Sanchez Homers For The Third Time In Three Games, But Indians Lose
Louisville Bats 7, Indianapolis Indians 4
The Louisville Bats scored in five consecutive innings as they beat the Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field tonight. The loss ended the Indians’ 8-game winning streak, and gave the Indians a 5-1 record in this extended home-and-home 6-game series against the Bats. C Tony Sanchez and CF Jose Tabata led the Indians with two hits each, including Sanchez’s third home run of the season.
The Indians were first onto the scoreboard again tonight. With one out in the 2nd inning, 1B Jeff Clement rocketed a double… to shortstop. The hit resembled a rocket in that it went straight up in the air. It fell in the area of shortstop, but the Bats’ SS Paul Janish and 3B Henry Rodriguez (new to the team) had some miscommunication as the ball was falling. It dropped to the ground behind Janish. Clement had been running hard the whole time, and by the time LF Kris Negron picked up the ball, Clement was already sliding in to second base. Bats’ starter Chad Reineke was upset by that play, and he walked the next batter, LF Jeff Larish, on four pitches. Tony Sanchez lined a single into center field, to load the bases with one out. 2B Brian Friday smacked a ball to the warning track in center field, with all three runners racing around the bases, but when the ball bounced over the center field wall, it was a ground-rule double. Clement and Larish scored, but Sanchez, who had reached home, was sent back to third base. Sanchez and Friday were both left in scoring position when the inning ended, but the Indians were ahead, 2-0.
Daniel Cabrera began his start well, allowing just one hit over the first two innings, while striking out one batter in each inning. The 3rd inning was tougher. Cabrera had to work around back-to-back singles by Reineke and Negron, but managed to end the inning leaving both runners stranded.
Cabrera got into some trouble in the 4th. He walked the lead-off batter, CF Denis Phipps, and Phipps moved to second and then to third on two ground outs. 2B Cody Puckett also walked, giving the Bats runners on the corners with two out. C Corky Miller drove in Phipps with the first of his three singles, cutting the Indians’ lead in half, 2-1.
Tony Sanchez got that run back for the Indians in the bottom of the frame. He hammered a long fly ball over the 405′ sign in center field, to land it in the front corner of the grassy berm, along the ground cover in the batters’ eye.
Unfortunately for the Indians, that 4th inning run by the Bats was the first in a series, as Louisville scored in the next four innings as well. Cabrera began the 5th by hitting Negron with a pitch. Negron stole second base, and was bunted over to third. He scored on a ground out to short, to again bring the Bats within one run of the Tribe, 3-2.
The Bats’ 6th inning rally began with another free trip to first base, courtesy of Cabrera. With one out, Cabrera walked RF Bill Rhinehart, who scored the tying run on Puckett’s triple into the left field gap. That was the end of Cabrera’s evening. He had thrown 95 pitches (50 strikes) and had allowed 3 runs, plus he had the responsibility for the runner still on base. He had allowed 5 hits and walked 3 batters, and had struck out 3 batters. Reliever Duke Welker came on to pitch in relief. The first batter Welker faced, Corky Miller, collected his second RBI single of the game, to drive in Puckett with the go-ahead run (charged to Cabrera). Bats ahead, 4-3.
The Tribe tied it up again in the bottom of the inning. Larish got things started with a line drive single into center field. Sanchez worked the count full, then took a walk, advancing Larish to second. Friday dropped down a sacrifice bunt, to push both runners into scoring position. Pinch-hitter Jose Morales drove in Larish from third when he grounded to Bats’ 1B Neftali Soto behind the first base bag. Tied game, 4-4.
Kris Johnson took the mound for the Indians to begin the 7th. 3B Henry Rodriguez led off with an infield single, on a grounder deep into the hole at short. Chase d’Arnaud was able to come up with the ball, but did not have a play at first. A sacrifice bunt allowed Rodriguez to advance to second base, then Soto was intentionally walked. A strikeout by Rhinehart gave Johnson the second out of the inning. The Bats loaded the bases when 3B Hague juggled a grounder off the bat of Puckett. Rodriguez scored the go-ahead run from third when Johnson fired a wild pitch that sailed all the way to the backstop. Miller walked to load the bases again. The Bats manager decided to let reliever JJ Hoover bat for himself, and Johnson got out of the inning by striking out Hoover, leaving the bases loaded. Bats leading again, 5-4.
