The Indianapolis offense, which had been struggling at the plate in recent days, righted the ship in a big way on Saturday afternoon as they collected 12 hits — including five doubles — and scored nine runs in a 9-1 defeat of the Louisville Bats, who were held to a single run on just four hits by a trio of Indians hurlers at Louisville Slugger Field.
After the Indians had gone down in order in the first two innings, C Eric Fryer worked a key nine-pitch walk to lead off the top of the third. LF Gorkys Hernandez followed with a bunt single and both runners moved up on P Jo-Jo Reyes’ sac bunt before coming around to score on CF Starling Marte’s single to give Indianapolis a two-run lead.
The Tribe tacked on two more runs in the next frame. 1B Jeff Clement began the rally by hustling out of the box and diving into second base safely with his seventh double of the season to lead off the top of the fourth. After SS Jordy Mercer reached on an error, both baserunners moved up on a wild pitch before RF Brandon Boggs drove them both home with a double of his own.
The Indians continued to pile on with a fifth run in the fifth inning when Marte led off with a double and came around to score on 3B Matt Hague’s single to make it 5-0.
The Bats made things interesting in the bottom of the frame, when SS Paul Janish drew a leadoff walk and took second on C Corky Miller’s infield single before advancing to third on PH Bill Rhinehart’s flyout to deep right-center field. However, with runners on the corners and one out, Tribe P Jo-Jo Reyes induced a 3-6-3 double play that ended the Louisville threat.
The Indians added to their lead in the top of the seventh with three straight two-out hits. 2B Anderson Hernandez singled to center field and scored on Hague’s double to right to make it 6-0. Hague then crossed the plate on Clement’s RBI-single, giving Indianapolis a 7-0 advantage.
Louisville finally got on the board in the bottom of the eighth, when Miller drew a leadoff walk and stole second base. He was then advanced to third by PH Felix Perez’s groundout before scoring on a groundout by RF Daryl Jones to cut the Indians lead to 7-1.
Undeterred, the Indians added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the ninth, taking advantage of three straight two-out hits. Anderson Hernandez and Hague hit back-to-back singles before Miles Durham, who had taken over at first base in the bottom of the eighth, smacked a two-run double to give the game its final 9-1 score.
Indians starter Jo-Jo Reyes (W, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) earned the win, his second of the season in two starts. Jeff Francis (L, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K), who started for Louisville, took the loss, dropping his record to 1-2 in four starts.
Tribe relievers Bryan Morris (3.0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) and Jose Diaz (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) were excellent out of the Indianapolis bullpen as the duo combined for four innings of one-hit, one-run baseball to close out the victory.
The Indians and Bats return to action on Sunday with the first pitch slated for 2:05 p.m. Indianapolis is expected to send LHP Rudy Owens (0-0, 4.50) to the bump while Louisville will likely counter with RHP Sean Gallagher (0-2, 13.03), a former Tribe hurler.