Indianapolis Indians 9, Toledo Mud Hens 8[ box ]
1B Matt Hague’s grand slam capped a 7-run 2nd inning for the Indians, but the Mud Hens had a big inning in the 4th, and the Indians had to regain and then hold the lead to get the win tonight at Victory Field. Both teams had one big inning (the 2nd for the Indians, the 4th for the Hens) in which they batted around. The Indians scored those 7 runs in their big inning, but two base running mistakes held Toledo to 5 runs in the 4th. Pirates’ LF Jose Tabata joined the Indians today to continue his rehab assignment (strained quad), and he contributed a single and two walks to the Indians’ offensive attack.
Brian Burres made the spot start for the Indians. It was his first start since July 18th, after which he was moved to the bullpen, and has made 2 relief appearances since then. Burres began his night by retiring the Mud Hens in order in the top of the 1st. He gave up one run in the 2nd, when 1B Ryan Strieby walked to begin the inning, then came around to score from first base when RF Ben Guez smacked a double over LF Tabata’s head and all the way to the left field wall. Tabata’s throw in to the infield, relayed to the plate, came in high. Strieby scored easily, to give the Mud Hens a 1-0 lead.
The Tribe came roaring back in the bottom of the frame. DH Jeff Clement started the fun with a walk. Like Strieby, Clement came around from first to score the tying run ahead of C Jeff Kunkel’s tag (see photo sequence), when 3B Josh Harrison crushed a double into the left-center field alley. 2B Jordy Mercer pushed Harrison over to third base with a ground out to second. Harrison scored easily on C Jason Jaramillo’s double off the top of the right field wall (missed a home run by a couple of feet), and the Indians took the lead. CF Gorkys Hernandez followed with another shot into the deepest part of the park in the left-center field alley. Jaramillo came around from second to score, while Hernandez started running and kept going — he raced around second and headed aggressively for third, then slid in headfirst with a triple.
With Tabata at the plate, the Indians had their only misstep of the inning. Someone must have missed a sign, because Hernandez took off from third with the pitch — but Tabata took the pitch, and Hernandez was stuck in no-man’s-land, easily tagged out by C Kunkel. Tabata worked the count full and took the walk. SS Pedro Ciriaco added a bloop single into short center field, and Bowker reached base with a single when Hens’ 2B Will Rhymes bobbled his grounder. That brought up Hague, who gave the first pitch he saw a long ride over the left field wall for a grand slam. Clement, the 10th batter of the inning, popped out to end the inning, with the Indians sitting on a 7-1 lead.
Burres worked around a walk in the 3rd inning, but the Mud Hens got to him in their big inning in the 4th. Strieby led off with his second walk of the game, and back-to-back singles by DH Brandon Inge and former Indy Indian CF Jeff Salazar loaded the bases with no outs. Guez, who had driven in the run in the 2nd inning, brought in another 2 runs, Strieby and Inge, when he singled into center field.
Guez rounded first base, and was surprised when Hernandez got to the ball very quickly and fired the ball back to first base, catching Guez in the base path for the tag out. Guez would have been able to score if he’d stayed on first, because both 3B Danny Worth and Rhymes doubled down the left field line. Worth drove in Salazar, and chased Burres from the game. Chris Leroux came on in relief, and began by striking out Kunkel, then gave up that double to Rhymes, which plated Worth. Former Indian SS Argenis Diaz walked, then LF Timo Perez grounded up the middle. Rhymes raced around third base to score on Perez’s hit, but when the ball came back to the infield from Hernandez in center, Diaz was surprised on the base path between second and third bases. 3B Harrison took the throw and easily tagged out Diaz to end the inning. That was a gift for the Tribe — that inning could have gone on and more runs scored. Instead, the Indians still had the lead, 7-6.
Brian Burres, who threw 70 pitches (40 strikes), exited after 3.1 innings, and was responsible for 5 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks, with 4 strikeouts. Leroux gave up a walk to Strieby (his third of the game) in the 5th, but erased him with a double play.
