Indianapolis Indians 2. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 0
One day after the Indians posted 21 hits in their hit-o-rama, they were limited to just 4 hits tonight against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, playing at Frontier Field in Rochester, NY. Those 4 hits were all the Tribe needed, though. Starter Jeff Locke held the Yankees to 3 hits in his 7.1 scoreless innings, and he won the shut-out, pushing his record to 9-5.
The game began with 5 scoreless innings. Locke gave up a walk in the 1st and worked around a one-out single in the 2nd. The Yankees came closest to scoring in the 4th, when LF Ronnier Mustelier slapped a one-out double down the right field line. C Francisco Cervelli walked to give the Yankees two runners on base. Locke got out of the minor jam with two strike outs, then retired the side in order in the 5th, including two strike outs.
The Indians did not have a hit until the 3rd inning, when SS Chase d’Arnaud doubled into left field (the Indians’ only extra-base hit of the game). CF Jose Tabata singled next, moving d’Arnaud to third base with two outs. The inning ended when d’Arnaud tried to steal home, but was rather easily tagged out when Yankees’ starter Michael O’Connor’s threw to Cervelli in plenty of time. The Indians went down in order in the 4th and 5th innings.
The only runs in the game were scored in the top of the 6th. 2B Anderson Hernandez began the frame with a walk. After a bunt pop out by d’Arnaud and a pitching change by the Yankees, Anderson advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Tabata also worked a walk, then 3B Matt Hague singled through the hole and into left field. LF Mustelier bobbled the ball, dropped it, and then had trouble picking it up. By the time he got the ball back to the infield, Hernandez had raced around to score from second base, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead. Tabata reached third base and Hague went to second base on the error. 1B Jeff Clement brought in Tabata from third with a sacrifice fly, and the Indians had an insurance run and a 2-0 lead.
The Tribe had only one hit in the remaining three innings. LF Eric Fryer singled with two outs in the 7th, and was left on base. Former Indy Indian reliever Justin Thomas retired the Indians in order in the 8th, and reliever Preston Claiborne did the same in the 9th.
Meanwhile, Locke was also retiring the side in order in the 6th, including two more strikeouts. CF Melky Mesa reached base on a throwing error by d’Arnaud in the 7th, but Locke left him on base. The bottom of the 8th began with Locke’s 10th strike out, then he gave up a double to 3B Kevin Russo. That was 108 pitches for Locke (74 strikes) and the end of his outstanding appearance. Reliever Doug Slaten came on in relief and ended the inning with a ground out and a strikeout, leaving Russo standing on third base.
Tim Wood came in from the bullpen to close the game in the bottom of the 9th. He began by walking Mustelier, then erased Mustelier when 1B Brandon Laird grounded into a force out at second. Laird remained at first base as the next two Yankees struck out to end the game. Wood earned his 16th Save of the season.
The Indians and Yankees continue this 4-game series with two more games in Rochester, then the Indians return to Victory Field on Monday.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Matt Hague’s RBI single in the top of the 6th, which drove in Anderson Hernandez with the first run of the game. It was Hague’s 39th RBI of the season, and the only run that mattered for the Indians.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Jeff Locke’s pitching performance, with 7.1 shutout innings and 10 strikeouts, while holding the Yankees to just 3 hits. That is one strikeout less than his season best (11 strikeouts against Louisville on May 27th). Said reliever Tim Wood after the game, “To be able to come out and pitch like Jeff did is just amazing. He did a great job tonight, and being able to come down and get the last three outs of the game and get him the win is huge for us.”
The Columbus Clippers also won tonight, so the Indians’ lead over the Clippers remains at 10 games in the International League Western Division. Both the Toledo Mud Hens and the Louisville Bats lost tonight. That puts them 26 and 27 games behind the Indians, respectively. The Indians have 30 games left in the season, and the other teams in the division have about the same.