Johnson was still on the mound in the 8th inning, when the Bats again scored two runs. Janish slipped a sharp grounder past the diving Brian Friday for a single, and moments later, he scored when Rodriguez homered off the left field foul pole, taking a 7-4 lead.
Jose Diaz came in to pitch the top of the 9th. He gave up 2 hits but kept the Bats scoreless for the first time since the 3rd inning. Rhinehart lined a single into right-center to begin the inning. Puckett grounded to third base, where Hague began what he hoped would be a double play. Rhinehart was out at second, but when he slid in, he disrupted 2B Anderson Hernandez (who had entered the game in a double switch). Hernandez could not get off the throw to first, leaving Puckett on base with a fielder’s choice. Puckett reached third base when Miller sent a fly ball into left field. Miller, who does not run particularly well, headed for second base as Larish got to the ball. Larish threw in to third base, hoping to give Hague the chance to tag out Puckett, but when Hague got the ball, Puckett was already safe at third. Hague turned to see Miller still several yards from second. Hague fired over to Hernandez, who easily tagged out Miller before he could reach the bag. Miller was credited with a single, and Larish got an outfield assist on the play.
The Tribe’s final chance came in the bottom of the 9th. Hernandez led off, taking a 1-1 pitch into the left-center field gap. Both LF Negron and CF Phipps ran after the ball, and as they converged, the two collided. Neither would have been able to catch the ball anyway. Phipps picked up the ball and fired it back to the infield, then immediately signaled to his dugout for help, as Negron remained on the ground. Negron had injured his leg, and eventually was helped off the field by his manager and trainer. CF Jose Tabata singled through the left side of the infield, driving in Hernandez with the Indians’ final run. Tabata got as far as second base on a ground out, but a fly out ended the game with Tabata still on base.
Kris Johnson was charged with the Loss, since he gave up the last three Louisville runs, giving them the lead for good. The Indians recorded 10 hits — Jose Tabata singled twice in the game, and Tony Sanchez singled and homered. Matt Hague, Jeff Clement, and Brian Friday all doubled, while Friday drove in 2 of the Indians’ 4 runs. Tabata and Sanchez had the other RBI.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Tony Sanchez’s home run in the 4th. It was Sanchez’s third home run in his 21 games since joining the Indians, and his third homer in three games. “It’s just a matter of reaping the rewards of hard work,” said Sanchez after the game. “Jeff Branson, our hitting coach, and I have spent countless hours in the cage, trying to refine my swing and get it back to where it was in Double-A. I think I’m doing a good job of bringing our work that we’re doing in there into the game…… We’ve been trying to minimize body movement pre-pitch, which allows me to see pitches earlier and lay off pitches that are out of the zone. It allows my hands to work a little quicker and get to some fastballs that I had been missing when I first got here.”
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the 6th inning, after the runner left by Daniel Cabrera had scored on Corky Miller’s single, Duke Welker also gave up a single to pinch-hitter Joey Gathright. Negron dribbled a soft grounder toward third, but still near the mound, and was safe when Matt Hague’s off-balance throw to first was not in time. With the bases now loaded and one out, Welker got Paul Janish to ground to short. Chase d’Arnaud started a 6-4-3 (d’Arnaud to Brian Friday to Jeff Clement) double play, ending the inning without a further run scoring in the inning.
Starling Marte extended his hitting streak to 11 games, with a single in the 5th inning.
The Columbus Clippers also lost tonight, so the Indians maintain their 12-game lead in the International League Western Division.
Indians’ Yamaico Navarro was arrested last night in Indianapolis on a DUI charge. The Pirates and the Indians issued a joint statement today saying that they are working through the legal processes with Navarro, and they will work with him on a program that will involve evaluation and counseling, as well as a penalty. Navarro did not appear in tonight’s game, and as best as I could tell, was not in the dugout.
Game-time temperature last evening was 99 degrees; tonight it was an even 100 degrees when the game started.