Louisville Bats 4, Indianapolis Indians 1[ box ]
Another late-inning rally by the Bats… another game in which the Indians led 1-0 for several innings, and then lost in the end. Tonight, at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, KY, the Bats’ rally came in the bottom of the 8th. Four runs, two forced in by the Indians’ pitching staff, gave the Bats the win, and ended the first half of this 8-game showdown between the Indians and the Bats with a 2-2 split.
The game started on a high note for the Indians’ pitching staff. Jeff Locke was promoted to the Indians a few days ago from AA Altoona, where he had made 22 starts plus one “relief” appearance. In 125 innings, Locke allowed 118 hits but only 56 earned runs, with 46 walks and 114 strikeouts. He earned a 7-8 record and a 4.03 ERA. Locke stunned the Bats in his AAA debut. He buzzed through their lineup, allowing only one batter to reach base in the first four innings — a single to 3B Juan Francisco with two outs in the 1st. With two outs in the 5th, Locke gave up two singles, to yesterday’s Bats’ hero 1B Mike Costanzo and to RF David Cook, then ended the inning with a strikeout of Bats’ starter Tom Cochran.
Locke began the 6th inning by getting two quick outs, then gave up another single to Francisco. By then, Locke had thrown 88 pitches (55 strikes), which is the higher end of the range he’d been throwing in Altoona. He was relieved by Jared Hughes, who needed just 3 pitches for a strike out to end the inning.
The Indians also started with hitless innings. The surprising part of that was manager Dean Treanor being ejected after the end of the 1st. In the top of the 1st, LF Alex Presley came very close to beating out the throw from 2B Chris Valaika for an infield hit. Treanor did not object at that point, and there was no other apparent contentious plays for the rest of the inning. After three outs retired the Bats, though, Treanor went over to 1B umpire Craig Barron and started arguing. Barron was the umpire at third base last night who missed a call in the 9th inning (calling a Bat runner safe at third even after he’d overslid the base), and Treanor’s frustration from that incident was probably still boiling. It didn’t take long for Barron to give Treanor the big thumb, and hitting coach Jeff Branson was in charge for the rest of the game.
The first Indians’ hit came in the 3rd inning. With two outs, and just a few seconds after the radio team of Howard Kellman and Scott McCauley had been discussing how Jeff Locke was not at all a good hitter, Locke gave the Tribe their first hit, with a grounder up the middle for a single. He was left stranded moments later, but it was a nice addition to his AAA debut.
After going down in order again in the 4th, the Tribe batters got going in the 5th. 2B Jordy Mercer led off with a single, a soft blooper that fell into short center field. Mercer moved to third base when SS Pedro Ciriaco lined a single into center. CF Gorkys Hernandez grounded slowly to second, where 2B Valaika only had time to make the out on Ciriaco. Mercer scored from third, and the Tribe had a 1-0 lead.
Mercer singled again in the 7th inning and stole second base (his 3rd steal of the season with the Indians). He was almost doubled off second when C Eric Fryer lined out to first, but Mercer was able to scramble back to the bag in time to beat the throw. Hernandez tried to take advantage of a Bats’ error in the 8th. A dropped foul pop by 1B Costanzo gave Hernandez a second life at the plate, and Hernandez responded by ripping a liner over RF Cook’s head to the right field wall. Hernandez raced around the base paths and slid into third base safely — but then overslid the bag and was tagged out, credited with just a double.
Like last night, the Tribe pitchers fought to hold on to the slim lead. Hughes pitched to just the one batter in the 6th, then was replaced by Tony Watson in the 7th. Watson began the inning with a strikeout, then he gave up a single to LF Danny Dorn, but struck out the next two batters to leave Dorn stranded.
Danny Moskos took over for Hughes in the bottom of the 8th, and that’s when the Bats struck. Pinch-hitter Michael Griffin led off with a single through the hole and into left field. A sacrifice bunt pushed Griffin to second, then Valaika walked. Francisco drove in Griffin from second base with a single into right field, tying the score at 1-1. Moskos walked CF Denis Phipps to load the bases. After a brief chat with pitching coach Tom Filer, Moskos got back to work. He walked C Corky Miller, forcing in Valaika with the go-ahead run.
Justin Thomas came on in relief of Moskos, with the bases loaded and one out. Thomas began by hitting Dorn with a pitch, driving in the third run of the inning. Costanzo made it four runs with a sacrifice fly to plate Phipps. Another fly out ended the inning, but the Bats had a 4-1 lead.
The Tribe had one more chance in the top of the 9th. RF John Bowker led off by working a walk, and he advanced to second base on a passed ball by Miller. After two outs, Fryer also walked. But a fly out by pinch-hitter Andy Marte ended the game. Moskos was charged with both the Blown Save and the Loss.
The Indians and the Bats will now travel to Indianapolis, where they will continue their battle with another 4 games.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Jeff Locke, picking up his first AAA hit in his Indians’ debut, with a single in the 3rd inning.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Locke again, with 5.2 scoreless innings in his debut, followed by scoreless performances by Jared Hughes (one batter, one strikeout) and Tony Watson (one inning).
As expected, Jose Tabata was recalled from his rehab assignment with the Indians. He was supposed to be having some more tests in Pittsburgh today, and then if all is good, be placed back onto the active roster tomorrow. That will also mean someone else will have to come off the Pirates’ active roster. Could it be Pedro Alvarez?
Pitcher Rudy Owens is also in Pittsburgh today, having an MRI on his shoulder.
(photos by Nancy)