Indians Stomp Braves, Four Hits for Morales
Indianapolis Indians 10, Gwinnett Braves 2
C Jose Morales led the Indians’ hit parade tonight at Cool Ray Field in Gwinnett, Georgia, where the Tribe stomped all over the Gwinnett Braves. Morales went 4-for-5 in the game, with a double and 3 singles, plus 3 RBI. 2B Anderson Hernandez contributed 3 hits and 2 RBI, as the Indians totalled 15 hits. Each position player in the line-up had at least one hit.
Three consecutive singles in the top of the 1st inning gave the Indians their first threat in the game. With one out, Anderson Hernandez and CF Starling Marte both hit infield singles. 1B Jeff Clement singled through to right field, and Anderson Hernandez rounded third and headed for the plate. A perfect throw in from Braves’ RF Felix Pie let C Jose Yepez tag out Anderson at the plate. A pop out left both Marte and Clement stranded in scoring position.
The Indians had three consecutive hits again in the 2nd inning, and this time they were more successful. RF Brandon Boggs led off with a double into left field. Jose Morales moved Boggs to third with his single, and 3B Brian Friday’s softy liner into left drove in Boggs with the first run of the game. Starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera dropped down a sacrifice bunt, moving both Morales and Friday into scoring position. Morales scored on LF Gorkys Hernandez’s sacrifice fly, and Friday scored on Braves’ starter Eric Junge’s throwing error. The Indians took a 3-0 lead.
Morales singled for the second time, as did Clement, in the 3rd. A walk to Friday loaded the bases with Indians in the 3rd inning. All three were left stranded when Cabrera struck out. Then the Tribe rallied again in the 4th inning. Jung gave up a lead-off walk to Gorkys Hernandez and hit Starling Marte with a pitch to give the Indians two runners on base. With two outs, Yamaico Navarro ripped a triple into center field, plating both runners. Indians up, 5-0.
Daniel Cabrera kept the Braves scoreless for the first three innings, despite working with runners on base in each of those frames. He worked around a one-out single by SS Tyler Pastornicky in the 1st, and a two-out single by 2B Lance Zawadzki in the 2nd. Pastornicky reached base again in the 3rd, on a fielding error by Clement at first base. Cabrera made a throwing error as he tried to pick Pastornicky off first, moving the runner to third base. Pastornicky was stranded there, as Cabrera ended the inning with a fly out.
The Braves got to Cabrera in the 4th. 1B Christian Marrero began with a double lined into right field. Pie beat out a grounder to second base, for an infield single, moving Marrero over to third. Marrero scored on an RBI ground out, cutting the Indians’ lead to 5-1. Cabrera gave up another single in the 5th, but erased that runner with a double play. He began the 6th inning with two outs, then was relieved by Daniel Moskos. Cabrera had allowed one run on 5 hits in his 5.2 innings, with 2 strikeouts. He threw 87 pitches (52 strikes). Moskos needed only one pitch to end the 6th inning with a line out, and that was the only batter he faced in the game.
The Indians rallied again in the 7th. With two outs, Brandon Boggs worked a walk, then took second base when the Braves’ relief pitcher made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt. Jose Morales lined his third single of the game into right field, bringing Boggs around to score. Morales was out at second, though, as he tried to extend his hit to a double.
Gwinnett got that run right back in the bottom of the inning. With Chris Leroux on the mound for another rehab appearance, the first two batters ground out. Then pinch-hitter Shawn McGill singled up the middle. CF Jose Constanza followed with a liner back up the middle. Leroux made a leaping attempt to catch it, but the ball only glanced off his glove, landing in the no-man’s land on the grass behind the mound, half way between first and second bases. When Pastornicky singled on a blooper over shortstop and into left field, McGill scored from second base. That was all manager Dean Treanor wanted to see from Leroux, who was replaced by Jose Diaz. Diaz also needed only one pitch to record the final out of the inning, a pop out to second. Indians still leading, 6-2.
Daniel McCutchen came on to pitch the 8th inning. He also got the first two outs easily, then gave up hits — this time, just two hits, giving the Braves runners on the corners. McCutchen finished the inning with a pop out, leaving the two runners stranded.
The Indians’ big rally came in the top of the 9th, as they batted around and scored 4 runs. After one out, Yamaico Navarro smacked a double into right field. Brandon Boggs walked, then Jose Morales also lined a double into right field, for his fourth hit of the game. Both Navarro and Boggs scored, bumping the score up to 8-2. Jeff Larish came in to pinch-hit for McCutchen and walked. Both Hernandez-es singled — Gorkys’ loading the bases, and Anderson’s driving in two more runs, Morales and Larish. With the Indians ahead 10-2, the Braves found themselves in a pitching pickle, running out of relievers. They brought in former Indy Indian Josh Wilson, usually found in the infield, to finish the inning. Wilson faced only Starling Marte, who flied out to end the rally.
Duke Welker pitched a perfect 9th inning, including a strikeout, to finish the game for the Tribe. Daniel Cabrera earned his 3rd win of the season, for a 3-3 record.
The Indians and Braves will play one more game, scheduled to begin at 12:05 on Thursday afternoon, to finish this series. The Tribe returns home on Friday to begin a four-game home stand against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: A 4-hit performance by Jose Morales. This was his first 4-hit game of the season, with a double and three singles. Morales attributed his showing tonight to extra work on his hitting, and being ready to go at any time. “I’ve been working really hard lately on my hitting. I’ve been struggling, actually. When you’re struggling, you’re usually one hit away from feeling better, and I guess I’m feeling pretty good today…… I just try to take it one day at a time, you know, just thinking that I’m going to play every day. I just try to be ready and keep working hard, and hopefully good things will happen.”
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: It was an out in the 7th, that nearly turned into a disaster. In the bottom of the 7th, with one out, Jose Yepez grounded to first base. It should have been a routine play for Jeff Clement, but the ball bounced off his glove, and then was kicked into foul territory. Clement scrambled after the ball, and from foul territory turned to throw it to Leroux. Leroux was not expecting to have to take part in the play, so he had to make a late run for first base. He reached the bag only by stretching out all of his 6′ 6″ frame, and caught the ball with the tip of his toe touching the base, a fraction of a second ahead of Yepez, for the out. The next three batters all singled, driving in one run, but this play kept it from being two runs.
Brian Friday extended his hitting streak to 9 games. He is hitting .357 over those games (10-for-28).
The Indians remain in first place, 8.5 games ahead of the Columbus Clippers in the International League West Division.