Center fielder Starling Marte, catcher Jose Morales and designated hitter Jeff Clement each drove in two runs, while the Tribe bullpen nailed down the victory by allowing just a single unearned run over 5.1 innings of stellar relief to lead the Indianapolis Indians to a 6-4 series opening victory over the Norfolk Tides on Tuesday night at Harbor Park.
In what was a closely contested matchup throughout, the Tribe would strike first, when in the second inning Clement drew a one out base-on-balls, moved to second on a base hit from SS Jordy Mercer and came around to score on a clutch two-base knock from Morales.
Then after Norfolk evened the score with a two-out RBI single from SS Blake Davis in their half of the second, Morales would come through again with his second run-scoring base knock in the fourth. Mercer led off the fourth with the second of his three base hits on the evening, and after a walk to RF Brandon Boggs, trotted home when Morales lined a double to left.
Indianapolis then tacked on two more tallies with another clutch base knock later in the frame as Marte ripped a double to left to plate both Boggs and Morales and extend the Indians advantage to 4-1. With his two-hit effort on Tuesday night, Morales has now reached base in each contest he has played since being activated from the Indians disabled list on April 21, while Marte has reached base in all but three of his 24 games with the Tribe this season.
However, in the bottom half of the fourth, Norfolk would manage to cut the deficit to one thanks to a mammoth two-run home run off the bat RF Jai Miller. The longball from Miller would chase Tribe starter Daniel Cabrera (3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 SO) from the contest after the right hander gave up three runs on six hits and four walks in what was his first start in an Indians uniform this season.
The Indianapolis bullpen would however pick him up as, with the exception of an unearned run in the final frame, four relievers would hold off the Tides to earn the victory. RHP Daniel McCutchen (2.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 SO) tossed 2.1 scoreless to earn the win and improve to 2-1, before fellow right handers Tim Wood (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 SO) and Jose Diaz (1.0 IP, 1 SO) each picked up holds and closer Doug Slaten (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER) worked around a costly error to notch his team leading third save.
Before Slaten finished off the victory, the Tribe tacked on what proved to be two key insurance runs in the top half of the ninth when Clement singled home Marte and 3B Matt Hague, who each singled earlier in the frame. These scores proved to be key as Norfolk threatened in the last of the ninth, when a ball ticketed for a possible game-ending double play was mishandled allowing the game to extend.
However, though pinch hitter Steve Tolleson would plate former Tribe infielder Bill Hall with a sacrifice fly to cut the Indians lead to 6-4 and Miller would put runners at second and third with a two-out two-bagger, Slaten would induce a game-ending groundout to give the Indians the series opening victory.
Norfolk starter Chris Tillman (5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO) suffered the loss to fall to 2-3 on the season after serving up the Indians four early scores. A bright spot out of the Tides bullpen was reliever Stuart Pomeranz (2.2 IP, 1 BB, 6 SO), who struck out six of the nine batters he faced.
The Indians and Tides continue their four-game series with a Wednesday night contest scheduled to get underway at 7:15 p.m. LHP Jo-Jo Reyes is expected to make the start for Indianapolis, while Norfolk is scheduled to counter with former Tribe left hander Dana Eveland.