Indianapolis Indians 6, Louisville Bats 1
The Indianapolis Indians provided some fireworks at Victory Field tonight, as a preview of the post-game stadium and city fireworks. Indians’ batters belted out four home runs, with 1B Jeff Clement contributing two of them. Starter Jeff Locke earned his 7th win of the season, throwing 7 one-hit innings and allowing just one run.
The Indians jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the 1st, and that set the tone for the rest of the game. CF Jose Tabata, in his first game with the Indians since coming from Pittsburgh, led off by taking the first pitch he saw down the left field line and into the corner for a double. SS Chase d’Arnaud followed with a booming home run over the left field wall for a 2-0 lead. Starling Marte, in only his second game in right field, had the third consecutive hit — a crushing triple off the left-center field wall. He tried for home when Jeff Clement grounded to first, but a quick throw from Bats’ 1B Neftali Soto to C Corky Miller beat Marte to the plate by about 3 feet, with Miller plunked down to block the plate.
2B Brian Friday had the Indians’ only run over the next two innings. Friday lined a single into left-center with one out in the 2nd, but was forced out at second base. Jeff Clement started another rally in the 4th inning with a double off the wall in right field. The ball hit the fencing on top of the wall, missing a home run by about a foot. Clement moved up to third base on a passed ball by Miller. LF Yamaico Navarro drove in Clement with a sacrifice fly. C Tony Sanchez added the second run of the inning with his long fly ball over the left field wall, for his 2nd home run of the season. The Indians took a 4-0 lead.
Jeff Locke began his start with 5 hitless and scoreless innings. Locke gave up a two-out walk to LF Denis Phipps in the top of the 1st, then retired the next 10 Louisville batters he faced. He struck out 5 batters in those innings, including striking out the side in the 3rd. He also walked 2 batters in the 5th, but a strange play kept the Bats from scoring (see photos below). 1B Neftali Solo led off with a walk, and took second base on a wild pitch. A ground out moved him to third. CF Joey Gathright tapped a grounder back to the mound, and Locke scooped it up and ran right at Soto, who was about half way between third and home. Locke tossed to 3B Matt Hague, who had come down the third base line behind Soto. As Locke headed over towards third, Hague and Tony Sanchez squeezed Soto between them. Hague tossed to Sanchez, who then chased Soto back to third base. Sanchez threw to Chase d’Arnaud as Soto tried to slide into third. But d’Arnaud dropped the ball, and Soto was not out. 3B umpire Kelvin Bultron did not make any signal, out or safe. Locke picked up the stray ball, as Soto hopped up to his feet. Soto stepped away from the bag, brushing himself off — and Locke alertly took a few steps over to make the tag. At that point, Bultron signaled “out”, which seemed to surprise Soto.
Locke’s no-hit bid ended with the first batter in the 6th, RF Kris Negron. Negron smacked a triple off the center field wall, over the head of Jose Tabata. That was the only hit Locke surrendered in his outing. The hit turned into a run, when 2B Cody Puckett drove in Negron with a sacrifice fly. The throw in from Marte in right field came in to the plate high, and Negron was safe. That put the Bats onto the scoreboard, 4-1. It was the only run the Bats would score, however. Locke retired the next 5 batters he faced, ending his outing with one hit and one run in 7 innings. He threw 99 pitches (59 strikes) and struck out 6 batters.
Jeff Clement got the run back in the bottom of the 6th. With one out, Clement blasted the first pitch over the right-center field wall for a solo home run. Then he added another insurance run in the 8th inning — his 12th home run of the season, another solo shot, flew even further back onto the right-center field grass berm, to the delight of the sell-out crowd. Indians up, 6-1.
Relievers Bryan Morris and Evan Meek finished up the game for the Tribe. Morris pitched the 8th. He struck out the first two batters he faced, then gave up a single to Kris Negron. Morris showed off his move to first base, picking off Negron to end the inning. Meek gave up a 2-out walk in the 9th, then ended the game with a routine ground out.
The victory gave the Tribe their 8th consecutive win. They won their last three games against the Toledo Mud Hens (June 27-29), then swept the four games they played against the Bats in Louisville. The Indians play the Bats again on Thursday, then finish up the pre-All-Star-Game segment of the season with 4 games against the Clippers in Columbus.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Chase d’Arnaud hit his 3rd homer of the season, and Tony Sanchez hit his 2nd, but the biggest blasts were the two homers by Jeff Clement, his 11th and 12th. Clement had 3 of the Indians’ 9 hits tonight. His other hit besides the two homers, was nearly a home run also — a double off the upper fence part of the right field wall. Clement now has 41 RBI.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the top of the 4th, Cody Puckett hit a long long fly ball to left field. Yamaico Navarro, who is usually in the infield, showed that he can handle the outfield too. He turned and raced for the wall, then made the catch about a step away from the wall. He made a similar play in the top of the 1st, catching a fly ball off the bat of Kris Negron on the warning track.
More photos, as the Indians celebrated Independence Day with stars-and-stripes jerseys. The “Indians” logo across the front had a flag motif, with a blue star field on the first “I”, and stripes on the rest of the word.
The run-down play:
Starling Marte was honored before the game for being the International League’s Batter of the Week for last week, as well as being the Indians’ Player of the Month for June. Marte had a 15 hits in the week of June 25 to July 1. He hit 3 home runs and had at least 2 hits in each of his 7 games that week. He finished the week with a .484 average (15-for-31), and collected 2 doubles, 2 triples, 3 homers, and 13 RBI. Overall in June, Marte tied for the league lead in hits with 39, and had the lead with 25 runs. He hit .325 in June (39-for-120), with 6 doubles, 5 triples, 4 homers, and 28 RBI. He also stole 3 bases.
INF Jordy Mercer was summoned to the Pirates, and was there with the Pirates today.
C Miguel Perez, who started the season on the Indians’ roster and was sent to Altoona, was back with the Indians today. He is taking the roster spot of Eric Fryer, who is currently with the Pirates.
The first-place Indians remain 12 games ahead of the 2nd place Columbus Clippers, who also won tonight. The Toledo Mud Hens are 21 games back, in 3rd place, and the Bats drop to 25 games behind.