Indianapolis Indians 6, �Louisville Bats 1 (box)
2B Neil Walker and C Erik Kratz provided the in-game fireworks, which went along nicely with the post-game fireworks at Victory Field on Friday night. �Walker went 2-for-4 with a single and a double, and gave the Tribe 4 RBI, while Kratz hit a 2-run homer to account for the remaining Indians’ runs. �Kevin Hart (photo) made the start for the Indians and earned his first win of the season.
Bats’ starter Justin Lehr got through the first inning rather easily, walking 3B Pedro Alvarez but striking out two batters. �In the 2nd inning, Lehr gave up a one-out single to RF Brandon Moss. Kratz followed with a line drive that just cleared the left field wall, to land in a collection of kids on the grassy berm. �Indians 2, Bats 0.
Lehr got into trouble right away in the 3rd inning. �LF Jose Tabata (photo below) led off with a single lined into center field. �CF Jonathan Van Every grounded a single into right field, moving Tabata to second base. �Lehr got a little help from his catcher, Corky Miller, who caught Tabata with a big lead off second base, and fired across the diamond to pick him off the base.
Pedro Alvarez was next to reach base, when his grounder to short kicked off the glove of SS Zack Cozart. �1B Steve Pearce loaded the bases when he worked a walk. �That brought up Neil Walker. �Walker took the first pitch down the first base line and into the right field corner, to clear the bases and give the Indians a 5-0 lead. �Pearce came all the way around from first base to score, drawing the throw from RF Wladimir Balantien. �The throw to home was wide and Pearce was in easily, but C Corky Miller alertly relayed the throw to third base, where Walker had headed on the throw in from the outfield. �Miller’s throw was on time, and Walker was tagged out at third.
Lehr got out of a jam in the 4th inning. �Erik Kratz led off with a walk, and SS Brian Friday slipped a single through the hole and into left field. �Kevin Hart was batting for the first time this season in tonight’s game, and he had grounded to first in the 2nd inning. �Now in the 4th, with runners on first and second with no outs, it was time for a sacrifice. �Hart fouled off two bunt attempts, but on his third try, he dropped down a bunt that was a little too hard. �The ball landed to the left of the mound, within easy reach for Lehr. �Lehr fielded, whirled, and threw to third base, where Kratz was forced out. �Tabata still had two runners on for him, and he lined a single into left field. �Friday rounded third and headed for the plate, but the throw from LF Juan Francisco reached Corky Miller just a second before Friday. �Miller reached across the plate to tag Friday for the second out. �A strikeout ended the threat.
Indianapolis Indians 3, �Louisville Bats 0 (box)
Brad Lincoln (photo) and Kevin Hart piggy-backed their starts and combined to shut out the Bats tonight at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky. �Hart had missed his regularly-scheduled start yesterday because he was serving a suspension imposed by the International League after he’d thrown behind a batter. �The Indians (and Pirate management) wanted Hart to make the start today, but they also didn’t want to shift Lincoln’s start back a day. �Instead, they decided to have both men pitch today, and it was a decision that worked out very well.
Lincoln’s start began in the first inning, and he scattered 4 hits over 6 innings, plus 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. �Lincoln worked around base runners in five of the six innings, but managed to keep the runs from scoring. �The Bats got a runner as far as third base in the bottom of the 1st, on a single, a wild pitch, and a ground out, but another ground out ended the inning. �He gave up a two-out double to C Wilkin Castillo in the 2nd, but left him on base. �Louisville pitcher Travis Wood singled in the 3rd inning, but was eliminated in a double play, and then doubled off Lincoln in the 5th, but that time he was left stranded. �Lincoln gave up the final walk in the 6th, but then struck out the next two batters to end that inning. �Lincoln threw 78 pitches (52 strikes) in his six innings. �This was the Indians’ first game of the season in which the Designated Hitter was not used. �Lincoln could not match his mound opponent Wood though — he dropped down a sacrifice bunt in the 3rd inning, and grounded out to short in the 5th.
Hart’s “start” began in the 7th inning. �It took him just 37 pitches (22 strikes) to zoom through three innings of work. �He faced 10 batters, allowing a two-out walk in the 7th, and retiring the other 9 batters. �He struck out 3 of them.
Looking at two shortstops today, both of whom should be starting the season at AAA Indianapolis:
Brian Friday was the Pirates’ 3rd round pick in the 2007 draft. �The Houston native reported to State College in mid-July, and got in 40 games with the Spikes, hitting .295 with 2 homers and 13 RBI. �He spent most of 2008 with A+ Lynchburg, but his season was disrupted by a prolonged bout of back problems. �Despite missing about 2 months, Friday hit .287 with 20 doubles, 2 home runs, and 29 RBI. �He showed better plate discipline and fewer strikeouts than the previous season. �Friday was assigned to AA Altoona in 2009, and he got off to a blistering start, going 11-for-22 in his first 6 games. �An ear infection landed Friday on the DL after the first week of the season, and kept him out of the lineup until mid-May. �When he returned, Friday went on another tear, with a 7-game hitting streak, including four games in a row where he had 2 hits per game. �He slowed down at the end of the month, though, and hit .264 for the month of May. �He had another strong week in mid-June, but overall it was a slow month, as Friday hit only .206, plus 9 RBI. �July was a better month, and the righty’s average popped up to .256, while his RBI total popped up to 15. �He also dropped his strikeout rate, from 14 and 15 in May and June, down to 9 in July. �Friday finished out the season on a high note. �He had a hit in all but two of his first 20 games in August, including a 10-game hitting streak (11-for-33). �He had 9 doubles, and 14 RBI, and hit .284 for August/Sept. �On the down side, he also struck out 28 times in August/Sept. �He finished with a .265 average, 22 doubles, 3 triples, 7 homers, and 46 RBI. �On the field, Friday played exclusively at shortstop. �He made 25 errors with the Curve, about on a par for what he did in Lynchburg the previous season.