Indianapolis Indians 2, Gwinnett Braves 1
LF Gorkys Hernandez and starter Jeff Locke used to be prospects in the Atlanta Braves’ organization. Tonight they helped the Indianapolis Indians beat Atlanta’s AAA affiliate, the Gwinnett Braves, at Coolray Field in Gwinnett. Hernandez doubled and drove in both of the Indians’ runs, while Locke pitched 6 innings and allowed one run on 8 hits, with 8 strikeouts.
Locke began the game by allowing one hit in each of the first three innings, but worked around all of them. A double in the bottom of the 1st was followed by two strikeouts, and lead-off singles in the 2nd and 3rd were followed by double plays. The Braves were more successful in the 4th inning. After two ground outs, LF Stefan Gartrell singled through the right side of the infield, then stole second base. He scored on RF Felix Pie’s triple lined into center field, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead.
The Braves threatened again in the 5th, but Locke worked out of the jam. 2B Lance Zawadki led off with a single up the middle, and was sacrifice bunted to second base. Locke got the second out with a strikeout, then CF Luis Durango singled, moving Zawadki to third. Durango stole second base, but Locke ended the inning with a ground out, leaving both runners in scoring position. Locke also gave up a single in the 6th, but a ground out and two strike outs kept the Braves from scoring in that frame.
The Indians did not post a hit until the 4th inning. Braves’ starter Jair Jurrjens pitched just one inning, and walked both CF Starling Marte and 1B Jeff Clement, before ending the inning with a fly out. Buddy Carlyle took over for Jurrjens, walking one batter (SS Chase d’Arnaud) and striking out four in the 2nd and 3rd innings. The Tribe put up one hit in each of the next three innings, but none of them were able to come around to score. RF Jeff Larish singled with two outs in the 4th. Jeff Locke hit an infield single in the 5th inning, and Clement singled in the 6th.
It was in the 7th inning when the Tribe tied the score. With one out, 3B Brian Friday lined a double into left field. Brandon Boggs pinch-hit for Locke and worked a walk. A fielding error at second base put d’Arnaud on first to load the bases. Gorkys Hernandez also walked, forcing in Friday from third base to tie the score at 1-1.
Daniel McCutchen took over for Locke to begin the 7th inning. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning, maintaining the tie score. The Indians also went down in order in the top of the 8th. Chris Leroux relieved McCutchen in the bottom of the 8th, coming in with a double switch, as Tony Sanchez replaced Eric Fryer behind the plate. Leroux began by giving up a single to Durango, but promptly picked Durango off first base. That pick-off turned out to be a big play for the Tribe, because the next batter, SS Tyler Pastornicky lined a double into left field, which might have driving in Durango had he still been on base. Pastornicky advanced to third base on a pop out to Clement in foul territory, as the ball popped out of Clement’s glove after the catch. If Durango had not been picked off, he would certainly have scored on that play. Leroux walked Gartrell, prompting manager Dean Treanor to make another pitching change. Evan Meek relieved Leroux, and ended the inning with a ground out to second.
The score remained tied going into the top of the 9th, but Brian Friday and Gorkys Hernandez fixed that problem. Friday opened the inning with his second double of the game, and Tony Sanchez dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Friday to second base. Hernandez rocketed a ball into left-center field, which bounced on the warning track and over the wall, for a ground-rule double. That brought in Friday with the go-ahead run, 2-1.
Meek came back out to pitch the bottom of the 9th. Two ground outs and a fly out ended the game, and Meek had his second win of the season. Locke pitched well, throwing exactly 100 pitches (71 strikes), but did not factor into the decision.
The Indians posted a total of 6 hits, 2 of which were by Brian Friday (both doubles).
The Indians have earned at least a split of this 4-game series, with wins in the first two games against the Braves. Two more games remain, and then the Indians will return to Victory Field on Friday.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Gorkys Hernandez with two RBI, driving in both Indians’ runs. The first was an RBI walk. The second was the game-winning RBI double in the 9th. In the post-game interview, Hernandez talked about the double: “I tried to take good concentration to the plate, tried to look for my pitch. I tried to look for a fastball, but he threw me a hanging slider over the middle of the plate, and I tried to hit the ball toward left field, to the gap. And we won the game.”
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the bottom of the 8th, with the score tied at 1-1, one out and Tyler Pastornicky on second base, Ernesto Mejia popped out into foul territory on the first base side. The Indians and pitcher Chris Leroux needed the out, as they did not want to give the Braves a chance to take the lead. Jeff Clement raced over from first base and toward the stands in foul territory. He made the catch, then slammed into the tarp, which was rolled up against the stands. When Clement hit the tarp, the ball came out of his glove. There was some argument and some discussion with the umpires, but the play was ruled a catch and an out. Pastornicky did tag up and move to third when the ball came loose, but the out was recorded, and the Indians got out of the inning with the score still tied.
The Indians remain in first place in the International League Western Division, currently 8.5 games ahead of second-place Columbus.