Charlotte Knights 12, Indianapolis Indians 2
The Charlotte Knights scored in three consecutive innings, including a 5-run 6th, to ride right over the Indians tonight at Victory Field. After both teams posted only 3 hits each yesterday, the Knights made up for it tonight with 14 hits, on their way to 12 runs. The Indians could only muster up 5 hits, as they scored just 2 runs. Tribe starter Daniel Cabrera took the brunt of the Knights’ damage, as he allowed 7 runs on 7 hits, and took his 5th loss. Knights’ starter Charlie Leesman held the Indians to just 3 hits in his 5 innings of work, and earned his 9th win.
The game began as if it were a continuation of yesterday’s game. Cabrera retired the Knights in order in the 1st, and worked around a lead-off single by DH Dan Johnson in the 2nd. He gave up a single to 2B Drew Garcia to begin the 3rd, as well as a walk to RF Greg Golson, but two strikeouts and a pop up ended that inning without a run scoring. The Indians also were quiet in the first three innings. Leesman faced only one batter over the minimum. He walked 3B Matt Hague to begin the 2nd, but Hague was thrown out trying to steal second base. DH Anderson Hernandez walked with two outs in the 3rd, and was left on base when a line out ended the inning.
The scoring began in the 4th. Cabrera began with a walk to Johnson. A ground out moved Johnson to second base, and former Indy Indian C Hector Gimenez drove in Johnson with a double down the right field line. Gimenez scored a few moments later on a smash into left field by Garcia. Garcia rounded first and tried to stretch his hit into a double, by Tribe LF Yamaico Navarro got the ball back to the infield quickly, and Garcia was tagged out at second base. Knights leading, 2-0.
The Indians responded with a run in the bottom of the inning. New Indy Indian 2B Brock Holt, just promoted from AA Altoona, led off with a single lined into left field. CF Jose Tabata doubled down the right field line, fair by just a few inches as it bounced into the corner. Holt was able to fly around the bases and score from first base, to cut the Knights’ lead to 2-1.
The Knights scored twice more in the 5th. SS Tyler Saldino began with a grounder deep in the hole at short. His counterpart, Chase d’Arnaud, was able to keep the ball in the infield, but had no play at first, and Saladino had a single. Saladino stole second base, then scored when CF Dewayne Wise doubled into the right-center field gap, all the way to the wall. Wise stole third base, and he scored on Johnson’s sacrifice fly, giving the Knights a 4-1 lead.
At that point, the Indians still felt like they were in the game. However, things started to fall apart in the 6th, as the Knights batted around. Gimenez led off with a single, and moved up to second base on Cabrera’s wild pitch. With Gimenez on second, Cabrera struck out the next batter, then gave up back-to-back walks to Garcia and Saladino to load the bases. Cabrera was relieved by Evan Meek, who was greeted by Golson’s bases-clearing triple, increasing the Knights’ lead to 7-1. Wise followed with another triple, this one into the right field corner, bringing in Golson, and a double by 1B Conor Jackson plated Wise. The Knights had a 9-1 lead, and the Indians were well out of the game. The first three runs in the inning were charged to Cabrera, and the last two charged to Meek. Cabrera had pitched 5.1 innings, throwing 98 pitches (55 strikes), with 5 walks and 5 strike outs.
Bryan Morris came on to relieve Meek to begin the 7th inning. Morris worked around a double by Garcia in the 7th, for a scoreless inning. But Morris got into trouble in the 8th, which began with a single up the middle by Golson. A walk to Jackson and a single by Johnson loaded the bases again. 3B Brent Morel sliced a single into right field, past the diving Holt. That drove in Golson and Jackson and left runners on first and second. Gimenez lifted a fly ball into left field, which looked like a sure out — but LF Yamaico Navarro had the ball bounce off the heel of his glove and fall to the ground for an error, to load the bases again. LF Jared Mitchell’s sacrifice fly brought in Johnson from third base, increasing the Knight’s lead to 12-1. Logan Kensing pitched the final inning for the Indians, and retired the Knights in order for the first time since the 1st inning.
The Indians had only 3 hits after they scored in the 4th. Hernandez doubled in the 5th, and was left on base. The Tribe had a scoring opportunity in the 8th, beginning with a walk to C Jose Morales. A wild pitch (there were 4 in the game) moved Morales to second base. Hernandez singled, moving Morales to third. D’Arnaud grounded to first base, which turned into a force out on Hernandez at second base, but it also let Morales score from third. Tabata also singled in the inning, but was left stranded. The Indians had (barely) shortened the lead to 12-2, but time was running out. The 9th inning had the Tribe going down in order, to end the game with a loss for the Indians.
Jose Tabata and Anderson Hernandez each had 2 of the Indians’ 5 hits, and newcomer Brock Holt had the other hit. The Indians’ pitching had trouble of all kinds after the 3rd inning, but one thing stood out: other than the 1st and 9th innings, the Knights’ lead-off batter reached base in 6 of the other 7 innings. Most of those were by hits, but there was also a lead-off walk in the 4th, and nothing good comes from that kind of situation.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Jose Tabata’s double in the 2nd inning drove in Brock Holt with the Indians’ first run. It was Holt’s first AAA hit, and his first run scored. “It’s been exciting,” related Holt after the game. “This is what I’ve been wanting to do for a little while now, and getting the opportunity is exciting…. I felt actually really comfortable. The guys made me feel good when I got here, and I’ve played with a lot of these guys in AA, so I know a lot of them. I felt good and comfortable, so I was happy about that.”
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Holt also brought his fielding skills with him. He made several diving stops at second base, and backing up first base, and quite a few more runs could have scored if those balls had gotten through. In the top of the 8th, with three runs in, two runners on base, and two outs, Drew Garcia lifted a high fly ball to behind first base. As the ball faded foul, Holt, 1B Jeff Clement, and RF Brandon Boggs all raced toward the visitors’ bullpen in pursuit. The ball was about to land in the bullpen, near to the mound. Holt made the catch, and he didn’t slip or fall or stumble at all as he approached the bullpen mound and made the catch. Pretty slick for someone who has never played at Victory Field before today.
Indians’ pitcher Rick VandenHurk was named the International Pitcher of the Week for last week.
The Columbus Clippers won their game tonight, picking up a game in the International League Western Division. The Indians are now 9 games ahead of the Clippers, with still some cushion there.