Indianapolis Indians 5, Pawtucket Red Sox 1
Indians’ pitcher Chris Leroux found himself on the mound to start a game for the first time this season, taking the place of Rudy Owens, who was traded to Houston this week. Leroux pitched 5 scoreless innings to get the Indians off to a solid start in the game, and he eventually was credited with his first win of the season, as the Tribe beat the Pawtucket Red Sox at Victory Field tonight.
Leroux’s first inning presented him with a jam to get out of. He got two outs, then had C Ryan Lavarnway reach base on an error. 2B Anderson Hernandez’s throw to first base was wide to the infield side. 1B Matt Hague had to leave the bag to make the catch, and his swipe tag missed Lavarnway — the error was charged to Hernandez. Leroux walked PawSox’ 1B Lars Anderson on four pitches, then a wild pitch put both runners into scoring position. The inning ended with both left on base, when 3B Andy LaRoche grounded out.
After that, Leroux settled in. He scattered 3 hits over the next 4 innings, and did not let a runner score. RF Alex Hassan singled in the 2nd, and was thrown out trying to steal second base. SS Jon Hee popped a single into short center field, tapping off Tribe SS Chase d’Arnaud’s glove, and was bunted to second base, but he got no further. 2B Nate Spears blooped a single into right-center field in the 5th, and he was also left stranded. Leroux finished his evening allowing 3 hits, one walk, and 3 strikeouts. He threw 74 pitches (48 strikes). These 5 scoreless innings combined with the 4 scoreless innings (with one hit) he pitched three days ago gives Leroux 9 consecutive scoreless innings, with 4 hits.
The Indians were scoreless for the first two innings. DH Jeff Clement doubled with one out in the 2nd, but did not score. The 3rd inning began with the first three batters reaching base. LF Jeff Larish worked a walk. 3B Brian Friday moved Larish to second base with a single zipped down the third base line, off PawSox 3B LaRoche’s glove and into short left field. D’Arnaud laid down a bunt, which Pawtucket pitcher Tony Pena scooped up easily. But Pena’s throw to first base sailed way wide. As the PawSox chased after the ball, Larish came around to score, Friday stopped at third, and d’Arnaud advanced to second base. CF Jose Tabata’s sacrifice fly brought in Friday from third for the second run of the inning. Hague singled into left field, as d’Arnaud tried to score from second base. The throw in from left field was on-time and on-target to the plate, and d’Arnaud was out at the plate to end the inning. The Indians had a 2-0 lead.
The Tribe added two more runs in the 6th, which chased Pena from the game. Tabata was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Hague singled into right field, and Tabata was off and running. He rounded second and had taken several steps toward third base, when he turned and saw the ball already sailing into the infield, toward second base. Caught in no-man’s-land, Tabata hopped back and forth and delayed long enough for Hague to sneak into second base before he was tagged out. Back-to-back doubles followed — Clement’s second double of the game drove in Hague, and a double by RF Brandon Boggs plated Clement. The Indians’ lead increased to 4-0.
The final Tribe run scored in the 7th. With one out, d’Arnaud blasted a long fly ball to the deep part of the left-center field gap, which LF Jason Repko could not handle. By the time Repko and CF Che-Hsuan Lin could get to the ball and get it back to the infield, d’Arnaud was sliding into third base with a triple. He scored on Hernandez’s single, for the Indians’ fifth run of the game.
Pawtucket’s only run came in the top of the 8th. Bryan Morris had pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, and worked around LaRoche’s lead off single in the 7th. The 8th began with a double lined into center field by Jon Hee. A throwing error by by Friday at third let Repko reach base safely, with Hee holding tight at second. Lin’s grounder to deep behind first base let Hague get the force out at second base on Repko, but the relay to first was not in time to catch Lin as well. Hee advanced to third base on the play. Another grounder, this one to deep short, by Lavarnway forced Lin out at second, but again the relay to first was not in time — no double play, so Hee scored from third base. That run was unearned because of Friday’s error.
Morris was relieved at that point by Jo-Jo Reyes, who was making his first appearance since coming off the DL (hamstring injury). Reyes gave up a single to Anderson, but then ended the inning by getting LaRoche to line out to center field.
Tim Wood came into pitch the top of the 9th. He walked the first batter he faced, DH Scott Podsednik, then retired the next three batters to end the game. Wood did not earn a Save this time, because the Indians had a 4-run lead.
The Indians posted 10 hits in the game — two each by Chase d’Arnaud (single and triple), Matt Hague (two singles), and Jeff Clement (two doubles).
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Two doubles by Jeff Clement, his 29th and 30th of the season. The second double, in the 6th, drove in the Indians’ third run of the game. “Every day is an adjustment,” said Clement in the post-game interview. “You’ve got to keep trying to get better and every day is different, so I was able to put something together at the plate that ended up getting me a couple hits.” Also, Chase d’Arnaud’s triple in the 7th inning, his 4th of the season. It was a huge hit, as d’Arnaud raced around the base path.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: In the top of the 8th, with one run in and two PawSox runners on base, LaRoche lifted a line drive into center field. Tabata had to run back, then he turned, and caught the ball with a little jump. That catch prevented at least one more run from scoring. In the 9th, with a runner on first and no outs, RF JC Linares grounded sharply to third. Brian Friday got to the ball near the foul line, but juggled it for a moment. The ball fell to the dirt, but Friday picked it up and fired a frozen rope to first base, where Matt Hague stretched out to his maximum length to make the catch, beating Linares by a fraction of a step.
The Indians have one more game against Pawtucket, on Friday evening. Then they finish this homestand with 4 games against the Buffalo Bison.
Columbus has been winning, including in a double-header yesterday, so they are now 9 games behind the first-place Indians. Toledo has slipped to 24 games behind, and Louisville is 26 games behind.