Indians Cruise To 7th Straight Win With 6-Run First Inning
Indianapolis Indians 8, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 3
A big 1st inning gave the Indianapolis Indians an early 6-run lead, as they cruised past the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at Victory Field tonight. The win was the 7th straight for the Indians, who remain solidly in first place in the International League Western Division, 10.5 games ahead of the Columbus Clippers, who also won tonight.
The Tribe sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the 1st, which began with the first six batters reaching base safely. LF Gorkys Hernandez led off with a single up the middle. Yankees’ veteran starting pitcher John Maine’s pickoff throw was airmailed to first base. Hernandez easily made it to third base, but was called back to second when the ball was ruled dead because it had wedged between the rolled up tarp and the wall in front of the seats, just past the visitors’ dugout. SS Chase d’Arnaud ran the count full and took a walk. CF Starling Marte picked up the first RBI of the game when his single through the left side of the infield drove in Hernandez from second base. DH Jake Fox was hit by a pitch to load the bases, still with no outs. 1B Jeff Clement lined a single into left field, scoring both d’Arnaud and Marte, for a 3-0 lead.
3B Yamaico Navarro saw the Yankees’ infield playing back, so he dropped down a perfect little surprise bunt along the third base line. By the time the Yankees got to the ball, Navarro was already at first base, loading the bases again — three runners in, and three runners on. RF Brandon Boggs made the first out of the inning with a strikeout, then C Jose Morales lined a single into left to drive in Fox from third — bases still loaded. 2B Brian Friday took a 4-pitch walk, forcing in the 5th run of the inning. At that point, the Yankees’ manager had seen enough from his starter Maine. Former Indy Indian Nelson Figueroa came on in relief.
Figueroa got Gorkys Hernandez to pop out (infield fly rule) for the second out of the inning, but the Tribe was not done yet. Chase d’Arnaud walked for the second time in the inning, this time forcing in Navarro from third base, giving the Indians a 6-0 lead. Starling Marte struck out to end the inning, but the Indians would never give up their lead.
Rick VandenHurk made the start for the Indians. He had pitched a scoreless top of the 1st, allowing only one single, but the Yankees got one of the runs back in the top of the 2nd. With one out, VandenHurk walked Yankees’ C Francisco Cerevelli, then 3B Brandon Laird lined a long double off the left field wall. Cerevelli raced around from first base to score, cutting the Indians’ lead to 6-1.
The Yankees got a little closer in the 3rd inning. RF Kevin Russo led off with a sharp grounder up the middle. VandenHurk got two outs, then surrendered a long home run just barely inside the right field foul pole to DH Jack Cust. That cut the Indians’ lead in half, 6-3.
VandenHurk zipped through the 4th inning, then worked around a pair of singles in the 5th. He finished with 5 innings of work, allowing 3 runs on 6 hit and a walk, with 5 strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches (52 strikes) on his way to his 6th win, for a 6-0 record and a 2.27 ERA.
Kris Johnson replaced VandenHurk on the mound to begin the top of the 7th. Johnson pitched 3 scoreless innings. He allowed only one base runner, and that was the first batter he faced, 1B Russell Branyan. Johnson promptly erased Branyan with a double play, then retired the remaining 7 batters he faced. He struck out 4 batters, two each in the 7th and 8th innings.
Jake Fox led off the Indians’ half of the 2nd inning with a huge double off the fence above the left field scoreboard, missing a home run by about 2 feet. He moved up to third base on a ground out, and Brandon Boggs walked to give the Indians runners on the corners, but they could not bring those runners in. Starling Marte singled and Yamaico Navarro walked in the 4th, but they were also left stranded. Brian Friday walked for the second time in the 5th, and stole second base, but got no further.
Starling Marte gave the Indians another insurance run when he greeted Yankees’ reliever Manny Delcarmen with a solo home run crushed over the wall in straight-away center field. Delcarmen came back out to pitch the 7th inning, and Brandon Boggs led off that inning with another solo homer, blasted over the right field wall.
With the Indians ahead 8-3, Duke Welker pitched the top of the 9th. He walked two batters, but ended the game by inducing a double play, started by d’Arnaud at short.
Like last night, the Indians posted 9 hits tonight. Starling Marte led the way with 3 hits and 2 RBI. Jeff Clement also drove in 2 runs.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Most of the lineup in the bottom of the 1st inning. Each Indians’ batter contributed something in the game. The two who struck out in the 1st inning, Starling Marte and Brandon Boggs, hit solo home runs later in the game. Marte singled twice besides that home run, and his 1st inning single drove in the first run of the game. “I waited for a good pitch,” said Marte after the game. “The pitcher threw, I saw it, and I hit it good.” Marte said he had considered bunting for a hit in the 6th inning, because he saw the Yankees’ infielders playing back. “But the pitcher threw me a ball”, so Marte had to settle for hitting it over the center field wall.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Two nice plays by Chase d’Arnaud at shortstop. In the top of the 4th, Colin Curtis smacked a low liner towards left field. D’Arnaud took a few steps to his right, then made a dive to come up with the ball about 6 inches off the ground for the line out. In the 9th, d’Arnaud started the game-ending double play. With one out and runners on first and second, Curtis grounded to the third base side of second base. D’Arnaud moved to his left to make the catch, took two steps to touch the second base bag, then fired on to Jeff Clement at first base for the double play.
A parade of Indians’ base runners came to third base in the 1st inning:
Brian Friday’s hitting streak came to an end at 11 games, because he did not get a hit today. His on-base streak is still intact, though, with two walks today.
The Indians and Yankees continue the series with an afternoon game on Sunday and an evening game on Monday. The Toledo Mud Hens come to Victory Field for a 4-game series after the Yankees leave.