Indianapolis Indians 8, Toledo Mud Hens 4
“Nervous” probably didn’t even begin to cover it. Gerrit Cole, the Pirates’ first round draft pick from 2011, was promoted to Indianapolis, and today made his AAA debut, starting against the Toledo Mud Hens at Victory Field tonight. It didn’t start out as Cole would have liked — in fact, many pitchers probably have nightmares that begin like this. The first three Mud Hens’ batters that Cole faced (CF Justin Henry, LF Jared Head, and RF Ben Guez) all singled, on what appeared to be fastballs up in the zone. With the bases loaded and no outs, DH John Lindsey took a fly ball deep to left, for a sacrifice fly that drove in Henry. 1B Danny Dorn followed with a triple to the wall in the deepest part of left-center field, plating both Head and Guez. Toledo had a 3-0 lead, with only one out recorded in the game. After a visit by pitching coach Tom Filer, Cole got 3B Audy Ciriaco to hit a sharp bouncer to second base for a ground out, then ended the inning by striking out C Brad Davis.
Cole walked back to the dugout with his head down — but his new teammates were there to pick him up. SS Anderson Hernandez led off the bottom of the frame by beating out a grounder to deep short for a single. LF Christian Marrero worked a walk. 1B Matt Hague grounded to short, but since both runners were off and going with the pitch, they were both a few steps from the next base by the time former Indy Indian SS Argenis Diaz fielded the ball. Diaz’s only play was to get Hague out at first, but both runners were in scoring position. Moments later, 2B Hector Luna, playing his second game with the Indians, lined a single into left field. Hernandez scored easily, and Marrero was right behind him, as LF Head’s throw in to the infield was crazy wide. That also allowed Luna to advance to second base. CF Brandon Boggs looped a single into short right field. RF Guez raced in and slid for the catch, but while he was almost supine on the ground, the ball bounced off his chest and onto the grass for a single. Luna scored from second base to tie the score at 3-3.
Things were looking a little brighter for Cole when he went out to begin the top of the 2nd. He gave up a one-out single to 2B Cale Iorg, then got a double play to end the inning. After that, Cole settled in. He retired the next 6 batters he faced in order. The 5th inning began with a single by Diaz and a walk to Iorg, but then Cole quickly struck out the next two batters and ended the inning with a fly out. He finished his first AAA game with a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, striking out the last batter he faced. Cole threw 88 pitches (55 strikes) in his 6 innings, and allowed 3 runs on 6 hits (4 in the first inning), with one walk and 7 strike outs. Cole had been throwing around 100 pitches in his last several starts in AA Altoona, and pitched into the 7th inning, so he can be expected to go longer distances for the Indians as well — though this was quite fine for his first game.
The Indians’ batters kept adding to their lead, for even more insurance and assurance for Cole. Navarro opened the bottom of the 2nd with a single through the left side of the infield, and C Tony Sanchez walked. Hernandez singled just inside the right field line, which drove in Navarro from second base. Sanchez advanced to third base, and he scored on Marrero’s ground out to first. After a walk to Hague, Toledo starter Casey Crosby was pulled from the game, though he was ultimately charged with the loss. Reliever Rob Waite threw a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position, then walked RF Dallas McPherson to load the bases. A ground out left the three runners stranded, but the Indians had increased their lead to 5-0. One problem in the inning — Tony Sanchez fouled a pitch off his foot, and after he ran the bases, he came out of the game. Miguel Perez, just off the DL, came in to replace Sanchez.
The 3rd inning brought even more insurance. Boggs led off with a walk, and stole second base, then moved to third base when C Davis made a throwing error on the steal attempt. With one out, Perez also walked. DH Jeff Larish drilled a double off the wall in the right-center gap, and while the Mud Hens’ outfielders were chasing down the ball, both Boggs and Perez came around to score. Hernandez grounded to second, where Iorg had the ball go off his glove and into right field, allowing Larish to score for an 8-0 lead. A double play ended the inning.
The Indians did not score again after the 3rd inning, despite 5 more hits and a walk. Perez singled again in the 5th and was left on base. Luna and Perez both singled in the 7th, and Navarro also walked, loading the bases again. Again all three runners were left stranded when a line-out ended the inning. Hague and McPherson hit back-to-back 2-out singles in the 8th, but did not score.
Logan Kensing, also fresh off the DL, took the mound in relief of Cole to begin the 7th inning. He gave up the only Toledo run. A walk to Davis began the frame. He was forced out at second on a grounder, leaving Diaz at first base. Henry rocketed a liner down the right field line, sending Diaz around the bases. As McPherson chased down the ball, Hague was looking into right field, lining himself up to take the throw in and make the relay. Hague backed up, and just as he looked back over his right shoulder, the batter Henry rounded first and headed for second, with his head down. The two collided, with Henry’s helmet smashing into Hague’s right shoulder. Henry dropped to the ground, and Hague stumbled over him but did not fall. Diaz scored as the ball came in to the infield somewhere, and everyone rushed over to Henry, who was still on the ground. Hague was ok, and remained in the game without any problems. Henry slowly moved to his hands and knees, and then to the sitting position. Everyone in the stadium could tell that he was still dazed. Henry got to his feet and seemed to be trying to tell his manager and trainer that he was ok. The play was ruled interference by Hague, and Henry was awarded second base. He walked over there, accompanied by his manager and trainer, and at that point, it became apparent that staying in the game was just not going to be an option. Edgar Corcino came in to pinch-run and then stayed in the game. A grounder back to the mound ended the inning.
Jose Diaz pitched the 8th inning for the Indians. He surrendered a 2-out walk, but struck out Ciriaco (his third strikeout of the game) to end the inning. Doug Slaten pitched the 9th inning, and retired the Mud Hens in order to end the game. Cole was credited with the win in his debut.
The win gives the Indians a 4 games to 1 win of this home-and-home series, and it ends the Indians’ home portion of the regular season. The Tribe will travel to Louisville for the final two games of the season. The playoffs will begin at Victory Field on Wednesday and Thursday, as the Indians face the Charlotte Knights.
Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game: Hector Luna’s 2-RBI single in the 1st inning, which got the Indians right back into the game again. And, Jeff Larish’s 2-run double in the 3rd inning, giving the Indians plenty of insurance.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: An unusual double play in the top of the 2nd. Cale Iorg had singled with one out. Iorg was running with the pitch to Henry, who grounded to third. Tribe 3B Yamaico Navarro made the scoop and with Iorg nearly to second, he threw to first base for the out on Henry. Iorg made a late break for third base, but 1B Hague alertly fired the ball back to third base, where Navarro tagged out Iorg for a 5-3-5 double play.
The predicted rain held off all day, until about 5:30 pm. The tarp went down, and we waited out two downpours before the sun came out again. The game was delayed by about 90 minutes, but it did not rain again during the game.
Pitcher Kris Johnson was also promoted from Altoona today, joining the Indians again.