Indians’ Streak Snapped As Locke Struggles
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 5, Indianapolis Indians 1
The Indianapolis Indians had their 5-game winning streak snapped this afternoon at Victory Field, as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs took advantage of Tribe starter Jeff Locke’s struggles in the 2nd and 3rd innings. The Indians still won the series against the Iron Pigs, 3 games to 1, and they have won 12 of their last 16 games. What will they do next? SS Chase d’Arnaud had the answer:
“Shake it off. Period. That’s it. You don’t want to overthink anything in baseball. You’re not going to win every single game. If you dwell on your losses, the losses become contagious. It’s important to reinforce positivity. Negative reinforcement’s never the way to go.”
Things looked pretty positive for Locke in the top of the 1st. He kept his pitches down, mostly around the batters’ knees, and faced 4 batters. He gave up a hit to 2B Kevin Frandsen, when Frandsen dropped down a little dribbler bunt along the third base line. 3B Matt Hague waited for the ball to roll foul, but it never did, and by then it was too late to get Frandsen at first. A sharper grounder to third let Hague make the force play on Frandsen at second to end the inning.
But Locke suddenly lost some control in the next two innings. The first three Pigs’ batters in the top of the 2nd all had hits — a triple off the center field wall for 1B Cody Overbeck, a 2-run homer over the left field wall for RF Derrick Mitchell, and a single through the hole and into left field for LF Michael Spidale. Locke got two outs, then former Indy Indian CF Rich Thompson grounded an RBI single into right field. The throw from CF Gorkys Hernandez came in high, and C Eric Fryer had to leap to catch it. As he had the ball in his hand and was landing a couple of feet in front of the plate, Spidale lowered his shoulder and plowed right into Fryer, both of them standing up. They both dropped to the ground, but Fryer held on to the ball — yet the plate umpire Mark Lallo did not single either safe or out. Spidale saw this, and reached over to slap the plate with his hand , and Lallo ruled “Safe!”. That brought manager Dean Treanor out of the dugout, presumably to ask how Spidale could be safe, if he knocked over Fryer in front of the plate, and without touching the plate, but Fryer was holding on to the ball when Spidale crashed into him? Lallo must have had some kind of reasonable explanation, because Treanor did not argue for long, or even get very heated, but the answer was not apparent. Pigs up, 3-0.
Locke had trouble in the 3rd inning as well. Frandsen led off with a single, then Overbeck popped a ground rule double over the right-center field wall, moving Frandsen to third. Mitchell added 2 more RBI to his tally with a spinning bloop single into short left-center field, driving in both Frandsen and Overbeck. A double play ended that rally, with the Iron Pigs leading, 5-0.
Locke settled in a bit after that. C Tuffy Gosewisch began the 4th with a double just barely inside the left field line, and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by his pitcher Tyler Cloyd. Two pop ups ended that threat, with Gosewisch getting no further than third. Locke retired the side in order in the 5th, and began the 6th with two more outs. Then he loaded the bases on a fielding error by SS Chase d’Arnaud (he dropped the grounder and couldn’t pick it up fast enough), followed by back-to-back walks. That was all for Locke, who finished with 101 pitches (55 strikes), having allowed 5 runs on 9 hits, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts over 5.2 innings. Reliever Jose Diaz came on to take over for Locke, and he finished that inning with a ground out, leaving the bases loaded.
Diaz pitched a scoreless 7th,working around a single by 3B Hector Luna. Evan Meek took the mound to begin the 8th, and he pitched a scoreless inning, despite allowing 3 Pigs to reach base. Spidale led off with a double, and Gosewisch walked. Cloyd moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Thompson tapped a grounder to the left of the mound, which Meek pounced on. Spidale had taken off from third with the swing, and when Meek stood up with the ball, Spidale was already more than half way to the plate. Meek ran right at him with his arm cocked to throw. As Meek got closer, Spidale ducked and dodged and ran for the plate. Meek took a little jump over the foul line, so that Spidale would not block his throw, then tossed to Fryer at the plate for the out. A pop out ended that frame. Doug Slaten pitched the top of the 9th, and he put the Pigs down in order.
Lehigh Valley starter Tyler Cloyd was as locked in as Locke had been in his last few outings. The Indians put him in a jam in the bottom of the 1st, but he worked out of it. With one out, CF Gorkys Hernandez grounded a single up the middle. Hague was hit on the left shoulder by a pitch. After a pop up, 1B Jeff Clement walked, to give the Indians bases loaded with two outs. Cloyd ended the rally by striking out 2B Jordy Mercer, leaving all three Indians on base.
Cloyd proceeded to retire the Indians in order for the next 4 innings — 13 batters in a row, including 2 more strikeouts. The Indians finally got another small rally going in the 6th. D’Arnaud led off with a single up the middle. Gorkys Hernandez singled into right field, moving d’Arnaud to second base. Both runners advanced after tagging up on Hague’s fly out to deep center field. Then LF Jake Fox hit another fly ball into right field, allowing d’Arnaud to tag up and score on the sacrifice.
That was the only run the Tribe would have. They went down in order in the 7th, ending Cloyd’s afternoon. Reliever BJ Rodriguez pitched the final two innings, allowing d’Arnaud a second hit and a stolen base in the 8th. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Mercer singled and RF Brandon Boggs worked a walk. A ground out ended the game.
Jeff Locke suffered the loss, his second of the season, giving him a 3-2 record. Chase d’Arnaud and Gorkys Hernandez had 2 hits each; Jordy Mercer was the only other Indian to get a hit.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Chase d’Arnaud had two singles, and came around to score the Indians’ only run in the 6th inning. That raises his batting average to .250, but that isn’t the whole story. D’Arnaud was 0-for-4 in the first two games of the season, when he was hit in the head with a pitch. Concussion symptoms kept him out of the lineup for a month. He went 0-for-4 in his first game back on Tuesday, but has had two his in each of his last two games. That’s .333 since he got back from his injury. “I’m so thankful for being able to do physical activity in general. For three weeks, I wasn’t able to do so much as work out and run. All I was really able to do was ride a bike for 10 minutes, and I wasn’t able to do that until the headache subsided. It really helped me find a newfound appreciation for freedom to be able to run and jump and anything like that. I’m just happy to be out there.”
Indians Defensive Gem of the Game: The double play that shut down the Iron Pigs’ rally in the 3rd inning. With two runs in, one out, and a runner on first, Michael Spidale grounded to second. Jordy Mercer started the twin killing, which went 4-6-3 (Mercer to Chase d’Arnaud to Jeff Clement). The Iron Pigs did not score again in the game.
Jordy Mercer waited until the bottom of the 9th to get his hit for today, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
Reliever Daniel McCutchen was called up to the Pirates today, to take the roster spot of Joel Hanrahan, who is on Bereavement Leave for the weekend. It will likely be a short visit with the Pirates for McCutchen.