Louisville Bats 3, Indianapolis Indians 2[ box ]
The Louisville Bats won their third game in a row against the Indians, taking a 3 games to 2 lead in this 8-game series. Tonight’s game, the fifth in the series and the first at Victory Field once again featured a late-inning rally by the Bats — which is how they also won the last two games.
Tribe starter Ross Ohlendorf, in his first game as an official member of the Indians this season (as opposed to being with the team on a rehab assignment), pitched 7 strong innings — more than he’d pitched in any of his three rehab starts. Ohlendorf allowed 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk, and he struck out 5 batters. He began his evening with a 1-2-3 inning, striking out two batters, then worked his way into and out of a jam in the 2nd. Bats’ CF Denis Phipps opened the 2nd inning with a double down the left field line and into the corner. Ohlendorf walked RF Jeremy Hermida, then struck out C Devin Mesoraco. Both runners advanced into scoring position when LF Danny Dorn grounded out to first base, then Ohlendorf loaded the bases by hitting 1B Mike Costanzo with a pitch. Luckily for Ohlendorf and the Indians, the next batter was Louisville pitcher Chad Reineke, who ended the inning with a weak pop out to 1B Jeff Clement, leaving all three Bats stranded.
Ohlendorf did not have the same luck in the 3rd, though. SS Kristopher Negron lifted a long fly over CF Gorkys Hernandez’s head, bouncing it off the top ledge of the center field wall and away from Hernandez. That let Negron cruise into third base with a standing triple. 2B Chris Valaika’s sacrifice fly brought Negron across the plate. 3B Juan Francisco followed with a no-doubter solo home run launched over the right field wall, over the grass berm, past the sidewalk, over the iron work fence, and out onto West Street. Ohlendorf gave up another single after the homer, then got two outs, including an infield pop up that he handled himself, to end the inning.
Rehabbing SS Chase d’Arnaud got the Indians’ hitting started in the bottom of the 1st, when he reached across the plate and poked a single into left-center field. 3B Matt Hague walked to give the Tribe two runners on base, but three strikeouts around the hit and the walk left them stranded. The Indians got one run back in the bottom of the 3rd. With two outs, d’Arnaud blooped a broken-bat single into short left-center. RF John Bowker grounded through the right side of the infield, moving d’Arnaud to third. Hague drove d’Arnaud in with the third consecutive single, a grounder smacked up the middle.
2B Jordy Mercer started another Tribe rally in the 4th inning, when he smacked a double down the left field line and into the corner. Moments later, CF Gorkys Hernandez wore down Bats’ Chad Reineke by fouling off 7 pitches ( a total of 12 pitches in the at-bat), before sending a single through the hole and into left field. Mercer scored the tying run from second on the RBI single, but the throw back from left field caught Hernandez, who had made a wide turn at first, off the bag for an out.
Ohlendorf defended that 2-2 tie, allowing only two hits over the 4th through 7th innings. Costanzo singled in the 4th and Phipps doubled down the left field line (the third such double of the night, between the two teams) in the 5th, but Ohlendorf left both of them stranded. He retired the Bats in order in the 6th and 7th innings to finish his outing. He threw 94 pitches, with 60 strikes.
Chris Leroux relieved Ohlendorf to begin the 8th inning. He got the first two outs, then got into trouble with three consecutive singles. Hermida singled into right field, though he was not running aggressively — if he had been more aggressive, he would have seen RF Bowker drop the ball and pick it up again, and might have made it as far as second base. It turned out to not matter, though. C Devin Mesoraco also lined a single into right field, moving Hermida to second base, and Dorn slipped his single just under the diving Mercer, allowing Hermida to score the go-ahead run from second. Leroux put the Bats down in order in the 9th, but the damage was done.
The Indians put one runner on base in 4 of their last 5 innings, but could not get anyone around to score. Bowker doubled down the right field line, sending the ball into the Bats’ bullpen and under the bench, in the 5th. Clement led off the 6th with a single that glanced off 2B Valaika’s glove. He was bunted to second base, but was stuck there. Pinch-hitter Brian Bocock led off the 7th with a single lined into center field, and moved to second base on a groundout, but he got no further either. In their last chance in the bottom of the 9th, pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco softly looped a single into short center field, dropping it in between three racing Bats’ fielders. Valaika tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch, but missed. Ciriaco took off for second on the first pitch to Hernandez, sliding in with a stolen base. Hernandez bunted Ciriaco to third, and the Indians had the tying run just 90 feet from scoring. But that’s where Ciriaco stayed, as pinch-hitter Dusty Brown struck out and Presley grounded out (he was 0-for-5) to end the game.
Ohlendorf was given a no-decision, and Leroux was charged with the loss.
The Indians remain in second place in the International League Western Division, 14 games behind the first-place Columbus Clippers. The Bats have crept closer, though, and are now just one game behind the Indians in third place. In the Wild Card race, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are leading, with the Gwinnett Braves in second place, 2.5 games back. The Indians are third, 5 games back, and the Bats are on their heels, 6 games back.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Two singles by Chase d’Arnaud, both into left-center, and one run scored. Since joining the Indians on this rehab assignment, d’Arnaud had gone 1-for-16 at the plate, with that one hit also going for an RBI. Hopefully today’s two hits are the start of a big turn-around.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: In the top of the 9th, Bats’ LF David Cook chopped a big bouncer to the right side of the infield, potentially heading into right field. Reliever Chris Leroux bounded to his left and with a huge lunge, snagged the ball, then whirled and threw to first base for the out.
3B Pedro Alvarez was optioned down to the Indians today, when the Pirates reactivated OF Jose Tabata from the Disabled List. Alvarez was not at the game tonight, though he is expected to join the Indians on Wednesday.
Ross Ohlendorf had been optioned to the Indians last week, but did not need to be officially placed on the active roster until today, when it was his turn to start. Pitcher Garrett Olson was placed on the Disabled List with a groin strain, making room for Ohlendorf on the Indians’ roster.
Looking forward to the Arizona Fall League: The Pirates’ prospects will be assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox, along with prospects from the Cubs, the Orioles, the Twins, and the White Sox. Joe McEwing, the manager of the Charlotte Knights (White Sox AAA affiliate), will be managing the team. Look for player assignments some time in the next week or two.
This week is Navy week in Indianapolis ( I know, there is no ocean within 500 miles of central Indiana). The Navy Leap Frogs team had 6 jumpers hop out of a transport plane way above Indianapolis, to land at Victory Field. Five of the six landed in right field, and the sixth (carrying an Indians flag) landed right on the big orange X that was positioned behind second base.
(photos by Nancy)