Louisville plated all five of their runs in a wild bottom of the fifth inning that included a run scoring on a wild pitch and two coming across on two errors as the Bats went on to end the Indianapolis Indians five-game winning streak with a 5-4 win on Saturday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth and with Major Leaguer Jeff Karstens tossing four straight hitless innings to begin the game, the Indians looked well on their way to setting a new season best with a sixth straight win on Saturday night. Then the fifth inning happened.
With one out,RF Danny Dorn collected the Bats first hit of the evening when he lined a base hit to center field. C Dioner Navarro then drew a hit by pitch before LF Felix Perez evened the score at 1-1 with an RBI single to center that plated Dorn.
It was at this point that everything started to fall apart for the Tribe. SS Miguel Rojas first reached on an a throwing error that also allowed Navarro to score all the way from second and advanced Perez to third.
Then with Louisville starting pitcher Sean Gallagher at the plate, a wild pitch would plate Perez before Gallagher eventually drew a base-on-balls. CF Joey Gathright then rolled a single to right to score Rojas and move Gallagher to third, where he would later score on a missed catch error on a stolen base attempt by Gathright.
Overall, the bottom of the fifth ended with Louisville plating five scores on four singles, two walks, two errors, a hit by pitch and a wild pitch. The Bats would have only one additional base hit and no more runs outside of the fifth inning on Saturday night.
The Indians took the initial lead in the fourth on an RBI groundout by 2B Brian Friday that plated 3B Jordy Mercer, who singled earlier in the frame. Then after the Bats wacky five-run fifth, 1B Jeff Clement drew the Tribe closer with his second home run of the season, a solo shot to lead-off the sixth.
The Indians then made a last ditch effort to even the score in the final frame, beginning with a lead-off base hit from the red-hot Mercer. RF Brandon Boggs tripled home Mercer later in the frame before coming home himself on another RBI groundout from Friday.
With his two-hit, two-run effort Mercer extend his hitting streak to six games during which time he has posted a .417 batting average (10-for-24) with seven runs, two RBI and three walks. The multidimensional infielder also continues to lead the Tribe in hits (49) and RBI (20), while ranking tied for first in runs (21) and total bases (65).
But the two-run ninth wasn’t enough as the Louisville closer Jordan Smith (7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) induced a pop out from pinch hitter Jake Fox to end the game. Before Smith narrowly escaped with his fourth save of the season, Bats reliever Travis Webb (1.0 IP) worked a perfect eighth to earn his fifth hold.
Louisville starter and former Indians RHP Sean Gallagher (7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) allowed just two runs on five hits and five strikeouts over seven solid innings to pick up the win and improve to 4-3 on the season.
For the Indians, Karstens (4.1 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) was dominant in the early going, but fell victim to some missteps in the fifth inning and went on to be pinned with the loss.
Following Karstens, Tribe reliever Rick VandenHurk (3.2 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 2 SO) continued his multi-inning mastery as he allowed just two hits and three walks while striking out three over 3.2 innings. In three outings with Indianapolis this season, VandenHurk has allowed just a single score over 13.2 innings for a 0.66 ERA
The Indians (27-21) now wrap up their home-and-home series with Louisville on Sunday evening at 6:05 p.m. LHP Jeff Locke is expected to make the start for Indianapolis, while the Bats are scheduled to counter with RHP Chad Reineke.