Corey Wimberly got back to first base safely this time… but was picked off moments later.
Gwinnett Braves 4, Indianapolis Indians 0
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Another pitching duel erupted at Victory Field tonight, as the Indianapolis Indians and the Gwinnett Braves battled it out over a scoreless tie for 8 innings. The loss dropped the Indians to below the .500 mark as they finish this home stand. The Indians and the Braves split this 4 game series, two games each.
Tribe starter Garrett Olson pitched 5 hitless and scoreless innings but did not figure into the decision. He allowed one base runner over those innings. Braves SS Julio Lugo worked the count full then took a walk in the top of the 1st. After Olson struck out rehabbing Atlanta Brave outfielder Jason Heyward (photo, not looking too pleased), he got 1B Mauro Gomez to ground to short to force out Julio at second base. Olson retired the next 12 batters in order, including 4 more strikeouts. He got some help from his fielders. In the 5th inning, 3B Dan Nelson took a long fly ball into deep right field. Alex Presley, playing right field for the second day in a row, headed back for the wall. He turned one way, then the other, and finally made the over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track for the second out of the inning. That play was followed by a nice play by SS Brian Friday on a sharp grounder off the bat of 2B Ed Lucas. Friday went to his right for a back-hand catch, then fired over to 1B Matt Hague to end the inning.
Olson was relieved by Chris Leroux after 5 innings. Olson was on a 50 pitch count for his last start on June 8th — due to working in relief in the earlier part of the season, and also having been on the Disabled List. So, even though he was pitching a no-hitter, Olson’s outing was cut short after 66 pitches (44 strikes). Leroux continued the no-hitter with a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th.
Shortstop Chase d’Arnaud has to leave the second base bag to keep this throw from C Eric Fryer from going into center field, as Braves’ Jose Constanza stole second base in the first inning.
Indianapolis Indians 1, Gwinnett Braves 0
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For the second time in less than a week, the Indians battled through a pitching duel to win by a score of 1-0. On Wednesday in Buffalo, the Tribe scored one run in the top of the 8th to beat the Bison. Today, the Indians won the opening game of a 4-game series with the Gwinnett Braves at Victory Field by the same score.
Brian Burres (photo, getting a turn at the plate) made the start for the Indians, and again he could not get the win while pitching at Victory Field. It was not through any fault of his own — he pitched 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits, with 4 walks and 6 strikeouts. But the Tribe batters could not come through with any runs for him in the early innings of the game.
Burres had to work out of a jam in the top of the 1st. Braves’ CF Jose Constanza lined the first pitch of the game into right field for a single. Burres struck out SS Julio Lugo, but Constanza stole second base on strike three. The throw from C Eric Fryer was wide of the bag at second, and Constanza slid in easily. Constanza also stole third base, sliding in just a split second ahead of the tag by 3B Matt Hague. Burres walked RF Stefan Gartrell to put Braves on the corners. 1B Mauro Gomez lifted a fly ball to center field, and it looked like it was going to fall in for a single, so Constanza started down the third base line to the plate. But at the last second, CF Gorkys Hernandez charged in to make the running catch at knee-level. Constanza had to scramble back to third, and by then it was too late to tag up and try again to head for home. That was a big break for Burres and the Indians. The next batter, 2B Ed Lucas hit the first pitch into center field, an easier catch for Hernandez, to end the inning.
Burres retired the Braves in order in the next two innings. He began the 4th inning by giving up a single to Gartrell, on a line drive that looped over Hague’s head and into left field. After a strikeout by Gomez and another great running catch by Hernandez on a fly ball by Lucas, Burres got LF Wilkin Ramirez to ground to third base. Hague’s throw to 2B Brian Friday was wide to the outfield side of the bag, and Friday had to reach and fell to the ground, but still kept the ball in his glove and his toe on the bag, for the inning-ending force out.
Tonight it’s the Bradenton Marauders who have a scheduled night off….
Altoona Curve 10, Erie SeaWolves 5
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The Curve posted 13 hits, with CF Starling Marte leading the barrage with 3 of them. The Curve jumped out to a 6-0 lead with 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st and 4 more in the 2nd. 2B Brock Holt opened the bottom of the 1st with a double into center field. Marte’s ground out moved Holt to third base, and he scored on SS Jordy Mercer’s single into left field. Mercer advanced to second base on a ground out by LF Quincy Latimore, and he scored on 1B Matt Curry’s RBI single.
The 2nd inning began with a walk by C Tony Sanchez, followed by a ground-rule double by DH Kris Watts. Both runners held their place on a short fly out and a strike out, then Marte singled, driving in Sanchez. Marte stole second base, and the Erie pitcher threw a wild pitch, allowing Watts to score. A 2-run homer by Mercer brought in Marte and gave the Curve the 6-0 lead.
Erie got two of the runs back in the top of the 3rd off starter Jeff Locke. A single and a hit batter gave the SeaWolves 2 runners on base with 2 outs. The lead runner came in on a fielding error by Mercer, then a single plated the second unearned run of the inning. A double, a fielding error by Latimore, and a sacrifice fly gave Erie a third run in the 4th inning.
