Indianapolis Indians 9, Toledo Mud Hens 6
A 5-run 3rd inning gave the Indianapolis Indians the spark they needed to push past the Toledo Mud Hens this afternoon at Victory Field. The Indians’ win tied up the series at one game each, with two more left to play. Each member of the Indians’ line-up had at least one hit, and 2B Anderson Hernandez, CF Starling Marte, 1B Jeff Clement, and SS Jordy Mercer all had two hits each.
Justin Wilson got the start for the Indians. As he’s done in several of his recent games, Wilson zipped through the first two innings, allowing just one hit — a long fly ball down the right field line which hit the warning track and bounced sideways into the seating area in adjacent foul territory for a ground-rule double.
Wilson struck out 3 batters in the 3rd, but also got into some trouble, not entirely of his own making. C Bryan Holaday led off with a single lined into center field. Wilson struck out former Indy Indian SS Argenis Diaz for the first out, then 2B Justin Henry grounded to third. Tribe 3B Brian Friday made the scoop just fine, but then he airmailed the ball across the diamond to first base, well over Clement’s head. As Clement tracked down the ball back near the visitor’s bullpen, he had trouble picking it up. Holaday scored from first base, and Henry had time to reach third base. Wilson hit CF Matt Young with a pitch, then struck out the next two batter, leaving Mud Hen runners on the corners. It was an unearned run, which gave the Mud Hens a 1-0 lead.
The Indians came roaring back in the bottom of the 3rd, sending 10 batters to the plate. LF Gorkys Hernandez began the fun with a single up the middle. Toledo starter Thad Weber appeared to have picked him off first base, but as Hernandez started his reluctant trot back to the dugout, third base umpire AJ Johnson called a halt. Johnson called Weber’s movements a balk, and sent Gorkys to second base. Anderson Hernandez, up next, struck out, then the next 5 batters all got hits, and the Indians were on a roll. Starling Marte zipped a ball down the third base line, which bounced off the glove of the Toledo 3B Jeff Baisley and into left field. The ball did not get far, though, because Argenis Diaz was backing up — he held Marte to a single, giving the Indians runners on the corners. Jeff Clement grounded a single into right field, driving in Gorkys with the tying run, and pushing Marte to third. Jordy Mercer doubled down the right field line, barely fair, driving in Marte to take a 2-1 lead. DH Yamaico Navarro also doubled, bringing Clement across the plate. Mercer was held at third base, but he scored moments later, along with Navarro, when RF Brandon Boggs ripped a grounder past the diving 1B Strieby and into right field. Brian Friday walked but outs by C Tony Sanchez and Gorkys Hernandez bot made outs, ending the inning. The Indians led 5-1.
Wilson did not give the Mud Hens a chance to even think about answering that rally in the top of the 4th, and the Tribe came back out in the 4th to add on more runs. With one out, Marte smacked a fly ball off the wall in right field, and raced around for a triple. Clement followed with a hugely booming 2-run home run onto the sidewalk behind the right field grass berm.
The Mud Hens did get to Wilson in the 5th. Holaday doubled off the wall to lead off, then Diaz walked. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Henry drove both in when he doubled over Gorkys Hernandez’s head and off the left field wall. A grounder moved Henry to third, then he scored on DH John Lindsey’s sacrifice fly. That cut the Indians’ lead to 7-4.
The Tribe got two of those runs back in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Tony Sanchez doubled off the top edge of the left field wall, sliding into second base under the tag. Brian Friday drove in Sanchez with a loopy pop fly that fell just out of the reach of 2B Henry behind the second base bag. Sanchez scored on the play, and Friday moved up to second base on the throw to the plate. Friday scored when Anderson Hernandez singled into right field, and the Indians had pushed their lead up to 9-4.
Justin Wilson exited the game after the 5th inning. He had thrown 105 pitches (71 strikes), with 30 of those pitches coming in the troublesome 5th inning. He allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 5 hits and one walk, with 8 strikeouts. It was not his best start, but the 8 strikeouts were encouraging. Jose Diaz relieved Wilson, and pitched the next three innings. Diaz allowed only two hits, both doubles. LF Jerad Head doubled in the 6th, and was left stranded. Lindsey doubled to lead off the 8th. He moved to third on a ground out, then scored on another ground out. Indians leading 9-5.
The final Mud Hens’ run scored in the top of the 9th. With Duke Welker on the mound, RF Ben Guez worked a walk. He advanced to third base on Argenis Diaz’s double into the right-center gap. Henry grounded to, allowing Guez to score from third base.
Justin Wilson earned the win, his 6th of the season. Six of his 8 strikeouts were recorded in the first 3 innings.
The win, combined with losses by the Columbus Clippers and Louisville Bats, bumps the Indians back up to 9.5 games ahead of Columbus in the International League Western Division standings. The Indians have a 48-31 record (.608), which is the best record in the International League.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: The Indians had 13 hits, including 3 doubles, a triple, and a home run. Clement’s home run, which drove in 2 runs, was the most dramatic. It was a no-doubter — Toledo’s RF Ben Guez took two steps, then didn’t bother any more.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: With one out and Jerad Head on first base after a single in the 4th inning, Justin Wilson got Ben Guez to bounce to short. Jordy Mercer made the scoop look easy, then threw to Anderson Hernandez at second for the out on Head. Hernandez fired to Jeff Clement at first, getting the out on Guez by four steps.
More roster moves:
Pitcher Kris Johnson, who has been bouncing back and forth between Indianapolis and AA Altoona, has taken the next bounce back to the Curve.
Pitcher Doug Slaten, who was optioned to Indianapolis yesterday, did not even have a chance to get back to Indy, when he was designated for assignment today.
The Indians have three players who will be representing the team and the International League at the AAA All-Star Game in Buffalo in two weeks: P Rudy Owens, SS Jordy Mercer, and CF Starling Marte.
Chase d’Arnaud was originally in today’s line-up, but about 30 mins before the game, he was scratched due to more tightness in his hip flexor.