Three Indians Pitchers Combine For a Four-Hit Shutout
Indianapolis Indians 4, Durham Bulls 0
The Indianapolis Indians finished up their 4-game series against the Durham Bulls with a shutout tonight at Victory Field. Three Tribe pitchers combined to hold the Bulls to just 4 hits: starter Rick VandenHurk, reliever Duke Welker, and reliever Bryan Morris. VandenHurk earned his 3rd win of the season, giving him a 3-0 record. The win gave the Indians a 3 games to 1 record in the series, and a 6 -2 game win of the season series against the Bulls.
Jeff Karstens was originally supposed to make a rehab start for the Indians tonight. However, after rain pushed back the start of the game for 2 hours and 13 minutes, and also because the temperature was dropping, Karstens was scratched.
VandenHurk was expecting to pitch after Karstens tonight, and was given very short notice for his start. It didn’t seem to bother him, though. He began the game with a ground out and a strikeout, then gave up an infield single on a slow roller towards shortstop. Tribe SS Chase d’Arnaud made a bare-handed pick up, and threw sidearm across his body, but he was off balance, and the throw was a few steps wide of the bag and not in time. That didn’t bother VandenHurk either — he struck out DH Leslie Anderson to end the inning.
VandenHurk went on to retire the next 13 batters in order, including striking out 5 more batters. That took him into the 6th inning, when he gave up a one-out single to 2B Cole Figueroa. Former Indy Indian CF Jeff Salazar grounded through the right side of the infield for another single. After VandenHurk’s 8th strikeout of the night, he walked RF Stephen Vogt to load the bases. Then he calmly got out of the jam by getting Anderson to fly out to LF Alex Presley, leaving all three runners on base.
After going down quietly in the bottom of the 1st, the Indians scored their first run in the bottom of the 2nd. With one out, 3B Yamaico Navarro, who just joined the team today, lined a single into left field. 1B Jeff Larish lifted a fly ball into left field. It sailed over the LF Shawn O’Malley’s head and bounced off the wall. Navarro scored all the way from first base, and Larish cruised into second base with an RBI double.
The 3rd inning rally began with 2B Brian Friday’s dribbly hit (not a bunt) to the left side of the infield. Bulls’ 3B Matt Mangini charged in to make the play, but he rushed his throw. Friday would have beat the throw to first anyway, but the throw was wide, going into foul territory near the visitors’ bullpen. Friday swung around and slid into second base, with a single plus a throwing error. CF Starling Marte moved Friday to third base with a sacrifice bunt. Chase d’Arnaud singled up the middle, and Friday scored easily. D’Arnaud stole second base, and he scored on Alex Presley’s line drive single into right field. DH Jeff Clement followed with another single to the same place in right field, but both he and Presley were left on base. Indians ahead, 3-0.
The top of the Indians’ batting order threatened in the 5th, but could not score. Marte led off by grounding to short, then beating out the throw to first base. He promptly stole second base. D’Arnaud reached a 2-2 count, then fouled off 5 more pitches before flying out to right field. Marte tried to tag up and advance to third base, but he made the mistake of going about a third of the way to third base instead of returning to second base as he waited to see if the ball would be caught. When RF Vogt made the catch, Marte had to run back and tag second before he could take off for third. The extra second that it took him to tag up was time enough for the throw in from Vogt to get to third base, where Marte was tagged out. Presley followed with a short line drive into center field, and he also stole second base, but a strikeout ended the rally without a run scoring.
The final Indians’ run came in the 7th. C Jose Morales led off with a line drive single into left field. Friday drove in Morales with a huge triple into deep left field, increasing the Indians’ lead to 4-0. Friday tried to score from third when Marte grounded to second, but he was thrown out at the plate.
VandenHurk finished his unexpected start with 3 hits and a walk in 6 shutout innings. He also struck out 8 batters. He threw just 88 pitches (59 strikes). Duke Welker took over for VandenHurk to begin the 7th inning. Welker retired the Bulls in order in the 7th. He made things a little interesting in the 8th, which began with a single by 3B Matt Mangini. A walk to 2B Cole Figueroa moved Mangini to second base. A foul pop up gave Welker one out. O’Malley grounded to 2B Friday, who got the force out of Figueroa at second. Figueroa’s slide and a high throw by Friday combined to keep d’Arnaud from making a throw to first, but Welker ended the inning with a strikeout, and the threat was over.
Bryan Morris came on to pitch the top of the 9th for the Indians. He made quick work of it, mowing down the Bulls in order, including two strikeouts to end the game.
The Indians posted 10 hits, including two by Alex Presley (two singles) and two by Brian Friday (single and double). The only member of the Tribe line-up to not get a hit was RF Brandon Boggs, who went 0-for-3.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Jeff Larish’s RBI double to the left field wall in the 2nd inning. He drove in Yamaico Navarro with the first run of the game. “I’m just looking for a pitch to hit,” Larish said after the game. “If it’s out over the plate, I’m going to try and to with it. I’m not trying to do too much. Right now, I’m getting balls over the plate and I’m doing a good job of going the other way.” Larish missed a lot of last season due to a broken leg, and he has spent the beginning of this season trying to get back into form: “I was just trying to get back on the field and get my timing, and it’s just starting to feel a lot better than I was previously.”
Indians’ Fielding Gem of the Game: With two out in the top of the 4th, Leslie Anderson smacked a grounder that looked like it was headed into right field. 2B Brian Friday ranged far to his left, and made a desperate dive — and came up with the ball. He hopped up and fired to Larish at first, in time to make the out.
The Columbus Clippers and the Toledo Mud Hens also won their games tonight, so the Indians remain in first place, 6 games ahead of Columbus and 6.5 games ahead of Toledo. The Louisville Bats were rained out tonight.
The Indians begin a 4-game series against the Syracuse Chiefs on Friday. Jeff Karstens will get another chance to make his rehab start against the Chiefs. The Chiefs’ roster includes former Indy Indians P Zach Duke and INF Jim Negrych, as well as former Pirate OF Xavier Paul.