Three more Tribe runs came across the plate in the 4th inning. Durham opened the inning with a walk, and he scored from first on Fryer’s double into left field. CF Gorkys Hernandez lined a single into center, plating Fryer. The throw back in from center field hit the mound on the way to the plate, not even close to catching Fryer. Hernandez advanced to second base on the throw, and Owens bunted Hernandez over to third base. D’Arnaud (photo) reached base again by being hit by a pitch. Then 2B Brian Friday brought Hernandez in with a sacrifice fly, and the Indians had a 6-1 lead. Owens singled up the middle in the 6th inning, but he was erased on a force out at second base.
Owens retired the Bison in order in the bottom of the 4th, but after a 2-out single by Hernandez, Owens surrendered a 2-run homer to Pascucci in the 5th. Indians still up, 6-3. Owens began the bottom of the 6th with a walk to LF Jason Botts. By then Owens had tallied up 99 pitches (63 strikes), and that was the end of his night. Chris Leroux relieved Owens. He left Botts standing on base, retiring the next three batters in order. Leroux also pitched a scoreless 7th inning, allowing two singles.
The Tribe kept going, scoring 6 runs over the last three innings of the game. 1B John Bowker doubled into the right field corner (his 5th double in this 4-game series) in the top of the 7th, then he scored from second base when Durham grounded to short. SS Hernandez made a diving stop to keep the ball from going into the outfield, but his throw to first bounced in the dirt, and 1B Pascucci couldn’t hold onto it. Pascucci chased down the ball, as Bowker rounded third and headed for the plate. Pascucci’s throw to home was late, and Bowker scored to give the Indians a 7-3 lead.
The Tribe’s third 3-run inning came in the 8th. Gorkys Hernandez began the rally with a grounder up the middle. Chris Leroux tried to bunt him to second, but missed on strike three. D’Arnaud slipped a single into left field, as Hernandez rounded second and headed for third. But Hernandez stumbled between second and third, and fell to the dirt. He was tagged out, but interference was called on Buffalo 2B Fisher, and Hernandez was awarded third base. Hernandez seemed to be injured on the play, but he was checked out by the Indians’ trainer Bryan Housand and remained in the game. Friday tried to drop down a suicide squeeze, but the bunt went foul, and he had to be satisfied with his second sacrifice fly, scoring Hernandez and moving d’Arnaud to second base. Presley followed with a double into left field, plating d’Arnaud, then Bowker singled up the middle, bringing in Presley for a 10-3 lead.
Reliever Jared Hughes, just arrived from AA Altoona, made his AAA debut, taking the mound in the bottom of the 8th. Hughes got a ground out, then gave up a walk to Nickeas. The next batter, CF Jesus Feliciano, grounded to second for what should have been a double play. Friday made the throw to d’Arnaud covering second base for the force out on Nickeas, but d’Arnaud’s throw to first base went wild and ended up in the dugout, putting Feliciano on second base. Pinch-hitter Luis Figueroa singled into the left field bullpen, and Feliciano scored from second base. A walk to Fisher and a single by Luis Hernandez loaded the bases with two outs. Manager Dean Treanor went to the bullpen again, bringing in the lefty Justin Thomas to face the right-handed Pascucci. Thomas got Pascucci to pop out to Bowker in foul territory, escaping the bases-loaded jam without allowing any further runs to score.
D’Arnaud picked up two more RBI in the top of the 9th. Durham led off with a single into center field, and Fryer’s double into left field moved Durham to third base. Two outs followed, then d’Arnaud knocked his 4th hit of the game, a single through the hole into left field, scoring both Durham and Fryer, to boost the Tribe to 12-4.
Thomas came back out to pitch the bottom of the 9th, and he got into trouble with four consecutive hits to begin the inning. RF Fernando Martinez lined a single into center field, then 3B Zach Lutz doubled into right. Botts singled, driving in both Martinez and Lutz, and Nickeas also singled. Thomas got a strikeout, then pinch-hitter Raul Chavez lifted a fly ball to left field. Presley came in for what should have been an easy second out, but the ball popped out of his glove. When he went to pick up the ball, he dropped it again, then finally fired into the infield in time to force Botts out at third base. Fisher walked, loading the bases. That was all for Thomas, who was relieved by Cesar Valdez. Valdez ended the game with a line out to d’Arnaud, and the Indians had taken the series, three games to one.
The Indians return to Victory Field tomorrow, for a 4-game series against the Gwinnett Braves.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Chase d’Arnaud, with 4 hits in the game. He singled to open the game, singled in the 8th, singled in the 9th; he homered in the 2nd inning, giving the Indians a lead they would not give up. D’Arnaud also was hit by a pitch. When asked if he thought the home run was going to leave the park, d’Arnaud said he was “confident that the center fielder was not going to catch it, but I wasn’t sure it would go out of the park”.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: Two outfield assists — one by Alex Presley in the 2nd inning, when he caught what the Bison thought was going to be a sacrifice fly, then turned it into a double play with his throw to the plate to nail the runner Botts coming from third base. The second assist was by Miles Durham in the 3rd inning. Durham fielded Valentino Pascucci’s single and fired to third base, to make an out on Luis Hernandez, who was trying to go from first to third. Presley also made a very nice diving catch of a sinking line drive off the bat of Jesus Feliciano to end the 4th inning.
Pirates’ reliever Evan Meek has been placed on the DL due to shoulder tendonitis. In order to fill that roster spot, the Pirates added Indians’ reliever Tim Wood to their 40-man and active rosters. Wood had appeared in 23 games for the Indians, and earned 13 saves, with a 2.96 ERA.
Jared Hughes, who made his debut tonight, was promoted from Altoona to the Indians to take Wood’s spot in the bullpen. Then, Kyle McPherson was promoted from A+ Bradenton to Altoona.
Four Tribe pitchers have had hits in this series with the Bison: Rudy Owens singled tonight, and Sean Gallagher singled yesterday. In the first game of the series, Chris Leroux singled and Justin Wilson doubled (with an RBI).
(photos by Nancy)