Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 3, Indianapolis Indians 0
The Indians are going to be happy to see Allentown, PA in their rear-view mirrors, as they bus out of town tonight, heading for the 4-game series in Buffalo, NY. Not only did the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs sweep this 4-game series at Coca-Cola Park, but they did it with four consecutive shut-out games. That’s right — the Indians did not score once in Coca Cola Park. And before that, they scored only one run (unearned) in the last game of their previous home stand, and were shut out by the Norfolk Tides in the game before that. One run in the past 6 games.
Tonight’s starter for the Tribe, Rudy Owens, was also the victim in that shut-out by Norfolk, which was his first loss of the season. Now he has a 2-2 record. He lasted 6 innings tonight, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and a walk, while striking out 6 batters. Owens worked around a double in the bottom of the 1st, and got out of a small jam in the 2nd, when 1B Cody Overbeck reached on a fielding error by Tribe SS Chase d’Arnaud and C Tim Kennelly singled. A fly out moved Overbeck to third base, but pitcher Pat Misch grounded out to end the inning.
The Iron Pigs scored their first two runs in the 3rd inning. With one out, Owens walked RF Derrick Mitchell, who then stole second base. 2B Kevin Frandsen lined a double into right field, allowing Mitchell to score. Former Indy Indian C Erik Kratz gave the Pigs their first insurance run with another double, driving in Frandsen. Kratz advanced to third when LF Michael Spidale singled, but a grounder ended the rally.
Owens put the Pigs down in order in the 4th, then gave up their third run in the 5th. Mitchell led off with a double, then tagged and moved up to third on a fly out. Kratz drove Mitchell in with a sacrifice fly. That gave the Iron Pigs a 3-0 lead, and that was all the scoring in the game.
The Indians posted 6 hits, including 2 by 3B Matt Hague. They also walked 6 times, but that did not help them — they left 11 batters on base, and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Tribe’s first scoring opportunity came right away in the top of the 1st. LF Alex Presley opened the game with a huge hit off the center field wall, missing a home run by only a few feet. Instead, the speedy Presley raced around for a triple. But with a runner on third and no outs, the Indians could not get him home — two strikeouts and a ground out left Presley still on third. Presley reached third base again in the 3rd inning, when he walked and SS Chase d’Arnaud lined a double into center field. They had two outs to get Presley in that time, but again could not do it.
Chase d’Arnaud got as far as third base in the 5th. Rudy Owens led off the inning with an infield single, and advanced to second on a ground out. D’Arnaud bounced to short, where a fielder’s choice had Owens out at third. D’Arnaud stole second and third bases, and CF Starling Marte walked, but a strikeout ended that inning without a run scoring.
A double play ended a Tribe attempt at a rally in the 6th. Matt Hague singled, and RF Brandon Boggs grounded to first, which turned into a force out at second. Boggs avoided the double play, and he advanced to second base when C Eric Fryer walked. 2B Brian Friday bounced into the inning-ending double play, and the Indians still hadn’t scored.
The Indians put one runner on base in each of the last three innings: a double by pinch-hitter Anderson Hernandez in the 7th, another single by Hague in the 8th, and a walk to RF Jeff Larish (who came into the game on a double-switch) in the 9th. All three of them were left stranded.
Two Indians relievers pitched a 1-2-3 inning each. Jose Diaz pitched the 7th inning, and struck out one batter. Doug Slaten pitched the bottom of the 8th, and also retired the Iron Pigs in order.
Luckily for the Indians, this is the last time they will have to face the Iron Pigs this season. The Iron Pigs took the season series, 5 games to 3.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Alex Presley’s triple to begin the game. It was his first hit since joining the Indians. Presley must have either thought the ball was going over the fence, or else he thought the Iron Pigs’ CF Kyle Hudson was going to catch it, because he slowed down as he was approaching second base. Then when the ball hit the wall and bounced, he sped up again, and easily reached third base. How far would he have gotten if he had not slowed down?
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the bottom of the 8th, Michael Spidale hit a hot smash towards third base, to the left of Matt Hague. Hague reached out with his glove hand and just barely caught the ball, spinning toward the outfield as he held on to the ball like a sno-cone at the end of his glove. As he spun, he plucked the ball from his glove and then got off a throw to first. The one-hopper came in low, but Jeff Clement was able to dig it out of the dirt and hold on for the final out of the inning.
Gorkys Hernandez was promoted to Pittsburgh today. In order to make room for him on the roster, Evan Meek was returned to the Indians.
Jordy Mercer has a strained abdominal muscle, and was out of the lineup today.
Despite a 5-run 3rd inning, the Toledo Mud Hens lost to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees tonight, 9-8. That means that the Indians are miraculously still in first place in the International League Western Division, half a game ahead of the Mud Hens. The Columbus Clippers remain 2 games out of first place, and the Louisville Bats bring up the rear, 10 games out of first place.