Indians Snap Losing Streak With Two-Hit Pitching
Indianapolis Indians 4, Buffalo Bison 1
After losing 5 games in a row, the Indians snapped their losing streak this afternoon at Coca-Cola Park in Buffalo, NY, beating the Bison by a score of 4-1. The Indians got a strong pitching effort by starter Rick VandenHurk as well as relievers Tim Wood and Doug Slaten. VandenHurk earned his 2nd win of the season, and Slaten took his 8th Save. The Indians also took advantage of three errors by the Bison (who made 4 errors last night), as half of the Tribe runs were unearned.
The Indians struck first, scoring an unearned run in the top of the 1st. With one out, SS Chase d’Arnaud lined a single into left field. He stole second base, and when Bison C Vinny Rottino’s throw sailed into center field, d’Arnaud advanced to third base. Bison starter Jack Egbert made a wild pitch that got a few feet away from Rottino, and that was all the chance that d’Arnaud needed. He raced for the plate as Rottino came up with the ball. Rottino jumped back to the plate and tagged d’Arnaud as he was sliding — but dropped the ball. A run for d’Arnaud and the Indians, 1-0.
Rick VandenHurk was not originally supposed to make this start, but he was called upon when scheduled starter Jeff Locke was promoted to the Pirates after last night’s game. VandenHurk began his outing by giving up a single to former Indy Indian CF Corey Wimberly. Wimberly hit a comebacker right at VandenHurk, which bounced off his glove and to the left side of the mound. VandenHurk was quick to snatch up the ball and throw to first, but the speedy Wimberly beat the throw. Wimberly stole second base, and moved up to third on a ground out. With RF Valentino Pascucci at the plate, Tribe C Jose Morales was a little too casual with a throw back to VandenHurk after a pitch. As soon as the ball left Morales’ hand, Wimberly broke for the plate. VandenHurk’s emergency throw back to Morales was wide, and Wimberly had stolen home to tie the score, 1-1.
2B Jordy Mercer led the Indians right back on top. He lined a single into left field, then stole second base. LF Jeff Larish walked, and Mercer scored from second when Morales zipped a single into left field. VandenHurk moved both Larish and Morales into scoring position with a bunt, but they were left there when the inning ended.
After that, VandenHurk was locked in. He gave up a pair of walks in the 3rd, though one of those runners, SS Omar Quintanilla was thrown out by Morales as he tried to steal second base. Bison manager Wally Backman was ejected after demonstratively (with helmet flying) arguing the call. VandenHurk also walked one in the 4th and gave up a single to 1B Josh Satin in the 5th. That was the last hit the Bison would have in the game. VandenHurk finished with 5 strong innings, allowing one run on 2 hits and 3 walks, with 3 strikeouts. He had been told he would be on a pitch count of about 85 pitches, and in fact finished with exactly 85 pitches, 46 of them strikes. He left holding the lead, and his bullpen teammates held it up for him.
Tim Wood came on in relief to begin the bottom of the 6th. Wood needed only 27 pitches (19 strikes) to retire the Bison in order for 3 innings, including 2 strikeouts. Doug Slaten pitched a perfect 9th inning, three ground outs, to earn the Save.
The Indians put runners on base in the 3rd and 4th innings, but did not score. RF Alex Presley singled in the 3rd, but was erased when 3B Matt Hague bounced into a double play. Jordy Mercer walked in the 4th, but was picked off and caught stealing, ending that inning. The Tribe rallied again in the 7th, adding some insurance to their score. 1B Jeff Clement led off with a walk, and Mercer singled on a liner into left field. Bison 2B Jordany Valdespin’s fielding error allowed Jeff Larish to reach first safely, and with the ball rolling in the outfield, Clement scored from second base. Morales followed with his second RBI single in the game, again driving in Mercer. With runners on first and second and two outs, Chase d’Arnaud grounded to Valdespin, who this time made a throwing error that pulled Satin off first base. D’Arnaud was safe at first, but Satin alertly fired to the plate, where Rottino was able to easily tag out Larish as he tried to score. Indians up, 4-1. The Indians went down in order in the last two innings, but came away with a big win.
The Indians needed only 6 hits, all singles, for the win. Jordy Mercer and Jose Morales had 2 each, and Chase d’Arnaud and Alex Presley had one each. Morales had the only RBI for the Tribe. Starling Marte went 0-for-4, as did Matt Hague.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Two RBI singles for Jose Morales, which more than made up for his too-casual throw back to the mound in the bottom of the 1st.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: A double play in the 5th. Bison’s Josh Satin led off with a single, one of only two Buffalo hits in the game. Satin was erased when pinch-hitter Dustin Martin bounced right to first base. Jeff Clement stepped on the first base bag, then threw to second, where Chase d’Arnaud tagged out Satin to complete the reverse double play.
The Indians now have a 1-5 record on this road trip. They will play two more games in Buffalo, on Monday night and on Tuesday afternoon, then return to Indianapolis. Wednesday is an off day, then they begin a brief 2-game series against the Louisville Bats.
The Toledo Mud Hens also won their game today, so the Indians remain half a game ahead of them, in first place in the International League Western Division. The Columbus Clippers are in third place, 2 games behind the Indians, and the Louisville Bats are fourth, 9 games out of first place.