With Jared Hughes on the mound for the 6th, the Mud Hens tied the score at 7-7. Guez led off with a triple, which got past the diving Hernandez and bounced to the center field wall. Worth lined into right field, scoring Guez. Hughes retired the next three batters to end the inning.
The tie did not last long, though, as the Indians came right back to take the lead in the bottom of the frame. Brian Bocock, who had entered the game in the top of the inning when Tabata came out, started the rally with a walk. Bocock stole second base, then with two outs, RF Miles Durham, who had replaced Bowker, slipped a grounder through the hole and into left field. Bocock scored from second base to take an 8-7 lead. Durham also stole second, so the Hens intentionally walked Hague. That didn’t help them, since Clement lined an RBI single into left field, and Bowker scored an insurance run: Indians up, 9-7.
The insurance run turned out to be needed. The Mud Hens scored again in the top of the 7th. Hughes got one out, then gave up an infield single to Strieby. The run-and-hit play had Strieby moving toward second with the pitch, forcing 2B Mercer to also move toward second to catch a potential throw from C Jaramillo. But Inge slipped a grounder right through the spot that Mercer had just vacated, and Strieby made it all the way to third base. Salazar tapped a grounder back to the mound, where Hughes made the scoop, glared at Strieby as he danced off third base, then whirled and fired to second base in hopes of turning a double play. That glare at Strieby took just a split second too long, though, as SS Bocock also made a fast relay to first, but was just a second too late for the double play. Strieby scored from third, bringing Toledo within one run of the Indians.
The Tribe tried to add on more insurance in the bottom of the 7th. Mercer was hit by the first pitch of the inning, Jaramillo walked, and Hernandez was also hit by a pitch — loading the bases with no hits and no outs. But the Tribe could not capitalize. Bocock also tapped back to the mound, where Toledo reliever Brendan Wise started a double play, going 1-2-3, back to Kunkel to force out Mercer coming from third, then on to first for the out on Bocock. A strikeout ended the inning, without more runs added. Clement singled in the 8th also, but the Tribe didn’t score.
Danny Moskos began the bottom of the 8th for the Indians. He gave up a lead-off single to Worth, then got an out with a sacrifice bunt. He also struck out Rhymes, then was relieved by Tim Wood. Wood finished the 8th with a ground out, then worked around a single by Perez in the 9th to hold on to the one-run lead. Wood earned his 22nd win of the season, and Hughes was both charged with a Blown Save and credited with the win.
The Mud Hens out-hit the Indians, 13-10. All but one of the Indians’ starting line up had at least one hit, and Clement had two. Hague’s grand slam gave him 4 RBI. Tabata singled to begin the bottom of the 1st, and walked twice, scoring once.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Nothing better than a grand slam! Hague’s grand slam in the 2nd inning was the first of his career, and his 10th home run of the season. After the game, Hague recalled, “The bases were loaded and they had been getting ahead of me all series, so I wanted to jump on the first pitch and put a good swing on it, and I did.”
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the top of the 3rd, LF Timo Perez shot a line drive toward right field. Jordy Mercer gave a little leap, to just the right altitude, and caught the liner to rob Perez of a hit.
Prior to the game, John Bowker was presented with his custom-made watch awarded for being named the Indians’ Player of the Month for June. Bowker hit .316 in 27 games in July, with 8 doubles, 7 homers (half of his homers for the season), and 20 RBI. The homers tie Bowker for second in the International League for homers in the month of July. He was also 4th in the league with 15 extra-base hits in the month. This is the second time Bowker has been named a Player of the Month — he won the honor last season in August, when he hit .319 with 4 homers and 10 RBI.
Brad Lincoln was originally supposed to make the start for the Indians today, but he was notified late last night that he was called up to the Pirates. He is expected to work out of the Pirates’ bullpen, in a long-relief role.
Tony Watson was optioned down to the Indians, freeing up a roster spot for Lincoln.
This was the second time in Pedro Ciriaco’s career that he has played in the outfield. He moved there in the 6th when Jose Tabata came out of the game, and Brian Bocock took over at short.
(Photos by Nancy)