Indianapolis Indians 5, Gwinnett Braves 4
The Indianapolis Indians began their 4-game series against the Gwinnett Braves with a win tonight at Cooray Field in Gwinnett. The two teams were matched in hits (8 each) and errors (2 each), thought it was the Tribe who came out on top in runs. Indians’ starter Rick VandenHurk earned his 5th win, bringing his record to 5-0. VandenHurk also contributed an RBI single and scored a run.
LF Gorkys Hernandez started the Indians’ first rally when he rocketed a one out triple into left field in the top of the 1st. CF Starling Marte brought Hernandez in with a sacrifice fly, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead. 1B Jeff Clement followed with his 20th double of the season, and advanced to third on a passed ball, but got no further, as a strikeout by 2B Yamaico Navarro ended the inning.
VandenHurk had his hands full in the bottom of the frame. CF Luis Durango singled, and 1B Ernesto Mejia lined a double into left field, giving the Braves runners on the corners with two out. RF Felix Pie slipped a single through the right side of the infield, driving in Durango easily. Mejia raced around from first base to score a go-ahead run, and the Braves had a 2-1 lead.
The Tribe came right back in the top of the 2nd, batting around to score 3 runs. RF Brandon Boggs led off with a liner into center field, just out of reach of the diving Durango. 3B Anderson Hernandez grounded to short, where SS Tyler Pastornicky made a good scoop, but threw the ball wildly to first base. That allowed Boggs to round third and score the tying run, while Anderson Hernandez went to second base on the error. Rick VandenHurk was next up, with the runner on second base and no outs. He blooped a single into left field, and Boggs raced for the plate. The throw to the plate was not enough to catch Boggs, who scored the go-ahead run, 3-2. VandenHurk moved up to second base on the throw. SS Chase d’Arnaud worked a walk, then Gorkys Hernandez flied out, allowing VandenHurk to tag up and advance to third base. Starling Marte again drove in a run, this time with an RBI single lined into center field. VandenHurk scored from third to give the Tribe a 4-2 lead. Clement walked to load the bases, but Navarro left them loaded with a fly out.
VandenHurk kept the Braves scoreless in the bottom of the 2nd, allowing just a single. He allowed only one hit in the 3rd also, but that hit was a solo home run by Meija. The Indians’ lead was cut to 4-3.
The Indians took the run back in the top of the 4th. Chase d’Arnaud began the inning by getting hit by a pitch, after slugging what looked like it might be a home run — only to have it ruled foul. Gorkys Hernandez dropped down a bunt, fielded by the Braves’ pitcher Jose Lugo. Lugo thought he had time to make the out on d’Arnaud who was going into second base, but the throw from Lugo sailed into the outfield. D’Arnaud raced for third, and slid in just as the throw to third base bounced and got away. He scored on another RBI by Marte, a sacrifice fly. Unfortunately, the throw to the infield from center was in time for former Indy Indian 2B Josh Wilson to tag out Gorkys Hernandez as he slid in to second base. Indians ahead, 5-3.
Once again, the Braves answered. Josh Wilson led off with a ground rule double over the right field wall. A ground out moved Wilson to third, and he scored on VandenHurk’s wild pitch. Indians still leading, 5-4.
And that was the end of the scoring. VandenHurk gave up a single in the 5th, but erased that runner with a double play. Wilson reached base on an error by d’Arnaud in the 6th, but was left on base. VandenHurk retired the side in the 7th, ending his evening. He threw 90 pitches (63 strikes) in those 7 innings, and allowed 4 runs on 7 hits, no walks. He struck out 5 batters.
The Tribe went down in order in the 5th and 6th innings, then threatened in the 7th. With one out, Marte and Clement worked back-to-back walks. The two tried for a double steal, and Clement made it to second, but Marte was thrown out at third. A wild pitch moved Clement to third, and Yamaico Navarro’s walk gave the Indians runners on the corners, but a ground out ended the threat.
Bryan Morris came on to relieve VandenHurk to begin the 8th inning. Morris retired the Braves in order in that inning. With one out in the bottom of the 9th and the Indians clinging to that slim one-run lead, Morris surrendered a walk and a single. He struck out the next batter, then was rescued by a diving stop by Yamaico Navarro on a grounder to second, for the final out of the game. Morris earned his 5th Save of the season.
Gorkys Hernandez was the only Tribe batter to have 2 hits tonight — a single and a triple. Brandon Boggs, Jeff Clement, and Tony Sanchez each doubled. Starling Marte hit only one single, but he drove in 3 runs.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Rick VandenHurk’s RBI single in the 2nd inning, giving the Indians a lead they would not surrender. VandenHurk had not had a hit since July 2010, when he was playing for the New Orleans Zephyrs (Marlins’ AAA affiliate). A few days later, VandenHurk was traded to Norfolk, the Orioles’ affiliate, and so did not bat for the rest of that season nor the 2011 season.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Yamaico Navarro’s diving stop of what looked like it was going to be at least a single into right field in the bottom of the 9th. Navarro hopped up and threw to first base in time to make the final out at first base. With the tying and winning runs on first and second bases, the Braves would have probably scored the tying run if Navarro had not made that play.
Indians’ starter Justin Wilson today was named the International League’s Pitcher of the Week for June 11th-17th. He threw 7 scoreless innings against Rochester on Monday, allowing only 4 hits and no walks. Then on Saturday, he held Charlotte to just one run and one hit in 6 innings. He struck out a total of 13 batters in those two games.
The Columbus Clippers lost tonight, stretching the Indians’ lead in the International League West Division to 8.5 games.