Indianapolis Indians 4, Toledo Mud Hens 3
A ninth inning rally by the Mud Hens made things a little worrisome for the Indians tonight at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio, but closer Tim Wood held on to the thin lead. The Indians took the win over the Mud Hens, and Wood earned his 21st Save of the season. Starter Jeff Locke struck out 7 batters in 4.2 innings, and five Tribe relievers combined for another 10 strike outs.
The Indians thought they were going to jump out to a nice lead, as they have in the last few days. SS Brock Holt opened the game with a line drive single into right field. 2B Anderson Hernandez bunted Holt to second base, and Holt took third on a wild pitch. Both CF Alex Presley and 1B Matt Hague took walks to load the bases with one out, and the Indians were getting excited. Unfortunately, DH Dallas McPherson grounded to first, where 1B Ryan Rayburn returned the ball to the plate, for the force out on Holt. RF Brandon Boggs also grounded out, ending the rally.
The Indians were quiet for the next two innings, then did all their scoring in the 4th, when they batted around. Hague led off with a blooper into left field. After a strike out, Boggs walked, then 3B Yamaico Navarro singled into center, plating Hague. Boggs moved to third and Navarro to second on the throw in from the infield. That set up LF Jeff Larish, who drove in both Boggs and Navarro with a rising liner over the left field wall. Two more Tribe batters reached base after the homer — a walk by C Eric Fryer and a single by Hernandez, but they were left on base. Indians leading, 4-0.
Jeff Locke started his evening by giving up a single to CF Justin Henry. Then he promptly erased Henry by getting Rayburn to bounce into an around-the-horn double play (5-4-3, Navarro to Hernandez to Hague). He walked former Indy Indian Don Kelly, but another ground out ended the inning. Locke picked up his first strikeout in the 2nd inning, when he retired the Mud Hens in order. He got out of another jam in the 3rd, when a single by Henry and walks to Rayburn and Kelly loaded the bases. Two more strikeouts left all three runners stranded.
Locke struck out two more batters in the 4th, as he set the Mud Hens down in order again. The top of the 5th began with a strike out, then C Bryan Holaday singled, and 2B Cale Iorg became Locke’s 7th strikeout victim. Even though he seemed to be doing ok, and had thrown just 78 pitches (47 strikes), Locke was removed from the game at that point. It’s possible that instructions from the Pirates were to limit Locke today, in anticipation of him pitching in Pittsburgh in a few days.
Justin Wilson came on in relief, and it turned out to be a scenario that the Pirates want Wilson to be getting used to: coming on in relief in the middle of an inning, with a runner on base. Wilson did just fine with it — he hit Rayburn with a pitch, but then struck out Kelly to end the inning.
After that, it was a bullpen parade for the Indians. Bryan Morris began the 6th, and he was responsible for the first Toledo run. DH John Lindsey led off with a double into right field, and took third on a wild pitch. He scored on RF Ben Guez’s RBI grounder to first. Morris struck out LF Jerad Head, then gave up a single to 2B Danny Worth. That was all that manager Dean Treanor wanted to see. Jose Diaz came in from the bullpen to take over for Morris. Diaz finished the inning with a strikeout, then went on to pitch the 7th, working around a lead-off single and striking out two batters. Evan Meek pitched the bottom of the 8th for the Tribe. He gave up a one-out walk and hit Head with a pitch, then left both on base as he struck out the next two batters.
The Indians put runners on base in the 5th inning, when McPherson singled, and in the 7th when Holt and Hernandez hit back-to-back singles to begin the inning. McPherson was eliminated in a double play, and a grounder force out and a strike out ended the 7th inning attempt at a rally. Holt hit his third single of the game in the top of the 9th, and stole second base, but was not able to go any further.
The Tribe went into the bottom of the 9th with a solid 4-1 lead. Closer Tim Wood came in from the bullpen, but quickly got into trouble. Holaday began by reaching base on a fielding error by Holt at second base. After a strike out, Rayburn doubled down the left field line, pushing Holaday to third base — two runners in scoring position with one out. Kelly slipped a single through the hole in right field, driving in both Holaday and Rayburn, to cut the Indians lead to 4-3. Lindsey was hit by a pitch, putting the winning run on base. Wood struck out Guez, and Kelly and pinch-runner (and former Indy Indian) Argenis Diaz, pulled off a double steal. C Fryer threw to second base, hoping to get the tail runner, but he was not in time. Now the tying run was on third and the winning run on second, with two outs. No problem for Wood — he struck out Head, to end the inning, and give himself a three-strikeout inning.
Holt led the offense with a third of the Indians’ 9 hits. Anderson Hernandez singled twice. Larish’s home run was the Indians’ only extra-base hit of the game.
The Indians play one more game against the Mud Hens in Toledo on Wednesday, then both teams return to Victory Field, where they will play the Indians’ last two regular season home games.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Jeff Larish’s 3-run homer in the 4th inning. It was his second home run of the season, and his 17th, 18th, and 19th RBI. It was particularly sweet for Larish, who is a former Mud Hen.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the bottom of the 4th, Danny Worth smacked a sharp liner that looked like it was going into left field, for at least a single. Brock Holt had other ideas — he made a huge leap into the air, perfectly timed, and made the catch on the line drive. Also, the pitching staff, who piled up a total of 17 strike outs. Of the 27 outs the Indians had to make, 17 of them came on strike outs.
As the September 1st call-up date approaches, the Pirates have started making moves. Pitcher Gerrit Cole has been promoted to the Indians.