Reliever Brooks Brown earned the victory with three strong innings of scoreless relief and also doubled and scored one of the Indianapolis Indians (12-6) two runs in their 2-1 victory over the Louisville Bats (9-8) on Sunday afternoon at Victory Field.
The Indians and Bats combined for nine baserunners over the first five innings on Sunday afternoon, however not a single one crossed the plate thanks to a combination of key strikeouts and double plays. Tribe starter Gerrit Cole (4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 2 SO) struggled with his control, surrendering five walks over four innings, but allowed just a single hit and escaped without giving up a score.
Then entered Brown (3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO), who, in relief of Cole, surrendered only a seventh-inning solo home run to right fielder Denis Phipps on his way to earning his first victory of the season. The solo shot turned out to be the only hit allowed by Brown, who also walked none and struck out three
Brown also showed what he could with the bat, coming through with his first hit since 2008 when he led off the bottom of the sixth with a double to left. Following Brown, CF Darren Ford rolled a grounder to Louisville 3B Henry Rodriguez, who attempted to backhand the ball, but came up short, allowing Brown to come around and score the first run of the game.
Ford, who moved up to second on the Rodriguez miscue, trotted to third one batter later when SS Jordy Mercer bounced an infield single to short. Then, after 3B Brandon Inge took a hit by pitch to load the bases, 1B Matt Hague lifted a sacrifice fly to right that plated Ford for what proved to be the game-winning tally.
Hague also added a 5th inning single to extend his on-base streak to 16 straight games dating back to April 6, and his hitting streak to seven games dating back to April 15. During his 16-game streak, Hague is batting .339 (19-for-56) with eight runs, six doubles, five RBI and seven walks.
Indians’ closer Vic Black (2.0 IP, 1 BB, 3 SO) slammed the door on the Tribe victory with two hitless innings over which he struck out two and walked just one. With his two-frame effort, Black earned his team-leading fourth save.
Louisville starter Yohan Pino (5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO) took a tough-luck loss to fall to 0-1 on Sunday afternoon, after surrendering just two unearned runs on four hits over 5.1 innings . Following Pino, veteran relievers Mike MacDougal (0.2 IP) and Mark Prior (2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 SO) combined for 2.2 innings of scoreless relief out of the Bats’ bullpen.
Despite collecting just two hits on the afternoon, Louisville did manage to steal seven bases, including two from top prospect Billy Hamilton and three from SS Emmanual Burriss. The seven stolen bases ties a Victory Field era opponent record, which was previously set on April 18, 2000 vs. Norfolk.
Tribe SS Jordy Mercer went 2-for-3 with a walk and was the only batter on either side to post a multi-hit effort on Sunday afternoon. The right-handed slugger has now collected multiple hits in back-to-back games, as well as in four of his last six games overall.
Indianapolis and Louisville will now wrap up their short two-game series on Monday night at 7:05 p.m. at Victory Field. The Indians are expected to send RHP Kyle Waldrop (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound, while the Bats are scheduled to counter with RHP Greg Reynolds (2-0, 3.38 ERA).