Indians Slug Out 16 Hits As Irwin Takes His 3rd Win
Indianapolis Indians 11, Louisville Bats 6
(Box) (rain-shortened, 7.5 innings)
The Indianapolis Indians took the name of the Louisville ball park to heart this evening: Slugger Field. They slugged 16 hits for 11 runs to swamp the Louisville Bats. The Indians scored in each of the first 6 innings, as every member of the lineup reached base at least once. 2B Hector Luna had 4 hits, including a double and a homer, and drove in 3 runs. LF Jeff Larish had 3 hits, including 2 doubles and he also drove in 3 runs. The skies were overcast in Louisville from the time the game started, and the rain began to sprinkle down around the 4th inning. By the 5th inning, the rain was pouring. Even though the end of 5 innings signaled a legal game, the two teams played on. The 7th and 8th innings were played in a downpour, as the infield developed puddles, despite the extensive work by the Louisville ground crew. Finally in the middle of the 8th inning, the tarp was unrolled and play was halted. They didn’t even wait the usual 30 minutes before declaring the game over, as it didn’t look like the rain was going to stop any time soon.
Indians’ new 2B Hector Luna got things going with a no-doubter solo home run that sailed over the left field wall in the top of the 1st. The Bats answered with 3 runs off Tribe starter Phil Irwin in the bottom of the inning. 2B Cody Puckett and CF Felix Perez began with back-to-back singles, and Irwin hit 1B Neftali Soto to load the bases. 3B Mike Costanzo grounded to third, where Tribe 3B Yamaico Navarro made the scoop, but his throw to the plate was wide, and instead of a force out, Puckett scored. Two sacrifice flies, by C Corky Miller and LF PJ Phillips, each drove in a run, and the Bats had a 3-0 lead. Two of the Louisville runs were unearned.
The lead did not last long. Navarro began the top of the 2nd by making up for his error with a single. He grounded to first, where the ball bounced off 1B Soto’s glove and caromed over to 2B Puckett. Pitcher Todd Redmond was a few seconds late in breaking for first base, so Puckett’s throw to first was not in time to get Navarro. CF Brandon Boggs walked, and moments later, 1B Matt Curry slipped a grounder just past Puckett and into center field, for his first AAA hit and first AAA RBI as Navarro scored from second base. SS Anderson Hernandez also singled to second base, and Boggs scored, beating out the throw from Puckett to the plate. Those two Indians runs tied the score at 3-3.
The Tribe kept motoring along in the 3rd. Luna led off with his second hit of the game, a single lined into left field. Redmond walked both RF Dallas McPherson and Navarro to load the bases with no outs. And that was the end of Redmond for the night. The Bats brought in 22-year old James Allen to relieve Redmond. Allen had been called up from the low A-level Dayton Dragons (where he had an 8-4 record in 113.2 innings and a 3.72 ERA, with 99 hits, and 95 strikeouts). Allen was clearly going to be the Bats’ sacrificial lamb, and he was clearly overmatched, not to anyone’s surprise. He came in with the bases loaded and no outs. Boggs was the first batter Allen faced, and he grounded to second for an out, allowing Luna to score. Larish rocketed a ball off the wall in the right-center gap for a 2-RBI double (for the second day in a row), bringing in McPherson and Navarro. Curry worked a walk and Irwin bunted him to second base, but a ground out ended that inning, with the Indians ahead, 6-3.
The Bats added one run in the bottom of the 3rd. Perez lined a single into right field, and moved to second base on a passed ball by the newest Indian, C Ramon Cabrera, who was promoted from AA Altoona today. Soto drove another liner into center field, and Perez scored from third. A double play, Luna to Hernandez to Curry (4-6-3) and a ground out ended the inning, Indians still leading, 6-4.
The Indians returned to the plate to continue beating up on Allen in the 4th inning. With one out, Luna doubled for his second hit of the game, now lacking only a triple for the cycle. McPherson pushed Luna to third with a single. Navarro slipped a ball just past the diving 3B Costanzo and down the left field line for another double, driving in Luna and putting McPherson on third. Larish singled into right, plating McPherson for the second run of the inning. The Indians led 8-4.
Irwin worked around a single in the bottom of the 4th, and the Indians got back to the plate and to tormenting Allen. Irwin started off the top of the 5th by taking a walk himself. Ramon Cabrera doubled for his first AAA hit, moving Irwin to third. Luna singled, and both Irwin and Cabrera scored. Then McPherson lined the second double of the inning into left field and Navarro walked to load the bases. Allen ended the Indians’ rally with a double play, but the Indians had pushed their lead to 10-4.
Irwin began his last inning, the bottom of the 5th, by surrendering back-to-back doubles to Perez and Soto, driving in Perez. Irwin walked Costanzo, but then retired the next three batters in order. Indians ahead, 10-5. Irwin had allowed 5 runs (3 earned) in his 5 innings, on 7 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strike outs. He had thrown 88 pitches (54 strikes). It was enough to earn his 3rd win, for a 3-0 record.
The Indians were not quite done yet. Allen was relieved to begin the top of the 6th, and the Indians got a run off his replacement Will Ohman, just to be fair. Larish greeted Ohman with his second double of the game, and he scored when Curry lined a single into center field. Curry was caught stealing, and a strike out and ground out ended the inning. Indians leading 11-5.
Bryan Morris came on to pitch the 6th, as the rain let up a bit. He retired the Bats in order in the 6th with 2 strikeouts. In the 7th, Morris gave up a walk to Soto, then Costanzo reached base on a bouncer to first, when Curry dropped the slick ball in the rain, for an error. C Corky Miller squeaked a single past Navarro at third and deep into the hole. Hernandez made the play in the hole, but his throw to first base was just not in time to get Miller, and Soto scored. Indians up, 11-6.
The puddles were collecting on the infield at this point, and it was surprising that play had not yet been halted. But the two teams came out again to begin the top of the 8th. Larish began the inning with a walk, but was erased in a double play. This time the teams did not come out of the dugout, as the tarp went onto the infield, and shortly afterward the game was called.
Phil Irwin and Brandon Boggs were the only Tribe starters who did not get a hit, but they each walked and scored, and Boggs also had an RBI. Cabrera had 2 hits, a single and a double, in his AAA debut. Dallas McPherson, Yamaico Navarro, and Matt Curry all had 2 hits.
The Indians and Bats are scheduled to wrap up the regular season tomorrow afternoon at Slugger Field, rain permitting.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Four hits by Hector Luna, who went 4-for-5 in the game. He singled twice, doubled, and homered, only lacking a triple from hitting for the cycle. Luna had 3 RBI as well. In fact, Luna has had 8 hits in his 3 games with the Indians. That’s 8-for-14, .571 average. Also, two hits by Ramon Cabrera in his AAA debut, a single and a double.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the bottom of the 3rd, with one run in for Louisville, and Neftali Soto on first base, Mike Costanzo grounded to second base, where the Indians started a double play — 2B Hector Luna to SS Anderson Hernandez, to 1B Matt Curry. That brought the Bats’ momentum and their rally to an abrupt halt, and kept any more runs from scoring in that inning.
There has been some talk about Pirates’ Chad Qualls making a rehab start with the Indians in tomorrow’s game, then having Kris Johnson follow him on the mound. That idea might not happen due to the weather.
After a day off on Tuesday, the playoffs begin on Wednesday, with the Indians and the Charlotte Knights facing off at Victory Field.