Louisville Bats 8, Indianapolis Indians 4[ box ]
Four home runs by the Louisville Bats gave the Indians their fourth consecutive loss to the Bats, and dropped the Indians into a tie with the Bats for second place in the International League West Division. Three of the homers were 2-run shots, and all four were hit by four different Bats’ hitters. Two were surrendered by starter Brian Burres, and two by reliever Steven Jackson.
The Bats began their attack in the top of the 1st. Burres hit SS Kristopher Negron with an 0-2 pitch to open the frame. Two outs later, CF Denis Phipps smacked his 5th homer of the season over the left field wall. Tribe LF Alex Presley ran back and toward the foul line, but pulled up when it became apparent that he had no chance at all. Bats up, 2-0.
A timely around-the-horn double play (3B Matt Hague to 2B Chase d’Arnaud to 1B Jeff Clement) (see photos) helped Burres through the 2nd inning, but the Bats attacked again in the 3rd. With one out, Negron doubled into the right field corner. He scored on 2B Chris Valaika’s bloop single that fell into the no-mans’-land behind first base, out of the reach of d’Arnaud, Clement, and RF John Bowker. With Valaika on first base, 3B Juan Francisco homered for the second time in two games. Like last night’s homer, this one reached the sidewalk behind the grass berm behind right-center field. That 2-run homer pushed the Bats’ total to 5 runs.
The Indians put at least one runner on base in every inning but the last, for a total of 11 hits. C Dusty Brown led the Tribe offense with two singles and a double. Rehabbing players Presley and d’Arnaud and SS Pedro Ciriaco each had two hits. After Bowker doubled and was left stranded in the 1st, Brown began a one-out rally in the 2nd. He singled into the right-center alley, then Ciriaco singled into right field. CF Gorkys Hernandez slapped a ball back to the mound, where hit hit P Edison Volquez then fell to the ground. Volquez could not see where the ball went — he looked up and all around, not seeing the ball right at his feet. When he did locate the ball, his throw to first was rushed, and so it got past 1B Mike Costanzo for a throwing error. That let Brown round third and score, while Ciriaco reached third base. Two strikeouts ended the inning and left the Tribe runners on the corners.
The Indians threatened in the 3rd. D’Arnaud led off with a double into the left-center alley, and Bowker was hit by a pitch on the foot to give the Indians two runners on base. Hague grounded right to 3B Francisco, who had to take just two steps to touch third, forcing out d’Arnaud. Clement bounced into a double play, ending the frame. Hernandez walked in the 4th, but was left on base. Presley singled in the 5th, and was thrown out trying to steal second.
The Tribe crept closer over the next two innings. With two outs in the 6th, Brown singled again, and Ciriaco followed with a sharp grounder just inside third base, going all the way down the left field line. Bats’ LF David Cook raced over to the line, but as he got closer to the ball, he went into a feet-first slide. Maybe he thought he was going to crash into the retaining wall, which is just a few yards from the foul line in that part of Victory Field. As he slid, though, the ball bounced away from him, and back into left field. By the time Cook scrambled to his feet and chased it down, Brown had scored from first, and Ciriaco was cruising into third with a triple. The Indians were a little closer, 5-2.
Pinch-hitter Brian Bocock struck out to lead off the 7th. Presley sparked a rally with a double off the right-center field wall, and d’Arnaud followed with a triple off the glove of CF Phipps, also in right-center. Presley slid in well ahead of the tag at the plate (see photos). D’Arnaud scored on Bowker’s sacrifice fly, and the Indians had come within one run of the Bats, 5-4.
Meanwhile, the Bats’ bats were being held scoreless for the middle innings. Burres walked the lead-off batter in the 4th, then retired the next three batters. Burres’ turn in the batting order came up in the bottom of the 4th, with Hernandez on first base, so he was replaced with pinch-hitter Miles Durham (who popped out). Burres finished his 4 innings with 5 runs on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. He threw 77 pitches, with 50 strikes.
Jose Ascanio took over for Burres and pitched three scoreless innings. Ascanio gave up a single to Francisco in the 5th and a single to Miller in the 6th, but left both on base. He struck out 3 batters.
Steven Jackson began the top of the 8th, down by one run. That gap quickly stretched to three runs when Jackson gave up an infield single to Phipps, who beat out a throw d’Arnaud made from his knees after diving for the ball. Moments later, Costanzo blasted the third 2-run homer of the game over the right field wall, boosting the Bats’ lead to 7-4.
Jackson came back out to pitch the 9th. With one out, pinch-hitter Danny Dorn hit the Bats’ fourth home run of the game. This one was a solo blast, also over the right field wall.
The Tribe could not respond in their last two chances. Brown doubled, his third hit of the game, in the 8th, but was left on base with a fly out and a ground out. The Indians went down in order in the 9th, and the loss was sealed.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: A pair of triples, both for RBI’s. Pedro Ciriaco tripled in the 6th, driving in Dusty Brown from first base. Chase d’Arnaud tripled in the 7th, to bring in Alex Presley from second base.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the top of the 7th, Kristopher Negron grounded to short, where Pedro Ciriaco went to his right and deep into the hole. He made the catch on the grass, then threw off-balance across to first base. Jeff Clement had to stretch for the ball, but he made his end of the play with his foot still on the bag, just barely in time for the out on Negron.
Pedro Alvarez had not joined the Indians in time for today’s game. Maybe tomorrow.
(photos by Nancy)