Indianapolis (14-7) and Lehigh Valley (8-11) split a doubleheader on Wednesday morning at Victory Field with the Indians taking game one 4-1 behind a solid start from starter Kris Johnson, before the IronPigs powered their way to a 6-3 victory in game two. With their loss in game two, the Tribe saw their eight-game home winning streak come to end just one game shy of the all-time Victory Field record.
On a windy rain-soaked morning at Victory Field, Tribe starter Kris Johnson (5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO) gave the Indians a fantastic start to the day’s doubleheader. The southpaw starter tossed 5.2 scoreless frames on his way to earning his second victory and lowering his ERA to a team-best 2.08, which, at the time, ranked in the top 10 in the International League.
Johnson left the game with two outs in the top of the sixth after the IronPigs threatened with a walk from 3B Cody Asche and single from C Tommy Joseph. Recently returned reliever Bryan Morris (1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO) entered the contest and needed just one pitch to escape the trouble. Morris eventually finished off the contest to notch his fourth save.
Indianapolis plated all the scores it needed with two-run rallies in the fourth and fifth frames. 1B Matt Hague and LF Brett Carroll began the fourth-inning attack with back-to-back one-out base hits. This set the stage for RF Jerry Sands, who came through with his first extra-base hit of the season, a double to center that plated both Hague and Carroll to give the Tribe it’s first lead of the game, 2-0.
The Tribe then added on two more scores to their two-run advantage in the bottom of the fifth, led by a lead-off single and stolen base by CF Darren Ford. Following a steal by Ford, Mercer brought him plateward with a base hit to left, while also alertly moving up to second on the attempt to get Ford at the plate. With Mercer in scoring position, Hague rolled a single up the middle to give the Indians the 4-0 lead.
Lehigh Valley plated their lone score of game one in the seventh on a two-out single by 2B Cesar Hernandez, but it wouldn’t be enough, as starter Adam Morgan (5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO) was pinned with his first loss of the season.
In game two, the Indians fell behind early and saw their comeback attempts just fall short in a 6-3 defeat in the back end of the twin-bill.
Lehigh Valley took advantage of early control issues by Tribe starter Andy Oliver, piecing together a single score in the first on a sacrifice fly by 1B Cody Overbeck, following two walks and infield single to lead-off the game. The IronPigs then continued to add to their advantage with single scores in the third and fourth, on a two-out RBI triple by 3B Josh Fields and solo homer from C Steven Lerund.
The Indians did manage to get on the board in the bottom of the fourth thanks to the effort of CF Alex Presley, who was making his first start since being optioned from Pittsburgh. Presley drew one-out walk and stole his first base of the season, to set the stage for Mercer, who brought him home with a two-out base hit to right, cutting the deficit 3-1.
Unfortunately for the Tribe, the IronPigs put things out of reach in the following frame with three more scores, beginning with an RBI single by Fields with one out. Overbeck then tied a bow on the victory by depositing the ball over the left field wall for his fifth home run of the season, bringing home Fields to extend the IronPigs advantage to 6-1.
Indianapolis attempted to make the comeback by chipping away at the five-run lead with single scores in the fifth and seventh. 2B Josh Harrison plated C Brian Jeroloman with a two-out RBI base hit in the fifth, before Presley scored Harrison with a deep double in the seventh.
However, it wouldn’t be enough as Lehigh Valley reliever Justin DeFratus (2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, SO) snuffed out the late rally to earn his second victory. IronPigs starter Zach Miner (4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO) allowed just a single score over four solid innings but did not reach the necessary five innings to earn the win.
Tribe starter Andy Oliver (5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 3 SO) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing all six Lehigh Valley runs on seven hits over 5.0 innings pitched. The Indianapolis bullpen remained a bright spot in the game two defeat as RHP Erik Cordier (1.0 IP, 1 SO) and RHP Duke Welker (1.0 IP, 1 SO) combined for two innings of scoreless relief.
After the doubleheader sweep the Indians and IronPigs will now face off in game three on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. The IronPigs are expected to send RHP Ethan Martin (1-0, 4.82 ERA) to the mound, while Major League veteran Francisco Liriano (no record) is expected to make a rehab start for the Indians.