Leroux Shines Again In His New Role As Indians’ Starter
Indianapolis Indians 4, Columbus Clippers 0
Indianapolis Indians’ starter Chris Leroux is making sure everyone in the organization knows how much he likes being in the starting rotation. The Montreal native won his second game of the season tonight at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio, as he held the Columbus Clippers scoreless for 7 innings of work. The win returns the Indians to a 9-game lead over the Clippers in the International League Western Division.
Leroux scattered just 3 hits and a walk over his 7 innings. He gave up a one-out single to 2B Cord Phelps in the bottom of the 1st inning, but worked around it with a grounder force out and a strikeout. The right-hander retired the next 6 batters in order, before giving up the second hit of his start, a lead-off single by Phelps. A double play erased Phelps. Leroux surrendered a walk to Gregorio Petit in the 5th, but left him stranded. In the 7th, 1B Lars Anderson became the only batter not named Phelps to get a hit — a 2-out single. Anderson was also erased.
Unlike in his last start, Leroux had some run support tonight. The Tribe batters went down in order in the first two innings, then got onto the scoreboard in the 3rd. With two outs, SS Chase d’Arnaud lifted a single into center field. He moved to second base on a wild pitch, then scored from second on CF Alex Presley’s line drive into left field. 2B Brock Holt also singled, then RF Jose Tabata reached base when he grounded to short but 1B Anderson dropped the ball on the throw from Petit. That gave the Indians full bases with two outs. They could not score again, though, as a fly out ended the rally.
Leroux tucked two more runs into his back pocket in the 4th. 3B Yamaico Navarro and C Tony Sanchez blasted back-to-back homers off Clippers’ starter TJ McFarland, to give the Indians a 3-0 lead. LF Brandon Boggs hit the third homer off McFarland in the 7th inning, to boost the Indians’ lead to 4-0.
Leroux’s shut-out performance ended after the 7th inning. He had thrown 90 pitches (58 strikes), in those 7 innings and struck out 4 batters. Daniel McCutchen came on in relief of Leroux to begin the bottom of the 8th. The first batter of the inning, Petit, reached base on a grounder to third, when 3B Navarro’s throw to first was wide to the outfield side, pulling Matt Hague off the base. After a strikeout, CF Aaron Cunningham dropped down a bunt to the third base side of the infield. By the time Navarro got to the ball, he had no play at first, and the Clippers had two runners on base with one out. McCutchen had the situation in hand, though, as he got Tim Fedroff to bounce back to the mound. McCutchen made the scoop, then whirled and threw to d’Arnaud covering second, who relayed to first for a 1-6-3 double play. That made the 9th inning look easy — McCutchen got a ground out and two strikeouts to end the game.
The Indians had a total of 6 hits in the game. Three of those were home runs (Navarro, Sanchez, and Boggs), and three were singles (Presley, Holt, and d’Arnaud).
The Indians and Clippers are half way through this 4-game series, with each team claiming one win so far.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Three home runs, but particularly the back-to-back homers by Yamaico Navarro and Tony Sanchez in the 4th inning.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the game: The double play in the 8th inning, which came with Clippers on first and second bases. That was the only inning in which the Clippers had two runners on base at a time, and the only time they had a runner reach second base. They were thinking that it was time for a rally, until Tim Fedroff grounded to the mound, where Daniel McCutchen started a 1-6-3 twin killing. That cut off the Clippers’ rally before it really had much chance to begin.