Indianapolis Indians 4, Toledo Mud Hens 3[ box ]
Ross Ohlendorf made his second rehab start with the Indians, though he did not figure into the decisions as the Indians beat the Mud Hens at Victory Field tonight. The Indians committed a season-high 5 errors in the game, though only two of them made a difference, contributing to one unearned run. 2B Jordy Mercer had a 3-for-4 night at the plate to lead the Indians offense, and he drove in the winning run.
Ohlendorf pitched 6 innings, as the Indians and Pirates hoped he’d do. He had to battle through the first three innings, but had an easier time in the next three. Ohlendorf threw 89 pitches (55 for strikes) and seemed to be throwing mostly fast balls, with a few change-ups mixed in. I saw 91 and 93 mph on the scoreboard radar, though I did not spend a lot of time looking at the velocities.
Ohlendorf had to work around mistakes in the first two innings. In the top of the 1st, Toledo 3B Brandon Inge reached base when Tribe 3B Josh Harrison fielded Inge’s grounder cleanly, but threw wide to first base for the first error of the game. 1B Ryan Strieby singled, moving Inge to second base, but with two outs, former Indy Indian CF Jeff Salazar made an “oops” contact on a checked swing, bouncing the ball right back to Ohlendorf, who threw him out at first to end the inning.
The top of the 2nd began with Ohlendorf striking out LF Ben Guez. RF Clete Thomas singled into left field, and reached second base when the ball skipped off LF John Bowker’s glove . A ground out and back-to-back walks to C Max St. Pierre and 2B Will Rhymes loaded the bases with two outs. Ohlendorf got out of that jam with a long fly ball to center field, which CF Gorkys Hernandez caught over his shoulder at the warning track.
The mistake in the 3rd inning was Ohlendorf’s, though the Mud Hens would have scored their two runs in that inning anyway. DH Timo Perez led off with a single under 1B Matt Hague’s glove and into right field. Perez was jumping around and feinting as he led off first base, and one of those feints distracted Ohlendorf enough so that he turned and made a motion to throw — but without first stepping off the pitching rubber. A balk was called and Perez was awarded second base. He would have reached second in a few minutes anyway, when Salazar walked. Both Perez and Salazar came around to score when Thomas lined into the left field alley. The ball rolled all the way to the wall before Bowker could come up with it, allowing Thomas to cruise into third base standing, with a triple and 2 RBI.
The Indians runners on base in each of the first three innings — one runner in each inning. Bowker reached base in the 1st, when former Indy Indian SS Argenis Diaz bobbled his grounder, but Bowker was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice to end the inning. C Jason Jaramillo singled into right in the 2nd. RF Thomas made a dive for the ball, but the ball bounced off his glove and caromed over towards center field. Jaramillo saw the ball get loose and headed for second base. Thomas got to the ball quickly, though, and fired in to second base, where Diaz pulled down the high throw in time to tag out Jaramillo. Tribe RF Miles Durham began the bottom of the 3rd by rifling a checked-swing liner right back to the mound. Toledo starter Fu-Te Ni threw up his mitt in self-defense, making the catch, then staggering back a couple of steps before he regained his balance. CF Gorkys Hernandez walked, but was thrown out at second base when he tried to take advantage of a pitch that got away (but not far enough away) from C St. Pierre.
Three hits in the 4th gave the Indians 2 runs to tie the score. Mercer, who had flied out to the warning track in left field in the 1st, lifted another fly ball just about the same distance but a little to the right of the earlier one. This ball hit the top of the left field scoreboard and bounced down into the field, and Mercer had a double. Mercer advanced to third on Bowker’s ground out, then scored on Hague’s RBI singled through the right side of the infield. Harrison doubled down the left field line, making LF Guez chase the ball down. Mercer came around from first to score, as the throw in from the outfield to the plate was wide. Harrison moved to third base on the throw, but he was left there when Jaramillo struck out. Indians 2, Mud Hens 2.
Ohlendorf had two good innings in the 4th and 5th. He retired the side in order in the 4th, and did it on 10 pitches, after having needed 22 and 20 pitches in the 2nd and 3rd innings. He needed just 7 pitches for the 5th inning, along with two excellent plays by his infield. Perez grounded to the right of second base to begin the inning. 2B Mercer moved to his right to make the back-handed catch, then leapt into the air to make a jump-throw to first base, in time to make the out on Perez. Strieby singled into right field, but was erased when Salazar grounded into a double play. Hague picked up the grounder way wide of first, and threw to Ciriaco, who was covering second base. Ciriaco made the quick step to second base, then fired back to first base, where Ohlendorf was covering, for a 3-6-1 double play.
The Mud Hens scored an unearned run in the 6th, when the Indians made 2 more errors. Ben Guez led off the inning, reaching base when his grounder to third hit Harrison’s glove and caromed straight up into the air. Harrison had to wait for the ball to come back down, and by then, Guez was safe on first. Ohlendorf made a pick-off throw to first, but his throw sailed past first and into right field, as Guez raced around to third base. Diaz drove him in with an RBI single through the hole into left field to give Toledo a 3-2 lead.
Mercer and Hague teamed up again to tie the score in the bottom of the frame. Mercer again led off with a double into right field, this to the right of the other balls he’d hit, into the alley. He advanced to third on a wild pitch by Ni, then scored on Hague’s line drive into center field, and the score was tied at 3-3.
Mercer drove in the go-ahead run in the 7th. With one out, Hernandez looped a single just barely over the SS Diaz’s leaping reach. Ni was relieved by Ryan Perry, who first got Ciriaco to ground out, which advanced Hernandez to second base. Mercer punched his third hit of the game, this one to the right side, where the 1B Strieby went to his right but missed the ball. 2B Rhymes made the scoop and threw to first, as Perry scrambled to cover. The ball got past Perry, and Mercer was safe. Hernandez, who was off and running from second base, rounded third, headed home, and crossed the plate, even though it looked like the third out was going to be made at first base. He looked amazed when the crowd suddenly roared as Hernandez took a couple of steps beyond the plate — when the ball got past Perry, and Hernandez had really scored the go-ahead run, 4-3.
Three Tribe relievers finished the game for Ohlendorf, each pitching a scoreless inning. Chris Leroux, also on a rehab assignment, took the 7th, and gave up a walk to Inge and a single to Perez, but left both on base when he struck out Strieby and got Salazar to ground out. Ben Guez led off the 8th with a walk from Steven Jackson. Jackson made several pick-off throws over to first base, and finally was successful. Guez did not agree — he argued with 1B umpire Kelvin Bultron, then turned away, then returned, which earned him an ejection from the game. Tim Wood came on for the 9th inning. Pinch-hitter Danny Worth reached base on a grounder to short, when SS Ciriaco’s zipped past first base and into the visitor’s dugout. Worth was sent to second base. He tagged up and advanced to third base on a fly out, but remained there as a pop out and a long fly out to Hernandez in center field ended the game.
Leroux was the pitcher of record in the 7th inning, when the Indians scored what would turn out to be the winning run, so he was credited with the win, his 5th of the season. Wood earned his 21st Save of the season with his scoreless 9th.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Two doubles and a single, including the game-winning RBI by Jordy Mercer. Mercer also scored two of the Indians’ four runs.
Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game: The two plays in the top of the 5th — a jump-throw by 2B Jordy Mercer for a ground out, and a 3-6-1 inning-ending double play by Matt Hague, Pedro Ciriaco, and Ross Ohlendorf. Mercer also made an excellent play on another grounder in the top of the 7th.
(photos by Nancy)