Indians Win Fourth Straight With Homers and Strong Defense
Indianapolis Indians 7, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 2
The Indianapolis Indians won their fourth straight game tonight, beating the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in the second game of this 4-game series. That gives the Tribe wins in the first four games of this 10-game home stand.
Starter Rudy Owens did not have his best stuff, and he had to battle his way through five of the six innings he pitched. He was persistent, though, and worked himself out of jams with the help of his defense. Owens allowed 2 runs on 8 hits and no walks. He struck out 4 batters. Owens threw 93 pitches, with 63 strikes.
The Iron Pigs led off each of the first five innings with a hit off Owens. CF Scott Podsednik opened the game with a low line drive that slipped past the diving 1B Jeff Clement for a single. Podsednik stole second base, and after two outs, 3B Hector Luna doubled into left field, driving in Podsednik with the first run of the game.
Tribe CF Gorkys Hernandez tied the score in the bottom of the 1st, when he smashed his first home run of the season over the left field wall. Hernandez only hit one home run in all of last season.
Owens began the top of the 2nd by giving up another hit. 2B Mike Fontenot smacked another ball along the right field line, even ticking it off the end of Clement’s glove as he made a desperate dive to his left. The next batter, RF Derrick Mitchell followed with another double, this one down the left field line and into the corner to plate Fontenot. Mitchell reached third base when he tagged up on a fly out, but got no further. Iron Pigs up, 2-1.
And again the Indians caught up. With one out in the bottom of the inning, 2B Jordy Mercer hit a single to short center field, which fell in among three converging Pigs’ fielders. RF Brandon Boggs took a turn slipping a single past the Pigs’ diving first baseman, allowing Mercer to fly around to third base. Mercer scored from third on C Jose Morales’ ground out to second base, tying the score again, 2-2.
From there, Owens held the Iron Pigs scoreless over the next four innings, working around base runners in three of those frames. The 3rd began with a single by SS Andres Blanco. LF Michael Spidale grounded to second, but the ball moved slowly, and a try for a 4-6-3 (Mercer to d’Arnaud to Clement) double play resulted in only the force out at second base, and Spidale safe on first. Two amazing catches in right field by Boggs got Owens out of that inning. Boggs raced from mid-center field to the retaining wall at the edge of the visitor’s bullpen to make the catch on Luna’s fly ball. Then Boggs made the long run into the right field corner to catch 1B Cody Overbeck’s fly ball.
Back-to-back singles by Fontenot and Mitchell began the top of the 4th, but again Boggs came to Owen’s rescue. This time it was a long run back and to Boggs’ left to make a catch at the wall in the right-center field alley. A sacrifice bunt by Pigs’ pitcher Austin Hyatt moved both runners into scoring position, but a ground out ended the inning. Blanco doubled off the wall in right-center to start the top of the 5th. This time Boggs demonstrated how to come in for a sinking line drive, caught at his shoetops. A line out and a strikeout ended that inning. Owens threw a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, including two more strikeouts.
The Indians took the lead in the 4th inning, on another solo home run, this one by Jeff Clement. The rising line drive sailed over the right field wall just barely inside the foul pole and hooking around behind it. Indians up, 3-2.
Three runs in the 6th gave the Indians plenty of insurance. LF Jake Fox began with a four-pitch walk. After a line out, Mercer looped a single into left-center field, moving Fox to second. Boggs took a turn being the offensive hero, when he golfed a double to the right field wall, sending RF Mitchell scrambling after the carom. Both Fox and Mercer scored, with Mercer coming all the way around from first base. Morales drove in Boggs with an oops-swing single into short center field for the third run of the inning. That chased Pigs’ starter Hyatt from the game. Veteran pitcher David Purcey came on in relief, as Brian Friday pinch-hit for Owens. Friday bounced into a force out at second, though 2B Fontenot had to leap over the sliding Morales, and so did not get off a throw to first for a possible double play. Friday stole second base, then d’Arnaud worked a walk, but both were left stranded when the inning ended. Indians up, 6-2.
Mercer picked up his third hit and an RBI in the 7th for the Indians’ final run. 3B Matt Hague led off with a single through the hole into left field. After a pair of strikeouts, Mercer doubled to the wall in right-center, driving in Hague.
After Owens was done for the evening, three Indians’ relievers pitched one inning each to finish the game. Daniel McCutchen retired the Pigs in order in the 7th, and Evan Meek did the same in the 8th. Doug Slaten took the mound for the top of the 9th. He gave up a lead-off single to Fontenot, then got two outs. A grounder let Fontenot move to second base. Former Indy Indian Rich Thompson, who had entered the game to play right field in a double-switch, laid down a perfect drag bunt, which ended up in no-man’s-land between the mound and first base, where neither Slaten nor Clement could reach it in time. But with runners on the corners, Slaten got Podsednik to ground to second base to end the game.
Every member of the Tribe’s starting line-up except d’Arnaud and Owens had at least one hit in the game. Jordy Mercer had 3 of the Indians’ 12 hits — two singles and a double. Gorkys Hernandez, Brandon Boggs, and Jose Morales had two hits each. Boggs and Morales also had 2 RBI each.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: A pair of solo homers, by Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Clement. Hernandez’s tied the game in the 1st, and Clement’s broke the tie to give the Indians a lead they would not give up. It was the first homer of the season for both batters. Also notable: Brandon Boggs’ 2-RBI double in the 6th.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Brandon Boggs looked like he was putting on a clinic in right field. It began with the two runs to the foul line in the 3rd. The first would have been just another foul ball if he hadn’t gotten there, but it was an out that helped. The second would have been at least one more run for the Pigs. The run back to the wall in the 4th would have probably resulted in two runs for the Pigs if Boggs hadn’t gotten to it, and the catch of the sinking liner in the 5th would have been another run.
Starling Marte was visible in the dugout tonight. He is available for pinch-running duties at this point, but the bruise on his hand is going to keep him from batting and throwing for a little bit yet.
Jordy Mercer has extended his hitting streak to 9 games.
The Indians’ next two games will be played during the day: 1:05 pm on Wednesday, and 11:05 am on Thursday.
Chase d’Arnaud was back in the Indians’ lineup, a month after he was placed on the DL due to a concussion. He was hit in the head with a pitch in the second game of the season, and had headaches and dizziness for several days afterwards. After some time in extended spring training after his symptoms resolved, he returned to the Tribe today.