The Curve kept adding on. Watts blasted a solo homer in the 3rd. In the 5th, Curry doubled, then scored on Sanchez’s line drive single into center field, and the Curve led 8-3. Sanchez also stole second base and went to third on a throwing error, but was left there when Watts struck out.
Locke pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits, no walks, while striking out 8 batters. Tim Alderson came on in relief to begin the 7th, but he got into trouble right away. With one out, he gave up a single and three consecutive walks, driving in a run. Michael Dubee replaced Alderson, and he got the next batter to ground out, but that brought in another run, also charged to Alderson. Dubee ended the inning with a strikeout. Dubee also pitched a scoreless 8th inning, allowing 2 singles. Noah Krol pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th.
Altoona rallied one more time in the bottom of the 8th. With one out, Watts was hit by a pitch, and RF Brad Chalk ripped a triple into right field, easily scoring Watts. Chalk scored on Holt’s RBI single, and Marte also added a single — his third of the game.
Thursday evening’s action with the Pirates’ lower minor leaguers…
Altoona Curve 5, Trenton Thunder 1
Starter Jeff Locke struck out 8 Trenton batters in his 5.1 innings of work, while getting plenty of run support — 3 home runs from his offense. The only run Locke surrendered came in the bottom of the 2nd, when Trenton loadd the bases on a walk, a hit batter, and a single. Another walk by Locke forced in the run, then a strikeout and a double play got him out of the inning. Locke allowed only a walk and a double over the next three innings. He began the 6th with a pair of walks and a strikeout before being relieved by Diego Moreno.
Meanwhile, the Curve were pounding out the hits — a total of 15, including 3 by 2B Brock Holt. Each Curve batter had at least one hit. 1B Matt Curry, who had two hits in the game, began the Curve scoring with a solo home run to lead off the top of the 2nd. Holt led off the 3rd with a line drive single to short, then moved to second on LF Quincy Latimore’s walk, and scored on SS Jordy Mercer’s RBI single.
Back-to-back solo homers by Latimore and Mercer added another 2 runs in the 5th inning. The Curve loaded the bases on three consecutive singles in the 6th — by RF Jose Hernandez, Holt, and CF Brad Chalk, but Latimore struck out to end the inning and leave all three runners on base. The final Curve run scored in the 8th. The inning began with back-to-back singles by DH Travis Scott and 3B Greg Picart. Picart was picked off first and caught stealing, but Scott advanced to third, and he was plated by Hernandez’s sacrifice fly. Holt also tripled in that inning.
Moreno finished the 6th inning for Locke with a strikeout and a pop out. Then he struck out the side in the 7th inning. Michael Dubee pitched 2 scoreless innings to end the game. He loaded the bases with a double, a single, and a walk in the 8th, but got out of that jam with a strikeout and a force out. Then he worked around a single for a scoreless 9th.
The Power had an early game today, while the Curve and the Marauders are scheduled for the evening:
West Virginia Power 3, Hickory Crawdads 2
Three Power pitchers combined to hold Hickory to just 4 hits in the late-morning start. Colton Cain earned his 4th win of the season, going 6 innings and allowing 2 runs, only one of which was earned. He gave up 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 5 batters. Two of those 3 hits came in the top of the 1st — a lead-off single, then after two outs moved the runner to second base, another single when the batter beat out the throw on a grounder to third base. But Power 1B Justin Howard was paying attention, and he was able to throw from first base back to the plate, where C Elias Diaz tagged out the runner who had rounded third and was trying to score.
Three consecutive hits began the bottom of the 1st for the Power: singles by SS Drew Maggi and CF Mel Rojas, and an RBI double by RF Dan Grovatt, who drove in Maggi. DH Cole White brought in Rojas with an RBI ground out, to give the Power an early 2-1 lead.
Cain retired the side in order in the 2nd, then began the 3rd by giving up a double. A sacrifice bunt moved that runner to third base. The next batter was hit by a pitch, giving Hickory runners on the corners. Then a wild pitch by Cain and a throwing error on Diaz as he tried to retrieve the ball, let both base runners score, to tie the game.
The Power put runners on base over the next two innings, but base running problems eliminated the runners — picked off and caught stealing, and being caught off base on a fly out for a double play. 2B Andy Vasquez singled to lead off the 5th, and he too was doubled off first base when Maggi flied out. Rojas walked after Maggi was out, then Grovatt doubled for the second time in the game, and also drove in his second run, as Maggi gave the Power the lead.
Cain allowed only 2 walks over his last three innings of work. Vincent Payne made his first appearance for the Power this season, with 2 scoreless innings. He retired the side in order in the 7th, then gave up a walk in the 8th, but that runner was caught stealing. Zac Fuesser pitched the 9th. He gave up a single, but also picked the runner of first base, and was credited with his first Save.
The Power had only two base runners over the last 3 innings, when 3B Eric Avila walked and was erased in a double play, and a single by Grovatt, for his third hit of the game, in the 8th. Grovatt stole second base, but was left on base.