Indianapolis Indians 4, Louisville Bats 1
Three hits by RF/LF Alex Presley and three triples sparked the Indians to a win over the Louisville Bats, giving the Tribe a 2-0 game lead in this home/away series. Presley singled, doubled, and tripled, missing his second cycle with the Indians by only a home run. SS Anderson Hernandez and 2B Brian Friday also tripled. Justin Wilson earned his fourth win of the season with 5.1 innings, and reliever Duke Welker made his AAA debut, facing 2 batters in the 6th. Bryan Morris wrapped up the game with a 3-inning Save, his 3rd of the season.
Presley put the Tribe onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the 1st inning. With one out, Hernandez lined his triple into right field. Presley followed with a double into right, easily plating Hernandez, for a 1-0 lead.
Wilson had a good-and-bad night on the mound. He allowed only one run on 3 hits and struck out 6 Louisville batters, but he also walked 5. Wilson threw 101 pitches (only 57 strikes) in 5.1 innings. The game began with 3 strikeouts and a single in the top of the 1st. The southpaw retired the side in order in the 2nd, with another strikeout. Then in the 3rd, Wilson’s control took a vacation. He got a ground out, then walked the next three batters: Bats’ starting pitcher Pedro Villarreal walked on a 3-1 pitch; CF Joey Gathright on a 3-2 pitch, and 3B Kris Negron on another 3-1 count. With the bases loaded, Willie Harris lifted a fly ball into left field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Villarreal. Tie score, 1-1.
The vacationing control mostly returned to Wilson for the 4th and 5th innings. He worked around a 1-out double by RF Felix Perez, then intentionally walked C Corky Miller, and ended the inning with a strikeout of Villarreal. Gathright singled to lead off the 5th and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt, but Wilson left Gathright stranded. The 6th began with a walk to 2B Cody Puckett, and a sacrifice bunt to move Puckett to second base. That was the end of Wilson’s night, especially since he was already up to 101 pitches.
Duke Welker came on in relief of Wilson, making his AAA debut. Welker first made a wild pitch, moving Puckett to third, then struck out SS Miguel Rojas and got Miller to fly out, leaving Puckett 90 feet from scoring. All that took Welker 7 pitches — 2 balls and 5 strikes.
The Indians score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 5th. Friday led off with his triple into center field, then scored on CF Starling Marte’s sacrifice fly. Two insurance runs were added in the 6th. Presley started that rally with a line drive into center field. He advanced to second on LF Jake Fox’s ground out, and on to third when 3B Jordy Mercer singled. The Bats changed pitchers, and 1B Jeff Larish greeted the new hurler with a single lined into right field, driving in Presley. C Eric Fryer walked, loading the bases with Indians. Friday singled on a grounder to third, scoring Mercer, and the Indians had a 4-1 lead.
Bryan Morris took over for Welker to begin the top of the 7th. Morris retired the Bats in order in that inning, then worked around a single by 1B Naftali Soto to keep Louisville scoreless in the 8th. He gave up a one-out single by Miller in the 9th, then ended the game with two ground outs.
The Indians posted 10 hits. Along with Presley’s three, Larish and Friday had 2 hits each. Half of the Indians’ hits were for extra bases. Presley’s triple came in the 3rd inning, with two outs. He was left stranded at third when Fox popped out.
The Indians and Bats will zip down I-65 to play two games at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville on Saturday and Sunday. The Tribe will be back at Victory Field on Monday to face the Durham Bulls.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Three triples, by Anderson Hernandez, Alex Presley, and Brian Friday. Hernandez’s and Friday’s started run-scoring rallies, which gave the Indians their first lead, and then insurance runs. Presley admitted to thinking about hitting for the cycle when he came to bat for the last time in the 7th. “In my last at-bat, I hit a change-up off the end [of the bat]. I was just saying to myself, ‘If it’s a fastball, I’m gonna hit it hard. If I get out on a change-up, whatever.’”. Presley ended up grounding out for that at-bat.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the 5th, CF Starling Marte made an amazing leaping catch of a long fly ball at the center field wall, off the bat of Neftali Soto. There was a base runner on second base, so Marte kept a run from scoring and ended a rally before it could get going.
Matt Hague has been called back up to the Pirates, where he started the season. In his 36 games with the Indians, Hague batted .278. He had 40 hits, 5 doubles, and one home run, with 15 RBI. He was in the Pirates’ game tonight.
Duke Welker had a 2.31 ERA in 15 relief appearances for the Altoona Curve. He pitched 23 innings and earned a 2-1 record with 5 saves. He had given up 6 unearned runs on 19 hits and 7 walks, with 19 strikeouts.