Indianapolis Indians 5, Charlotte Knights 3
The Indianapolis Indians had one big inning tonight at the Knights’ Stadium in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC, but that one inning was all the Tribe needed for their fourth win in a row. Jeff Locke made the start for the Indians, and earned his 5th win of the season. SS Chase d’Arnaud provided the biggest piece of fire power, driving in 3 of the Indians’ runs.
The Knights got onto the scoreboard first, with a run in the bottom of the 1st. CF Greg Olson led off with a double down the left field line. A sacrifice bunt moved Olson to third, and he scored on 1B Dan Johnson’s sacrifice fly. Locke retired the Knights in order in the 2nd, but gave up a one-out walk to LF Justin Greene in the 3rd. Green advanced to third base on Golson’s single into right field. Locke got out of the jam with a timely around-the-horn double play, 3B Brian Friday to 2B Anderson Hernandez to 1B Jeff Clement.
The Knights’ starter Dylan Axelrod held the Indians to two base runners over their first three innings. DH Jake Fox walked to lead off the 2nd and C Tony Sanchez, though neither came around to score. Then the Indians busted out with 5 runs as they batted around in the 4th. CF Starling Marte began the rally with a single through the left side of the infield. Marte promptly stole second base. Fox struck out for the first out, then Jeff Clement smashed a double off the upper part of the right field wall, driving in Marte to tie the score at 1-1. Back-to-back walks to RF Jeff Larish and Anderson Hernandez loaded the bases with Indians. Tony Sanchez flied out, but too shallow for Clement to tag up and score. Brian Friday did bring in Clement with a line drive single into left field, giving the Indians a 2-1 lead with the bases still loaded. Chase d’Arnaud cleared the bases with a line drive just inside the left field line, boosting the Indians’ lead to 5-1. D’Arnaud tried to add one more run when LF Gorkys Hernandez lined a single into left field, but a near-perfect throw to the plate by LF Greene had d’Arnaud called out at the plate. D’Arnaud and manager Dean Treanor argued that d’Arnaud’s foot had crossed the plate on his hook slide, but plate umpire AJ Johnson said that d’Arnaud had not touched the plate at all.
Locke worked around 2 base runners in the bottom of both the 4th and 5th innings. Former Indy Indian DH Hector Gimenez walked and C Josh Phegley singled with one out in the 4th. Locke got a fly out and a ground out, leaving both stranded. The Knights singled twice in the 5th, and again a fly out and a ground out got Locke out of the jam.
Charlotte began chipping away at the Indians’ lead in the 6th. Gimenez led off with a huge solo home run, cutting the Tribe’s lead to 5-2. The Knights tried to continue the rally with singles by 2B Drew Garcia and RF Jim Gallagher. Garcia was hit by the ball off Gallagher’s bat as he was running from first base to second, and so was ruled out. Locke hit the next batter, SS Osvaldo Martinez, with a pitch, and that was the end of his evening’s work. Locke had thrown 95 pitches (60 strikes) over 5.2 innings. He allowed 2 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts. Jose Diaz came on in relief, and ended the threat with a grounder for a force out at second base, keeping the Knights from scoring any further runs.
Duke Welker took over for Diaz to begin the bottom of the 7th. He walked the first (and only) two batters he faced, Golson and 3B Ray Olmedo. With a well-rested bullpen, Dean Treanor did not have to conserve relievers, or nurse along a pitcher who was having trouble finding the strike zone. Bryan Morris replaced Welker, with two on and none out. He struck out Johnson, then Gimenez drove a ball just past Larish’s glove and into right field for an RBI single. The Indians were still leading 5-3, but the tying runs were on base. Morris got Phegley to pop up behind second base. Gorkys Hernandez ended the inning by running back and making a nice catch of Garcia’s fly ball.
Morris went on to pitch the final two innings. He allowed a single in the 8th and a walk in the 9th, but no further runs, earning his 4th Save of the season.
After their big inning, the Indians did not have another hit for the remainder of the game. The only Tribe batter to reach base after the 4th was d’Arnaud, who was hit by a pitch in the 7th.
The Indians will continue this 4-game series in Charlotte, then go on to Gwinnett for 4 games to finish this road trip.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Chase d’Arnaud’s bases-clearing double in the 4th inning, which was enough to keep the Knights from catching up.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: The 5-4-3 double play in the 3rd inning with runners on the corners, Friday to Anderson Hernandez to Clement. That cut short the Knights’ rally.
Starling Marte has a 6-game hitting streak. He’s been 9-for-26 (.346) over those games, including one 3-hit game.
Jeff Clement broke an 0-for-14 streak with his double in the 4th.
The Columbus Clippers also won tonight, so they remain 8 games behind the first-place Indians. The Toledo Mud Hens and the Louisville Bats both lost tonight, moving them to 10.5 and 19 games (respectively) behind the Tribe.