Indianapolis Indians 6, Norfolk Tides 4
The Indianapolis Indians began their 4-game series against the Norfolk Tides with a win at Harbor Park in Norfolk, Virginia tonight. The win gives the Tribe a 4-1 record so far on this 8-game road trip, after they won the series in Durham 3 games to 1. Daniel McCutchen earned his second win of the season, and Doug Slaten picked up his third Save. The Indians posted 11 hits, including 3 singles by SS Jordy Mercer, and 2 hits each for CF Starling Marte, C Jose Morales, and 3B Matt Hague. There were 5 errors made in the game, including 3 by the Indians. Only one of those errors led to a Norfolk run.
After a quick first inning, each team scored a run in the 2nd. The Indians began with a one-out walk to DH Jeff Clement. Mercer moved Clement to second base with a single into center field. A liner back to center field by Morales drove in Clement from second, giving the Indians a (brief) 1-0 lead. The Tides came right back with a double by C Luis Esposito to lead off the bottom of the frame. A fly out let Esposito tag up and advance to third, then an RBI single by SS Blake Davis drove in Esposito with the tying run.
Mercer began the top of the 4th with his second single of the game. RF Brandon Boggs walked, giving the Indians two runners on base. Morales rifled a line drive just inside the left field line for a double, plating Mercer with the go-ahead run, 2-1. Marte continued the rally with another double into left field, bringing in both Boggs and Morales, for a 4-1 lead.
Once again, the Tides responded with their own rally. 2B Ryan Adams led off with a double down the left field line, similar to Morales’. RF Jai Miller drove in Adams with a 2-run no-doubt-about-it homer blasted over the left field wall. That brought the Tides within one run of the Indians, 4-3.
The Indians had two base runners on in three different innings. In the 3rd, Matt Hague and 1B Jake Fox hit back-to-back two-out singles, but both were left on base. Fox led off the 5th with a walk, and after an out, Jordy Mercer smacked his third single of the game. Brandon Boggs bounced into a double play to end that frame. In the 6th, LF Gorkys Hernandez reached base when former Indy Indian 3B Bill Hall scooped up his grounder and fired it past his first baseman and into the first base dugout. 2B Anderson Hernandez worked a walk, but again both runners were left stranded.
Veteran pitcher Daniel Cabrera made his first appearance for the Indians, getting the start tonight. It was not his best work, though, as he allowed 3 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks over 3.2 innings. Cabrera threw 87 pitches in less than 4 innings, with only 44 strikes. He was able to work around a walk in the 1st inning, then gave up a run in the 2nd. He worked around a single and a walk in the 3rd, then got in trouble again in the 4th. After surrendering the 2-run homer, Cabrera walked the next batter, got a ground out, then walked another Tides’ batter. He was relieved by Daniel McCutchen. who ended the inning with a force out at second base.
McCutchen went on to pitch two more innings, both scoreless. He got into and out of a jam in the 5th. Esposito reached base on a fielding error by Mercer at short, then with two outs, McCutchen loaded the base with two walks. A fly out got him out of the situation. 2B Anderson Hernandez made a throwing error with two outs in the 6th, and Esposito singled, but McCutchen ended that inning with a line out.
Tim Wood pitched the bottom of the 7th, and he also had to work out of a messy situation. The inning began with back-to-back singles by Adams and SS Blake Davis. Wood got a strikeout, then got a gift — a line drive by CF Xavier Avery went straight to Anderson Hernandez, who quickly fired to first base to double up Davis.
The top of the 9th began with a lead-off single back up the middle by Starling Marte. Anderson Hernandez dropped down a sacrifice bunt, pushing Marte to second base. Matt Hague lined a single into right field, as Marte was off and running. When the throw in to the infield came back quickly, Marte was held at third. The Norfolk C Esposito let the ball bounce away from him, along the third base line. It was too close for Marte to advance, but Hague took the opportunity to move up to second base on the missed catch error. Jake Fox was intentionally walked, then replaced at first by pinch-runner Miles Durham. Jeff Clement gave the Tribe two insurance runs with a sharp grounder just inside the first base line and into right field, easily scoring Marte and Hague, and leaving Indians runners on the corners. Jordy Mercer grounded to third, where Hall snatched up the ball, fired back to the plate, and Durham was tagged out at home. A strike out ended the rally, with the Indians ahead 6-3.
Doug Slaten came on to pitch the bottom of the 9th for the Tribe. With one out, Hall singled up the middle. Adams grounded to Anderson, who flipped the ball to SS Mercer at second for what should have been the start of a game-ending double play. But Mercer could not hold on to the ball, and both runners were safe. Hall stole third base, and then scored an unearned run on pinch-hitter Steve Tolleson’s sacrifice fly. Miller followed with a double into left field, though Adams was held at third base. With two runners, including the tying run, in scoring position, Avery bounced on a high hop wide of first base. Miles Durham, who had remained in the game after pinch-running, made the catch. With no one at first base to take a throw, Durham charged for the bag in a foot race with Avery. As Avery took a desperate dive for the bag, Durham just barely beat him there, for the final out of the game.
The Indians now hold a 12-11 record, and are a half-game behind the Columbus Clippers in the International League Western Division standings. The Toledo Mud Hens are in 1st place, with a 15-9 record. The Clippers are in 2nd place, 2 games back, and the Indians are 2.5 games back in 3rd place. The 9-17 Louisville Bats are 4.5 games behind the Indians.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Two hits by Jose Morales, both of which drove in a run. His double in the top of the 2nd brought in Jeff Clement with the first run of the game. Then in the 4th, his single plated Jordy Mercer with the first run of that inning. After the Tribe took that lead in the 4th, they would never give it up. After the game, Morales said that he has been feeling good, and the whole team has been loose on this road trip. He said that in the 4th inning, with two runners on base and no outs, the intention was that he bunt the runners over. But after fouling on two bunt attempts, he ended up smacking an RBI double.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The inning-ending double play that got Tim Wood out of his jam in the 7th. With two on and one out, Anderson Hernandez caught a lightning line drive, then alertly doubled the runner off first base to end the inning.
Roster move: Jared Hughes was recalled to the Pirates, taking the roster space vacated by Evan Meek. Meek is coming to the Indians to get in more work and concentrate on getting his fastball down.
Chase d’Arnaud is doing some rehab work at extended spring training, and may be able to return to the Tribe by this coming weekend.