Left fielder Gorkys Hernandez gunned down former Tribe infielder Bill Hall at the plate to end a key rally in the fifth, while reliever Bryan Morris tossed 3.2 scoreless innings of relief to help lead the Indianapolis Indians over the Norfolk Tides 3-1 on Wednesday night at Harbor Park.
The Norfolk Tides would get off to a quick start on Wednesday night when LF Jamie Hoffmann homered off Indians starter Jo-Jo Reyes with two outs in the first inning. However, thanks to some excellent defense and clutch pitching, that would be all scoring that Norfolk would manage in the contest.
Reyes (5.0 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) scattered nine hits over five innings and thanks to two key defensive plays in the fifth inning was able to come away with the victory to improve to 4-0 on the season. Trailing 2-1 entering the fifth, Norfolk had two excellent opportunities to score, beginning with a lead-off double from SS Steve Tolleson.
Following the two-bagger by Tolleson, Indians 2B Brian Friday would snag a line drive off the bat of Hoffmann out of the air and step on second to double off Tolleson. This would not end the Tides rally try though as the next two batters, Hall and C Luis Exposito, drew back-to-back base-on-balls.
1B Joe Mahoney then stepped to the plate and came through with what looked to be a game tying two-out single to left. But fortunately for the Indians that was where Gorkys Hernandez was patrolling and the top level defender quickly picked up Mahoney’s base hit and fired it home to nail Hall and end the Tides scoring attempt.
Following Hernandez’s outfield assist, his team leading fourth on the season, the Tides would be shut down for three straight frames as Morris (3.2 IP, 1 H. 3 SO) sat down nine straight Norfolk hitters from the 6th-8th innings. Morris would also strike out the first batter he saw in the ninth inning before RF Jai Miller singled to break up his perfect streak.
Morris would induce a groundout from 2B Matt Antonelli following the Miller base hit, before closer Doug Slaten (0.1 IP, 1 BB) came on to get the final out for his team-leading fourth save of the season. Slaten has now saved each of the Tribe’s last four wins and has allowed just one earned run in 11 appearances this season for a miniscule 0.63 ERA.
Thanks to the excellent defense and work from the bullpen, the Indians would get all the runs they would need with a two-run rally in the third. C Eric Fryer led off the frame with a double to center, before quickly coming plateward when Gorkys Hernandez followed with a two-bagger of his own.
3B Matt Hague then plated what turned out to be the game-winning tally, when he lined a two-out base knock to left to bring home Hernandez. The Tribe would also tack on an insurance in the top half of the ninth when 1B Jake Fox singled and was replaced by pinch runner Miles Durham, who would quickly speed plateward on a double from DH Jeff Clement.
Despite allowing just two runs over eight solid innings of work, former Indians LHP Dana Eveland (8.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO) was the tough luck loser for Norfolk as he dropped to 2-2 despite an excellent 2.56 ERA.
The Indians and Tides continue their four-game series on Thursday night at 7:15 p.m. LHP Rudy Owens is expected to take the mound for Indianapolis, while Norfolk is scheduled to counter with Major League veteran RHP Joel Pineiro.