easily, and d’Arnaud was right on his heels with the go-ahead run. 1B Matt Hague also singled, advancing Hernandez to second base. A fly out gave Tillman one out, then 3B Jordy Mercer slapped a grounder to third base. Norfolk 3B Matt Antonelli dove to make a backhanded stab, keeping the ball in the infield, but he landed and rolled, and by the time he was up again, he had no play, and the Indians had the bases loaded. They left all three on base, though, as a strikeout and pop foul out ended the inning.
The Indians added two more insurance runs in the 8th. Gorkys Hernandez and Hague led off with back-to-back singles. A passed ball by Paulino allowed both runners to move into scoring position. DH Jeff Clement walked, and when ball four was way wide and sailed all the way to the backstop, Hernandez raced home to score. Hague moved up to third base. Starling Marte got into his first game since being hit on the hand with a pitch, coming on to pinch-run for Clement. Jose Morales lifted a long fly ball to deep left field. Everyone in the stadium held a breath as the ball rocketed toward the wall — but it fell in to be caught on the warning track. It was enough for Hague to tag up and score from third, giving the Indians a 4-1 lead.
Daniel Cabrera finished his evening with scoreless 5th and 6th innings, allowing just one single in those two innings. He threw 100 pitches tonight, with 63 of them strikes. Cabrera was responsible for the only Norfolk run, on 7 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 3 batters. Tim Wood pitched 2 perfect innings (7th and 8th) in relief of Cabrera, including 3 strikeouts. Doug Slaten earned his 6th Save, pitching the top of the 9th. He worked around a lead-off single by Robinson, getting a pop out and two strikeouts to end the game.
Gorkys Hernandez and Matt Hague had two hits each, while Chase d’Arnaud had the only extra-base hit (a double) for the Indians.
The Indians are ahead of the Tides 3 games to 2 in their season series. The two teams will match up again on Saturday evening, then on Sunday afternoon, and late-morning on Monday.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Gorkys Hernandez’s 2-RBI single in the 6th inning. He drove in the tying and go-ahead runs, and the Indians never looked back. “Gorkys has been doing great lately,” bragged Chase d’Arnaud after the game. “I knew it was my job to score. I just wanted to get a good secondary (lead) and score. Luckily, the two-run lead held the rest of the game, and we got some insurance.”
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The double play in the 2nd inning, which ended a Norfolk rally almost before it started. Matt Antonelli hit a grounder right to 3B Matt Hague, who got a force out by stepping on third base, then completed the twin killing with a throw to first base. Without that play, it was very likely that at least one run would score as the inning continued.
Jordy Mercer extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Starling Marte has been cleared by his physicians to go back to playing, but it might be a few days yet before he gets to start. Tonight he pinch-ran. He was available to pinch-run in the past few games, but no opportunities for a pinch-runner arose.