Louisville Bats 6, Indianapolis Indians 2[ box ]
The Indianapolis Indians lost their 5th game in a row tonight at Victory Field, all at the hands of the Louisville Bats. The Indians won the first two games of this 8-game series in Louisville, but then they lost the third and fourth games in Louisville, and these first three games of their long homestand.
The Bats pounded out 9 hits tonight — 3 off starter Sean Gallagher, 5 off reliever Danny Moskos, and one off Jared Hughes. Gallagher pitched 5 innings, and gave up only one hit in the first four. That one hit was a solo homer that just barely cleared the right field wall near the corner, by 1B Mike Costanzo. Gallagher gave up a walk in the 2nd and another in the 4th. He erased that runner in the 4th with a slick double play.
The Bats held that 1-0 lead going into the top of the 5th. Gallagher got the first out, then hit LF Danny Dorn with a pitch. 2B Michael Griffin lined a single into right field, too far over toward the line for Tribe RF John Bowker to get to before it landed. That pushed Dorn to third base. Bats’ pitcher Scott Carroll struck out on a foul bunt, but SS Kristopher Negron drove in both Dorn and Griffin with a long drive into the left-center gap, which bounced off the wall near the Jackie Robinson “42”. By the time Pedro Ciriaco, playing left field tonight, could get to the ball, Negron had made it to third base for a triple. Gallagher was lifted after 5 innings, when his turn at bat came up and he was replaced with a pinch hitter. Gallagher had allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, with 5 strikeouts. He threw 80 pitches, with 46 strikes.
The Indians had a runner reach as far as third base three times in the first 5 innings. With one out in the 2nd inning, 3B Pedro Alvarez (who joined the team today) slipped a single past the Bats’ 2B Griffin, for the first Tribe hit of the game. 2B Jordy Mercer grounded to second, and this one Griffin handled, with a toss to second base to force out Alvarez. The relay from SS Negron to 1B Costanzo was not in time to get Mercer, though. C Dusty Brown broke his bat on a single that dropped in to short center field, sending Mercer to third base. But with runners on the corners, Ciriaco flied out to end the inning without a run scoring.
John Bowker got another rally started in the 4th, with a single grounded up the middle. 1B Matt Hague walked, and the Indians had two runners on with no outs. Pedro Alvarez stepped to the plate — but Carroll got Alvarez to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play. Bowker advanced to third during the double play, but he was left there when Mercer struck out to end the inning.
The bottom of the 5th began with Brown’s second single of the night. He hit a high chopper that bounced again right in front of 3B Juan Francisco and slipped past both Francisco and SS Negron. After a pop out, Gallagher’s spot in the order came up, and that’s when he was replaced by pinch-hitter Jeff Clement. Clement sent the first pitch he saw into right field for a single. CF Alex Presley grounded to first, where Costanzo was able to scoop up the ball and throw to second, for a force out on Clement, but there was no time for a return throw to first. The speedy Presley was safe at first on the fielder’s choice, while Brown advanced to third. Once again, with runners on the corners, a strikeout ended the inning without a run scoring.
Danny Moskos replaced Gallagher on the mound to begin the 6th inning. The Bats got to Moskos quickly. CF Denis Phipps led off with a fly ball to center field, which sailed over Presley’s reach and off the center field wall for the Bats’ second triple of the game. Phipps had to hold at third when RF Jeremy Hermida popped out to 3B Alvarez in foul territory, but he scored moments later on Dorn’s sacrifice fly, to give the Bats a 4-0 lead.
The Bats scored again in the 7th off Moskos. Carroll led off with a grounder that skipped off Alvarez’s glove when he stumbled going to his left, ruled an infield hit. Negron doubled into the right-center field gap, sending Carroll to third. Carroll scored on Costanzo’s sacrifice fly, and Negron scored on a single into left field by 3B Juan Francisco. Phipps singled again also, but Moskos got Hermida to ground out to end the inning, leaving two runners on base. Bats up, 6-0.
The Tribe finally got onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the 7th. Mercer began the rally with a grounder through the hole and into left field. Brown singled for the third time in the game. Ciriaco followed with a grounder to short that should have been an easy double play for the Bats. Brown was forced out at second, but 2B Griffin’s throw to first base was low, and it pulled 1B Dorn (who had been moved from left field in a switch) off the bag. Again the Indians had runners on the corners, but with one out. Andy Marte, pinch-hitting for Moskos, grounded out to third, but he picked up an RBI, as Mercer was able to come home on the play. Presley drove in Ciriaco from second base with a liner into right field, and that chased Carroll from the game. Reliever Carlos Fisher struck out SS Chase d’Arnaud to end the inning, but the Indians had cut the Bats’ lead to 6-2.
Unfortunately, that was all the damage the Tribe could do. Fisher retired the Indians in order in both the 8th and 9th innings. Jared Hughes pitched the final two innings for the Tribe. He retired the Bats in order in the 8th, including a strikeout. Hughes struck out 2 batters in the 9th, while allowing a single to Phipps — Phipps’ third hit of the game.
Pedro Alvarez went 1-for-4 in his first game since being optioned to the Indians. After that single in the 2nd, he grounded into the double play in the 4th, then struck out looking in his other two at-bats.
The loss drops the Indians to third place in the International League Western Division, while the Bats take sole possession of second place. The final game of this 8-game series will be tomorrow. Then the homestand will continue with 4 games against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Three singles by Dusty Brown, who went 3-for-4 for the second game in a row. That boosted his batting average from .267 to .291.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: In the 4th inning, with Juan Francisco on first base, Denis Phipps grounded to short. SS Chase d’Arnaud made the scoop, threw to 2B Jordy Mercer, and Mercer fired to 1B Matt Hague for the slick double play. It was a fast and efficient play, and Phipps was out by several steps. Jeremy Hermida was next up, and the Indians used an exaggerated shift — 3B Pedro Alvarez moved over to where the shortstop usually stands, SS d’Arnaud moved behind second base, 2B Mercer stood in short right field on the grass, and 1B Matt Hague stood close to the first base bag. (They used this shift on Juan Francisco too.) Hermida grounded wide of first base, and Hague’s first instinct was to move to his right to try to make the catch. But he stopped short and headed back to the first base bag. The ball continued on past Hague, right to where Mercer was playing. Mercer made the play and fired to Hague at first for the out, ending the inning.
Reliever Tim Wood, who was designated for assignment last week by the Pirates, was traded to the Rangers today. He was added to the Rangers’ 40-man roster, then optioned to their AAA team in Round Rock. Wood made 40 relief appearances for the Indians, for a 2-0 record with a league-leading 23 Saves. He had struck out 32 batters and allowed 32 hits in 44.1 innings, and had a 2.84 ERA.
(photos by Nancy)