Indianapolis Indians 7, Toledo Mud Hens 6
A 3-run homer by C Jose Morales in the 8th inning gave the Indians the lead, and eventually the win, to defeat the Toledo Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio tonight. The two teams combined for 25 hits, with 14 of them coming off the Indians’ bats. LF Starling Marte also homered for the Indians, and contributed 3 hits in the game. Daniel Cabrera made the start for the Indians, but reliever Daniel McCutchen was credited with the win, and closer Tim Wood earned his 15th Save of the season.
The Tribe jumped onto the scoreboard in the top of the 1st. CF Jose Tabata grounded to short, where SS Audy Ciriaco bobbled the ball long enough for Tabata to reach first base safely, credited with a single. LF Starling Marte followed with a huge bomb of a home run, still rising as it sailed over the jumbo-tron in left field, and probably still flying on its way west to Chicago. It was a 2-0 lead for the Indians.
Toledo answered with one run in the bottom of the frame. 3B Justin Henry doubled to the wall in center field. Tribe starter Daniel Cabrera hit RF Ben Guez with a pitch, then gave up a single up the middle to CF Andy Dirks. That drove in Henry from second base and left runners on first and second. DH John Lindsey also singled, driving the ball through the hole and into left field. Guez took off from second, and as he approached third base, his manager Phil Nevins, waved him on. They did not take Starling Marte into account, though. Marte’s throw in to the plate was on target and well ahead of time. C Jose Morales had the ball waiting when Guez was about 2/3 of the way from third to home, and he was easily tagged out. A walk to 1B Danny Dorn loaded the bases with Mud Hens, but Cabrera got a strikeout and a grounder force out to end the inning, with the Indians ahead, 2-1.
The Indians kept going, scoring two more runs in the 2nd. With two outs, Morales and 2B Brian Friday hit back-to-back singles, one through the left side of the infield, and one through the right side of the infield. A balk moved both runners into scoring position. Hernandez brought both runners in with a long fly ball to the wall in the right center field gap, a 2-RBI double. The lead had been extended to 4-1.
Once again, Toledo answered with one run, on a home run off the left field scoreboard by SS Audy Ciriaco. Dorn also homered, in the 3rd inning, bringing the Mud Hens within one run of the Indians, 4-3.
Both pitchers retired the opposition in order for the next two innings. The Indians threatened in the 6th, when DH Jeff Clement led off with a double into center field. After a ground out, RF Eric Fryer struck out, but he made it safely to first base when C Rob Brantley could not corral a wild pitch on strike three. Morales grounded to second base, where Fryer was forced out, leaving the Tribe with runners on the corners. The runners were stranded there, when a strikeout ended the inning.
Daniel McCutchen took over for Cabrera to begin the bottom of the 7th, when two doubles and two singles gave the Mud Hens the lead. Cabrera had thrown 6 innings, and was on the winning side when he left. He allowed 3 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts. It took him 93 pitches (59 strikes). McCutchen struck on the first batter he faced, then gave up a single to Henry. Guez grounded down the third base line, with a bounce off the third base bag, and continuing on to the left field corner. Henry scored the tying run, 4-4. Lindsey also doubled, down the right field line to bring in Guez, then Dorn singled into left field, plating Lindsey, and Toledo had a 6-4 lead.
Jose Morales fixed that problem in the top of the 8th. 1B Matt Hague and 3B Yamaico Navarro both singled to put two runners on base. After two strikeouts, Morales came to the plate. He blasted his first home run of the season over the left field wall, driving in both Hague and Navarro. The Indians had regained the lead, 7-6.
Doug Slaten took over for McCutchen to begin the bottom of the 8th. Slaten hit 2B Matt Young with a pitch, and Young stole second base, but Slaten left him standing there, ending the inning on two ground outs.
The Indians threatened again in the top of the 9th. With one out, Marte collected his 3rd hit of the game, a single grounded to third base. Henry picked up the ball but airmailed it to first base, but the speedy Marte was already at first, and the play was ruled a hit. Marte stole second base, and went to third when Hague lined a single into center field. The rally was cut short when Clement bounced into a double play.
Tim Wood came on to pitch the final inning. He worked around a single by CF Jamie Johnson, striking out two batters, to end the game and earn the Save.
Besides Marte, Matt Hague also had 3 hits, and extended his hitting streak to 6 games. Jose Morales and Brian Friday each had 2 hits.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Jose Morales’ first home run of the season, which drove in 3 runs to give the Indians the lead. “He was behind in the count,” remembered Morales after the game. “He threw a pretty close pitch, and I put a good swing on it… I’m more of a timing hitter. I had to adjust and I put my foot down really early.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Starling Marte’s play in the first inning, when he cut down Ben Guez at the plate with his perfect throw to Jose Morales. The throw beat Guez to the plate by 20-25 feet.
The Columbus Clippers also won tonight, so the gap between the first place Indians and the second place Clippers remains at 9.5 games.
The Indians and Mud Hens are tied at 2 games each for this series. The final game will be played on Monday, then the Indians will be back at Victory Field on Tuesday.