boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
The Indianapolis Indians waited nearly 2 hours before they could start playing, but it was worth the wait, as the Indians beat the Charlotte Knights last night at Victory Field, by a score of 4-1. The weather radar was showing approaching storms, so the tarp was left on the field, and everyone waited… and waited…. The rain did come, though not very much or very hard for most of the 1 hour and 52 minutes. There was about 10 minutes of heavier rain, then it slowed and stopped, and the sun came out and the skies cleared. The ball game finally got started just before 9 pm.
Indians’ starter Marty McLeary (photo ) pitched 5 shutout innings before giving up only one lone run to the Knights in the 6th inning. He scattered 5 hits and two walks over those 6 innings, and struck out 5. McLeary got his 4th win of the season, pushing his record to 4-1, and dropping his ERA to 2.55.
McLeary pitched two perfect innings in the 1st and 2nd. The Knights threatened in the 3rd, when LF Casey Rogowski led off with a walk, and C Wiki Gonzalez grounded a single up the middle, just out of reach of the diving Tribe SS Brian Bixler. RF Kenny Kelly’s fielder’s choice grounder to third forced out Gonzalez at second, but allowed Rogowski to move to third. That’s as far as he got, though. 2B Jason Bourgeois hit a line drive to Tribe 2B Luis Ordaz, which Ordaz stabbed out of the air for the second out. Ordaz then took a few steps to second, to double off Kelly for the third out.
The Knights finally got on the board in the 6th inning. Kenny Kelly led off with a walk, and moved to second on a ground ball single to left field by Bourgeois. SS Tomas Perez slapped a grounder to the right side of second base, which Tribe 2B Luis Ordaz scooped and flipped to SS Brian Bixler, and Bixler fired on to first for the double play. Kelly was able to move to third on the double play, and then he scored when 3B Josh Fields singled into left field.
Reliever Juan Perez (photo ) entered the game in relief of McLeary, to pitch the last three innings. He faced only 10 batters, one over the minimum, to get the save. Perez threw perfect innings in the 7th and 8th, including back-to-back strike outs to finish the 7th. In the 9th, he gave up one single, a grounder up the left field line. Tribe 3B Russ Johnson went back and to his right, and dove to catch the ball deep behind third base, and keep the ball from going into left field. Fields outran Johnson’s throw to first, for an infield hit. Fields was left stranded, as Perez got the next two batters to ground out to end the game.
As the Knights were having this dry spell, the Indians continued the timely hitting they’ve been doing for the past several days. The Charlotte Knights’ starter, left-hander Heath Phillips, who hails from Evansville, Indiana, was on the mound. Phillips was the International League Pitcher of the Year for 2006, and is known to have a very good pickoff move to first base. SS Brian Bixler (photo ) didn’t bother stopping at first base in his first at-bat. He got the Indians started in the first inning with a homer to left field, his second homer in two days.
“I hit a change-up. I was able to get a ball up in the zone. I was fortunate to make contact and it worked out in my favor”, said Bixler after the game.
The Indians added two more in the second inning. 3B Russ Johnson led off by rifling a liner into the right-center field alley. He advanced to third base when CF Luis Matos doubled on a fly ball that bounced off the top of the wall in deep left field. C Einar Diaz (photo below ) grounded a double up the third base line into left field, to score both Johnson and Matos, and put the Tribe up by 3 runs. Einar Diaz then stole third base for the second time in two days, but he was stranded there as DH David Parrish flied out to end the inning.
The Indians threatened again in the 4th inning, on Russ Johnson’s and Einar Diaz’s second hits of the game, but they were not able to push any runs across. In the 7th inning, the Tribe put up an insurance run. Luis Matos laid down a perfect bunt along the third base line for his second hit of the night. He went to second on Diaz’s ground out deep to the shortstop, and moved to third when DH David Parrish flied out to left field. LF Nick Green’s bloop RBI single into left-center field scored Matos.
Phillips took the loss for Charlotte, pitching 7 innings, and giving up 4 runs on 8 hits and one walk. Reliever Shaun Babula pitched the 9th inning, giving up one hit but no runs.
Russ Johnson, Luis Matos, and Einar Diaz each had two hits for the Tribe. Nick Green, Brian Bixler, and Jose Hernandez all had one hit apiece.
Tribe hitting gem of the game: Einar Diaz’s 2-RBI double up the third base line in the second inning, to give the Indians the go-ahead run.
Tribe fielding gem of the game: The Luis Ordaz-to-Brian Bixler-to-Jose Hernandez double play in the 6th inning. It was a well-hit ball by Tomas Perez, and a difficult stop for Ordaz (photo ) to make, and then a difficult pivot by Bixler, as Jason Bourgeois was bearing down on him at second base. Hernandez made a big stretch to catch the ball just in time.
“It was a big play”, said Bixler. “Marty [McLeary] made a good pitch. He got the ground ball, and we just did the extra work behind him. The credit goes to him — he got the ground ball to Luis [Ordaz], and it’s fortunate we were able to do that.”
It became clear why Rajai Davis was a late scratch from the starting line-up: it was announced in the middle of the game that he had been called up to the Pirates. Davis leaves with a 21-game hitting streak intact, and a league-leading 27 stolen bases.
Einar Diaz lengthened his hitting streak to 9 games, his season’s best. He also has 4 stolen bases in 5 attempts.
Inf Yurendell de Caster’s back is feeling much better, and he should be ready to resume play soon.
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Indianapolis Indians’ outfielder Rajai Davis (photo ) was recalled to Pittsburgh in the middle of tonight’s game. He will take the roster spot of catcher Humberto Cota, who has been designated for assignment.
The Indians beat the Charlotte Knights 4-1, in a game that was delayed by nearly 2 hours because of (the fear of ) rain. Marty McLeary pitched 6 innings and gave up only one run to get the win, and Juan Perez pitched three scoreless innings to get the save. The Indians’ offense was led by Brian Bixler, who homered for the second straight day, a 2-RBI double by Einar Diaz, and an RBI single by Nick Green.
That’s all for tonight — more details to follow tomorrow!
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