The Indianapolis Indians earned the season opening series victory over the Toledo Mud Hens with an 8-2 win on Sunday night at Fifth Third Field, thanks to a solid five-inning outing from starter Brad Lincoln and a balanced offensive attack highlighted by a 3-for-4 effort from designated hitter Jeff Clement.
Tribe starting pitchers struggled in each of the teams first two contests of the season, however Sunday night’s starter Brad Lincoln changed all that with an excellent outing in the series finale. Lincoln (5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO) held the Mud Hens to just one run on four hits, while exhibiting his trademark top notch control by walking none and striking out six over his five innings of work.
While Lincoln held down the Toledo’ bats, the Indians offense used a balanced attack that saw eight of nine batters collect at least one hit, six score at least one run and four drive in at least one run. Leading the way offensively was Clement (3-for-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 BB), who smashed two doubles for the second consecutive contest and reached base in four of his five plate appearances.
The Indians would collect their scores in bunches beginning with a two-run third inning double off the bat of 2B Jordy Mercer, who along with CF Starling Marte and LF Gorkys Hernandez, has collected a base knock in each of the Tribe’s first three contests of the season. Clement then began a wild fourth frame with a lead-off walk, later scoring on a Mud Hens’ fielding error before two more base-on-balls and a clutch two-out RBI single off the bat of SS Brian Friday extended the Indians advantage to 5-1.
Clement also sparked the Indians three-run eighth inning rally with a lead-off two-bagger, eventually coming plateward along with RF Brandon Boggs on a two-run base hit from C Kris Watts. Hernandez would later cap the scoring with a run scoring single that plated 1B Miles Durham later in the frame.
Durham (2-for-4, 2 R, 1 BB) joined Clement as the only Tribe batters with multiple hits, while Watts, Friday and Mercer all collected two-run base knocks on evening. The Mud Hens only two scores of the contest came on a third inning two-out single from 2B Eric Patterson and a double from the red-hot Ryan Strieby, who picked up his fifth RBI in the three-game series when he plated Patterson in the eighth.
Toledo starter Andrew Oliver (3.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 SO) was the victim of a costly error as well as some control issues as the Indians tagged him for five runs (two earned) on three hits and five walks.
After their season opening series victory the Indians now head to Columbus to take on the two-time defending Triple-A champion Clippers in a four-game series beginning with a 6:35 p.m. start on Monday night. Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Charlie Morton is scheduled to make a rehab start with the Indians, while Columbus is expected to counter with LHP Chris Seddon.