Tribe starting pitcher Jeff Locke struck out six over six innings of one-run ball while third baseman Matt Hague and first baseman Nick Evans combined for five RBI, highlighted by a two-run home run by Evans, as the Indianapolis Indians took down the Louisville Bats 5-3 on Tuesday night at Victory Field.
Locke (6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) earned his second win in as many starts to improve his season record to 2-1. With his six strikeouts, the southpaw starter has now struck out 13 batters over his last 12 innings, while walking just three in that same span.
Locke not only locked down the Louisville offense, but also began the Tribe’s three-run third inning rally with a one-out single. CF Starling Marte followed Locke’s base hit with a single of his own before 2B Brian Friday was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for 3B Matt Hague.
The Indians 2011 MVP came through with a clutch two-run base knock that gave Indianapolis the game’s first lead at 2-0 and moved Friday to third. Friday would trot home one batter later when Evans lifted a sacrifice fly to right to extend the Tribe’s advantage to 3-0.
After the Bats got a run back in the fifth on an RBI base hit from 2B Kristopher Negron, Evans quickly responded by blasting a two-run two-out long ball in the bottom of the frame to push the Tribe’s lead to 5-1. The blast for Evans was his first in an Indians’ uniform and plated Marte, who had led off the frame with a walk.
Marte turned in an impressive effort at the plate on Monday night as he drew two walks, scored two runs, stole his team-leading ninth base and was the only Tribe batter to collect multiple hits with a single in the third and a triple in the eighth.
Louisville made things interesting with single runs in the seventh and the eighth and put together a threat in the ninth. LF Felix Perez began the late-innings rally with a two-out RBI base knock in the seventh before RF Danny Dorn drew the Bats within two with a solo blast to lead off the eighth.
The Bats would also get a lead-off walk in the top of the ninth, but Indians relievers Doug Slaten and Jose Diaz would finish off the frame to give the Indians the victory. Slaten (1.2 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO) earned his third hold of the season and extended his scoreless inning to 9.2 innings, while Diaz (0.1 IP) needed just one pitch to pick up his first save of the season.
Louisville starter Andrew Brackman (5.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO) allowed all five Tribe runs and was pinned with the loss to fall to 1-3 on the season
The Indians and Bats wrap up their five-game home-and-home series on Wednesday morning at 11:05 a.m. Major league veteran Brett Tomko is expected to take the mound for Louisville, while the Indians have yet to name a starter.